Monthly Archives: August 2012

Scratching the surface of Madrid

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my photo uploads (good ol’ technology) so once I get it sorted I’ll be flooding the blog with striking shots and info of what Spain so far. Here is just a taste…

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I loved the color contrast between the flowers and buildings.
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I wasn’t surprised to see Mickey and Minnie wandering the streets, by all means they rank in popularity up there with Coca Cola and Oprah. I did however do a double take at his choice of costume… an American Flag? 
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This group of people have been out here in the same spot all day, everyday since I’ve arrived. Surrounded by suitcases and umbrellas, they sit and speak amongst themselves.
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If you were to close your eyes and walk past this book store, you’d hear an enthusiastic elderly man explaining something (that I couldn’t understand) to a young fellow who you wouldn’t be able to hear due to his intent on grasping every word being shared with him. It was lovely.
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Random shots:
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These statues are placed around the city, I think they’re kind of comforting in a way.
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“Yes son, that’s what Bam Bam carries around.”
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I actually think I’m going to have an entire post dedicated to the food that has left a special place in my heart(and gut). These are just the a few pics that I was able to load… Dozens more to come!
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This is “Plaza Mayor”, the view from the first hostel room Madrid. I’ll be describing the different hostels I’ve experienced in Spain in the future as they range quite a bit and deserve their own post, (as well as the people I met during my stay).
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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“How do you afford all that traveling?!”

How do I afford it? I’m not a professional traveler nor do I guarantee that “my way” will work for everyone. I’ve just been asked so many times that I feel the need to share as much as I can in hopes that others will take an opportunity in their life and make it happen as well.

Lets start with the primary way I’m able to travel, the beautiful world of volunteering. My thoughts have always been that I have a healthy body, active mind and an abundance of energy… Why not put it to use! While researching my possibilities, I fell upon the program described below and have stuck with it ever since.

“Help exchange” is an online listing of hosts that generally offers a room and meals in exchange for work. You can snoop around the website without registering, but the annual fee is minimal and it allows you to see everyone’s profile in detail. If you desire to travel abroad, meet locals, and learn more about culture than the “tours” provide, I highly suggest you check this out, it’s changed my life.

Help Exchange .

To give you an idea of some of the things I’ve gotten to do and places I’ve seen while volunteering, here are a few links to some of my favorite hosts!

This was with an amazing family in Australia that provided a tree house for the accommodation, scrumptious vegetarian meals and a plethora of knowledge with organic gardening.   LIFE IN THE TREES OF WOONONA .

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this took me to a tiny coastal town in New Zealand. I got to share a cabin with another volunteer from Malaysia.  ON THE RESERVE .

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An orphanage in Argentina that opened my eyes to a group of smart, funny and extremely entertaining children.  ANOTHER DAY WITH THE KIDS .

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This was in a small village outside of Cusco Peru. We got to work at the school and then direct the after class programs.
  CLUB SUYAWI WARI .
  TEACHING ENGLISH IN HUAMUTIO .
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If I’m not volunteering, I’m usually staying with a friendly fellow traveler that I’ve met along the way.  
“Well, if you ever make it to (fill in a random city here) you’re more than welcome to stay with me”. 
This is a common offer that I rarely turn down… and fully plan on returning the favor when (if) I grow up and get a place of my own.

If I’m not volunteering or reconnecting with a friend, I’m usually on the way to do so. This leads to my next accommodation that, for the most part, is free considering I have to do it either way. Planes, trains, buses and boats!
If at all possible I make my transfers during the “night route”. Prices are generally the same and sometimes even cheaper. Depending on how long the ride is, they depart between 10p and midnight, getting you to your destination by the morning. So if you can sacrafice a night without totally horizontal sleep and can endure the random crying baby, Mr. Sneeze McGee or Captain Cough sitting behind you… You’ve just got one more night of rest (or attempted rest) for no extra charge!

