January 31, 2008
It is after 1am Trinidad time and I have just uploaded the T&T chapters of Fodors Caribbean Guide for my editor in New York to check. I am about a month behind schedule and because of various work and personal problems I am desperately trying to get all my chapters done. I feel awful about the situation but given the last few months there is little I can do about it. When your family is in turmoil, television is demanding, your personal life is a soap opera and depression is creeping back where it hasn’t been in 10 years…a few deadline misses are par for the course. I just feel really badly about letting my Editor Doug down…I really am crazy about the guy. He is easily the nicest editor I have ever worked with.
ieTv was overflowing with news today so that was a snap and it went perfectly. The writing when I got home was the real hardship. At least I had a couple of online friends to keep me company. Stevie came here to change for the Wednesday Bacchanal Fete that Binky and Alvie also went to. I know Stevie wanted to stay here tonight and as much as I care for him as friend the prospect of waking up at 3 or 4 am to open the gate to let him in and then waking at 7 am to let him out was more than my mind could bear given the Fodor’s writing. I hope he understands.
Other than that..let’s see…my back is killing me from typing all night but I am sure I can remember. Grommit is home tired and a bit sick, Binky and Alvie called from the fete simultaneously a moment ago on my home and mobile lines..so I chose to answer Binky and Astrid is missing in action.
December 19, 2007
There are many things I want to write about today but I really can’t as I am a bit tired. Actually going out at the wrong time given work and my desperate need to finish Fodor’s has proven to be interesting…though this evening that wasn’t the problem. Work started out stressfully as the Mondeo was overheating and I barely made it to work before the needle hit the red. Did I mention I also had a near flat and had to stop at the gas station? Well..trust me it adds a whole new level to watching the needle rise.
Once at work it was the usual checking what was going on so i could do a lineup and then worrying about the car. I worry a lot. After telling him my symptoms my guy Jai at Ford started bandying about repair numbers in the $10,000 plus range. Naturally I started thinking of cliffs and edges again. After checking a few Year in Review stories ( thank you Robin) and getting a handle on things I pondered my car again. Should I pretend I never saw it and leave it in the ie car park forever? Should I crash it into a light pole and call my insurance company after volunteering for a sobriety test? I pondered all my options and the fact I couldn’t drive her too far and settled on the garage near work. I walked over to see if they could check her and, after a visit to the office, realized it was owned by friends of mine…sweet joy! I walked back and drove her back to the garage where she still is now. Apparently, after a cursory look at the engine ( and after fighting with a geriatric fool who pulled into the garage ahead of me) I was told it seemed a simple matter and I assume I will find out tomorrow the extent of damages. I am certain it will cost less than $10,000. Lesson one…never trust the dealer. I will give the old girl one thing ..she always gets to where she has to go.
Tony was his usual cool self…though looking rather dapper in a black suit…I told him the problems I was having and he blandly said…”well use the company car”.I did again…and I still feel like a lesbian with a stick shift. Note to self…if he ever sells the Suzuki…buy it!
We got our bonuses today and I find if I think of it as a large tip it makes more sense. I guess this means I have to brave past the lighthouse again to go to a DollarValue Supermarket ( we own them ) and spend my non-cash contribution. I see Smirnoff in my future.
It is still raining so I assume if it keeps up I better get to reading the Torah to check on the proper cubit scenario so I can sail out of here. I must look for a dove.
In friend news..Peter Police ( we call him that) is now a Corporal and Omar is planning to mop tomorrow…both are rather monumental. I congratulate both of them. Rumour has it Omar may actually be able to see his floor tomorrow.
Off to bed now to procrastinate further about writing and praying the Mondeo repairs are of a kinder gentler price.
December 13, 2007
Rushed to work today as I had an 11am interview with Gregory Aboud only to have Heidi call me as I arrived in the car park to say he had to reschedule. No matter, as I had another interview scheduled for 1pm anyhow so we were covered. My main concern was to turn the office upside down to look for my missing Aruba and Bonaire notebooks. I arrived, greeted the staff and then started digging through every drawer in my work area. Voila! They were both in my desk drawer so I can now get back to work writing.
I am supposed to be heading away for the weekend to escape POS for a couple of days but now it seems I will be updating Fodor’s while relaxing. These things happen. Not sure if I will be able to get an internet connection so I may be MIA for a couple of days.
