June 29

I had never heard of “Hashing” until we reached the island of Grenada and people urged us to join in on the Saturday fun.  I was thinking that it was just a leisurely hike through some pretty areas of the island.  I’d take my camera and get some great pictures.  I was mistaken, terribly mistaken.  It’s hard to take pictures when you feel at any moment you will lose your footing and possibly break a leg or worse.

 

 

We only ran a portion of the Hash. The rest we trudged, slogged and carefully watched where we placed our feet all the while looking for the spaced out clumps of paper that marked the route. The trail took us through some crazy overgrown areas of bush and along hair raising cliffs. I fell a couple of times.  It’s been rainy and the mud and leaves made for a slippery trek.  Jim grabbed my arm on one treacherous fall when I nearly ended up recreating the Kathleen Turner mud slide scene in Romancing the Stone.  We survived and had a few beers and because we were “Virgins” we also received a beer shower.  Covered in mud, beer, a few ant bites, and a lot of sweat we swore we’d be back for more next weekend.  This island is beautiful and Hashing is a fantastic way to explore it and meet locals, medical school students, and other cruisers along the way.

 

 

 

I should have read this description from OnIn.Com before I signed up, though.  Since this is a much better detail of what a hash consists of and the history behind hashing, I’ll just shamelessly copy and past it here:

 

 

 

Hashing . . . it's a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work, a refreshing escape from the nine-to-five dweebs you're stuck with five days a week. Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of running, orienteering, and partying, where bands of harriers and harriettes chase hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.

 

Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a group of British colonial officials and expatriates founded a running club called the Hash House Harriers. They named the group after their meeting place, the Selangor Club, nicknamed the "Hash House." Hash House Harrier runs were patterned after the traditional British paper chase. A "hare" was given a head start to blaze a trail, marking his devious way with shreds of paper, all the while pursued by a shouting pack of "harriers." Only the hare knew where he was going . . . the harriers followed his clues to stay on trail. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and solving the clues, reaching the end was its own reward . . . for there, thirsty harriers would find a tub of iced-down beer.

 

Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand . . . then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and even regional and world hashing conventions.

 

Hashing hasn't strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A typical hash today is a loosely-organized group of 20-40 men and women who meet weekly or biweekly to chase the hare. We follow chalk, flour, or paper, and the trails are never boring . . . we run streets and back alleyways, but we also ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. And although some of today's health-conscious hashers may shun cold beer in favor of water or diet sodas, trail's end is still a celebration and a  party.
 

 

So . . . if you'd like to spice up your running program with fun, good company, new surroundings, and physical challenge, try hashing. Just remember one thing . . . NEVER wear new shoes to the hash!

 

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June 27

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”    Marcel Proust

 

 

Two weeks ago today, in the wee hours of the morn, I boarded Crabby’s  taxi.  Crabby certainly can’t be the driver’s christen name and he’s not cantankerous like his nickname would suggest.  He had a local radio station blaring soca on the ride to the airport like most of the drivers do, but it reminded me that this familiar, rousing background music would be something I wouldn’t be hearing for a bit of time as I ventured to the States.  The “thump, thump, thump” beat of the music is something we’ve grown accustomed to hearing even when we are sitting on anchor and the music is originating from shore. Like elevator music in the States, it’s just part of the landscape.

 

Crabby flew through the streets driving on the left side of the road.  Like most of the former British colonies, Grenada sticks to the custom of left street driving, but my mind can’t adapt to that and it’s a good thing I don’t drive these streets.  My ride seemed like my first flight of the day as Crabby’s van actually went airborne over a bump and we landed at the airport.  Grenada’s airport is named for Maurice Bishop, a revolutionary that seized the title of Prime Minister of Grenada in a coup during the late 1970s.   Bishop’s ties to Cuba had our President at the time, Ronald Reagan, overwhelmed with Cold War politics and concerned that Bishop’s plan to build an international airport in Grenada with aid from Cuba was a way of providing an air strip for Soviet military aircraft.  Then Prime Minister Bishop was executed in a bloody coup and the US invaded…we all know the history, but because of Prime Minister Bishop and Cuban aid, I and many other travelers have a very nice airport to fly into and out of Grenada. 

 

My first flight took me to Miami where I wandered the airport and watched people coming and going for hours.  I had a VERY long layover here waiting for my flight to Denver.  It was fun to take note of people in various garb arriving in Miami and trying to guess where their flights had originated.  Traveling alone is fun in that I create games for myself.  I had packed light, so it was no issue hauling my bag around and exploring.  I left a lot of room in my bag so that I could have space for all the gadgets and gizmos that Jim and ordered and delivered to the stops I‘d be making.  I knew my bag was going to become increasingly heavier on my travels.

