Sunday, May 6, 2012

245 days, nine countries, 106 posts, 12,991 photos …

It was at a yoga class in Hilo Hawaii that the whole weight of what we had experienced finally hit me and my eyes filled with tears. We were at the deep relaxation portion of the class and as the experienced yoga instructor hummed along to the words of the Bette Midler song, “You are the wind beneath my wings”, playing on the CD player behind us, any pent up emotion deep in my now stretched muscles was released.

During our whole trip, I read only one book (if you do not count guide books). It was a book carefully selected for us by our Adamit friend Abner. We carried two books for him from friends Doug and Devora in Princeton to Israel back in November (It is their tradition to bring him books on each trip as the selection of English books in Adamit’s library is limited). In return he gave us two books to take with us on our trip. The book chosen for me titled, Desert Solitaire, written by Edward Abbey, is the story of his six months in the wilderness of Arches National Park. It is about his personal journey working as a Park Ranger for one season and documentation of his views on nature and life. It is a journey of revelations in so many ways and was a very inspiring read. The book was written in 1968, but is as current as if it was written yesterday. Thank you Abner for the insightful choice.

I enjoyed every page and for some reason rationed reading only small portions of the book over the 254 days of our trip. I arrived in Hawaii with about 30 pages left to read. It seemed only fitting to read about the end of his journey at the end of ours. As fate would have it, he writes about how he left Arches at the end of the season, headed for, of all places, New York. The desert solitude, he admits had made him crazy and he craved the excitement of the big city. But at the last minute on the way to his train, he looked back at the burning sunset over the desert landscape and begged his driver to turn around and take him back. Of course, he did not turn back and did get on his train to New York, hoping that when he returned (if he returned), everything would be the same as he had left it. But of course he knew in his heart that nothing ever stays the same.

That is how the book ended and that is how I feel now. It is time to get on our plane to New York, but we will miss the places and the people we shared the last 254 days with — even the people and places that made us completely crazy. And I know if we ever go back, it will be a different trip at a different time and nothing will bring back the exact same experience. This is difficult to accept but it is the reality, and as Edward Abbey, I must move forward with out looking back.

Interestingly, I am filled with the same angst heading back as I did leaving Vancouver so many months ago. What will it be like? How will we adjust to our new situation? Will we have the right clothes, and right “things” for our time on the East coast? Where will we be headed next? Somehow, the fact that we managed extremely well for the last eight months doesn’t seem to calm me down. I guess some things about myself just are so deeply engrained that they will never change!

Hal and Belinda's back garden ...

Hal and Belinda

We have spent the last six days in the Hilo with our good friends Hal and Belinda. They have been spoiling us with home cooked vegetarian food and making our re-entry into Western civilization as soft a landing as possible. Last night we had a wonderful dinner in the small town of Pahoa (you can’t get any more laid back than Pahoa), followed by a wonderful walk in Lava Tree State Park (WOW!). We then attended a Gypsy Funk performance by Leche De Tigre (amazing group, listen to this video! at the Akebono Theatre, where we all danced and clapped and stomped to the beat of the amazing music watching many very laid back locals under the influence of legal and perhaps some illegal substances. Exhilarated and fulfilled, we made our way back to Hilo and a good night’s sleep.

By the time we head to the airport tonight for New York and our long awaited reunion with our children, Aaron and Melissa, I plan to be calm again and ready for the next chapter whatever it may be!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Vietnam Vignettes: The sights and the people

All packed for our 24 hour flight plan from Hanoi to Hawaii
I guess it is time to admit that we are no longer in Vietnam. In fact, we have been in Hilo, Hawaii for three days, far way from South East Asia and at the end of our eight months of travel. Looking through our photos of nearly a month in Vietnam, I realize that I will not manage to tell all of the stories from all of the places we visited. But that won't stop me from sharing some photos! Hopefully through the photos, you will get a sense of this amazing country and hopefully it will convince you to add Vietnam to your bucket list.

Everything they warn you about is true. The Vietnamese take a bit of time to warm to. But once you understand them, they will stay firmly planted in your hearts. They are smart, hard working, creative and entrepreneurial. They will in fact take advantage of you if you are not careful, but they will also be very helpful and caring and give you an amazing time. Two weeks is not enough to really get to know these people or their country. Stay at least a month and will be hooked forever.

Enjoy the photos! We can catch up on the details some other time ...

Ho Chi Minh



Marble Mountain


Cham Ruins


Sa Pa

Ha Long Bay