Juggling n Travelling

A good traveler knows how to pack light. I think I am pretty good about it*. But one thing I've included in my international travel bag of late is four dube airflite juggling clubs. (For those who don't know, juggling clubs aren't small.) But for the joy they bring me and the opportunities they provide, they are totally worth it.

First, juggling is a great way to past time on the beach, or a park, or a train station, or anywhere you've got time to kill. But beach juggling is the best. Also, it is a great way to meet locals. They'll see you carrying your clubs around and ask for an impromptu show and then share a smile*. Or sometimes it is a little different connection. Juggling builds bridges. Finally, you never know when a little entertainment will be called for. At the Boxing Day Jam Session, I took along my clubs and gave the gathered cruisers a bit of a show. Good times.

Yep, I break a few packing rules by dragging my juggling equipment along, but it is totally worth it.

(P.S. This whole post is just an elaborate excuse to post this picture of Joya trying to imitate me by balancing a club on her head. So cute!)
Monday December 29 2008File under: travel, juggling

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Grenada Hash House Harriers

For the 3 of you out there that know what a hash run/race is*, please bear with me as I explain it to everyone else. Essentially, it is a hike/run/walk guided by temporary markers where misdirected paths are par for the course. In the case of the Grenada hash, the path(s) was through the jungle, along[/through] a stream, under cocoa, banana, nutmeg, and grapefruit trees, and down muddy slopes that sometimes didn't resemble a path at all. I'm so sorry I didn't bring my camera*.

When I signed on, I didn't know what I was getting into. I thought it was just a hike through the woods. I figured it would be nice to get to the extreme other side of the country (luckily it is a small country) and have a nice leisurely hike. When I figured out this whole misdirection thing, I planned to lag at the back of the pack and let the hardcores figure out the true path and I'd just tag along. Somehow, however, I got sucked into the competitive spirit of it all and ended up leading for a good chunk of the way, running along tiny paths through the jungle, not really knowing where I was going, shouting to unseen competitors/collaborators about what I've found. I was pointed down a steep hill by a local fellow who I thought was helping me out, but it turns out he was just having a laugh. Climbing back up the hill not only took all my energy*, but left me out of the leading pack. I finished completely exhausted by so pleased with the experience.

I'd say about 50 people participated. There were maybe 6 or 8 true locals, double that of ex-pat locals, and the rest being students, cruisers, or otherwise temporary dwellers. The division between first time hashers and veterans was split about 50/50.

Unfortunately, the experience ended in such a way that my memory of the event won't reflect the wonderful time I had out on the trails with my fellow hashers. After everyone was through, a hazing ritual was performed on the first timers. Getting the scoop ahead of time what said ritual was, I chose to opt out by making myself scarce. Degradation and disrespect aren't my idea of fun. My choice of opting out wasn't respected and said hazing was directed at me. I reacted instinctively out of anger in a way I'm not proud. It was kind of a fiasco, and left a bad taste in my mouth*.

But negative ending experience aside, the hash run is something I look forward to participating in again in the future. But probably not in Grenada. I don't think they would like it if I came back.
Sunday December 28 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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My Kind of Beach

Of all the qualities they choose from to rate a beach (sand quality, surf, proximity to tiki bars, etc.) the biggest one for me is isolation. Yeah it can be nice to have someone bring your alcohol-free, parisoled mai-tai right to your beach chair, and having bronzed bodies to watch as they strut their stuff is good times, but I guess I just prefer space and peace and quiet.

In my travels, I've found a few great isolated beaches (Thailand, Palmyra, Cambodia, etc.). Now I can add Grenada to that list. Getting out to Bathway Beach took a little doing; a halting bus ride and a long walk in the warm sun, but I guess that what keeps it isolated. In the 3 hours we spent there reading, beach combing, and processing coconuts sans machete*, we only saw 2 other souls. So despite the fact that the water wasn't really swimable and I had to go without ice cream for the afternoon, I'm still rating Bathway Beach among the top beach of Grenada.
Tuesday December 23 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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A 3-Hour Tour...

My usual travel style may well be described as directed wandering. I usually know more or less were I'm headed and more or less how. Yesterday, however, there was no "more or less" about it.

The guided personal tour is an experience I've tended to shy away from. I didn't know what I was missing. Yesterday, a local by the name of Keith took us on a half-day tour of the interior of the island. It was 3 hours of non-stop information; plant names and uses, local critters, historical tidbits (the 1983 US shenanagins, 2004 hurricaine desctruction, etc.), demographics info, import/exports, and the answer to any question we could ask. Besides all the info, we got to see spots a public bus couldn't take us*. Yes, a guided personal tour has its place every now and again. And if you ever take one in Grenada, ask for Keith!
Sunday December 21 2008File under: travel, grenada

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Boat Life

Boat life, from the brief experiences I've had with it in the South Pacific, on Lake Union, and now here in the Caribbean, suits me. And it seems the more I learn, the more I like it.

