Archive for ‘Curacao’

February 16, 2008

Free at last, Free at last

Finally, at exactly 2:22pm today I finished the Curacao chapter of Fodor’s 2009 and uploaded the file for my editor. I also sent off the invoice immediately even though there is some smaller stuff left to do such as the planners and maps. Finally, an end to feeling guilty every evening and ending up hunkered down till all hours trying to make a dent. Not to say I will suddenly have a wild and crazy social life it is a few years too late for that but at least I could if I wanted to. 

I had to drive around a bit today to get my taillight bulb changed and to have my car inspected so it can get reinsured next week when the insurance expires. I did this not out of any concern for safety on the roads or my own personal safety but purely because the insurance company asked me to do it. The requirement for an inspection certificate, like so many things in this country, is a system that is only half finished and stuck in limbo. The necessary legislation to add any consequences has never been passed properly and thus if you are pulled over with a car that has an inspection sticker for..ooohhh..let’s say 2004… there is no penalty. The police officer can glance at your jalopy but there isn’t a single thing he can do. Why do these things end up half done? It may have to do with the national tendency to want to start things and then run off to do something else. A culture of distraction. More likely, it could be just a case of incompetent legislators who are unable to handle the strain of multitasking. So my car, which is in tip-top shape now has a sticker saying it is okay till 2010. In the interim my brakes could go wonky, my exhaust might develop a hacking cough and my wipers may stop working…but it is fine I have my useless and toothless sticker. 

This is just one of probably hundreds of bits of well-intentioned legislation that have been introduced in T&T which have failed to reach the stage of full implementation. The most egregious offenses in this area are probably the never ending ( and I mean years) struggle to introduce both the breathalyser and traffic radar. In a country where road fatalities are well over 200 annually these would seem to be no-brainers but, in fact, that description seems better applied to those responsible for passing the necessary legislation and actually obtaining the required equipment. Every so often we get a little glimmer of hope such as late last year when Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert assured all and sundry that the breathalyser would be in place in time for Carnival 2008. Of course, Carnival came and went with many a driver weaving on the road steering with one hand and  hoisting a glass of Johnny Black with the other. Good luck with the radar if they ever get around to it as the traffic officer is sure to be mowed down by one of the dozens of motorists racing on the shoulder. As I look at downtown Port of Spain and the rush to erect tall buildings as some sort of simpleminded attempt to create a developed country on the surface when the reality is otherwise, I wonder about the misplacement of priorities.

 Since I am on facebook I suffer the usual deluge of invitations to join this or that group not to mention the slew of inane quiz invitations. While it is easy to dismiss the Blank wants you to take the test ”what kind of furry marsupial are you?” there are a few that genuinely grab my interest. Today, for example, I noticed Peter Sheppard had  joined the “save the Boissiere House” group. The Boissiere House is a miraculous little gingerbread gem of a home located around the Queen’s Park Savannah at the top of Cipriani Boulevard. It never fails to capture my eye as I drive by it every day on the way to work mainly because, as they say, they just don’t make them like that anymore. Unfortunately the prevailing culture of this country is that old things are bad and tall and shiny things are good. It is, to be sure, a childish mentality that somehow dismisses the national heritage as a colonial travesty that is best erased. I have written about this before and observed that Barbados and Jamaica have a more mature mentality about older buildings recognizing them as part of the built heritage and, therefore, important. I am glad to see that people such as Nicholas Laughlin and Georgia Popplewell are working to change the status quo.

I also noticed that three of my friends joined a group called “Same sex tolerance in T&T”. I am not so sure about that one. I know T&T has laws that date to the Victorian era and proscribe any sort of male-male same sex activity a fact that is beyond comprehension to anyone living in the developed world. It is a situation that is beyond silly and positively reprehensible to anyone with a brain but it is a reality. The Government ( whichever one it happens to be) will continue to bend to the perceived or real pressure placed on it by the religious hypocrites and nothing will change in the foreseeable future.  I am a realist but I truly hope that this will not be the case. Besides that, though, I really don’t see how much impact a Facebook group will have in effecting change. Perhaps it is more of a support group. 

 

 

 I have a concern with the use of the word “tolerance”. In any aspect of my life I would prefer to be hated outright than tolerated. We tolerate the fact our neighbour is an out of control drug user or  we tolerate the screaming brat in the coffee shop. On the other hand we accept other races and we accept the fact the all have different opinions. The fact is there are a lot of gay people in Trinidad, and presumably Tobago, and, by and large, the community is tolerated. Thankfully we didn’t see the Black Community in the US marching to Washington in the 1960s loudly chanting they wanted to be tolerated. They marched so the larger society would come to terms with and accept them as part of normal American life and deserving of rights.  In the case of that Facebook group it reeks of that antiquated bit of religious twaddle one hears from time to time , “love the sinner, hate the sin” .Funny how some things get me riled.

