Tuesday, December 04, 2007

9 sunsets from a different shore

Well, it's not the Caribbean, but I finally got that photo of a tropical sunset that I have been longing for. Hawai'i is such a beautiful place, I am so glad I took the chance to go there for a little vacation before winter sets in and turns my beach bunny into a snow bunny.

I got some really great abstract photos to add to my collection, and I'm still waiting to see how my underwater photos turned out. There was a big turtle within ams reach that I hope I got at least one good picture of.

We spent 9 days in O'ahu, and for half of it we rented a car and explored as much of the island as we could. It is amazing what you find when you leave the tourist spots behind and make your way over to the places that the locals go. There are some really cute surfer villages on the north side of the island. And to my surprise, lots of organic and vegetarian foods. I tried something new at a sushi restaurant: fermented soybean rolls. Those didn't make it very far before they came right back up...but at least I tried them and I can laugh about it now. Or am I gagging?
I would love to go and see another Hawai'ian island one day, but I'm pretty sure I'll end up back in the Caribbean again before that happens. But then again, you just never know...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Moving On

Thanks everyone for your kind words and support while I was living in the Caribbean. I have started a new blog, I hope you enjoy it as much as you did this one! Please click here to go to my new blog.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Veni Vidi...

My Facebook fortune cookie says "There are no endings, just new beginings." I have been thinking about what this means for several days. I know what it means, but I guess I'm trying to figure out what it means to me.

There are so many crossroads that we come to in life, where we have to make a decision. And sometimes we hesitate on making any decision at all because it means things will change. We get used to the way things are, whether we like what it is or not. Our job, our relationships, our financial situation. We just keep on keeping on, because we don't want to take a risk that changing things might make everything worse.

But what if things could be better? We will never know unless we take that chance. Make a move in a new direction; forge a path for a new beginning.

I chose to make a new beginning for myself by moving here to the Caribbean. It meant saying goodbye to my family and friends, I had to sell my house and car...it wasn't an ending though. Those things had to be done in order to make way for my new beginning.

And now, it is time for more new beginnings. I have made some more decisions. Not easy to make decisions, like what to wear, or what to eat. Big decisions.

I'm putting the Caribbean chapter of my life on hold and returning to Vancouver.

The powers that be have spoken, and I know that I have to make way for what is yet to come. Because now it's not just me that I am making decisions for.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I think the seasons reversed in the northern hemisphere!

After 3 long flights, I made it back to Vancouver. I thought two weeks would be enough time to do what I came to do, but after three days I can already tell it isn't enough. Back to the rushing around, never enough hours in one day...so many people to see, and not enough time to see them. Oh, and the jet lag isn't helping. By 9pm, I'm done for the night. I can barely keep my eyes open. And I'm up by 6am every day. Wide awake. Ready to go somewhere.

So here's my suggestion. If you want to hang out while I'm here, meet me for breakfast :)

But really, I'm having a good time so far, except for the cold. I'm really cold. Freezing. And it's not my imagination. My uncle told me it snowed on the connector yesterday?!?!? Hello, it's almost JULY!!! Something is definately not right with that. As I type this, I am wishing I had some mittens, 'cuz my fingers are numb. Is anyone else wondering what happened to the weather here?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The List

I'm going to take a little vacation soon, to Vancouver. Lots of people have been asking what I want to do while I'm there. I started making a list, and realized that some of these things seem small and trivial. Things I used to take for granted. So here's my list, in no particular order:

* Watch a movie in a theatre
* Eat Japanese & Thai food
* Hug my Dad
* Drive on roads where the traffic lights always have electricity
* Look at the mountains in the distance
* Go shopping with the girls
* Listen to my Grandma's stories
* Talk on a land line telephone
* Cook some tofu (and eat it)
* Drink water from the tap
* Use my debit card to buy something (I hope I remember the code!)
* Walk down the street and not see any garbage or litter anywhere
* Use a public restroom that actually has a toilet seat, paper, soap and water. I have yet to find one here that meets these criteria. Lucky to see just one of these things here in any given place!
* See my friends
* Do something meaningful on Canada Day.

There it is. The list. Just a few things. But I will not define my visit by doing these things. If I don't get to do some of them, I'm not going to stomp my feet and have a hissy fit, and say that my vacation sucked. They are just things that I would like to do. I am fortunate enough to have done them all before. And if I have the opportunity to do them again, I will.

