Sunday, January 31, 2010
I can't avoid eye contact with people in the road waving their arms at me, so here I am again picking up some slightly unusual looking man carrying quite a few boxes. To put him off I say quite firmly I am just going to the bottom of the mountain. No problem he replies, smiling a lot, so I grudgignly let him in. Then I can't understand a word he says so I ask him where he's from. 'Asia' he replies. 'Oh' I say, pleasantly surprised, I will chat about my back packing days. 'Have you been to Thailand or Hong Kong?'. He looks at me blankly and nods. 'Can you not speak much English?' (I say in the loud slow annoying foreigner to foreigner voice). 'No, I speak Creole & French' That's strange I thought, there must be some French & Creole speaking country in Asia that I don't know about. Not to be deterred, I plough on and ask him if he's on holiday. 'No, I working at Evergreen Hotel'. Oh, ok I thought. Then, as always, I get to where I want to be but then feel all remorseful and ask him exactly where he wants to go. Ten minutes out of my way, I eventually drop him off. He is very grateful and nods a lot and says he is sending all the boxes to his relatives in 'Haysha'. Jolly nice guy I thought but the post will be jolly expensive - he looks at me and asks 'You sent to earthquake too?'. Another OMG moment, he's not Asian, he's Haitian. There I have been wittering on about backpacking the beaches of Asia and all he's concerned about is sending off supplies to his relatives in Haiti. I must learn the local lingo pdq that's for sure.
'Mummy Mummy, we need to take Rosemary to school today Sister Annita said', exclaimed my 4 year old breathlessly at 7.30am last Thursday. I am now totally resigned to being given no notice by my kids about anything to do with school and instead fill their bags with whatever requests they like, usually fairly suspect, (did your teacher really say she wanted to see your Hannah Montana guitar shaped sparkly lippy?) but no time to argue as they are rushing out of the door, invariably late. Anyway, Rosemary cool, absolutely no problem whatsoever. My garden would currently make old Hugh Fearnley Whatsit at the www.rivercottage.net even more greeener than he possibly is with envy as it's positively bursting with herbs and produce now. So Rosemary, bring it on, just bring it on. There you go my love, just hold it carefully in the car until you get there. So, I wave everyone off cheerfully because my husband does the morning school run (phew phew phew) and pat myself on the back.
Not so long later, my mobile rings.
'Hey, you got the Rosemary wrong love'
'What do you mean wrong?' (I am visibly bristling at this criticism so early on in the day)
'Well, as we were going into Church (always every Thursday) late, there was a distinct lack of any other 4 year olds carrying Rosemary'
'Oh well, (me positively bursting with pride now and patting myself on the back), no-one else probably could grow any'
'No, I don't think it's Rosemary they wanted'
'Are you sure?'
'Well, put it like this, as I handed Scarlett over to her teacher and she squeezed alongside the pew, all her classmates were clutching something else that sounds similar.....'
'Similar? Rocket? Well what?'
'Those necklaces with crosses on...'
'OMG, a ROSARY'
Umm, not so self-satisfied smug yummy green mummy now, afterall.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
So, builders builders builders, one of the most popular questions I get asked and the most stories you hear the world over though, of things that went horribly wrong. Anyway, I know two sets of great builders - one that builds in the Dominican way and by this I mean with Dominican finishes and the other with more European finishes so we are currently revamping parts of the house to combine the best of both. So the 'when in Rome' expression will become 'when in Dominica but with a touch of Dubai'. I have friends though that have built importing absolutely everything and there's a fully functional American dream house here that Martha Stewart would be proud of and another friend is starting the process and importing everything from the UK. Her house will be STUNNING (pressure's on KS!) and will combine European perfection set amongst Dominican beauty.