 

As I waited at my gate to board my flight in my skirt, flip flops and light top I saw that many of my fellow passengers were wearing sweaters, jeans and even boots.  I ran to the restroom and changed into yoga pants and a warmer shirt.  I’ve grown accustomed to the heat of the Caribbean.  I didn’t want to shiver, but despite thinking I was prepared, I wasn’t.  I shivered on the plane.  I shivered when I finally arrived in Colorado.  I shivered in my son’s house until I finally asked to borrow some socks. 

 

My stay in Colorado was marvelous.  John, Amelia, and Maggie took me to a Spring Fling Fair on Father’s Day in Colorado Springs.  We rode roller coasters and watched a very good local band play covers of Chicago and other horn heavy songs.  Amelia and I picked up where we left off a year ago when we were last together.  I helped her put the multitude of postcards that we have sent to her in order in the album she has set aside for tracking our adventures.  Amelia is an amazing, little six year old.  We created side walk art, watched her golf lesson, read books and she introduced me to the movie “Frozen”.  We talked about fish and I shared with her my experiences diving.  She told me about school, her friends and gave me details on her golf clubs-her most recent prized possession.  We had a water balloon fight with the neighbor kids and I tried to swim in the pool with Amelia, but I just couldn’t handle the cold water.  Amelia seems to have inherited the gene for being part fish herself.  John and I had to bribe her to get her out of the water.

 

Colorado is a lovely state.  The mountains that are the backdrop of Colorado Springs are gorgeous.  John and I spent a lot of time just chatting and relaxing and eating the delicious meals that Maggie mixes up. Maggie and John had even made sure I had a box of Chocolate Chex to enjoy.  It’s a treat I haven’t had since we left the States.  John and Maggie have a warm, spacious and comfortable home.  Amelia and Haylie, Maggie’s daughter, have their own rooms decorated with the things little girls love. Very American, I thought, with all their frills and a reflection of the pink culture of princesses and cheerleading, golf, legos, and electronic-educational games.  They are very fortunate little girls who have the love of their parents and opportunities galore.  Their happiness had me leaving with a smile on my face.  But, it was hard to leave.  Amelia’s busy day of golf lessons, a school program and a vacation with her  other grandparents made it easier for her to understand that we both had to go our separate ways.

 

I wanted to spend more time before my flight with John and Maggie and have a leisurely breakfast before my plane departed, but Homeland Security, post 911 bureaucracy compounded by our inability to get internet when I made my original reservations got in the way.  When I had initially planned my itinerary we were on Union Island.  Although we had internet in spurts and bursts, I was never able to successfully confirm and submit.  We ended up calling American Airlines reservations with the disclaimer that we were calling from an unreliable satellite phone.  We talked fast before we lost the signal and the reservation agent confirmed all my flights.  However, she missed the hyphen in my name and that raised red flags for the computers that track for terrorists and drug dealers.  I received a message from American Airlines that my passport name did not match my reported name on my reservation.  I had to see a gate agent.  This snafu also caused a scene right out of a movie when arriving to the States in Miami and I was pulled into a small room and questioned.  The customs agents released me when it became apparent that a former social studies teacher who spends her time on a sailboat isn’t a threat to national security.

 

The American Airlines gate agent in Denver was kind and I thought that he fixed the issue for my future flights, but he didn’t. I was plagued with notifications of the possible threat the missing hyphen in my name caused for Homeland Security on all the future flights. But in Denver It didn’t take as much time as I thought it would and my flight was delayed due to storms in Chicago; my next stop.  I truly wish that I had a crystal ball for these situations.  It would have been so nice to have had more time with John.  I truly enjoy his company.  It brings tears to my eyes to have such great conversations with my adult child.  It is so rewarding to see the man and father that my son has become.

 

But my flight to Chicago was uneventful other than delays due to lighting and storms.  O’hare is ridiculously busy and crowded.  It’s not like I didn’t know this, but I had my first sense of culture shock as I worked my way to the CTA area of the airport to jump on the Blue line of the “L” and get to Trevor’s Chicago neighborhood.  Trevor was there to meet me on the platform and trot on over to his studio apartment and save me from my sense of being crowded and pushed and overwhelmed by swarms of people.  His place is so cool.  I know that’s a hackneyed term, but his place is so “Trevor”.  His apartment is in a renovated 1920’s hotel in an up and coming, hip neighborhood.   Chicago is one of my favorite cities, but there are dangers and violence that Trevor has been witness to and victim of.  The precautions we must take on Somewhere in the Caribbean are similar to what residents of major US cities must take.

