A Picture is Worth A 1,000 Words: The Meeting Place

Do any of y’all remember when I used to write “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” posts? The idea was to find a random picture on Pinterest, and then set my timer and see how fast I could come up with a thousand-word story inspirited from said picture. The purpose was to help me learn to write short stories and to practice my coming-up-with-ideas skills. Plus, the story had to be exactly a thousand words, so that made the challenge more…challenging. (By the way, no brainstorming is allowed before starting the timer. That means I find the picture, like how it looks, copy it, and promptly start the timer.)
Well. I haven’t written any of those stories for a long time, a fact that became all too clear to me when I sat down to write one this morning. The story that plopped into my head was rather trite and cliché, but hey, I’ll get better as I continue practicing. 
I’m posting my story from today, even though it’s not stellar, so I can look back after I’m back in practice with these stories, and see the difference. (You can read previous “A picutre’s worth a 1,000 words” posts herehere, here, and here.) And, if any of y’all want to be a part of the challenge, you can join up and post your story (just leave a comment with the link), or you can share it with me at aidylewoh@gmail.com.
Date: 8-24-16 
Time: 26:49
Hardest Part: All of it, I’m out of practice
Title: The Meeting Place
source
I stared at the bench, my breath coming in puffs of whiteness. This was the spot. These were the street lamps. The trees. The hedge of bushes. Cold seeped in through the multiple layers I had piled on, yet I didn’t mind it. The shocking weather lent an air of disbelief to the world around me, as if it, too, believed that tonight was merely a fairy tale, a figment of my all too overactive of an imagination. 
Leaning closer, I could see that some tracks had been made in the snow in front of the bench, although doubtlessly not recently. The wind was blowing with strong gusts and would have completely covered them if much time had passed. I looked back at my own tracks leading through the knee-high white fluffiness. The energy I had exerted making my way to our meeting place was far less than I’d spent arguing with myself for the last three days, trying to decide if I should come or not. 
And now that I’d taken the leap and come? Well, perhaps she wouldn’t show after all. Maybe I would have to turn and trudge my way back to the street car. Maybe I would get lost in the drifts and have to build myself an igloo. Maybe this episode really was a dream and before long I’d be waking up in my cozy room, snuggled under the covers, having left my windows open, hence the cold I was feeling. 
Stomping my feet to keep the blood moving, I surveyed the bench, tilting my head first one way, then the other. I could always displace the mounds of snow it was buried under and sit down while I waited. Or I could turn around and leave. I’d done my duty. I’d kept my promise. I’d come and with time to spare, but did she show? No. And it shouldn’t have been a surprise. It wasn’t a surprise. She’d been leaving me in the cold for as long as I could remember. Still, it hurt. The rejection fell over me in little freezing particles, much like the snow was doing at the moment. 
Most people don’t get to choose their families. They don’t choose their parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. And they most certainly don’t choose their siblings. But I had. And sometimes I wondered if that was the reason I struggled so much. 
Although we’d been adopted by different families, I had insisted my sister and I never forget each other. When the rest of the bonds I had felt to my former world dissipated in the erosion of time, I held firmly to the ideal that one day we would meet up again, that we would stay together. Our visits were infrequent and proceeded each time by my excited anticipation, then followed by heartbroken tears as I came to the realization that I wasn’t needed. My sister got along fine without me. She had melted and melded into her family in a way that seemed perfectly natural. It hurt to know she’d moved on, that she’d found a new life, a new world, one in which I didn’t fit. 
You’ve got to make an effort, Lilly. My sister’s words were the same each visit. They love you, you love them. They’re your family and you need to start acting like it. There was a time when she even refused to visit me for several years. Finally my begging and pleading had gotten to her, and I’d found comfort in knowing I was among my real flesh and blood. 
Then we’d had a falling out. I finally had had enough of her mincing and bossing. She’d declared me immature. I’d declared her un-loyal. She’d declared me a girl who could only look backward, I declared her someone who professed to be too good for her roots. And the argument had gone on. When we left, it was without a backward glance. My last words were that she could move on with life. I would never try and see her again. She was dead to me, as if we really weren’t blood sisters after all. As if we hadn’t had the same beginning in life. 
That was when we were sixteen. Her bitter accusations stayed with me for two years, haunting my memory, making me angry. Then I had learned to let go. Not only to the anger, but to the past. She had been right after all. We lived different lives. Our blood wasn’t enough to keep us connected forever. There were times when I even pondered the possibility of her planning out the fight so we’d have a falling out and I would finally move on with life. The thought, while painful, did have merit. After all, she’d finally succeeded in forcing me to stop using her as the crutch she’d been in my life. 
Standing under the stinging coldness, my thoughts chased each other around and around. It had taken me nearly three years to finally admit that she was right. That our argument might have been for the best after all. And of course that’s when she contacted me. Her first initiation at reaching out to me. And it turned my finally-in-order world back into a land of chaos. I was scared of the reaction I would face when I finally saw her again, hence the reason I had nearly been absent. But I was here now, and she wasn’t. 
“Lilly?” The voice was soft. 
I swallowed hard and turned toward the voice. 
“You came.” 
“Of course.”
Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around me. “I was wrong.” 
I returned the hug then stepped back. “Wrong?” 
“Family is important.” 
I sucked in an icy breath. 
“Adopted and blood family.” 
I gave a simple nod. 
“Can you forgive me? Be my sister once again?”
I nodded. 
“I missed you during the last four years.” My sister smiled at me. 
And the cold didn’t feel so cold any more. 