When none of the above has fallen into place, I resort to the hostel life.  
Definition of hostel: A hostel is a budget-oriented, shared-room (“dormitory”) accommodation that accepts individual travelers (typically backpackers) or groups for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities.
It serves it’s purpose for a minimal price compared to hotels and resorts.  Even though it’s money out of the pocket, I still feel like it’s a positive addition to my journey. This is usually where I get bunked up with a stranger that leaves as a new friend that I usually reconnect with down the road.  Without the handy backpacker accommodation, I wouldn’t meet nearly as many people as I do. 
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Next expense – Transportation
Of course to get to the main destination, especially from the states, a flight is neccessary. Unfortunately I haven’t met a backpacker yet with part ownership in a major airway company, so I just rely on a few basic tricks to get the best, cheapest flights possible.  Here’s what I’ve found:

What day and time you fly – Be flexible. Do you have to fly out Friday Or Sunday (the most expensive days) or can you swing a red eye on Wednesday?

What day and time you purchase – It’s been proven that shopping and purchasing flights on Tuesday afternoon is usually the cheapest option. Airlines are battling for your ticket because most people snoop for deals on the weekends when they have time to look.

Airports – sometimes flying into and out of a nearby airport can save money.  This isn’t my favorite trick because sometimes you’ll spend just as much money (and time) getting a transfer to your final destination over the direct savings. 

Using the plastic – Because I use so many different airlines and travel companies, I use a general CC that allows me to save up points and use them towards ANY ticket. It’s a beautiful circle of using the card to buy the tickets (paying it off every month!) and then using those points for the next flight.  

Buying in bulk or one ways- Most of the time I just have a general layout of when and where I’ll be month to month.  This prevents me from purchasing specific tickets in advance, however I found a company that allows you to buy in bulk with the flexibility to change your dates.
  AIRTREKS .

If I don’t use them for my flights, I’ll stick to a one way purchase then figure it out as I go.
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Websites – Kayak, Travelzoo, Orbits, Expedia and the list goes on of sites that can help with your journey.  I don’t soley rely on them, however they are helpful to narrow down some options and they’ll email you valid deals that the general public won’t hear about.

Once I’ve landed…

Plane, train, bus or share – Before I decide on my transportation details, I first pick which type is going to be the best fit to my needs.  Financially, what is the cheapest and is it worth it. Is it safe enough to risk and save the money? What about time flexibility, can I afford to loose a day of travel on a 22 hour bus ride or should I just pay the extra for the 2 hour flight? A fancy train for speed, luxury bus for semi comfort or a local van to save the green? 

My favorite way to really save with ground transportation is sharing a ride.  I’m not necessarily talking about hitch hiking, although that was a blast in New Zealand! The photo below is the brave driver who picked me up, my new and still friend Hamish!
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The other option which is an organized ride share that you can usually find in every country.   www.blablacar.com for example is a site that links people looking for gas money if you want a ride to where they’re going.  A high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona is about 120 euro, a public bus averages 50 euro, but a ride share would ask for 30 euro. Is it worth it at that time?
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Last option that Ive always kept as a possibility is car relocation services.  There are online sites that link you with companies that need a one way driver. Maybe it ws rented by a previous traveler to go to an major airport and now needs to make it back to it’s original city. You pick it up, drive it to your next stop and then viola, you just payed for gas with a bonus of the open road! This is even more amazing if you can find another backpacker going in the same direction who wants a ride and will split the gas… Score!

I get there, stay there and now it’s time to eat!

When volunteering, part of your work is rewarded with meals.  It can vary between getting all your daily meals to just eating dinner with the family. Either way, I always have a variety of protein, carbs and fat in my backpack to hold me over and or consume as an emergency meal. Some examples are a variety of nuts, dried fruit or veggies, dry oats (granola if you need more flavor), honey, etc. Once I arrive to a new destination one of my favorite things is to find the local store or market and look around for healthy items that I’ve never seen before to throw in my bag for the next bus ride. Financially I can survive much longer by making my own meals which is another bonus of hostel traveling. The kitchen is open to the guests to use (something you won’t find at hotels).  

Left overs? Save them! If I DO eat out I’ll always see if someone wants to share a meal and if not, I’ll wrap up what’s left and eat that for meals to follow until it’s gone. See the “edibles” posts for some examples of creative re-use of food.
This meal, I turned into three!
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Commonly hostels or volunteer hosts will provide a spread for breakfast that might include (rarely including ALl) things like fruit, cereal, oats, breads, yogurt, eggs and so on. The yogurt will spoil over time on the road so eat that first. You need heat to cook eggs, so if yogurt isnt your choice of protien go for the egg.  The breads, oats and grain travel well, so snag a serving and throw it in your bag for a later snack.  Ive even put my morning yogurt in the freezer and taken it when I leave. This is so when I hit the road and get hungry, I snag a piece of fruit from a stand and my thawed yogurt is thawed and ready to eat…and free! 

