Fishing Boat in Bod Me Limbe, Haiti

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I recently returned from at trip to Haiti.   I was with a wonderful, caring group.   I met most of them at the airport in Philadelphia as we were boarding to fly to the island of Turks and Caicos.   From there we would fly to Cap-Haitien, Haiti the next day.

It takes some time for me to process what I experience after a week in Haiti.

I took this photo one morning on the shore of a small fishing village called Bod Me Limbe.   It is on the northern coast of Haiti.   I added warm, yellow light in processing to give it an exotic look.   I took this just before I threw up, either from my anti-malaria antibiotic or from lack of sleep or from some voodoo curse…take your pick.

Haiti  is challenging.   I don’t accept challenges very well.   The Haitian people make the challenges worthwhile.   They have the best smiles I have ever seen.   The people of Haiti live difficult lives but you wouldn’t know it by observing them.   They move through their days with ease and grace.   Oh sure, you can see the poverty and unsanitary conditions every where, but that is their lives and they deal with it….every day.  

During the times I have been in Haiti, I try not to view their country through the judging eyes of an American.   I try to use some sort of non-biased vision and try to understand it all a little better.   Even now while writing this, I still can’t put in words how I feel or what this latest experience has taught me about Haiti.   Let’s just say, I am not ready for a position in the State Department.

One thing I do understand, while in Haiti, you will see things and experience things that normally you would not see or experience.

Ironically, one experience came from a group of Americans that weren’t part of our group.

We shared our compound in a very rural part of Haiti, outside of a village called Jacquesyl, with another American team that was doing healthcare work.   They invited us over to their house for some fellowship and camaraderie.  They did mention that there might be some singing.

At one strange moment, someone called out a number from of a sing-a-long book.  The next few moments were quite surreal.   It was a most perplexing experience.  I still am having a hard time dealing with this in my seemingly rational consciousness.

At one moment in time there was a room full of very white Americans sitting in a house in the Haitian wilderness singing “Black Magic Woman”.

I’m sure at the exact time of this occurrence, Carlos Santana was somewhere in the throes of intestinal distress.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

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Wrigley Tunnel

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We were racing up the steps to the platform.   I knew it would be close.

My wife and I were trying to catch the subway in Midtown Manhattan to go to Battery Park to ride the Staten Island Ferry.

I had been to New York City one earlier time in my life, at a student convention.   This was my wife’s first trip to the Big Apple.    She had on a pair of shoes that were more fashionable than comfortable.    I had some experience on my previous trip with subway doors closing unexpectedly in my face.  I was trying to relay this bit of valuable information between my gasping breaths as I was climbing stairs about ten feet ahead of my lovely wife, who I know was shooting gamma rays at me out of her eyes ala Gort in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”( the good one in 1951 not the Keanu Reeves one).

I ran up to the train, as if waiting would keep the doors open.   The doors to the subway train closed on me faster than a Budapest housewife greeting a kilt salesman.   I turned to see my wife hobbling up the stairs to the platform.  My gentle reminder was met with a  not-so-gentle-use of English phrasing.    We sat in silence for thirty minutes waiting for the next train as I shot gamma rays at her stylish shoes.

My previous experience with mis-timed subway doors was on the previous trip mentioned above.    My buddy and I decided to skip the lectures one day and catch the train out to Aqueduct to watch some horse races.   After a typical day at the track where we both donated money to the state of New York, we headed up to the platform to catch the train back to Grand Central Station.   I went onboard to ask if this train would get us to our destination.  When I was told to catch the next train, the doors closed and separated me from my buddy, who was smiling and holding up the subway map.

As the train pulled away, I could sense the pity he had for me as he was kissing the map.   I was struck at the shock in the eyes of the New Yorkers.   Apparently they had never seen anyone actually guffawing on a train platform.

I have had some really good experiences on trains.   My wife and I traversed parts of Italy on trains and though we were oblivious to what was going on, we were having the time of our lives.

I wish train travel was easier in the United States.

This is a photo of the Wrigley Tunnel.   It was built a few years after 1900.   It had to be built before 1908, the first year of the Morehead & North Fork Railroad.   Otherwise, the trains would have come to an abrupt halt outside of Wrigley.

I took this photo on a cold January morning on the west side of the tunnel to get the sunburst shining through the tunnel opening.   I liked the effect of the fish-eye lens to capture the starburst and long shadows through the tunnel.

The Wrigley Tunnel sits west of Wrigley in Morgan County, KY.   We are lucky that Rt. 711 runs through this tunnel.   It is still being appreciated for its history and connection to a time long ago.   I would have loved to have ridden the M &NF line from Morehead to Redwine.

I bet they wouldn’t have shut the door on my wife limping to the train in her new pair of Parisiennes.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.

Hatteras Island Sunrise

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I learned a valuable lesson from an eleven year old orphan girl many years ago…the sun will come out tomorrow.

I took this photo of a beautiful sunrise on Hatteras Island in the town of Avon, NC, in the Outer Banks.   It was two years ago and this was the last morning of our vacation.   We were getting ready to leave to drive back to Kentucky.

As with all vacations, on the last morning I go into a state of depression that can not be lifted by even the most Herculean pharmaceutical efforts.  However, this sunrise, though it beckoned me to stay longer,  seemed to validate the choice of our recent vacation destination.   It also reminded me to look forward to future sunrises, especially at my next beach vacation.

