Category Archives: Turks & Caicos

Island adventures October-November, 2008

Tell-Tale Signs Of A Good Time

At this point it’s probably easiest to start at the end. Or at least, that’s the simplest way for me to recall it. In fact, many of my adventures in Turks & Caicos were remembered the morning after, prompted by the discovery of various tell-tale signs that a good time was had the night before. It’s not that we were so obliterated we couldn’t remember the fun. It’s just that we had so much fun, it was easy to lose track of it all.

Some of the “signs” I woke up to each morning were:

These shoes made a midnight trip to the ocean

These shoes made a midnight trip to the ocean

  • A giant, grey excercise ball in the middle of our room
  • A pool-umbrella in the shower
  • A pair of high heels covered in sand
  • Tablecloths on the floor
  • Melted ice cream in the fridge where the bottle of wine used to be
  • An empty bottle of wine on the nightstand

My flight back to LA was scheduled to leave Turks & Caicos at 8:00am Sunday.  This meant waking up at 5:00am. . . or staying up all night.

 

A beautiful beachfront home

A beautiful beachfront home

My friends Jen, Kurty, and I spent Saturday running around the island. I called Lofton who had shown me around earlier in the week and asked him to take us on another tour.  We stopped by the Peace Tree again, but this time we got out of the car and met the locals under the tree. They were happy to see us and welcomed us to their family. We spoke to Cowboy and Cleveland who sit under that tree every day. People slowed their cars to say “hello” as they drove by and everybody seemed to know eachother. We had a nice lunch and some really good drinks at a restaurant called Tiki Hut that’s favored by the locals and explored homes in several settlements. We got back to Club Med just in time for a nap.

After the nap we had dinner and saw Dana Goldberg’s comedy routine. If you have the chance to see Dana, you should. She’s one of my favorite people and you’ll spend an hour laughing (which incidentally is a great ab workout). Comedy ended at 10:00pm and was followed by 2 hours of dancing and drinking (thankfully, we had that ab workout to offset the alcohol consumption).  My experience has been that the real party begins after most people have gone to sleep and this trip provided further confirmation.  Every night (except the night of torrential rain), Jen, Kurty and I would go for a midnight or 1:00am swim.  Usually we swam in the pool, but on my last night we went in the ocean and had an amazing time.  Each time the waves lifted us, we squealed like children, in delight. We were happy to be reunited with our pina coladas when we got out of the water. 

Kurty retired to bed at which point Jen turned to me and said, “I really think we should try to make it to the casino if you’re up for it…”  I’m always up for it.  So after a quick shower and wardrobe change, we walked to a nearby casino for Black Jack and Roulette. The casino was filled with a cast of characters, literally. If I ever write a movie, I will include the people we met at the casino that night. There was Steve who might have been good-looking if he weren’t so ignorant. And the woman across the table from Steve is friends with his ex-wife and loves to taunt Steve about how she took all of his money. There were some other characters there as well, but I’m saving them for the movie. We got back to the room around 3:30 or 4am and I left the room again at 5:30am to head to the airport. 

Scary creature sneaking up on unsuspecting guests, in the rain

Scary creature sneaking up on unsuspecting guests, in the rain

Lucky for all of us I have a short attention span so recaps of other days will be much more concise than the one above.  Friday was Halloween and it POURED all day. The rain provided a nice “pause” from running around from activity to activity and allowed time to actually sit and connect with people. Friday night was the Halloween ball and almost everybody dressed up. Once again, after everybody else went to bed, Jen, Kurty, Cassie and I went to another party. We headed to Nikki Beach, a beautiful resort and danced with more costumed freaks until the wee hours.  We made it back to our hotel just before the hardest rains hit. We walked our friends to their room, shielding ourselves with a pool umbrella large enough to provide cover for 5 people during a hurricane. Shortly after we crawled into bed we were awoken by housekeeping.

I think Thursday is the day our friends entertained us with card tricks. Amy and I had fun playing in the stormy ocean waves. There was comedy, dancing, maybe even a drink or two. It was another great day of connecting with people, making new friends, and catching up with old ones. And here’s where my attention span falls short and the details grow fuzzy.  There were pool games, an attempt to lead a conga line straight into the pool, a couple afternoon dance parties, and a lot of laughs. The best part of the trip was all the new friends I made – some of whom already feel like old friends and will be life-long connections.

Here are some more photos to help piece together the stories I left out:

Halloween in Turks & Caicos

Halloween in Turks & Caicos

Playing with waves

Playing with waves

 
 
 
 
Ahhhh!

