Friday, December 28, 2012

A small stash of Postcard Love

It's been at least 2 months since I've gone to pick up any mail... but here's what I found when I finally got my stash.

A "Hug from Home," a postcard sent by my dad from the town where his mountain house is...
"Under the Red Light" is a great landmark... since it's the only traffic light in the whole county.

The Jolly Trolley
"Located at the only red light in Sullivan County, Dushore, PA, on the site of the former Ben Frankln Store, featuring a soda fountain, sundries, cards, gifts, newspapers, crafts, and a LGB Model railroad to entertain all."

Another "Hug from Home," this one sent by my dad's buddy, Patrick, from another town up in Sullivan County. I've only driven through Williamsport, I believe, but this place looks like somewhere I'd like to check out the next time I get up that way...

Woapalanee - an  Indian Head sculpture carved from a single 20,000 pound Oak tree trunk, guards the entrance to Brandon Park. The sculpture was carved by Peter "Wolf" Toth, October 1990.
The plaque on the bottom of the carving reads: 
TO GIVE DIGNITY TO MAN IS ABOVE ALL THINGS
(an Indian proverb)

These next ones were sent by Bob (not my dad, the other Bob) while he was in the States for Thanksgiving..
Two from Texas (The Dallas Sunset and a multiview of Cowboy boots, a rodeo, and oil rig, cowboys and an armadillo) 
Two from Florida (The Miami Skyline and one with a map of the state, palm trees, and a happy Sun
Two from Washington DC (The Lincoln Memorial and The White House)

Thanks, Bob!

When I saw this next card I thought, "Another hug from home, awesome... I wonder who it's from."
See... "The Wildwoods," (or just, "Wildwood," as we call it back home) is in New Jersey - only about an hour and a half from my hometown.
It's one of the "Dirty Jersey" beach towns that we'd go to in the summer...
So I was totally shocked to see that it didn't even come from the States.. it was sent from Belarus!

"Moon over Otten's Harbor. Otten's Harbor is located in the back bay of the center of Wildwood. This harbor photo has the moon peering over a commercial fishing boat which is resting for the next day trip. This harbor has boat rentals, jet skiing, fishing and sight seeing. Photo by Cape May County Tourism"

Weird, right??

This is the postage.... from Belarus.

This next card was sent to me from a lawyer in Scotland who enjoys reading, collecting antiques, gardening, and watching the wildlife in her garden - especially the fox that come to visit (I love the personal info people write on the back)


I wish the back of this next one had at least a little bit of info in English on the back, but, alas, it does not. All I can tell is that it's from Roman in Russia, and its a pretty cool .... tree sculpture?

What's inside???

Here's one that I received before (but it's beautiful, I don't mind) from China
The Milou Tower and Zhenfeng Bridge

 Pretty, right?

The stamp on this one is nice, too:


This next one is a multiview of Slovenia...

I wish it had info on the back - that lake is lovely and the town looks so clean!

This last one comes from.... Germany... I think ;)

Germany?

I have another batch of cards over on the mainland that I haven't posted about yet, and I'm sorry for the delay!! I hope to get them sent over to me here in San Pedro soon so I can give the proper thanks and recognition to the people who've sent them!

Have a great weekend, everyone - thank you for the postcards :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My New Dream Job

After writing my last post and going off on a small rant about companies using planned obsolescence to control the flip-flop industry and keep raking in money, I did a search for "Sturdy Flip-Flops" and found this Flip-flop review

It's a review about men's flip-flops - but that isn't the point.
The point is that I read the section about how they tested the shoes and realized what my new dream job is... Flip-Flop Tester.

This is it - right from their website- OutdoorGearLab

How We Test

We tested these flip flops by wearing them every day for a year. We hiked, biked, and even rock climbed (it didn't work that well). First a little back story:

The main gear editor for this review (Chris McNamara) used to think flip flops were just for the beach vacations. That was when he lived in part of the San Francisco Bay Area that gets fog all summer. (For those who don't know, summer in some parts of the Bay Area often happens for two weeks in May and two weeks in October). Then he moved to a part of the Bay Area that has warm weather all summer. A flip flop obsession was born. There were two main realizations:
  • If you live in a warm climate, you can wear flip flops all the time
  • If you are going to wear flip flops all the time, they need to be a little burlier than $10 grocery store jobs.