A Beauty Refined By Tracie Peterson: Book Review & Giveaway

Hey y’all! I get to be part of another book release blog tour today. How much fun is that? So, without further ado, here we go: 
A Beauty Refined 
By Tracie Peterson 

Find it on: 

Third-Person
4 Points of view (I think)
Fiction
320 Pages


About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Phoebe Von Bergen is excited to accompany her father when he travels from Germany to purchase sapphires in Montana. Little does she know that her father’s plans–for the gemstones and his daughter–are not what they seem.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything. Phoebe is determined to stay in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger as the deception begins to unravel.

Why I Choose this Book: 

I’ve read a couple of other Historical Fiction books by Tracie Peterson that I enjoyed a lot. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, as long as they aren’t too romantic. Note: After I read this book and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, I looked back and saw I only gave two stars to the last Tracie Peterson (co-authored) book I read… 

What I Thought About this Book:

Hum… This book. It had so much promise. And then it fell rather flat for me. It still (barely) squeaked 3 out of 5 stars for me though (4 out of 10), and so I figured the best thing I could do was write a pros and cons list for you. 
Reasons I liked the book:
* The plot was intriguing 
* I liked the main character (at least to begin with) 
* The writing style felt unique to me. For a while I couldn’t tell if the writing was actually a pro or con, but it drew me in and kept my interest, so I decided it was a pro
* Although I wouldn’t say the main characters were unique as far as characters go, they were easy to distinguish from each other and I never got them confused 
* I liked Kenny and felt as if he was well-written 
* Hearing about the jewels was interesting 
* I liked where it was set and reading about the lifestyle the FMC (female main character) was used to
* As someone who cooks a lot, it was pretty cool to hear all the meal descriptions 
Reasons I didn’t like the book: 
* It felt like the author took a great story and massacred it. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed the story far more if it had just been told from one point of view. As it was, we saw something happen, then heard about it as the next character found out about it, and then again with a third character. It was tedious and made the book feel really slow
* The Romance. Oh help us all… It wasn’t that anything necessarily inappropriate happened between the FMC and MMC (male main character), but wow. I have a huge, huge, huge problem with the romance in most books because it’s like “Oh, look! A good-looking human. I’ve never fallen in love before even though I’m twenty-two years old, but I think I’ll do so at this very moment after seeing him twice in my life.” Please, no. I would consider what they had to be infatuation, or a crush. Not love.
I don’t think the book would have lost anything if it would have taken out the “romance” and it probably would have garnered at least half a star more from me. (I don’t recall the romance being a huge part of the story, it was just glaring.) 
* A lot of the story ended up feeling trite and cliché and made me want to shake my head
* I wish we wouldn’t have had so much of the MMC’s backstory… I found the FMC much more interesting 
Conclusion:

