Paradise….not so elusive after all

It has been over a month since my last entry on my blog. My writing has not been idle, I have some works that are in the making. However, a recent business trip gave me a gift inside my heart that speaks to the essence of what is important in life, at least to me, and I am sure to most, if not all, who will read this story.
This particular business trip was not to some metropolitan city, but to Puerto Rico, “the island of enchantment”. Old Chris Columbus had happened upon this jewel of the Caribbean in 1493. The Spanish took hold of her and didn’t let go until some 400 years later when the United States whipped the Spaniards in the Spanish-American War. Since then, she has been a U.S. Territory.
DSC00699
I’m sure those Spanish sailors that first set foot on her beaches and looked up at the palm trees swaying in the tropical breezes thought they had found paradise. The Spanish put so much strategic importance in Puerto Rico that they began to build one of the most impressive arrays of fortifications of the time situated around the main city of San Juan. The forts of El Morro and San Cristobal were amazing feats of engineering for the 1500’s. The Spanish would continue to improve upon the fortifications and build onto them for hundreds of years. They would even repel an assault in the 1700’s by the British, who were ultimately unsuccessful in their bid to capture this gem of the Caribbean for the British Empire.
Today, as a United States Territory, her forts are maintained by the U.S. Park Service. It was certainly a treat for an old soldier like me to tour her parapets and stand in the same outposts where so many Spanish soldiers held vigil as they looked out over the sea.
PR Sentry Post
Part of the city, “Old San Juan”, is now a tourist mecca lined with restaurants, clubs and shops to entertain the traveler. Cruise ships frequently make port here so their passengers can spend the day and take in the sites. For travelers on vacation, this can be an escape to an island paradise. For the business traveler, one can still revel in the beauty and excite your palate on the local offerings, but even paradise for the business traveler can leave an empty feeling in your heart when you are not sharing it with the ones you love.
After a day of work, one can relax his soul in the evening by standing on the edge of the ocean and listening to the waves splash against the rocks below. The sea breezes sway the palm trees and blow across your face and take you into a different consciousness as you gaze across a moonlit sea.
PR Palm Trees
Even in this moment of peace, my thoughts are drawn to my wife and daughter back home. My wish at that moment would be to have them standing with me sharing that moment of peace together. Each morning, I get ready to go to work and I stare out my hotel window at the beautiful blue sea that greets me, I thank God for giving me this opportunity to see the grandeur of his creation. I then think of my wife and daughter and I am thankful that I am one day closer to being back home.
My time at work comes to a close. Early on a Saturday morning, vacationers are poised to spend the day at the beach or sit around the pool and spend a day in paradise. I am pulling my luggage along to the check out area with equal anticipation in my heart. But my excitement does not reside at the beach or pool, my excitement resides with the sight of my home and loved ones as I pull into the driveway.
PR Waves
I finally make it on board the plane and look out over the blue Caribbean for the last time. In a few hours, I touch down in Atlanta. Before long, my truck is southbound on I-85 and I am heading for home. When I pull into the driveway, the lawn that needs mowing looks priceless to me and the sight of my front door gives me a lump in my throat.
I walk inside to the smiles and hugs from my wife and daughter. My daughter has baked me a cake shaped like a heart and my wife has an impressive spread of hors d’oeuvres for me on the table.
The look in their eyes is more breath-taking than the paradise I had just left. Their hugs bring more comfort than any evening tropical sea breeze. Some would say that I left paradise and came home. I, indeed had a great privilege of seeing the masterful hand of God’s creation in the Caribbean Sea. But I didn’t leave paradise, I came home to it. Paradise is where we make it and where we see it. I see paradise everyday I get to look into the eyes of my family. Paradise….yeah, it’s not so elusive, it’s found in love. And I am thankful for my paradise.Robin and Molly

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