Happy Thanksgiving! I wish for you a lovely day of family, friends, and thankfulness for all that you have.
Here is your Thanksgiving Gift from the islands. Story first…you know me by this time about stories!
There are still many islands of Polynesia that still are only accessible by boat.
Palmerston, in the Cook Islands, is one that I hold dear in my heart. I love all the islands and lands of the South Pacific, but Palmerston, out by itself is just a beauty both in its geography and its people.
It had been a dream of mine since I was about six years old to visit Palmerston. I used to read with my dad, on his lap, through every National Geographic that came. It was a special day when the magazine arrived; we had new lands to explore! There we sat, and read about the world one article at a time. This was the start of my lifetime desire to see the world. I learned of places that seemed on the edge of the world. The words they spoke and the pictures that represented these places were vessels to me that to me to so many new places. Islands like Palmerston, the islands in the middle of the ocean are always what captured my imagination the most and drove my desire to see them.
Turn the pages of 16 years, and there I was in a Love’s BBQ restaurant on Shelter Island in San Diego looking at all the boats with Robert Lynn. Robert had taken a mine sweeper to Vietnam and had owned several boats. He had always wanted to drop the lines and sail out into the world he said. When he said that, in that moment, everything I had planned to do in my life, changed. As I sat in that restaurant, I remembered that six year old boy, on my father’s lap reading about the islands and about the far away island of Palmerston. In that moment, I knew I was going to see this island that I had dreamed about since I was six.
On the morning we arrived by sailboat, Rhiannon, the name of a Welch witch, the sun was just coming up over the horizon and I saw these small boats coming from the island to us. It was just like in the magazine! The locals coming to greet us in their boats! They all came aboard and showed us where to anchor.
We were the first boat to arrive to Palmerston in nine months. We had for them, from Rarotonga, mail, food stuffs, and things from family members. We stayed for four days. We were taken care of by the three local families. A watch was placed on the boat while we were ashore as the anchorage was not totally protected from the sea. It was an amazing time.
We learned about the people of Palmerston and created life long friendships. George Marsters, a young man of my age guided us along during our visit. When it came time for us to leave, he gave me this gift, which I now give to you.
George said, “When you arrived to our island, you certainly experienced us with you mind. What you are not yet aware of, is that we all have planted a seed in your heart. It is a seed of love from the Polynesians. It can just sit there and never grow, but if you allow it, it will grow your whole life. It will compel you to return to our islands to nurture your and our love. Whenever you feel lost or down, you can always call upon this life in your heart to guide you.”
I remember that moment as if it were yesterday as I sit writing this. I remember the sunrise. I remember everyone helping to get the boat ready to depart. And I remember not really knowing what he meant. Over the years, however, I have called upon all the memories of my trip around the world, but none more that this moment on the island of Palmerston. In the middle of the Pacific.
Travel is like that. Meeting new people is like that. Leaving our doors to be in the world is like that. Seeds are planted in your heart that either grow or not. It is your choice.
It is a gift. This knowledge I give to you. Do you let these seeds grow or do you not?
I choose to let it grow. This allows me to guide new travelers to the South Pacific to have new ideas, new passions, and, yes, new seeds to grow, to live, and to cultivate a life of passion and experience. Remember that not only the Polynesians plant seeds in your heart. You do as well. Travel well my friends.
From my world to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!