There was a little bit of violence near the end, but not too much detail. There were certainly good points in the book, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, mostly because I didn’t enjoy it. 
Rating:

I’m giving A Beauty Refined 3 stars out of 5, and 4 stars out of 10. 

*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review*

Oh! And yay, happiness! There’s a giveaway. (Remember, just cause I don’t like a book doesn’t mean you won’t!) Enter the giveaway here

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron: Book Review

Yay, everyone! I get to be part of a blog tour. How much fun is that? Today I’m posting a book review for Kristy Cambron’s latest book, The Ringmaster’s Wife. 

Back when I signed up to review this book I never imagined I would be sitting in a hospital waiting room in North Dakota with my adopted dad in open heart surgery as I wrote this review. I guess it’s true that life is full of surprises. 

The Ringmaster’s Wife

Find it on: 

Third-Person
4 Points of view (I think…)
Fiction
368 Pages



About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

What is revealed when you draw back the curtain of the Greatest Show on Earth?

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with every comfort money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, Rosamund’s father sells her beloved horse, setting the stage for a series of events that would extend beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life – one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. She abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner – an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Once introduced to the Ringling Brothers’ circus and knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ winter home—Ca’D’Zan. It is at that mansion, in what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, that Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in the life she’s been given, and the awakening of faith in her heart.

With a supporting cast of characters as mysterious and dazzling as the Ringlings’ big-top world, Rosamund’s journey takes her from the tradition of the English countryside to the last days of America’s Roaring ‘20s—a journey that forever changes what one life might have been.
Why I Choose this Book: 

I’ve read Kristy Cambron’s other two books and really liked one of them, and was rather disappointed in the other. I figured I had a 50/50 chance on either really liking or feeling “meh” about her third book.

What I Thought About this Book:

Humm… I think I’ve done so much editing recently that I’m having a hard time just appreciating a book, so please keep that in mind throughout this review. 

Scene by scene I enjoyed the book. There were some beautiful word pictures, the setting was fairly well developed, and there wasn’t questionable content (yay!). The characters also started out with promise. 

Unfortunately, the story didn’t exactly make sense to me. It felt disjointed, as if a bunch of scenes were thrown together to create a partial story that didn’t have much of a plot line  I kept waiting for a lightbulb moment to go off and have everything make sense, but that never happened. There was a slight lightbulb moment around page 330, that if it would have been at page 30, it would have totally changed the trajectory of the book and would have made a huge difference. Since that didn’t happen though, the book was a fail for me. 

Conclusion:

I’ve seen a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews floating around for this book, which means my assessment isn’t very popular and therefore you probably shouldn’t take my word for it. Instead, y’all should read some other reviews and see what other readers are saying about the book. 

Rating:

I’m giving The Ringmaster’s Wife 3 stars out of 5, and 4 stars out of 10. 

*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review*

In the Field of Grace By Tessa Afshar: Book Review

In the Field of Grace
By Tessa Afshar 
Find it on: 
Third-Person 
Two (?) Points of View
Fiction
290 Pages

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi’s, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.


But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi’s chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel’s destiny and the future of the whole world.