 

One of the questions we are often asked is what we do to protect our security.   I’m not going to go on a rant about guns.  Anyone can find lengthy discussions about  guns and boats in foreign countries on any of the boating forums-trust me, it ALWAYS comes up.  I won’t get into that debate, but violence is everywhere, especially in areas where there is a vast difference in economic situations.   We avoid known bad areas.  So does Trevor.  We lock up our items, our boat and dinghy.  Trevor has security doors and multiple locks. Sometimes dinghies get stolen even when they are locked.  It’s the same with bikes in Chicago.  We are careful because we won’t let reports of crime keep us from enjoying the beauty of the islands and the majority of kind and lovely people we meet.  Trevor loves his life in the city.  It suits him.  He takes precautions to be safe not unlike we do in the islands.  I’m so glad that we don’t allow fear to stop us from living the lives we want to live.  I’m proud that I’ve raised my sons to live the lives of their dreams and not be hindered by apprehensions of “What Ifs”.

 

Trevor and I walked miles-Trevor walks a lot.  My feet still show the signs of my poor shoe choices when packing. Remember, I needed space for all the gadgets and gizmos that Jim had ordered.  Hiking shoes wouldn’t have fit with the parts and pieces for the boat.  This is where my luggage misery began.  Trevor had picked up items requested from home and piled it with the deliveries Jim had ordered to Trevor’s address.  I had to leave my purse behind and switch it out with a bag that Trevor donated for my mule duties.  My arms just keep getting stronger. I’ll miss my purse.

 

Chicago was a great visit!  The weather cleared and Trevor and I had a fantastic time-eating in some of the best places and enjoying time with my friends and family that trekked to the city by train or automobile to spend a few hours catching up. Lauren popped in for lunch with Piper and Matthew and it was fun seeing how much they have grown in person. It would have been great to spend a couple more days in the city.  Trevor wanted to take me to an art exhibit that I would have really enjoyed, but I had to be moving on.  Trevor plans on meeting up with us again and doing some more diving in the near future.  He makes me so proud.  I love listening to the music he creates and his stories of the people he works with and the animals he cares for at Tree House.  We’ll be seeing each other soon.

 

But I had to move on and if I felt culture shock in Chicago, it was something stranger that I don’t have a name for as I boarded my flight to St. Louis.  I’m normally one of those types that exchanges pleasantries on a plane then I stick my nose in a book and headphones in my ears.  It’s been my experience that airplane chatter is annoying for those around you and can become uncomfortable with people over sharing their life details, or hinting on future “dates”, meet-ups or hotel hook ups, or even worse, attempting to exercise a religious conversion in a 2 hour flight.  Airplane talk can be downright weird, so I avoid it.

 

We don’t have access to television in the islands.  We do get internet access and we are not strangers to the news and politics in the States, but we aren’t bombarded with 24 hour news anymore and we no longer really care much about Red vs Blue, Tea Party antics, who Obama pissed off yesterday, blaaa blaaa blaaa.  It’s freeing, really.  But we haven’t been away so long that we have forgotten the effect of the crazy news as entertainment that gets normal people all worked up and misinformed.  Somehow in some wreck of seating arrangements I found myself sandwiched in the center seat-an angry prison guard to my right who had just had a very unpleasant trip to NYC that was meant to be a fun and a farmer to my left who had visited his son in New Jersey and was returning home to his cattle.

 

What I learned in that one hour flight:

 

1.     Farmers lie.  Farmers give their cattle Bovine Growth Hormone and Antibiotics and lie about it when it comes time to take them to market.  This particular farmer said, “I wouldn’t sell anything that I wouldn’t eat.  It comes down to losing money on each head of cattle if I allow the truth to be known that I gave my herd antibiotics.  There’s no way for it to be traced anyway.”  I asked him politely (had to grasp deep down for that cause I was seriously about to come unglued but remembered I was on an airplane and I had nowhere to run, plus I was already tagged as being a terrorist or drug dealer because my name was missing the hyphen and a fight on an airplane would get me on the no fly list for sure), “Doesn’t the consumer have the right to know so that they can make the choice of what they are putting into their bodies?”  His reply, “PETA, all those do gooders, all of them, they don’t know.  There’s too much regulation on us anyway.”  I thought, but did not say, “If you’re getting away with falsifying what you inject in your cattle then obviously, there’s not ENOUGH regulation.”  I didn’t. 

