|HB Combs blog and dream||
I don't think this post will be what you might expect. You may not recall, but when I flew the beginning of February there was a couple with 3 large "service dogs" on my flight. The dogs were very well behaved, the humans, not so much. Well, I'm beginning to think there is a pattern here. On my flight home yesterday a gate agent boarded the plane and asked the women next to me about the dog she was traveling with. In my opinion he was not rude at all. She was very defensive and called the airlines customer service immediately. She didn't even hand the man her documents. Just called and started complaining about how he was treating her. Honestly, the dog was a bulldog and should probably not have been on the plane as that breed is indeed on the list of banned breeds. The dog had no service vest, or obvious tags. It bit at it's owner twice when she shoved it down off her lap while she slept and the dog was discontent. Even climbing on the center arm rest. I emailed the airline because she told whomever she reached on the phone that the gate agent was rude. He was not. People always take time to complain, never to compliment. I am all about people who truly need service dogs, but the Doctors who are committing Medical Malpractice so spoiled self centered people can take pets along for free are getting out of control. I actually know people who have done this! 100% do not need the dog, but hey now it flies for free and they don't have to pay for a kennel. I for one would like to go back to the days of pets being cargo. I love my dog, but he does not need to be on a plane, at the grocery store or on vacation with me. I am sorry for the gentleman that this women was so rude to. He was doing his job. I actually did give the woman the same lecture. I told her to put herself in his place, the paperwork did not appear to be in order. It was his job to ask, and he did. Just because she called earlier, doesn't mean it will be okay. Have your documents ready and be prepared to show them as a traveler in society today that is how it is. Don't think because you got your dog on the plane you are above being asked for proof. Airline staff actually have our lives in their hands with MUCH bigger issues. Leave the pets at home folks. Learn to handle life on it's own, unless you truly need a service dog. Then I am 100% in your corner. Service dogs are a right, not a privilege get it straight. Service dogs behave in a very specific manner. They don't bite, climb and walk around discontent. They stay with their owner and care for them. They are highly trained aides for many people with a wide variety of real needs. Fake news, Fake ailments, Fake people...sad, sad, sad.
I see the buds starting to open on the trees, crocuses, tulips and hyacinths are pushing up through the ground and blooming...Spring has Sprung! I love this time of year, it's full of new beginnings for nature and people. I have a touch of spring around the house, some tulips in vases. Last weekend the windows were all open and the fresh air was flowing through. And today, the first roll of thunder for the year. There is something about the beauty and power of nature that just brings a smile to my face. I guess that's been a constant theme since I started writing these little tidbits. It's been a very busy and productive winter, I'm looking forward to the change that comes with a new season. Busy takes a different turn...more towards the outdoors.
Well so the story goes...what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I don't really think that's true anymore in our age of social media and immediate communication about everything. What I discovered, just a few minutes from the glitz and flashing lights of down town Vegas was nature! A lot of beautiful rock formations and it was wonderful. I hadn't realized it was such an easy short drive to find this beautiful National Park. Another thank you to the powers that be that had the foresight to save our lands from total destruction as humans surely would have done if not reminded that nature is important to appreciate and retain. I've been to Vegas now 3 times, and I have to say this was one of the best times I ever had. Taking in more than just the glitz and glamor of what the town has to offer. Hoover Dam...also a short distance from downtown. What an amazing feat that was to accomplish in the time it was done. 24 hour shifts, hundreds of people working together, in the end creating a water way that provides from Nevada all the way to Mexico. Allowing land that would otherwise be uninhabitable to be thriving metropolises as well as farming communities. Truly an impressive sight to see. The water levels of Lake Mead are down, and have been for 10+ years now. You can see the water line distinctly. Hopefully this is just a temporary situation and not a sign of the future.
