Travel talk

Do you all live in straw huts on the beach?

Although we may sleep under them, we don’t live in palm trees or forts made of sticks in the sand. Yes there’s clean water, paved roads and even electricity! (To be said with a slightly sarcastic undertone). We have convenient grocery stores with cheap local items and an abundance of over priced imported goods. In fact, on this beautiful island you can find rum cheaper than water and fresh tropical fruit growing wild along the road side. 

While enjoying our stay in Barbados, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where Matt and I are calling home away from… well, I guess this is home for now! It’s located fairly central with just a quick drive to the popular south and beautiful west coast beaches. Our cozy home is 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an inviting backyard hosting the guest cottage. Although the last kittens were adorable while living in the home seen in a past post,  I’d say this is one of the most comfortable pet sitting jobs we’ve done! Please, take a look around!  Below is the dining (we never eat here) and lounge (we never sit here) portion of the house that realistically is just a common area we pass through to get from our room to the kitchen.

We spend most of our moments outside, however the main two spots that consume our indoor time are the bedroom to sleep and bathe and the kitchen to prepare food and coffee.

If for a moment we want to chill out and get lost in a documentary, we’ll kick back and relax in the additional room.

Now to our prime spot of entertainment. The backyard is where we read, write, grill, eat, talk, nap, stretch and start and end every single day. This photo was obviously shot during my morning tea time.

That cute little cottage house in the back is perfect for our guests. Private full bathroom, coffee maker, mini fridge, a few seating options and an extremely comfortable bed. No need for a “do not disturb” sign as the only knocking you’ll here is from the monkeys on the roof trying to snag a mango off the tree overhead!

Looking past the cottage you’ll see a few neighbors tucked away behind the radiating green that catches the eye from tree to tree.

What else have we used this beautiful back area for? A party of course! Our last visitor had a birthday so we through together a barbeque (literally, Matt turned center blocks and a flower pot into a grill) and invited some friends! A few balloons, another grill and amazing people… success!

What does a group of spontaneous creative individuals do when united? Apparently the mannequin challenge! This was my first time ever hearing of such thing, but hey, it worked!! Check out the video made by Cole Huffer from Enlightened Studios!

No children were drinking before, during or after this video was filmed.

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We can’t spend our lives waiting to live

I’d like to highlight a thought that I woke up with this morning. It’s lyrics from a song that were brought to my attention by a friend and her beautifully bold tattoo.

“We can’t spend our lives waiting to live”.  Rise Against

I feel so often we give excuses for why our greatest wishes are unreachable. Possibly even complaining about the current journey that’s getting us from an idea to a glorious reality. You hear comments like “I wish I could (fill in the blank) but I can’t because (fill in the blank)” or “I’m waiting until (fill in the blank) before I….”. You get the picture.

On a smaller scale, what about that dress or suit you bought and saved all year just to wear on your birthday out of town.  You had it hanging in your room, underneath a glowing light while counting down the number of days till you could show it off  (maybe not that extreme, but roll with me here).  You pack it up so nice and tidy and head to the airport. You, your friends and your excitement all arrive safely to the party-city except the bag. The airlines lost it. All that time with this amazing outfit to be shared and you (with no gaurentee of the future) waited and now… now it’s gone. 

If you truly have far future goals like writing a book, getting fit, a solid retirement, big house, travel, etc. then own it! Go for it, but enjoy the ride. However if you’re working to the bone, putting in long hours, missing family & friends, dreading Monday through Friday (which is over 70% of your life!) and doing all these things in misery with hopes that it might pay off “someday”, I suggest you reconsider your intentions.

I understand each situation has its own elements and I have no place to judge that, but for the most part… I just want to bring light to the idea that we are generally the ones that allow the limitations. How exhausting to constantly defend the “I’m stuck” routine. I’m still learning that we have created (either consciously and/or involuntarily) the numerous amounts of boundaries holding us back from enjoying today and I’ll give you one guess to whom can remove those restrictions. Times up… You know who.

I invite you to start peeling back even just one layer of self-inflicted obstruction that is limiting your grand potential. Ignite a flame that has never been lit or refuel a fire that was once raging with passion!

You shouldn’t spend your whole life waiting to live.

