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Darrell Huckaby: On this vacation I'm following the wake of Christopher Columbus

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Water, water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink. That's not a problem, though, because there is plenty of other stuff -- and don't even get me started on what there is to eat.

As you read this I am somewhere in the Caribbean -- checking out Christopher Columbus's old stomping grounds. Now that was a brave dude. He set his stern to Europe and his bow toward the setting sun and did what no one had ever done before -- at least no one who actually documented his feats. He sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean and didn't stop until he found land. They didn't call him Admiral of the Ocean Seas for nothing, you know.

Nowadays Christopher Columbus is vilified because he kidnapped some of the natives he found on the islands he explored and took them back to Spain for show-and-tell. Folks say that Columbus didn't know where he was going or where he had been and that he didn't discover America because the Vikings may or may not have been here first. Plus Columbus's men and those who would follow introduced the Indians to diseases for which they had no immunities and forced Christianity on them and ... well, you know all about that. You can blame all the evils of modern society on either Christopher Columbus or George W. Bush.

I still say Columbus was a brave man and he opened the door to a whole new world, and if you are going to blame the death and disease and destruction on Columbus it seems like you'd have to give him a little credit for Coca-Cola and the space program and defeating Hitler and Tojo and winning the Cold War, too.

But I digress -- as usual.

What I started to tell you was that my lovely wife, Lisa, and I are on vacation this week. I might not be deserving of a vacation, but I sure have been in need of one. The problem is, when I take a vacation it usually takes me a week or two to recover. I'm not what you would call a stationary person. I will drive a hundred miles out of the way to take a picture of the world's largest -- or even third-largest -- ball of string or roll of aluminum foil. I also have a genetic disorder that prevents me from driving past a historical marker. I have never by-passed a scenic overlook without stopping and if somebody -- anybody -- tells me there is something to do or see within a day's drive of my destination, I am going to make sure I do it or see it.

Vacations, Huckaby-style, are exhausting, understand. This year I could not afford to be exhausted. I couldn't afford a vacation, either, but that is another story for another day.

It turns out that some close friends had been planning a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Lisa and I will be celebrating our 30th this year, too -- if we don't kill one another between now and Christmas. Our friends convinced me that a cruise ship would be a perfect venue for a restful vacation. I wouldn't have to drive. In fact, the captain of the ship wouldn't allow it, even if I wanted to. They promised me that I wouldn't have to make any decisions and that someone else would do all the cooking. All I would have to do would be make it onto the boat and sit in the sun.

So far it has worked out well. That is all I have done -- or felt like doing, for that matter.

Now this ain't my first rodeo -- or my first cruise. Sixty-five stalwart souls accompanied me on an inner-passage adventure in Alaska a few years back and my kids let me accompany them on a cruise with the high school band one year. But I don't have a great amount of experience with cruising.

I do have a great amount of experience with eating, however, and that has stood me in good stead so far this week, because that is what I have done the most of -- that and sit on the deck looking at the ocean.

There has been a lot of opportunity for reflection, too, which is something we could all stand a little more of. Which brings me back to Christopher Columbus.

Whether you believe that Columbus was a hero or a villain you have to admit one thing. He changed the world, and you can't say that about a lot of people.

I won't change the world this week, that's for sure. I might not do a single worthwhile thing, in fact. I may spend a totally selfish week of rest and relaxation without reading a single historic marker. On the other hand, I will be visiting Haiti and Jamaica and a couple of other places I have never been and I am sure something has happened at some of those places that is worth knowing about.

Who knows? Maybe I will need to come back from my cruise and rest. Lester Maddox once told me that it is better to wear out than rust out. Ol' Lester might not have been the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, but I think he was a pretty wise old man.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.