December 12, 2007
I can’t believe this is my 101st blog entry…such dedication…such perseverance…so unlike me. If only I could put that kind of single-mindedness to stopping smoking or eating properly. I suppose the point of a blog is it is a quick 10-minute catharsis at the end of a day and does not require any major commitment ..sounds like the ideal relationship. With my birthday looming on the 20th ( feel free to send your condolence cards) it is becoming painfully obvious that ,despite L’Oreal Mens Line keeping my visage from hitting the pavement in a jowly mess, my mental faculties may not have been so quick to escape my long expired warranty.
As I happily plodded along today working on producing news and my T&T chapters of Fodor’s I had occasion to open my Fodor’s folder on my Powerbook to ensure that the Aruba and Bonaire raw chapters were there awaiting revision. Indeed they were but something was not right. There tucked in a corner of the Finder window was another file that said, quite innocently, ch08-curacao.doc. Strange, I thought, how odd that my lovable Editor Doug in New York would have foolishly sent me that file. Doug is the consummate professional who spends most of his time responding pleasantly to emails from whining writers and defending changes he has made with gentle verbal back pats. He hardly ever loses it and sends terse missives threatening legal action if deadlines are egregiously ignored by the likes of me – though I have tested his patience many a time. I have been dealing with Doug for about 9 years and have never known him to accidentally send me a file but, optimist that I am, I opened my contracts to assuage my foolish doubts. To my horror a cursory inspection revealed the dreaded “Curacao update” lurking right there with Aruba, Bonaire, T&T along with a specific dollar amount. More horrifically I remembered that I had signed the contract assuming it was the usual 4 islands with Isla Margarita as a possible 5th to join the quartet later. I am a creature of habit and having not done Curacao for a few years I probably tuned out any reference to it in our correspondence and signed just assuming the usual. It is still a bit of a bother as it will involve an additional foray to Curacao that I could easily have done in my two transits through it on my last trip ( including my last unanticipated overnight stay on the island). Hell, I even paid the full departure tax because of Insel Air. Ah well, such things happen and I love Curacao so i am glad the woman who was gamely holding it from my grasp for the last few years has had it wrested from her.
The unfortunate reminder of my decaying brain was just the beginning today. When I got home eager to get working on Bonaire I opened the file on Tinkerbell and went to get my Bonaire notebook only to discover it was nowhere to be found. I turned the place upside down looking but no sign of it…or for that matter my 2nd Aruba notebook. My travel notebooks are the essence of my writing. They contain everything I do on my trips and are essential to my completion of the assignments. On my trip i held them in my hand luggage and guarded them as a Mother Swan guards here cygnets. I didn’t care if every shred of my Givenchy/Izod/Pink/Dunhill/Perry Elllis/Dior/fill-in-the-blank checked clothing was lost as long as I had my precious notebooks with me. So I know they must be somewhere in Trinidad right now. I am praying I kept them in my bag the first day I went back to the office and stuck them in a drawer. Tomorrow will tell.
So with these concrete and ugly reminders of my failing faculties in mind I head to bed..humbled..but determined to reassign some brain cells to replace the failed ones.
December 6, 2007
Another scare from my blog creation programme this evening as I opened it to see that 10 of my last entries were missing. I don’t really care who reads this that much though i do care that I have lost something I have written…I started the long process of cursing Apple again. Eventually I discovered that the programme had defaulted to an older backup I had in my Documents folder – why it did this is anyone’s guess. Technology is a two edged sword. I feel vindicated in mirroring the entire site on WordPress so even if iWeb had lost my entries I could just continue the blog there.
I am thinking of amending my views on the point of life. I used to think it was either to see what comes next or to make a difference in the lives of other creatures on the planet but after spending a day running around paying bills I am starting to suspect the point is to feed the wheels of commerce. Between utility bills, VISA and MasterCard bills, housing costs, updating subscriptions I am amazed more people don’t just take a nice bath with a toaster. I realized how confusing it can get when the nice woman at the cable company told me that as much as she was wanted me to pay my bills there was little she could do with the light bill I presented her. Too bad..I was looking forward to my appliances suddenly featuring 200 channels of crap.
One of the country’s most popular radio programmes hosted by George Umbala Joseph decided to talk about TV news today and both the host and the majority of callers said they thought ieTV had one of the best newscasts. Umbala even said it was surprising that a smaller station could do a better job than the competition. A happy moment for us. He did have a few criticisms about some of our anchors but al least he said he liked that “tall, good-looking, brown skinned guy..what’s his name again? Oh right..Vernon”. Too funny – and thanks to Aruba and Bonaire I get to be a “brown skinned guy”.
Off to mirror this entry , do some Fodor’s and eventually crawl into my newly changed sheets.
November 26, 2007
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.
November 25, 2007
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.
November 24, 2007
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.