 Off to bed with my little riled self now.

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February 15, 2008

Move along, nothing to see here

It is now just a pinch short of 1am and after spending the last 5 hours hammering away at the Curacao chapter for Fodor’s 2009 I am almost in sight of the end. That being said, the last section which is rather innocently called “Essentials” is one of the more finicky sections so I probably have another couple of hours work before I am done. Rest assured, those hours will not start now. So how do I end several gruelling hours hunched over a keyboard? Well how else? By banging away at a quick blog entry. No one can accuse me of not being obsessive compulsive about some things.

I managed to survive Valentine’s Day without much trauma by artfully immersing myself in work and my pretending to enjoy being at the gym. Speaking of which I realised this morning that since my building has now been transformed into a “gated compound” I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the damned gate opener thing. Since that followed on the heels of be being awakened multiple times by people sending me Valentine’s text messages I was not in a good mood this morning but I managed to shake it off by consuming several cups of coffee. Who was it that decided that something that starts off fresh and quickly decays into a withered mess would make the best possible Valentine’s gift? Was it meant to be symbolic? If so then someone has a lot of explaining to do.

I didn’t hear of any of my couple friends successfully pulling off a romantic evening. Last I heard Alvin and Binky were wondering where to go for dinner at 10pm…good luck with that one. Omar aka Grommit called to invite me to a “Bachelors Lime” at Shakers around 9pm but as I was hopelessly immersed in writing at the time I had to decline. Strangely, “bachelors” included Astrid but I suppose she is an honorary one. Even though I am being a responsible adult I am sorry i didn’t pop into town to join them but I suspect the temptation of martinis might have thrown my diet off just a tad. God I would love one just about now ( gin, whisper of vermouth, stirred and with 2 jumbo olives,  thanks) but since such a thing is not going to happen I have taken a sleeping pill and am now off to chemically induced slumber.

Bon Nochi.


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February 14, 2008

While my keyboard gently weeps.

I am in the home stretch of Fodor’s Curacao now but if this isn’t the longest home stretch in the history of humanity I would like to know what is. Having merrily made my way to the end of the “Where to stay” section I was greeted by the cheery “Where to eat” section rising up to meet my cursor. Cheer turned to dismay when I realised there are apparently more good restaurants in Curacao than there are in bloody mid-town Manhattan. I just want to finish this chapter, fill in a few maps, send an invoice and relax by the pool ( note to self…find a pool) with a large delicious cocktail. Apparently, fate has destined that I must endure a couple more days of back pain and aching fingertips.

I actually went to the gym again this morning and spent over an hour on machines whose names I do not know. There was one that felt like cross country skiing after too many martinis and another contraption that reminded me of when I used to ride a bike as a teenager under the influence of valium. Still the time passed easily enough with an actual instructor guiding me and BBC on the TV monitors. I am a bit disappointed that I don’t look like Brad Pitt yet after two whole days but such is life. In any case I would prefer to look like Johnny Depp. I should also say that I have switched to a low carb diet and given up drinking..ok for the last few days…but still. That reminds me of a scene from Bullets Over Broadway when Harvey Fierstein’s character is shouting to Helen Sinclair:

Sid Loomis: You’re a star because you’re great and you are a great star, but let me tell you something, Helen. In the last couple of years you’re better known as an adulteress and a drunk. And I say this in all due respect.

Helen Sinclair: Look, I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve.

Sid Loomis: You’re talking Chinese New Year’s.

Helen Sinclair: Naturally. Still, that’s two days, Sid! You know how long that is for me?

Other than  that it was an okay day at work with Capt. Gary Griffith chatting with me about his apparent betrayal and humiliation by some key players in the COP executive. I have no idea what the real story is but I am sure it is interesting. Tomorrow I have another interview and the Fodor’s assignment to continue. Oh yes, and the physical torture too. Actually I looked at myself in the mirror today and any spare I have is more of a racing bike sort..but better to nip it in the bud.

Heavens, tomorrow, or rather today, is Valentine’s Day. I shall walk about and cast a gimlet eye on anyone who even remotely shows affection near me. Then I shall come home and watch Four Weddings and a Funeral by myself. ……………bonaire-3-015.jpg

February 13, 2008

The shape of things

I steeled myself all morning and after my one scheduled interview I donned appropriate attire and headed to the gym. I hate gyms and I resent every minute I have ever spent in one. Any thought that my mind might have changed today was quickly dispelled upon entering and seeing row upon row of torture devices lined up in all their shiny glory.

