Cou-Cou – A Snippet of Bajan Culture


The national dish of Barbados is Cou-Cou and Flying Fish.   To make an authentic Bajan version of cou-cou, one must have corn flour, okra and an implement called a cou-cou stick (the wood stick also doubled as a corrective instrument when we were naughty kids 😂).  Besides flying fish, cou-cou can be paired with other fish or meats that meets the eater’s palate.  Some folk would swear that the choice of meat and gravy is what makes the dish so appetizing, but that is subjective and left up to the diner’s preference.  Even though the staple ingredient is course or finely ground corn flour, other ingredients such as cheese, butter, milk, etc. may be added to enhance the flavor and consistency.

The corn flour meal is known by different names in other places around the world.  In some of the Caribbean islands it is fungi, in others it’s called tun cornmeal, in USA and Canada it’s grits, and as far away as Italy it is called polenta.   In all these countries the variations exhibit a consistency quite different to each other when cooked that may be either firm, soft or runny .

Today we cooked cou-cou with salted codfish gravy.  View the ingredients below.

Want to try your hand at making the dish?  Follow the simple recipe below:

  • 1 pound of finely ground corn flour
  • 12 or more medium sized okras
  • Large onion
  • Salt
  • Water

Cut off the tops and tips of the okras and slice okra into rings.  Place okras, salt and onion in a large saucepan of boiling water.  Cook okras until soft and tender, and until water has a slime.

Strain the okra from the slimy liquid and put in a separate bowl.

Pour half of the remaining liquid into another bowl and leave the balance in the saucepan.

On a medium to low fire, add in the dry corn flour into the liquid that was left in the saucepan.  Use the cou-cou stick to stir the corn flour in a circular motion to avoid lumps.  At intervals, gradually add in small amounts of the slimy liquid from the bowl, stirring continuously to allow the corn flour to steam and cook.

Once corn flour is cooked it will become thicker and stiffer.  Gradually add in the okra to give the cooked corn flour a mellow smooth texture.

Mom’s test for well-cooked cou-cou:  Place the stick in the center of the cou-cou.  Stick should stand upright to show stiffness.  Pull stick from cou-cou.  The stick should come away clean, not with clinging clumps.  If the stick falls when you put it to stand upright and does not come out clean, then it means the mixture still has too much water and needs more steaming.  

20191206_112552Cou-cou is most enjoyable with lots of gravy.  The gravy may be seasoned to suit your specific taste.  Try this tasty dish, you won’t be disappointed.

Community Peeps, now that I am enjoying life in the land of the sand, sea and sun, I also want to share with you snippets of the Bajan culture from time to time that will help you become familiar with my island home.  2020 is around the corner and now would be a good time to plan a bespoke vacation to the shores of Bimshire, if you haven’t already.  Any questions?  Let me know in the comment box below and I’ll gladly assist with your itinerary.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Homeward Bound


“Nothing good comes without a struggle,” was my go to phrase for encouragement as I transitioned into starting my new life in a different state.   A few other phrases like “change is good,” and “forward ever backward never,” has helped to propel me towards the relocation strategy and planning I have been orchestrating for the past couple months.  Well, I’ve finally made the move and now look forward with eager expectations of all that will unfold in the months and years ahead.

Saying goodbye is always a hard thing to do.  It is never easy leaving family and friends behind.  They tried a variety of ways to change my mind but failed to convince me that I was doing the wrong thing.  Only time will tell.  Also, I had to cut the emotional ties to things I treasured which held sentimental value to me.  Getting rid of my most prized possessions taught me a valuable lesson, and that is, never place so much value on things that will eventually be discarded.  After all, as long as there is life, they can be acquired again.

So, without much ado, I loaded up the rental vehicle with the few items (mostly clothes and my artwork collection) and began my long drive south.  Most road trippers know this already, but I can reiterate it here again.  The best time to travel is at night.  The roads are clear, and you can make great headway before sunrise to your destination.  Pleasingly, I owned the road as I drove from New York through New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia and into Virginia before stopping to sleep at a rest stop.  After a two-hour sleep I was back on the road continuing my push further south through North Carolina, South Carolina and finally into Georgia.  Intermittent stops for gas and bathroom break was the only other stops I made.

