But Then I Remember Why Belize is SOOO Special

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Especially after a nice Cuba Libre for breakfast....
I asked the lady running the hotel breakfast room if it would be nuts to have rum for breakfast and she laughed and cheered me (with her own bit she was nippin on)!  My kind of peeps.  Life is too short to not have a damn drink when you exit the hell of the Belizian jungle.  The pina colada I had the night we got out tore my stomach up.  I was so used to just beans and rice and water. Good to know you can't just go back!
Anyhow - we roll out different people.  At least I was.  You begin to realize what you should (and shouldn't) leave home for.   I used to be the gal who would tear out for a job with barely a minutes notice, but things are on the change...I missed Minka something terrible - but then met 2 dogs on the island we had to stop at on the way to Snake Island.  They made my day with their funny dreads and their excited way they greeted every boat that roared by.  
What a simple life the ranger led.  Visitors come.  Tell them about the islands.  Day done.  Holla.
The boat ride over to Snake Island was perfect - I made rum and cokes with fresh ginger and limes.  Coconut rum, mind you.  We swam with sharks.  We saw loads of crazy colorful fish while snorkeling.  We had a ball our last day.   And, then it was over.  Just like that.
Kylie went on to film this new show on Discovery Channel - Naked and Afraid. Her episode premieres July 28 so mega root for her (it's the season finale)!  Dave the DP had just wrapped the new Robert Redford sailing movie he shot in Baja (ALL IS LOST - cannot wait til that comes out this summer)!  And, we will wait and see what becomes of Mark and his footage of the shoot.  Forgot to tell you - in all that freaking jungle...WE FOUND IT.  It was an impossible discovery, but we did it.  
WHEWWWWWW!
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Vieques in a Few Paragraphs

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Vieques...is it worth it?

I somehow always end up making it to places I read about.  Might take me some time, but if it catches my eye in one of my many travel mags, well it's ripped out, tucked away and stored for a rainy day of escape planning. 

The latest was Vieques.  It's a tiny, hard scrabble off the coast of Puerto Rico that has been on my big list for years.  And, from NYC, tickets are a couple hundred bones.  Also, it's just a few hours away non-stop.  You could literally pop down for a day or two and feel like you've really gotten away.  Now, I can't say I'd ever go back, but still...

I did the bio bay - kayaking out on a moon rich night, hopping into the ocean and watching the water light up around you with every move you make (pretty dang surreal).   I ate my way through so much sub-par food, only to find the very best fish and shrimp at a steamy joint in town - El Patio (on my last night!).  I rented a jeep and cruised the whole island, finding "secret" beaches and literally being surrounded by a school of fish just off shore while snorkeling (never seen anything like it).  Everywhere I went, they followed.  I found the coolest bar in town full of pirate like expats, complete with eye patches, arms missing and camera phobias.  Everyone ducked and ran when I pulled out the cam.  What have these people done in past lives?  

I ended up staying at the new W Vieques cause once I went onto their immaculate grounds, well good lord!  Just a really special, don't-wanna-go kinda place.  I chowed on tofu tacos, found organic stores with soba noodles and pickled herring, met folks desperate for the NY Times, drank liters of rum punch, met sailors from all over the world, ate piles of grilled lobster dunked in butter, got sunburned to the point of not moving, and read 3 books in no time flat.

Not too shabby for a shortie vaca.  Now, though, it's off the list.  And, frankly so is most of the Caribbean (too expensive).  I'm back on SE Asia, Central American grounds.  It's just been a long run, this TV show. 

Done out here in Jersey come early August though...so CLOSE!  Time to check back in on my sailboat, my floating home, my empty Chicago condo, my LIFE for God's sake.  Where'd ya go??

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NY Times and Sailing - The Frugal Traveler

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Today's NY Times Travel section is all about the Carib and guess what trip is featured on the cover?  Well, remember that sailing trip I just did down on the 72' schooner in the Caribbean?   That exact journey.  And, Mr. Matt Gross, of Frugal Traveler fame, was kind enough to give me props in the article.  Like me, he was pretty suspicious of the set up - but, of course its all legit.  And, he spent a few weeks island hopping with some salty sailors.

Loved reading the piece and reliving the memories.  Love looking at pix of my own boat. Love daydreaming about escape.  Love the NY Times.  Love water.  Love, love, love it all.

Here's the link to the actual NY Times article:

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/travel/15sailing.html?ref=travel

And, it was def. cool to see my name in the NYT - on an article about sailing, no less.  Life is a funny, funny thing...


If I Had a Pony, I'd Ride it on My Boat

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Night one on my Carib sailing excursion, some delicious pasta was served up for dinner.  Steaming hot noodles and spicy red sauce with a little dash of rum on the side.  It's funny when you come together with strangers - if you're in tune with the world, you can pick up on the vibe minute 1.  I picked up on it second 1. 