2.     This farmer believed that climate change is not happening.  That was at the beginning of the flight.  He said that winters were worse when he was a kid and that was enough scientific evidence for him.

3.     This farmer believed that climate change was good.  This was at the end of the flight.  His premise was that he would have a longer growing season if climate change continued. (are you shaking your head yet?  I still am)

4.     Some people will not stop talking even if you put your nose in a book and try not to engage.  It’s best not to exchange pleasantries when you initially sit down.

5.     You cannot take the country girl into the city.  Everything I love about NYC, the prison guard to my right found distasteful, hateful, horrible and rotten.  Some people do not travel well.

6.     Organic food is a hoax and it’s Obama’s fault.  The prison guard and the farmer had a lengthy conversation about the hoaxes of organic food, the problem with vegans, PETA, Government regulation, and of course it all came full circle to Obama and how he should be impeached.  I didn’t get the connection, but I had my nose in my book and I did not engage.  I felt that my airplane seat and turned into some fresh hell of a Fox News studio. 

7.     A one hour flight can feel like an eternity.

8.     Don’t tell a cattle farmer you don’t eat meat just to see what happens when there is only five minutes left of your flight.

 

 

And the flight ended.  We disembarked the aircraft and yet the farmer was not done.  He wanted to follow me and convince me that I should eat the flesh of his cattle.  The prison guard took his platform.  Although she was obese, she insisted that there was no way to obtain protein without killing cows and nutritionally she was some sort of expert.  I turned on my cell phone and gladly ignored my new stalkers and tried to disappear in the St. Louis airport wishing for the swarms of people in Chicago so that my escape could have been easier.  Brandon and I found each other easily, though, and I made my escape by running up to Brandon and giving him a huge hug.  The farmer disappeared.

 

I call Brandon my “Drill Sarge”.   His devotion to his career in the Army is admirable.  Brandon and Aimee have a great house in a valley outside of Fort Leonard Wood.  Brody has room to play, their dog has room to run, Brandon has places to fish, and the Ozark Mountains are a beautiful green-very green.  It’s a charming area with rivers and streams and lakes and it’s relaxing and remote. I found the climate to be a great preparation for my return to Grenada. Humidity and heat-it’s what we have in Grenada for the summer months too.

 

Brandon, Brody, Aimee and the new addition (due in January) are doing very well and I felt right at home in their lovely ranch style house.  Brody is the sweetest little guy.  With Aimee’s eyes and Brandon’s mischievous smile he is a joy to spend time with.  He’s witty and good natured and had me laughing a lot.  Brandon took us putt putt golfing and racing in go karts.  The Go Kart was the first car I have driven in over a year.  Needless to say, there was no contest in racing Nana around the course.  Brody thought that was hysterical.  We had so much fun just hanging out and listening to Brandon’s country music choices and dancing around the living room.  Being a grandmother is a hoot.  It really is.  It’s heartwarming to snuggle with the little ones and remember what it was like  when their daddies were that little.  Brandon and Aimee are great parents.  Brody does his assigned chores and is very respectful and loving.  I love watching my sons parent their own children.  Brandon grilled some delicious food for us and did wonders with eggs for breakfast.  We had taken a trip to the grocery store on post and I was a little regretful of the lack of choices we have in the islands.  Normally, when I have been away from the States I find the amount of brands in grocery stores to be staggering and overwhelming, but this time I wished for a moment that we had these varieties to choose from on our travels. 

 

I was able to pick up a few more things that we need on the boat:  Cat Treats specifically and a new iphone charger for Jim.  Jim had a few more items ordered and delivered to Brandon’s house.  My luggage, not suitable for checking and being man handled by airline crew, got unreasonably heavy.  I packed up my haul and said my goodbyes to Brandon, Aimee and little Brody.  It was hard, too, to leave them.  Brandon’s career makes time off hard to obtain and now that there’s another baby on the way, I know that a trip to see us is out of the question for them.  I won’t see them again until after the baby is born.  Brody told me that he wanted me to stay forever, but my wise son said it best: “Brody, if Nana stayed with us forever her trips to see us wouldn’t be so special.”  Brody liked that.  He gave me cuddles and kisses and sent me on my way.