So Chris and the Gear Editors set out to find the ultimate flip flop to wear all day everywhere. In fact we are wearing them while we write this review.

Some of the things we did:
  • Bouldering on the beach in Guard Brazil
  • Stand up paddling in San Francisco Bay
  • Bike commuting 20 miles a day for six months
  • Hanging around coffee shops… a lot.
  • Hiking and sailing around the San Juan Islands
  • Beach testing on the North Shore of Oahu
  • Moving between apartments
 
I totally qualify to be a flip-flop reviewer! 
 
Here are some of the things that I've done while wearing flip-flops every day for over a year...
  • Walk down the beach and through deeply puddled streets in San Pedro 6 days a week for seven months to get to and from work
If you zoom, you can see the flip-flops
  •  Tried walking down the Hummingbird Highway in the rain, but the flip-flops I was wearing sucked so much that I was better off walking barefoot through Central America than risking an ankle injury
  • Walked up and down the driveway in Stann Creek - one mile and 1,000 foot elevation on a rough, rocky, deeply rutted, unpaved road anywhere from one to five times a week for 10 months
 
  • Went horseback riding (included a deep river crossing)
  • Hitchhiked and took water taxi's and buses to get around Belize for over a year and a half now...
 
Seriously - if I'm not wearing flip-flops, my feet are naked - I wear nothing else. I own a pair of rain boots and a pair of sneakers, but I don't wear them. They don't even live with me at the moment. 
 
Nothing comes up when I Google
"How do I become a flip-flop tester"
 
Hmmm.......


 

What to do, What to do....

I was allowed to borrow a golf cart from Pedro's to get myself home safely after work on Tuesday night, so I found myself out and about "early" yesterday morning after returning it and picking up my bicycle. (Early, to me, is still anything before 10am)

I knew I didn't want to go right back to the house after returning the cart because I would have ended up spending the entire day inside and online, bouncing around from one project to the next and not actually getting anything accomplished.
I've been doing that for at least three weeks now - starting to work on an assignment for that online class I've been dragging my feet through, starting to write "my story," starting to organize files and photos, etc.
My focus has been shit lately. (do I smell a New Years Resolution in my future?)

Instead of heading right back home, I went to Wings department store and browsed through their flip-flop selection, but I didn't see any that looked like they would last longer than a few weeks, so I left empty handed, and still broken flip-flopped.
(Are flip-flops only made to be worn seasonally, and not for every day use? Planned obsolescence? I've gone through at least five pairs in the year and a half that I've been down here... Someone needs to investigate.)

As I started riding slowly back down south, I ran into one of my favorite bartenders on the island, who was on his way to open up the beach bar that he works at.
I told him I would meet him over there and have a morning Margarita while I decided what to do with my day.... but the ice hadn't been delivered yet by the time I got there and I had to settle for a cold Belikin instead. (It wasn't the same.... )

I drank my beer and then decided that I was just going to start heading home, but I didn't get very far.
I stopped once to say hi to another friend who was painting a fence along the side of the road, and then, as I was riding by Average Joe's Sports Bar, I heard Mike yell out, "Carrie - come back, we have hockey on!"
(If you know me in real life then you know I'm a huge hockey fan and that I'm super upset that there's no NHL games this season, so hearing that pretty much stopped me in my tracks)

It turns out they had on the World Juniors Hockey Tournament, and it happened to be on the USA VS Sweden game, so, of course,  I had to stay and watch the final two periods and have a few more beers and a Ditch Dog.

Here is where I would have loved to added a picture of a Ditch Dog, but I didn't have my camera on me, of course... Just picture a juicy hot dog loaded with mac and cheese - thats a Ditch Dog.

After the game (USA won) I did make my way back home, just in time to join Lara and her friend for a quick dip in the sea, and saw two sting rays swimming around the dock.... so it turned out to be quite a nice day.

One of my "problems" lately is that I just don't know what the hell to do with myself sometimes....
I've been riding the bike down south pretty often, but you can only go so far before the road starts to look like this....