So this trip turned out not to be as it was originally planned. My true confession: I was seeing an Island guy. Just so it's clear, I'm not anymore. I believe in my heart of hearts he cared or maybe even cares about me. But by mid day on day 2, I knew he was not going to show up. That for whatever reason he would be a no show for the entire trip. This was not something I went into lightly or uninformed about. I did my homework on him, the funny part is I know so much more about him then he has a clue that I know. When you boast about being the only person on a small island with the name that you have, well for a detective like me...I will get the information. I didn't want to know anything to harm him with, just to protect my self. He didn't own a boat or work at a resort, he works for the government. Friends of my friends that have been coming to the island for 20+ years knew him and verified his employment and the reality that he had only one child. Not the typical family situation for an island guy. I'm sure, no I know...it all started as hitting on the american woman a very common occurrence, but it was more than that after he took 2 trips to visit me in the states. It wasn't "real" but it was more. Part of me even wonders if he no showed to set me free. It could have been handled much better. Honest communication would have been the way to go, since that is what I told him from the beginning over a year ago! Just tell me when it's over. Guess he couldn't bring himself to truly say goodbye. So I spent the first 4 days with my dear friend digesting the reality that I would be flying solo with no safety net in a foreign country for 4 days (my mom is going to freak!) My friend helped me through, gave me all the info I needed to survive in the cold cruel world and actually have the time of my life! Last July I had visited the island to spend time with him, this trip was 10 times better. Who knew the island would be even better with out you! I did what I wanted, when I wanted. There were no concerns of who was watching, island guys don't like their island friends to know they are "seeing" any one. Perpetually attempting to appear single is the way they generally like to be. It's a culture or an attitude. I'm not judging, I'm describing. Having been to the island now 3 times, I had gotten familiar with a lot of general areas so I was good to go more or less. Just had to settle in and get my bearings. So what does a self respecting SINGLE woman do on the Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin for a week? Here's what I did. And I had a ball! I met people from all over the world. Folks with interesting stories to share. Lifestyles so different from my own. It was wonderful. I will do my best to recount what I learned from these great experiences.
Day 1 Arrived on the beautiful island. Got the chance to watch the Sunset at Simpson Bay. Afterward we went to SkipJack for dinner. They are known for their seafood. Mmmm, really fresh seafood. Then we went to Toppers, and ended the evening at Soggy Dollar for Latin Dance Night.
Day 2 What a lovely day in Grand Case, on the French side of the island, at Rainbow Cafe. The beach here is very narrow. But it's calm and quiet. Basically if you eat lunch at the restaurant you do not have to pay to rent the beach chairs. Lunch at a French restaurant? Only if I have to! I had a salad, La Crispy Chevre: Mesclun Salad, Goat Cheese crusted to corn flakes, honey and crispy bacon. We had dinner at Jimbo's. Fresh grilled shrimp fajita's. This island does not lack quality cooking anywhere!
Day 3 My Friend I was visiting SXM with had rented a car, so we did the French Beaches while she was still there. Today Palm Beach SXM Bar, Orient Beach, no not the nude beach. No one wants that to happen. It did involve a French restaurant again. Today what a true treat, La Salade Exotique de Langouste et Gambas: Exotic Lobster and shrimp salad, Caribbean and citrus fruit with basil. When I say Tres Bien! I truly mean it. What a wonderful salad. Orient Beach is well known. Many people go here from cruise ships when they visit St. Maarten. For some it's the nude beach, for others it's just the location, and what a fine location it is. The seas were a bit rough this day. It wasn't very crowded where we were. I walked down to the north end of the beach and passed by some abandoned property. When I returned I asked my friend what it was. She told me the little shacks and building were the ruins from Boo Boo Jam. It used to be one of the hottest night spots around. It was never repaired after a fire many years ago. Tonight we had Italian at a new restaurant Sale & Pepe located on Welfare Road in Simpson Bay. A very nice meal, with amazing ambiance and lovely presentation.
Day 4 Today was the day I had to prepare to be on my own. Phew! Okay I can do this! My friend and I had breakfast at Bon Appetit, just up the hill from the resort. A cute outdoor cafe, with a nice menu. Just after lunch, I was truly flying solo. Tonight I stayed in my comfort zone and went to Toppers. Having been to the Island for so many years, my friend, and now me, by association, is well known, especially here! So this seemed like the right place to start. I had dinner and stayed for the evening. Hung out in my corner seat looking at the street where the music and karaoke are preformed. It was a fun night. Of course the usual suspects passed through, and a few new ones. It was fun! I danced, sang and had a BLAST!