I arrived early evening at my destination and was able to unload and pack away my belongings.  By this time, I was thanking God I didn’t have to unpack all the other stuff I had given away.  I was exhausted and couldn’t do much else but to get a hot shower and fall into bed.  I have not worked this hard in a long time and it has taken a toll on my body.  I am now fighting off a viral infection which I hope clears up in a matter of days.

To my mind, a vacation would be the perfect remedy for my malaise 😂, and as if God was answering my unspoken thoughts, a situation arose that needs my attention therefore I will be traveling in a few days to my beautiful island home of Barbados.  The timing couldn’t be better even if I had arranged it myself.  This trip was not a part of the original plans but sometimes situations cause plans to change.  One of the reasons I relocated to Georgia was because of its temperate and mild climate, and I was hoping to test that theory for myself this winter.  However, I will spend the holiday season and winter in Barbados instead.  I still believe, it’s the best of both worlds and whether here or there, I will be enjoying fantastic weather, basking in the sun, swimming in the ocean, strolling the beach, eating vegetarian foods, hiking the hills and dales, etc.

Community Peeps, it has been a while since my last post, but I am back in the saddle, and as I am homeward bound, I will keep you apprised of travel interests and expeditions in Bimshire.  I would be re-missed if I did not mention the national call to all Barbadians (Bajans) living abroad to return home to the island.  View the link re the initiative which is called “We Gatherin 2020” for more information on upcoming activities and events.  You may also view the video below.  If a visit to Bim is on your bucket list, as your itinerant travel planner, then I recommend that 2020 should be the year.  Let me know your thoughts or questions, if any, in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Hurricane Dorian At Your Doorstep


In elementary school, we learned a pithy little saying which we would recite every year to remind us what season it was.  It went like this, “June too soon.  July stand by.  August a must.  September remember.  October all over.”  This little rhyme helped children to know the months hurricanes are expected to strike.  Though August is a popular travel month and summer is at its zenith, it is also one of the worst times for weather conditions in the Caribbean.  Storms, squalls, frequent rains and gale-force winds are common occurrences.  Usually by the time we hear of an approaching hurricane, the first letter in the name indicates how many other hurricanes, although not a threat, may have already passed for the season.  At this time of the year, I get a little nervous for my family members, friends and fellow Barbadians (Bajans).

This week my island paradise – Barbados, was on lock down for more than 24 hours, halting air traffic in and out of the island.  Dorian was still considered in the tropical storm category at that time as it came barreling up the Atlantic coast, making a beeline to the 166 square miles of coral and limestone rock I call home.  As usual, Bajans took all necessary precautions to secure themselves, homes and businesses.   Supermarkets and gas stations were overwhelmed with people in long lines as locals stocked up on non-perishable items to sustain them in the aftermath.  Shelters were manned, prepared and ready to receive persons who felt unsafe in their homes or in distress.  The Government Information Service and Meteorological Department gave timely updates on the progress of the tropical storm and expected times when it would make landfall.  Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a press conference urged Bajans to work together and to prepare for the onslaught.  A curfew was initiated and the islanders hunkered down fearing the worse.  The last and deadliest hurricane to strike Barbados was back in 1955 – Hurricane Janet.  Even though it happened more than 64 years ago, folks who experienced it still talk of the strong winds, flattened houses and overall devastation left in its wake.

How has Dorian impacted me you might ask?  Well, all thanks be to God, my family members are safe.  My niece who is an EHS manager with Sandals Resort worked through the night to ensure the safety of guests and staff.  Obviously, beach front properties face the first strong winds to blow in from the sea and every precaution is taken to ensure the safety and evacuation of guests as necessary.   Also, far away from home, four family members, a nurse and a teacher, respectively, along with their sons are visiting the USA on vacation could not return to Barbados due to the lock-down.  Their flight was cancelled, and they are now scheduled to return in September.  This delay puts their jobs in jeopardy, but I am hopeful their bosses will be understanding and accommodating.  I am glad to say, both these situations are mild inconveniences but are not life threatening and for that I am grateful.

