Archive for November, 2007

November 30, 2007

Through a glass darkly.

After a late start to the day today I headed out on the Cascade Main Rd to get to the station which is only about 5 minutes away. On the short drive and about 1 minute from my front door I witnessed this strange spectacle on the road. I must admit I am used to Trinidad and have learned to laugh at the many foibles of life here but this sight took me aback. Apparently, the way to make a speed bump here is to make one side, add the other a few days later, and then fill in the middle bit by completely blocking the middle of the road with reflective PVC pipes.  I suppose this approach might work if Cascade were in lockdown while the concrete dried but ,sadly, the government did not have the presence of mind to enact the required legislation. What happens instead is that the thoughtless residents of Cascade selfishly seeking ingress and egress try and squeeze through the remaining space, knock over the poles and run their tyres through the wet concrete. The result – Cascade now has a series of interesting speed bumps with perfectly smooth rises on the left and the right and crenellated and mangled middles. The experience of driving over them when dry is not unlike racing a 4X4 on Aruba’s Eastern side.


There must be something about the heat of the Caribbean that makes for strangeness. I think many tourists…the better ones at least..come to the region precisely because it is somewhat comical and off-kilter. This region is not known for efficiency or even for logic in the way things are done. Downtown has a series of glass sheeted skyscrapers going up ( presumably earthquake proof) and yet the roads of the capital are potholed and congested. We have a crime problem so the government went out and bought a blimp to nip it in the bud…actually we are on our third blimp…minor problems..you know how it is. The Prime Minister decided that establishing a million dollar ballroom dancing troupe called Divine Echoes was his way of dealing with the crime problem…as we all know nothing says “say no to crime” like the foxtrot.


Curiously, the PM just came back from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Harare and is now loudly nattering on about global climate change. He seems oblivious to the fact T&T ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1999 so I am assuming An Inconvenient Truth is finally showing in Harare and he did some internet research.


I stopped ..or rather slowed down..at PriceSmart this afternoon but seeing the lines and lack of parking spots I just revved and came back home. Trinis are obsessed with Xmas to a point I cannot even begin to comprehend. I am sure any pig would be well advised to go into the witness protection programme until January.


More after my roller coaster ride out of Cascade tomorrow.


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November 29, 2007

Rock the Casbah


I nodded off for a bit this evening recovering from an interesting day. The Caribbean was struck by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Thursday in case anyone missed it in the news. Apparently we must have had somewhat lesser of a blow based on our distance and the fact the ieTV building didn’t collapse. As I sat at my desk peering at my powerbook I noticed that she was wobbling a bit more than usual and after realizing that nobody was walking past I announced to the newsroom “earthquake!”…to which the predictable response was “what?”. Shortly thereafter they all emerged realizing things were shaking.  The subsequent conversation in our second floor newsroom circulated around “should we stand in a doorway?”, “let’s go under a desk” to which my response was “it’s a glass desk..I don’t think it will help”. So after bickering for a minute or so the whole thing was over and we all shrugged and went back to work only more excited we had a new lead story.


I will write more later today but the experience of rocking uncontrollably never scares me and I loved the fact none of the newsroom staff fled the building while the entire TV staff were out the building and on the road. News people rule!


I got emails from Susan of Bucuti today which thrilled me and even the great Roy from Waterfront sent me an email. Despite the fact the Caribbean wasn’t shaken to the foundations we still manage  shaky email conversations.

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November 28, 2007

London calling.

It was an interesting day. I was called by Ria at the BBC Caribbean FM launch to ask me if I wanted to have Debbie Ransome on One on One ..which I did..but I had no crew to record the interview. I eventually toddled off to work to face the usual day of producing news and things were good..as they normally are once Giselle is on hand. On my way to work I had attempted to head to the mall to get new makeup to match my Bonaire/Aruba tan but the traffic changed that plan.


The lineup today was promising with a starting list of about 8 stories which always expands as the day progresses. Admittedly, there was no drop dead story in sight but I set to work creating the newscast. As the day moved on it was clear to me that the escaped/rescued kidnap victim was probably the best choice for a lead story. What puzzles me, and for once I agree with the TT media blog, is how the distraught husband managed to escape from being hogtied with duct tape to look around for the whereabouts of his wife. I have never been hogtied with duct tape ( interestingly it was originally called duck tape)  but I doubt it would be an easy matter to get free. Nonetheless she managed to escape her abductors last night and after an, by all acounts, brutal experience, she is back with her family. I cannot imagine the trauma as I gather she was also seriously physically abused.