For a breath of fresh air or effortless smile, take a snoop at the Happy Thoughts page or Quotes. Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded of ideas that we already know. 

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…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

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PCD (Post Cropover Depression) and the cure.

Kadooment has come to an end. I’ll pause for a moment of silence…

All of the bedazzled costumes have been retired and the closest thing to a mobile drink truck you’ll see is that of the icecream man making his way down the smoldering hot road. Sweet Soca music is now only played 80% of the time, instead of 99% and lastly, the constant nightly parties have dwindled down. This my friends is what some may refer to as the beginning of PCD – Post Cropover Depression. But there’s no need to fear… The beach is still here! (Hopefully some of you children from the 80’s chanted that last sentence in the tune of Wonder Dog). Here’s a few examples of what might bide your time till next carnival season. 

Find a cruise! Search this blog alone and you’ll see several years of celebrations out at sea. A few of the popular companies are Seaduced, Jammin, MC Buccaneer  and my personal favorite, Cool Runnings. This year I tried a new one just to broaden my experience around the island. Here’s the well known “pirate ship” called the Jolly Rogers!

The next boat may be smaller, but the the party doesn’t lack a bit! (enter your own joke here). A typical Sunday on the west coast usually involves several friends, a couple of boats, countless floating items and many memories! Here are just a bundle of shots to give you a glimpse of the fun to be had!

Prefer to be on a board instead of a boat? That’s an easy fix, just check out Ryans Instagram @whatsupbarbados!

Tired of the scene above the Caribbean Sea? Take a peak under, you’d be amazed at what you may find! Photo credit to Ryan Rodriguez and the close ups of these beautiful creatures!

Ooh handstand shot!

Keep yourself busy with evening beach parties! 

Foam fun!

…and sunset memories.

Till next season…

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Behind the wheel in Barbados

Getting around in any new country is a learning experience from the get-go. Amongst different traffic laws, there’s common courtesy expectations and a bundle of local unspoken rules that you can only figure out on your own. Let’s talk about Barbados. If you’d prefer avoiding the drivers sets, there’s many options to choose from. You can check those out at Totally Barbados on the Getting around article. However if you want two hands on the wheel and an elevated heart rate, please keep reading!

  First off, they drive on the left side of the road. For some this is normal, for the rest of us it’s a bizarre feeling that guides you directly into oncoming traffic wondering why the truck facing at you won’t get in his own lane! I tell you for the first five years visiting here, I would naturally walk to the right side of a friends car thinking to be the passenger until I’d see the steering wheel and awkwardly circle the vehicle again. Now, I’m driving here and have more than once (with keys in hand) opened the passenger side door expecting to hop in the drivers seat. For what it’s worth I either giggle to myself and walk around or actually reach in as if “I totally meant to open this door”. 

Once behind the wheel, I was slightly impressed with my natural ability to stay on the correct side of the road. What I was not expecting was the reversed locations of the signals. For the first week, every time I went to turn left or right, I’d switch the windshield wipers on. This of course meaning the first tropical rain that hit my view was quickly taken care of by clicking my indicators (blinkers).

Honking in Barbados is a sound of courtesy. Well, I suppose that depends on the amount of consecutive horns and the length it’s held. If a horn is blaring at you followed by some curse words, I wouldn’t necessarily blow them a kiss back. A quick tap is generally giving a fellow driver the “go ahead”. For example, if they’re waiting to turn into heavy traffic and you slow down to let them in, you can either flash your lights or give a quick honk. How do they thank you? You guessed it, a quick double honk back at ya. This is all along the side of the vans that have their own specific horn acknowledging pedestrians when offering a lift. My favorite is one that reminds me of the taco trucks on US construction sites. For those of you that don’t know, it resembles the tune “la cucarocha”. So now you can imagine a two-lane stretch of road around here sounds like a song of vehicle tunes. 

For all the North Americans who grew up with bruised shoulders from playing Slug-bug, let me introduce you to the Bajan game… Cheezy wheels. Rather than a quick strike to your neighbor for every Volkswagen Beetle, instead you hit for a yellow car. Nothing special, just a yellow vehicle that’s not public transportation. Try being the clueless one in that game the first round! Thank you Kevin and Dani.

