Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Star(fish) Spangled 4th of July

After 30 years in the federal government, I knew that Friday, July 3rd would be holiday for all my former colleagues. However, my Friday last week was just like all the other days these past three weeks—another day of intensive training to prepare us to be classroom teachers as well as to live independently within a different culture. Needless to say, St. Lucia does not celebrate the anniversary of America's “Declaration of Independence” from Britain (St. Lucia's independence from Britain was not granted until 1979—203 years after our independence—and is celebrated every February 22).

Fortunately, USA's actual Independence Day fell on a Saturday this year, which allowed our class to celebrate on our day off. We all met at Reduit Beach and spent the day swimming in the Caribbean waters and relaxing on the beach. To get there, we had to take a minibus that runs down the mountain to the main road, and then switch to a different minibus heading north to Rodney Bay.

One advantage of life in the Caribbean is the beautiful beaches. We had a great time gathering together to observe the 4th of July at the beach. One of our classmates is a scuba diver, and he has a fancy dive watch that also indicates water temperature, which he reported to be 82 degrees. It felt great (and warmer than many beaches in the USA). Although there is always a chance of a brief rain shower down here, we had nothing but sunshine while we were at the beach that day. One of the highlights was that we discovered a couple of large starfish, which were fascinating to examine. It seemed altogether appropriate that we found starfish on this star-spangled holiday.

Check out the big starfish I'm gently holding in my hands.

After our day at the beach, we gathered at the host home of one of our classmates, where we had a grand cookout and party, complete with red, white, and blue balloons. It was about a 25 minute walk from my house, but once we made it to their side of the mountain, I got my first distant glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern side of the island. The views from their area were magnificent! We had a great time!

Living for nearly a month in a Third World country makes one realize how fortunate Americans are, even if they don't always realize it. I hope my friends back in my native land take a minute to think about our lofty station in life here on this planet Earth. I certainly think about it here on this island so far from my home. The folks who live here try to make a good life for themselves, but there are many more opportunities available in the USA.

Finally, I did some reminiscing about where I was at this time last year. On Friday, July 4th, 2014, I was ziplining at Nelson Rocks in the morning, and then hiking the mountain there (to share with Anna the “Via Ferrata” that I had completed on a previous visit). We later drove to Sherwood Lake, and enjoyed the “natural fireworks” of a campfire as we stayed overnight in this National Forest campground.

On Saturday of July 4th weekend last year, we drove a little further south to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Although I'm not a big golfer, we had tickets to see the PGA Tournament that takes place each year on this weekend at the Greenbrier Resort. It was fun to see a major golf tournament in action!

However, the main reason we went was because they always do a big concert in conjunction with the golf tournament. Last year on Saturday night we had a fantastic night with friends at an outdoor amphitheater listening to Jimmy Buffett sing songs about the Caribbean. Fast forward one year later, and I'm living the island life in the Caribbean. Sometimes I still can't believe I'm really here!

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