In My Perfect World

TranquillityI sit and think of the beauties that the worlds cultures are able to offer us.  It’s always on my mind.   It’s not even just taking in the ”good” and looking past the ”bad”, I try to go deeper than that, taking in the good, whilst seeing not what is bad or what I view as inappropriate in other cultures but instead trying to understand why I would view it as such, while someone else would view it as completely appropriate.  The way we were molded by our own societies, our needs for survival and the way we are brought up, must all play a main role, why do we think the way we do and act the way we do?

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

I cringe when I hear people, complete strangers making negative remarks in regards to others cultures, traditions and religions.  I dream of a world where we will learn to not only tolerate each other, but accept each other and understand each other.  If a dog is trained to attack trespassers, he will attack and protect, so why can we not see that if children are brought up in hatred they will hate?

In my perfect world, I would be able to eat a variety of foods from around the world anywhere on this planet.  I would see children and adults alike interacting with everyone instead of forming mini societies within their neighbourhoods because everyone would feel welcome everywhere.  In my perfect world, there would be no such thing as judgements and stereotypes based on skin color because we would all come from multi-cultural families and we would be proud.  We would celebrate all holidays, not just a designated few, we would understand the meaning of sacred land and we would respect it.  In my perfect world we would be educated on the significance of the Native American Headdresses, Japanese Kimonos, Turbans, Tibetan Hada and the Bolivian Bowler hats, instead of making a complete joke out of them at Halloween.

We would learn from our history instead of allowing ourselves to repeat the same mistakes we made in the past.  We would have open borders and when asked where I was from, I could answer with ”planet Earth”.  In  my perfect world I would have the opportunity to learn any language I wanted to in school instead of choosing from a selection of 3 or less.  I could work, study and live anywhere I wanted to and feel welcome.

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”  ― Dalai Lama XIV 

I dream of a morning stroll on a beach in Goa, just before I head off to Kazan for an afternoon drink with friends, followed by a dinner in the majestic Constanta.  In my perfect world, we would all be given the same opportunities for education, we would all have water, food and shelter, equal access to medicine, equal rights and freedom of speech.

”World peace can be achieved when, in each person, the power of love, replaces the love of power.”  – Sri Chinmoy

Many may think it’s silly, but I think we all need to have dreams, and this one is mine.  I am not naive, nor ignorant to the reality of our planet, but without dreams nothing would get accomplished.

I love my life of travel, I am thankful for every opportunity I have been given to learn and understand the cultures around the globe.  I continue to be amazed with the immense beauty around the world and the endless hospitality I have been shown.  Just a few more months before I will be off to explore Central America and I simply just can’t wait!!!!

 

 

 

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Immigration

Vegas came and went almost too quickly, our spending was out of this world but after all we did go to Vegas and it put my mind at ease to think that I had future paychecks coming my way.  After any holiday from our “Holiday” I had mountains of work awaiting me on my desk, the days came and went almost simultaneously, until just one ordinary morning….

“Miss Katie, there’s an immigration officer on the line for you” was the last sentence I heard before it all went to shit.  A discrepancy on my permit application saw me being hauled into the immigration enforcement office, I was read my rights and asked if I wanted a lawyer present??  Is this a trick question I thought.  I could take one, but then does it look like i’m hiding something, or I could go on without one, but then will I go to jail, what is it that I”m being held in immigration for again? I seem to not be following…  What is the cost of a lawyer these days?? I haven’t had to use one in, ummm let”s see – ALL MY LIFE!!!

I seemed to focus on all the wrong things, like the fact that I couldn’t feel my legs instead of the information the very big angry immigration officer was presenting me with, or how I simply couldn’t stop my hands from shaking, do I get a phone call like the movies?? I thought.  It was fairly simple, a case of employer trying to save a few bucks by minimizing my title and paying less money for my permit, but it had nothing to do with me, I wasn’t even legally allowed to submit my own permit, all went through my employer, why oh why were they scaring me like this?

With my direct boss somewhere in Timbuktoo Africa on some mission trip and a business owner that seemed to really find the whole situation funny, I felt trapped but somehow managed to get him to find me a lawyer to clean up the mess.  Immigration in the Cayman Islands take the whole permit thing really seriously – and I don’t blame them, but it was clear from the start that staying there was no longer an option.  I had 2 weeks to pack my things, sell my car, finish up my work and fly out on a one way ticket.

