Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Sometimes It Rains

January 25, 2012

No kids.  No pets.  No spousal unit.

An invite from Ms. X to go off on an adventure.

A timely coincidence of an e-mail advertising last-minute cruise prices to the Bahamas which were amazingly low.

Sounds like a ‘yes’ to me.

Ms. X was tired of the weather.  Tired of the annoying flapping of gums of her co-workers.  Tired of drama of family and acquaintances.  She needed an escape, but didn’t want to go alone.  Knowing I was prone to scooter off for an adventure or seven, she asked if I wanted to go.  She’s cute, spunky, fun.  Of course I want to go.  A few well spent airline miles and we were on our way to warm weather and sunny skies.

Well, supposedly sunny.

A three day cruise, with a one day stopover in the Bahamas.  I thought it was always sunny in the Bahamas.

We thought we had our ‘bad travel karma’ used up when she forgot her passport on her way to pick me up to go to the airport.  Luckily, since she’s a nervous (some would say “cautious”) traveler, she’d arrived at my place 10 minutes early.  Being a tad nervous…whoops…”cautious” myself, I’d already padded the schedule by 20 minutes.  Plenty of time to rush back to her place, pick up the passport, and still hit the airport well in time to catch our flight.  We thought the rest of trip had to go well since we had our bump ready.

And, mostly, it did.

On board, there was too much food, expensive drinks, cheesy entertainment, and some damn good entertainment.

In the Bahamas?  The cruise ship arrived as we slept.  We woke to blue skies and ate breakfast on the fantail.  We went to the cabin to change and, coming back out, were met by gray skies.

Gray skies...smiling at me...

Still, it was warm.  We were in a beautiful, tropic country.  It didn’t look like rain [cue ominous music], so we rented a motor scooter to tour the island (“Drive on the left, mon.”).

Half an hour in?  Rain.  Lots of it.  We got soaked, but were laughing and having a great time.  The rain tapered, so we kept going to the opposite side of the island.  Stopping to look at the view, it started raining again.  so, we got back on the scooter to return.

I turned the key.  Silence.  I kicked the kick start.  Silence.  I bitched.  Loudly.   Then laughed.  Loudly.  It had reached the absurd, so there was nothing to do but laugh at the situation.

Called the scooter company who sent a replacement scooter.

Headed back to town with dampened clothes, but not dampened spirits. A few drinks in town, people watching, and wandering to see the sights.

Sound advice

Next day, the ship wandered the Caribbean and Ms. X and I wandered the decks.  There was a two hour window in the afternoon of wonderful sun, warm temperatures, and tropical breezes.  There was more entertainment that evening.  And more drinking and eating.

And back to the dock in the US of A the next morning, with no-issue flights home to cold and foggy weather.

A wonderful time, even with weather woes, just because I said “yes” to adventure.

I’m liking these “yes” opportunities.  I’m open to more in my future.

 

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Culture Shock

August 25, 2011

Girl Child has been home now for a day short of a week.  it has been amazing having her back.

no, she didn't actually walk home

well, amazing for me.  for her?  a bit of culture shock.

it’s to be expected, yes?  she spent the last two years in a place where the village population was about the same as the number of people in the local mall at lunch hour, yet spread over an area about 10 times as big.  she’s just not used to people, so many and so close.  despite me suggesting she go off and see friends (hers and mine…i wanted to show her off), her first few days desire was to cocoon in the house.

we’ve been playing games (kicked her butt in Boggle, she kicked mine in Bananagrams), watching tv shows (old “West Wing” episodes that we both enjoy), and letting her experience a wide choice of fresh foods (the spinach salad i made her the first night was a total hit!).

oh, and we did end up taking that bike ride that she wanted to go on.  on the way home from the airport, she was reiterating her wish list of things to do, which included the bike ride.  we had this interchange – – –

Daughter Person:  i’m looking forward to a bike ride.  but…i’m a little nervous, too.  it’s been so long since i rode a bike, i’m not sure i remember how.

The Dadster:  don’t worry…you’ll remember…it’s just like riding a bike.

[a quick duck from a flying elbow to the head and i survived that bad joke]

after a few days, she finally wandered out and is slowly re-acclimating to the weather (it’s still winter down in ZA), the hubbub (cars! people! noise!), and to the reality of having to find a job and place to stay.

we’ve been out quite a few times.  she’s relearning how to drive a car.  she met my Pub Friends at the last get together (so i DID get to show her off!).  she took a hike with me, Dear Friend, and another friend.  and tonight?  she wandered off on her own to meet up with old friends who still live in the area.

she makes it look easy.

she went to the mall by herself, to buy new shoes.  and ended up overwhelmed by the choices.  yes, they have choices in South Africa, but not in the village where she lived.  to get to the choices, she’d have to take a hike, bus, and taxi…some 3 hours to go 40 miles.  here?  a 2 minute drive to the mall.  too close, with still too many choices for her.  culture shock.

she’s off again, too soon, to start her new life.  heading to Washington DC to look for a job and an apartment.  she’s already invited me to come visit and is looking for a time to return here*.

i find myself wondering how much more culture shock that will be.  while the local city is clearly much bigger than her Peace Corps village, it’s by now means close to the size and frenetic lifestyle of Washington DC.

i’m thinking she’s in for a bit more culture shock.