Lastly, “Do you ever make money”?

Yes! I’m fortunate that the 4 career choices I’m experienced with, I can take around the world.  Primarily hairstyling because everyone wants a haircut and most travelers don’t have the desire to trust or over pay a salon.  So when I arrive in a new hostel I’ll hang a small sign stating my prices and room number and see what comes my way.  Usually at each hostel, I’ll make enough to pay for my stay and walk away with some change.  At one accommodation, the owner of the place let me give his staff haircuts and didn’t charge me for the 3 nights I stayed!
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Massage therapy, bar tending and teaching are the other three that I use when opportunity arise. Sometimes I get paid cash, other times its a barter like dinner, a bus ticket, a free night stay or my personal favorite, language lessons!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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So there you have it, a general guide to my sneaky ways of traveling like I do. Hopefully it’s obvious I truly enjoy it, so please don’t hesitate to email me with specific questions.

universalaughter@yahoo.com

Cheers to adventure!

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wake up your eyes!

Fancy pants got a new camera!

My loyal friend of photo taking has finally retired in peace as it has been covered in sand, dipped in pools, dropped from buses, drowned in oceans, left in cabs, survived mud baths, paint parties and has circled the globe shoved in the bottom of a carry on for years.
Who would of thought that silly little insurance I bought with it would pull through after all of my “gentle” use. $9.28 later I have a brand new gem that is prepared for the journey ahead.

As with any new toy, I started pushing buttons to see what I could come up with.  I’m sure several of you have been using these effects for years, but oh… I’m excited for what this gadget can do! I’ve only scratched the surface.

Here are some experimental pics I snapped from New York and just a taste of Madrid:

NEW YORK CITY:
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I dedicate this one to my long time partner in crime, Walker. A significant dear friend that I can’t live with… but would never live without.
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An art piece set up in the Sex Museum.
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Grand Central Station
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The famous Empire State Building.
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MADRID!
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One of my favorites!
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I love color!
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Who would of thought my legs and feet could look so alive!
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These guys were amazing… I actually followed the music until I found them.
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This is the sign of a woman’s clothing store.
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The view from my balcony!
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Are you as excited as I am?!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

I heart NYC

I’m sure I don’t have to do much explaining for this ever so popular destination in North America. The songs, the shows, the movies and “Hollywood” does a fine job of providing every angle that New York City has to offer. For me, this weekend was primarily to reunite with several friends. First and for most, meet Jessica. An extremely kind girl with brains and beauty. We met in Italy last year and toured through France and ended in Spain together. During that journey we mentioned how cool it would be to connect again. All the way from Canada (near Niagra Falls) she flys in and finds me at the JFK airport.

Here we are in Florence…
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…and now in New York City!
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We stayed at the New York Budget Inn which is a hostel styled setting with some of the most friendly staff members I have met on the road this far. If you’re ever passing through and desire a great price, I highly suggest this be your choice for accommodations. Location, employees, comfort and cleanliness… all exceeded my expectations, thanks gentlemen!

www.newyorkbudgetinn.com .
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Here’s what my 72 hours looked like (excluding that crazy night in which I didn’t bring my camera… Good thing).

Walking the streets.
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I didn’t know they allowed small ponies to walk the streets on a leash.
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Remember the coconut jelly that I LOVED in Barbados? I found this woman selling whole baby coconuts. I get to drink the water, then eat the jelly! FYI: the flavor was nothing like on the island. I should of known, bummer.
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They were promoting the local tap water. “It’s not only OK to drink, it’s great to drink.”
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This has always amazed me for some reason.
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Hmmm, not tempted to eat here…
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Outdoor and indoor frozen yogurt, your pick!
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Markets! One if my favorite things to explore in any city.
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This vibrant artwork caught my eye in World Market.
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As the sun starts to lower the energy of the city is far from quiet. The vibe begins to rotate and the streets become darker yet louder.
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Turns out is was going to rain… a lot.
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Smile if you forgot an umbrella!
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This wet evening was far from drab as we got to eat at one of my new favorite spots. RAYMI is a traditional Peruvian restaurant that has brought authentic flavors right to your dish. How did I ever find out about this amazing treasure? On the flight home from Peru, I was seated right next to Erik Rameriz, one of the creators and talented chefs. I teased him on the plane that I would show up someday… surprise!
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With a reservation and a smile we walkEd in and were treated like royalty. Poor Jessica didn’t know how excited I was going to get when seeing so many familiar items that I’ve been missing from Peru. These are including but not limited to: Pisco, Chancaca, Cusqueña, and several fresh seafood options garnished with toasted corn and sweet potatoes!

