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Thanks Big Blue Marble!

June 7, 2012

For me, it’s almost surreal to have the notion that I might one day live abroad.

I grew up just northeast of the Middle of Nowhere surrounded by the cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta. For many years, the nearest paved road was a mile away. One year, I remember someone giving me a pair of roller skates for Christmas. I tried to be grateful, but even a 7-year-old wonders in the back of his mind just how he’s going to skate on a gravel road.

In late April and early May, Dana and I spent 10 days in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador looking for a second home, and ultimately a place where a few years down the line we might retire off into the Pacific sunset. It was a wonderful adventure.

As our trip came down to the last few days, and literally to the last hour, the prospects weren’t looking too good. We loved the place, but couldn’t find anything for sale – at least within our budget.

Gary Scarborough is a Georgia native, now an American expat living in Puerto Cayo, and I had struck up an on-line friendship with he and his wife, April, before our trip began. Gary knows the lay of the land on the Ecuadorian coast, owns a nice hotel, and is working with another American partner to build a beautiful new beach-side community called Las Palmas.

In the hour before we left for the airport I was sad we were leaving without any prospects, then Gary told me about a piece of land he’d had his eye on for a few weeks – an acre and a half – high atop a hill overlooking the beach for miles. No one had coughed up the money yet for the full acre-and-a-half parcel, and together we wondered about dividing the lot into three different tracts. It all came together and, with Gary’s help (and thanks to the ability to do international business electronically) Dana and I will close on the southernmost 1/3 acre within the next few days. Gary’s investing in the lot next to us. We will build a home there soon, I hope.

I’ve always been fascinated with South America, and until recently, I really had no idea why.

How did a kid from the cotton patch get so fascinated with far-away lands and a desire to explore places on a globe that for so long he could only touch with a finger tip and wonder about.

And now I remember. It was Big Blue Marble!

Big Blue Marble was a 30-minute children’s television series that ran from 1974-1983 promoting cultural understanding among kids around the world. It won 12 Emmys in its nine years.

Each episode had two or three segments focusing on a child from a different country – a short documentary of sorts about how they grew up, and what life was like for them. For a kid in rural Arkansas, it was fascinating. Truly, it was – a 30 minute escape to a foreign land, a different way of living. It all seemed soooo far away.

To further promote its cause (oh, my gosh it all came back to me in bed last night and now I understand) BBM promoted and facilitated becoming a Pen Pal with a child from a distant land. I had a Pen Pal! He was from Venezuela! I can’t believe I forgot about my Pen Pal.

Do you have any idea what it’s like for a kid from Podunk, Arkansas to get a letter from Venezuela? Wondering each day what kind of adventure he might be on? So many days I pictured him in my mind riding across the grassy plains in his gauchos.  Herding cattle back to his ranch backdropped by the snow-capped mountains. That’s where it all started. Now, I remember it all.

That’s where the fascination started.

Thanks Big Blue Marble!

You can check out today’s post on my primary blog at:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tony T permalink
    June 8, 2012 8:15 pm

    Now you have this little boy from another podunk town in Arkansas scanning youtube for episodes of Big Blue Marble!

    • June 9, 2012 12:55 am

      You watched it too??? You’re the first person I’ve found who remembers it. Once song gets in your head, it stays there a while….

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