Conflicted

That’s a good word for today. I was up early for a 6am call with the Netherlands, which then wrapped me up in a number of things so that by the time I left here around 815 to go to the Dolphin Academy for my snorkeling session with the dolphins, I was already in a state of stress. I got there, only to discover that my turn had been at 8am and I had missed it. I will tell you, I didn’t know what to do with myself and I started crying right there in front of the poor people staffing the check in. They only do it a few times a week, six people at a time and I had missed my chance. I was devastated. Probably also because this would have been something I would have really liked to do with my mom and all that grief that she is not here to do these things with came crashing down at once.

Despite their no changes policy, I think they really didn’t know what to do with me. In an effort to get the waterworks to stop since they have saltwater enough in the dolphin lagoons, they found a spot for me Thursday morning but not for snorkeling. I can do the dolphin swim but I have to keep my head above water and you are pretty closely supervised instead of being allowed to free snorkel with the dolphins. I am not crazy, I very gratefully accepted the offer. I spent the rest of the morning wandering around the Seaquarium and watching the sea lions and hanging out in the underwater observatory communing with a 400 pound Goliath grouper named Herbie. He was pretty chill, kind of like a zen master.

From there, I walked over to the closest beach – not hard to find here in Curacao, and spent a couple of hours under a palm tree staring at the water, thinking about stuff. Until I got so worn out from the emotions and the thinking, I fell asleep. That lasted until a Swedish father and his toddler decided to play under the palm tree. I thought at first I was having Swedish dreams but no, it was an alarm clock of sorts.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself this afternoon, other than I needed to stay out of the sun. I went to the mall. It is enormous, with very few stores and even fewer people. I didn’t buy anything, just wandered it from one end to the other, collecting steps on my FitBit. Like I said, today’s been weird.

Yesterday, I was out the gate around 7am and headed west to Christoffelberg National Park. What I have been thinking is North is actually West. Which explains alot. I got lost in the park and eventually came across two young park rangers on foot who were happy to show me how to get back to the park if I would give them a ride. So I did. They explained to me how to orient myself according to the wind, which is a near constant here. The ladies at the ticket booth found it hilarious that I got lost and gave me another token to go into the mountain side of the park, which was my original intended direction. I guess I won points for picking up the park rangers. I ran into two more on the other side when I was at another crossroads. They gave me directions cheerfully.

After that, it was up the road to Boka Sheke National Park which is a sea turtle nesting place and sanctuary. Somewhat oddly, they serve iguana soup there. There were some gorgeous iguanas walking around bold as you please. I wanted to send them in the other direction of the snack bar but iguanas don’t really follow directions well. I followed the hiking trail along the ocean and over to the natural bridge. It looked easy on the map. However, I forgot to take water and it was blistering hot. And I didn’t have enough sunblock on so by the time I got back, I was sporting a second layer of sunburn. Let me take a moment to point out that in the morning I had purchased three more sunblocks and they were all in the trunk of the Kia.

Going on from there, you are basically at the top of the island, so you only have a choice to go around. I ended up at Playa Portomari, which was beautiful and charming. Including more iguanas, one who sat in the tree next to me, waiting for something. I spent a couple of hours there just reading and trying to stay in the shade. I am going back up there tomorrow, I signed up for an introductory diving class. You can’t dive within 12 hours of flying so I have to do it tomorrow. I have to work a full day tomorrow, starting at 330am local time so I figure after that, I will have earned the right to spend the afternoon at the beach.

I have a really rough time with all the stray dogs here. They are everywhere and they cross streets and roam. I hate it. It makes me think of Henry and George and how devastated I would be if something happened to them. Then it makes me angry that there are so many strays. I know I can’t take any of them home but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to find a way to solve the problem. I think this has bothered me most about being here. I realize I am coming from a perspective that dogs are pets and well loved, hell, even taxed annually with the pendant to prove it. I see these dogs, who fend for themselves and like I said, I want to solve the problem. It looks like there is one organization here that cares for them but they don’t even have a building yet Curacao Strays I did the one thing I can do and made a monthly recurring donation.

I have a lot of shit on my mind and things aren’t all that great right now but I can still make small differences and that’s something I need to focus on. Maybe that’s the point for each of us, we all make our own small differences. I have learned some things about myself on this trip too. One being that I am unlikely to take another beach vacation by myself. I solved the practical challenges by buying spray on sunblock but this was too much time alone with my emotions. City vacations or country vacations no problem but no more beaches. Okay, that sounds just a tad entitled 😉 What I really should say is that places like this are best enjoyed with the company of people you like.

I am going to make the most of the next two days since I fly back to the cold on Thursday night. I’ll be glad to get home and hug my pets. Then it is a week to go before Christmas and all of that.

 

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