Until you live here you don't realise how important outside space is, however, until you live here you don't realise how much rain there is. So you need outside space that is waterproof. So, this is our latest addition.
ps The chocolates were an amazing gift yesterday from a very very nice person who has just relocated....every new balcony needs some......and nice and normal relocators!!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Whale watching is like diving here - people can't believe it if you don't experience both frequently. Well, whale watching being marginally less effort we ventured out today. So first of all we are on a very small boat because the posh, ensuite bathroom, full bar & massage area (possibly) large boat is catering to the equally large cruise market. Our boat has 13 people including 5 kids and are all European sized. So, I get on and can't hear a word of the briefing because the engine is so loud. However, I do hear rum punch and smile and nod encouragingly like people do when they are in a herd situation.
An hour in and I'm telling the kids what a lovely boat trip this in and there's plenty more whales in the sea as it were and never mind we spot absolutely nothing when suddenly we are completely surrounded - ok there were 7 huge (derrr of course they are) whales all around us. The excitement level on the boat is fever pitch and all I'm thinking is why don't they just give us a little nudge. You know you read all these stories where animals suddenly 'turn' - tigers jump out of zoo cages, lions turn on their trainers and so forth. So here we are, in a tiny, insignificant, very light boat because it's full of skinny people and one day these guys are going to get bored and say hello, come on down, literally. So, next thing is that they swim right underneath the boat (thank heavens it's not glass bottomed) and give us a handprint - cool hey - this is actually a tailprint - when their tail hits the sea it does give a print. (No I didn't get a picture ok).
On the way back, we travel at speed and I mean speed, get completely soaked and the boat is on a fairly alarming angle. During this, the crew remain looking steadfastly ahead whilst clearly thinking how many can we lose on the way back - well it must get boring for them, there again maybe not, it's not everyday you can eyeball a whale is it. Wow wow wow!
Friday, January 1, 2010
So, Happy Happy New Year! It's that time of year when I get the most enquiries and bookings for here and elsewhere. One incentive is that I give 10% off all bookings paid for in full by 31st January (but try not to spend it all before the 31st March 2010) and secondly I guess when it's freezing cold and dark most of the day it's nice to have some hot destination to look forward to. However, I guarantee the day your holiday starts you are guaranteed to have a complete personality bypass:
This non-surgical procedure
Should be avoided at all costs
If your personality is bypassed
You won’t realise what you’ve lost!
It can happen quite by accident
To anyone it’s true
And before you know it, nobody
Can see the happy you!
Firstly you forget to smile
Deep furrows line your brow
You used to laugh and giggle
Now you can’t remember how!
What causes this phenomenon?
Can herbal teas assist?
How can you just turn back the clock?
Recapturing laughs you’ve missed?
Well first you wrinkle up your nose
Practise a wink or two
Then each day ask “How is your world?”
“How’s life been treating you”?
Responses may be minimal
But you’ll feel better “Oh yes indeed”
And you’ll avoid being “personality bypassed”
Of that you’re guaranteed!
Anyway, as usual I digress. So this starts at the airport when you stand in line and check your documents in some OCD like manner. Leave your purse in the washroom and then buy a load of stuff that might 'just in case' become handy on the plane and after. However, this is all in the realms of acceptable and the full on alarm bells actually completely kick in whilst you are in fact meant to be completely horizontal on holiday and instead you remain in a somewhat vertical state. Therefore, before you book this year, just ask yourself the follwoing questions:
Do you find holidays to be reinvigorating, relaxing and refreshing?
Do you return home feeling rejuvenated and with your batteries recharged?
Or, is it just one big headache and you can't wait to get back to "normal", sleep in your own bed and slot back into a comfortable routine?
Holidays can be challenging experiences. We step out of our normal environment with the aim of a pleasurable experience. Our expectations are often set by glossy brochures or travel programmes showing idyllic settings, beautiful scenery or even the promise of adventures in wild places. But, are we up to the reality of the challenges ahead or do we set ourselves up for disillusionment and disappointment? How much excess baggage do we take on holiday and how much complete rubbish do we bring back. Yes, a conch shell does look lovely in a bright blue plantation house in the Caribbean but covered in snow on a doorstep in Swindon, perhaps not. And, drinking rum & coke back home on a wet & windy day? I think not.
