Natural History magazine used to feature a one page essay on its last page called "The Last Word". Very often it was authored by the late Stephen Jay Gould who had a profound influence on my thinking as a scientist and as a human. So in a sense, at least a part of how and what I do today is because of him. So here, for this trip, is "The Last Word".
I leave tomorrow morning on a 7:30 am flight that will have me back home, hopefully, by 8:00 pm tomorrow evening. I have done all of my gift shopping and am pretty much packed. I have redistributed things to shift small, dense items to my backpack and lighter but bulkier things to my main duffel. $100 charge for being 3 pounds over is just plain rude. But that is a trivial complaint, to be sure. I have started writing my preliminary report for the trip and I hope to have it complete by Sunday. My trip was fascinating, informative, productive and fun. I could not have asked for more. It is in this sense of satisfaction that I am filled with gratitude for so many things that I feel it only proper to share a few of them here, in the form of a "Gratitude List"'
I am grateful for:
1. Having the health, both physical and mental, as well as the stamina, to be able to do these kinds of things. Many do not or cannot.
2. The love and support of so many people, family and friends, too numerous to count, who encourage and believe in me and what I try to do.
3. The amazing education I have received all along the trajectory of my life, and especially, my most recent academic experiences in engineering, and my high school Spanish instruction.
4. The kindness and hospitality of virtually everyone I have met here in Nicaragua. At times, it was almost embarrassing.
5. All of you who have cared enough to follow this adventure with me. I hope I have informed and entertained without being dull or preachy.
6. The smarts to know when to keep a list short. No one likes those long, drawn out acceptance speeches at the Oscars. You get the point.
After I get back home I already have a long list of "next projects" to set to work on. I will not be idle but if possible, I would like to do some slide shows with this material, perhaps at a local restaurant with some appetizers and drinks, ask some of the students to join me. I much prefer writing in this venue than on Facebook, but I will post that idea there and see, via the "Like" button if anyone is interested. It would be kind of lame to sit by myself at a table with my computer and a couple of disinterested diners.
Lastly, a special note of thanks to my cigar-smoking buddy, Rich Maletta, who has always gone the extra mile to support me. He is the faithful Sancho Panza to my idealistic Don Quixote. Thank you my faithful page, as well as to the beautiful Dulcinea, for helping me Dream the Impossible Dream.