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*she damn well better…i’m lending her a car and want it back!

Exile Completed

August 18, 2011

Hooplah!

Daughter Person is returning home!

The Prodigal Daughter Returns!

Having served her time for tax evasion  for gun running  in the Peace Corps, she is coming back to the U.S. of A

The experience in South Africa was a treasure to her.  Her host family was…IS…welcoming and embraces her as a family member.  She will have fond memories of the children and teachers at the school she was assigned to.  She will have wonderful memories of holidays taken to other corners of South Africa, as well as the surrounding countries.

She will have not-so-fond memories of what seems to be endemic across the world – the bureaucracy of governments, local and national, that seem to impede, rather than assist.  Her idealism, a necessity of youth, is tarnished a bit by beating her head against the veritable brick wall of red tape and beliefs of leaders.

But she is undeterred in life.

She has many resumés out to various organizations and firms in the Washington DC area.  Her true hope is to obtain a job which will allow her to continue ‘Saving the World’ [trumpet voluntary].

She’s coming back here to the Wilds of Ohio, where she spent most of her youth (I was going to add “growing up”, but think she did much of that in the Peace Corps).  Spending a few days with her old Pops, she’ll ease back into a lifestyle she hasn’t seen in two years.

On her wish list of things to do when she gets home –

–          Mexican food.  Mexican food, Mexican food, Mexican food.

–          A long bike ride

–          Beer, with my friends

–          Watch “Music Man” (she admits, “I don’t know why.”)

–          Eat a huge spinach salad

I’m not sure if I will get her for three day, three weeks, or three months before she begins her new life in DC.

But, we will enjoy it, Girl Child and I.

Chicago Chicanery

July 31, 2011

okay, so ‘chicanery’ is not really the right word, but i like the alliteration.

had an adventure this past week that will stay in the ‘happy memory banks’ for quite awhile.  took a trip to Chicago to play the country boy in the big city, staring up at the tall buildings, saying ‘Golly!’, with my wallet hanging out of my back pocket for the city folk to pick (they didn’t…it was a very civilized and great place with lots of cool people).

almost there and excitement rising

the purpose was to have a holiday, but a side reason was to meet up with blog folk.  i’ve done so before in Ohio, but this is the first i’ve gone off to meet new folks.  with a friend, Recreational Blasphemy (doesn’t blog, but does comment) as my travel buddy, we wended our way to the Windy City to meet the others.  there?  while i already know the scrumptious Daisyfae, i also met–in person!!–the delectably delightful Nursemyra and the divine Rassles.  i look forward to getting together again, if possible.  but, even if not, it was a true pleasure to get together and get to know each other, wander the city, and just enjoy a holiday.

of course, we sampled the local eateries.  in addition, we hit a street fair in Wicker Park and a free concert in Millenium Park.  and, yes, we did do the other touristy kind of stuff as well. The Fields Museum (dinosaurs and mummies), the Shedd Aquarium (with a really cool jellyfish exhibit), and the Museum of Science and Industry (a real, honest-to-goodness WW II German U-boat!!!!) were great fun.

Recreational Blasphemy and I also tried to recreate, a bit, the “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” tour.  some things were not possible.  for example, there was no parade that week with someone singing Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen”.  nor were the Cubbies in town.  and there is no “Chez Quis” restaurant where we could pretend to be “Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago”.  But we did get up in the Sears Tower – –

damn that's a long way down!

and wandered the Art Institute.

RB recreates Cameron falling into the pixels

much more, but still in the after glow of a great holiday.  great times.  wonderful adventures.  grand companions.

i am definitely going to go back.

Aquatic Irony

July 5, 2010

The ocean has a way of teaching us all Mother Nature is really in charge, not us.  We pitiful humans can have grandiose schemes of controlling and manipulating the oceans, but they always seems to win in the end.  Note especially the painfully long and arduous process of trying to cap the leaking well in the Gulf (graphically portrayed and ‘splained by Daisyfae here).

On my recent adventure to Costa Rica, there were a couple dive experiences that reminded me of this as well.

On one dive, I got to dive on a wreck of a fishing boat.  It wasn’t too deep…60 feet or so.  And the boat had been down there long enough that the ocean (and likely treasure hunting or salvaging scuba divers) had devoured all but the shell of the boat.  What struck me as ironic was that this boat, built and used for the sole purpose of dragging the fish from the sea, gasping, in order to feed the humans on shore…was now happily populated by schools of hundreds of fish.  What once was the bane of the fish, was now respite and cover for whole herds* of them!

Now owning the Captain's wheel house...

The ocean is winning...