Our other headline stories were Hazel Manning talking about adopting the local government white paper by the end of the year and the Beeb launching their FM service in T&T. The PM returning from Harare was important too but the footage was coming in late so it didn’t work for the video headlines. Part of the TV world is recognizing what is possible and what is not given the time constraints. Somewhere in this timeline Tony told me that it would be “helpful” if I attended the BBC  media get together at 7pm at the Hilton..so naturally I interpreted it as meaning I better be there. I got the news going and then headed off to the Hilton which is on my way home.


I found the location at the Hilton with no problem but I must confess I am seriously averse to schmoozing. I hate cocktail parties with a major passion and I normally stand on the sidelines until it is safe for me to flee. I was totally surprised there was a neverending list of people who seemed to want to talk to me as I arrived. From what I gather I may be in the papers tomorrow chatting with any number of prominent people. I swear they came to me and I never moved more than 1 metre from my initial arrival point.  Thank god for scotch and coconut I was able to be generally calm and I survived the ordeal.


I pray despite the long list of xmas invitations in front of me I can survive the season and get my writing done. I hate this time of year.

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November 27, 2007

Back to the grind.

Went back to work at ieTV today but I have to confess I was still thinking about Bonaire as i usually do every time I visit..it takes a while to readjust to normal life. Checked in with Tony as i arrived and he seemed his usual chipper self..then upstairs to the engine room to see that things were as i had left them. I always somehow hope things will stop where i leave them and only resume when I return..sadly it never happens.


I have to get cracking on the book chapters ASAP and , believe it or not, I haven’t had time to tour Trinidad or Tobago yet to get the info for those chapters. In between that important task I also have to get the “Year in Review” crew in gear so I can get it finished in time so I can get to Toronto for Xmas. Speaking of which I called Mum this evening and after hearing all the latest she old me my visit would make Xmas for her. In fact I believe she said I would be the shining star of Xmas in Toronto. No pressure on me I guess. Going home is always a painful experience for me as it genuinely hurts when I have to leave. I get used to being around Mum and Karl and being in Toronto then it is time to board a plane. I am happy being in my home city with my family but the reality of my life is that to follow the career I love I have to be back at ieTV. Life can be a difficult series of choices.


I gather there is a plan afoot by a few of my friends here to spend a weekend in Tobago sometime in December so I have that to look forward to once I finish the Fodor’s chapters. In the meantime I see a lot of long TV days and even longer writing in front of a Mac screen nights. Thankfully I am fairly used to it after 9 years.


I just realized what I miss the most after my ABC trips whether back to Trinidad or Toronto..it is people I don’t know saying hello or just smiling and tipping their heads. I am beginning to think I prefer life on the smallest scale possible. Despite my fondness for the offerings of major urban centres I genuinely feel happier in smaller places where being human is important and showing kindness and concern to strangers is a natural part of life.

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November 26, 2007

ABYSSUS ABYSSUM INVOCAT

Back in Cascade now after a rather horrid night in Curacao. The mini Insel plane got me from Bonaire to Curacao with no problems but apparently the powers that be at Insel decided that canceling the larger plane to Port of Spain was the way to go. My connecting flight was nowhere to be seen on the departure board and after clearing Curacao immigration ( rather than just transiting through) got me to an Insel counter where the young gentleman blandly informed me I should go to the Insel “incident centre”. I told him that my onboard GPS wasn’t functioning so a little guidance would be helpful and thus made my way to confusion central. While  I appreciate the need for euphemisms to make life more pleasant I honestly feel they should have called it the “we fucked up please don’t shout too loud centre”. The tempers were high and not helped by Insel’s apparent desire to do things on the cheap. People ahead of me were shouting at the staff and my understanding of the gist of their anger was that Insel was trying to make stranded passengers share rooms. Interestingly, most of the shouting was coming from a large group of preachers from various Caribbean countries who were there for a retreat ….so much for the mellowing influence of religion. Thankfully, by the time I got to the desk the shouting had the desired effect and I was assigned a voucher for a room at the Curacao equivalent of the Bates Motel.