Though the people of Barbados are blest and were fortunate to escape the wrath of tropical storm Dorian, it has since gained strength, momentum and become a full-fledged hurricane at the doorstep of other countries and populations.  It is currently baring down on those in the Bahamas and threatening those along the Florida coastline.  I am praying for the safety of everyone.  Especially for those affected residents directly in its path, first responders and emergency workers.  In the meantime, for those traveling here are some tips to remember if caught in this vortex:

  1. You can expect delays or flight cancellations, check with your airline on departure time
  2. Plan to rearrange your itineraries if scheduled to depart or arrive at your holiday destination
  3. Listen to weather updates and accede to directives on safety measures as given by those in authority
  4. Seek help if needed
  5. Know where your shelter is and how to get to it
  6. Have medications and prescriptions filled in case of inaccessibility to a pharmacy for a few days
  7. Keep all your electronic devices fully charged
  8. Prepare a go-bag

Community Peeps, I’ve never experienced a hurricane, nor do I want to.  Having said that, I acknowledge it must be a traumatic experience for residents furthermore any visiting tourist who have had the misfortune to encounter.  If you have been through such an ordeal at home or abroad, please tell us of it here.  Write it and additional tips in the comment box below.  Share how you dealt with the situation and what you did to be safe.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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A Couple Close Calls


As I pull my thoughts together to speak of unwanted surprises I had while traveling, a smile spreads across my face recalling my panic and hysteria at the time.  Essential travel documents like passports and visas are needed to enter foreign countries.  An itinerary planner knows to double check, cross check, and recheck papers to ensure there are no mistakes which can up-end vacation plans.  Well, back then, I was not an itinerary planner, but from a couple close calls, I have learned valuable lessons that shape what I do today to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.  Valid passport and appropriate visas are necessary to begin a fabulous holiday.

The first near miss occurred in a place that was far from home.  The country was Cambodia.  In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, I had originally traveled to Vietnam, and from Ho Chi Minh City, I traveled by long distant coach to Cambodia.  As I exited Vietnam, the entry process into Cambodia was smooth.  Passengers had to disembark to be processed through immigration and customs, then walk less than 100 meters between the two countries to embark the bus again.  A headcount was conducted as we re-boarded and traveled the remaining miles to our final destination.

While in Cambodia I visited many places of interest in both Phnom Penh and Krong Siem Reap, but the biggest draws for me were Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Thom, Royal Palace, the killing fields and the Tonle Sap River.  When all the sightseeing was over, then the adventure began.  It was time to catch the bus heading back into Vietnam for my impending flight home the next day. I boarded the bus but what a shocker it was when the attendant took my travel documents – passport, airline ticket confirmation and returned to tell me I did not have a visa to re-enter Vietnam.

I was numb.  Even though he tried to explain to me what was wrong, my brain was not comprehending anything.  Of course, I had to disembark, and the bus left for Vietnam without me.  To cut to the chase, besides crying, begging and pleading to everyone for help, I did a lot of praying, running back and forth to offices as directed, made phone calls to my bank to release funds, etc.  That day was one hot mess.  My predicament was dire.  I needed to be in Ho Chi Minh City to catch the return flight back to the USA in time for work the following day.  Total strangers worked tirelessly to process the emergency visa which would allow me entry into Vietnam.  Because the bus was long gone, I had to hire a private taxi to drive to the border where another taxi was waiting to transport me into the Ho Chi Minh.  The ordeal cost me a pretty penny but by this time I was only too glad a resolution had been worked out and so I couldn’t argue.  With the emergency visa in hand, both taxi drivers understood I was in a race against the clock and needed to make up for lost time, so they drove like the wind to cover the distance.

The second near miss was because of a calculation error.  More than 18 months prior to planning a surprise cruise for my Mom and sister, I had checked my passport to confirm everything was in order, and on the day I checked, it was.  However, I had failed to recognize that by the time the future departure date rolled around my passport would be nearing expiration.  At the airport, the ground flight attendant informed me that I could not leave the USA because my passport did not satisfy the amount of time for international travel.  The flight was to Barbados.  Because the flight was very early, I thought the attendant was joking and wanted to make sure I was fully alert and wide awake.  She repeated herself and if I wasn’t awake before, I sure was by then.  She explained my passport was due to expire in less than two months.  For a passport to be acceptable for international travel it must have six or more months of validity.  Grasping the magnitude of what was unfolding sent my body into a panic.  People seemed to be moving in slow motion, voices sounded slower and tears began to fall.  My niece, who was my traveling companion, eyes welled-up with tears, but she could do nothing for me.  It was obvious, she would have to leave without me.  The flight departed, but I was determined to correct my oversight.