Friday, June 08, 2007


One of my favorite places to hang out. On the beach they have canvas covered futon beds, where you can lay down and sip your piña colada while watching the boats in the water. There are two parrots that live in Jellyfish, they whistle at you as you walk by, and if you're lucky, they will talk to you. There is no rush here, to make you eat and drink fast, and shove you out the door with the check. No matter how busy it is. The waiter is there when you need him, and gone when you don't. I spent five hours here with my friends yesterday, just hanging out...listening to their funky european club music, swimming, talking, sunbathing, eating, drinking, laughing...it was a perfect day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dia De Madres

Mother's Day happens a bit later here than it does where I come from. And it seemed much more festive, with balloons everywhere, and ribbons and streamers...

But when your mother is no longer here, sometimes these festivities aren't really what you feel like partaking in. So instead, a friend of mine who also lost his mother, took me to a beautiful place where we could just be in silence, and take some time to reflect on life, and thoughts, and love...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When Life Hands You Limons...Can You Make...Limonade?

Long live limons! Actually, I think the correct plural spelling would be limónes in spanish, but who am I to say? I just live here...and on a hot day, doesn't a refreshing glass of limonade sound fantastic? If I really thought about how much work it would be to make it, I might have thought twice. I saw the all-in-one juicer jug at the supermarket today, and had what I thought would be a great idea. So I stuffed a bunch of limons into a bag, paid for my purchase and raced home.

After juicing the first limon, I was about to call it quits. It's too hot for manual labour today. I could fill the jug with sweat faster than with limon juice. But after a 20 minute rest, I did a few more limons...took another break, and so on.

By the time I was more than halfway through all the fruit, I had barely one cup of liquid. Soooo discouraging. But I kept going, and fought a raging war with the ants while I was at it. "IT'S MY FRUIT!!!!" I shouted to them. I made a line of cornmeal around my workspace as I heard that ants will take it home and try to eat it, and die. Well, we'll see about that, but it did manage to keep them away from my juice...for a while.

I finished squeezing the last limon just as the ants conquered the Great Wall of Cornmeal. I transferred the jug into safe territory (the fridge) and left it there for a few hours to chill. The ants scuffled around in confusion wondering where it went. HAH!

Much later, with a little bit of purified water and stevia, the limonade was delicious! But I will say, now that I have done this once...the next time I visit Canada, the first thing that is going into my suitcase is the Juicy Juicer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Ant Parade

There is a party in my house. I didn't invite them, but they showed up with all of thier friends and family. Maybe they were here first, but this is my house now, and I want it back. They have taken over.
I'm talking about The Ants.
One here or there is tolerable, but lately there have been huge parades happening. Meghan and I are very prudent about cleaning up and not leaving any crumbs behind...we keep almost every food-like substance in the fridge - I'm talking like boxes of cereal, sealed bags of uncooked pasta...but there just isn't room in there for everything. So we use ziploc bags. And we thought we had everything under control...
...but today I went to make some rice for lunch, and found a billion ants inside the sealed ziploc bag that I keep the rice in. We call them Houdini Ants. How did thy get in there?! They had formed a train inside the cuboard leading from the rice to who knows where...

They don't care that no one wants them here. They don't listen when we beg them to leave. Meghan has resigned herself to becoming friends with them, but I cannot. They are so selfish! They don't ask, they just take, take, take! And they just carry on, aggresively invading the house, slowly taking over. They have pretty much conquered the entire kitchen now, so what's next? I shudder at the thought.

On some level, I expected to come across insects, living near the beach and on a tropical island, but I think it is time to leave this apartment. I mean, if you can't beat 'em, and you don't want to join 'em, what do you do? Complain to the landlord? HAH! I have been waiting two months to have them change the light in my bedroom. (I have a vaulted 20 foot ceiling.) Thier response when they came to the house last month to take another look: "Hmmm, that is very high...I am thinking about getting a different ladder, the one I have isn't tall enough."

They are still thinking about it...

Monday, May 14, 2007


I try to take my camera with me everywhere. You never know when that kodak moment is going to happen. Except for me it is a Canon moment...

I love taking pictures. It's like capturing a moment in time. And I like it even more when I take a photo that says something. One that needs no explanation. It may not even need a title. It speaks for itself. It makes you think...maybe it even asks you questions when you look at it. That is when it becomes art. At least, for me it is. And that is why I love photography.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Joy of Cleaning

Living by the beach has many advantages, but one thing that isn't so fun is all the sand that finds its way into the house. There are no such thing as carpets here, which is good, because it is so easier to sweep and mop the tile floor than it would be to vaccum. But somehow it is always dirty. So I have made a habit of mopping every couple of days. We keep our mop on the little patio in the back that faces the jungle. The jungle is home to many creatures, and somehow these creatures end up on the patio once in a while...lizards, frogs, bugs...that's fine as long as they stay outside.