There are many reasons I hate the gym not the least of which is I am not body obsessed and never understood why so many people are. I go purely for my health and to counteract whatever years of smoking and eating rich foods might be doing to me. None of my close male friends would fall into the Adonis category and even the gay ones seem to be content with just keeping the poundage under control. Unfortunately for me, gyms are full of people who are obsessed with how they look and seem content to spend half their day lifting things and grunting in order to look like a Southampton dock worker. I assume they find it makes them look attractive but I frankly don’t see it as I usually believe there is an inverse relationship between brawn and brains.

To make matters worse I am of a slim build ( despite the fact that I am thinking of having Michelin stamped on my midriff) and having tried this before I know that after months and months of gym activity I will not look that different. My body has a set template and refuses to budge.  I am also not crazy about pain and all that “no pain, no gain” talk makes me rather queasy. I have had many an exchange with gym instructors informing them that it is my money and I will lift only what weight i damn well want to lift.

Today’s experience was typical and lasted ninety minutes. I walked for 40 minutes on the treadmill bored out of my mind as there wasn’t anyone even remotely interesting to look at and the TV monitor was on football. I used to read a book while on the treadmill but i was informed by an instructor that it was bad form and an indication that i was not “pushing myself” enough. Then I wandered about and used some of the machines that were not occupied by the few young and presumably unemployed members ( it was 3pm) or by idle instructors sitting and chatting to each other. That resulted in straining every muscle in my body by which point i felt moisture on my forehead. At first I thought I had struck myself and had a head wound but a closer examination revealed it was, in fact, a bead of sweat. I do not approve of sweat and my family has been assiduously avoiding any semblance of it for several generations so that was my signal to stop.

I shall go back tomorrow either before or after work to have them programme my exercise key but if anyone comes towards me with callipers  they had better prepare themselves for violence.

Actually, speaking of that, I weighed myself when I got there and I am 154lbs which is well within the range I have been for umpteen years. I suspect, however, the fat to muscle ratio may have changed a bit.

Managed to get quite a bit more of Fodor’s Curacao done tonight and tomorrow I have an interview with Capt. Gary Griffith who seems to be in the doghouse with the COP now despite making an abject apology on national television yesterday. The joys of politics.

Off to bed now. To sleep perchance to ache.

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February 12, 2008

A necessary evil.

It was a good day today as I enjoyed a day off TV thanks to Vashtee being back in the newsroom after dealing with a family emergency in the States. I used the time to sleep in a little bit and then get to work on Fodor’s Curacao while listening to Amy Winehouse. I eventually had to run out to pay the light bill as I thought it was overdue only to realize as I paid it in the bank that it was actually current ( no pun intended). An interesting thing I noticed on heading to the bank was that I realized I had forgotten my mobile phone halfway out of Cascade and turned back to get it. Given the bank trip was only going to be a 45 minute adventure it seems odd that I would not just leave it home and continue on but such is the impact communication has in our lives.


As a media person and a writer I basically earn my living from communicating ideas to the public. In my view, though, my form of communication is just one aspect of the barrage of communications we are all exposed to in our daily lives. Long gone are the days when we waited for a newspaper to find out the latest now we just Google it. Heck, even we news people use the internet for some news gathering now. It used to be that once we left our house we could only stay in touch  by finding a pay phone and hoping the other party was either at work or at home otherwise you were totally out of luck. Not today. With the ubiquity of the cell phone it is now possible to stay in touch whenever you want. I am not sure that is a good thing in any way as other than in the case of an actual emergency why do we need to be yapping on the phone while driving or having the office be able to reach you when you are at the beach for a weekend?


Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of talking on the phone at the best of times but my job requires that I be reachable by all and sundry. I never know if the call coming in is a news story, the CEO calling or, as frequently happens, a government official. I also get calls from friends ( which are blessedly brief) but they are the exception. I used to hate even having a mobile on my person until last year when I finally spent the money and bought my present phone.


