December 17, 1930 ~ Barbados
Arrived early at Barbados and debarked in a launch for an all day stay ashore as we were scheduled to sail at 6 P.M. A “Snowball” delegated himself our guide and accompanied us to the Post Office where I dispatched the balance of my cards and purchased a collection of stamps. We persuaded him to leave us and we wandered around hunting for odd shops to spend more money. Succeeded in finding native dolls and also bought a rubber ball so Cappy could play with it instead of Anne’s air pillow. It was raining wet rain so slipped into the Self Help shop which sells all sorts of hand made articles from jellies to dresses. We were attracted by the fresh flowers and bought 3 doz roses for 50¢. We had the flowers well wrapped as we didn’t want any one to see them and returned to the beach. Found Dunnett and Haig out on the pier. Later on the beach joined Charlie, Percy and Minna Meyer. The sun was hot but no one cared to leave, even after one blast from the ship designating one hour before departure. At 2 blasts, 5:30, rushed to dress and got to the launch at the pier where the rest were waiting to pick us up. There were 6 of us including Mr. Guy (2nd mate).
Anne clutched the package of flowers while I did likewise to the package of dolls. They wanted to see what we had and because we were so secretive they attempted to punch the packages. We protested and giggled and I acted as though mine was the important one to keep them away from the flowers. They thought, especially Guy and Minna, that we were carrying bottles of liquor, more so because I mentioned that we would not have the contents when we reached New York. Wouldn’t let the men carry either of our packages up the landing stairs. It was almost 6 P.M. and as usual we were practically the last aboard before raising anchor. Dumped the stuff in our room and rushed up on deck to watch our departure.
Dressed for dinner in a hurry and divided the flowers into two bunches for Capt. D and Philip Payn. Waited until all had descended to dinner. Anne sneaked Payn’s flowers into his room and then with the second bunch we went up the aft stairs and so to the Captain’s quarters. Not knowing whether he was in, we tiptoed around to the window above his desk and dropped the flowers through. Anne had written the notes “From two ardent admirers.” Then down to dinner feeling giggly and guilty. Afterward Anne saw Payn and he guessed immediately who the donors were and gave Anne two jars of Self Help guava jelly for us in appreciation. Up on the boat deck I spoke to Capt. D. but as he said nothing about the flowers I assumed he had not been to his room. Spent the evening with him and teased him about having gotten something for him which he would see next day.
Nepal, A Love Letter.
I didn’t realize soon enough that I had love in my heart for a place I don’t know if I’ll ever come to see again.
I’m sorry I compared you to India in my mind. I almost didn’t get to meet you because of my apprehension. Misinformed is all that was. I was naive when I was introduced to your neighbor next door, too young to understand the charm and wonder of the dusty streets. Before getting on the plane to visit I was told that I would love your beautiful colors and that your children with their bright smiling faces would want to meet me. It’s true. I’m glad I gave you a chance.
We met at night. I was timid at first, but you were gentle with me. You held my hand as we walked, guided by the light of the moon. I was caught off guard. Blinded by your beauty in the dark, unable to fully make out your face until the oncoming traffic shone a spotlight on you. We got acquainted very fast. You took me dancing. Round and round the Stupa we went, my head spinning like those prayer wheels.
I lay on your chest and listen to the sound of your beating heart to calm myself. Music fading from one street to the next. Car horns. Dogs barking. Shop keepers yelling. You would be a vocal lover, I could tell. Somehow you charmed me with your chaos, an old trick that used to overwhelm me with anxiety but instead had me feeling overcome with joy. I felt at ease when you invited me in. That powerful incense you lit further seduced me into your arms. Swept off my feet and locked in to your blue Buddha eyes, I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with you that night.
I woke to the sunshine and a warm February breeze, a calm counterpoint to a night of such passion and intensity. I rubbed my eyes and rolled over, saddened to find you had already left. You were probably going about your day with no pretenses to speak of. You are a hard worker, honest and humble. A breath of fresh air in an otherwise polluted city. I saw the beautiful flowers you left outside my room. They were hibiscus, a floral scent so fresh and clean. The petals were placed strategically, inviting me to follow. It was a scavenger hunt you were leading me on with no note or clues as to where I would end up or what I would find. How did you know I liked surprises?
I was always drawn to the tall, strong ones, and you knew this. I could imagine the sly smirk on your face as you introduced me to Nyatapola, the temple that towers over all the rest in your land. I found the petals on the stairway leading up to the entrance, lined with five pairs of symbolic stone guardians on each side. Each is said to be ten times as powerful and strong as the figures that rest on the tier below. Humans are placed at the bottom, lest we forget that we’re not the all important beings we delight ourselves to be. Always a teacher, you are. The place of worship still stands proud, 30m in the air, while the surrounding structures crumbled and fell to their knees in the earthquake. Although your most prized possessions are now just piles of rubble, I hope you don’t feel like you have to hide your scars from me. I was never one to judge by appearances anyway.
From the base of Kathmandu, climbing up into the mountains, I perceived the air and mood to be much lighter, as if your chakra and mine were reaching enlightenment together with the ascent. Off in the distance I saw a temple on a hill with prayer flags tethered down in each corner. I stopped to bow my head, offering the flowers I scooped up from my treasure hunt along the way. In exchange, you gave me a blessing and a yellow necklace to wear round my neck, matching the fields of mustard flowers below. Such a happy color, and it was always my favorite. The mysterious view across the valley is what I’ll hold with me, along with the sense of awe and wonder that filled my being in its presence. Thank you for leading me there.
The artist in me admires your use of vivid color and detail. Marigolds of fiery hues match the red tika blessings on foreheads. Both are as vibrant as your personality. The palette used in your prayer flags is mimicked on the exteriors of houses. That’s to say the rainbow brings about a joy to an otherwise drab city. And the magnificent statue of the lotus-born Buddha rises out of the earth atop a hillside just outside of Kathmandu proper. It, too, has a radiant rainbow and gold body and is impressively tall, though, sadly, under construction. A testament to your tenacity, perhaps, that Buddha remains a beacon watching over the valley. I couldn’t help but notice the erotic carvings on the exterior struts of the temples in Durbar Square. My cheeks blushed, as if you thought I needed a reminder of you and your wild ways. The Newari craftsmanship of the tantric gods and goddesses, intertwined like we were that night. Hands on hands on limbs on bodies, bending and contorting together as one. I know you’re not intentionally trying to show off, but you do, in so many surprising ways. My heart is not the only part of me that lusts for one more night with you.
It’s evening time again and I find myself alone, not realizing I’d miss your hand in mine. I locked eyes with a girl that had a yellow flower in her hair and her arms wrapped tightly around a boy on his motorbike. I shot her a smile of approval before she was gone into the cacophony of the city night. Oh how I longed to be whisked away like that again. I wander around, slinking into the dusty aura of the side alleys. Having anonymity in the dark speaks to the Monster in me, another masked face in silhouette. I’m lost in a sea of chaos. Gorgeous beings with warm brown skin and gentle onyx eyes surround me. I’m taken by the dark-skinned lookalikes of an Indian crush of mine. Silly, I know. To this day he still doesn’t know how I feel.
You wrapped me up in a traditional red scarf as we said goodbye. It was your last way of wishing me safe travels. We walked arm in arm toward the airport gate. I noticed this gesture of friendship is common here, no matter the gender of the two connected. It’s just a simple act of human touch, honoring the light and love in one another, among friends. You are beautiful, my dear Nepal. I miss you and your smile. Namaste.