One day last week I decide to clean the house early in the morning. Laundry, dishes, sweep, mop...One thing I have to mention is that when you mop the floor here you have to ring out the mop with your hands. That's right. Whatever you call that plastic thing that you use to ring out the mop does not exist in this country, trust me I have looked. So needless to say, mopping is not my favorite chore, but if I do it often, then the water in the bucket is fairly clean throughout the entire process. So, on this particular day last week, I start mopping in the bathroom...and the mop leaves behind a wet brownish clump...with legs. I look closer and it moved!

It was a frog.

One of the jungle creatures made a home in my mop.

At this point I am thankful that I hadn't actually touched the mop yet, and I try to figure out what I am going to do to get this frog out of the bathroom. It climbs behind the garbage can. Fine for now. I don't want to look at it anyways. I continue to mop, because maybe if I pretend there was no frog, it will be like it never happened. Suddenly another bigger frog comes out of the mop! That was it for me. I screamed, slammed the bathroom door shut and escaped to the beach.

That was at 9:30am.

I did not come home until after 5:00.

I brought some guys who work on the beach home to help. They only ever found one frog. At least it was the big one. I refuse to mop now. I can't bring myself to touch the mop with my bare hands anymore. Sweep, yes, mop no. And though it has only been a week, I feel like the house is filthy.

It is not so easy here to find things at the store. There is no steady supply of anything, so you may think it would be easy to just go buy another mop, or rubber gloves but here it is not like that. I have been looking for rubber gloves for two months, and finally today I found some. I shreiked and jumped for joy in the store, and I don't care that people there thought I was crazy.

I can clean the house now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Remember when you were a child, and had not a care in the world? Why can't life always be like that? Why do we make everything so complicated? I think we do it to ourselves. Maybe not on purpose, but things can be simple if we let them.
KiKi spends his days doing cartwheels in the streets, and standing on his hands...having fun. He has a little puppy named Cindy. Kiki is always happy and smiling.
What is his secret?
I spend my days at the beach, swimming in the sea..having fun. I try to always be smiling. Today I was thinking that when we start having too many things to do, and too many things to think about, that is when we lose ourselves to the chaos. And then we aren't happy anymore. Things aren't going the way we planned, or we don't have enough money for something we want, or need...there are millions of things that can happen each day that don't make us happy. But if we dwell on them, or focus all of our energy on WHY things can't be a different way, how can we smile?
So today, I am going to do my best to toss all of my worries away with the trash. I am going to just be happy with everything that I have. So what if there has been no water in my house for three days, and today is a holiday, so I can't do anything about it until tomorrow? I have many things to be thankful for today, including the beautiful sunshine that burnt me yesterday. I will go to the beach, and sit in the shade, listen to music, talk with friends, and pee in the ocean.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Need A Ride?

This what I'm talking about. Imagine riding home like this in the rain for an hour. No thanks. Now I understand why they wanted to leave work early!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Truth About Rain

If you go out in the rain, you will melt, as if you were made of sugar. That is the truth. Ask any Dominican. Umbrellas don't help because it rains sideways here. And when it rains, the streets are empty of pedestrians. The people run for cover, and wait until the rain slackens a bit. Then they scurry along to the next covered area, darting here and there until they reach thier final destination.

Yesterday it didn't rain, but it looked like it might, so all the people who work in the shops went home early. They are always out in the streets and on the beach chasing tourists, trying to lure them into their shops. They cannot earn money if they go home early, but getting wet is worse than not earning any money. I asked why they can't just sit inside the shop. But, they said this won't help when they have to go home form work. They don't have cars. They have to walk. Or drive a motorcycle. Neither of which is pleasant during a monsoon.

Meghan told me about one man she knew who didn't show up for work at the beach once...his reason for missing work was because it was raining and he didn't want to get wet. They told him if he pulled that again, he wouldn't have a job. He said again that he does not work in the rain. He lost his job that day. Maybe he was afraid he would melt...