It came after I had been working 3 months 7 days a week without a break and was at the point where I was getting nosebleeds from the strain. My mobile rang and I answered it only to have the wretched thing cut off and reboot for no reason. After fighting with the awful device for almost a year and being frustrated beyond belief sending texts messages on it ( it is sometimes more convenient in meetings to text and means i don’t have to speak to an actual human) I knew it was time for a change.  I walked into the cell store on the corner thinking I would spend maybe $500 and get a slightly more useful phone when my eyes fell on my current phone and it seemed to be calling my name. It is the Samsung D900 aka Black Carbon and it is a slider phone so it has that lovely satisfying opening and closing action. It was gorgeous ( I think it still is) and after plonking down about $3,000 she was mine. I love everything about the phone from its sexy looks to the menus and the whole interface works for me. It even has some nifty features for world travelers such as a screen picture that changes depending on what country or city you land in. It was quite a shock the first time I turned it on in Toronto and saw the Toronto skyline as my screen…it sort of makes you want to travel the world just to see the pictures. I also like the fact I don’t have to squint to see how many bars of reception I have as the changing tapestry of clouds in the sky on my desktop indicates my present reception. It also has a pretty amazing media player so I can watch entire movies on it which is handy on a plane.I love Apple but Samsung won me over with this phone.


Off to the gym tomorrow heaven help me. 100_4579.jpg

February 11, 2008

Back to Black

 

Well my mental pall has lifted quite a bit so this may result in a rather rambling and disjointed entry today..not that most of them aren’t…but this may be more so. There was no entry last night because I actually got enticed to go out and socialize by Binky/Jason/Vesh. He is probably the only person who can actually get me out of the house once I am settled in after work. As might have been predicted his “hang out for a hour” turned into frolic through Port of Spain into the wee hours. As it turns out Alvin was stuck at work so it was just me and Binks which was a lot of fun and I think I needed a bit of mindless fun.

Of course going out that late when I have to work on Sunday is never the wisest of ideas but sometimes it is good to throw caution to the wind for the sake of mental health. Nonetheless,  I was not a pretty sight this morning as I tried to get myself ready to head to the office. I was also faced with having the company jeep parked at my building with a shredded tyre that decided to suffer catastrophic failure as I pulled into the gates of my compound last night. Thankfully, the ever handy Steve came and took care of it for me. I may be good at some things but changing tyres is not one of them. At work it was one of those Atacama dry news days which leaves anyone compiling the newscast on the verge of tears and reaching for the valium bottle. Thanks to some creative work on Melissa William’s part, though, it came off quite well in the end despite the fact a bit of delayed video meant that her voice was in 3 back to back stories in the first section.

Now that I am coming out from under the depression a bit I am thinking a lot about various aspects of my life to see how I can improve them. I am content with my television and writing jobs so I can leave those alone for the while. I really should be taking better care of myself physically so I will try and start the gym and be a tad more conscious of my diet this week. We’ll see how long that lasts. My family, sigh, well let’s just say I can’t do anything about them. I love them all but it is best if I stay in a constant state of denial. My love life? Hmm..if I had any real semblance of one or even a poor semblance of one I might be able to work on it. Right now it is a bit like being put at ground zero on Sept 12, 2001 ,given a trowel and being told “put it back up”. My judgment in picking people is my ultimate failing as given a choice of 5 perfect choices and one completely ridiculous one I will always pick the ridiculous one. Do you know how whenever a hurricane is bearing down on an area and expected to arrive at any minute they always show some fools out surfing – when it comes to relationships I am one of those fools. Not sure how to address my colossal problems in that area but I guess I can try a few things. Other than that I have the best group of friends anyone could conceivably want. Best of all I don’t think anyone else has such an well rounded bunch in terms of ethnicity, gender, orientation and personality.

Had a nice relaxing evening watching the 50th annual Grammy Awards to see how my girl Amy Winehouse does. I think she is the most amazing talent to come along in a long time and inevitably that sort of creativity comes with personal turmoil. I hope she can pull through her difficulties but with that much talent she may end up imploding. I watch her and I see Janis Joplin redux. I truly hope she stays around for a long time though, if she is sounding like that and writing music like that at 24 who knows what wondrous moments lay ahead?

I have a day off tomorrow ( finally) and I plan to use it to finish off my Curacao chapter for Fodors so I can stop stressing Doug Stallings my editor and put in my invoice. Off to bed now..well as soon as Amy wins Album of the Year..which ..unless they are all deaf..she will. n501560998_313463_6705.jpg ( me and my bitches on the beach)

February 9, 2008

Goodbye Aruba hello Curacao

It is now 1:09am Trinidad time and I have just sent the Aruba chapter of Fodors 2009 off to my wonderful editor Doug. This means I only have Curacao to complete and there is light at the end of the tunnel though Curacao is quite a handful. I love Curacao, though, because it is like a Dutch twin of Trinidad with all the ethnic diversity and the same odd mixture of smugness and insouciance. When walking the streets there it is hard not to think you are visiting some distant cousin of Trinidad with a clear genetic strain that makes itself felt.