Day 5 Today was a busy day. Well okay how busy can you be on vacation. I had to move to a different room, as I was now in my own unit. The resort was very accommodating about giving me access to the new room so I could enjoy the day by the beach or the many pools. Thank you Simpson Bay Resort for treating your guests so well. I decided to have dinner at Skipjack's again. Best seafood on the Island! Then it was time for Toppers again. My corner chair at the bar was taken so I set up at a table in the corner by the DJ. After about 20 minutes a guy came in looking for a spot I invited hi to share my table. He was a yacht engineer who lived on the Island. Shortly a friend of his arrived, a woman who hired people to work on yachts all over the world. She had also been a stewardess on private planes. They were fun people. More "yachtis" showed up later. A term I had never heard before. Another evening of dancing and singing and learning about other ways of living. Walking back to my room a security guard and island guy from Jamaica struck up a conversation. He tried all the usual lines, but...well I've learned my lesson, that wasn't going to happen again. He was actually interesting to talk to.
Day 6 Today was the main event: Super Bowl! I don't know why, but ever since last year when my island friend had sent me pictures of watching super bowl on the beach, I wanted to be there. So this year, I WAS THERE. And what a great atmosphere it is indeed. I had chosen to view the game at Buccaneer Beach Bar a long time ago. What a set up! Multiple big screen TV's with lounge chairs on the beach as well as covered seating and reserved tables throughout the open bar. I went to the bar shortly after arriving and ordered a Malibu Bay Breeze. The gentleman after me, ordered the same and a pizza. We discovered that we were both there alone with out reservations. We chatted for a while and his story was another amazing way to live. He was from Newport, Rhode Island. Every year he sales a Sail boat down to St. Maarten then lives on it and sales around the islands for 6 months, then sales it back north. His family flies in to visit with him. We snagged a reserved table that wasn't supposed to be ours, but when the people didn't show up it was given to us. He kindly shared the pizza and bought me a drink. What a game, what a fun night. New England...you can never count them out.
Day 7 Today I hung out at the pool in the morning then went to Phillipsburg on the bus trip to look for an ankle bracelet. St. Maarten is a Duty Free location. You can get really good deals on jewelry, alcohol, cigars...you get the idea. I found exactly what I was looking for, white gold with diamonds. They " threw in" a second one with semi-precious stones. The diamond one belongs to my oldest daughter one day. She told me the following not to long before I left on this trip: I AM A DIAMOND, NO ONE SHOULD TREAT ME LIKE CUBIC ZIRCONIA! I wear it every day just incase I start to forget. I went to Isola for dinner, a cute Italian restaurant also just by the resort. After dinner it was time for live music. I went to the Red Piano to listen to Church on Monday. What a great rock and roll cover band. I met man who is from Canada, Toronto area, that is a teacher at the "CIA" on the island. (Caribbean International Academy) He has a 2 year contract with the school. So he lives on the island for the school year, then goes home for the summer. He plays guitar and is a huge classic rock fan. I ran into my security guard friend again, at the security gate that was just up the hill from the Red Piano. There was a big to do at Red Piano after the show, some one , (an American from New Jersey that had no papers for his vehicle or drivers license) hit 3 parked cars and tried to leave the scene. The road up the hill had to be closed while the police investigated.