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I have been taking an open water diving course here. It is nice to have friends on the beach who are diving instructors, and knowing the captains who drive the boats that take us out to the dive sites makes it even more fun. On my first dive, I saw a barracuda. It swam right past me, minding its own business. That was fine with me, because it was quite large. Other fish came so close I could actually reach out and touch them. It was an amazing experience and I am looking forward to seeing what else is in the underwater world.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It is very loud in the cafe right now. Everyone is talking. About business, talking to friends, talking on the phone, placing their orders...clicking keys on the keyboards of laptops...barristas steaming milk for coffee...doors opening and closing...dishes being tossed into the sink behind the counter...motorcycles driving by on the street. When will there be peace and quiet? It is hard to think when there is so much going on. Some people can filter out all of these distractions and be in their own zone. Like meditation. But why can't I just filter it all out while I'm sitting here? Maybe I just need practice.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Smile, it's a beautiful day!

One cannot take the internet for granted here. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. There is no use complaining about it. Because this is just the way it is. An annoyance, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It works at this moment, and for that I am thankful. I have said before, the gringos always get worked up over small things, and they just need to relax. It is too hot here to hurry and worry about every little thing.
If I allow it to bother me, I could think to myself...I paid for this service, I expect it to work every second of every day. That is how it would be in Canada. And if I wasn't happy with the service, I could phone someone and complain, and help them have a miserable day listening to how this is now thier problem and they should fix it. Because taking things for granted is the way we live.
But here, you can take nothing for granted. And when things don't work out, the people don't focus on the negative. Just smile, because it is another beautiful day in paradise. And on days like today when it is a beautiful day and the internet works, I am the happiest person on earth. But even if it was still broken today, life would have still been wonderful. I have wonderful friends and family, and the beautiful caribbean sea at my door. There is nothing else I need. Everything else is just extra. Nice to have, but not essential. And knowing this is the key to my happiness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I don't even know his name

For some reason I cannot upload any photos with this internet connection that I have in my house. It is driving me crazy. I never leave home without the camera, and I have taking pictures of just about everything here. So I am on the lookout for a satellite internet card...hopefully I find one soon so I can visually share my experiences with you. But for now, all you can have is words.

  If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then I have alot of writing to do! I will tell you a snippet of what occured yesterday...

Remember the boy who washed my flip-flops in the ocean? I saw him yesterday, in an area that Meghan and I refer to as "downtown" - if there is such a thing as a downtown here, this is where we were having a late breakfast and coffee at our favorite trendy gringo cafe. Meghan pointed him out as we were leaving, and he recognised us and came over to say Hola. School is still out because of Semana Santa, so he was out and about with his shoe-shine box trying to earn some pesos. He is 10 years old, roaming the streets alone trying to scrape together a meal. Sadly, this is all too common here.

  He is the cutest little boy I have ever seen, and I wanted to do something to help him. He was going to El Cortecito, which is the nearby beach strip of shops. We were all going in the same direction so we asked him if he wanted to come with us on the gua-gua (bus). If not for us, he likely would have walked, 30 minutes in the scorching sun to get to Cortecito. I paid 20 pesos for his gua-gua fare - less than a dollar. When we arrived in Cortecito, I asked him if he was hungry, and of course he was, so we took him to a friends restaurant and I bought him some dominican food (rice, beans, pasta salad, chicken) and water. Then we went our seperate ways.

  He went to find his friends, and I have no doubt that he will share that meal with all of them. In my culture, as a child, everything is "mine, mine, mine" We have to be taught to share, and as we get older there is still a sense of ownership, and giving things away without expecting anything in return is difficult at best. But here, that concept does not exist. Sharing is done without condition, without even a second thought. And yet, this is the third world country. The civilized world could learn so much from them...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Semana Santa (Easter)

Semana Santa on Macao beach. Old friends get reaquainted. New friendships are made. Children play in the water. Lovers play in the water. Presidente Beer. Hot dogs. Rice and beans. Warm sunshine. Clear turquoise ocean. White sand. Dominoes. Police. Rum. Ice. Music. Garbage. Laughter. Memories...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What would the world be like if we all let our imaginations loose?

Many words can be used to describe this delightful hotel. It is a mixed fusion of architectural worlds colliding. None of it goes together, but somehow it all fits together like it was meant to be. What kind of person dreamed up this box of cement and windows? I envy this person. They had an idea and made it come alive. Without any thought of what other people might think or say. They just did it. Sometimes I wonder what the world would look like if we all let our imaginations loose?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grocery shopping is for gringos.