With work facing me tomorrow ( oh the joys of working in television 7 days a week) at least I can  see an end to coming home and having to pound away at the wretched iMac keyboard. Speaking of which my iMac has what was for years the standard Apple keyboard which i have always maintained was a travesty. It is spongy and the key travel is so annoying it is like walking in loose beach sand or snow. Peter Sheppard has kindly visited the Apple store in Las Vegas and bought me the new small apple chiclet keyboard that is now standard on the new iMac so I can look forward to that to make my Curacao typing less painful. I know this is of little interest to anyone but the best keyboard ever made for the Mac or any computer is undoubtedly the MacAlly IceKey. Mine has finally bitten the dust after several years of Fodors and much Instant Messaging but what a divine creature she was. Almost no key travel and a satisfying and reassuring click to let me know I actually hit the key. Sadly, that sticking “k” key which was resulting in far too many “KKK” entries in my typing spelt her demise. I loved you MacAlly IceKey…may you rest in peace. You earned me many thousands of  dollars and I will place you in my closet to find eternal peace.


I am happy to report that I found the dark cloud over my head lifting slightly today which was a wonderful feeling. I don’t know how my brain chemistry works but I am happy to feel a tad better after 3 weeks of wanting to fly off a cliff at great speed. Preferably onto the head of the preternaturally chirpy Ms. Ray. No point ending my own life without helping the world right?News today started off dismally but then Parliament came along to save the day. We have not had a murder here in at least 24 hours and I was beginning to long for one if only to fill a minute or two of news. What we ended up with was a typical Trinidad story of government stupidity…scratch that…several stories of government shamelessly wasting money. How they do it and stand up in parliament without showing any shame I will never know.


We learnt today that our useless blimps…inexplicably purchased to fight crime are costing a lot of money. The imbecile National Security Minister stood up in the house and happily informed the population that the first one we leased for ..I think 4 million dollars..was ..and I quote “unsuitable for our atmospheric conditions”. Ahem. So I guess we never asked when we leased it? Also, I wasn’t aware that our hellish “atmospheric conditions” in the halcyon Caribbean were so much worse that the US that we leased it from where they have things like winter and tornadoes. Then we leased a second one that has since broken down and is costing..I kid you not …millions…even though it is still grounded. I love the second one because that particular crime fighting behemoth is painted bright red. Maybe it is just me but if you are trying to sneak up on criminals for surveillance with an object that makes an ungodly racket and is huge doesn’t painting it red make it a bit more obvious? To make matters even worse we learned from the Minister that the last one we actually purchased for $15 million costs well over $1 million a MONTH to maintain. So apparently this giant insult to taxpayers costs $17 million a year to maintain…well over the cost price of buying it. As far as i know a Caribbean Airlines jet which makes money and gets serious use costs a lot less than that to maintain a year. How the fool stands in parliament and says these things without prefacing it with “I am so sorry” I will never know. But wait, dear reader, there is more. The Attorney General stood up and said..without a hint of irony..that the Chaguanas Court is a mess so 3 years ago the government rented a building to move them into as an interim measure. It seems after spending $4 million  they have not moved in yet. The reason? Apparently the building was not suitable. Umm…then why did we rent it? But all is ok…the government is spending 8 million on the rented property to make it suitable. So let’s see. We are spending $12 million on an interim measure that isn’t ready after 3 years. I am pretty sure that we could have built something in that time. Apparently incompetence is alive and well and accountability is dead and buried here in T&T. It would not be so bad if there were not other things that are screaming for attention and yet the money has been happily flushed. Once again I feel I should ask our brain dead Minister of National Security “what other crime riddled place uses a blimp”? The answer is nowhere…as if he would listen to common sense.


Ah well, thankfully I finished the chapter though I know the queries will be pouring in soon. There was some idle talk of liming tonight from Alvie and Binky but Binky’s comatose collapse in Cunupia ended that plan and Grommit’s plan seems to have failed too. I guess they are all paying the price for partying through carnival. I know one thing. After my interview with Band of the Year winner Brian MacFarlane today I will be playing MacFarlane Mas come next year. He is such an wonderful person and I am so happy for him. So the plan is..next carnival Vern will be fully clothed in a fabulous costume and making a statement on the streets of Port of Spain. I eagerly await MacFarlane 2k9. 100_1002.jpg

December 19, 2007

In the midst of life we are in death etc.

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.

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December 12, 2007

101 Blogs of Solitude

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.

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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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