Chasing Coral in Komodo

Where dragons hunt and currents fly…

I sat, eyes closed, surreptitiously breathing in one nostril and out the other, an exercise resurrected from a long-rusted yoga practice. The pilot of the small motorboat sped toward Batu Bolong, a rocky pinnacle in the Flores Sea that had been described moments before by our dive guide M. as “the most dangerous and the most beautiful dive site in Komodo National Park.” My gut was as uneasy as the sea. Continue reading

B is for Butterfly; C is for Courage

In the rearview mirror I spied her little hand hanging out the half-open back window, the wings of her butterfly finger puppet flapping madly in the wind.

B is for butterfly. B is also for bunny ears, the alphabet item she brought to pre-school earlier in the week. Bunny ears are good. They are cute and they stay on her head, where I can see them bobbing sweetly in the same rearview mirror. They do not feel compelled to fly out the window. Continue reading

Island Dreaming in Wintertime: Revisiting Malapascua

Dark rum daiquiri at Dutch Kills, NYC

It is winter in New York City. Oh, I know, that flirty temptress Spring lifted her skirts a bit a few days ago, but the City was very recently besieged by benumbing temperatures and snow and is once again shivering under a rainy grey pall. I am, however, finding ways to cope, like happy hour, because no matter the weather, you can always find a good cocktail in this great sodden metropolis. Just the other day, I sat at LIC-favorite Dutch Kills, enjoying daiquiri-induced day dreams about fun times on hot, sun-soaked islands… like Malapascua in the Philippines. Continue reading

Wanderlust Is Born

When I was a very young girl, my favorite song was “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” as recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The track was on the folk trio’s “best-of” cassette, which I would insist my mom play in the car on the way to ballet practice. That album was also in the small collection of cassettes that accompanied our family of five on road trips and included other greats like Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and the Muppets. I could sing “Too Much of Nothin’,” “The Gambler” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” as well as I could “Rainbow Connection” by the time I hit second grade.

In 1980 my parents loaded us into a light blue station wagon and took us on a grand tour of The West. Continue reading

Boholed over by Cuteness: A Tarsier Adventure

The driver looked back at me through the small mirror and asked, “How long you been here?”

On the road with motorcycle taxi
Motorbike adventure on Bohol

“Two months in Asia, one month in the Philippines!” I shouted.

“You’re so dark you could be Filipino!” he exclaimed, laughing.

It was true. I hadn’t been that golden since I was eight and spent every day of summer by the lake. I secretly loved my tan… growing up in the 70s will do that to you. I still remember my aunt Char, who was the coolest adult I knew, lying for hours on the tar roof of her apartment building covered in baby oil with a sheet of aluminum foil under her face.  Continue reading

Her Own Terms

On The Road Journal Excerpt
Date: February 18, 2014
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Since my last entry, I have hiked into and across the crater of Kileaua Iki (little Kileaua), adventured down the steep path to the windy black sands of Waipio Beach, had a wonderful massage and a fascinating Tibetan bowl treatment, learned how vanilla grows, visited the botanical gardens and snorkeled at Kapoho tide pools. I’m enjoying Hawaii immensely. Tom’s neighbor M., the masseuse, went on a five-week trip alone recently. She said she just needed an opportunity to explore. She needed to be free to go from one place to the next according to her own terms, comfort and budget. I love the way she described her time away.

A long steep walk down led to the black sands of windy Waipi'o Beach on the Big Island
On the black sands of Waipio Beach after a hard steep climb down a hot, narrow road


Afternoon by the Sea

It is a culture by the sea, of the sea. The tides tell the day, and late afternoon is a time of play, to throw shells from the sand bars left by the going or coming tide, to look for creatures and treasures as the sun sizzles on the corrugated surface of the sea. This is how I remember late afternoon on North Sulawesi. For us travelers it was a time between… after the last dive of the day and before happy hour… moments to read, to write, to nap, to look at photos from our undersea adventures, or just to be, to watch the silhouettes on the sea and linger in the sultry quietness between.Late afternoon on North Sulawesi

Lessons in Trekking

“Listen Spider Legs, I know you want to take giant steps because you can, but you’re using much more energy than you need to and it’s going to wear you out.”

Adventure guide and master trekker C. demonstrated by three-stepping to the top of a tall rock that I would have overtaken in one stride.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back or sideways to find the best route forward.”

“Okay, got it.” I said as a silly ‘I’ve-got-a-crush-on-you-grin’ spread across my rain-spattered face.

It was the last trek on a two-week adventure trip across the South Island of New Zealand with a group of 10 accompanied by two guides.
Continue reading

Twilight Walk

On the Road Journal Excerpt
Date: November 6, 2014
Location: San Sebastian Beach, Spain

Dogs and Man

Peaceful walk through twilight along the beach. I’m trying slowly to let go of the stress and self-expectation that was a way of life in NYC. I can hardly believe that I’m here—already five days. But I am so, so glad I decided to go on this journey. I need space and time and new scenery to let go of the things I’ve been holding tight and close—those bits and pieces of expectation or frustration that linger, the ones that we empower by doing nothing more than giving them space in our minds and hearts. I want to live in the present, to be with the beauty of the world, to take the time to see it all around me—from the gorgeous clouds and colors on the beach at twilight to the man walking his dogs… a walk he’s probably done hundreds, maybe thousands, of times before this particular twilight. But for us, in that moment, it is new.  Continue reading