There are more potholes in this country than sidewalks, center divides, crosswalks and curbs combined. When you’re following a vehicle that looks to be driven by a drunk 14 year old (it very well could be) you also have to take into consideration the amount of small craters that must be dodged while taking to the beat up roads. I am indeed guilty for the last minute swerve in order to protect my tires from the near cliff drop of the average pothole. 

Pedestrians have the right away. In other words the chances of hitting a human is just as likely as popping a tire on a pothole.

If you’re behind a van or bus, expect to stop every 8-20 seconds. Not only will these public transporters slow down for every bus stop, they’ll also take a park mid-street if there’s a friend in a different bus coming at them. I have actually heard conversation for the weekend plans as two drivers just randomly paused mid route causing a traffic back up.

What else causes a stand still traffic scenario? A fallen tree branch, school kids, Ninja Man, wild chickens, stray dogs, construction, broken down car, a taxi driver who thinks temporarily parking on a highway is acceptable and the occasional overflow of a Rum Shop.

Things you can find for sale on the side of the road: Raw fish, fresh vegetables, coconut water straight from the nut, burnt corn, dunks, peanuts, achee’s, newspapers, eggs, homemade juice and the popular pre-made lunches out the back of a locals car including but limited to mac pie, chicken, rice, fish, plantains and sweet potato pie.

So to give you an idea of my first exciting day behind the wheel please visualize a peanut shell covered lap with windshield wipers blaring through the sun as I attempted to signal barely dodging a pothole before coming to a screeching halt so the pedestrian could cross without looking both ways. I laughed the whole way like a highschool kid in their first car.

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How many trips to fill the sea with sand?

I’ve arrived back to Barbados after having survived the traffic filled, color stained, loud streets of Carnival in Trinidad. (Click here to get a glimpse at the controlled chaos of the greatest show on earth). A small recovery was necessary since I returned with what has been labeled as the “Post-Carnival cold”. I thought I’d take a day of decompressing in the white sand of my island home away from home and share what I observed during my meditative moments of being sun kissed under the Bajan Sky.

At first I sit with my knees bent up to my chest with only the tops of my feet being exposed as I’ve buried my toes into the warm sand. My view is the wide open sea slightly populated with a few paddle borders, small fishing boats and a large ship in the far distance. To my right are 2 twin boys and a middle aged man that by assumption is their father. The kids have the energy of puppies and appear to be around the hyper age of 5, maybe 6. Just beyond them is a woman in a large straw hat with a focused face as she’s clearly being swallowed into whatever book she’s reading. Just at her feet is a small toddler girl with a thick layer of sunscreen on her tiny nose and a pink cap decorated with Dora the explorer on it. 

To my left is another child with a knee board and rope who seems to think the ocean needs more sand. He proceeds to load up a pile on his board then run into the water making sure every grain is transported back to the sea. The 2ft short boy stands 6 feet tall as he wipes it off with pride before sprinting back to land for the next load. Makes me wonder what one would think if they saw a grown man doing such a thing.

Directly next to me is a couple of love birds not a day under 70. The gentlemen in freckle covered skin is matching to his silver haired lady and her hard earned wrinkles. They lay side by side as if to be inseparable. I’m close enough to hear the giggles as they discuss something that seems to be light hearted and entertaining.

As I look back to the 5 year old monkeys, they’re extremely excited as dad has now committed (with an exhausted if I must look on his face) to covering them in sand for the typical day-at-the beach event. With smiles and no movement, they hold perfectly still for the beginning of this process.

Book absorbed mom is now completely oblivious to her Dora exploring the sand that’s stuck on her fingers.  Tempted to get up and prevent this child from digesting small rocks, I realize that’s she probably not the first to do so and like most humans, will survive.

The elderly newlyweds have now given me even more hope for sincere love beyond a crush.  I don’t know if they met yesterday or are here to celebrate their 50th anniversary, but either way… It’s precious. 

I was not surprised at all when I gazed back to find the boy still trying to empty the shore back into the ocean. He’s probably plowed through a weeks worth of animal crackers and chocolate milk during his marathon of piling, pulling, dumping, sprinting and repeating. Maybe I should develop a fitness class on the beach. “Ok adults, bring a knee board and a rope… lets burn off some calories!”

