Friday, November 28, 2014

No "black" Friday here


Nothing "black" about Friday here in Ola Lola's neighborhood! We are surrounded by a stunning tropical palette of greens - from translucent jade to turquoise to the light in the depths of an emerald, of blues - from the paleness of a star sapphire to deep-ocean cobalt, of sparkling whites, all under this blazing clear Caribbean sun. 

We are so grateful that we get to live in and share this amazing place. We are constantly awed by the beauty and the wonder of the world around us.

Come hang out with us a while. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

From Elaine:

To all my friends and family - near and far - just know I love and appreciate you soooo much on this Thanksgiving day! I am dealing with chikungunya still and in the past 24 hours some new virus has found my depressed immune system so it's been less than pleasant to say the least. And I don't normally post this kind of personal info but there are people I have wanted to write, call, talk with, be with and reach out to who may wonder where I am. And, well....I'm here and just trying to get through what's directly in front of me, and being very very grateful for all the help I have received from my love, John Cosby and friends who have been so supportive, shared in my pains, given me many moments of humor, and helped me see rainbows when it just felt like rain.

(Chicungunya is the latest tropical mosquito-born virus to hit the Caribbean. It was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952 but was mostly confined to Africa. The first confirmed case in the Caribbean was in St. Thomas in 2013. Since then, in a little over a year, it has swept through the Caribbean and most of Central America. Estimates are 800,000 to 1 million people in the Caribbean have or have had it. It is rarely fatal but is incredibly debilitating. Although the fever phase is relatively mild and short, other effects can last for weeks, months or even a year. The disease mostly affects the joints. Descriptions range from "having ground glass in all my joints" to "being pounded by sledge hammers every time I move." Elaine is in her ninth week of this crap.)

Still, there is so much to be grateful for - family, friends, our home, our animal "family." From here on our little island we wish a very happy and grateful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More vistors from St Lucia

So it has been a busy month since our last post. I really do apologize for the delay. I've started bits and pieces of posts but for one reason or another haven't seemed to finish them. Not that there is nothing to write about mind you - there is always a lot going on. It's just finding the time and motivation to make it happen.

Two of Elaine's friends and colleagues, Wendy and Marie, from St Lucia came to visit in October. We, and especially Elaine - spent a bit of time showing them around our island.

It's always interesting comparing thoughts and impressions with visitors from other islands.  I think for many the phrase "Caribbean island" conjures up stereotypical images - white sand beaches, tropical drinks, fabulous hotels, rain forests. And I think there is there is and impression that "Caribbean islands" are all pretty much the same. Honestly, they are not.

For example, Puerto Rico is unusual in that it is not a volcanic island like Dominica or St Lucia. It is rather a limestone uplift, caused by the North American tectonic plate sliding under the Puerto Rican or Caribbean plate. We, that is Puerto Rico, sit right near the edge of that plate. Because of the tectonic activity we have a number of relatively small earthquakes around us practically everyday. Most of them we don't feel but occasionally one shakes the buildings. (One occurred in the middle of the night two years ago. With the memory of the tsunami in Japan still fresh, people living down here near the ocean fled, trying to get "up the mountain" to higher ground. There were so many people trying to drive up the hill there was a traffic jam at 2:30 in the morning. And really, there was no danger of a tsunami: that terremoto, like most of the ones we feel, happened inland, not in the ocean.)

Then there is the perception of size. As small as Puerto Rico is (111 miles by 39 miles, the smallest of the Greater Antilles), it is larger than any of the islands down the chain. Puerto Rico is big enough that it doesn't feel like an island, although people do get island fever and have to get off to the mainland U.S. St Lucia feels like an island. It is very small, less that 300 square miles. Because it is a volcanic island, the interior of St Lucia is very rugged, very steep and impassable so most of the living space is concentrated around the edges, making it seem even smaller.

And then there's shopping. A lot of mainlanders just have to get off the island to shop. They just cannot find anything here. This in spite of the presence of Plaza Las Americas, the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, outlet malls, malls in Mayaguez and Ponce and and and. A lot of statesiders, both visitors and those of us who live here, bemoan the lack of selection in grocery stores, especially fresh produce. There is something to this complaint:fresh produce is less plentiful here than in the States.

But for visitors from other islands like St Lucia, Puerto Rico is a shopping heaven. In fact, one of the major goals for Marie and Wendy's trip to PR was to shop for thing they cant get in St Lucia.

Celebrating differences is part of why we travel and why we choose to live outside our comfort zones.