Saturday, April 21, 2018

Two Gentlemen Meet

One frigid evening in the dead of winter of 1970, my dad was tromping around from door to door selling peanuts to raise money for the Kinsmen. (I think Kinsmen is the Canadian equivalent of Kiwanis.) “Frigid” was an understatement. Winter in the Canadian prairies is cold by anyone's standards. So being underdressed worsens matters.

At the home of Abe and Elsie Suderman, Dad was met by a question from Mr. Suderman, an inquisitive man with a whimsical way of being, "Is that the shoes you're walking around in?" He had noticed my dad's low cut dress shoes, soaked by the snow that stumbled in.

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Mary Pachikara, Copyright 1975 (Click for larger image)

My dad looked down, chuckled and said, "Yes."

In fact his feet were freezing and the evening of volunteering was not what he had expected. The two men knew of each other superficially. Then again when you live in a town of 2,700 people, you kind of know everybody. One was the postmaster. The other was a surgeon.

"Well come on in, let's get those shoes dried off and warm up your feet." Mr. Suderman said without hesitation. He was always a generous soul, and always one of action. Mrs. Suderman made some coffee to warm up my dad and the three of them mused about the winter, clothing, and other topics with surprising ease. This conversation would be the first of many.

"Here," Mr. Suderman said, holding out a pair of rubber overshoes as my dad prepared to leave, "You should put these on for the rest of your evening. Don't bring them back, I can come by the clinic tomorrow and get them."

- - - -

A year later, Mom and Dad had decided to find an empty lot and build a house. Such a lot was right next to the Suderman's house.

In a phone call today with Mr. Suderman, he recollected how my dad came to their house in 1971, mentioned his desire to build next door and asked for the Suderman's permission. "I have never in my world met a guy like your dad. Who asks for someone else's something like that? I have to say we were so lucky your family moved next door."

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Visiting So Many Years Later
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

It was the meeting of goodhearted people, who inspired each other for decades to come. We had many good days across our two homes that I have often remembered. My sisters played, and squabbled, and played with their son Carrie countless times, always coming back together. Their two older daughters, Deb and Barb, babysat us when needed. And those fleeting six years were made so much richer.

I wish we could make some decisions with the less obvious factors in life. Such as buying a home based on the neighbors, rather than the floorplan.

It many instances, it would turn our existences upside down, in a good way, no?

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Jeff Shushan's Intrepid Guidance

After a number of meetings with Jeff Shushan, a seasoned advisor on relationships in stress, Molly, myself and Jeff had agreed to prepare for a profoundly important milestone: we were going to undergo a trial separation. It was November of 2013.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 7 – The Curious Sea Lion Pup

(Day 7 afternoon. San Cristobal, GALAPAGOS!) Alas our last full day! And it’s the afternoon already on San Cristobal. :(

When people are less relevant, you really see how animals act. There's nothing to fear from humans, so as example...

Here's a frame from a GoPro video just before a young, curious sea lion poked my video cam, physically that is, while I sat in a tide pool last week.

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Taking a Close Look at my GoPro
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

All the animals, be it iguanas, boobies, sea turtles, tortoises or dolphins, simply "got on with their business," walking thru our legs if needed to carry on.

I found it enthralling, thought provoking and deeply inspiring, yet often was wistful to be in the middle of a tiny slice of what "Mother Earth" was like at one time, but won't be again for a long time, [ and what remains is potentially passing away too ] due to us.

If you can, visit these nooks and crannies of our planet. You will be happy you did.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 3 – Motoring with the Dolphins

(Day 3, in the evening. Isabela, Galapagos!) We were out on one of the Zodiac boats - -smallish inflatable craft with outboard motors - - looking at many marine birds off the cliffs of Isabela Island.

Then, the boat's seasoned Ecuadorian skipper, Washington, was notified of a pod of dolphins moving gleefully further out in the ocean.

He gunned the engine, headed our vessel out into the ocean and took up chase... landing us in the middle of perhaps 40 magical creatures.
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A Magical, Whimsical Troupe, Cruising the Seas
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Those 10 minutes seemed to stretch for a mesmerizing eternity.

They surged out of the water in pairs, trios, singles. I wished for eyes on the back of my head as the playful scene was everywhere I looked, and did not.

They were on our left, then our right. Back on our left. In front, then behind. To miss on microsecond of it in any direction was a crime.

A Precious One Minute, On Just One Side
Salvador Cazar, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger video)

To be clear, it was their choice, not ours. As if we had been included in their merry band, just cruising the oceans, like a bunch of bikers hauling ass and laughing the whole way.

As fast as it began, it ended and we headed back to the ship. A dream could not have been more remarkable...