I have always deeply believed that things that are meant to happen will just happen.  Pushing and forcing does not produce good energy and should be avoided at all cost.  For some unknown reason, I pushed and pushed for the Cayman Islands.  A beautiful, exotic, small island with the clearest water I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, I wanted to live there, I wanted to explore every nook and corner of this tropical gem and afterall, the majority of the population are ex-pats so if they can do it, why can’t I?  Now I know, it.s because it simply wasn’t meant to be, I am grateful for all those I met, for all I have learnt, but most importantly, I am thankful that the whole experience has reminded me that if its meant to be it will be, no more pushing.

If i could ask just one thing from the Universe though  – next time a more settle hint will do, lets not bring in the drama.

Sin City

LAS VEGAS BABY!!!

LAS VEGAS BABY!!!

Vegas is the land of the forbidden, what happens there stays there and after visiting I must say that I agree!!!  But how can a traveller such as myself even contemplate not sharing all the juicy details???  As usual, my decision was based on impulse and after realizing that 2 other girls I worked with also turned 30 right around my 30th birthday the option to avoid Vegas no longer existed.  An all female roadtrip is always either a great success or a gigantic catastrophy, either or, I knew it would make for some much needed excitement.

We booked our hotel right along the famous strip and decided that it was mandatory that we go see at least 1 show and booked tickets for at least 1 pool party.  Vegas is the land of drinking, smoking (yes even indoors), gambling, great live shows and of course freaking pool parties.  We were hammered almost instantly as we walked off the plane and in all honesty I don’t think I had 1 sober moment in our 5 days there.  However unlike popular movie scenes, we did not sleep with strangers, get married while drunk, throw mattresses out of hotel windows or find someone’s random baby in our hotel room.

The city lights weren’t quite as fascinating as Tokyo but impressive nonetheless and considering that we were always drunk everything seemed to have a much grander effect.  We walked everywhere – which is probably a good thing considering we always needed some type of break from all the booze we were drinking…  Circle de Soleil seems to own quite the shares in the Vegas extravaganza because they have an abundance of shows to pick from daily in several different locations.  We opted for a nude show – yes we were drunk when we bought the tickets and in all honesty it was quite a show!  I was stoked to see Britney Spears live in concert, but to my disappointment she was taking a few months off when we visited – I can only assume due to yet another breakdown???

The shopping in Vegas, much like many other big American cities, is out of this world.  Its not just the choices in the stores but the grandness of the stores themselves.  The endless booze isn’t the most helpful when not trying to spend all my cents in overprices shops but, I couldn’t help myself from entering a Tiffanys & Co. store on the main strip and spending half my weeks spending money – ooops.  After being on an island for soo long, I was excited at the meer thought of being able to buy the most simple of items, like socks – not once did I think I was going to buy some fancy spanchy sparkly Tiffany’s necklace – but believe me, it is sparkly!!

Ninja sidekick lady and I

Ninja sidekick lady and I

A simple walk in Vegas is an adventure in itself, I’m not talking your typical street entertainers here, but guys on stilts, drunken Mickey Mouse, girls in string outfits, oh boy!!  Actually I couldn’t help myself and took a photo with one of these very pretty feminine half undressed girls, and as I was taking the photo some guy walked up and tried to grab her ass, she pulled out some ninja side kick right in his ribs and as if nothing had happened turned to the camera and possed for her photo…. Bodyguard not needed I guess.  Not that I condone any kind of unwanted groping, but in the drunken guy’s defence, she did have a very nice bum.

I’ve never quite understood the whole ”All Girls Trip” but after finally taking part in one, I get it, we have fun!!!  Renting a car at last minute and driving to the Grand Canyon – YES SIR.  Attending a pool party with immensely overpriced booze – WELL…I’M ALREADY HERE.  Shopping all day until we have no more money and can’t feel our feet – WHY NOT???  Waking up and drinking a Mimosa with our breakfast – BRING IT.  Screaming like I won a million dollars on the slot machine because I won $60 and it makes me happy – ABSOLUTELY!!!  Yes a crowd gathered and then I was embarrassed.

1 Million Dollars coming right up!

1 Million Dollars coming right up!

While climbing Mt Fuji a few years back, a Japanese friend told me of a Japanese proverb which states:  A wise man will climb Mt. Fuji once, only a fool will climb Mt. Fuji twice.  I think the same really applies to Vegas, because although I am eternally thankful to the crazy bitches that signed up for this trip with me and the great times we had, I can honestly say that visiting Vegas a second time would not be wise.

