The two relatively quick flights took me from St. Louis to Miami then Lisa and me to see our friend Julie in Panama City, Panama last week. Once we touched down, the warmth touched my skin, the sunshine filled my heart, and the FUN and girlfriend-time filled my soul.
I haven’t seen these girlfriends in a long while. We met when we lived in Abu Dhabi and our kids attended the American Community School. We have so much in common: we’re all from Texas, we love movies, champagne, to have FUN, and being together. So, of course, this week was destined to be great. And as I sit here, back in my apartment in St. Louis, on this 34ºF day, I reflect on the past week and share.
Panama is a lovely place; a country on the isthmus linking Central and South America. I’ve seen both of the two seasons there: the rainy and the dry. I prefer the dry season. My Spanish was rusty, but returned when speaking to the locals, albeit briefly.
After stopping by El Rey supermarket to stock up on food, drinks, and necessities for the week, we made our way to the beach house. We settled in and set our “relaxing mode” to ON.
Throughout the week, we ate fresh red snapper, prepared* as ceviche and fillets, amazing grilled steak fillets, Hebrew National hot dogs, and wonderfully marinated chicken. We drank pineapple drinks, freshly picked coconut water, and fresh squeezed orange juice. We ate passionfruit, papaya, and plantains. Everything tasted so fresh, pure and delicious. *Bernie and Julie were our chefs, creating delicious and magical meals out of everything in the fridge and introducing us to Panamanian delicacies.
One day we toured the city of El Valle: we walked up and down the aisles of the Mercado municipal, walked inside a beautiful old church that celebrated the Pope’s visit there one week prior, and ate at a pizza place that cooked the pizza in a wood-burning stove al fresco. No, I didn’t eat the pizza; I ate salad.
Every day, morning and late afternoon, we walked the gravel road to the beach to swim, walk along the water, and sit in the tide pools. One day I took a boogie board (my NDB) and paddled out into the waves. After checking the tide chart, we determined those outings.
To further my love and faith in the power of Facebook, one afternoon we met up with my friend Yoli, whom I met in 2008, and have kept in touch with over the keyboard, for a Panamá style Happy Hour: champagne and canapés outside under the canopy of a guava tree.
On our final day, Lisa and I toured the Miraflores Locks Museum of the Panamá Canal. The Panamá Canal, a famous feat of human engineering, cuts through its center, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to create an essential shipping route. Reading the placards and watching the IMAX movie, we learned all about the building of the Canal and the ecosystem it encompasses. Truly a fascinating marvel of ingenuity and vision. We even saw several cargo, party and cruise ships go through the locks right in front of our eyes!
My overall impressions of this place: relaxed, innovative, welcoming, and historic. I recommend this destination.
Until we meet again, Julie, Bernie and Lisa, ádios.
Bring it on! It’s cold, windy, and snowy here in St. Charles, MO. So tomorrow I’m heading south to sunny (79ºF) Panama! So long polar vortex.
I look forward to the gentle tide in the morning, and playful waves in the afternoon. Between the gravel path and salt water, I will enjoy seeing green trees and tropical flowers. The delightful pool, hammock, yummies, friends, and the bohio will fill up my heart, soul, and belly.
Invited for some ‘fun in the sun’ by my high school & college friend, Julie and her terrific hubby Bernie, I gratefully accepted. What’s a girl to do, say ‘no’ to this wondrous, generous invitation? Uh, not this chickie! So I will (responsibly) soak up some sun and warmth and deep, meaningful chats with soul-sisters while snowflakes blow and the winds howl in St. Charles. A girl’s got to find her own fun, right?
So, I need a ‘time out’. I’m clicking my red flip-flops together three times and saying aloud, “There’s no place like the beach. There’s no place like the beach. There’s no place like the beach. “
The first big project I wrote about in the last blog post-http://www.alohadenise.com/2019/01/31/camino-2020/ states I am walking/hiking/trekking the historic Camino de Santiago with my friend Allison, whom I played soccer with when I was in 7th grade. Since high school graduation, we explored different life paths and reunited a few years ago. Thanks to social media, I follow her adventures and jumped into one of her posts about this trip. She invited me and I gratefully accepted. Our journey will begin in April of 2020, and we’ll cover 500 miles in 40 days, so I am prepping for a little over a year. From the moment I said, “YES!”, my prep began. Now I’m living into that future, that experience, that life event.