My favorite observation came when I repositioned my eyes to the boys being buried in sand. Roles had reversed. Dad now has a very devious smile and the boys, well just the heads of the boys, are stretching out with sober faces and looks of helplessness. Revenge is smeared all over fathers grin as the two energizer bunnies are bound to sand-locked beds.

I’ve given up on Dora and her exploring as she is now laying lifeless in the shade with her hat cocked to the side just barely exposing her white nose and rosy cheeks. Did the sand consumption finally get her?! Nope, mom confirms that for me as she finally breaks from the book to wake up little one as its time to go home. 

The only clock I had at this moment was the worn out surfers coming back in, the paddle boarders loading up their gear and the sun turning to shades of a child’s coloring book. I’ve been here for awhile.

The sweethearts next to me have now taken their flirting elsewhere leaving me with a happy heart (and desire for a possible first date this year). 

I wasn’t able to witness the boy and his final delivery. Considering there was still an entire beach of sand excluding the tiny ditch he created had me wondering what finally left him satisfied with his day of labor intensive activities. 

The father and sons clearly found a compromise as the twins are now free from the jail-o-mud and have relieved dad to enjoy a cold beer as they entertain themselves. 

I looked down at the area around me and realized that I had been in motion as well. With small piles in random places, a few doodles here and there and my feet now completely covered, it’s clear the beach has many titles. Babysitter, therapist, gym, romantic platter, playground, rehab, canvas… Just name it, the shore will provide.

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Do Trini’s speak English?

I’ve traveled over a small part of the Caribbean sea to experience what has been titled as “The best show on earth”.  If you’re familiar with the worldwide event of Carnival, you’ll know that I’ve landed in one of the top celebrated locations.  Welcome to Trinidad! Before we dive in to the controlled chaotic parties, elaborate costumes, all night events and some of the most energetic people on this planet… Lets meet the country first. If you’d like to see past detailed posts, click here and check out the land, food, adventure and culture. For now I’m just going to familiarize you with where the island is on the globe. 

 
Here’s a glimpse of its proportion to other parts of the world to give you an idea of the land size populating over 1.3 million people.

 Now for the fun part of this post! I often get asked “Do they speak English where you are?” Lets find out…

English Language: a west Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England; a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation.

Language used in Trinidad: Not English.

Trini slang:mixture of shortened words and phrases commonly used in daily communication.

Technically the language of Trinidad is English, however let me tell you that their verbiage is far from what the average English speaking person would recognize. Take a look at some of the phrases you may encounter while visiting the island of Trinidad. Here are just a few of my favorites!

Jus’ now – in a little while (5 minutes, a day, next week. Pretty much anytime except right now… Go figure)

One time – right now.  “Yuh come dis way one time” (I’d be like, just once? Really… That’s it… Never again?)

Jus’so – out of the blue

Lime – to hang out in a social setting “I feelin to lime”.

Fete a party… a big one with drinks, loud music and “nuff” (enough or a lot) people.  

Fuh true – in truth, for real. “Fuh true? You lie!”

Boomsie – the backside, bum, toosh, etc.

Shif yuh carcass – move over, get going

Sweet too bad –really nice, pleasant, attractive “Dred, dat gyul (girl) eh play she sweet too bad!”

Screw up yuh face – to make a face in disgust 

Vex – real angry “she make yuh rel vex, now yuh screw up yuh face”

Bacchanal (back-en-aul) – Scandal, heavy quarreling or a big party

Go doh make sheep -direct translation: “goat don’t make sheep” 

Bess – hot, attractive, sexy, appealing “ooh, she uh bess ting”

Maco (mah-coh) – someone who minds other people’s business; nosey

Awah – generally used at the end of a sentence in place of “or what” – “yuh limin, awah?”

Wha yuh for? –  “what do you want to do?

Dan dans – fancy clothes or dress up outfit


Words or phrases that you won’t hear in Trinidad:

The – If they even include it in a sentence it’s pronounce “dee” or “de”.

Examples:  “Yuh bring the punchy punch?”  Or “We goin down de islands”

Friend – Instead they refer to people close to them as family or they’ll use slang words.

