I feel much like the older Bilbo Baggins – as I sit here on my comfortable couch, in my home that is feeling more like home every day, with a sweet little dog curled up by my side – reflecting on the last couple weeks as if they were just yesterday, yet years ago simultaneously at long last. I start my new job Monday (tomorrow as I write this) with HSUS and I wanted to wrap up the cross-country blog in pictographic style…each image below telling the story of a leg of our adventure; from a first-class pie to car-dog-piles to sunsets and sunrises and corn fields for days. It’s been an experience of lifetime, crossing these here united states. It went by much quicker than I expected but I guess that’s a sign that the company and vibe were spot on-it was only when we hit Nebraska that we realized we hadn’t much listened to the radio. It was just that good. All of it was. The silence and gazing and the talking and laughing. We were lucky that we had a safe and smooth ride, Yuki did not bite anyone, and that we had amazing people along the way who opened their home to us for a night or three (surprise, Codie & Linds!). To everyone we stayed with (Mom & Rick in CA, Beth in UT, Ryan & Rebecca in CO., Lindsey and Codie in IO, and Pat and Debbie in OH): Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!! Our home is open to you anytime!
I’ll update you all on Silver Spring, Maryland life in the near future, as well as what I can disclose about life in the new role. If I am walking away with one thing from this entire experience, it is that there are a whole lot of things to see in this world-your impression of them has more to do with you than them. This trip was reflective and peaceful for me-things I’ve needed to reconnect with greatly.
Beauty and hope can be found anywhere… you need only open your eyes and be grateful for sight.
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I’ve got to keep this short and sweet, as I’m much more tired than I thought I’d be after 12 hours on the road today (that’s about 9.5 hours of driving and some necessary potty breaks for two and four-legged along the way). I’ve got so many thoughts-how beautiful are the clouds and the sky over the California Rockies?, How sad is it to see cows shipped up and strapped in to trucks hauling their terrified eyes off along the highway (still want that burger?!)?, How lame emergency road side “assistance” from Hertz is (never patronizing again, but we are okay…)? All these to be further explored in due time, but for now, I’m surrounded by tired pups, a passed out boyfriend, and a sore neck so off to bed I go.
But before I do… I just want to send out some MAJOR love to the wonderful human that we are staying with in Salt Lake City tonight: Beth, a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Kenya in the 80s) who has a lovely and welcoming apartment. She’s opened her home to us, and after she got back from working in Shanghai and Pakistan received lots of community support, so she’s returning the favor to us tonight. I’m just thankful for good people, good Indian food, and a warm spirit who loves our dogs. Go humankind <3
Enjoy some pics from Day 1, loves. Thanks for swinging by! Until Colorado mañana…
It’s been three years since I’ve been on this little rock in this big Caribbean Sea. I’ve found myself pinching my arm out of disbelief that I’m actually back. I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back after Peace Corps, but here I am. It’s morning, sitting on Leslie’s deck as 3 pound Stella (a Canadian transplant chihuahua that Jade carried home with her from living abroad) sits on my lap and co-observes the 85 degree shaded wind rustling bamboo trees and collected bohemian wind chimes from bouts of travel around the world. Governor, one of five bottle baby-puppies Les and I took neonatal care of five years ago, basks in the rising sun. Bouganvillea-bonsai hybrids add color depth to the vista of tangerine, coral and turquoise colored houses and a cobalt-ombre sea at rest. Barking dogs speak with vocalizing chickens and I smell the faint scent of salt and coconut. Jade and her mama laugh in the kitchen while eating papaya, Nescafe and toast. It’s as if I never left, yet it feels new-in a way.
The last time I was on St. Vincent, literally my last step on the mainland, was on a dock in Calliaqua. We (somehow!) arranged for 6 island mutts to come home with us-Isla, Roo, Wolf, Sandy, Yuki & Birthday Cake…the last 5 being foster failures because we never thought we’d be that crazy. But we were/are/will be. It was midnight and our less-than-sober skipper had arrived four hours late to the port with not the slightest apology. Ahh, one of my last experiences of “island time”. My life packed in two bags, we loaded them and the five crates onto the 40′ vessel. Birthday Cake, Yuki’s puppy, was only 2 months and as the runt, was small enough to fit into a soft carrier that I’d be bringing on board the plane with me. As we set off on our overnight journey through the Grenadines, along channels and a full moon nestled into stars of stars, I felt sad but relieved. Relieved to be returning home and reuniting with familiarity and the missed comforts of America. Yet my heart had been opened and broken without being properly healed-I felt, and still do to this day, a rawness and vulnerability to sadness when thinking of this place. So much beauty from the bird’s eye view juxtaposed with so much tragedy on the ground. To leave on that little boat with my life and dogs and boyfriend felt selfish, like I was giving up too soon, but I had to go. Not only was my service up, but I needed a break and breath. Or two or three…
A lot has happened since leaving St. Vincent. The VSPCA has had it’s successes and challenges but continues to make progress-one animal and person at a time. It can be stressful and overwhelming for the handful of committed volunteer board members to plan, execute and carry on regular spay-neuter clinics, but it’s so worth it. The mobile van is looking fine and partnerships between organizations seem to be ripe for growth. Challenges can look like a very successful spay/neuter day of 70 surgeries by one government vet in Owia one day, and then driving home to see a van (like a bus and is the primary mode of transporting up to 21 passengers at one time) swerve to intentionally hit a dog on the street. Bandades-approaches to problems can only do so much. It’s time to increase proactive measures to systemically shifting the culture toward a more compassionate and empathetic place. This will begin with the children.
My primary reason for being on this trip is not only to assist vets at clinics, but to assist in developing a strategy to work closer with the Ministry of Education to get character education and humane education lessons into primary schools… SO much more challenging than drafting a few empathy-based curriculums on responsible pet guardianship and the value of spay/neuter. Things down here take time and seem to, at times, be unnecessarily complicated. But that’s another blog post :) Things are happening, but gosh darn is it heart-breaking to see the overall state of the animals down here. Truth.
I met a hubs/wife team in Mustique who do feral cat spay/neuter when I was in the Peace Corps back in 2012. They’re lovely and have been doing it for years for the small, privately owned, celebrity/royal-infused island. We talked about the still-relatively-infant VSPCA and potentially hosting clinics on the mainland later down the road. Well, we are at that place in the road and we have 3 DVMs and 1 RVT here, as I type, assisting a government vet with as many surgeries as can be done this week. It’s the first go, so there’s lots of learning to do, but future visiting vet programs will smooth out over time. World Vets is also coming to SVG in October-such progress! The demand is beyond high and the need is so great.