In Category: ‘The Bio Channel’

Summer Memories

August 17, 2008
I grew up in the ocean. The Atlantic, to be exact. And when I say “in,” I mean my caboose was actually in it over half of the time.

I remember many an afternoon spent lulled by the meandering waves, watching the most amazing sunsets, being kissed by the warm and gentle Caribbean breeze. I was just a tyke then, but the memories of those moments are forever frozen in my mind, as clear as the waters that I bathed in.
By birth, I am Ecuadorian…by heart and heritage 50% Venezuelan. The other 50% belongs to Chile…but that is for another story. As luck would have it, for the better part of my childhood I was reared in the most beautiful Venezuelan beach fronts.
Every chance my parents got, they would take us kids to the beach. There I would play in the surf, diving in and out of the waves. Before I knew it, a whole day would be gone, but those days you’d be hard pressed to find me out of the water before nightfall. Even as a child, I lived for that moment in which the sun parted ways with the earth, casting shadows and the most unbelievable colors over the water and my skin. There was no fear of sun burn as I always wore a perfect tan for protection. The sand was my welcomed companion as was the constant breath of salt in the spray and air.
Castles, holes to China, boogie boards, fishing, digging for hermit crabs, floating on the waves, there was an infinite number of ways to find amusement at the beach. Alone, or accompanied by friends and family, there was no wrong way for me to enjoy being by the water’s edge or inside the arms of my beloved ocean. Back then there were no fears of strangers, or getting lost. Every soul by the seashore had a happy and benevolent disposition. There was always some sort of music emanating from under the cover of the most luscious palms. People swayed in their hammocks, enjoying the lazy pace of the world, smiles a constant accessory on the myriad of faces.
The freshest seafood was just a catch away or sold for pennies by an assortment of locals that paraded the beach with bucket fulls of tasty treats. My favorite were the raw oysters with a tangy kick of lime juice, the acid perfectly cutting the edge of the salt on my lips left over from the waves. Those were the days of true freedom. In my innocence it did not cross my mind that they would end, but oddly enough, as is so rare the case, I took them in as thoroughly as anyone ever could. Perhaps in some unconscious way I knew that they were fleeting.
There’s still a little bit of a beach bum in me, and as often as I can, I find my way back to my old friend. But when I cannot physically make it to the shore, I thank Jack Johnson for taking me there in heart, as the unmistakable sounds of the sea are always present in his music. And while I will never be a kid again, I will always feel those moments as if I was, with innocence and purity, and the knowledge that they are indeed as swiftly passing as the ocean’s breeze.

The Old Plum Tree

January 18, 2008
I spent the summer of 1992 in Chile after my family relocated countries for the second time in less than 7 years. One fine day mom, dad, little bro and the family dog waved goodbye alongside me at what was to be our “new” old house.
As everyone knows, thirteen is nothing short of a funny age, plagued by raging hormones, awkwardness and plain old persnickety spunk. I went along cursing the day our house sold and lamenting all the friends I was leaving behind, specially after realizing that THE most important part of my student career (High school) would be spent in a foreign land.
Chile, being on the other side of the equator, offered an additional and particularly awful disadvantage: I would, on top of everything else, be robbed of the oncoming US summer having to wait another three excruciating months for summer to roll around in Chile. As if changing lives wasn’t enough, I now faced another round of cold weather and worst of all, another 3 months re-adjusting, AKA repeating the 8th grade (with a Chilean twist).
When summer finally came, and I had passed the 8th grade for the second time in my life, our family settled on a 100 acre ranch about 12 minutes from the city. Our house was a moderate walk from the river and we were surrounded by apple orchards, wheat fields and other fruit trees.
The old Plum Tree rooted itself behind our house, was great for climbing and was packed with summer fruit. It was a magical place to play and make up stories, sit and draw, or gather an afternoon snack. In fact, it was so plentiful that the ground was often covered with the fruit that had overburdened the tree with its ripened weight. Our family dog, Chipper, took full advantage of this by disappearing every afternoon for a couple of hours, gorging himself with plums (pits and all) and offering the only evidence of his adventures by consequently dragging his tummy back around the house, bursting at the seams.
It’s funny what one views as “the end of the world” during those formative adolescent years. Looking back, despite all of the hardship and readjustment, I have very fond memories of that experience. The old Plum Tree is where I picked up a camera for the very first time. Life was truly different, spent in the outskirts of the city on one of the most beautiful country sides in the world, as opposed to the vast concrete landscapes of major metropolitan life. The old Plum Tree will forever be a symbol of summer, life-long friendships, artful endeavors, childhood games and the joy of the great outdoors.
That, was the best summer of my life. And it’s how I came to realize, that life truly is what you make of it. In short, the old Plum Tree is where life becomes an art.