Temporary Sunshine

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada – October 1992

While Hans and his assistant, Nueng, finalize the arrangements for the sailboat, I let the sun seep deep into my bones. The beach is nearly deserted. The only sound is the rippling of the hesitant waves as they brush the shore. A local man approaches me. He’s selling charms that are as smooth and shiny as onyx. They are carved from a seed and polished, he tells me. He does not smile, even after I buy one from him.

I lie back on my chair and try to process my situation. I met Hans and Nueng for the first time in person last night. Months ago, I had answered an ad for a travel assistant that my sister had sent me from the Bangkok newspaper. Last week, after I had long since forgotten about it, Hans called me. He had already found an assistant, he said, and was getting ready to sail through some Caribbean islands to look for a place to buy property. But there was room on the sailboat for one more.


I have a return ticket and my mother has a photocopy of his passport. Just in case.

This is the second time in my life that I’ve been the recipient of such generosity. Once in a lifetime is incredible, but can I be so lucky again? Bad things have happened to me, but only when I’ve allowed smiles and smooth words to obscure my intuition. And always when I’ve been on my home turf and thought that I was safe.

Anyway, I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m twenty-four years old and, after five years in California, I’m back in Michigan, living in my mother and stepfather’s basement. My job is serving beers and burgers in a dive bar that’s frequented by former classmates who now have respectable jobs. When I look into the future all I see is a void and all I feel is despair. This trip is some temporary sunshine in the abyss.

I hear my name called. Hans and Nueng wave to me from the hotel’s balcony. I gather my things and walk towards them. When I met them last night, my anxiety subsided immediately. Hans has a cherubic smile and the top of his perfectly round head is bald. He would look more at home in a friar’s brown robes, pruning rosebushes in a cloistered monastery. Little Nueng’s eyes sparkle. They joke and laugh with each other like old friends. They have opened their circle to welcome me.

But you never know.

A couple of hours later, we set sail for Carriacou. I watch the coastline of Grenada slip away. Whatever happens now, I’m on my own.


33 thoughts on “Temporary Sunshine

    • Hi Rebecca – I go through phases where I start to panic because I don’t have a real career or a lot of tangible possessions. I know that in the end it doesn’t matter, but I sometimes i can’t help but think of the “what if”s and “what will happen when I’m old”s. The phase always passes, thankfully. Thanks as always for your insightful comment. –Julie

      • Time will take care of itself. As Helen Keller observed: .”Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” Live gloriously and passionately. The end will come in the right moment, but what you do before is what counts…

  1. Great post! I could actually feel butterflies in my stomach as I read it… picturing the scene. What a great experience at what seems like the perfect time in your life. Love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I have to say I love the blog…been looking at it and to tell you the truth I follow without seeing it or knowing who you were or what it was about, but I saw “Le Vagabonde like your post” I just click the follow button immediately (thank you for liking my post). Do I understand this post and your blog traveling for me is different is not about souvenirs and expensive hotels and spending all this money. The post you liked Luxembourg, well that was my first trip to Europe (well some of the photos) I went to 7 countries and all I did was get an odd job and went, came back with nothing and kept going with my life and never stop traveling and no I am not rich at all. I love your about- page too. I can relate so much.

    • Hi Doris, thanks so much for taking the time to look through my blog. I’m happy that you like it and can relate. I really enjoyed your Luxembourg photos. I’ve been looking around WordPress for a couple of weeks for posts about Luxembourg, because I’m going there in April. Your photos are by far the best. Cheers! – Julie

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  5. Liking your writing style. I’ve felt like this: “My job is serving beers and burgers in a dive bar thatโ€™s frequented by former classmates who now have respectable jobs. When I look into the future all I see is a void and all I feel is despair. This trip is some temporary sunshine in the abyss.”

  6. Like skipping stones, off to hop from one island to the next. Some places the world just slows right down, offers much time to think and ponder; better here.

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