Examples: Breddda (brother) Tanti (auntie) Hoss (“horse”, which in America would be “dawg”) Dred (friend) Gyul (girl)

Any word starting with “Th” is replaced with “D” or “T”– Try it, seriously any word. “Three” is tree & “Them” is dem.

Quick story a local friend told me.  When he was fifteen he was preparing to leave the island to go study in Canada.  Knowing the English language, his family tried to help (or just make fun) by having him repeat the number 3,333. It went like this:

“Tree thousand, tree hundred n thirty tree… No, Three thousand, tree hundred n tirty three… Ugh, THree THousand, THree hundred n tirty THree..”  You get the idea of why his family encouraged this entertainment. (Side note, he’s now one of the most successful business men on the island.  They call him the serial entrepreneur).

Pretty much any other word fully pronouciated – Sentences just don’t make sense or sound anything close to English.  A personal example was when I met a new friend here.

Him: “Ah hyar yuh livin dong by dey so?”

Me: “Uhh, I think I heard living… Say it again please?”

Him: (really slowly): “Haha, I say ahh hyyyar  yuh (as he points to me) livin dunnn by de so (as he points away)”.

Me: “Yeh, I got nothin”.

Turns out he had heard I was staying in Barbaods and was asking if it’s true. I still giggle over our entire interaction. 

Something I’ve learned in years of traveling is that pretending to know what someone is saying only leads to mass confusion and you looking “dotish” (stupid or like a foolish person). One time, smiling and nodding bought me a dozen hard boiled eggs and heavy cooking creme.  I was going for a dozen raw eggs and cottage cheese. Lesson learned.

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A mirror selfie, really Erika?

Yup.  This solo photo and tiny post is for two main reasons.

#1 – For the friends and family that don’t have facebook or consistent contact with me.  Here’s an idea of how the end of each travel stretch usually looks like.  

#2 – For me.  In years to come, I’d like to look back and recall the way I felt standing there. So many emotions.

You may be able to recognize the exhaustion behind my eyes.  This comes from weeks of walking, drinking, laughing and minimal sleep that I barely acquired on floors, buses, trains and other random surfaces. You might also see the excitement in my smile to be heading west towards the friends and family who I miss dearly. I’m sure you also saw the random trash can behind me.  Just stating the obvious.

The necklace I have on was made by a kiwi that had moved to Santa Catalina Panama to sell her jewelry at Cafe La Buena Vida. The jacket was given to me by Denise in Amsterdam, I bought the shoes in New York City and snagged the scarf in The Netherlands (my original scarf and boots were taken off of a friends porch, hopefully by someone in greater need). The elephant bag in my hand is the replacement for the original one seen in Sisterhood of the traveling bag. It dubs as a grocery sac, airplane carry-on and my purse.

What you don’t see in the photo below is what’s in the bag on my back. There’s a used dirndl that I rolled up in cling wrap to make it as small as possible, a torn plastic bag stuffed with dirty socks and a pair of jeans that smelt like currywurst and beer.  Of course it also contains my toiletries, more clothes, a first aid kit and invisible bricks that make this thing feel like a bag of rocks at times.

Wouldn’t trade any of it.

 

Next stop in sunny(ish) California! I’ll be there for a quick visit with some incredible friends as I repack “Big Blue” (appropriately named by one of my favorite blog followers). You’ll notice my posts will be fewer in the upcoming weeks as my focus has turned towards preparing for the next glorious chapter. 

To be continued…

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Telling the locals that you’re not a Guinness fan, is like telling Rudolph that you don’t believe in Santa.

On that note, off to the brewery we go!  
 Talk about Santa, Hayden was like a kid at Christmas getting the tickets.  I had more fun watching him than experiencing the actual tour! 

 
I’ll take you on the condensed version of this self guided maze through the brewery in Dublin. Grab a pint and enjoy the ride! 

    

    
    
    
   
Reaching the end of the tour meant for a spectacular view and a complementary pint! 
   
Thank you Hayden for helping me with my drink as I’m sure it’s against some unspoken law to leave a full pint at the Guinness brewery! 

 

Beer not your thing? Well, in courtesy of you I wanted to show the whiskey side of Dublin.  Come along during our lesson through the Jameson distillery!   

