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Sketchy Memories

Every trip holds memories, but many get lost or forgotten. But once in awhile, someone might remind you of an event or a funny salesman or activity. And sometimes, even a small thing reawakens an event or environment that, at the time, seemed unforgettable.

But we do forget. And traveling alone makes forgetting more common—even though I like traveling alone! But still…it’s hard to remember details even with photos and journals.

I’m no artist, but I like to play with creative tools. Dabbling in basket weaving, painting, crochet, sewing, writing, poetry, watercolors. These diversions are mini-mental trips—ways to engage in the present location. While a long sailing vacation can be amazing, the things that last are the memories and the ways we capture them—usually in shaky Instagram photos. Do you ever look at them again? Instead, consider just how much other locally inspired art is a lovely thing to bring home.

On a two-week bare charter from St Lucia through St Vincent and the Grenadines with B, two of our favorite mementos were watercolors painted by locals. They seemed to capture the color, the mood, the sky, the feeling in those tranquil azure waters. One is of other boats, painted by a Canadian living in Carriacou. The other artist, unknown, captured the sparkling, sun-dappled view through a window. Framed by tropical colors, it was the perfect capture of a quintessential view.

A couple years ago, I traveled solo for a few weeks in Guanajuato, Mexico. I had many opportunities to wander alone, to view the city through its tight, cobblestoned callejons and windows of colorful stacked houses on the mountains. It was lovely. I have fabulous photos, but only I can rcan remember them. No one else experienced it with me. Sure, I became FaceBook friend with I few, but I will likely never see many of them, again. It was a truly a singular adventure.

However, some of my clearest memories are also captured in the sketches I made of the everyday scenes: the zócalo at night, the Opera House, the plantings in a main square, the simple balustrade outside “my” little church that I adopted as a daily pilgrimage. Each one meant taking an hour or more to look at only one thing and nothing else. Quietly contemplating the bend in wrought iron or the lopsided and aged wooden doors of a home became etched in my brain. The captured scenes take me back to details better remembered than any quick snapshot.

Yes, I came home with a treasured classic tortilla pottery from Gorky Gonzales, but my own very amateur sketches made a memory that only I experienced and, yet, still remembered in infinite detail. No camera or cell phone needed.

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