My second big project will come to fruition this year: In March of 2019, I will travel to Tampa, Florida where I will study, learn, practice, and achieve the certification of Master Scuba Diver through PADI. Since my books are in the mail, my studies begin soon, so my prep as begun.
My dad, a PADI and NAUI instructor, taught me how to scuba dive when I was eight years old and the word SCUBA was an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. This sport has progressed exponentially. My Mark (my HH) and I have been dive buddies since 1978, and our daughters are certified Rescue Divers.
Here’s what PADI describes as Master Scuba Diver: Join the best of the best in recreational scuba diving and live the dive life as a PADI Master Scuba Diver. The Master Scuba Diver rating places you in an elite group of respected divers who have earned this rating through both significant experience and scuba training. Fewer than two percent of divers ever achieve this rating. When you flash your Master Scuba Diver card, people know that you’ve spent time underwater in a variety of environments and had your share of dive adventures. The path starts with earning a PADI Open Water Diver certification, followed by PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and PADI Rescue Diver (or qualifying certifications). You also need to earn five PADI Specialty Diver Certificationsand have logged a minimum of 50 dives.
I will pursue these five (5) specialties: dry suit, wreck diving, drift diving, fish ID, and propulsion vehicle. This experience will include some NDBs and some “never thought of before”s.
I look forward to my newest adventurous projects with gratitude and delectation. I enjoy challenging my body and learning new skills.
My resolutions continue to drive me forward. My new mantra is don’t just dream it, do it. As I always say as I enter the water at a dive site, “Happy Bubbles!”
I did it: I ‘wrote it down’, announced it aloud, committed to my friend Allison, and began my prep and training. I’m over the moon excited. Yesterday, I bought a journal to memorialize my thoughts, plans, lists, and questions that arise from now till then. I will pick up another one to chronicle the actual trip details.
According to Wiki: The Camino de Santiago (Latin: Peregrinatio Compostellana, “Pilgrimage of Compostela”; Galician: O Camiño de Santiago), known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostleSaint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups. The French Way (Camino Francés) and the Routes of Northern Spain are the courses listed in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
We will take just over a month, 40 days, to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, walking an average of 25kms per day with rest days as needed, covering 800kms or 500 miles.
As part of the year-long preparation, I’ve joined some Facebook forums, watched many YouTube videos, checked out three library books, bought one guide book, and conferred with my friend Andry, who walked the Camino last year. These ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences really fill my heart and put a fire in my belly! I love having a project and something to work toward: See my blog account of the Women’s Heritage Walk of 2015. I trekked 140kms in the Arabian Desert with 28 wonderful women.
If you’ve walked the Camino, I’m open to any of your tips and tricks!
This empty nester loves to plan, travel, explore, and learn. The prep journey will be as important as the actual pilgrimage. I’m inspired by the people I have already met.
In January, I resolved more and better ‘self-care.’. As an empty nester, I have my self and my husband to consider, so I must stay healthy, fit, and put-together. Resolution #9, check. Personal primping is done to our satisfaction.
Now for another resolution: trips and reconnections. I am pleased to report that gets a big check too. I’m going to see friends and family next month in Dallas, and the month after in Dallas, then the lights of LV after that, and then two big trips.
My former boss, Victor, once told me, “If it’s not written, it’s not true.” So here it is:
In March 2019, I’m living into the future (still in the process) of taking five scuba dive specialty courses in Tampa, to complete my Master Scuba Diver certification.
In April 2020 I am walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my friend Allison.
I take my resolutions seriously and love holding myself accountable. I believe integrity is important in people and myself. How about you?
Here we are close to the end of January, how are you doing with your resolutions? Answers welcome below.
Last night we saw the very talented, Grammy-winning, slim, 69-year old Rick Springfield, live on stage, from the third row. He began on time and played about a dozen different colorful guitars for two and half hours, non-stop. It looked like quite a workout.
He told stories about some of the songs. He invited two 10-year old girls up to the stage to sing a line of a song with him (Don’t talk to strangers). He used several bouquets of roses given to him by adoring middle-aged women as guitar picks, covering the stage with pink and red petals.