Tall tales from a surly captain, a first mate who'd just about had enough of the boating life, and an anxious deckhand ready to bolt come sunlight.  The three personalities were meshing together on a sailing vessel like oil and water.  Crazy people, but good hearts.  You pretty much have to own a touch of crazy to put your life at risk on a sailboat every single day.  It's addictive.  That feeling of immense freedom around every bend.  That taste of escape every single morning.

Every day, I check in on my own boat and all the various projects she's got going - right now, it's a little something called brightwork.  Which means all kinds of non-stop sanding and varnishing going on.  My guy whose rockin' the project, well he must LOATHE my boat right about now.  Waiting on good weather only adds to the prolonged sked. and my very own level of insanity -- But, man the teak will be all glassy and beautiful once done.  Incred.

Check out young Tim in the below photo - can't you just see the NEED to get the hell off the boat?  He was so ready after 6 weeks in close company cruising the Carib.  Just to straight dash at first light.  Then, it was just me and them.  Man.  Hard times for a loner like moi.  But, the best of times in retrospect.  As it always is -- betcha after a few days back on land, sweet Tim wish he was back on the boat.  Preach.

If you could listen to a song to this post, make it The Holmes Brothers singing "If I Had a Boat" - you will get my current vibe stat.  Thanks Budro.

"But Tonto he was smarter, one day said Kimosabe...Kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm goin' out to sea."

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My Man Nestle - He Glows

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Yup, met this one a street corner in St. Lucia.  He went by Nestle and he just quietly worked in his little ramshackle homemade shoe shop while the whole world swirled around him in a tangle of honking, whistling, cackling and badgering. 

I just happened to be strolling by with a delicious smelling coconut incense in hand and stopped "in" for a chat.  He filled me in on the big music festival that was coming to town - while I just gazed at his mouthful of non-teeth and was happy.  Nice compact shop.  A mess of business.  Sharing with a pedestrian.  We're all just lookin' to live a little good life.

Simple girl.  And, I really like the name Nestle.

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St. Lucia + Cabbies + Shacks Full of Good Food

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Should I just re-title this 'lil blog - "I Woke Up Thinking..." and insert the days big thought?  Seems I fade out to sleep every night and live a full movie in my dreams, wake up with my brow furrowed and thinking the next big event of my MST life.  Every day, it changes.  Every day, I go 2 steps back and 3 steps forward. 

Revisit a magical memory, question my purpose on this crazy planet, devise a new escape scheme, plot a new adventure - it's these little things that make up my daily being.  Just when I think this life is too much to even handle or that I don't want to be on the road any longer and JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL, I'm hit with a vibe from a complete stranger that just brings life full circle.

Take my cabbie in St. Lucia.  He picked me up on my last day there to haul me to the airport and we got to talking about astrology and life and all that jazz.  Once he heard that I'd not scarfed any good food while on my journey, he promptly took me to a local joint.  It was maybe the first minute I'd relaxed in a spell - just sippin' a beer, snappin' photos and waiting on him to order us some food from a tiny, jam-packed window.  What a novel concept - someone to take care of me for once.  It was literally the EXACT type of eating establishment I seek out all around the world, and he just knew I'd fit right in.

We jumped back in his ride and he shot up the highest hill he could find, all the while spilling details about his lovely island.  He just wanted me to eat my fish in peace and get a good view of his home.  I blissfully enjoyed  dorado, lentils,  slaw and lemonade while he shared his life story.  Mmmmmm, good stuff...with a view.  Toss in a cuba libre (on him) and life was all simpatico for a second.

And, crazy - he bought lunch, charged me nothing for the hour tour and was just so happy that I'd taken interest in his life.  Who does that, I ask you?  People are just good.  They just want to share and be happy and live a good little life.

Isn't that what it's all about?  Why the furrowed brow in the AM?  Forget the crazy dreams and just be.  Better done in the company of Miley and Party in the USA.  Which my pal Jamie ain't that into - however, me and my bud Chez kill it.

Memories like that are what will comfort me in my olden years, that I can promise you.

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Indo via St. Lucia via Sailboat

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After merrily hopping off the schooner that is SV Illusion, my last day in St. Lucia was spent slamming cup after cup of delicious cafe au lait at a super-cute island bar and re-writing my life.  You know, thinking things like - how in God's name do I blow through so much dinero?  How can I go months without working yet live better than ever?  Just me - alone - questioning the reality of my existence.

However, unless I do the trips like these, or spend the money like that, how will I ever know what my future holds?  Big sailing adventures, wild Indo NGO  setups, revamping of old sailboat, couple of trips to Mexico...right...without all of those things tickered off the to do list, then where would I be?  Sitting with a little more cash in the bank, but what if I died tomorrow?  At least I lived a minute.

So morbid, this AM.  But, not really - it's just the ultimate convince that I'm doing the right thing.  Always the right thing.  And, as I was sitting there in this balmy little coffee shop, I started reading a magazine I'd hauled with me the entire trip but not opened- and I pop onto a picture of Mt. Rinjani.  Which as you may know is the volcano I trekked last year in Indonesia and of which 4th World Love sits at the base of.  I was immediately transported back to my journey up that beast, and all my laughs with my buds in the village of Sembalun. 