 It becomes impassable after a certain point, unless you want to carry your bike across big ditches.
I actually tried riding through a large puddle just a little bit further than where this picture was taken and got stuck in that very soft, squishy mud and lost a toe ring trying to get out of it :(

I didn't try to go any further after that - I just found a nice spot to rinse off my toes and chill for a few minutes before turning around.


I went over to the lagoon side to check out some new houses going up on my way back..

I love this color blue, and any house with a rooftop deck...

I might go for another ride today... there's a big ass bird's nest that I want to start visiting once in a while to see if I can find out who it belongs to.


Maybe I'll go soak my dreads in the sea again... or maybe I'll ride north today... maybe I'll just take a nap since the sky seems to be looking a little cloudy now... maybe I'll work on that assignment again...

Maybe I should start taking a poll every morning and letting everyone else decide what I should do with my days off...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa was a No-Show... I mean, Merry Christmas!!!!

I knew I should have registered my new address with the North Pole - the fat man didn't leave one single present for me under the tree!

presentless!!
I didn't have a lot of things on my list....
A new pair of flip-flops because one of mine had a blow-out and now it only flops...
A new bathing suit, just because...
Amazon Gift Cards so I can buy new books...
My own bicycle - and I'm totally not picky about what it looks like or what kind of shape its in - but it does need a good, comfy seat on it. ...Something a little more cozy for my girl bits than the one I'm using now.... a nice Gel Seat sounds lovely

Sunlite Cloud 9 Bicycle Suspension Cruiser Saddle, Cruiser Gel, Tri-color Black on Amazon
I hope the rest of you got exactly what you were hoping for and, more importantly, that you enjoy the holiday in the comfort of your family and loved ones.

I'll be working at Pedro's all day for the Sad Bastard's Xmas Party and trying to make money to buy my own damn presents since Santa screwed me!

Merry Christmas, everyone :)

TropicalChristmas from coralcaye.com

I've seen this guy all over Facebook...
Pedro's Blowout Bike Seat Bag-Small - Yellow (Google Affiliate Ad)

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Official!

After walking just over a mile to get to the immigration office at 9:30 this morning to pick up my passport and being told to come back between 2 and 3 because they were busy swearing people in for their Nationality, and after walking just over a mile again to get there by 2 o'clock and being told to come back at 4 o'clock because everyone in the office was attending a conference at the George Price Center, and walking just over a mile one more time to get there by 4 o'clock....

I am officially a Permanent Resident of Belize!


It took just over 7 months from the time I started the application process to get this stamp in my passport...and - Yes, you can absolutely buy me a drink to celebrate the next time you see me :)

12-21-12, The Beginning

Well.... It looks like we're all still here!

http://perelman-student-life.blogspot.com/
I wonder how many people really thought the world was going to end today... and how many people signed up for After the Rapture Pet Care services

this has been ALL over Facebook
 I kept telling people, "Just because the calendar ends, it doesn't mean the world will end! What happens when OUR calendar ends?? We friggin buy a new one and start another year. Damn."

There is still time to sign up to be a caretaker for people's pets after the rapture, by the way.

http://www.aftertherapturepetcare.com/

Ya know what's pretty awesome? That I'll always remember 12-21-12 as the day I became a Permanent Residence of Belize!!
That's right, I spent the night in Belmopan and, in just a short while, I'll be going to immigration to pick up my passport to make my residency official!!

Here are the steps it takes to get permanent residency, if you're thinking about doing it:


After all of this, and the police interview, I also had to get someone (a born Belizean) to sign a Security Bond for me - pretty much saying that if I get into trouble here and have to leave the country, they'll pay for my one-way plane ticket back to the States, and I had to have the Security Bond signed by a Justice of the Peace.

Maybe I should stop typing and start walking... 
Happy Winter, everyone.




Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Belize Yoga Retreat - The Best Parts (continued)

My absolute favorite night of the retreat was our final night together on Ambergris Caye before the rest of the group moved on to the Mountain Pine Ridge area for the rain forest portion of their stay here in Belize.

We were taken to a private sandbar in the lagoon (Im pretty sure it was lagoon and not sea - but it's very hard to tell in certain areas) and treated to relaxing, live music provided by one of the islands well-known drummers while we did yoga and watched another beautiful sunset...