My accomodations here in Grenada are aboard SV Starshine, a 37-foot cutter anchored in Prickley Bay. Notice I said anchored, not docked. That means:
a) No shore power. All power aboard is from the solar panels, wind generator, or, when the need arises, a small generator*.
b) No shore water. Water comes from rain water catchment, or a water maker when needed*. A daily swim off the bow does away with the need for showers, at least for me.
c) Dingy in dingy out. No popping down to the corner store for an after dinner ice cream.

Aside from the ins and outs of being anchored, other new boat stuff presents itself everyday. From the morning dispatch via VHF radio ("the Net") to the close knit community among the cruisers, I dig it all.

(The warm weather and wonderful company doesn't hurt either.)
Thursday December 18 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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Carribbean Todo Checklist



First 24 Hours of a Caribbean Vacataion Checklist:
1. Swim in warm warm water.
2. Take a bunch of pictures.
3. Get a little sunburned.
4. Buy tacky touristy crap.
5. Complain about the heat.
6. Realize that you don't have any right to complain about anything really, because you are in the freaking Carribean for gosh sakes.
7. Drink parisol-ed drink.
8. Make blog post about first 24 hours in Caribbean in an attempt to make friends at home jealous.

Six out of eight, not too shabby.
Monday December 15 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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D.C. Jump


[on a brief layover in DC, I stopped in to check out the new Capitol Visitor Center]

Friday December 12 2008File under: travel, misc

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My New Favorite Memorial

My main activity while traveling, at least when I'm traveling alone, is walking, in most cases with no particular destination in mind. This was the case the other day when I had some time to kill in New York City. The weather was blustery but I wasn't to be deterred. I took the subway into Manhattan and headed south. (I've pretty much explored midtown and the Central Park area in previous visits.)

I walked and walked, seeing things that I had heard so much about: NYU, "SoHo", "Artists' Lofts", etc. I was shooting* to get to the shore of the island to see what I could see. My feet took me to Hudson River Park(?) where I got a view of the Statue of Liberty* and New Jersey*. When it was time to start heading back, I stumbled upon what is now my favorite memorial ever: the Irish Hunger Memorial. It is like a little bit of the country right in downtown New York, with some of the greatest stone walls ever. The serendipitous find reaffirmed in my believe in semi-unguided travel.
Saturday November 1 2008File under: travel

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Broadway Baby Broadway

Last time I was through NYC, everything fell into place–weather, meeting with friends (, meeting with strangers), etc.–everything that is except one thing: seeing a Broadway show. This time, while the weather has been against me and tracking people down for getting together has panned out less smoothly* (not to mention no fun strangers -> friends), I did make it to a Broadway show.

Avenue Q is hilarious romp, once described as Sesame Street meets South Park. A combination human/puppet cast lends the musical a playful feel. And although the set, costumes, production wasn't as spectacular as I had imagined*, the experience was extremely fun. While I wouldn't consider myself a great fan of musicals, the songs in this one were funny enough, tongue-in-cheek enough to make it really fun. (In fact, do yourself a favor: go search google for "Avenue Q The Internet is Really Really Great" and watch a video that ensues.)

Yep, a Broadway show: another thing checked off my life list.
Wednesday October 29 2008File under: travel, misc

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Boardwalking

Boardwalks are awesome. This is my conclusion after visiting two of them this weekend. The first was in Ocean City, MD which was all but deserted when we tromped its 1.7 miles past block after block of shuttered up t-shirt shops and ice cream parlors*. We had to use our imaginations to picture it in all its glory filled to the brim with sun-burnt tourists, but I could imagine it is quite a scene during the summer. The second boardwalk is possibly the most famous boardwalk of all times: Atlantic City (as seen in the pictures*.) Similar to Ocean City in it being a pedestrian only thoroughfare with the beach on one side and shops, etc. on the other, but different. People were everywhere on this boardwalk, even so late in the season. Lots of old folks out walking and sitting on the benches. Casino architecture to entertain the eye. Beautiful dunes between the walk and the beach. Both are great places to people watch, walk off an ice cream or two, and be part of the goings-on of a town.

The concept of designating a place for people to walk around semi-aimlessly, interact, shop, eat, and pass time is the reason I am so enthralled with boardwalks. The pedestrian advocate in me (both as a means of exercise and of transportation) loves to see people out walking. The lazy bum in me loves to see benches for just lazing about in the sun and watching the world pass by. If it weren't for all the shops selling totally useless crap*, I would be *all* about boardwalks. As it is, I still think they are neat.
Tuesday October 28 2008File under: travel

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