To make a long story short, acting on the directions from the flight attendant, I headed to the immigration office in New York City and pleaded my case.  I was told the waiting time to process an emergency request was six weeks.  To my mind, that was not an option.  I needed to be on the island the next day to start a week-long cruise through the Caribbean.   All of a sudden, I was left with a few hours to get there.  After much praying, pleading, and explaining the mistake, I was granted a new passport in less than 8 hours.  I can only attribute all thanks and praise to God for answered prayers.  I missed my flight that day, but was able to fly out the next morning on a flight connecting through Miami. I arrived at my destination with just two hours to spare before boarding the cruise ship at the Bridgetown port.  Needless to say, it was a close call to ruining a perfect surprise vacation for my loved ones.

Community Peeps, all’s well that ends well.  I cannot begin to impress just how important it is to pay attention and double check that you have the correct visas, and updated documents before you travel.  Give yourself enough time to make any adjustments.  Kudos and appreciation to all those strangers who came to my rescue back then.  It is forever etched in my mind.  What has been your experience?  Anything similar?  I’d like to hear of it.  Please share in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Sarcastic About Sargassum


Recent reports in travel news have stated beaches along the south coast were experiencing a new phenomenon that could threaten the livelihood of the tourism industry there.  The culprit is none other than a seaweed called – Sargassum (read the article in highlighted link).  If it is one thing tourist expect when they go to a beach is to find it pristine, the waters clean and clear of debris.  They expect to enjoy a time of fun and frolic in the sea and on the sand without interference.  However, the sea algae much to the consternation of the beachgoer is getting in the way, is unsightly and smells foul when it decomposes.

Sargassum has only just reached our shores along the Atlantic, but this problem has been a nightmare throughout the Caribbean for a few years now.  Governments of popular tourist destinations have been grappling with the predicament for some time and their tourism industries have been affected.  The maintenance of beaches and disposal of the seaweed has caused distressed hoteliers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The brown and orange colored seaweed is thick and presents an obstruction to marine life like turtles and smaller fish that thrive and live on the coral reefs near the shore.  Even small fishing boats have difficulty cutting through the impasse, before their motors become entangled in the weeds.  On occasion, when flying into my paradise island home Barbados, from the air I have seen long, large swathes of the plant floating on top the ocean waves heading for the shore.  Because the island has been inundated with the algae, the government, at one time had to declare a national emergency.

For the tourist, this obstacle hampers the time they spend in the water.  I for one, don’t like stepping into the surf with seaweed ebb and flowing at my feet, furthermore, having to wade through to a depth where swimming would be more enjoyable.  The seaweed can also be a dangerous impediment not only to adults, but especially for small children who may become entangled while swimming.

Community Peeps, if you have travel plans to vacation in the south or to visit an island in the Caribbean, simply be aware of the disgusting seaweed.  Maybe if your favorite hotel/beach is faced with this dilemma then you can plan an alternative itinerary for your time there.  I don’t mean to be sarcastic about Sargassum when I tell you don’t get wrapped up in the beach this summer.  Be aware.  Your comments on any encounters are always welcomed.  Write them in the box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Everybody Loves A Parade


Parades allow people to publicly express themselves in large gatherings, marches, walks or formal processions.  Every Independence Day in the USA there are parades of military might, heritage floats and demonstrations of national pride.  Across this great nation, people gather from all walks of life to express their love of country.  The process is supported by citizens, immigrants and visitors alike.  Standing shoulder to shoulder, people will witness all the displays, listen to the speeches whether in agreement or not, applaud or demonstrate anti-behavior towards all that may go on.  The visiting tourist may not have a clue about all that they see once they encounter a procession but are often drawn to the sidelines to watch in amazement.  It has been my experience in different countries to follow processions, if only to be nosy and to see what was going on.  I could easily tell from all that I saw what type of parade it was, and whether I should get closer or watch from a safe distance.

