The Lone Star State, USA — There’s nothing more satisfying than receiving feedback from our ESCAPESEEKER fans–whether via e-mail, postcards, snail mail, and even via Facebook messages.  And, I do take the time to personally respond to each and every communication.  Every now and then, I will receive a message that is so insightful from more seasoned, astute travelers than myself that I begin a dialogue…an exchange of ideas and acumen,  from which I derive greater knowledge and perspective about an area of the world our film crew has yet to explore.  I also gained a new friend.  With his permission, I have posted our cyber conversation below.  I am compelled to share it with you because the viewpoint and experiences of this seasoned global traveler may be one,  to which you too, can relate.  In any regard, this writer shares a truly meaningful travel experience in Costa Rica.  His perspicacity,  I think you will find exceptional.  By the way, what you read below has not been edited in any way.  

Thank you everyone for all of your letters and comments.  Please keep them coming.

Here’s to Blissful, meaningful travel experiences…

With love,


Richard Slackman May 20 at 6:52pm
Many moons ago, when I was younger and the earth was still cooling, I used to travel extensively with a different slant on the world. In the past 10 years or so, about the time George W. Bush sat in the Oval office, the world’s attitude towards America changed drastically and I noticed I became a bit more apprehensive. Almost like I wanted to go unnoticed as an American. I began picking my destinations with more thought and a bit more caution. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to visit virtually every National Park in the USA. I worked as a feature photographer for Travel and Leisure mags back in the 70’s. So I haven’t missed to much here at home. Spent much of my time in Jamaica and the Carib as well. Went to Europe several times as well and back then I was SO proud to tell everyone I was an American. Things have changed globally. America has a tarnished reputation to many outsiders. I try and be an ambassador of good will when I mingle with locals in foreign lands. Tell them all thats good in America. But I suggest to all my friends to get out there, see there world while they still can. There is SO MUCH beauty in foreign countries but I ALWAYS tell my friends to see America FIRST. The National Parks, especially in the off seasons are our jewel. They are so awesome.

I’m rambling . Your fault. Ya got me going and now I don’t know how I can wait to September to go back to Europe πŸ˜‰ .

You are charming


Mel Gee Henderson May 20 at 7:19pm
Dearest Richard…All the reasons you shared are the very reasons we need to travel without our “American lenses”–leave those behind, and see the countries through the respectful eyes of the natives. By the same token, give them the opportunity to get to know us as Americans–no matter our origins or ethnicity–that America is just that–a kaleidoscope of ethnicity…where we can still dream…and follow our heart. I love that I can wake up at any time of day or night and find someone I can skype with, conduct business with…time zones mean nothing to me.

I spent several years producing documentaries about the most impoverished regions of the world–from the “roof of the world”, Tibet–to the jungles of Central America, to the roof of Africa–Mount Kilimanjaro–I helped C.A.R.E raise awareness and funds for numerous global relief efforts. Fast forward, today, I get to honor and pay tribute to the men and women whose vision and hard work built some of the most amazing dream destination resorts/properties, etc in the world. It is as if God decided, “Ok, Mel has seen enough of the other side of the world…let’s now open the doors for her to see the majesty of what happens when man’s ingenuity merge with My creations. πŸ™‚

I have yet to meet someone–no matter their station in life–who did not appreciate being respected for who they are. I love the line in the closing song in Le Miserables, where Valjean sings:
“And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.”

Richard, my true objective with ESCAPESEEKER is to simply, SPREAD THE LOVE! I want to be that program that sheds a ray of sunshine in a media full of woe and disturbing reality shows where losers are adored. WQED told me when they sought me out, “Mel, we just simply love how JOYFILLED your show is!” Everyone is starving for JOY! Honest to goodness JOY! I want to send the message to all of those stressed out mothers out there ready to take their next prozac pill–STOP. Instead, go buy yourself a plane ticket, a train ticket, a bus ticket to the most beautiful place on earth–it can be in your own backyard and you don’t even know it…stand atop a mountain and ask yourself if you are not grateful that you can still climb? Swim beneath our gorgeous oceans, and tell me you don’t see that every single micro organism life’s on earth matters–including yours! When I am in the most beautiful places in this world…when I’m talking in a foreign language that takes all of my mental concentration, and I see my new foreign friend smiling so proudly–I am just plain grateful for life! When we’re grateful, how can we be blue right Richard?

