Sixteen Scores for Central America

After eleven hours in transit we made it back to LA just after midnight and I’m writing from home this morning, surrounded by stacks of unopened mail, suitcases filled with dirty laundry and a heart overflowing with precious travel memories.   My body may be back in LA but my mind is still wandering through the wonders of the last three weeks and I have no desire to disturb it with headlines from the New York Times, contemplating my return to work or catching up on my friends’ most recent facebook posts.  I’m far more interested in indulging in my memories of turtle hatchlings making their journey to the sea, midnight rides in the back of open-air trucks, swims in crystal-clear rivers and seas, colorful markets, local bus adventures, dancing fireflies, thieving monkeys, bone-crunching slogs over deeply rutted roads, birds with neon plumage, smoke-belching volcanos, jungle cacophanies and boat rides up cocoa-colored rivers. Let me remain immersed in my travel haze just a little longer — the rhythms of ordinary reality will return soon enough…

The destinations of Nicaragua and Costa Rica graced me with countless gifts for which I am deeply grateful, but the quality of a journey is always greatly influenced by one’s traveling companions, and I had two of the best.  My beloved soul mate, William, is not only my perfect life partner, but my favorite road dog, as well.  We both want to journey to the ends of the Earth together and hopefully we will do just that in the years to come.  As for our nephew, Starr Hathaway?  Not only does he roll with the punches and go with the flow —  he is a true kindred spirit who shares our nomadic impulses and our lust for adventure and I have the feeling that this trip was the first of many the three of us will be taking together.

While we were in Central America, we ended up personally handing out 16 soccer balls.  Sixteen scores in twenty-one days isn’t a bad tally.  Though we have come in from the road for awhile, Travel With Balls is still out there rolling along.  Mathieu and Mirte a young Dutch couple we met on one of our bus rides in Nicaragua, promised to give out some soccer balls on their four-month journey through Central America and I am confident that we will be posting a video of them doing just that in the not-too-distant future.  At the Arenal Observatory Lodge, Judy Salvatore and the rest of her family from Delaware were already plotting how to distribute some balls when we bid them goodbye at their breakfast table.  And the final night of our trip, in a small cafe in Alajuela that served outrageously good tamales, we met Arnold Sowa, Nancy Kao and their three children Tai, Alex and Juliana.  The family was just beginning their 10-day swing through Costa Rica.  Now living in Washington, DC, Arnold, a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Malawi and Botswana, loved the whole TWB concept and enthusiastically pledged to give out some balls during their vacation.  We handed out TWB cards and left fliers at several places during our sojourn and, unbeknownst to us, other travelers could very well be giving soccer balls out to kids and spreading a little joy at this very moment.

To the readers who followed our journey through the blog posts — thanks for coming along with us and please don’t stop visiting the Travel With Balls website.  We will be sharing pictures and videos of our trip, blogging about some really worthwhile organizations we discovered while out on the road, and posting essays, pictures and videos from other travelers who know how to Travel With Balls.  We already have some Travel With Balls pictures and videos from Albania, Brazil and India and those will be posted shortly.  Also, please help us spread the word  — tell your friends and family members about Travel With Balls and encourage them to do just that.  Invite them to check out our website. Above all, always remember — the goal is joy!

Peace & Blessings & Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas and An Awesome New Year —