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The Evolution Of 4Creature Comforts Continues... (Chapter 7)

Updated: Feb 21

I promised adventure travel stories, so here we go! Here is our travel itinerary: Bangkok, Hat Yai, Delhi, Bombay ( it was Bombay then), Seychelle Islands including La Digue, Mauritius, Madagascar, Calcutta, and Bangkok over seven weeks in the Spring of 1990 while the goods for our containers were being crafted.

Hat Yai was still a work stop for beautiful, colorful batik goods. But not all work, we were able to go on a 4-day dive trip, always fun for both of us.

On to Delhi. We splurged in New Delhi staying at a Hyatt. I loved their spa with the super hot bath followed by the ice-filled bath they told me was healthy. I was surprised I didn’t have a heart attack as it was so cold but in the end, I felt amazing! We visited the Taj Mahal. I was delighted that it was not a disappointment. So ethereal & elegant. We took a bus back to Delhi. Geddy left his jacket on the bus...not just any jacket, but the one I spent months embroidering. He was super upset and set out after dark to find it! Hours later, he returned WITH IT! How is that possible, especially in Delhi? Well, he just kept tracking down buses until he located the night lot where they were stored...gained access to all the buses and there it was on a shelf where he had left it! Who can do this?

Here I am in Old Delhi sari shopping. I love India and the Indian people... so full of mischief and love of life. We moved on to Bombay. Geddy had been a merchant marine. He stayed in Bombay at Juhu Beach when he was in Bombay. We went to look up the places he would frequent back in the 1960’s. When we were first together, he asked me what was my middle name. I said Margaret & I thought he would faint. He had been walking on Juhu beach in the 1960s when a soothsayer (his words!) stopped him. Geddy agreed to a reading. Everything came true including the prediction that he would marry a girl named Marga-ret. Of course, we had to go there!

The next stop was the Seychelle Islands, arguably my favorite place I have ever been. We were there for my 40th birthday. We used our Travel Center travel agent cards and got half-price at an amazing hotel on a cliff with beach access. The Seychelles Islands are very mountainous & extremely gorgeous... also very expensive, so this was great! We went on a yummy dive trip, shopped, beached, & relaxed. Heaven.

We flew to the island of La Digue, part of the Seychelles Islands. A very special island with no cars and endless dramatic beach rock formations & a lot of giant tortoises.

The next stop was the island of Mauritius. We stayed here for a month. This is the sister island to Kauai, my favorite place I ever lived... so this island spoke to me. Once a French island, now mostly East Indians. We stayed at a darling resort hut where a Mom cat adopted us. She carefully carried each of her babies into our room through the door window. Fortunately, we were cat people missing our own wild group of eight cats. We ushered her in and had a ball with her and her growing kittens.

We went deep sea fishing for marlin with Captain Ives but no results. We went diving in French Bay. I also found two French women creating charming children’s clothing… I purchased a great selection of these items to add to our containers. We settled into life on this island with ease. Geddy got reacquainted with some old friends who lived in French Bay making our stay more personalized.

We continued to Madagascar. Arriving in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital was different than anywhere else I had been. This city was swarming with people...more crowded than cities in India. There was no way to give money to all. What really struck me once we got away from the city was that village people were so carefree. Their way of life was difficult but they had food, shelter, and loving communities, and most importantly, they hadn’t developed the “I wants”. There were so few travelers bringing their modern ways for them to “want”, that these villagers were happy in their lives. Those we saw in the cities, had left the countryside to go to the city with the hopes of financial success, but there were too many of them. They were desperate. We met an Aspen man, Sky, who was an avid traveler like us. We became a threesome for the rest of our Madagascar journey and remained life friends. We set out for the Northwest-ern island, Nose Be, for diving. I nicknamed Sky a swordfish as he was an extreme water baby and loved to dive. A diving highlight was diving with a large bale (yes, that’s the term for a lot of turtles!) of sea turtles. The most fun was the amount of friendly lemurs there. Remarkably gentle creatures, they would climb all over us.