Let’s get rid of all this sadness that permeates our universe…one baby step (one episode πŸ™‚ at a time!

Thanks for letting me ramble too! πŸ™‚

Have a beautiful night…


Richard Slackman May 20 at 10:50pm 
  Walter Cronkite your idol, Ansel Adams was mine. I can imagine how you must have felt about Mr. Cronkite. The steward of truth and honesty. An American to look up to, a human being to believe in, a great choice among many. I was selected by Ansel Adams in 1974 to study with him at the Brooks Institute and we spent much of our time together in the wilds of Alaska. He taught me how to see as few people can. He helped me open doors that might have gone unnoticed We shared a lifetime together in an instant and he will always be my friend.

You, dear lady are a joy and an inspiration to behold. I am in awe every time you words, thoughts, ideas, and visions cross my path. I concur with your belief that an “attitude of gratitude” is a blessing. That very man, woman, and child deserves opportunity. That to see the end of world poverty and hunger in our lifetime would be the epitome of man’s humanity towards man.

I was in a local dive bar in “Timbuktu”, Costa Rica a few years back and I was sharing some photographic stories with a group of new friends I had met fishing that day when all of a sudden I realized I was being surrounded by a group of local natives. Impoverished, uneducated, mall nourished they stood before me and asked if I would accompany them into their jungle to see something that no white man had seen before. A scary proposition to say the least. They said to my surprise, that they needed my help. They also said they could not reveal to me anymore abut what they were doing nor what it was that I might assist them with, but to bring my cameras.

My new fishing friends looked at each other, looked at this group of natives and quickly departed. Somehow, looking into their eyes I felt that this was a mission I could not refuse and that this was no time to consider the apparent danger involved. So as requested, I met them back at that bar at 5:00 a.m., and in the darkness, hoped into their dilapidated old pickup truck and headed off into the deep, deep jungle, perhaps never to be seen again.

Turns out, that after a two hour ride on dirt roads, and a two hour trek thru the jungle, we finally arrived. “Put these on” were their instructions as they handed me a pair of pole climbing boots which had razor sharp spikes sticking out the sides of the heels. I was going “UP”. Then they carefully secured me with harnesses and ropes and up the trees we climbed, and climbed, and climbed. 150-200 feet later, we broke thru the canopy of the rain forest that we were in and OMG, what a sight. To say I am deathly afraid of heights would be an understatement, at least without a floor under me. What they wanted me to see became immediately clear. 

 They had built a virtual highway across the treetops that extended in every which way for as far as the eye could see. WOW, if my friends could only see me NOW, was etched upon my brain. ( I’ll send you the pics if you haven’t seen some already ). They wanted for me to photograph what they were doing and assist them in securing American financing for more supplies to continue their work. Apparently the jungle down below was too thick, too impenetrable for them to get around and their villages were literally cut off from civilization without this network of bridges. 
Why did I tell you about this particular adventure. It certainly won’t go down in history as the smartest move I’ve ever made but if the ends justifies the means then looking back, perhaps it was. I did what they asked, photographed their mission, took it back to the states, secured funding from a variety of different sources and perhaps never felt better about anything I’ve achieved, ever.

People are intrinsically good. They simply need an opportunity, a vehicle to demonstrate their willingness and ability to help their fellow human beings. I see the world thru those glasses.

warmest personal regards,



  1. Christina says:

    Awesome post! Good really does still exist in our world and good people like you and Richard, to help us become aware of the beauty in this world and the kalidescope of people everywhere.

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