Why I Choose this Book: 

The first Bible Study I attend as a little girl was hosted by my older sister and we studied Ruth. Ever since then I’ve found her story to be fascinating and somewhat mind-bloggling. When I saw the chance to review a biblical fiction book about Ruth, I was pretty excited.
What I Thought About this Book:
Ah, Ruth! This book portrayed familiar characters in unfamiliar ways, and really helped them to come alive. Although the author obviously took liberties and added huge sections to the short account in the Bible, I found the book to be happily (as far as I remember) above reproach when it came to the actual scriptural part of the story.  
Although the writing wasn’t as tight as I thought it could have been, I found the descriptions to be lovely and really could imagine the time period and what all was happening. I could see the fields and almost feel the dust and heat. I could imagine the hurt and longing. The book did a good job at coming to life for me and helped me think thoughts about the account in the Bible that I hadn’t really had before. 
The account of Ruth has always been somewhat confusing to me, probably since I don’t fully understand what the culture was like back then. It’s amazing to me how people lived their lives and conducted business and just went about day after day. This book spurred on a bunch of random thoughts regarding life back then and life now and how different, and similar, life is the world ’round, even centuries apart. 
I enjoyed the story a fair amount, and the first half of the book a lot. Toward the end I felt my interest waning a good bit and wished that the book would have ended sooner than it actually did, that alone was enough to take the book down a notch or so in my estimate. 
Conclusion:
There was obviously romance since this is about Ruth. Overall though, I really felt like the romance was handled carefully and didn’t come across wrong. There were a few scenes that I didn’t appreciate, but other than that I thought the book was good. 
And, as I mentioned earlier: I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second and think it dragged two much at the end. 
Rating: 
I’m giving In Fields of Grace four out of five stars, seven out of ten. 
*I received this book for free from Moody Press in exchange for an honest review*

Counted with the Stars By Connilyn Cossette: Book Review

Counted with the Stars
By Connilyn Cossette 
Find it on: 
Third-Person 
One Point of View
Fiction
352 Pages

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):
Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.
To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?
Why I Choose this Book: 

I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Biblical fiction. When an author clearly upholds the authority of scripture and has done their research, I really like how the Bible comes even more alive to me through their imagination. At the same time I can’t stand it when someone stretches Biblical truths to make their fictitious story work better. I decided to give Miss Connilyn a try and see how true to reality her book was.
What I Thought About this Book:
The book was enjoyable and I liked it a lot. A list of things that made me happy: 
* I felt like everything mentioned in God’s Word was held in high authority and the Miss Connilyn really wanted to uphold the truth 
* The characters were well developed and different from each other 
* The historical time period felt very well researched
* The world was painted with bright colors and came alive to me
* Although I basically knew the story, there were still a few things I didn’t see coming, so the surprise was good
Despite all the good, there were a few things about the book that made it less than stellar. One of those would be the grip factor… Although I enjoyed reading it, I was able to put it down easily which isn’t a plus. I’m pretty sure that was mostly due to the fact that I knew the original story so well. It would have to be difficult to take something like the Exodus of Egypt and put a new twist on it while leaving it historically accurate. Miss Connilyn did do a good job of putting in a few twists though, so good for her. 
For most of the book I felt like there was a good small balance of romance, but then near the end there were a few scenes that I didn’t agree with or feel were necessary. That seems to be the reoccurring theme in my reviews though, so… 
Conclusion: 

A few of the ways she depicted Biblical themes weren’t they way I imagined them, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I’m pretty sure it’s just my imagination against her imagination. 
I liked this book and hope to read more books in the series. 
Rating: 

I’m giving Counted with the Stars four stars out of five, and seven out of ten. 
*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Yankee in Atlanta By Jocelyn Green: Book Review

I finished multiple books during the last few days and so this Monday is going to be my “Review Day” where I post three or four of them. I hope y’all enjoy seeing what I’ve been reading and maybe choose one or two books to add to your own reading list. To see a complete list (and reviews) of the books I’ve read in 2016, you can check out my Goodreads list. If you have any books you’d recommend, I’d be delighted to hear from you. 
It’s that time again where we get to choose where Annie goes for this week in our Friday Series, Around the World in Fifty-Two WeeksAnd our destination is… Bosnia and Herzegovina!