I have traveled a bit and few things phase me so I waited for the pick-up and soon enough the owner Allan arrived to whisk me to my temporary abode ..very temporary as the replacement flight was leaving at six and we were to be back at the airport by 4am. Given it was already 9pm I steeled myself for a possibly dangerous but time-limited night. As we drove through various back roads for 5 minutes I briefly pondered my mortality as i learned from Allan that the “hotel” was primarily used my people from St. Marteen coming to Curacao for medical treatment. Now I am not cheap and were the layover longer I would have taken a taxi and stayed at Avila or the Ho Jo in Willemstaad but as this was more a matter of a temporary holding cell I steeled myself for the impending strange experience. As it turns out the apartment hotel was not that bad – clean and basic – though I swear I detected a faint whiff of formaldehyde.


The rest of the day is a bit of a blur as my afternoon soul and 4am wake-ups are not a good combination. The flight too off at 6 am as promised and other than the entire cabin laughing when the crew announced “Thank you for flying Insel Air and we hope you will fly again” there isn’t much to report. Peter picked me up in my car as i had left it at his place and braved the 8am traffic to drop him back home. When we got there, however, I realized his landscaping was..well…there was no landscaping…and given he was living in his new duplex for 6 months and despite my tiredness I drove him to the plant shop and we picked up plants for the front of his place. After I placed them where I knew they had to be, I left him to dig and headed in the general direction of home.


I loved Aruba and Bonaire but there is something comforting about being behind the wheel of my Ford so I didn’t resist when it guided me to the supermarket before I even got home. I purchased ingredients for Bonaire goat stew and then made my tired way home. I seem to confuse several people and, frankly, I confuse myself most of all. Why, when I am dog tired and need to sleep do I feel it necessary to duplicate the goat stew i had on my last day in Bonaire? With my eyes rolling back in my head  I marinated, sauteed and finally loaded the pressure cooker enjoying the thrill of being in my own kitchen and not having to deal with mini fridges or haiku ingredients. It came out great. So as I nibbled my perfect Bonaire goat stew and a Tanqueray Rangpur and soda ( it was after 12..don’t judge me…I ignored the weeks of writing ahead of me and Tobago and Margarita still looming.


Eventually I headed to bed at 2pm for a quick nap and awoke at 9:40pm in time to write this. Back to television tomorrow and then writing like mad. What do I miss? I miss Amsterdam Manor and the view of Eagle Beach, I miss Bucuti and Susan’s take on the world, I miss Bonaire in general.I think it would be a great Marketing strategy if Bonaire offered grief counseling at the airport. I would have taken it. At least I will not have to deal with any more strange restaurant food as i have the best food right here and enough ideas from AUA and BON I can develop into my own perfect recipes.

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November 25, 2007

Bye bye Bonaire

I am now at the airport in Bonaire waiting for them to straighten out my ticket after the jacked up twit in Curacao pulled out the wrong voucher …which I told him. Ah well, in typical Bonairean fashion they are friendly and helpful. The woman even assures me that  my close connection will be made as they will call the pilot in Curacao to warn him I am on my way. Too sweet. I don’t believe a word of it…but to have the thought. As usual when I am about to leave it was pelting rain a short while ago…I like to romantically think Bonaire is crying about my departure though it is more likely the Inter-tropical convergence zone at work.


I am truly sad to leave as I usually am and would run to the phone and call Liz at Golden Reef with delight had I been forced to stay on longer. There really is something about this place. We had a great lunch at a local joint in the middle of the bush called Maiky’s Place which advertises “The Best Local Food” I would beg to differ as to my palate it is the best food bar none. Then i told my guide he could drop me in Kralendijk to wander about downtown for the three hours before I was due to go to the airport. Somehow I forgot that it takes less than half an hour to traverse every square inch of downtown and it being Sunday there wasn’t much to slow me down. I managed to use up the remaining time sitting on the patio of City Cafe watching the port and imbibing a few  Amstel Brights, eating some apple cake and enjoying one last coffee.