Day 3 – Mmmm, the Sun Makes Me So Sleepy…

(Day 3, afternoon. Fernandina, Galapagos! ) Fernandina Island, a lava covered sanctuary for thousands of marine iguanas is yet another remarkable place to visit.

The iguanas are EVERYWHERE.

You truly need to look down constantly as you walk, as it is very easy to step on one of these tranquil creatures - - again an example that the denizens of the Galapagos view humans as irrelevant, so no need to run away when two legged sapiens come around.

Sleepy Iguana
Homer Simpson’s Hero, “I'll Get Up... Later”
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

For better or worse, I think the iguanas also view us as smart enough to notice them and walk around them. So they just don’t move off our paths. (The sea lions don’t either.) Actually, the iguanas would kindly correct me: it’s THEIR paths, that we are using, no?

And the combination of ambient sun above, the dark lava rock below, gentle creature in the middle (with a flexible afternoon schedule), and the occasional shower to regulate the heat? That’s what you call a sleep sandwich.

Who wouldn’t get all woozy, spread out, and get some shut eye.

Zzzzzzzz…..

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Perhaps More Sleep is Natural?

(Day 2, Seymour & Rabida Islands)

Oh my gosh, one benefit of virtually no predators: when you are sleepy, you just sleep. Perhaps this was the world at one time?

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Snoozing in the Mid-Afternoon By, and On, the Rocks

Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Becoming Part of the Village

(Day 1, Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz)

While taking a short hike, we saw the distinctive tracks of a female adult turtle. Large scallops of sand, in a long sequential pattern.

The naturalists were careful that we did not follow these tracks closely.

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A Mom’s Laborious Night Time Trek
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

The First of Most Things is Awesome

(Day 1, Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz, Galapagos! ) The start of anything, the very beginning, usually earns more anticipation and enjoyment than it may deserve.

I think that was the case today.

Why? Because it was our first ACTUAL excursion to an island. Now in truth, all we did was head to a very nice beach, take a short walk around and wade around in the refreshing water.

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Landing on Las Bachas Beach
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Starting with Safety and the Basics of Life on a Ship

(Day 1, Baltra Island) The crew was impressive in so many ways. The first and foremost - its attention to safety and sharing basic info. Gosh they had so much to impart on us and all of it was done in a congenial, paced manner.

Perhaps the biggest datapoint was when Juan Carlos, the Expedition Leader, said with a twinkle in his eyes, "My friends, please know that we are one big family on the Endeavor, so we do not lock our rooms."

Come again?

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Learning About the Ship’s Traditions and Rules
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Finally, We Are on the Boat!

(Day 1, Baltra Island, Galapagos! ) Finally, we are here! ! ! I am about to split in two with the excitement and anticipation of being "on the boat" at last.

By no means do I have complaints: the travel has been so smooth, the length and legs are simply part of any +5,000 mile journey.

Yet again, the Lindblad folks were precise and clear. Leave check-in luggage outside the hotel door by 6:15 am. Breakfast at 6:45. Buses leave at 7:45. Boarding passes handed out at the airport. Then, relax on the 700 mile Avianca flight to Baltra Island, with a piping hot ham and cheese sandwich that puts American's 4 hour flight to shame (are you surprised?).

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Early Morning Start, to the Airport
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Lindblad = Smooth Operations

(Day 1, Guayaquil Airport) It is Saturday morning, Feb 17. We are waiting to board our flight at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

So far, all is very, very well. Credit goes to the Lindblad Expeditions ground staff.

They certainly are highly coordinated and communicate details well.

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Getting Us Oriented on the Bus Ride to the Hotel
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guayaquil, Ecuador

(Day 0, Guayaquil) Leaving Veena and family was made easier due to the anticipation of what lay ahead: a nonstop to Ecuador.

We are one step closer.

The American Airlines flight was fine from an aeronautical sense. The amenities left something to be desired: specifically the supposed in-flight dinner. Remember this is an international flight and yet, it was a cold sandwich, which I hoped was made in the last 24 hours. It's less that I mind as much as I don't know if these once great businesses have lost sight of how diluted their experiences have become.

Shame.

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Heading to GYE
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Galapagos Lucky Strike Extra: Seeing Family

(Day 0, Miami)

My Mom's from a family of 7 kids. Dad, a whopping 14. Most of the siblings are now in the US. The upshot? Many of my destinations have the high probability of not just a friend in town, but perhaps a cousin, aunt or uncle. As the eldest grandchild on both sides, I  straddle two generations of two families. What great luck, no?

Visiting family also answers my penchant to “maximize experiences,” as I have a good history with my extended family. That's a blessing I don't appreciate enough.