Reality can quickly take away the rose coloured spectacles of the view of the "wild places" when basic needs are delivered via "basic methods" - dig your own toilet perhaps or carry your own rubbish and of course accept that it's only the British that queue...
Even if you opted for a luxury villa in a tropical paradise, you might still find yourself catering for the family, but without the familiar equipment or having to use "foreign ingredients". Challenges come thick and fast. From truculent children who will NOT eat anything but their favourite brand of breakfast cereal, to the intricacies of foreign plumbing systems - such as what times of the day you can expect hot water (or sometimes any water!) let alone electricity.
Then there are the "decision dilemmas" - a group of people on holiday trying to make a collective decision about where they are going next is often painful. As with all committees, the end result is usually a choice that no-one particularly wanted but which had the least objections all round. That's of course if you managed to make a decision in time to go anywhere at all!
Add to that, cultural and language differences and it is easy to feel like a fish out of water. As expectations for the holiday and the reality of it start to diverge, the inner tension levels can soon start to rise and will leak out in many ways.
Personalities often change on holiday!
Some people suddenly become the main song and dance act, trying to impress everyone. Others may withdraw into a little "leave me alone" shell and only come out at feeding time. Some may try and "fit in" with the culture and customs of the new environment without any clue about how or why and become more of a hindrance than a help.
Some of this can be laid at the door of complete insecurity. Dealing with a new environment, having to relate in new ways with people you may only see occasionally, or even with total strangers, can bring forth bizarre inner demons. Insecurity, means that there is an inner need to bolster one's self esteem. Children will be more obvious about their demand for attention in order to "feel good" using someone else's energy, but adults have learned far more subtler albeit unpleasant ways to do this.
For example, competitiveness - who can be the most extreme? Who can drink the most, have the loudest most annoying voice, have the biggest hangover, swim the furthest, wear the sexiest bikini, etc... Being "the best" or "having an opinion about everything" puts you at the centre of everyone's attention and lapping up their energy.
And, for those who don't join the "competing games", the opposite ploy is often a total withdrawal, tummy bugs, headaches, illnesses that attract attention in the form of sympathy and some TLC. These aren't necessarily scheming strategies and the players are most likely not even aware of their actions, but they are an inner response at a sub-conscious level to feelings of insecurity.
Another aspect of personality change on holiday is the release of the controls on "normal behaviour". The brakes are off, indulgence is the name of the game and on holiday "I can do what I want, eat/drink what I want, say whatever I like, NO LIMITS!"
But, just as freewheeling downhill can be exhilarating and exciting, it can also be dangerous if you aren't able to steer where you want to go. That's when you might discover the brick wall of reality and "wham, what hit me, where did those kilos come from, where did the black eye come from, how did I end up becoming this bitter and twisted!"
Those people who feel restricted in their normal environment by parents/spouse/responsibilities/etc.. are often the ones who just "let rip" when freed from their shackles. They are also usually the ones who need another holiday after their holiday to recover!
Holidays are a great opportunity for self-awareness.
Returning back home to our "normal" routines, there is an opportunity to reflect on our behaviour on holiday, did we "like" ourselves, did we discover another side to our personality that we weren't aware of, did we discover hidden talents?
We can reflect on the difference to our "norm", and consider if there are aspects of our life that could do with some change? Perhaps we have also become aware of a bigger picture than our own life. Maybe, understood a different culture, experienced a different way and can now ask ourselves pertinent questions about how we might improve our life, our environment, our relationships and overall ourselves?
Or perhaps we just returned home with a sense of gratitude for what we do have and for the people that are part of our lives.
Holidays give perspective, if you are willing to stand back and look.
They may be an escape in the short term, but can also be life changing for the longer term.
Here's to your holiday this year, wherever you may go.