I remember the moment clearly. It was dark outside and our table was lit with a few flickering candles. Our leftover pad thai and tom kha gai were resting disheveled on our plates. He had a bewildered, yet focused look on his face as he leaned close, like he was about to tell a dark secret. His voice was in a hushed whisper as he spoke.
Years ago, I learned of an island in the Galapagos that holds a whiskey barrel that for hundreds of years has been used as a makeshift post office. Whalers, unable to contact their loved ones back home, would write addressed letters and leave them in the barrel. When new whaling ships came into port, they would sort through the letters, find ones addressed to their next destination, and deliver them by hand.
He already had me completely enthralled, but I knew there was more to come.
The tradition continues to this day. Now tourists and travelers that visit the islands leave letters without postage, addressed to friends and family around the world. They put them in the barrel and when other travelers pass through, they take letters that are addressed near to where they live and hand deliver them.
He paused, letting me take it all in, before he delivered the coup de grace.
I want to go down to the Galapagos, grab a handful of letters and document the story of me hand delivering them to strangers around the globe. I’ll call it, “The Maverick Expedition”.
I was in awe and I had so many questions. When will you do this? How will you make it possible? Have you done any research? Where will you find the funds? And most importantly, can I come along?
The only answer he could give me was from my last question. It was a resounding “yes”! From that moment, over three and a half years ago, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to accomplish this feat. This quest is something that I’ve heard about the entire length of our relationship. When making big decisions, like moving to Korea, we had to ask ourselves, “How will this affect the ‘Maverick Expedition'”? We spent our two years there saving up money and planning for this big adventure.
Huge curveballs were thrown our way and right when it seemed like it wouldn’t happen for years to come, we jumped. We jumped without a parachute. We jumped without knowing where we were going to land. You could say we even jumped without shoes. Three weeks ago we bought tickets to Quito, Ecuador and left a week later. We had no idea how we were going to get to the Galapagos. We didn’t know how we were going to get a boat to Post Office Bay. We didn’t even know if we were going to be able to take more than 2 letters out of the barrel in the chance that we did make it there.
I can sit here now, in my firm Ecuadorian hotel bed, and tell you that we did it. Against so many odds, we made it. There are so many details to be told, and those will come soon, but the most important fact is that tucked away in his journal are 22 letters addressed to all corners of the globe.