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Our tour of Peru ended too soon. The camera in my mind and my physical camera are overflowing with images that I will enjoy revisiting. Though I won’t remember a hundredth of what I’ve experienced, I will forever remember how I felt. The majestic beauty of ruins of ancient Machu Picchu, the bizarre life of living on floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca, the simple, sweet gesture of a momma opening up the outer folds of her wrap to show us her tiny babe. The people are always what I remember. The passion they exhibit when showing us their city or corner of the world makes me wonder if I could display the same emotion for a foreign visitor.

Son Caleb and I had the chance to “recover” from our tour of Peru with a mini vacation to Dominica Republic. Niece Jena Beth was celebrating her one year anniversary at a resort in Punta Cana. Her husband Jared had to depart for work, and since we were “in the neighborhood”, we flew in to do some sun and sand time before returning to the real world. It was a perfect plan.

Sprawling on lounge chairs with palm trees waving overhead, we discussed alpacas and Incas and the merits of powdery soft beaches. Our resort seemed to have a million employees and each one made me think they were happy to have a job. Remember this island suffered a huge blow during the hurricanes this fall. When I asked taxi drivers and hotel staff about the damage, they were proud to report that the repairs had been done quickly and tourists weren’t inconvenienced. This is an island coming into the world in a big way with old and new literally across the street from each other. Driving into Punta Cana, a tiny home caught my eye. More of a shack, the blue abode had laundry dangling on a wire from the roof to a tree limb. There were a couple of goats tied under the same tree. I glanced in other directions around this tiny home and saw several giant retail box stores looming a stone’s throw away. The contrast was hard to wrap my mind around.

Hopefully we travel to experience a different world; otherwise it would be easier to stay home. I was reminded on this tour of a few things we take for granted everyday of our all American lives. One, hot water. Just to expect hot water to be available from any tap is a gift. The bonus is soap and a towel. #Thankful Two, being able to flush toilet paper. Maybe TMI, but much of the world does not have the septic systems that we enjoy. Waste bins are overflowing and someone has to handle that trash removal. Before you gag, remember to be thankful for your sewer. #Thankful Three, money. I try to follow my own advice and use my debit card in an ATM to get some local currency for “walking around money”. I withdrew over 600 Peruvian Soles to stick in my wallet. It hit me that was about half a local teacher’s monthly salary. It was about $200 US. Walking around money for most of us. #Thankful

I saw the world through my son’s eyes. We laughed and got tears and experienced something that had purpose and meaning. We planned it and made it happen. It was wonderful. In this season of thanksgiving, I’m blessed to travel and hopefully I can share my experiences with readers, for this I’m thankful. #Thankful