Walking to our destination..
Maybe 10 feet at it's widest point
the rest of it...
Everyone getting set up for sunset yoga
Even though things weren't exactly as I was hoping for, I felt really, really lucky to be a part of the group on this last night and blessed - a word I don't use often - to be able to participate in this final yoga session here on such a special place. (So thank you, YogaPeach, for including me!)

Zac performing on the sandbar at sunset - drums, bells, singing bowls...
**Singing bowls produce sounds which invoke a deep state of relaxation which naturally assists one in entering into meditation, the ultimate goal being enlightenment. They are a quintessential aid to meditation, and can be found on private Buddhist altars, and in temples, monasteries and meditation halls throughout the world**

Just.... gorgeous
 After our yoga session, and once the sun was just about retired for the evening, we were treated to a fire dance performance by Lara from Romantic Travel Belize




 "Fire is never static. It moves continuously like our breath. When your inner light is soft and expansive, it can burn forever. If we let our inner fire rage in anger and negativity, we can burn out quickly. Find the balance of fueling your inner fire with your passion without being consumed with your own needs and desires. Let your light be eternal."bb   (from yogaatyourplace.blogspot.com)

Another special surprise of the evening was having a professional photographer come along to take pictures of all of us, and I'm super excited to see how they turn out! If I get a copy of any of them, I'll definitely share with you :)

Belize Yoga Retreat - The Best Parts

I don't know if my expectations for a yoga retreat were way off or what... but I was definitely hoping for a little more yoga than we did at the one I just went to. Maybe even some meditation or discussions about different postures and practices, or some breathing exercises of some sort.

Maybe something a little more like this 5 day retreat in Kohphangan in Thailand, which includes; 10 yoga classes (5 Ashtanga Mysore Style, 5 Hatha Flow); Daily lectures on theory and philosophy; and an Herbal Steam on Sunday, Wednesday and Fridays. "This unique course covers the basic elements of yoga, including the eight limbs of yoga, philosophy, postures and alignment."
I even heard, recently, about a retreat in Virginia that offers an hour long workshop on the importance of hugging...

I was thinking, too, that the other guests would be more into yoga, but no one seemed that into it, and a few of them didn't participate in the classes at all.
There were also a couple of people around who, I felt, had too much negative, frenetic energy to be hanging around at a yoga retreat where some people had come to "chill out, do yoga, and have peace." (That was my intention for being there, anyway...)

I don't think a "Yoga Retreat" was the proper name for what took place... it should have just been called a "Fun, Fancy, Belize Vacation..... with the option to do some yoga."

There were a few really nice aspects of the retreat, however - one of them being the food!!

Our Welcome Appetizer... Fresh Shrimp Ceviche

Photo by YogaPeach
There was fresh fruit every morning, followed by amazing breakfasts: Slow cooked organic steel cut oats with apples and goji berries; Cinnamon bread French Toast with melted, homemade pineapple or strawberry jam and Agave syrup; Organic oat flour Banana Pancakes with a mango marmalade...

Photo by YogaPeach
 Lunch just consisted of tasty, mid-day snacks: Fresh bread and bruschetta; Veggie Mediterranean Pasta Salad; Shrimp Summer Rolls with Pickled Cucumber..

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Shrimp Summer Rolls - SO good!
 The dinners were just as delicious as the breakfast and snacks each day... maybe even better, if that's possible: Fresh Grouper with snow peas and a mix of organic red & white quinoas, with sauteed portobella mushrooms, onions & tarragon; An authentic Jamaican dish prepared by Robin (of Robin's Kitchen in San Pedro) that I actually missed out on, but I heard was fantastic; and this phenomenal, Thai inspired Lobster and Shrimp Tempora with an orange ginger sauce, coconut rice, and sauteed kale...

One of my favorite meals
 They even had Thai fortune cookies..

I like it...
Chef Bruce and his lovely wife/assistant did a great job at keeping us fed - and they even served desserts! Pineapple Rum Cupcakes; Bananas Foster with an organic, brown sugar sauce; and what was possibly the best Key Lime Pie with homemade whipped cream and Graham Cracker crust that I've ever tried..