Besides witnessing the pomp and pageantry of parades stateside on special holidays, if possible, I like to view parades while on vacation.  I was drawn to large crowds of people in Barbados, Ecuador, Greece, Hawaii, Peru and Philippines, respectively, some marching in protest and others celebrating a national holiday or cultural heritage.  On most occasions, it was not a part of my travel itinerary, but a pleasant diversion and an opportunity to mingle with local residents.  So, I never miss standing on the sidelines to capture the event even though I may not understand all that may take place or the reasons behind the cavalcades.  Some parades can present dangerous situations for outsiders.  Tensions may rise and if caught in the heart of demonstrating protesters, the tourist may find themselves outside of their element.  It is always good to stand away from large crowds just in case you may need a quick getaway.  Find or look for a quick route to escape if things turn ugly.

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In Athens, Greece and Lima, Peru respectively, marchers were protesting against government policy.  Police with riot gear were out in full force to keep the peace.  Placard bearing marchers and the masses were shouting slogans as they filed pass government buildings.  I moved along with the train of people for several blocks just to watch the developments as they unfolded.  In both cases, the protests were peacefully carried out although the gravity of the situation was not underestimated by the police but keenly observed.  It was obvious they were ready, and capable of handling any imminent danger.

In Quito, Ecuador and Oahu, Hawaii, the respective processions demonstrated their cultural heritage.  Ethnic groups, dressed in fancy colorful duds paraded down the streets dancing to drumbeats, clapping and stomping.  Floats carrying musical bands, costumed characters, and people waving to the crowds were fun to watch.  Both parades were more festive and celebratory.  It was easy to blend in, enjoy the fun, and to mingle with the sea of people that lined the streets as the participants moved slowly along.  The gaiety from the revelers was contagious, did not present a stressful environment but a relaxing atmosphere.  Still, as a visitor, I was careful, observant and had an exit strategy should a disruptive incident like a fight arise.

In Bridgetown, Barbados and Sagada, Philippines, correspondingly, their parade emphasis was on a national anniversary, much like Independence Day here.  In Barbados, the parade is formal and excitedly anticipated by citizens.  It is well planned, and the main drills are performed at a cricket oval or a horse racetrack (depending on the weather) where residents can go to view in comfort.  Different arms of the public and civil service march pass to the beat of the national police band in salute of the various dignitaries, after which a street parade follows.  Residents follow the procession for miles along the parade route.  Separately, the day I arrived in Sagada; the marchers were made up of some adults but mostly children.  They were dressed in uniform and marched to the music of the school band.  The expressions on everyone’s face was one of pride as they twirled batons and pompoms.  They were celebrating an anniversary and had walked to the town square where they were on display.  Their demonstration was formal and clearly a moment of local pride.  Attendees, most likely proud parents, lined the streets, cheered for the children as they went by.

Community Peeps, everybody loves a parade if only to watch others stand for their cause, celebrate heritage or represent their country’s national honor.  What has been your experience?  If you have encountered a good or bad incident while attending a parade, at home or abroad, please share it with me here.  Write it in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Benign Surveillances


Whenever I travel, one of my favorite pastimes is to people watch and I’m sure it is safe to say it is the same for you too.  Touring and sightseeing popular places give me the ability to do just that.  Unnoticed by others, I would observe their antics, behaviors and mannerisms while I rest.  Some of the best places I have done this include, but are not limited to are the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in Rome, Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Las Ramblas, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell in Barcelona to name a few popular venues where there is heavy foot traffic.

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As I study tourists whom I meet, I have found they are inquisitive by nature, and want to know all about me.  What makes me tick?  Who am I?  Where do I come from?  What makes me special?  These and many more questions may be on the minds of those you meet as you travel also.  Whether I travel with strangers in a group or meet locals for the very first time solo, we want to exchange information about each other.  We want to get to know who the other is.  From the moment residents lay eyes on you, they too can tell that you don’t belong, you’re a foreigner and that you do not fit into their regular mold.  What brings them to these conclusions?  Mostly the way you dress, your accent or language is a big give-away, and certainly your wide-eyed stares and interest in unfamiliar things and surroundings. Whatever the identifiers, you can tell from the quizzical looks, smirks, finger points, or other gestures, that they have burning questions on their minds about you.  Some may even muster enough courage to ask you questions outright.