My internet time is almost up here so perhaps I will describe the hair raising journey later tonight if I actually get to Port of Spain.

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November 24, 2007

Bonaire this and that.

A full day today of running around and site inspections. One of which was Captain Don’s where I learned..to my chagrin…there is in fact a fridge hidden in the night desk next to my bed. I will swiftly apologize for accusing them of having no fridge in the room but really..if they had a guide in the room I might have known this salient bit of trivia. To me the night stand normally only contains what I call the Jesus coaster or what others call a Gideon Bible. All else remains the same…still the stains on the tile, the lack of an ice bucket and the missing coffee supply despite the presence of a minuscule coffee maker. I really don’t get why I have to lock my room with a key from both the inside and the outside..it seems the sort of thing most guests would forget to do and end up leaving their room open while they go about their business.


The 8 or 9 properties I visited today were all much the same so nothing new to report on that end. Our lunch was at Den Laman where I was surprised by an exceptionally good appetizer of Bonairean goat cheese and beets on lettuce with citrus zest and a zingy citrus dressing. The main course was ok but hardly great though the “y’all” from our transplanted Charleston  waitress was priceless.


This evening we dined at a new establishment called Patagonia that is billed as an Argentine Steakhouse. The location on the water was lovely and my initial thoughts were good based on the appetizer. I often order calamari because at its best it can be very good and at its worst it can tell a lot about the restaurant. Patagonia’s calamari was superb and it was a huge portion. It was fresh and incredibly crunchy so I waited and waited and waited for the rib eye to see how it would be. When it eventually showed up accompanied by frozen veg and frozen fries I was devastated. Ignoring the thoughtless veg and frite choice the steak was at least 20% fat…hardly restaurant quality. If you are running a restaurant and you resort to frozen veg and frozen french fries you are doing something very wrong. There was a full house at Patagonia but I can assure them once the novelty of a new place wears off and/or a new place opens down the street they will be deservedly screwed. I sent back most of my plate and the owner’s son took the plate without even pausing to ask me how it was. They will find out soon enough. Sad though, they were so close to getting a recommended from Fodor’s. I never know if the fact I love cooking and understand food makes me too picky because I am sure some rube from the Midwest would find it acceptable based on their experience..I shall continue to maintain my standards hoping some foodie will appreciate what I say.


Tomorrow we have another day of inspections and I will inevitably have to fight with Insel Air about my lack of ticket from here to Curacao. It rained heavily today on my fave desert island…and I found it beautiful. When you are in the Bonaire vibe everything is ok. I swear to the heavens one day I will actually vacation here without any work involved..a pipe dream maybe…but I have hopes. This really is the perfect place on the planet.


Bon Nochi.


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November 23, 2007

Shaken not stirred

Well I have lived to fly another day after taking 3 hours to get from Aruba to Bonaire on something that, at a stretch may be called an aircraft but could do with the airplane equivalent of viagra. There can be no feeling quite as delightful as sitting in 100 degree heat on a tarmac in a sardine can listening to your luggage rattling immediately behind you. Well, maybe the thrill of handing out Garnier towelettes to fellow passengers who were resorting to wiping the sweat off their faces and flicking it on the floor. Did I mention it was raining cats and dogs in Aruba when I left resulting in a rather bumpy flight? Ok..glad  I did.


We had to stop in Curacao and, after much deliberation and a ground attendant coming on board and ripping a page out of my ticket that I am sure is my stub for BON-CUR on my return, we took off again for Bonaire. All the unpleasantness was soon forgotten when the lone immigration officer smiled, welcomed me back to Bonaire and I walked over to my Tourism Bonaire guide who was standing there looking expectant. Robert got me into the waiting minivan and took me to Captain Don’s Habitat where I will be staying. After I gave my particulars to a stout and churlish young man of indeterminate sexuality at the desk I went to my room to drop off my stuff while Robert waited to take me to dinner. I deposited my stuff in my room…gave it a cursory once over…frantically smoked a cigarette and then rejoined  Robert to head off to Warung Louise for some chow.


