We wanted to know what connects you to a stretch of coast. It could be a memory, daydream, a destination wedding or honeymoon, a trip you took as a family or as a gang of unruly students. We wanted to know the where and most of all, the why.
What is it about the trip itself, or its recollection? What is it that connects you to that or those places and times? We wanted to hear about the smells, sounds, and sensations that shape an experience in your mind and every recollection afterward.
In the first installment of Traveler's Tales, Randall shares a few impressions of an approach to South America, many moons ago and many leagues into his ongoing journey. Enjoy!
Cups of smoky South African tea. Milky, with honey from a Cuban grandmother's backyard. Sulphur. Thick rotten-egg air from the geothermal river that empties into the anchorage just a few yards from the boat. A piping-hot morning swim. The baguette and orange marmalade for breakfast is from April of 1992, when a wide-eyed teenager, buzzed on thick Earl Grey, tried talking philosophy with Sorbonne Karen in her tiny 5ème apartment.
The chart taped to the bulkhead stares boldly down at the breakfast table; I stare back. It is cut in half. The rest was rotted, left in that half-sunken boat in Trellis Bay a month ago.
The Windwards dot the latitude lines in a Morse-code crescent that ends at oblong Trinidad. Noel Brazil's "Columbus" should be playing on a scratchy AM radio, Mary singing that aching line dreaming about the man and all those beautiful charts.
Trinidad. Just a few dozen more hours under sail until this tiny ship closes the coast of South America. We've made thousands of miles together, from Maine to Havana and back, Canada three summers ago, then I left her alone to watch the eye of a massive hurricane from the muddy shelter of Puerto Rican mangroves.
Now her skipper questions the chart, wondering if the trades might shift enough to make for Barbados from Martinique. Probably not. The Grenadines will be plenty. For now, at least.
The table is cleared, baguette crumbs and roibos leaves relegated to the poubelle. Shortly the anchor will come up, and my little boat and I will keep tracing a line southward, into the questions.
Want a free chart?
Do you have a story you'd like to share? It can be about a place you've been, or can't wait to visit. We'd love to know where and why! We're looking for stories between 400-1000 words and If we choose your story for publication, you can choose the chart of your choice and we'll ship it to you at no cost*! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or submissions.