Throughout my international travels though, there is one question that I have been asked repeatedly – Where are you from?  Sometimes I hesitate to give an answer based on who is asking or the context from which it is asked.  Other times, I readily respond either giving a long or short answer.  Besides nationality, there are other burning questions like:  Are you traveling alone? Where do you live? Can I touch your hair?  Case in point, I recall traveling on a long distant bus from Vietnam to Cambodia and on that trip, I endured finger pointing, stares, some ‘who-are-you’ smiles and even one passenger as she was going down the aisle dared to touch my hair.  It was long ride and I was the only black person on the bus, so I stood out like a sore thumb.  I wasn’t afraid but I felt as though I was a novelty (or maybe a celebrity 🤣) to my fellow passengers, and they had never seen a real life black person up close.

I get it, they want to know more about me, and judging from my differences, they can’t tell whether I come from a particular country of Africa, Jamaica or Wakanda😂.  If I say I live in the USA, my non-American accent begs additional questions, so I give more explanations.  Many times, when I call my island home by name, they don’t know where in the world it is.  However, if I mention Rihanna a knowing smile takes place.

Community Peeps, people watching is a relaxing, non-intrusive activity that one can engage in to past the time on their journey.  Is it an activity you like to participate in?  What are your thoughts about these benign surveillances?  You may have more questions than answers, but always remember while you are watching someone, another, somewhere maybe watching you.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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My Weight Issue


If you think my weight issue has anything to do with physical weight, you are barking up the wrong tree.  The issue lies with my suitcases and not with fat.  The latter, though not a desired lifestyle attribute, is a challenge that can be remedied with diet and regular exercise.  However, the same cannot be said about the weight requirements for baggage by major airlines today.

I recall not so long ago when airlines allowed passengers to check two pieces of luggage, each weighing a whopping 70 pounds.  That heft dropped to 60, and now we are eeking by with 50 pounds.  In some cases,  depending on the airline that number can drop lower still even to the teens (last year, my bag did not meet the weight rule, and I incurred an extra expense I did not like).  These days carriers insist passengers pay for every piece of checked baggage.  The current weight measures have been accepted without much ado from travelers but puts many vacationers, especially those returning to their homeland and families in a stressed position. Packing the gifts in their bags for their loved ones, plus their personal items and maintaining the required weight is a stress the exuberant traveler would prefer to do without.

To say this weight issue is a nuisance for the expat traveler would be the understatement of the year.  Especially during the holiday season, the strain of trying to stay within the baggage guidelines is keenly felt when you try to take special tokens of appreciation to your friends and family.  You pack, unpack, roll, tuck and flatten.  Then you drag out the bathroom scale weighing and re-weighing hopeful your bags are near or on the weight target.  Frustrated, you give up, all the while praying and hoping your gifts and or personal belongings are not in jeopardy of being confiscated and dumped.

Over the years, I have found ways to deal with the weight issue.  Of course, I want to share the tips with you.  They will not alleviate all your weight fears but I hope they will help to ease some of them:

Check-In – Arrive at the airport early.  Not just within the required two-hour time frame, but three – four hours ahead of your flight.  While this plan may not always work, it is still worth a shot.  Often, I’ve encountered ground staff who will overlook one – five pounds over the limit.  If you are late, your excess pounds may become a glaring violation that cannot be ignored.  So, in order to comply with the weight condition, the check-in agent may ask you to re-pack excess pounds into other bags, or dump stuff which is never a predicament you want to be in.

Luggage – Choose the right kind of luggage.  Backpacks and large purses for the women are all you need to carry your essential items.  Most backpacks have many pockets and can be extended or reduced in size.  They are made with light, durable material which is flexible and easy to manipulate. The backpack or large handbag stores easily by fitting into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

Clothing – Wear your heaviest items such as sneakers, jacket, sweater and jeans.  You will never look out-of-place wearing these items on board.  The cool temperature in the aircraft is always on full blast (to me it is, 😊).  You can always peel off the jacket and sweater before arriving at your destination.  Choose to pack clothing made of these fabrics:  silk, chiffon, polyester and rayon.  The lighter the better. Always seek to eliminate carrying bulky or heavy clothing.

