How lucky are we to have been able to speak on two Caribbean cruises in the past two months? It will probably never happen again! Our cruises were entirely different however. One was on a small ship called The Sliver Sea, full of young presidents of their companies with whom we stopped at private Islands for tours and parties. The other was on a giant Royal Caribbean ship that held 3000 people where our group was mostly older, more “experienced” grandparents where we did six presentations.
The first cruise had a plethora of educators on board and almost every minute at sea was filled with fascinating keynote speakers and workshops. Since we were doing several workshops ourselves, we didn’t get to hear as many of the others as we would have liked.
There was a deep-sea diver who showed us unimaginable creatures that he had experienced under the sea. Elizabeth Smart was also there and was interviewed by a famous DJ from LA who put her at ease in talking about her horrendous story. She was there with her husband who is a terrific guy from Scotland and she is pregnant and due to deliver soon. We already knew many of the details of her horrible experience with her kidnapper, but we didn’t realize how much she is doing for other children who have been kidnapped or abused. She is working with several organizations who are rescuing children from sex slave rings and is doing a lot to champion kids who have suffered sexual abuse!
A most interesting 29-year-old man who was born and raised in Iraq gave one of the keynote speeches and a workshop. What he told us that really going on in that region was astonishing! With a Muslim dad, Jewish mom, a high school education in a Catholic School and a PHD from Oxford, his credibility was pretty high! He had graphic pictures showing what has and continues to be happening in the Middle East. He was a fabulous photographer and showed us in vivid detail, why the Iraqis hate Americans and why ISIS considers Americans The Great Satan.” A few really bad mistakes in judgment by inexperience American troops have rippled through the region and the result is not pretty.
He lost his wife and child in the war in Iraq as well as a brother and brother-in-law in grizzly events since then. Instead of being bitter he is committed to educating the next generation in Iraq about democracy and the unknown world of real Americans which those in the middle east have no clue about. He says that the current generation is lost. Too much “water under the bridge.”
Funded by a powerful foundation he is spending most of his time in Iraq educating Jr High and High School students with his unique knowledge of both cultures. What he told us about what is really going on with ISIS was stunning! He had interviewed many ISIS recruits….mostly kids from Europe who were “down and out” and ISIS offered them money and a cause to live for. As unbelievable as it sounds, recruits are flocking to fight for ISIS. Thousands showed up after the bombings in response to the first beheadings, thousands more flocked to ISIS after the newspaper attack and the events that followed in Paris and thousands more probably will probably show up after this stunning new event of the brutal killing of the Jordanian pilot. Authorities on the news today said that they think that ISIS has about 50,000 in their army. It seems that they don’t mind losing a few thousand of those minions here and there! What an incredibly scary world we live in!
That was a bit of a tirade but let’s go from terror to the sublime beauty of the Caribbean! First of all, I have to say that there was some very nice food….some of which sadly remains on my body.
But oh the beauty of the earth!
And what fun we had in the mud baths and the waterfalls on our shore excursions. Guess who had the most fun of all?
The picture below shows our great new friend George, who has just rescued those sunglasses he’s wearing for a young Korean man who was on his honeymoon with his wife. We had lost his prescription glasses in the force of the waterfall and couldn’t find them. George wouldn’t quit until he retrieved them. In talking to the young couple afterward, we discovered that they lived in Manhattan…..about two blocks from our son Eli and his wife Julie. They had just moved to NYC for school. What a small world! Needless to say, we got those two young couple connected!
We also met a lot of great new friends as we enjoyed our dinners on the cruise with a different group every night.
What a grand time we had learning the stories of these remarkable people! Each one has had such an interesting life story!
We loved our cruise managers!
These big guys are pretty amazing!
What a memorable experience for us!