Yankee in Atlanta 
By Jocelyn Green

Find it on: 

Third-Person, Multiple Views
Fiction
416 Pages


About the Book
(Back cover blurb)

When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin’s only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta.

Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who enlists with the Rebel army. Then in the spring of 1864, Sherman’s troops edge closer to Atlanta. Though starvation rules, and Sherman rages, she will not run again. In a land shattered by strife and suffering, a Union veteran and a Rebel soldier test the limits of loyalty and discover the courage to survive. Will honor dictate that Caitlin and Noah follow the rules, or love demand that they break them?


Why I Choose this Book: 


It appears to be a spy book and starts out with the MC masquerading as a man to fight in the Civil War. Now that, my friends, is a big grab for me. 

What I Thought About this Book:


I had such high hopes for this book and it started out SO well. I read the first two books in the series just so I would be ready for this book and not miss out on anything. Both books 1 (see review) and 2 (see review) received three stars and I was pretty sure this was going to be a four star book because it was so promising… And instead it barely squeaked in with three stars. What in the world?

First of all, I was wrong about the premise. Caitlyn isn’t a spy. She’s only a solider during the prolog. She’s a governess. (I must confess, I didn’t read the whole back cover blurb because I like being surprised. After reading the book I guess I would have had lower expectations and therefore might have enjoyed the book better if I had finished the back cover.) Still, the book was still redeemable, despite the two most exciting elements not panning out… Yet, it wasn’t redeemed. 

Instead I felt like there was far to much focus on romance and some of it was too detailed and I ended up skim reading sections. A fair amount of one of the sub-plots was how one of the characters from a previous book dealt with being abused and (sorta) forced into prostitution. I’m guessing that if I was working with ladies who were dealing with those issues this book might have come in handy, but I’m not, and it didn’t. (Hence the skim-reading.) 

The ending was also an eye rolling experience for me. I felt like one of the characters jumped out of character and did something that in reality, they would never do. And then *boom* so many pieces fell into place at just the right time for a happy-ever-after. Obviously that kind of stuff can happen, and when it does in real life it’s so cool, but in fiction it feels very… fictional. 

So, with all of these issues why did the book still garner three stars? Because, despite all that^, the book was captivating at times and the characters really came alive and were well developed and individual. I liked the story, although it wasn’t what I was imaging, and I enjoyed finding out what the characters were doing after the last book. 

I learned a lot about the war and how the civilians lived in Atlanta and all the problems they faced. The book reminded me once again how horrible war is. This series has brought the Civil war alive from the perspective of the women during that time. I commend the author on what seems like through research. 

Conclusion: 


I was pretty sure I wouldn’t read any more books in the series… But, then I saw the next book IS about a spy, so we’ll have to see. I sadly won’t recommend this book because of the romance I had to skim-read, but other than that I think it was nice. 

Rating: 


I’m giving “Yankee in Atlanta” 3 out of 5 stars, 4 out of 10 stars. 

*I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks Week Fifteen: The Grand Cayman Island

Hey folks! Happy Friday. This morning I had posted for the A to Z Challenge, and now this evening we get our weekly segment of the fictional story, Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks. I might or might not be currently hosting quite the sunburn from my own snorkeling experience…

Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks 
Week Fifteen: The Grand Cayman Island
The salt water crashed into my face, filling my mouth, nose, ears, and eyes. I blinked rapidly and coughed, feeling a stinging sensation as my sinuses filled with the saline liquid. I gasped for a moment, treading the small waves and feeling a bit overwhelmed, then a peaceful sensation calmed me as the water settled into placid ripples.  
I tightened my messy bun on the nape of my neck and then rinsed out my goggles and slipped them over my head. I made sure to only breath out of my mouth as I fit my snorkel into place so I wouldn’t fog up the goggles. Dipping my face under water it felt like I had entered a whole new world. It was gorgeous. 
The captain of the boat we’d been on had told us that if a shark showed up we should punch it in the face. I’d been hoping he was joking, but decided to keep the advice handy in case I did see one of the scary creatures approaching me. 
Christopher Columbus discovered Little Cayman in 1503 when his ships were blown off course by a strong wind. (I’d be pretty pumped if that happened to me when I got lost!) The islands were so full of turtles that he originally named the islands “Las Tortugas” which “The Turtles” in Spanish. The name “Cayman” (which is what the islands are now called) is from the Carib word for crocodile, and has been used since before 1586. The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory and the capital of the Cayman Islands is named George Town after King George III of England. 
In total there are three islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. The trio of islands are about 200 miles away from Jamaica and are outcroppings of the Cayman Ridge, which is formed mostly of limestone and goes from Cuba to Belize. 
I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and nearly ran (or I should say swam) into the flippers of the person in front of me. I turned to the side and lifted my face out of the water for a minute. I took my mouth piece out and breathed deeply, then closed my mouth and dove downward, gliding through the water and past a school of fish who darted to make way for me. I stretched out my fingers and followed the now divided school. They were little fish, probably no more than an inch long, but there were literally thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of them. After around thirty seconds I went back to the surface and filled my lungs with air. 
Seafood is quite common on the island which made total sense. It felt slightly strange though, snorkeling and following the fish around, marveling at their beauty and knowing I was going to eat their relatives (so to speak) within a few hours. I’d been offered the traditional national dish when I first arrived, which was sea turtle. That was a bit hard to swallow because I’ve always loved watching turtles swim around. They are so graceful and beautiful. I even have swimming sea turtles as the screen savor on my laptop. I only took one little nibble of turtle so I wouldn’t offend the chef at the restaurant where they were treating me like royalty (in exchange for a review on my blog, but still…). 
The food I was most looking forward to was key lime pie, conch fritters, and heavy cake which is a dessert made with starchy vegetables such as yams. I’d heard people talking about how delicious the food ways and so far I had to agree. Oh, and of course I couldn’t wait to try fresh coconuts. I was going to throughly enjoy the leisurely island experience for a week.
I continued snorkeling, enjoying all the breathtaking sights. My eyes widened as a sea turtle swam past me, close enough to touch. If I hadn’t been underwater with my mouth full of the snorkel, I’m pretty sure I would have gasped. It moved past me with languid movements and I marveled that the creature had no clue how beautiful it was. I was suddenly glad I’d only eaten one bite of turtle. 
My goggles were fogging up so I surfaced again and cleared them out. After putting them back on though, I unfortunately didn’t have them adjusted correctly and so water began leaking in. In my confusion I dipped my head to far down and the top of my snorkel went under water so I received a mouthful of water. To top it all off my foot began to cramp from the flipper. I quickly lifted my head off and yanked off my headgear. I held the goggle strap in my teeth as I pulled the top of my foot toward me, trying to release the foot cramp. It wasn’t an easy feat, but after a minute I succeeded. It took several moments to calm my rapid breathing and clear my nose and mouth from the salt water. My eyes still stung, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The amazingness I was experiencing was more than worth it, though. 

Eventually I’d used up all my energy and swam over to the boat and climbed up the ladder onto the slippery deck (climbing with flippers is a challenge, by the way). The crew offered me and the other returning snorkelers cold water which I thankfully gulped down. I was planning on taking in all the varying hues of blue and green as the water and sky met as we traveled back to the dock, but the comforting motion of the boat rocking gently in the waves was too much for me to stay awake with. It wasn’t long until I found a relatively quiet place near the bow of the boat and curled up with my sunglasses on and fell asleep. I was excited that I had six more days to enjoy the island and the nature surrounding it, because I was already looking forward to my next snorkeling adventure.