Due to the gorgeous ambiance, I didn’t snap any photos so please click on the link to tempt yourself with the best Peruvian restaurant Kniwn to me! Thank you Erik for the wonderful experience, stimulated taste buds and a glimpse of my journey to Peru.

www.richardsandoval.com/raymi/ .

The following evening, we hit up yet another favorite of mine, Marc Forgione. Marc was winner of the next Iron Chef on the food network and joined up with an incredible staff to open this successful restaurant. One of the talented team members and GM happens to be a childhood friend of mine from Folsom. Matthew Conway (to be said in a fancy voice, even though we just called him Matt) allowed us to snag one of his beverage creations while nibbling on some unique bites.

  www.marcforgione.com .

On the way to dinner (in a cab to avoid the storm).
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After dinner we got a bonus reunion with my even longer time pal, Jimmy. The three of us grew up together and parted ways due to… Well, life. This night we got to hang out like back in the old school days. Here’s Jimmy with us on the way to the next stop. This is when the camera was put away.
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Fast forward to our last stop, non other then some New York Pizza to finish up the night! Matt is nearest on the right, then Jessica and Jimmy.
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…and of course we meet a group of friendly fellas! The one with the broken arm is getting married soon (enter smooshy love sounds here). What a fun group of boys, sure wish we could of connected sooner. Well cheers to you and your new chapter of marriage!
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Much thanks to Matt and Jimmy for not only making time for us, but enhancing our trip!

So it’s now the night before we’re leaving and I get a dental emergency. To spare you the details, we’ll just say I couldn’t have left without it being fixed. This is Dr. Peter Mann, my super hero in a white coat. He got me in within 20 minutes of a phone call and out within 30 minutes of sitting down. I’m so grateful for his calming work and the wonderful girl who greeted me with an “It’s going to be all right” smile.
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The morning we were departing, Jessica back to Niagra and me off to Madrid, we waited in the Grand Central Station for our bus. Handstand time! If you can’t find me, I’m the one with my feet in the air.
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Next time I touch ground… Spain!
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Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Atlanta in 5 days!

Remember Marshall?
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He was the chef I met in Las Vegas just a couple of months ago. We started chating about travels poolside at Ceasars Palace and before the end of the day, we made plans to reunite. High fives to a fellow traveler that sticks to his word!
This brings me to his residence in Atlanta Georgia for a whirlwind tour in 5 days.

Stone Mountain, at least the back side view anyway. My first excursion is to hike this beast!
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The walk towards the base. There was an awesome kids activity set along the way, clearly puts McDonalds playground to shame.
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Need a break mid climb? I suggest you don’t rest on this tree.
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I wish the pictures could show how steep it is. Obviously it’s not “gear worthy” or some record setting incline, but still enough angle to make me feel like I accomplished something.
Love the captain pose Marshall!
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Bonus to the mom with a baby on her back!
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History written in stone.
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We made it!
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This little guy kept me smiling… Who wouldn’t want to jump rock to rock? I should of joined him.
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Group photo!
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These are the three attempts at an airborne picture. I don’t consider them a failure at all. I think I like capturing the pre and post jump better than the mid-flight photo. We look so happy in our awkward poses.
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I love Stone Mountain!
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SATURDAY PIG ROAST!
Marshall found out that I had never been to a roast before. This brought him to plan a shindig at his place for me and his friends.

*Please note some of these images might be difficult to observe depending on your eating beliefs.

Prepping in the kitchen!

