Personal Journeys


April 27, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place


By Linda De La Ysla


We are 10 days, 9,000 miles and 15 hours away from Baltimore. Here, in Papua New Guinea, aboard the Paradise Sport, we've been diving in the pristine reefs of the Bismarck Sea.

One morning, we are moored just offshore. Mammoth white clouds bunch up over the horizon, and the sea is an incredible shade of turquoise. On the beach are several canoes with a couple dozen people clustered around them. As I watch, everyone clambers into the canoes, and the entire fleet pushes off, heading in our direction.

At our ship, the villagers trade with us for flour, sugar and cigarettes. As the canoes near our stern, I see arrangements of bananas, pineapples and fish laid out on the prows.

There are a few adults but mostly children in the canoes. The sun glints off skin ranging in color from the bluest black to light olive, from hair dark as soot to strawberry blond. Solemn and silent, the children wait alongside the adults. I mentally contrast their behavior with that of my own teen-agers, or their friends, who would be bursting with noisy energy.

Inside my cabin, I have a bag of lollipops. But will I offend these dignified people by handing out candy?

Suddenly, one boy in a bright blue canoe emerges from the tangle. He is paddling solo, expertly dodging the others. He has a thick mass of dark hair, and must be about 12, the same age as my son Mike, at home in Maryland.

The boy dashes past the others and charges our stern, only to veer off at the last moment. He is grinning. He charges us again and again. The others watch, but hang back. His playfulness reminds me of Mike -- he's a stunt man at heart, too, doing wheelies on his dirt bike. And he loves candy! I dart into the cabin and get the bag of sweets.

For the next 10 minutes, I toss lollipops across the water to the waiting canoes. Amazingly, no one calls out. Adults and the older children catch lollipops for the smallest kids in the canoes. Soon, 20 or so white lollipop sticks are protruding from as many mouths. We all smile shyly at each other.

My daredevil in the blue boat surges back into view. Perched on top of his hair, like a trophy, is what looks like his lollipop. But I suspect he's already eaten it and has rewrapped the paper around the lollipop stick. Again, I think of Mike. More than once, he has handed me an empty Hershey bar wrapper so carefully folded I was tricked into thinking there was still something inside.

It's easy to imagine this Papua New Guinean boy fooling his own mother the same way. Suddenly, home doesn't feel so far away. Even in this part of the world, some things never change.

Linda De La Ysla lives in Glyndon.

My Best Shot

Gary Eifried, Bel Air

Stunning California sunset

While training U.S. Marines at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., I had an afternoon off and decided to visit Joshua Tree National Monument, located between the marine base and Palm Springs. At sunset, the sky lit up in the most beautiful way I had ever seen. It was a perfect backdrop for the hardy Joshua tree, which grows only in that high desert.

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The Azores island chain, called the crown jewel of Portugal, is located some 2,200 miles away from Baltimore in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Last April, my wife and I had two days to explore this volcanic island paradise. The trip focused on one of the nine islands, Terceira. We rented the tiniest two-door car imaginable, and off we went. We toured the island, enjoying the views of the lush, green hills.

Newfane, Vt.

Bob Doyle,

Ellicott City

My friend Sally and I have hiked and biked in Vermont many times during the summer and fall, and always enjoyed the scenery and small towns. We decided we wanted to see how it all looked in winter, and we were not disappointed. The scenery was spectacular, although the temperatures were brisk. We stayed at the Four Columns B&B in Newfane, a picturesque Vermont town.

We Want To Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your memories, 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.)

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