Robert looks like he enjoys life and not always in moderation so i kind of took to him immediately and when he lit a Marlboro at the outdoor table at the restaurant I knew it was going to be a pleasant few days with no furtive puffing on my part. The Indonesian dinner was quite good and while I had a glass of merlot ( and Robert had 3) I savoured the perfectly cooked wahoo…so much in contrast to the Aqua Grill flakiness of a day ago. These people knew how to keep the integrity of the fish intact and the subtlety of flavours on the plate all worked well together. A little spicy bamboo, a sweet ( perhaps tamarind based) sauce and a cooling coconut and saffron rice to complement it. After 4 merlots, 2 meals. 15 cigarettes and much bonhomie we left Louise’s lovely eatery and I was dropped back at the good Captain’s Habitat.


I have some concerns about the Capt’s idea of a place to live..which I assume is what a habitat is…let me check my Mac dictionary…ok..apparently it is a “natural home and environment”. Look here Captain! I don’t know about your natural home and environment but mine requires a fridge, more than one WiFi bar ( and preferably without having to walk halfway into the pool to get it), an ice bucket, an ice machine ( going to the bar to ask for 2 cups of ice doesn’t cut it) and a door I don’t have to lock manually with a key. Work with me here Captain…the times they are a changin’ and YOU are not. A fridge in the room is useful if a diabetic needs to keep insulin chilled or, in my case, if gin needs to be kept ice cold for the perfect martini. These are not optional things anymore they are expected in any hotel and especially in one that charges well over $200 US for a room in shoulder. And since we are in a chatting mood Captain, laptops …LAHP-TAWPS..have three pronged plugs which is why most hotels since 1989 have such things in their rooms. The only 3-pronged plug I could find in your room is in the bathroom. Now, while I accept there may be times that using my laptop in the bathroom might be a useful convenience I would also like to charge it in the bedroom … BEHD-RUHM…you might want to work on that. I am also a bit concerned Capt. about your bathroom tiles. I am sure once they were a pristine white expanse broken only by subtle grouting but now they look like a heroin junkies arm. You might want to look into that…I don’t think the average guest walks around with nitric acid dripping from them so it may have been caused by your cleaning crew…but honestly. I don’t really know who your average guest is…perhaps they are from some other world that doesn’t need fridges or ice buckets. To be a bit kinder though I must say the rooms are much bigger than the average hotel room and the large and comfy terrace with wicker furniture is a nice touch even with the mosquito infestation.


I just had to walk across the compound to get some ice for my ..umm…Shirley Temple…yeah, that’s it..Shirley Temple…this is a ridiculous scenario. This is primarily a divers hotel so maybe they have fewer expectations from a hotel and the Captain is happy to give them less. I am tempted to think of Bucuti in Aruba..and since this is my blog…I shall…here is a place with near full occupancy all the time and yet they are constantly adding, honing and generally staying ahead of the game so why can’t CDH ( I think that is a convenient abbreviation) do the same? One day it may come back to bite them in the ass.


I am now trying to adjust to Bonaire speed for my short stay on my favourite place on the planet. In my brief drive around I was amazed at the pace of construction by Bonaire standards. Some old faves have disappeared yes some ..like Bistro de Paris remain. I am looking forward to exploring. Note to self I must call my old pal Patrice Rannou at Bistro to see what he has been up to.  TCB has a full itinerary for me ( bless their organized souls…are you listening ATA?) but it is important to make time for the places I have grown to love. Bistro de Paris has a special place in my heart. I gave them a Fodor’s Choice listing after they opened and over the years I have never regretted that decision. When I did the ..shudder…vegetarian thing for a year Patrice accommodated me with aplomb. He even used one of my pictures for his brochure and web site ( I didn’t charge him) so I have a love for B de P. The man can do things with a rack of lamb that totally amazes me and his tartare is a work of art.


I arrived in Bonaire for the first time at night but after 8 years I think I can find my way around blindfolded. I love the fact this is a human scale place. You may know what I mean but in case you don’t…after living in a huge albeit nice metropolis aka Toronto ( or Trona if you prefer) I now realize that smaller is better. I like the human scale where things make sense and I know where to find things. Even in my brief drive around with Robert I was able to say what was coming up next and I was always correct. If my life is good to me I would like to retire or die in Bonaire because it touches something in my soul. It is more than human-sized it is me-sized. Who knew 8 years ( or maybe 7 or maybe 9 ) ago I would find a speck in the ocean I would fall in love with. I love Europe and especially Ireland but despite my life plans Bonaire popped up and I am glad it did. I have only been here for 4 hours this time but I can tell you the world needs more Bonaire.