Kim (the trooper in the pictures above and Marshall’s friend fom college)dominated the bacon and beans. I should also mention that her sauce for the slaw and cucumber salad should be documented and sold around the world… Scrumptious!
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Ooh, my job! I got to play with the fruit and veggies.
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Marshall and his spices. He’s like a little kid experimenting with a new set of toys.
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The main course before the roasting begins.
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Spicy time!
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Bringing on the heat!
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What’s he looking at? Is it the upsatirs neighbor with their window open or possibly the fun fact that we have the flame directly below the sprinkler sign.
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Time to rotate and add more coals.
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I personally love the hug happening in the background.
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And the feast begins!
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DISC GOLF!
Otherwise known as “Frisbie golf” or “Frolfing”. Each individual player throws a flying disc at a target with the objective of ending in the fewest number of throws. The game is actually played in about 40 countries around the world.

This course is gorgeous!
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This is Kim (from the pig roast) and Brendon. These two are absolutley a blast to be around with their relaxed vibe and friendly jokes.
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In action!
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Turns out you’re supposed to avoid the bushes… But I love trees!
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Why not wrap it up with a huge slide. If you could of heard the horrific sounds of sweaty skin being peeled off of grown adults in unexpected pain… It was hilarious!
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I cheated and took the short route.
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My favorite local business goes to Sugar Moon Bake Shop! A desert shop specializing in cupcakes and other delights. Baked desserts aren’t the highest ranking on my sweets list, but this place was creative, cozy and adorable! Plus, all the treats we brought to the roast from this shop was a popular hit (proven by the lovely ladies that even took another cupcake to go).

I didn’t grab as many photos as I should of so please check out the website for tempting details!

  www.sugarmoonbakeshop.com .

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Took a walk around a nearby park. What a beautiful setting in the middle of a major city.
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Can you see the flame next to the lovely couple?
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Areas for your kids to play in (either paw babies or the human ones).
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Loved this duo! “Hmmm sweetie, should we watch tv again tonight or go do pilates in the park with a city skyline view”?
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Follow the beat! Percussion is one of my favorite musical sounds. This open street group gathers every week and spills the contagious desire to shake your hips.
Today there was a woman “feelin it” as she belly danced her smile around the small square.
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Categories: Accommodations, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Random sights of Barbados

The best view I’ve ever had during a haircut. He should of charged ME for the experience!
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The following is to give you an idea of some of the sights you would catch on a drive around the island. Take notice that there are no billboards suffocating the sides of the road. The government placed a ban on them in the late 60’s as they were deemed “unsightly” and dangerous to motorist.

Random shots throughout random roads.
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This is St. Lawrence Gap, a main strip of bars, dance clubs and popular restaurants. There’s a huge variety of options ranging from cocktail lounges, multi-level dance clubs to venues with live bands and outdoor social areas. If you can make it here on a Thursday night, be prepared for hundreds of party people looking for a great time. If you’ve been following my travels for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve found an Irish pub in every country so far. Keep it going Barbados!
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This beautiful lighthouse was sitting near a beach that I would consider “hidden”. To my knowledge, not even some of the locals have taken time to explore this peaceful portion of the coastline.
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This yacht club has a port that is lined with spectacular homes, condos and white sand. I got to sneak a handstand on the helicopter landing pad!
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The picture perfect, postcard ready view of the south coast. This is near the airport, so when you arrive to this magical island… Make time for a pit stop here, you won’t be disappointed.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I truly feel a bit of a challenge when trying to sum up this special place. Is it the lively people and their ability to gather together with vibrant energy… the parties that are always “sweet-fuh-days”? Maybe it’s simply the breath taking views around every corner. Either way this island has made a unique impact on my journey. Cheers till next time!

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Kadooment!

This festival of Barbados was originally celebrated in the 1800s by slaves at the end of the sugar-cane harvest. A procession of carts and animals decorated with flowers would bring the last load of cane to the plantation owner, who would then provide a feast for the laborers. Now, Crop Over is the most anticipated event on the island. It begins in June and finishes strong on the first Monday of August with Grand Kadooment. This massive parade includes participants dancing their way through the local streets to Soca and Calypso music while dressed in vibrant, eye-catching costumes!

So you can imagine when Ryan asked if i wanted to join in… My response? Of course! All he needed was my measurements, (before I knew the details) I thought, “Cool, I might get a neat shirt or maybe matching shorts”. (This is where you can enter either his mischievous laugh or my nieve giggle).