Round-trip Packing – When traveling, don’t pack only for those at your destination, but for those at the return point too.  After all, it is highly likely that you will have friends and family on both ends of the spectrum for whom you will want to bring a souvenir or two.  Choose to pack old pieces of clothing you are willing to part with and toss once on location, and which after use, you can make room for new items/gifts you may purchase.  Also, leave clothing behind every time you visit.  This will allow you to have two wardrobes, at home and abroad, besides you would not have to worry about toting your clothes back and forth on future trips.

Community Peeps, it is never easy deciding what to pack.  However, having two wardrobes in two different places has lifted much of the anxiety I used to suffer whenever I traveled home.  This winter’s holdalls were merely a carry-on and a large purse (backpack), but no checked luggage.  Admittedly, the one caveat to having no checked bags is, no wait time to pick up bags from the conveyor belt.  I was able to clear customs and exit without delay to begin a great vacation in the Caribbean.  Peeps, what has been your experiences with overweight bags?  Fill me in by commenting in the box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

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Arrested


No, no, no.  Not with handcuffs and reading me the Miranda rights but arrested by natural beauty.

A few times in my travels at home and abroad, I have been blessed to see sights that caused me to stop, dead in my tracks.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes, it is too wonderful to express in words or to fleeting to capture in a photo.  The kind of beauty I am talking about, you never get tired watching.  One could spend hours metaphorically speaking, soaking it up, drinking it in and absorbing as much of it as possible.  Obviously, what may be shock and awe for me may not register the same way for you.  It is all relative and subjective.  Still, I want to share my moments of arresting beauty with you.

First time I saw Jacaranda trees, I was walking early one morning in Pretoria, South Africa.  The trees were in full bloom and they lined both sides of the streets with their branches intertwining at the tops.  The purple flowers on the trees and the fallen petals on both sides of the street presented a beautiful sight, as if flower girls in a bridal party had strewn them along the path for the oncoming bride.  You can probably tell how deeply impressed I was for me to take photos of purple petaled trees.  The picturesquely beautiful scene was fresh and pretty but not lasting.  Throughout the day, the falling petals wilted in the heat and were crushed by traffic, but that moment was forever etched in my mind.

Another arresting moment happened on American soil.  The Grand Canyon is not called grand for nothing. Wide open, deep crevasses, cover hundreds of miles, as far as the eye can see.  The jagged surfaces that make up the earth’s crust of the canyon lands expose colored layers of soil and rock like a rainbow.  Below the mighty Colorado River snakes its way through the gorge.  As the sun’s rays reflect on the winding river it glints like shards of glass or sparkling jewels.  The scenery is mesmerizing and awe-provoking.  From every vantage point, the views are arresting and mind boggling.  Questions of how, when, where flood the thoughts whilst gazing on the beauty of the Canyon.  In times like these, one can only agree with the inspired words of David in Psalm 19:1:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.”

The next arrest I will tell you about took place in the desert.  Unbelievable?  Yes, there is beauty even in a desert place.  When I visited Morocco, I journeyed into the Merzouga and Sahara Deserts.  The experience was phenomenal.  Don’t take my word for it.  Plan a trip of your own to either one or both locations.  I can help you with an itinerary, click on Itinerary Request and Payment Form page to get started.  The arid lands hold a beauty all its own.  Clay-colored houses blend in with the landscape of shifting sands. The high and low dunes, like rolling waves spread out into the distance.  The buildings in the communities look like they jump right out of the Bible.  Many film crews use the area because of its natural beauty and ancient Biblical likeness to make films (take a peak at the list in the photos).  Life is simple and different but packed with natural wonders which I hope you catch a glimpse in the slideshow here.

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Community Peeps, I could go on and on telling of other arresting moments, the where, the when, and the how, but time and space would not permit.  I know, you thought by the title that I had another encounter with the law and had been led away bound in chains (a bit too dramatic?) 😂.  God forbid.  Let’s hope that never happens.  What places have caused you to stop and take it all in?  Where on earth would you say you were arrested?  I would like to hear of it.  Share in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

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Thanksgiving Drama


Stuffed to the brim yesterday and hungover today.  Not from alcohol, but from the food, entertainment and drama.  Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year, the other Christmas in Barbados.  As in last year’s blog, I shared our family traditions and how we express our thankfulness – Staycation Plans.  Today, I want to highlight some of the stressors that are part and parcel of making Thanksgiving Day an unforgettable experience.