A formal apology

Just one of the Island from the Cayman Islands taken from my flight out.

Just one of the Islands belonging to the Cayman Islands which was taken on m y flight out.

Most will say that we make our own destiny, we chose our path.  But what happens when destiny slaps you so hard in your face that your whole world tips upside down?  Plans, research and evaluation’s of any particular situations become useless.  The world spins too quickly, losing balance I tumble.

There has been a complete drought of posts on my page since February for reasons I cannot even begin to explain.  We were looking for adventure and knew we would make mistakes but I didn’t realize they would hit us all at once.  So without going on a big whinging spree, please do forgive me for disappearing, but I’m back after what I can easily call the hardest time of my life and my adventure isn’t over because I simply refused to give up my dream of travelling.  My feet are back on the ground, perhaps slightly less firmly then they were before, but time heels all and the lessons learnt along the way, I’m sure will prove to make me a stronger person.

Since February I have left the Cayman Islands, but before leaving I did manage to make it out to Cayman Brac – post to follow.  An immigration investigation and discrepancies on my permit lead to my near arrest and I almost had my passports confiscated.  Fortunately for me, I’m stubborn and I’m not giving anyone my passports, so unless you plan on killing me first, don’t even try Mr. Immigration!!  After some help from some of the islands best lawyers and a whole bundle of fun (sarcasm – there really was no fun at all but an immense amount of stress), I managed to prove my innocence and I was allowed to leave the island.  I obviously resigned from my employment and made my way back up the Atlantic Coast.

I’m currently staying put in a small town while I come up with a new plan.  My biggest challenge has been making up my mind, almost everyday I come up with something completely different then the previous day.  So far, I’ve looked into tackling the countries of Central America and perhaps working for a short while in Costa Rica before crossing the Ocean to make my way to Europe, I’ve thought about travelling to the Middle East and finding employment in Qatar or Dubai, I’ve applied for a fly in fly out job in West Africa and I’ve looked into a work holiday permit for the UK and Malta.  In all honesty, I can’t make up my mind for the simple reason that they all seem so appealing to me.

With my lesson well learnt, I won’t be pushing too hard for any of them, because if it’s meant to happen it just will, but all takes time.  So while I make up my mind, i’ll be heading to Halifax, Montreal, and maybe even Boston and Chicago.  Might as well see as much of the great America while I’m on this side of the Globe, and at the very least it should give me something to write about.

 

My Nirvana

I sprung out of bed today with a new sort of energy, as always the first thing on my mind was coffee.  I lost no time heating up a cup, made my way outside to the edge of the sea and watched the waves as they crashed along the coast of this beautiful country.  I’ve been engulfed by the hidden traditions of this place.  Meet the right person and the whole experience takes a 360.  I’ve watched football games while being munched on by mosquitoes, played pool in tucked away back bars where the cues are flattened and chalking them means vigorously turning them in the floors broken tiles, I attended a beach wedding and even got invited to the reception, I’ve prepared Ackee – a poisonous fruit more renowned in Jamaica but also prepared and served here.  Eat the wrong parts of this red peach like fruit, pick them before their time, once too ripe or prepare them incorrectly and the consequences could be deadly as they release their poisonous toxins in your body.

I guess it all started when I went for a beach picnic and instead of finding a white sand paradise I was lead down a small bushy trail that ended at the skeleton of an abandoned house.  I can only imagine that the damages it sustained in hurricane Ivan were to much for it’s owners to take on as a project.  This place must have been a mansion, with a spiral staircase, wrap around balcony and ocean front views.  Of course now the roof warps over the side as though it’s about to collapse and the floor planks are considerable mouldy, watching every step so you don’t fall through goes without saying.  But the beauty that once was isn’t forgotten.  I was amazed at how such a small island with soo many chit chatters could maintain to keep so many secrets.  I did not encounter another soul that day, the whole place was mine, wrapped in serenity.

I sipped my coffee, toes curled protected from the chilli breeze.  A lady approached me, wished me a good day and took the time to remind me that we must appreciate all we are given.  In her eyes, the sky, the sea, the flowers – all of what make up our surrounding is our gift, but we must appreciate it in order to be complete.  A flower that is planted may bloom for all to see, but if no one takes the time to glance it’s way, it has not served it’s full purpose.  She was an older Jamaican lady, her hair still flattened from her pillow, but her words were so soft and genuine.  What touched me the most is that she took the time to walk down to me, she shared her beliefs, wished me well, and just like that she was gone.