This was a wild place. Traveling around both Nose Be and the Northern coast of Madagascar was extremely slow due to the horrific roads. We traveled in jeeps, stopping in small villages where often the only food was a stew in a pot on a fire pit...and we never knew what we were eating! I saw chameleons, ant eaters, fruit bats the size of monkeys, and boa constrictors all loose in nature. The women were beautiful.

We fell in love with the island’s petrified wood. We considered shipping containers of these petrified wood slabs, tables, benches & more back home. The reality of being literally halfway around the world crushed our aspirations due to the shipping costs. We did manage to hand-carry four slabs back to Thailand to put on our containers. This was quite a feat. We tried to pretend that they weren’t heavy!

Such a wild place. We were warned not to even put a hand in the sea off the Eastern coast because of the numerous great white sharks. Despite our love for water sports, we gladly listened to this warning & stayed away from there. We parted ways with Sky, continuing on to Bangkok by way of Calcutta.

Well, we landed in Calcutta with an engine in flames. This was a bit scary. Once safely on the tarmac, they kept us on the plane at first for two hours while they attempted repairs. Most of us didn’t think this sounded very good! They finally told us they were taking us to a hotel. We expected a third-rate one but we were pleasantly surprised when they put us up in The Grand Hotel. We had 24 hours to experience Calcutta. We had joined two women from the plane, one Aussie & one Japanese, both traveling single. In the morning we hired a cab and an independent tour guide from the street to go explore. Geddy got the cabbie and the tour guide all fired up as a new business team & asked them to go find Moth-er Teresa. The most extraordinary thing happened...they found her! Our new team kept asking people everywhere if they knew where she was. She was at an opening celebration for a hospital for the needy. Our team managed to get the cab onto the hospital campus past barriers & security. We landed just outside the stage & before we knew it, she came out right where we were. Geddy stuck to her like glue for over an hour as she did her blessings from building to building. As I was the photographer, I only had pictures of Geddy with Mother Teresa. At one time, she looked up at me and asked why so many photos!

We made it back to Chaing Mai to start assembling and packing our three containers. But first, we took a trip to Phuket with friends from Seattle, staying at our fav, Jungle Beach Resort. We then went to Bangkok to do a photo shoot of some of the furniture just finished by Chantika.

Back in those days everything was done with pen and ink. Keeping track of all the goods was mind boggling! Photos were taken of every item going into the containers, but first they had to be developed! We’ve come a long way!

Before loading goods, the Thai inspectors come by to be sure you aren’t taking anything illegal out of the country... meaning they would turn around while Buddhas were loaded waiting for their bribes.

Once the containers were at sea, we’d wait for their arrival. Now we have the Bainbridge Island warehouse where we can unload right at a loading dock. This is the first time to have this amazing advantage.

There’s my Mom at the warehouse checking everything out. We were grateful Sky came from Aspen to help with the unloading. This was a mammoth task. Geddy, the Bar Harbor man, had a cluster (yes, that’s what a group pf lobsters is called!) of lobsters shipped from Maine for a feast as a huge thank you for Bruce.

With both the Seattle store and the Bainbridge Island Warehouse open, selling goods from the three 40’ containers went well. We had 5000 square feet at the warehouse allowing us plenty of room for unpacking, tagging, photographing, and display. We kept the warehouse in a state of unpacking in parts of our space which was part of the allure of the place. Customers enjoyed the thrill of getting into an unopened crate or box to find a unique treasure they would claim as their own.

The Seattle store on Post Alley & Spring was a happy place. We were frequented by the area workers mostly. It was rewarding as the cus-tomers were enthusiastic about Creature Comforts. We were making a profit but not as much as we had hoped. When we were getting to know Seattle after moving from Kauai, we didn’t understand that Marion Street was the big walking street for ferry passengers, not Spring Street. The foot traffic was limited. The buildings around the store were all office buildings, with few retail businesses. On the weekends, which are typically the sweet sales days for retail stores, we saw few customers...our street was quiet. There wasn’t much parking in the area, making it difficult to build our store as a destination. We realized that this would never change as the year 1990 was coming to a close. It was an easy decision to close the store and focus on the warehouse sales. We also started to do wholesale and the wholesale shows that go with it.

Stay turned for the next chapter... hopefully this one has satisfied your desire to hear our grand adventures.


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