As I head to a Captain’s bed I wish Bruce strength, Urse persistence and Susan a gravol free night.


Bon Nochi.

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November 22, 2007

Cineplex Bucuti style

Back at Amsterdam Manor now after quite a full and productive day…delightful even. I went to bed knowing I had to be at Bucuti at 9am. I am not a morning person as I have artfully managed to create a living that involves long and late hours but never early hours. I know to the average Joe  or Janet 9am is normal..trust me..it isn’t for me. I was cheered, however, by an email from Susan at Bucuti saying she would meet me at the lobby which meant I could sleep in a bit longer and obviated the need for me to make arrangements to schlep myself the few blocks to get there. I awoke , removed the earplugs that make sleeping at the construction zone of my room possible, and belted back three cups of anise flavoured coffee, showered, shaved and went out to meet Susan.


I have always loved the whole Bucuti concept – a low rise eco-friendly but decidedly stylish beach resort. So often eco-friendly connotes spartan accommodation, chanting and breakfast bread that requires a hacksaw…not here. Susan was a delight from the first moment we met. She drives like me; indicating at every turn, stopping at every zebra crossing despite an absence of humans in the vicinity and maintains a speed that would keep even the most geriatric of nuns happy…in other words she is A-OK in my book. We toured Bucuti and finally, after 8 years of never being able to see a  clean room because of their high occupancy rate i saw not one but two. One of their standard rooms ( that would put most other hotels to shame) and one of the rooms in the very tony Tara Suites complete with a view of the beach that would make you reach for your camera. I always maintain it is the little things that get my attention in hotels and the included iPod docking station and ionizer unit shows the detail mindedness that makes for a great hotel. After the arduous tour..ok fine…it wasn’t arduous but keep in mind I only had a few cups of coffee under my belt…we settled down for breakfast on the beach deck.


Not being a morning person I don’t expect much in the pre-noon hours but our conversation made waking up early completely worthwhile. In the hotel business one meets all sorts ranging from the facile to the downright irritating. I don’t blame hoteliers for this as it is an extremely difficult business and dealing with travel writers can be something of an annoyance when what you really want to do is scream at a busboy or fix a leaking sink. Susan and I had a wonderful conversation about the environment, Aruba, the hotel business, Dubya and the current situation with the Natalee Holloway arrests. The environmental aspect of our conversation was, perhaps, the most revelatory as she genuinely cares about the environment and is currently trying to stop a planned torture…sorry..swim…with the dolphins park planned for Aruba. Strangely she has not combined this fervour with a brown rice fetish and crystal gazing so I was completely comfortable. She is, to my mind, a wholly pleasant combination of  Dian Fossey and Christopher Hitchens…not a normal combo I agree…but a wonderful one. Susan also has a blog which you can read by clicking here.


After Susan deposited me home from Bucuti I checked my email and didn’t see a reply from Matilde so I happily caught up with some reading, chatted with the Ecuadorian construction worker who swears he is a “periodista” and then headed to the ATA for a final go-through with Castro ( not the dictator..the ATA guy) about some of the details about Aruba. After that I enjoyed an hour of awe inspiring gawking in the aisles of Ling and Sons supermarket which could give any supermarket a run for its money and then back to the hotel to check my notes, make calls and head off to Aqua Grill for an evening of “upscale” seafood dining.


