Archive for July, 2017

Dear Friends,

Living in Minnesota we are surrounded by beautiful lakes. In fact, they call Minnesota, the “land with 10,000 lakes” but there are actually 11,842 lakes! For many people, going to a lake and spending the day on the water or looking at the lake from the dock is their place of rest – a place where they find peace and quiet to be able to relax. For some people like my Minnesotan husband, a lake brings childhood memories with loved ones like his grandparents. But growing up at a lake was not my experience. I grew up going to the beach house in Nicaragua.

I remember watching my mom pack tons of food and load up the station wagon with food, toys, six kids, and even our maid! Some of my best memories from my childhood are from the years I spent at the beach with my family before the war happened and we had to leave it all behind.

My favorite activity was to walk along the wide, volcanic black sand beaches picking up all sorts of shells. I remember forgetting to put on sunblock to protect my skin and as a consequence my body got full of freckles. At first, I didn’t like freckles because my parents’ priest told me once that I laid in the sun with a strainer on my face. Since then my siblings made fun of me as I was the only one of six children to have freckles.

Who would have thought that in Minnesota I would fit in well with almost every person having freckles! When my son was little and was exposed to the sun he too started getting little, adorable freckles. So I started calling him “pequitas” an endearment term for “little freckles” in Spanish. I wanted to make sure he never felt bad for having freckles. And he did. In fact, one day he didn’t want to eat a banana because it had little dark dots. So I told him the banana was okay to eat. It just had “little freckles just like him.” That was it. He ate the banana happily.

After leaving Nicaragua because of the war and for the next almost seven years, my family lived in the Dominican Republic – a beautiful island where I could see the ocean at least a few times each week. I remember as a teenager, we used to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the George Washington Ave. in the capital of Santo Domingo, which is where we lived. The long road is built along the cliffs of this part of the island and they also built scenic overlooks along the way where we would welcome the New Year with our friends. I will never forget watching the sunrise and feel the hope and excitement that a new year brings. But even when living in an island, visiting the beach didn’t happen often because, just as with every place, you have to own a beach house (or know someone who owns one) in order to enjoy the ocean. Visiting the public beaches was not an option for us as those beaches were heavily populated.

Then I moved to Minnesota in January, 1986 and have been in Minnesota for the past 31 years with no plans to move. Needless to say, I miss the ocean terribly. The lakes simply don’t do it for me. Through the 29 years of my marriage, I always throw the “beach vacation” idea as a top priority on my list. Even though I have been back to Nicaragua, I still have not returned to “El Velero,” the beach where I grew up and what was a big part of my life, since 1979. And I may never be able to return. When my father returned to try to recover his properties over ten years later, he found what was left of our little beach house… the land. People had stolen everything—including the toilets were yanked out of the bathrooms! So he sold the land and the skeleton of the house for a fraction of what he had invested.

My husband and I have visited several beaches through the years – some in Nicaragua like Montelimar, Pochomil, and the famous Poneloya in the city of Leon. We also have gone back to the Dominican Republic to celebrate our daughter’s high school graduation and visited La Romana and Punta Cana. I have not been back to Puerto Plata which is on the north of the island though. A couple of years ago we vacationed in Cozumel, Mexico. That was our first time visiting Mexico and we’ll have to go again to other beaches. When our son graduated from high school it was his turn to choose a place for vacation and he chose a Caribbean Cruise. So we went and experienced a tour of the Virgin Islands, Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. Within the U.S. we have visited Coco Beach – where the first time we went I was burnt to a crisp. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a sunburn in my entire life. It all happened within minutes when I was putting on sunblock on my kids but forgot to do it on myself. We also have visited Daytona Beach in FL, and Pebble Beach in CA.

This week, my husband and I took the opportunity to spend the week at Pelican Beach in Destin, FL, after a speaking engagement I had at a bankers’ conference. I am enjoying every moment of this vacation – the walks along the white, sugar-like, sandy beach, picking up little white shells, and bathing in the sun and absorbing lots of vitamin D. We even enjoyed walking in the rain the other day. It was the very first time we experienced getting drenched in the rain walking on the coast with our feet getting hit by the small waves. It was perfect. There was no thunderstorm and the rain went away later allowing us to still enjoy the rest of the day hanging out at the beach.

I am soaking in the salty smell of the ocean, listening in and storing memories in my brain of the ocean waves breaking on the shore, and enjoying watching people parasailing – something my husband and I will probably not try. We both feel safer on land watching up!

I have taken this opportunity to reflect, refresh, brainstorm, share dreams with my husband, and learn about his too. I don’t know what tomorrow brings so I’m purposed to enjoy every second of my beach experience with the man I deeply love. So that’s my “beach story.” The ocean is the place where I find rest and relaxation… What is your place?


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