I looked up at the sea and allowed it to serve it’s full purpose.

Puerto Rico

We checked in, received pre-assigned seats miles apart, a cruiseship due to leave from Puerto Rico was causing havac from as far as Miami with frantic overweight senior travellers slowly clogging up the system. We opted for a walk from the airport. Our bus direction clearly indicated we would have to change busses after just a short 3 minute ride, NO PROBLEM!!! We can walk that, but what’s the direction??
A good 30 minutes later from a walk along freeway and through tunnels we found ourselves in the area of Isla Verde, right where we needed to be. After missing the first 3 busses (pure stupidity, don’t ask) we finally boarded the bus towards Miramar. I hit up a conversation with a young Puerto Rican Jewellery maker, she welcomed us to PR and eagerly suggested must see sites. We were gifted with 2 matching anklets to remember her by before she boarded off the bus. Yoshi was appreciative but preferred for me to wear both….
Our hostel was pleasantly located in a very local area, also described as a “bad part of town” depending on wether you like your glass half full or empty. The rooms were small but served their purpose, they had 3 outdoor terraces, 2 kitchens, located near bottle shop and a bus depot – at $12.00 per night who could complain? Our 1st day started early with a walk hunting for brekky. We passed Condado beach and chose a basic little café, nothing fancy but it did the trick and was full with locals. This is always a guarantee for me, if it’s good enough for the locals, it’s gotta be good enough for me!

The streets of old San Juan

The streets of old San Juan

We continued to the old forts and explored around the run down structures, ancient tunnels, dungeons and lookouts. From there we made our way into old San Juan, a typical tourist trap. The colourful colonial type building were pretty but I fail to understand why it requires a mark up of a gazillion percent on everything purchased. We spent a good 7 hours walking and discovering San Juan, on just our first day. By mid afternoon we had sore feet, felt hungry, tired but we were both pleasantly satisfied with our days work.

Street view of San Juan

Street view of San Juan

 

The view from the old forts.

The view from the old forts.

Although I must say that I just don’t get cruises!!!! This isn’t some random rant, Puerto Rico is just packed with tourist from departing Cruises and while visiting I was blown away by the people interested in such a crappy holiday. Imagine the ad ” Do you like to wait in line for everything?? How about cramping up small islands around the world and getting ripped off from every shop and venue??? Do you want to be the target of petty thievery? If you said yes to the above, are grossly overweight, are over the age of 65 or just love tacky over priced junk of where you’ve been to, WELL THEN WHY NOT TAKE A CRUISE??? Blows me away!!

The Enchanted Island

Preparations have begun for the Island of Puerto Rico (the Rich Port). I naturally imagine an island of old forts, colorful architecture and mix American/Latin culture but I want more. With time restrictions, I’m not sure what’s realistic, but I catch myself planning for site viewings on the other side of the country. I can’t commit to just one place for accommodation because I want to continuously move around and discover everything I possibly can, but how much is too much? We are heading over to Puerto Rico as a bit of a side holiday before the busy season in Grand Cayman. I’m conscious that I don’t want to come back exhausted from running around a country, but then again, do I really want to miss out on anything it has to offer?

Being that we have been in the Caribbean for over 1/2 a year living on the flattest Island I could have imagined, I am just dreaming of a good hike, trek or anything that has to do with climbing rocks and waterfalls. El Yunque National park has been high on my list of “must see”. I think I could spend my whole week there alone, but obviously that wouldn’t be realistic, or would it?

It seems to be that hiring a car is the best way to go to see the Island, and to be quite honest, I’m considering spending a night or two just sleeping in the car so that we can see the most out of the island and get back to basics. We’ve been lucky in Grand Cayman with employment provided accommodation and transportation, but a part of me misses just having to get by on basics and bare minimum.

Isla del Culebra (snake Island) seems like another amazing part of the country. With a land area of just 7 acres, it’s a place I just need to see. It’s an Island surrounded by a coral kingdom with unlimited water visibility. I can already see myself hanging out for the most of my afternoon with the local turtles and resting along the white sand beaches of Culebrita.

I’m not usually one for planning travel, I prefer to just go along with whatever life throws my way, but with this short trip, I can’t help but research every minor detail. The only thing i’ve yet to think about is whether of not we’ll be able to return to Grand Cayman, or if we’ll just choose to continue along.