    
    
     

    

So there you have it, two of the most famous tours done inside the capital of Ireland.  Unfortunatly this was all the time we allowed for in Dublin as we were eager to spend the rest of our time in the country side.  Lace up, take a walk, cross your fingers and buckle up… 

 
Random thought for the day:

If you were offerred unlimited adult beverages for 10 years at no charge, but you had to drink the exact same thing every time, would you do it?  

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No Man’s Land and Bioluminescence

“No Man’s Land” sounds like a forbidden country side or lonely desert in the middle of an old historical site. To anyone who knows better here in Tobago, it’s one of the nicest beaches on the island. See for yourself! 

Where was the picture above taken?  From these seats.  I know… I know! Couldn’t you just climb up in one of those right now?  

The best portion of this crystal bath tub is the shallow shore that allows you to walk far into the depths.  By “depths”, I mean knee deep. If you look at the photo below, Ryan is actually taking a picture of my handstand.  You can barely see me, but that’s the point!  

I was thankful that I got to chill on No Mans Land during the daylight to fully appreciate our last evening in Tobago. It’s amost bitter-sweet writing about the final excursion as it was the absolute hi-lite of the trip, yet the least caught on camera.  Why? The moonlight wouldn’t expose our journey through the dark sea and for the grand finale you would have needed a professional camera and crew to capture the magnitude and brilliance.

Before we get into that, lets begin with the preparation for the event. I’ll start with the drive to get to the starting point. For all of you water sport fans, please contain your drool. 

    
The sun was beginning to set and all of the participants arrived for a run down on where we’re going and what to expect.   

 This unforgettable tour starts at Pigeon Point and takes you through the Bon Accord Lagoon until you reach No Mans Land (the stunning beach from above). From there, you paddle or kayak through unbelievable glowing water. Read that again… glowing water! I rarely use the word “unbelievable”, but this, this is only what you see on the discovery channel.  In fact, when you go to www.standuppaddletobago.com and click on the night tour, Duane has a link to a video explaining this natural occurrence called Bioluminescence (depending on your accent, it sounds like bio-loom-en-es-ence).

Bioluminescence is caused by blooming phytoplankton and can be seen if “all keys are right”. I’m pleased to say, that on this night we had a wonderful group and indeed, all keys were right! 

Here’s the first photo taken as we headed to the water each with a glow stick, a floating devise and 2 trustworthy paddlers as our guides.  Duane with the unofficial assistance of Ryan made the group (at least speaking for myself) feel safe, informed and encouraged. I’d do it all over again!

 
From the shore we made our way to No Mans Land, some on paddle boards and others in kayaks. Here are the only photos that turned out blog worthy(ish) from the first stretch.

   
Finally we made our way to the “glowing water” and I’ll have to admit, at this point I was wondering just how exciting it would be. Hmm… 

As we got closer, I could feel my heart rate increasing and my eyes opening wider to try and absorb what I was actually witnessing! The vibrancy was so wonderous I don’t even want to show you the attempted photos. (If you’re even the slightest interested please see the video here or on Duane’s website). 

While coasting on your board, the fish beneath you look like highlighters jetting through the water.  Every splash you make with your paddle creates a rippling effect of neon lines.  Think this alone would be enough? So did I, until he jumped in the water! Surrounding his entire body was a glowing shield of the blooming phytoplankton. I thought this had to be the spike of my thrill but then… then I jumped in! I felt like a child in a life size pool of glow in the dark finger paint. We splashed around commenting on the sorcerer effect and super-human appearance, again like kids would do.  

The most powerful moment for me, was when my school-aged giggles went away. I looked at the motion in the water and realized it resembled, to what I think, energy looks like flowing from ones body, an “ora” if you will. I’ll admit to you all, it almost brought tears to my eyes that I was fortunate to experience such a thing and also saddened my heart realizing there’s only a small percentage that would ever get to do the same.

After the life changing swim, we continued the journey around the lagoon until reaching back to the starting point. The final pictures expresse it all! All of us full of life, energy and completely rejuvenated by natures own brilliant playground. 

  
  When you make it Tobago, please put this on your “must do” list and give Duane an extra hi-five for me!

Categories: Fitness, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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