Our cruise ship tickets floated next to a sodden toilet paper roll, bobbing up and down on waves that had beached our dresser on the higher ground of the second-floor landing. Instead of the mariachi band, balloons and waving relatives, our send-off came from four solemn herons, stick-legged, spearing fish in what once was the Safe Way parking lot.
The gangway was two planks balanced on an aging fishing boat where two tired but smiling Hispanic men beckoned with their hands in our only shared language.
Our luggage -- a backpack with dry clothes for two days -- was easily stowed. Our first port of call the gymnasium of a school just far enough up a hill to have escaped the flood waters.
My wife and I had always wanted to minister to people in a third-world country. Now our home had been reduced to one. We watched mile after mile of debris, decay and heartbreak bob in the wake of the fishing boat.
The layover at the elementary school lasted longer than expected. The food and entertainment on this particular trip left much to be desired. Seems they were a bit overbooked, from looking at the people packed like sardines here.
Little by little, people moved on. We learned our own destination had been changed several times, but was finally firmed up.
A pontoon boat ferried us to the airport, giving us an opportunity to see more local color. The pilot pointed out where the old bordello used to be, the former location of a waterfront hotel, the resting place of a luxury automobile dealership.
At the airport, we were treated to a jolting ride on the baggage carts to our waiting helicopter and soared off to our final destination.
As we disembarked there was, again, no mariachi band. No balloons. No relatives?
But there was an elderly couple, smiling at us as if we were their long-lost children. They wrapped us in sweatshirts against the morning chill, provided a thermos of coffee and swept us lovingly into their SUV for a short ride to our resort accommodations.
Our new room was much more spacious than the average cruise ship berth. Robins, rather than herons, pecked the front yard.
And luxury abounded! We had running water, electricity, dry clothes! Our first shower in more than a week! Hamburgers hot off the grill with baked potatoes!
Right now, this bed feels so good, we may sleep for days.
But in the morning, we will thank God for our wonderful vacation ... and for His faithfulness.
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