As is my custom I walked around the building before going in and discovered that one of Aqua Grill’s neighbours is McDonald’s…did i read anything into this…Naaaah. The restaurant is a cavernous undivided space and i noticed that despite their best efforts, well heeled patrons had to contend with an equal number of shorts wearing families. The thing with a resort destination is it is difficult to enforce a dress code if you also want the money and the vast majority of holidayers are of the suburban Chicago variety. I also found the noise level to be quite high but I gamely resisted pelting my salad in the direction of one egregiously loud family of 64. The GM Shirley suggested the ceviche as a starter ( brave I thought)  and I suggested a mini version of their Mahi Mahi ( aka Dorado) for my main course. The ceviche was extremely good especially since I was beginning to feel I was in a Red Lobster somewhere in the seedier side of Miami given the noise level. Speaking of which, one of the women in the party of 64 was wearing what appeared to be a lime green baggy lampshade with drawstrings over her bust. I had only had one beer but it was all i could do to not leap from my table , tussle her to the ground and slap some sense into her head. Note to lady…if it looks good on Kate Moss…it will NOT look good on you…especially in the wrong size. The Mahi Mahi was good enough although when it crumbled under my fork I knew it had been overcooked. Chefs of the word..flaking is a sign you have cooked it too much..and add salt already…we aren’t all on low sodium regimes. It tasted pretty good though and generally the meal was quite excellent until i met the “caper sauce”. The caper is a wonderful thing and is to be respected but when you drown it in what appears to be not even Hellman’s off the shelf mayo…you are looking for trouble..especially from me. Thankfully the sauce was on the side and after one taste…on the side it stayed. Is it so hard to make your own mayo? Even better…do something that makes the humble caper happy…burnt butter? A simple lemon and olive oil mixture? Would it kill you?


So as i sit here in a gentle poolside breeze that would have other countries reaching for the nails and ply I am happy with this day. Bucuti and a kindred spirit basically made my day…small wonder it is the resort most others on the island try to be. In these  environmentally troubling times if you can stay in a really upscale resort for a fairly low price and feel less guilty about it..why not? The fact there are few ( if any ) screaming kids running about just cements the deal for me.


Off to Bonaire tomorrow, no doubt on a plane made in 1952, if I don’t have an entry tomorrow you know what happened….unless..God forbid…Captain Don’s has no WiFi…hell no it is 2007….if there isn’t I hope they are prepared for a nasty review. Toodles.

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November 21, 2007

One black swan coming up.

A good day today and I got a fair bit done under cloud cover which was handy. In my wanderings I also managed to buy some clothes which are dirt cheap here once you avoid Chanel etc. Sitting by the deserted poolside now I am still attempting to recover from dinner where I was the guest of the Waterfront Crabhouse and its lovely owner Roy.  He originally hails from Paisley Scotland but has had the restaurant here for 17 years.


I frequently dine alone when reviewing but Roy stayed with me the entire time and we had a delightful chat about his life, his family and, of course, the restaurant business. I brought up Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” and was immediately relieved to see he was a fan as well. We talked about the amazing place that is the kitchen and the strange marginalized souls that work there. He disagreed with Bourdain’s rule to never order fish on a Monday as he noted that Aruba was a special case and promptly ordered fish for himself. I was gently introduced to dinner with a “gourmet salad” of mixed greens, shrimp, walnuts and apples drizzled with a mango caramel sauce. Interesting but not really blow your socks off sort of stuff…it still suited me fine. He insisted i order their signature dish of Alaskan crab legs..which i did. Nothing can truly prepare one for $50US plate containing a pound and a half of crab legs. The mere sight is mind blowing. I was distracted from my shock when the waitress helpfully threatened to tie a bib around my neck. I will do many things ; cable gliding over a canyon in the Yucatan even paragliding but do not..and i mean not…come near me with a plastic bib and attempt to place it on me. I firmly insisted it would not be necessary as I am not some rube from Omaha who can’t conduct himself at the table. Roy and the waitress said it was in the interest of protecting my beautiful white shirt but I told them that while there was no doubt the shirt was beautiful I would rather emerge from my meal covered in butter like asparagus than suffer the indignity of donning the wretched device. I won and, as a side note, the staff were suitably impressed I emerged unslathered. I never did finish more than 1/2 pound of the crab legs though..I hope they wiped them off and reused them.


Dessert was really excellent even though i am not a fan of the genre. I was told to order key lime pie..that rugged old standby of bad chain restaurants everywhere. What I got was not the expected kermit green..nor was it custardy in texture with an excess of cloying sweetness. What I got was essentially a  pleasantly tart cream coloured sorbet with a Graham Cracker crust. It was the perfect end to a delicious and completely unpretentious meal.



Tomorrow I think I have 3 restaurants and a 2 hour meeting with the tourist board. Time for a valium martini..shaken…not stirred.

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