I love travel.  Trying new stuff.  Living life.  And, I guess spending money to do it all.

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After Dominica Comes Martinique

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We woke up at the crack of 3:30 am so we could be making way by about 4.  Talk about sheer panic.  Reminded me of production.  All sorts of little things to do before plowing out into the early AM ocean.  First, stare at stars.  Oh, that's after a steaming cup of coffee.  Stars are real, real bright in the Carib - reach out and grab 'em bright.  And, it is quiet like a cemetery.  I loved that part of it all.  A bit of silence, finally.

The weather was perfect, and after yet another night of no sleep, I was stunned I had so much energy - just delicious with it.  It was wild, I've never been one to really nap - I wake up all scared and confused.  However, on the boat, I just passed right out at a moments notice - any spot.  And, would be wide awake 4 minutes later thinking I'd slept a whole night.  Bizarre.  Also learned to sleep on my back, which I NEVER do.  Again, wake up scared, like I'm in a coffin and being smothered.  

I took this trip to test myself - to see if I had what it takes to BE OUT OF SIGHT OF LAND.  That was the biggie for me.  What happens internally when there is no land anywhere within my field of vision?  It was straight up amazing.  No fear.  No sea sickness.  Nada.  All if did was make me get back to my own boat and pull a full freak out - realizing that all the dinero being dropped is all worth it - and then some...good to know.   Gotta say, though, when I laid eyes on Martinique, the joy came rushing in.  All we could talk about was a cafe au lait and some place civilized.  An omelette for me, please...

I gotta go figure these things out you see...or else, ya never know...

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And Den Der Was Dominica

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I arrived by plane to Dominica, but I left by sailboat.  Neat.  Very  neat.  I like that kind of travel - in and out and all a little on the sly (it feels).  I've wanted to hit Dominica forever - ever since I saw a cute cottage there a few years back that was for sale...and almost prompted me to sell all and move there.  Just based on the pictures alone.  So, this little island was a perfect starting point for me to venture out from via sailing vessel.  Another potential place to die in off the list, I say.

The wind is different in Dominica - cool/balmy wind, full of mystery.  And, the whole island looks just like all my fave places in Indo - which made me incredibly happy upon arrival.  Green, lush, overgrown with wildlife.  Of course my cabbie gave me a history of the whole island and we had to make a few pitstops on the way for him to grab some giant flowers for his wife (they just grow wild everywhere and he gets her some once a week from one of the hill villages) and drop a few of his work buddies off.  I swear, I could ride in cabs all day and really think my travel would be taken to a whole new localized level.

I met up with the good Captain Norman and his woman Alison at a small bar in Roseau...they were having beers with a young British lad name Tim.  That one was leaving the next morning and I could feel his sheer delight in being hours away from hopping off the boat (6 weeks is a long time, eh)?  We slammed a few, caught up on the plan and headed over to the boat, via skiff.  Massive 1-ton, fume-spitting skiff...no dink for this couple.

Funny to think how people come together in the world.  You just meet up on the road somewhere and before you know it, you're discussing plans, ideas, projects, histories, dreams, fears.  It's like there are no barriers or walls - you can just be free and open and flow. 

Next day, I was off exploring, while they were provisioning and checking emails...let's just say there was a lot of hootin' and hollerin' going on since I was a single chick cruising alone.  But underneath the catcalls was a genuine want to connect.  A hiss, then a hearty laugh.  Jarring.  I'm flipping coins left and right to pay for my rice and peas and a drinker at the bar corrects my math, seems I'd overpaid.  Thx - very generous.  Kindness is in everyone, I think, you just gotta make a mistake in front of them and their desire to help comes out in spades.  Refreshing.  I buy an little perfume in the incense store, the owner calls me back in to give me some free incense "cause she likes my shirt and I'm a very nice person."  What goes around, comes right back at cha...

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Would This Old San Juan Balcony Not Make You Happy?

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Old San Juan is flush with elegant balconies such as this.  All bursting with flowers and life and growth.  Each one made me incredibly content - like if I had that balcony, I could really get some things done.  

This particular ledge was just around the corner from the super-cool Casablanca Hotel that my bud Julie told me about - real hard to leave that little gem.  I was way up on the 4th floor, but loved the view - spread eagle over all of the rooftops of the city.  Reminded me of when I did an apartment switch with a couple in Barcelona. They lived in a tiny pad in Barceloneta with the most killer balcony and I spent a month there just killin' time, eating fresh seafood and reading about the tsunami online. 

Casablanca is pretty cheap for OSJ and has the most peaceful vibe to it (not to mention amazing art work)...plus its within walking distance of loads of cool little bars, restaurants and the water.  Best part is its proximity to Moreno's, a dive bar just around the corner.  He's opening a restaurant upstairs soon that's gonna sport cheap (yet sophisticated) Puerto Rican food...all with a view of that said balcony. 

One could lead a good life there.  And, guess I didn't know you don't need a passport to roll to Puerto Rico.  US Cash is king.  Shows you what kind of research I do before hitting the road.

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