Ahhhh!

Dance Off

Dance Off

I Will Keep You In My Heart

I initially intended to write about the remainder of my Turks & Caicos trip and share fun stories and pictures.  But the journey hasn’t quite come to a close yet.  As it turns out, I met a really kind man at the Providenciales airport.  So I’ll begin with his story.  The other stories will follow shortly.

His name is Paulcius Verceus and he’s from Haiti.  He was sitting with a friend, speaking about the upcoming Presidential election in the U.S.  I looked over and smiled at him.  He glanced down at the passport in my hand, smiled, and said, “Please, when you go home, vote for Obama!”

“This is bigger than America.  The WORLD needs change,” he pleaded.  I assured him I am voting for Obama.  He continued, “With Obama there is hope.  He may even help fix some things in Haiti.  If McCain wins, we have no chance.  The economy will get worse. People won’t be able to afford to travel anymore.  I won’t be able to travel from Turks & Caicos to see my family in Haiti. We also need people to come to our country.  Tourism is one of the few sources of money in Haiti and if people stop coming, we’ll have less money than we do now.”  

He continued, reciting information he’d heard on the news, concerns about voter fraud, concerns about Ohio.  He is as informed about the issues and current events as most Americans I know and this election is just as, if not more, important to him as it is to us.

Paulcius cannot find work in Haiti, so he obtained a visa to work in Turks & Caicos.  “I do construction. It’s hard for me to save money because I send most of my money back to Haiti to help my family.  I’m paying for the children in our family to go to school and supporting my mom and dad who can’t find jobs either.”

While his life may sound bleak, Paulcius is constantly smiling. Ideally, he’d like to live in Haiti where he can be with his family and have more personal freedoms than he does in Turks & Caicos.  But as long as he’s able to find work in Turks & Caicos, he’ll stay there.  “When your family calls and says they’re hungry and beg you to send money, what can you do? When you feel it in your heart, there’s only one thing you can do.  And I thank God that I can do it. I am the one who’s blessed.”

He found a song on his MP3-playing watch and let me listen until he saw it was time for me to board my plane.  “Maybe one day if I don’t die and you don’t die, we’ll see each other again.  We don’t know what the future holds. When you’re a child you can think and dream and have hopes for the future.  But when you grow up you learn that only the future knows the future.”

“Well, I hope we do see each other in the future,” I replied as I stood up to gather my bags and get on the plane bound for Miami.

“I will keep you in my heart” he said with a big smile, hand on his heart. 

 

 

From Islands to Icebergs

I was struck by the irony of my shopping cart at Big 5 yesterday – a snorkel set and Hot Chili’s thermal underwear.  And then I heard the sound of all my friend’s voices echoed in my head, “You should go see the polar bears before going to Turks & Caicos.”

But in true Billy Corgan fashion, I’m going to the Islands before I go to the Arctic.  Last night I saw Smashing Pumpkins perform and I was reminded that Billy Corgan is a walking “F you!” aka the ultimate rebel.  It seems like almost everything he does is a carefully calculated move to spite you.  At one point he was literally singing “nah, nah, nah, nah,” with an expression that let you know he was intentionally taunting you.  And yet, when you speak with him, he’s quite kind and has an angelic smile.  Not to blow his cover though – he does have that other side.  But I’m not going to Turks & Caicos out of spite, of course 😉

When my friend, Jen, told me she was essentially going to be out of town for 2 months, I asked where she was going.  “Blah blah, blah blah, Turks & Caicos, blah, and blah blah blah,” is what I heard – not because I wasn’t attentive, but because Turks & Caicos has been on my “list” of places to travel since I was a kid.  Jen works for a company that creates travel packages, or better classified as “experiences”.  So needless to say, I got a fantastic deal on this trip.  AND Jen is one of my most favorite people to travel with.  We’ve traveled to Vegas, Burning Man, and Bonnaroo together and always have an amazing time.

It was an offer I couldn’t pass up and the trip just happens to fall shortly before I head to the Arctic; much to the dismay of my well-intentioned friends who imagine a better itinerary would begin with freezing temperatures and end with tropical waters.  I’m not complaining though.  I’m very fortunate to be going on both trips; the order in which they occur is inconsequential.

The other thing that’s struck me recently is the anticipation of the state of our country when I return between the two trips.  I’ll be back in LA in time to vote, and then leaving again a week later.  That week in between Islands and Icebergs is going to be really interesting.  .  . Talk about climate change! It feels like the absolute perfect time to embark on the polar bear expedition and experience the impact of the way we live on the Arctic region.  