Usually I sit down to eat the sumptuous meal with family and friends just after noon.  I adopted this habit many years ago.  It gives my guests who spend the entire day the chance to consume the meal, with opportunity for seconds, thirds, and desserts.  Plus, I would not have to worry about storage for the leftovers.  I still recall my very first Thanksgiving meal.  My host and I prepared the food all day long and didn’t sit down to eat until 7:00 p.m. that night.  In my humble opinion, that was way too late to be eating such a heavy meal, but I graciously obliged my host and tried to do justice to the meal that was served to me.  From that time, I promised myself I would never serve meals to my guests that late and I have kept my promise.

Over the years, I have found that while the day is wildly anticipated, many anxieties are experienced before, during and after the actual day.  Is it all worth it?  Many a host will tell you, “yes, it is.”  You can be the judge after reading of some of the pressures that help to put a strain on the day.

Kuala Lumpur_38Travel can be one of the contentious points that causes anxiety on Thanksgiving Day, whether by car, bus, train or plane.  Arriving or departing, your visitor’s safety is paramount.  This year was touted to be one of the heaviest travel days, and from all indicators, that prediction was a bulls-eye.  Thanksgiving-eve and Day, cars flowed in every direction like red and white blood cells flowing up and down a vein. More people hit the open road to join family and friends than in previous years.  A contributing factor are low gas prices.

Weather conditions too can greatly factor in.  Because of the tendency to have an early snowfall, (as we had last week) possible flight cancellations may occur.  Over bookings and other unanticipated anomalies may cause delays in departures/arrivals.  Whichever travel option used, the tension of dealing with congestion, delays, or cancellations may greatly impact the start of your holiday celebration and or may derail your plans altogether.

Family dynamics may present some uneasiness when considering or looking over your

Friends_Manila Philippines2invitation list.  You can choose friends, but you cannot choose family members.  That said, there may be wariness in extending invitations to break bread especially when you know some members don’t get along.  Even though the day is all about thankfulness, some personalities are not always willing to put their differences aside and may cause some tension which will overshadow the day.  This possibility is cause for concern if you are trying to accommodate everyone, not wanting to choose one over the other.

Food preparation can be another big stressor too.  Choosing mouth-watering foods that everyone will love and enjoy can turn out to be exasperating, especially when most of your invited guests are foreigners, and it is hard to please everyone.  Do you serve the regular Thanksgiving Day cuisine, or do you serve that of another culture?  Which culture takes preference?  Without a doubt, the one agreed upon food that will grace the

table will be the bird.  If it is eaten, liked or disliked, you can rest assured that turkey (whole bird or breast) with stuffing will take center stage.  The other fixings may be hard to choose, and indeed, may bring an added weight that may not be worth the time or effort.

Entertainment is another medium through which tension can manifest itself.  Routing for one favorite football team or another, is not necessarily the issue.  If that were the case, then you would be happy to know that all persons in the house are fans of the game.  However, football may not be the favorite pastime of your invited guests.  So, how do you deal with the blaring TV in one room, a gregarious group in an adjacent room, and still others or lone figures huddled in other areas of the house trying to have different conversations?  Running around trying to be the perfect host, making sure everyone is happy, and enjoying themselves may bring on moments of unwanted worry and anxiousness.

At the end of the day, you are eager to see the backs of your guests and their tail lights pulling away from your driveway.  You breathe a sigh of relief and are thankful that you survived yet again.  The food was eaten, everyone said they enjoyed themselves and had a great time.  The strain and tensions of the day melt away as your weary head touches the pillow.  Before you drift off into sleep you find yourself thinking on new and improved plans for next year’s Thanksgiving.

Community Peeps, how was your Thanksgiving Day?  Do you have some Thanksgiving drama of our own to share?  What has been your experience as host, or attending a family/friend’s home for the meal?  Spill the beans on your experiences, past or recent.  Waiting to hear from you.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

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