Personal Journeys


January 05, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Years later, Bonaire still feels like home

By Lauren Magnuson


It has been said that you can never go home again. The fear of returning to a former home and finding things radically changed caused me to put off a long-promised trip back to the island of Bonaire, where I had lived for 12 years and had given birth to my three children.

When we left the island in 1994, I promised the children that one day we would return. But the years passed, and soon the children, now adolescents, would be leaving home for their own journeys.

So we set a date. As soon as our plane landed at Flamingo International Airport and we walked across the tarmac, the wind whipping through our hair and the sun warming our faces, we knew that we were home.

Although things had indeed changed, the spirit of the island remained the same. The mixture of Dutch, Spanish and the Creole language Papiamento fell gently on our ears like an almost forgotten lullaby.

The two and a half weeks we spent at a kunuku -- a country house -- with no electricity brought not only our physical lives back to the basics, but our hearts as well.

Antillean neighbors of years past, who were the first visitors after each child's birth, welcomed us with hugs. The visits on the porch, conversing in my now rusty Papiamento (which impressed my children, nevertheless), made us feel as if we'd never left.

Each day we reclaimed a bit of our past and updated our memories as we made our way around the island, visiting favorite spots such as the Thousand Steps (only 77, but with a scuba tank on your back it feels like a thousand!); Karpata, the original government plantation house; the mangroves at Lac Bay; the salt flats that are nesting grounds for the vast flamingo population; and the many accessible snorkeling spots.

A highlight of the trip for my youngest son, whose memories as a 5-year-old had been tinted by the lens of childhood, was repeatedly snorkeling behind our friend's house, where he became acquainted with the resident octopus and the large snook that lived under a nearby pier.

At the end of our trip, with our updated and new memories, and our renewed and new friendships, we boarded the plane. We were sad to leave, but happy knowing that we would be coming back, because some places will always be home.

Lauren Magnuson lives in Baltimore.

My Best Shot

Margret Kingrey, Baltimore

Puget Sound morning

One June morning in Puget Sound, Washington, I got up at 4:30 a.m. and walked down the road beside the cabin, then down the boat-launch ramp to the beach. The sky began to lighten to a mix of soft white, shell pink and ocher. The tide was out, and I walked across the gravel beach to the shore. From this vantage point, I sat and watched the dawn. Mount Rainier was silhouetted against the sky across the bay.

Readers Recommend

Copenhagen, Denmark

Susan Matthews, Cambridge

After returning from a summer excursion to Copenhagen, I was delighted with my photo memories. One of my favorite sights was the waterfront of Nyhavn. The canal area there is full of atmosphere. Formerly a bunch of sailor's taverns, it is now mostly cafes and restaurants where a visitor can dine on Danish cuisine.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Phil Baldyga, Catonsville

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and has the bluest water I've ever seen. A cinder cone named Wizard Island rises out of the lake. The day I was there last year, I felt incredibly fortunate to be viewing this most peaceful and serene place.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

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