Here is what I measured into:
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This is Jane. I’ll call her a new friend, but she felt more like a sister. Comforting and welcoming with a noticeable warmth… what a joy to be around!
Here she is with and her husband Aldo there son Ethan.  When I asked how soon the little guy got to “jump” in the carnival, dad said “next year” while mom just laughed.  On average the locals usually start between 14-17 years of age depending on the household.
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Its 7:45 in the morning and the troop is ready to hit the 6 mile parade!
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If I need to justify why the drink trucks are already up and serving adult beverages at 8am…Let me remind you that I’m in Barbados.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

First and only stop (the structured part of the day) is the arena where each “band” gets to cross the main stage and basically strut their stuff while representing their colors.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

After this talent show, the crowd blends and we keep on whining and chipping away the celebration.
NOTE: Please see the J’ouvert post to recall the dance definitions of chipping and whining.

Here is a glimpse of some other varieties of costumes.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Although there are thousands of people, you are constantly running into friends. Some slow down to wait for the drink truck while others bounce ahead to their favorite song.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

It’s miss Sarah Jane!
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This is two of the dozen music trucks.  Some are live bands, others have awesome Dj’s that keep the groups moving!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

… And it keeps on going…
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

At some point in the journey, you’ve got to hop on a wall!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I loved involving the people that came to observe. Thank you for the idea and encouragement Ryan!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In Ryan’s words “Go big or go home”.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

This little girl asked for one if his beads… Adorable!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Ooh, another friend! This is Dwayne, you may recognize him from the Segway Polo team that I described before. I met this fun loving angel in California last year. Whenever I mention his name, my mom usually interrupts me with “Awh, I just love Dwayne… He’s one of my favorites”.
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Melodie and Kris… Quality energy. They jump every year, except that tiny bump you can’t see is their little peanut that will be here by next kadooment! Congrats to wonderful people adding to this magical planet!
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The Police station is known as a fine place to slow your trek and take a moment to let your presence be known. I was told that in years past, full costumed people have ran in, hopped on the tables and danced for the employees. Take notice, the doors are now closed. Eh, handstand shot!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Well, no police station fun… so let’s just play friendly with the authorities then!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

When the heat is at it’s peak, it’s so nice to run into the water fountains. They have hoses spraying for all involved that need a cooling off.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The temperature has been climbing all day with a few sprinkles here and there. That is the main reason you’ll notice less and less head pieces as the day goes on. I gave mine to a little girl on the side lines. Either that or you try to save it and end up with what looks like a drowned rooster on your head.

Feathers tickling my face before the rain…
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

…and her poor head piece after the soaking.
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More creative beauty!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Random snap shots
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

During the final stretch (after 6 miles) we follow the coast with several options for food, different drinks and… Hold up, “Did you say food?”
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I don’t think Ryan has seen me so ready to devour anything that was out in front of me. The last pic is me patiently, if you call it that, waiting for some edible nutrients.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

“Thank you” doesn’t quite capture the gratitude I have for the friends of Barbados that made this trip what it was. Cheers to great times, priceless memories and plans for next year! All my love.
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Categories: Fashion from a backpack, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Calories – Love to consume them… love to burn em!

“Th Ackee Tree” – otherwise known as “The home of the one pound Roti”.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

What’s a roti? Delicious. It starts with a thin wrap (skin) pressed together with dried chickpeas in almost hummus form.  Then they fill it with your choice of meat, veggies and sauces.  Today I got shark with chickpeas and pumpkin. Added some tamarind, pepper sauce and a hint of curry. It’s wrapped up in almost burrito form and served a la carte.
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Can you see the two separate wraps with the dried hummus in the middle?
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I decided to destroy it and eat it with my fingers by tearing the wrap and pinching the filling into each bite.  As I was feeling a little silly (just a little), Ryan informed me that I was eating it the traditional way. The roti “burrito” is fairly modern and more for convenience.   
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Coconut jelly is the meat in a green young coconut (the white part before it turns hard). It can be so soft that it reminds you of gelatin. I dont think it’s like anything near what your typical coconut tastes like. This is mildly sweet and personally one of my new favorite flavors!
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Catch of the day choices at an outdoor restaurant called “Just Grillin”. After you pick your fish or meat you can make it a sandwich, salad or plate and pick from a variety of sides.   www.justgrillinbarbados.com .
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This is Souse, the national dish of Barbados. Traditional a Saturday night food to serve with a pudding made from either sweet potato or blood. Back in the slavery days the owners of the land would butcher the pigs and keep all of the “good” meat and pass the left over “parts” to the workers. They would then pickle and season with peppers and spices, topping it off with onion or cucumber.  When eating this authentic dish you may encounter an ear, hooves, a tail, or maybe even a shoulder.  
The dark brown you can barely see to the top right is the pudding. The other side is green banana, a fruit that compliments the flavor of the souse.
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These stands are the common “fast food” choices.
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The menu
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The grill master
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Ryan got the barbecued chicken with fried plantains, chips and salad shown in the pictures. I ordered the grilled fish, chips and salad but ate it before it dawned on me to take a picture.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Time to burn off some of those calories!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my past in gymnastics, I never did it as a child but started coaching at 14. Through training and teaching, I worked my way through the upper levels until reaching the head coach position of a completive team. I then finished up my journey in the gymnastics world as a judge and member of NAWGJ.