It's simple: If you want fruit, you go to the fruit stand. Or, if you're lucky you can catch the guy who loaded up his pickup truck full of bananas or mangoes this morning. If you want meat, you go to The Butcher Shop. There are many to chose from in the village of Otra Bonda. Every other shop has raw meat strung up in front, baking in the sun. I asked someone once, "What about flies? What about food poisoning?" These questions were quickly dismissed with a shrug. Gringos worry too much and make everything complicated. Just eat it.
Sure, just eat it...
How about an empañada? See the 2 people standing with the tray of pastries? Go ahead, gringo..try one...if you're lucky you will keep your stomach intact.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who said trees are green?

Where else can you find pink palm trees? Yet another sign that I'm in the right place...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day One

Thanks to a delayed flight which messed up my connection flight I arrived here a day late. One day lost...never to be found again. But I made up for it my first night here.

House party + nightlub = stumbling in the house at 4:30am.

Meghan and I walked to town today along the beach, with our feet in the sea and our flip-flops in our hands. It's about a 30 minute walk from our villa (which by the way is a different place than last time I was here.) When we were in town I bought 2 mangos. It cost 24 pesos for both of them. They are huge mangoes by the way, and 24 pesos is less than one dollar. I was stunned. Mangoes weren't in season last time I was here, but I'm sure glad they are now!

But the best part of the day today was when we were on the beach hanging out with some friends. A little boy came up to Meghan and I and he had a beer bottle in his hand. It was full of sea water, and he proceeded to use this water to rinse off our flip-flops. He became so intent on cleaning our shoes that he actually carried them into the sea and scrubbed them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's Now Or Never

Tomorrow while all my friends are sleeping, I will be 30,000 ft above sea level in a Boeing 757. On my way to life in the Caribbean. Sometimes it feels like this is all a dream. But please don't wake me yet, the good part is just about to begin...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Home Sweet Home?

Packing up and moving can be very stressful. I should know, because have done it many times. I can recall 13 different places that I have called home in my life. But this time it's different. Because most of the things I am packing, I am not taking with me. When I get to my new house, there will be no boxes to unpack. There will be no pictures or paintings to hang on the wall, no cutlery to fill up the kitchen drawers, and no heavy furniture to tilt on its side so it fits through the door. Just a few suitcases. What will be in them? That is what I am struggling with right now. What things really matter? I can admit that I am somewhat materialistic...ok, well maybe a little more than the average person, but I admire quality and I appreciate fine things. Clothing is definately high on that list. So, my biggest suitcase is full of clothes. Lots of clothes. I will have to sit on it to zip it up. The next suitcase...well, I haven't really started packing it yet. But it will probably be mostly shoes. I find it fascintating that I am having a hard time parting with so may of my things. I have many boxes that I have packed up, of things that will be donated to charity. But, I still can't let go of some things, so I am putting them in storage. My popcorn machine, my wok, my china...Maybe one day I will send for them to be shipped to my new home. But I find myself asking, what really makes home home? Is it the things we fill it up with? Or maybe, is it the people who live in the house that make it home? I live alone, so does that mean that can I be home, wherever I am? I don't know about that. There must be something else.
I hope I don't leave it behind.
Then again, maybe it's already waiting for me in the Caribbean.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Word On The Street

You may have already heard, but here is the offical word: I just bought my plane ticket last night, and I'm on my way back to the Caribbean on March 22nd. This time it's not a test, it's gonna be the real thing. Only 30 more days to go...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another Week In Paradise

Once again I found myself frolicking in the Caribbean sun, this time to see one of my best friends get married in Mexico. Todd & Karen picked the Mayan Riviera as the location for their wedding, and no one needed to twist my arm to be there! I was fortunate enough to go to the same place in Mexico to see Hazel & Alex get married in 2005, and I was really glad to be able to get back there again with a completely different group of friends.

Some of the highlights for me were: bike riding among the ancient ruins in Cobá (with my dad, Sue, Brian, Sandeep & Nicole), diving in Cozumel (my first time diving!), drinking rainbow shooters, swimming in the Caribbean Sea in Tulum, relaxing in the spa, and of course, the best part was Todd & Karen's wedding.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back in the Caribbean

Hola from Mexico! I have to write this really quickly because my internet minutes here are almost up. And I really should be at the beach! I´m having a really great time here, the weather is beautiful, and the pina coladas are delicious! I will post some photos and give an update tomorrow night.

Adios Amigos!