Here's a picture of Bruce and Jane enjoying a night off on the Sunset Catamaran Cruise...


Speaking of the Sunset Catamaran Cruise - that was pretty sweet, too.

I had planned on staying in the villa by myself on the night of the cruise so I could get some of my classwork done and enjoy some alone time... plus, I live here... so I've been on enough of them to know that they're *pretty much* the same thing every time.... but I'm glad that some of the girls convinced me to tag along. (And that's exactly what I did - tag along - so I owe everyone a big thank you for allowing me to do that.)

Here's the Lady Leslie, the 40 foot catamaran, all decked out for a birthday party for one of the guests of the retreat..


We were served beer, Rum Punch, and Panty Rippas, as well as even more food... Cream Cheese covered crackers, Pineapple Salsa with tortillas chips, and, my favorite... Lobster Sushi

Sushi!!!
Most nights in San Pedro end with a gorgeous sunset, and the night of the cruise was no exception..



A lovely shot of our "boat boys," as I call them.
I think I'll tell you about my favorite part of the retreat in the next blog post... but don't worry, I'm wide awake and just might have it banged out for you before I go to bed tonight!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Belize Yoga Retreat. Part 1 - The Resort

If you like my Facebook page, then you know from my status update yesterday that I was getting myself all stressed out while packing for the yoga retreat...

Everything is cool now, though - I found somewhat decent clothes to wear, it looks like I have enough sheets for all of the massages that I have scheduled, and my bags were carried in for me... and while most of the other guests are out snorkeling at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley this afternoon, I'm currently enjoying some alone time at the resort,  La Perla del Caribe - 6 miles north of San Pedro town.

Here's a cute little map of the property layout here at La Perla.
Our yoga group is sharing two houses - Villa Opal and Villa Ruby:


The retreat officially started yesterday, but since most people had traveled all day to get down here - coming from Canada, the US, and Puerto Rico, it was mostly just a day for settling in and getting comfortable.

This is the view from BC's bar, where I waited for the boat up to La Perla:


Arriving at La Perla - I love the potted plants on the pier and all of the trees in and around the resort:

The main villa that we're using, Villa Opal, is a two level villa with four bedrooms - each with ensuite bathrooms - two upper level, screened in porches; an entertainment room with pool table; a gourmet kitchen; outdoor shower, and much more. Look here for a full description and photos on their website.

Here's Villa Opal from the pool:

One of the fancy touches they added for our stay -

The living room and a peak into the dining room through that awesome archway 

You should really check out the professional photos on their website to get a better idea of how gorgeous this place is - especially the kitchen. You can find it again right here.

Chef Bruce
...Or check out this youtube video:

The village that myself and five other girls are staying in is Villa Ruby - basically very similar to Villa Opal, except this one has an additional floor which consists of the master suite - complete with rooftop patio and outdoor shower.

 Here's a (bad) shot from the front of the room. Picture a big window behind me with a view of the Caribbean Sea. Out the door on the left, and also on the right, are doors to the rooftop patio...

The indoor, awesome ensuite bathroom with huge, open shower

right behind the curved wall on the left is the open, outdoor, rooftop shower. SEXY.

 Villa Ruby is also a little less personalized than Villa Opal.... there are no pictures of the family that owns it and it just has your basic off-white colored paint on the walls - but spectacular, nonetheless. (It is for sale, fully furnished - let me know if you want info)

I don't know how "one-of-a-kind" all the furniture and decorations are in this villa is, but it all looks very unique to me...

Panda heads?

I LOVE this bathroom sink

I also LOVE this dining room table

Interesting mobile thing..

An old, heavy, wooden door turned into a bad ass table

And guess what I found behind this odd kitchen cabinet....

A PHILADELPHIA EAGLES salt shaker!!! (I am NOT a football fan - but, awwww.... a little reminder of home was really nice to see!)

It's so quiet and peaceful this far away from town...
I don't even know if the road comes all the way up here. I haven't heard a single golf cart since we've checked in, so even if you CAN drive here, the road must not be traveled very often...

Here's Ruby at night...


I have so much more to tell you about - so make sure you check back in in the next day or two - I think I can have one whole post just dedicated to the FOOD we're being served here!

Until next time...