Although coaching is where my heart stays, it was so much fun to be on the other side as a student.  I got to try new things in the hands of one of the best. No, seriously… This is Shane De Freitas. He is the only gymnasts to have ever represented Barbados in the 1996 Olympics!  

His cheerful and laid back attitude combined with an extreme amount of knowledge made a perfect match for this class.

From left to right: Ryan, me, Shane, Michelle and Jodie.
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Time to stretch-out and warm up.
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A little floor with handstands, cartwheels, back walk overs and more.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Beam- I dedicate these two pics to all of my gymnasts from years past.  Great memories girls!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Bars brought a lot of laughs.  It seems pretty typical for little girls to “play” on a set, so childhood memories of recess came to mind. We started with some swings, then holds and the last photo is mid rotation of a back hip circle (which sounds cooler than it is) but I did it after all these years!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Although Ryan claims to not be a natural (and never had lessons), here he is with extreme height and great rotation in a back tuck. “I just like to jump off of things”.
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Palma horse is a men’s event that we got to give a try.  Attempting some of the most basic skills brought an entire new level of respect for the athletes that make it look so easy.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

To say he was showing off would be like accusing a doctor of showing off by knowing the alphabet. This stuff was extremely elementary for him and really entertaining to watch.
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I have no idea what this is called but it was fun!  You grip two separate bars and proceed to elevate your body sideways to an inverted position. Yeh… Right.  With Shane’s boost, I was able to get a feel for it, thanks pal!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Girls just wanna have fun! Our three attempts for a perfect rope picture.  I wouldn’t say we failed, just had creative results.  All great times ladies!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Final photo of the night with the whole crew.  Just a bunch of big kids with big hearts and bigger smiles.  A personal thanks to this group for the open arms (and monkey toes) to send me on my way…  High-fives!
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Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cool Runnings and the M.C. Buccaneer

Cool Runnings Catamaran Cruises exceeded my expectations for what I had in mind of a “day cruise”. Not only were they voted 2nd Most Popular Attraction by the globally recognised Zagat Survey, they were titled ‘the Rolls-Royce of catamaran excursions’ in Barbados. When I went to check them out on tripadvisor.com, it was clear with the awards of excellence and top ratings that this company has been raising the bar for years. I’m fortunate enough to have personally met the minds behind this company (including my host Ryan who designed the logo) and let me assure you, this is more than a business… Its a family wanting to provide a quality experience for everyone involved!
Check out their website for amazing pics of the water, turtles, and other variety of cruises they offer at coolrunningsbarbados.com .

The crew prepping for our day of snorkeling, swimming with the turtles, eating, drinking and dancing!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

This is Eddie our captain. He “has” to guide these sails all day with people having the time of their life to the background noise of reggae, calypso and dance hits. Do you feel for him or what?
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He let me sneak up there and chat with him and one of the other crew members. I’m sure everyone gets to go up there, but I felt special.
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Meet Raymond, remember Raymond and let me remind you Raymond in a far future post. This island guy is ready to travel and I happen to always have an open seat… Cheers till next time new friend!
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First picture is obviouslty me and Ryan and the second photo is one of our views from the catamaran.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Check for turtles before you jump in… All clear? Go!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Lunch time! More traditional Bajan food: flying fish, veggies, rice, salad and Rum Punch. (They left out the macaroni pie, friend bread fruit and plantains).
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

What a memory to add to the list… Thank you Ryan, Anika, Eddie, Raymond and all the crew members.