Day 8 My last full day and night on the island. I had done something I hadn't done in a very long time, I RELAXED! I read 3 books. Tonight I went to the Greenhouse for dinner and had a Bang Bang Shrimp Wrap, It was delicious. I spent the next 6 hours in my corner chair at the bar at Toppers. I know what you must be thinking...How drunk did I get? Well, not at all. I don't really drink that much. More bottles of water than alcohol were consumed I assure you. Shortly after I arrived a man who had traveled 36 hours from Malta sat down. He was actually British and was there to work on a short term contract installing IT/Communications networking. After he left one of the regular local guys sat down and started his usual routine. I told him it would get him no where with me. Always with a laugh and a smile. He kept prodding so finally, without naming names I let him know what had happened this week: The Great disappearing act of 2017. He backed off his usual hit on woman routine and turned in to a decent guy, even bought me a red rose from the flower vendor and said, you are beautiful, it will all be okay. Of course I knew that already, but it was nice. All of the folks: Horse (The bartender extraordinaire who can mix a drink, take your order AND sing reggae all at the same time, Big John the strong silent yet kind security guy, and the owner Topper were really on their game tonight. After the local left, an Italian gentleman sat down. He had just arrived today with 3 friends. His friends were sleeping off the travel, but he wanted to have fun. So we shared some laughs and danced for quite a while. It was an amazing night. Just what I needed! I walked back to the resort about 1:15 and ran in to my security guard again. I stayed out talking to him until 3 am. He tried his usual routine. It got him no where. In the end...he was really a fun guy to talk with about life. He drives a Taxi during the day as a second job. Most of the men on the island have 2 jobs just to pay their bills. He shared about his life. It's just not easy to make a living on an island with so many competing for the same jobs.
Day 9 It was time to go home. I snuck in an hour by the pool before finishing the packing and leaving my room. I had a couple hours to kill so I did the dreaded catch up on email. Something I hadn't really thought much about in 8 DAYS! I caught a quick ride to the airport and hoped a snow storm would cancel my flight. No such luck! While riding the airport bus from the terminal to the plane I noticed a man with a Chelsea Soccer Club shirt. I asked him if he liked the team. He said he had been to a game in England. So I said, look I know it's random, but I have a Chelsea Mug that was for some one I didn't get to see. Would you like to have it? I gave him the tea mug. It has a good home. If I had the shirt with me and not in my checked luggage, I would have given him that too. Yes, the island guy loves soccer. These were his Christmas gifts. Good things from bad.
I had noticed a couple in the airport with 3 large dogs and they were seated in the row behind me. When a third person was seated there, they complained...so wait you can bring 3 large dogs on a flight and not pay for them but children over 2 have to have a seat??? How is that correct? The dogs were well behaved, but umm... I don't understand this at all. They ended up in the prime bulkhead seats at no additional cost. Oh and the best part of the people with the dogs...after we de-planed, walking through the carpeted halls of the airport...the poor dog had to go to the bathroom. I'm talking #2! This woman actually yelled at the dog? Umm, your yelling at the dog? Some how I think this is a different type of animal cruelty. That poor doggie had no desire to be on that plane. Selfish humans! Sorry brief digression to the absurdity of airline travel these days.
So my 9 day, 8 night trip to the Fabulous Friendly Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin didn't go exactly as planned, in the end it went better!!!! "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright." I believe you Bob Marley, I really do.
Every year in January I print out a 12 month calendar and start plotting my travel plans for the upcoming year. I am trying to figure out what my BIG trip this year will be. I have lots of travel plans already, things I will talk about as they happen this year. I am going through a list of places from Northern Arizona to Europe. I have to elicit the help of my potential travel buddies and see what they are up for. I'm booked up until end of summer, so I guess it's a fall adventure and maybe something for winter. For the first time I am considering going away over the Christmas Holidays. My children are all over the country, we were all together in 2016, so that won't happen again for 2017; too many miles between us. One year we were all together in Germany for Christmas! What an amazing time and place to be for Christmas. I won't ever forget it. Many countries actually still observe the Holiday the way it was meant to be. Businesses are closed Christmas eve, Christmas Day and many even the day after. I remember walking around the town where my daughter lived in a new fallen snow, and it being so peaceful and quiet. Serenity, I like to find that when I travel. Hmm so many things to think about.
I'm planning a trip to the West Coast again, sort of a combination work and personal time. I had a BRILLIANT thought tonight, as the company I work for is willing to pay to get me to and from the West Coast, I'll just book a one way flight to my side destination and pay that myself. My usual airline makes it really difficult to move around on the west coast with out multiple stops and or flying hours out of the way. This will settle that issue and make the travel so much easier! Always look at the outside the box options when traveling around. You never know how you might make it easier on yourself.