No matter how bad my day has been in the past or present, it has never failed to be followed by a risen sun the next day.

God gives me a beautiful sunrise every morning.  Most of the time I sleep through them.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Amelia Island Pier in Morning Light

image_1I desperately need me some vacation time…

I am enduring the Facebook pages filled with photos of smiling people frolicking in the surf and eating scrumptious seafood platters.    I am enduring day after day of work waiting for my time in the sand, sun, and waves.

Big Surf Daddy is getting restless.

I introduced  you, my valued throng of readers, to my alter ego a few months ago.   The legend of Big Surf Daddy began in the Hawaiian Islands in 1984.

My friend and I were sitting on a beach on the south side of Oahu watching these large waves pound the beach.   Somehow we got the idea that we could body surf in these waves.   We surmised that it would be a much grander experience than body surfing on the east coast or even better, dare I say, than the beaches of Galveston.

My friend was convinced that we would have no problems making the necessary adjustments from the knee-high waves of the Gulf of Mexico to the twelve-footers on Oahu.

Of course this is the same friend that argued with me that anyone can hit a 90-mph fastball.   All that was needed was a  little practice.   After much dissent from my side of the Chevette as we were sweltering in Houston traffic, he began to muster more faith in his ability to connect with such a small orb flung at such a high-speed.   So we did what any normal twenty-something, less-than-mature, semi-adult males would do.   We pulled into the batting cages on Fondren Road and stepped into the cage named Ol’ Smoky.

Well, my friend looked like a little schoolgirl trying to swat a bee.    He never got close, blamed his shoes and left under a heavy barrage of I-told-you-so’s.    Unfortunately, he was now my inspiration sitting on that beach.

We were a bit curious as to why no one was in the water at this time.

We ventured out into the surf, full of excitement, knowing we were going to have the body surfing experience of a lifetime and all of these other pathetic landlubbers would just have to watch from the sandy shore of Wimpville.

As I caught the first swell, I knew this would be swell.    I just kept elevating and thinking that I had never, ever had this type of  ride on a wave.    At the crest of the wave, something strange started happening.    The internal gyroscope in my inner ear told my brain “This is not right”, as my feet were now more elevated than my head. Then came the roller-coaster type drop and the nose dive into the sand.   “Where is the water?  I was supposed to hit water.”    I hit the sand with my face…then I found the water.    The wave  deposited massive amounts of water on top of me with the force of an elephant stampede.

I finally crawled out of the water, breathless and battered.    I looked around for my friend and could not find him.   Panic set in, for he does not possess the adaptability to changing water conditions as I.

He  eventually surfaced or rather the ocean spit him out like a bad clam.

We sat on the sand looking more pitiful than two Exxon oil-spill survivors.

Staring into the void and wondering what just happened to us, my friend looked down and noticed that the undertow sucked his wedding ring off his finger.   Now most adults with only a functioning brain stem without the attached gray matter would realize they were lucky at this point and just sit in the sand and enjoy the ocean breezes.    But, alas, we decided to try it again.   We knew we would have better results if we just tweaked our technique just a little.

So out into the surf we went….

(See the above description for the results of the second and FINAL attempt).

Somewhere off the coast of Oahu, Polynesian pearl divers are still looking for an oyster containing the legendary ring that is rumored to have mystical powers that control the waves, but all they have found is an old pair of flowered swim trunks with the monogram “BSD” sewn in the waistband.

Legend has it that the winds still call out for the return of Big Surf Daddy to the south shores of Oahu.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Amelia Island Morning

I needed so badly to get out of town.  I love West Liberty and it’s people, but a body can only stand so much post-tornado sights and insurance-slogging.  I went to the only place on God’s earth that could give me respite…the beach.  No one and I mean not one person in all of humanity enjoys the beach more than me!

The only multitasking I do on the beach is drinking coffee while plopping in a beach chair.

When I am at the beach, I morph into my alter ego…”Big Surf Daddy”.  Big Surf loves to ride the waves.  The biggest difference in Big Surf’s body surfing experience is that he has to sea pee more than in the past.  He is thinking of getting a matching  swimmer’s hat and trunks like the Olympians wear to help neutralize the added girth he has picked up in his sixth decade of life.

Big Surf can’t wait until he is a little older and has lost a lot more of his inhibitions so he can promenade up and down the beach in a new thong.  When he is too old to body surf at least he will enjoy other beach activities, like embarrassing your kids. (After reading this blog, he may have already accomplished that).

Big Surf had trouble sleeping this vacation.  I guess the tornado came with him this year.  He could not escape it even in slumber.  One advantage however in those sleepless times is being awake early enough to go out on the beach for some sunrise photos.  Big Surf wishes he was a morning person because he loves sunrises, especially over the Atlantic Ocean.

He dragged himself out of bed one morning and photographed one Amelia Island dawn.

Alas, I was forced to leave. You could see the tracks in the sand where I was dragged by my wife and kids. I had to face my time of departure and with it say good bye to that inner beach-loving, shark tooth-hunting, late afternoon breeze-napping, drip castle-building, body-surfing, morning-walking, seafood-devouring, reggae-listening  second self.

See you next year, Big Surf.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.