Exit: Saba; Enter: new year’s intentions

Your last night in an endearing place is always a bit bittersweet. A frog jumped out of the tap when I turned it on to brush my teeth this evening, perfectly punctuating my last evening here on this surprising little island.

2015-12-29 17.15.42I spent my last night with new friends, and in the morning (which comes all too quickly) it’s time to leave and begin that multi-airport hopscotch.

2015-12-24 07.41.12As if on cue, the skies open up in a tropical downpour as I navigate my 17 kilo bag down the (what seemed like) 200 stairs from the heights of my cottage on Booby Hill. Soaking wet and laughing, I cross fingers that the stash of Saba Spice, a local liqueur made from aged rum and local spices (cinnamon, fennel, and others), survives the journey back to the States. I’m certain that the Elfin Forest imps are having fun at my expense…

On a solo trip it’s always a crapshoot, but usually an adventure, in how you spend your evenings. This trip, I fell asleep early a few nights, ventured down to a local restaurant where I took meals with dive boat friends and locals, and the last night, spent with divemasters from different pinpoints on the map talking fish and Western politics and equanimity, yoga, Buddhism and life, was perhaps the most enjoyable (Aside: it is usually at this juncture where I ask myself if I could chuck it all to work on an island somewhere and live the divemaster life). You share a lot with those you meet on a dive boat. Perhaps the fact that nobody looks good in a wetsuit gets people to let defenses down and open up a little more.

The people I met in Saba hailed mostly from Europe, some from the US. Divers, all, as this place is a hidden gem; more than earning her name as the Caribbean’s Unspoiled Queen. Languages on the boat ranged from English to Dutch to German to French to Spanish, making me more intent on improving a foreign tongue in the coming year, as I realise my creaky French now outshines my rusty Spanish. I can read a menu and perhaps have a scrappy conversation with a 7-year-old in 3 languages, yet only one with la bonne confiance, as they say.

And so, after leaving somewhere that has made an impression, I reflect on not only the experiences had, but the things that got me there in the first place. The absurd airfares required for a Big Trip this Christmas; the yearning to get away from the routine back home; the random blip on the radar of this little island, nonexistent to me only 2 months ago yet something made me look into it… So it’s perhaps also appropriate at this juncture to think about what comes next.

I don’t make resolutions. As this wobbly world does its best to leave us wondering what crazy thing is coming next, and as things change along the way (as they are wont to do), I find that resolutions tend to leave one feeling more frustrated and unfulfilled than resolute come March or so. That’s not to say there aren’t things to be learnt and new adventures to be had and unfinished somethings that need finishing; because there are! And so I set intentions at this time of year, focused on feeling well and greeting the days with gratitude and welcoming new experiences into my universe; learning much along the way, finishing what’s been started and ultimately moving forward each day on strong legs and with a bright heart. There’s something about setting an intention that makes the path to achieving it more evident and perhaps the future result more tangible.

I write now, flying over the Atlantic Ocean on my northbound trajectory: a little bit browner than when I left and a little more grateful for the wonders of the natural world, having seen some quite amazing undersea stuff as well as rainforest flora and fauna. I met a few wonderful people and also encountered some characters; hiked in the rainforest, dodged raindrops and lived amongst what I’ve nicknamed the woodland creatures: Coquee frogs, snakes, lizards (the little Saba anole lizards and also giant iguanas), hummingbirds, crickets, grasshoppers, roosters and goats, all moving about on their own schedules, setting a rhythm to each day.

2015-12-28 18.36.52 (2) 2015-12-28 21.10.27 2015-12-26 16.20.53 (2)

But when you return home, to a place where water isn’t a luxury, it makes you think about the scarcity of our natural resources. And it makes you grateful for the little things: the plentitude of bananas when you want them; hot water on demand; hair that doesn’t react so insanely to the humidity; dry stuff (in the rainforest, things only get “somewhat dry”). I ran into a woman on the trail up Mt. Scenery with unless tattooed on her shoulder. Unless, indeed.

2015-12-28 12.36.45So now, as we close the books on 2015, there are places to go and people to see and more potential adventures than there are days on the calendar. I wonder if it’s possible to do one new thing each day or maybe each week? There’s only one way to find out: try.

Happy New Year.

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