 

So, I’m back in Grenada.  I could add so much more to this blog post, but it’s getting long already. The strap on my overloaded, borrowed bag didn’t break until I stepped foot into Grenadian Customs. My flights back to Grenada were uneventful and it was no big deal explaining how my reservation/passport name got messed up.  I met some nice gate agents and some not so nice gate agents in this process (Yes, I’m referring to you Andrea in ORD-American Airlines will know about your rude antics too).  We’re signing up for turtle watching, a tour of the island, and a hash.  I’ll explain the “Hash” after I experience it.  No, it’s not a drug.  The cat crew was happy that I returned and of course, it goes without saying, it is great to be back with Jim.

 

I am so glad that I was able to spend a bit of time with each of my sons.  I was getting a bit homesick and, although skype and the internet are great, I was missing long talks with my guys over a cup of coffee, kisses from my grandkids, and making a few memories of time together.  A recent post was made on one of the sailing groups I belong to concerning guilt of leaving adult children and grandchildren to sail the world.  It’s a common emotion among those of us that have children, but I don’t worry about my adult children.  They are grown men and they are all doing well.  I miss them, but I don’t worry about them.  I am proud of them and the amazing men that they have become. 

 

I have a couple of recommendations for everyone reading this, though.  Find some time to go on an adventure alone.  Traveling alone forces you to see things with new eyes.  Finding how resilient and adapting you can be is enlightening.  My second recommendation is to always carry a notebook.  Carrying a notebook and jotting down observations and insights is a good way to analyze.  My notebook is choke full after this trip.  Many of the things I wrote won’t be shared here.  What I wrote says a lot more about me than it does about the people and situations I observed, but it’s a good way to document and learn from experiences.  So, now it’s onto boat chores and a trip to the market this afternoon.  Back to boat reality.

 

Click on the Porcupine Fish for Video
Click on the Porcupine Fish for Video

June 6  I made a video postcard for our grandchildren, but I thought I'd share it here too.  The video footage is from our friend, Ric.  He took the video on the dives that we went on with him.  The still photographs are my own.  Ric has inspired us to purchase a GoPro!

 

Just click here on the link or on the porcupine fish above to take you to the video:

 

http://youtu.be/4G494pSqNRc   

June 4

 

12.0500° N, 61.7500° W

 

We are here!!  As my friend Cindy would say, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Punch!”  We’re in Grenada, our home for the summer to wait out the hurricane season and sail around these parts and explore this beautiful island.  We made it! We celebrated by visiting a well stocked grocery store and reprovisioning in St.George’s.  We shopped yesterday and bought the cats a new rug for the main salon-which they approved after sniffing it and rolling around on it.  I also purchased a 4 quart pressure cooker and made a decent meal for us. 

 

It’s been too hot to cook and the grocery stores throughout the Grenadines and on Carriacou didn’t carry much.  It’s was refreshing to be able to walk into a grocery store and purchase the staples that we needed in addition to some of the brands we’re used to getting at home.  I was terrified of the pressure cooker, but I read and reread the safety warnings several times and didn’t blow anything up.  I see the beginnings of a beautiful relationship.  No more heating up the entire boat to hell like conditions in order to cook a meal.

 

We wandered around St. George’s yesterday and enjoyed the traffic, beeping horns, taxi drivers stopping and asking us if we needed a ride, children in their uniforms walking to school, department stores, and nice art stores.  We stopped into one store that is also an art studio where they create the most beautiful batiks.  We purchased gorgeous dresses for our granddaughters and toured the studio and talked to the artists and designer.  The holding in the anchorage at St. George’s is a little iffy.  The bottom is hard and there isn’t much for the anchor to dig into, so we don’t feel too safe leaving the boat for very long.  But there are no boat boys or vendors rowing out to us to sell items or take our garbage.  It’s quiet in the anchorage despite the buzzing of the town.

 

We will be here for a while, so we don’t need to take in everything all at once.  If the weather permits, we may even sail back to Carriacou or Mayreau.  The diving and snorkeling there were amazing, but we have an entire island here to explore.  The rainforest, waterfalls and anchorages south of St. George’s are waiting for us!

 

I’ll be taking a trip home to see my family in a couple of weeks.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip of hugs and kisses for my kids and grandkids.  Jim will stay with cat crew and take care of business while I gallivant the country to visit my sons and enjoy some summer in the States.

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Comments: 3
  • #1

    Margaret (Friday, 06 June 2014 08:07)

    The video is fantastic!

  • #2

    Jane (Friday, 06 June 2014 16:54)

    Hi Sharon,

    Your trip still sounds wonderful! Grenada sounds like it is a good place to hang out for the summer. I can't believe you've been gone for almost a whole year! Enjoy!

  • #3

    Sharon (Monday, 09 June 2014 07:31)

    Thank you!!

June 1 Carriacou