Blueberries are to Maine as the Empire State Building is to New York. Yes, really. Everywhere I go–blueberries!! Maine has blueberry scents, blueberry ice cream (and lobster ice cream), blueberry stuffed animals, blueberry pancakes, blueberry maple syrup, blueberry children’s books, blueberry calendars–seriously, anything and everything can be found in blueberry theme! When I found this picture, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting to introduce this town called Bar Harbor. PS if you can click on a picture, it means it’s not mine, and it will take you to where I found it!
Before leaving earlier this week, my sister (whom I miss TERRIBLY) remarked too casually to be interpreted as anything less than broken hearted, “Julia. I can’t believe you are moving to a deserted island.” Although the island is technically called Mount Desert Island, she had only heard “desert island,” and I can only imagine what she pictured in her mind. At the time, I took her hand and said, “yep, one person’s heaven is another’s hell.”
It’s true. This town isn’t for everyone. We live on an island off the coast of the most northern state in the Continental US. I can walk from one end of town to the other. The stores are all geared towards tourists, so it’s almost impossible to find actual necessities (like a towel!). A store is considered “crowded” when there are more than two people. But my God, is it beautiful.
Yesterday, I went with a group of kids to Sand Beach. Although some went swimming, I didn’t. Not everyone had bathing suits, but it didn’t matter. A few just went in their underwear. I stood on the shore, fully dressed, not wanting to go in the water because of the temperature, but slightly wishing I was brazen enough to take off all my clothes and just run free around the beach and in the water (we’ll see—maybe before I graduate and after all the tourists leave!).
Here is a picture of two of my friends identifying sea weed. On the left is Marketa from the Czech Republic. On the right is Jo from Sweden. I wish I could rotate this for you but my internet is too slow to upload it again.
Walking down the beach. Left to right, Lindsay (America), Diana (Brazil), Lenka (Czech), Marketa (Czech), Andrea (El Salvador), Jo (Sweden), and two guys I can’t remember.
While exploring the beach, we found a hiking trail. Because it was a spur of the moment decision and no one wanted to run back and get our shoes, all of us ended up going barefoot. 1/5th of the world goes barefoot on a daily basis in weather conditions much less pleasant than Maine in the summer. A few times when the ground looked rocky ahead, or my feet started to hurt, I asked if Lenka wanted to turn around. (Lenka and I got far behind the other girls because we were taking pictures).
Lenka, in broken English, said “If the other girls can do it, so can we. It’s also good for your feet.” So we pushed on, barefoot, through the woods. Walking barefoot through the woods is a completely different experience. The twenty minute journey turned into forty minutes as we stepped carefully around the sharpest rocks and sticks.
As we walked, I compared our pace and my awareness of the ground to a few days ago when I walked across the sandbar to Bar Island. I had shoes on then, and I trotted through the woods with barely a second glance at where I stepped! This time though, ah, every step had to be carefully planned. There are some kids who do not wear shoes on campus at all. I see the appeal now. It’s not just freeing your feet, it grounds you. Try it. When I got home, I looked it up to see if it is indeed healthier to go barefoot. Here’s a post in New York Magazine that talks about the benefits of walking barefoot.
This was the view from the top!
Other things to never forget:
– How I randomly sat down to dinner with students from St. Lucia, Western Sahara, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ecuador. Yes, seriously. All at one table. A few were even interested in health and community development. Ah! This is AFTER spending an hour at lunch with friends from the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Mexico talking about the different languages, how and when to say I love you, and public affection in different countries. I am learning so much!
– The Bar Island Swim- a boat took participants (students, faculty and staff) out to the island to jump and swim back to school. Six boats waited in the water to pick people up as they got too tired and cold (imagine 50 degree water). Some made it though. I sat on the shore with a bunch of other students.
– Meeting a student from Swaziland who has heard of Bulembu. Talking to him for hours about Swaziland, orphanages, and sustainable villages.
– I will leave you with this.1