Showing posts from October, 2006

Can I have something to eat please, I´m Hungry!

As soon as we landed in the Dominican Republic we knew we would love it. It has a totally different feel to Puerto Rico. The people are laid back, easy-going, friendly and I feel, very beautiful, both inside and out. They possess a certain joie de vive that simply has put a constant smile on my face since our arrival.

We spent our first two days just wandering around the Colonial City Centre, not going in any particular direction, and just trying to absorb some of the culture and way of life.

Yes, people are very happy and most greet you with a smile on their face, but then there has been the side that has already made me cry several times......the little old man who was selling bottles of honey, who almost fell over with ecstacy when he thought we was going to buy all the bottles he had....only to watch the look of total despair on his face, when he realised that we were not! My heart sank to my feet - what he was asking for was less than what a meal would cost us! I felt sick to the s…

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to............

Puerto Rico!

As I sat on the plane I thought, "Oh my God, this is really happening, I am really going to the Carribean!" This has been another one of my many travel dream destinations for many years. And now, here I was only hours away from white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and palm trees waving in the breeze....and somewhere in there Alex and I suntanning or frolicking in the water. Besides having seen some spectacular photos over the years, the very thought of the word Carribean conjures up not only such visual images, but a certain atmosphere and attitude, and we were so very ready to experience it.

As we landed in San Juan, the capital, we were immediately overwhelmed by the heat, but more so the humidity. Nothing we couldn´t cope with, however. As we looked around we noticed that we were the only back-packers around...I lie, Alex told me that he saw one leaving. It would not take us long to realise why! Logistics, which I will go on to explain later. But we did see so…

Happy Birthday Tia Mariana!

The night before we left Chicago, which as you can see has proved to be a major place of "excitement¨ for us, a group of us went out for Alex´s Aunty Mariana´s birthday. Francisco´s (her husband´s) brother Freddy and his lovely wife, Sharon own a great Mexican Restaurant.

It was our first time meeting Freddy, Sharon and their son Nicky, but all the others whom had been invited were pretty much the same crew that had been invited to the BBQ at Greg and Lorena´s (Alex´s secound cousin) the week prior.

The food was great (thanks for making me up a vegetarian version Freddy), the birtday cake yummy ( we all know how much of an aversion I have to sweets...NOT!!!!), and the company and dancing lots of fun.

Mariana´s speech was touching, and she included saying that she felt blessed that Alex and I could share this special occassion with her.

I would like to say this to you my Tia Mariana:

Thank you for making me feel so much a part of your family, and for treating me with so much love. You …

Six degrees of separation, of an inter-continental kind!

Well, on the day of our (or I should say my!) accident, we were on our way to see my very dear friend Lisken Sherman, whom I met some 17 yeras earlier. Not to be deterred, we ended up going out to De Kalb the next day. Alex´s cousin Nathaly kindly drove us, and needless to say,I did not offer to drive. Funny about that!

Now, did I here you ask where De Kalb is? De Kalb is a little over an hour west of Chicago, and although it is not a major city, and is set amongst farmland and sweeping corn fields, it IS the place where barbed wire was created. A nice little piece of trivia I thought. Go on, impress your friends and/ or sound intelligent by asking people if they know where barbed wire originated. It´s a great party line!

We only spent a couple of days with Lisken, and on the night we arrived we had dinner with Lisken, and Tex and Barb Sherman, at their place. First of all Tex, we were highly impressed with the Middle Eastern meal you cooked up for us. The tabouli rivalled some of the b…

Chicago - Action City!

You may recall that Tom and Camille kindly drove us to Chicago. Actually they drove us straight to my friend Anne Palmieri's (nee Frazier) house, which is right in Chicago. Anne and I also worked on summer camp together back in '89. The last time we caught up was when she visited Australia in 1997. She is now married to Scott, and they have a one and a half year old called Maggie. We spent a relaxing afternoon with Anne and Maggie, just catching up and reminiscing. When Scott came home later in the day, we all went out to a tapas bar called "Casa Iberica" in the city centre. Very impressive! Great atmosphere, and excellent food. From what I recall of Spain, way back in the early 90's, the food tasted pretty authentic.

Back at Anne's place we were later picked up by Alex's Auntie Mariana (his dad's sister) and her husband, Francisco. What a reception...Mariana flew up to Alex and gave him a big hug. Alex had not seen his auntie and uncle in 7…

Traaana........that's Toronto in the local lingo!

Well, well, well, hasn't Toronto grown up since I was last here sometime in the early 90's? The only thing that appeared somewhat familiar was the CN Tower. With it being both Canada and the world'd tallest building, it's the kind of land mark that you cannot help but recognise. It looks somewhat like the Telstra Tower in Canberra, or as my friend Bec (from Canberra!) fondly calls it, "the Hypodermic Needle". Yes, it does look a little like a big needle jutting out into the skyline.

As most of you would know, the USA/ Canada part of our journey has mainly been catching up with friends and family, many whom I have not seen for years. But yes, we did manage to go to the top of the CN tour, where needless to say we were afforded panoramic views of Toronto. Alex is the photography aficionado, so views from tall buildings are always good. And I must say, despite the fact that I often joke about how he always seems to be taking photos, it always se…

Break the Chains of Illiteracy.

You may recall that in a recent entry (From New York to Philly) I mentioned my friend Erin, her jewellery making and her involvement in educating young Maasai women from Kenya. As most of you would know, I do not normally pass on letters or frivolous information, but what I am about to write and talk to you about, is a topic very close to my heart - Education, and empowering people. I have already become involved, and I hope you will too. Involvement is not difficult, the easiest being in the form of a donation.

Erin and I sat down, and she printed me out a lot of information as well as thouroughly explaining what it was all about. I can absolutely guarantee that it is genuine and that the money does and will indeed go towards a brilliant cause. Knowledge and education are the building blocks of making the world abetter place for all, as opposed to the current "few"; we can thus appreciate why it's falling apart, with so many governments conveniently NOT making it their p…

The world is NOT your ashtray!

Yes, the time has come for me to have a really good bitch about how some (please note the some, as I do not want to implicate every smoker here) smokers seem to have adopted the motto of the "The World is my Ashtray", either wittingly or unwittingly. I cannot quite understand it......I ask both smokers and non-smokers alike: Where do you think that a cigarette butt ends up once it has been thrown it on the floor, road or pavement?

The straw that broke the camel's back was when Alex and I visited the Niagara Falls a couple of days ago. Here we are, standing infront of a thundering cascade, one of the world's most outstanding natural wonders, taking in the breathtaking sights, and all around us, besides tourists from all over the world, and a lot of them, are butts everywhere. Let me add that there were more butts than tourists! I am absolutely serious here! At one point, I was so disgusted that whilst Alex was taking photos and admiring the awe-inspring beauty of the f…