ON THE WATER PART 2

The M.C.Buccaneer is a cruising ship that you can sign up for a day of food, drinks, fun and more fun. Thisdj urnsy was a private party that I was so very lucky to be a part of (much appreciation to Daniel, Sean Dwayne and Mikie). This annual celebration involves a group of friends kickstarting, to say the least, the Kadooment Day that awaits us. That post is coming soon and I feel you should prepare yourself.

Here is the boat looking empty and innocent.
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As we were standing there getting ready to head out, I gazed down to see what looked like a swimming pool on the lower deck. Nope, that’s the ocean water that the was beneath us!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The crowd before departure. Take note of the fully clothed, calm adults having pleasant conversation.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

It’s Mikie again! He had the responsibility of inflating all of the safety apparatus’s -aka- the floaty animals! (As you can find in the second picture in which I’m checking for any damaged or unsafe materials).
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

These two gorgeous sisters welcomed me with bright smiles and a few more dance lessons. The first photo is with Maria followed by Michelle.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

More animals! Im talking about the people but there are some more floaties too.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Time to cool off so pick your dismount!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Dancing? Unheard of around here.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Hey now tiger… watch it.
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Mud and Paint Party!

During the time of slavery, Carnival was introduced to the Caribbean by French settlers in 1783. Banned from the masquerade balls, the slaves would stage mini-carnivals in their own backyards creating new rituals. In so many words, they would pretty much imitate or mock the “party” behavior of their masters.

Let’s talk J’ouvert (pronounced joo-veh) meaning “day break”.

The origins of the street party referred to as J’ouvert coincide with the emancipation from slavery in 1838. People smeared themselves with mud or paint to avoid being recognized and partied down the street late at night while the wealthy were sleeping.

The Bajan version includes calypso music loud enough to send the language of the evening into smiling, waving, toasting, thumbs up or chipping. Chipping is a dance step that is flat footed, knee bent and moving forward, almost as if to “chip” away the street. If the music is right, you can sneak in some whining. This is when people attach themselves to one another by their ‘middle section’ and pulse, sway and thrust to the rhythm in every conceivable manner. Front on front, front to bum – down, up, side to side… You name it. This can be in multiples of two all the way up to a sea of 20!

Ready, set… Here we go!

10:00p – Time to get ready. My oufit before…
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…and after!
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11:45p – Getting ready to board the bus to the top of the route. Although this “walk” (which means chipping and dancing, referred to as “jumping”) is only about 2 miles, it takes hours to complete due to the pace set by the music and drink trucks.

So clean as I innocently wait for the future festivities.
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12:30am – Once everyone has made it to the starting point, they start the music and open the drink trucks (a mobile bar with servers feeding the crowd unlimited adult beverages).
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

1:15 – The paint has arrived! This is one of the dozens of barrels.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

2am – Let the jump begin! Red, yellow, blue, green, orange… or mud? Unless you’re the one with the bucket, you have no idea what is headed your way. We started off with the sunshine color.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

3 something in the morning – it’s only just begun.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

You can imagine what the inside of everyones cup must look like with the flinging of this nonsense. I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to keep it totally clean. The locals were questioning my strategy. I claim luck.
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Orange? Yes please!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Jason has no idea what’s coming…
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…Now he does! This look is priceless.
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Sometime between 4-4:30 – Closed off streets with hundreds of people having a blast, still chipping away.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

5ish – The sun is starting to come up as we reach the last stretch.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

At the end of the route, they have a huge fire hose that drenches the crowd for a final rinse before we depart. This shower includes perfect music for more… you guessed it, dancing! Yes, the drink truck parks and keeps on serving.
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Before 6am – Crossed the finish line, here we are before the shower.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Ryan’s poor flip flops. I kinda like ’em that way.
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Stretching out after miles of raving.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Almost 7 am – Danced in the rain, rinsed off in the parking lot shower party and now it’s come to an end. (Which simply means we get enough time to eat, pretend to rest and get ready for the next carnival party).
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I don’t know what I’m more impressed by, the high energy maintained by the open minded participants or the fact that with all of the action, not one fight. Not even one verbal threat. Everyone just laughing and truly enjoying the spirit of Carnival. In my opinion, it’s the way it should be!

Categories: Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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