The most “rock star” thing he did, besides throwing guitar picks to the fans, was come into the audience, and stepping on the backs of the chairs, he made his way through the audience to the center of the auditorium, singing the whole time. The fans went crazy! He’s still got star power!
As an actor, he starred in the television series High Tide, from 1994 to 1997, and has appeared in supporting roles in Ricki and the Flash and True Detective (both in 2015). He portrayed Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime drama General Hospital, from 1981 to 1983 and during 2005 to 2008 and 2012, returning in 2013 for the show’s 50th anniversary with son and actor Liam Springthorpe. He played a depraved version of himself in Californication(2009). In 2010, Springfield published his autobiography, Late, Late at Night: A Memoir. In 2016 he starred as Vince Vincente/Lucifer in season 12 of the American TV show Supernatural on The CW
I remember seeing him on General Hospital when I was in college. I never saw any other show he was on. I admit I only knew a few of his songs, yet now I have a new respect for him as an artist, showman, and über talented rock star.
Continuing with the scanning chronicle, I share yesterday’s anecdote.
Filled to capacity, I carried the box of precious photos labeled and addressed to all who are represented in them, into the post office for the send-off. I arrived at noon, and by 12:34 pm, not only did I walk out of a filled-to-capacity lobby, but I was filled with a bit of frustration and glee.
Usually, I go to Kevin’s line, because he is friendly, efficient and intelligent. Sadly for me, Kevin was working on a teenager’s passport and unavailable. So I stepped up to his unknown colleague’s station, he had no name tag, and quickly and silently named him “cigarette smoker man.” To say he editorialized every envelope aloud, measured each envelope (they are all the same size!), and commented on the number of envelopes, is an understatement. I wanted to exclaim, “Sir, please just do your job and stop your snide comments!” But I held my tongue in frustration.
In those priceless envelopes are my memories, experiences, friends, beloved departed family members, and even departed friends. To me, they deserved special handling. After all, I’m paying money to send them. Glee did cross my mind at the task completed.
They are now in the hands of the USPS. The only photos remaining are from the 1950s when my parents were kids, the 1970s when I was a kid, and the 1980s when I was in college. Those will be scanned and sent out within the next month.
Value has different meanings: the envelopes are a task to the USPS clerk, while they are priceless history to me. The proof of value will be in the hands of the recipients “in 3-5 days, he said.” The project has concluded. I learned many valuable lessons, none of which is to disrespect or disregard another person’s mailings.
In order to clean and clear out our moving boxes, some with the sticker from the Mayflower Movers in 1985, yielding a smaller footprint and ease for our next move, wherever and whenever it is, we are scanning old photos and sharing them accordingly. Since my HH and I have been together since 1977, we have loads of pictures of us smiling, graduating, attending dances, traveling, then parenting.
When we began this task two years ago, it was daunting, at best. As I type, we are almost finished. I’m delighted to report that #TBTs are forthcoming, collages prove easier to create, and my forgetful mind has been reminded of the love, laughs, and adventures I’ve experienced over the past forty-plus years. Side note, I did find baby and youth pictures of both of us, so it’s really 50+ years of Kodak memories.
These photos create an archive of sorts. A journal of my NDBs, life events, and friends I treasure in all the places I’ve lived. Dance events in Baltimore that I entered and won, hot air balloon excursions in Africa and Arizona, two flights in the Good Year Blimp, sewing projects that I entered in the Los Angeles County Fair for which I won nine ribbons, learning to surf in Honolulu, my first and only snowboard lesson in an indoor ski ‘resort’ in Dubai, beekeeping class, teaching yoga on the beach of the Arabian Gulf, and many more valuable experiences in my short life. More pics & stories to follow.
Gratitude comes to mind and fills my heart and soul. I love to travel and believe it to be a great educator. My daughters are also great educators as they taught me about pure love and living in the moment: one ski trip, one visit to a reindeer farm, swim team, Girl Scouts, horseback riding lessons & shows, pets, plants, road trips and every amusement park in a 100-mile range of our home.
These photos tell the story of my life. What I’ve been doing and with whom. Some interesting questions arise: Who is still in my life? Why did I wear that? What was I thinking? Why did I eat a silk worm in Vietnam?
This project, as looming as it began, is almost to fruition. The next question is, what’s next? I have a few thoughts in mind…