Friday, October 31, 2014

Boy's letter travels across Pacific, discovered by girl on Kona beach

BY CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK | WEST HAWAII TODAY

Nine-year-old Trinity Ballesteros was beachcombing along the shoreline fronting Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center in Kailua-Kona when she spied a bottle floating in a tide pool.

Upon closer inspection, she saw a "sea of bugs" surrounding the bottle and called her father, Brad Ballesteros Jr., over to retrieve it. Sealed inside was a note, which at first concerned Trinity.

"When I noticed the paper, I became worried. My first thought was what if someone is really in trouble and they're sending out an SOS," she said. "Would I even be able to help? Were they lost at sea or stuck on a deserted island? Were they even in Hawaii?"

Once the father and daughter from Kailua-Kona got back to where their friends and family were, they decided to open the bottle. The note scribbled on binder paper read: "Dear finder of my message, My name is Thomas and I live in Oregon. I'm ten years old and this week I'm salmon fishing deep in the ocean. I would like to hear from you. ... Please wright back, Thomas."

The message also included a hard-to-read email address belonging to Thomas' mom. At first Trinity was apprehensive about emailing the boy, but her doubts disappeared with encouragement.

"My family and friends told me not to judge people before you meet them, and you never know we might become friends," she said.

With the help of her grandfather and parents, Trinity sent messages to several different email addresses about two weeks ago.

Eleven-year-old Thomas Craig, of Silverton, Ore., responded to Trinity for the first time last week. The two children have been exchanging emails over the past four days and plan on being pen pals.

Speaking from Oregon Thursday, Thomas said the bottle, which looked old-fashioned, inspired him to send a message in a bottle during his family's annual summer fishing trip.

Thomas often dreamt of where the wind and currents will take an object floating in the ocean. He just thought it would be "neat" if anyone found his bottle.

His mom, Amy Bishop, said it was just a "simple harebrained idea" that she agreed to only to appease him, but has led to a "wonderful" pen palship.

Thomas tossed the bottle in Winchester Bay, Ore., about a year ago and hadn't thought much about it until Trinity emailed him.

"I couldn't believe someone had found it. I was shocked," he said. "When I threw it overboard, it hit the top of my grandpa's boat so I thought it broke and sank. The chances of someone finding it seemed like a once-in-a-million type thing."

Trinity thinks it's "amazing" that the bottle traveled "past the swirling ocean whirlpools and along the swift currents" more than 2,000 miles from Oregon to Hawaii Island. She also likes that the message was from someone around the same age as her and that Thomas is from Oregon, the same state her aunt lives in.

Someday, Trinity said she and her family would like to meet Thomas and his family. Until then, the young pen pals agreed to continue writing.

clucas-zenk@westhawaiitoday.com

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