Home sweet boat

The second event was when my deputy, adjacent, assistant, auxiliary dive buddy got caught in a wave surge underwater while taking pictures.  The surge drove her into the coral face where we were diving.  Not too roughly, actually.  But, unfortunately, right into a large sea urchin.

Looking something like this one...

She thought she’d been cut on the knee, as it hurt like a mother.  But, an examination underwater of the site revealed no blood (thus preventing her from being chum for the local sharks).  However, on return to the surface, when she removed her swim skin?  Here’s what she found…

Ewww....

Each blackened mark had a little spike embedded in it.  And it still hurt like the dickens (well, she said it did…I felt fine, thanks for asking [chortle]).  The next day, it looked like this – – –

Tattooed for life?

Still looked nasty, but feeling much better.  The following day, the black dots began to disappear.  No permanent scarring.

Great fun, still.  And will definitely be going again.

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*Yes, I know it’s ‘schools’…I just enjoy mixing my metaphors, phrases, and stuff like that.  You know, a penny saved is worth two in the bush.

Language Issues

June 30, 2010

Our Costa Rican tour guide was wonderful.  Carlos knows the pitfalls and danger spots in the country (actually, not too many), as well as knowing where the ‘best’ prices were for we touristas.

Carlos spent some time in the States, earning cash to afford to start up his tour business.  So, his grasp of the English language is pretty good.  And, actually, so is his accent.  We rarely had to ask him to repeat anything.

There were, however, some very obvious exceptions.

On arrival, as we were all getting settled on the bus, Carlos informed us he had soda drinks for us.

Carlos: “Okay, peoples*, we have some Cock and Diet Cock for you!”

...and they're even available in cans!

He also had a slight pronunciation problem with the word “Folks”.

Carlos: “Okay, Fucks, here’s what we are doing next…”

Or, then again, maybe he DIDN’T have trouble with pronunciation…hmmm….

One of the couples on the trip went into town alone while the rest of us lounged by the pool.  They stopped at a place where the road was full of potholes.

Carlos: “Okay, Fucks, be careful of the buttholes out there.”

Unfortunately, my deputy adjacent assistant auxiliary dive buddy** pulled Carlos aside and corrected him so he didn’t say it after the third day.

Spoilsport.

Oh, and a couple more pictures – –

the sharks we got within 15 feet of...

croc teasing

Monkey Head Island...yeah, it does look a bit like one

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*He did tend to pluralize plurals….peoples, gentlemens…much fun!

**My preferred dive buddy being unavailable, on an adventure of her own, and sorely missed on this trip.

Pura Vida

June 28, 2010

“Pure Life”

That’s the catch phrase in my most recent adventure location, Costa Rica.  Basically, it’s used to express when something is great or awesome.  Or, ‘this is the reason we live’.

And the trip was pretty much that…Pura Vida.

The local dive shop where I got my diving certification regularly schedules diving trips.  This has multiple purposes – – to entice those who don’t dive to consider because of the cool locations they go…to get those already diving to buy more stuff at the store to go on the trip…and, the best one, the shop’s dive sponsor gets a free vacation.  Pretty damn good.

This was a slightly different trip in that, besides the diving, there were multiple site seeing and adventure side trips.  I took a chance on it.

The diving?  Not so great visibility, so that sort of lessened the enjoyment of the 10 dives we did.  But we did see some cool stuff.  I swam within 15 feet of 7 white tipped reef sharks, who are not too dangerous, but still made me clench up a bit*.  I found an octopus scurrying across the coral.  There were puffer fish galore, as well as at least 4 moray eels each dive**.  We saw a seahorse, tiny and delicate, hovering in a coral sanctuary.  I saw the tail and shadow of a body of a bull shark (more aggressive) some 30 feet away.  I found a shark’s tooth on the ocean bottom.  I dove the Pacific, adding to the bodies of water I can now make that claim.

The land adventures?  Also very cool.

–  We ran a zip line jungle canopy tour. That’s where they’ve strung wire cable between tree tops and you zip from one tree to another strapped in a harness hooked to the wire.  The shortest was about a hundred feet.  The longest?  About a quarter mile…and we were flying when we got to the end of that one.  And howler monkeys yelling at us most of the way.

–  We visited an active volcano, Arenal.  (Un)fortunately, the lava flows were on the side of the mountain away from us.  Still, I saw the edge of a lava flow one mini-eruption at night.  And the beast belched and rumbled off and on throughout the day.

–  We took a river tour and tortured and teased crocodiles in the water.

–  We went white water rafting (yes, in a different river than the crocodiles this time).

Here are a few pictures, a couple stolen from fellow trip adventurers – –

Damn impressive, especially when rumbling

That's a moray...that's a moray...

Hard to see, but that's a dolphin frolicking in our boat wake.

HAD to be one sign in the bunch, yes?

No clue what the next adventure will be, but there will definitely be one!  I’m liking this…

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*I watched “Jaws” as a kid and it scared the crap out of me.

**One dive I was watching a needlefish and, when it swam off, looked down to see a moray eel a foot from my crotch…yoicks!  And away!!!