It’s been a while (by my standards) since I’ve traveled and I was reminded of some lessons this morning at the airport:

 

  • The only Starbucks that carry Cinnamon Scones are airport Starbucks
  • The only time I go to Starbucks is when I’m at the airport
  • I get hit on most frequently at airports
  • Maybe that’s because I’m most frequently in airports
  • Good news is when Hudson News carries the next book in the series you’re reading!
  • There are no coincidences – the guy who hit on me in Hudson News was wearing a t-shirt with the words “POLAR BEAR” printed in huge type on the back. 
  • It’s also no coincidence he arrived 2 weeks too early (this is the island vacation.  Polar bears are in November), so I ignored his advances
  • They now have wifi on airplanes.  Maybe that’s not new news, but again, it’s been a minute since I traveled last.
  • Do we really need wifi on airplanes?? Can we take a break from the internet for 6 hours? That’s usually the time I dedicate to cleaning up and replying to all my personal emails. Well, if I’m delayed replying to your email it’s because I’m playing Pathwords on Facebook during the flight instead.
  • Never underestimate how busy the airport will be at 7am on a Sunday!
  • The approved size of carry-on luggage seems to decrease by 15% every time I fly
  • The amount of room in the aisles and between the seats decreases by 20%
  • Much like you spend the first 30 minutes at the movies watching previews, you spend the first 40 minutes of the flight on the runway.

 

Initial attempt from the sky, using GoGo wifi for airplanes but that didn’t work,

Second attempt from Miami Int’l Airport, where you can walk around drinking beer, but internet didn’t work there either. 

Third attempt from my room in Turks… this is bound to work!

 

Colette

 

Billy Corgan, one of my favorite rebels.

Billy Corgan, one of my favorite rebels. Smashing Pumpkins at The Lot Oct 25

 

 

Where Did You Come From?

“Where did you come from?” the young Balinese man inquired.

“California,” I responded with a smile.

“Oh… UNITED STATES!” The notion of California was too small for this man to imagine – the United States is a world away from his world. He went on to explain that most Balinese have never traveled outside of Bali, not even to the neighboring islands by boat. He then asked several questions about what it was like to be on an airplane, to have TV, to see the world. . .

In that moment, I was reminded just how fortunate I am, with opportunities to explore the world, learn from many people and cultures, and have unforgettable adventures. When I reflect upon how much I learned in Bali alone, it’s really amazing. Among the most noteworthy:

  • I’m the only American to have traveled to Bali this year who did not read “Eat Pray Love.” (I’ve since read it)
  • It is possible to create a completely sustainable school where, in addition to standard curriculum, children learn through experience, sharing of ideas, cooperative activities, and movement arts. A place that is powered by a hydro-generator. A place where the stoves are fueled by methane made from cow’s waste (no, it doesn’t smell). MUCH more about this later, but if you want a sneak preview, visit Greenschool.org!
  •  People are happier without $4 lattes, cell phones, iPods, and instant messengers. In fact, forget about “instant” – take your time, share stories in person, create music together and then… dance!
  • Food tastes better when the land it’s grown on is revered.

I can go on about Bali forever (and I will in other posts), but this is just a quick example of the importance of travel and why I’m starting this blog now.  This year alone I’ve been to: Vail, New Orleans, Costa Rica, Bali; with repeated visits to New York, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara.  Add to that list Turks & Caicos and the Arctic (to see the polar bears) before the year’s end.  Some people travel much more frequently, others much less.  For me, the adventures and people I encounter while traveling are integral to who I am.  They shape (and re-shape) my world-view, inspire me infinitely, and help me become better at everything I do: relationships, work, and play! I have a long list of places to visit and many tales of adventures past to share.

The reason I’m beginning this blog today is because I’m preparing for a polar bear expedition in the Arctic. I’ve wanted to see the affects of climate change on the Arctic region and its inhabitants for some time and now have the opportunity to travel with 2 scientists who have studied bear conservation and Arctic ecology for 40 years. Friends, family, colleagues and strangers have all responded to this idea with great enthusiasm and interest, and journeys like these are meant to be shared!

Next up: Turks & Caicos and Getting Ready to Meet Polar Bears.

Gregory "Andro" S., pre-schooler I'm sponsoring at Green School

Andro, a preschool student I'm sponsoring at Green School