The 14 passengers on this boat, plus Tom, are having a fantastic time going to the islands two or three times a day to explore this incredible location’s wildlife and unique areas. Each time they return to the ship, they have big smiles on their faces, their eyes twinkling with sheer wonder over the treasures they’ve beheld on this last expedition.
I am not sad that I am unable to join them. It’s utterly delightful to see Tom grinning from ear to ear along with his boat-mates over the exquisite sightings they’ve had along the way on each outing. Oddly, I am not jealous but feel a powerful sense of joy in seeing them have such a good time in God’s Wonderland in the beautiful country of Ecuador.
I can sense they feel a little awkward sharing their joy over this blessed experience with me, the one who stays behind, typing fast and furiously on her laptop, an observer of their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But they need not feel bad for me. I am having a glorious time through their eyes, photos, and stories to tell.
Besides, Tom has become a fine photographer, capturing moments with the same finesse I always strive to achieve but seldom accomplish. No longer will I ever tease him about his photo-taking acumen. He’s surpassed all my expectations and is a worthy match for the best of my accumulated, albeit inconsistent, skills over the years.
Yes, I can live this life of unsteady immobility, and from my armchair and expeditions on shaky legs, I can continue to share the adventures we encounter along the way in our upcoming travels. The anticipation for the future is as thrilling and passionate as when my pace was assured and steady. My disability does not imprison me. I am enhanced in spirit over the challenge of making the most of every day, grateful for what I can do instead of what I cannot.
I am emboldened by this new time in life, knowing it’s not unlike the pleasure we derive from adapting to new environments as we’ve traveled the world over the past 11 years in a mere two weeks from today. So much has changed, yet we are still the same people we were in 2012, ambitious, in love, determined, and somewhat fearless.
Perhaps I am not totally fearless when I suffered considerable angst over the impending altitude of Quito at 9350 feet. Then, as the altitude sickness presented symptoms to me, only exasperated by the fact I have heart disease, Afib, and asthma, all conditions known to deter travelers from high altitude, I found a sense of confidence in the fact that I never panicked, drank tons of water and rested as the best panaceas for the condition. By the third day, I was almost back to myself.
Now, when we return to Quito in four days to begin the altitude adjustment one more time, I have no angst or apprehension, knowing precisely what to expect in the last two days we’ll spend in Quito until we fly back down once again to Manta on October 23, to begin the drive to our new home the next day until January 8.
After January 8? We have no plans, but we know our journey will continue to new horizons wherever possible. We’ll most likely make some decisions in the next 30 to 60 days on where we’d like to go. So many factors come into play when making those types of decisions.
Of course, none of these positive feelings I am experiencing would be possible without all of you, our valued readers. Without the daily preparations of these posts with Tom’s stunning photos, I’d be sitting here, playing with my phone or reading a book, neither of which would be fulfilling.
As a matter of fact, I often wonder if we would have continued traveling for 11 years had we not been documenting our daily lives as we have. It’s truly been the most meaningful and enriching aspect of our worldwide travels, knowing that someone out there is gaining joy in the world through our eyes. Now, in some ways, it will be through Tom’s eyes for those experiences that may be difficult for me to experience.
Saying so reminds me of Tom’s dear deceased older brother Jerome, who was blind and passed away last March at 94. Today would have been Jerome’s 95th birthday. A few years ago, when he was still able to read (listen to) our posts through an app on his computer, he said. “Tommy and Jessica, you will be my eyes as you travel the world. Jessica’s words paint a picture I can “see.” Tears flow from my eyes as I write this. We both miss him so much.
Many of our loyal readers have written to us in the past few days, extolling the virtues of our positive attitude in continuing on when others may have surrendered. But we don’t deserve praise for our commitment and dedication to continuing on. Curiosity? Perhaps. Astonishment? Perhaps. Or for some, who may say…” When are they going to get the message that they need to stop?”
No, we don’t continue on to “prove a point.” But, we do continue on for the enrichment of our lives, the sense of awe and wonder of the world, and the blissful adventure and the divine opportunity to share it all with all of you, each and every day. We thank every one of you for the great gift!
Ah, still happy, not melancholy! And grateful for so much.
Photo from ten years ago today, October 17, 2013: