Tim Cotroneo - Freelance Writer

Travel Blog


February 8, 2011      Infinity - it's all in how you say it!         Riviera Maya

If you use "infinity" in a math context, the word is sort of mundane or even mind boggling. Now if you say "infinity" in front of the word "pool," one's mind reverts into the pleasure mode. Say it, "infinity pool." Ahhhhhhhh.

I was surprised to learn that the infinity pool dates back to France in the 1600s. I would have guessed this concept where a pool's edge transitions into a larger body of water was a more modern invention of the past several decades.

Think about how words are interpreted based on their context. If I say that a pool was the deepest I've ever seen, a parent of a young child might be reluctant to have the child swim there. Yet for someone looking at the photographic depth of the pool's blue color, then deep is a good thing. 

As we're battling another day of sub-zero temps here in the Midwest, I thought an infinity pool might be a great way to thaw your heart or at least the hunch in your frozen shoulders.

So visualize "infinity pool" when entering your chilled car while returing home from work. Infinity is a word that can soothe for a lifetime or at least till you're parked safely in your garage. Oh by the way, viva la France for this great invention. 

February 4, 2011     Architecture on the Rocks               Sedona

Looking back, almost every place we've traveled to has a church that could be described as an unusual piece of architecture. What is it about places of worship that bring out such inspired visions of construction?

 The Chapel of the Holy Cross appears to be literally wedged into the rock formations jutting above the town of Sedona, AZ. Think about the effort and grueling construction that allows this present day church to offer a photo opp for the ages.

I admire people who can visualize something that others just don't see. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said that his success came from anticipating where the puck would be. How about individuals capable of looking at a slice of geography that may look unimpressive today and turning it into something magnificent? Is this a talent that just a few own or something we all have if we were to dig deep enough?

The next time you see a building that takes your breath away, look at the land it sits on and the area surrounding it. What was the before picture? Better yet, look at an existing empty plot and begin creating your own masterpiece.   comments here

Februay 1, 2011      Using Your Head                                 Isla Mujeres

When thinking about alternatives for what to do with the top of one's head, using it as a coaster is way down the list. Then again, consider the millions made by people who think outside the box.

The post-it notes story has been told again and again. This invention was definitely a case of 3M turning lemons into lemonade. How about Kevin Costner coming up with a machine to dredge the ocean after the recent oil spill. There's a great example of turning calamity into opportunity.

A friend, who is somewhat of a Samurai warrior, tends to look at problems from every angle but the obvious one. Tackling something head-on isn't always the best approach. Look at issues from the side, from another's perspective, or completely upside down (isn't that how suction cups were discovered?)

So the next time you see your waiter delivering drinks on his or her head, don't look at them in shock. Instead, look up and see if the roof is leaking.

January 28, 2011     Taxes, Death, and Oceanfront Property      Grand Cayman

Many moons ago, I read something stating that oceanfront property never depreciates. That's because there is a limited amount of oceanfront. This thought stuck in my mind.

I have to believe this stunning property on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman will never need to haggle if they decide to place a "for sale" sign on their lawn. On the flip side, I do wonder if the Florida mortgage crisis has spilled all the way over to its pristine shores?

For me, the idea of listening to murmuring ocean waves at my own residence would simply be heaven on earth. In a world where everything and everyone seems to have a price tag, to be able to see, feel, and hear the ocean from my own personal vantage point would be priceless. (Am I dreaming out loud a bit too much?)

So in an investment world gone mad, perhaps we've stumbled on to a sure thing. Start selling shares in oceanfront property and perhaps our retirement worries will disappear like a beach ball pitched to sea.  

January 26, 2011      Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs      Turks and Caicos

Even on an island as remote as Providenciales in Turks and Caicos - we find signs and declarations to guide, advertise, and explain. How many of these signs are really helpful, as opposed to simply being distracting?



This Provo Golf Club sign serves its purpose well. It not only tells a golfer exactly what he or she needs to know, it also reminds one of your Caribbean island locale. 

Pop up signs on the internet are probably the most vile form of communication. My reflex is to immediately close them out. At the next world web convention, I wonder if some brilliant internet mover and shaker will ever step to the podium and say, "Lets end popups today."

The best signs are those that you actually search for. The last rest stop for 50 miles, the sign in a foreign airport that tells of your departing flight, and the best sign of them all, the one depicting the words that encourage your visit from an old friend.....

Welcome.

 

 

 


  
 

January 24, 2011      Teppanyaki School                   Punta Cana

Have you ever wondered where someone goes to learn teppanyaki cooking? Also, shouldn't this expertise be one of the most "in demand" careers in the world?

Think about it. Say our hero had a particularly bad day working the grill. The egg wouldn't stay hanging on his spatula or maybe the dinner crowd wasn't appreciative for the flaming split the shrimp trick. So he goes to the boss at the restaurant and says, "That's it, in two weeks I'm turning in my cleaver."

Now if you're the boss for Ginsu Guy, you immediately get a splitting migraine. I mean, it takes awhile to teach someone to not start your customers hair on fire, let alone chop a pinky finger into the steaming broccoli. I mean this is a career where you have leverage.

I've never watched late night television and noticed an advertisement for A Career in Teppanyaki Swordsmanship. Knowing he or she is irreplacable, an experienced Teppanyaki guy should be able to walk into the boss' office, and demand dental coverage or at least 100 shares of Chicago Cutlery. 

If you're worried about a layoff at the plant, I believe a career in teppanyaki is the way to go.  

January 17, 2011        Mowing the Pool - When Did That Happen?       Akumal

Companies and people that operate at an extremely high level, often do so silently, with very little fanfare. This stealth-like business acumen is especially true for hotels earning consistently superior satisfaction ratings.

One morning, while staying at this hotel in Akumal, Mexico, I got up early to work out and grab some coffee. As I walked through the courtyard, I noticed two workers hoisting a lawn mower across the shallow end of the pool. I watched as they meticulously manicured the small parcel of grass pictured to the left.

If I hadn't witnessed this unusual form of horticulture, I never would have recognized that grass was growing in the middle of a swimming pool. Think of all the foresight and maintenance that went into this crowning touch of hotel hospitality.

There are whole websites dedicated to reviewing what hotels do right and do wrong.  Wouldn't it be interesting to discover a website that reveals what businesses or successful people do that nobody knows about?

If you have an idea for what such a website should be named, click here. In the meantime, don't forget to mow your pool this summer.

January 13, 2011        The Spell of the Bougainvilleas                      St. Martin

Is there a plant that is more beautiful and yet harder to spell than the bougainvillea? Although I'm usually not much of a flower guy, one of the aspects of the Caribbean I look forward to is being surrounded by waves of bougainvillea color.

The balcony of our hotel in St. Martin was draped in bougainvilleas. It's a sensory eye-opener to wake up in the morning, pull back the curtain, and see pinkish-purple bougainvilleas backed by the blue Caribbean Sea.

It's so easy to take nature for granted. What's hard to ignore is when the world's color pallette reaches up and says, "Here's what I've done for you lately."

So your lesson for today is to look out your window and observe something extraordinarily natural. Then realize that "the best things in life are free" is a saying that is hard to argue with.


Bougainvilleas are definitely not easy to spell, but they're spectacularly free.

January 10, 2011         When Chipmunks Have No Fear               Grand Tetons

A few summers back, we took a road trip that included a stop in the Grand Tetons. As I sat on a cliff with a view overlooking Wyoming's majestic national park, a furry friend decided to introduce himself.

 
 The photo to your left did not require zooming in. "Chippy" was that close to where I was sitting. The problem was, in the summer heat, I was wearing shorts.  As close as the Chipmeister was perched, my instincts set off a mental alarm that he may decide to whirl around and make a move.

An impulsive move by acorn breath concerned me because I was sitting a mere three feet from his lunch spot. What if he bolted and tried to seek shelter inside a slight gap between my shorts and my leg?

My position on the cliff did not allow me to retreat. Fortunately, I was able to politely close the entrance to my shorts before Chippy decided to get a little too friendly.

To this day, whenever I see a chipmunk, my mind reverts to this incident that thankfully never appeared on "Chipmunks Gone Wild."

 If you've had a humorous close encounter with an animal please share here. 

  

 



January 5, 2011
            January - Beach Season is Upon Us.    Anguilla

 As the temperature here in the midwest turns frigid, there is one thought that gets me through the winter... the beach. A mid-winter week of white sand and blue water is the great equalizer.

 
I'm cheerfully addicted to the romance of the Caribbean. Hardly a day goes by that visions of palm trees, coral reefs, and beach bars aren't dancing in my head.

For natives of the Caribbean, one of their favorite island terms is limin.' Yes, it could mean the slice you add to a drink. What it really means is chillin' underneath the shade of a lime tree. On an island like Anguilla , limin' could be a national sport.

So if your thoughts turn desperate while gazing at the snow piled outside your window, just slide a reggae tune into your CD player.


Realize there's a wondrous Caribbean island out there with your name written in the sand.
Would love to hear your comments here.


January 3, 2011
           Make a Wish for the New Year     Sedona, AZ 

The new year is upon us. Is there a resolution, or better yet a wish, that you yearn to see happen in 2011?

 

You'll notice in the photo to the left, that someone has placed a few coins in the palm of this frog residing at the Tiaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village  courtyard in Sedona. Wouldn't it be interesting if the coins revealed what the giver was wishing for?

Giving is a great way to see your wishes granted. I believe that the more you give, the more you get is a true statement. I also believe that action breeds action.

So, my wish is that your wishes are fulfilled. Give and receive, take action and watch what occurs. Instead of just squatting on a lily pad, take the leap toward making your dreams come true.

 

 

 

 

 




December 30, 2010    
$99 or Priceless?                          Cabo San Lucas

There is a quaint inn overlooking downtown Cabo where the most economical room is $99. For a peso less than $100, check out the view that appears from your balcony.


In this case, value is literally in the eye of the beholder. How often do we fail to appreciate what our senses provide? How often do we forget to look beyond  the nose on our face?

My first impulse is to notice the visual. Others may gravitate toward the sounds our world offers, especially when it comes to music. A chef can taste the finest ingredients in the simplest of foods.

As we close in on the ending of another year, what did you really appreciate about the year that just sailed by? What will you make a point of nurturing in the new year?


Here is to hoping that the past year, today, and 2011 deliver absolutely priceless memories. Sometimes even the $99 glimpses can be extra special.

December 27, 2010     How to Eliminate Road Rage     Harbour Island

Golf carts are far and away the preferred mode of transportation in Harbour Island, Bahamas and in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Road rage is nearly impossible if you're behind the wheel of this extremely friendly form of getting from Point A to Point B. 

Full disclosure reveals that Harbour Island is three miles long and Isla Mujeres about five. So an island traffic jam isn't quite what you'd encounter in your hometown rush hour.

I believe a golf cart minimizes the testerone in even the most intense motorist. First, you're visible to the public when driving in an open-air vehicle. Second, it's easy to read a passing driver's expression, so a smile is recommended. Finally, chances are good you'll encounter this driver again, so pleasant behavior is reinforced.

The fresh air and moderate speed of a golf cart is a stress buster. Ultimately, your mood is altered for the good.

So there you have it, my solution to road rage. Remember, you heard it here first. Golf carts may be the answer to world peace (or at least lower liability coverage.)

December 23, 2010     A Scarlet Letter             Riviera Maya

So you pull open the blinds and there it is. A scarlet macaw is perched on a branch of your nearest tree. Imagine your amazement if this multi-colored dreamcoat of a bird presented itself for you tomorrow morning.



Tomorrow is Christmas eve. If you awakened to the sounds and sights of this rare bird, then Christmas Eve 2010 will forever be remembered as the year of the scarlet macaw sighting (the one pictured resides at the Maroma Hotel)

As it is, about 2010 years ago, something even grander happened. Someone entered the world minus the wardrobe of the macaw. In fact his stage environment was as beige as it gets. Ironically, this very humble entrance is still heralded today.

So today's blog is about keeping an eye out for anything that seems extraordinary. You'll know it when you see it, hear it, or feel it. It's just a matter of being alert to the special circumstances that make up each day.

I hope this doesn't seem like my sermon on the mount. I'd rather it seems like reflecting on life's little blessings.

Tomorrow and the next day, let's wish for three geese a laying, or at least a single scarlet macaw.

  



December 20, 2010    
Footprints on Our Hearts     Grand Cayman

Footprints are like snowflakes, seashells, and sunsets. No two are alike. Have you ever stopped to wonder about the footprints you encounter on an isolated beach? What is the story behind the person who walked mere seconds before you?

Beach walking is an exercise that is both humbling and awe inspiring. Humbling in the sense that generations have walked this same path before you. Awe inspiring when you consider the power of the ocean that serves as your companion.

With Christmas just a few days off, I find a saying involving "footprints" to be appropriate. Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.

It's easy to lose sight of the simple things during this very hectic and very commercial holiday season. Here is a simple thought ...

Be grateful for those who have left footprints on your heart. Merry Christmas.

 December 16, 2010     Colour My World            Isla Mujeres

Have you ever noticed how vibrant colors make you happy? When I think back on the colors drenching this charming Bed and Breakfast in Isla Mujeres, I can't help but smile.

Villa La Bella is owned by a Southern California couple who pulled up roots and made Mexico home. The husband is a former ad copy writer and the wife has a gift for interior, as well as exterior, design. The colors of this hotel are both attention getting and very welcoming.

Why are we usually drab-friendly? When someone prepares to sell their home, you always hear that neutral colors are important. Also, Job Search 101 usually recommends a conservative approach regarding attire. But when it comes to a basic element of life that gives us joy, there is something rejuvenating about color. 


Isn't seeing a rainbow uplifting? Think about our holidays - Easter is green, Christmas is red and  Halloween is perfectly orange.

Miley Cyrus' take on color says it all, "Pink isn't just a color, it's an attitude."


December 13, 2010    
Johnny Depp Sighting - Almost                Turks and Caicos

While gliding over the Caribbean Sea during a snorkeling excursion in Turks and Caicos, our boat captain pointed out a yacht with an odd name. On the back of the boat it said "VaJoLiRoJa."

We learned that the boat was owned by none other than Johnny Depp. The name adorning the boat is made up of the first few letters of each Depp family member.

We didn't actually see anyone on board. You could tell by the expressions of the females on our excursion that a lot of wishful thinking was going on.

Parrot Cay is an island in the Turks chain where a number of celebs take up residence. McCartney, Richards, and Willis to name a few. Can't say that I saw any of them on this trip. Hopefully this is the last blog entry where you'll find any further shameless name dropping.
 

Here is a Johnny Depp thought for the day ... Do you think the name of his boat also serves as a password on his G-mail account?


December 9, 2010    
Double Take on Pink Sands Beach                Harbour Island

For residents of Harbour Island, seeing a horse on Pink Sands Beach is a fairly common thing. Now if you're a  Harbour Island rookie, a horse showing up literally out of the blue, takes some getting used to.

A local resident who goes by "Mr. Robert" takes anywhere from one to three horses for a ride almost daily. The initial time you witness this, it seems so out of context. One can't help but question, "What just happened?"

Every setting has regular occurences that natives ignore and newcomers find quizzical.That's how I would describe seeing horses gallop along this gorgeous Caribbean Sea backdrop. This happening serves as a mesmerizing Kodak moment for first-time Harbour Island visitors.

Okay ...close your eyes and think about stallions pulsating along a blanket of pink sand. Next, frame this image against high-definition blue water. 
N
ow that's a horse of a different color.


December 6, 2010     Caribbean Spontaneity - Very Rewarding     St. Martin

Acting on a spontaneous impulse can be very gratifying. One such satisfying move occurred while exploring St. Martin in our rental car. We decided to check out Mr. Busby's Beach Bar.

Here is what we would have missed if we hadn't checked out Mr. Busby's outdoor restaurant overlooking Dawn Beach: First, I would have never sampled the best crabmeat sandwich I've ever had the pleasure to devour.

Second, we never would have heard the steel drum player and singer pictured here. Spontaneous occurences usually mean you have no pre-existing expectations. So to discover tremendous music and great food at 2:00 on a weekday afternoon is like hitting a mini-lottery.

The proprietor, Mr. Dan Busby, is from the U.S. and he seems to have found his own little pot of gold in St. Martin. The fact that he's willing to share his treasure is a reward I'll nurture like the discounted Carib beer that complemented my crabmeat sandwich.

The dictionary describes "spontaneous" as a "natural impulse." In St. Martin, spontaneous is as natural, and impulsive, as the beat of steel drums on a glorious afternoon.

December 5, 2010     Reflections on Crazy Colorado Weather     Aspen

A brief Colorado vacation a few years back felt like an extreme weather makeover. Over the course of four days we went from near 60-degree temperatures to blizzard conditions.

After flying into Vail, we made the trek to Aspen accompanied by sunny skies and temps in the high 50s. We were able to navigate the scenic Maroon Bells and the colorful town of Aspen in conditions where shirt sleeves seemed appropriate.

On the way to Breckenridge, all hell broke loose. By the time we hit Breckenridge's City Hall, snow was blowing sideways and road conditions were fierce. We ended up hunkering down in the quaint neighboring town of Frisco. The dawn of morning revealed a foot of snow had fallen overnight.

About 48 hours later, we were back at Vail's airport without a trace of snow on the ground. Over the course of four days, we experienced almost every season, landscape and emotion.

Looking back, the people of Colorado are fortunate to live in a postcard-like setting. It's also one of the few environments where you don't know whether you'll need a lawn mower or snow blower on a day-to-day basis. 

December 2, 2010      World's Most Expensive Tequila     Riviera Maya

At Freddy's Tequila and Cerviche Bar you can really go deep if you're into tequila. When I say deep, I mean deep inside your wallet.

Freddy pours over 100 brands of tequila. One of those bottles, a certain Pasion Azteca, goes for a cool $146 per shot.

Just this week, I flinched after paying $28 for four beers at an NHL hockey game. Imagine handing over a Benjamin and a Jackson for one throwback. Now if you're going that deep for a shot, you wouldn't do it by yourself. So this means doubling the amount. How do you say "ouch" in Spanish?

I've obviously given this waaayy too much thought, but surrendering to temptation at Freddy's makes for a heckuva story once you're back home. When you fumble for lunch money the following week, the story is what you'll cling to.

By the way, the killer view at Freddy's probably has something to do with people getting a little giddy before requesting a Pasion Azteca. I wonder if for $146, Freddy doubles up on the limes?  

December 1, 2010        Long Bay Beach - sand so soft you'll melt      Anguilla

I'll never forget the sensation the first time I walked on Long Bay Beach in Anguilla. My feet sunk deep into the soft sand - all the way to the top of my ankles.

We sort of snuck on to this beach from a winding restaurant stairway perched above the beach. I was both shocked and almost honored to realize we were the only two people on this stunningly beautiful beach.

This quiet isolation maintained for almost 30 minutes before another group showed up. From the water color, to the white sand, the private homes, and rustic landscapes, this beach was in a class by itself.

I'm blogging on a day in Minnesota where the temps are hovering around 20 degrees. Reflecting on a  treasured time on Long Bay Beach is the perfect remedy for the oncoming winter blues.

Suddenly I'm warmer, at least up to my ankles.

November 30, 2010     Cabo Cruising                     Cabo San Lucas

Although both cruises I've been on were good experiences, it's not my first choice as a mode of travel. Then again, a just-arrived CD and brochure on Tahiti could have me changing my mind by tomorrow.

I wonder what goes through the minds of these birds every time a throng of cruisers storm Medano Beach in Cabo? Perhaps the conversation goes something like this...

Bird #1: "So Chauncey, do you think the heavy set guys will be wearing thongs again today?
Bird #2: That's an even money bet Herb. I'll also be laying 2-1 odds that the same guys will be wearing a sombrero by the time they board the boat.
Bird #3:  I'll take both those bets and raise you a hundred that their wives give them hell about sunburn shoulders and tequila hangovers."

I'm definitely guilty of wearing the tourist label every time I venture around with a camera slung around my neck. But I do try to avoid traveling as a herd to the Senor Frogs watering holes of the world. I'm mean, isn't Senor Frogs the Latin term for Applebees?  

Before you think I'm on a high horse, I must confess I love Applebees oriental chicken salad. If that's not enough trivia for you, did you know that Mark Twain was a passenger on the first cruise ship in 1867? Do you think he wore a thong on that trip?

November 26, 2010      What is Your Destiny?            Sedona, AZ

Every now and then you meet someone who seems to have life figured out. Imagine working at a job that feels like a date with destiny.

It's Nina Rehfeld's duty to drive tourists to the top of Sedona's highest red rock peaks. Along the way, Rehfeld spins stories of the Old West while navigating mountaintops in a souped-up yellow jeep. (See "Sedona Rocks." )

Rehfeld's passions include hiking and the outdoors. This native of West Berlin, Germany, also happens to have the gift of gab. When Rehfeld learned that she could earn a living in Sedona as jeep guide, her response was, "Where do I sign up?"

Sedona's canyons and peaks are nothing short of exhilirating. For you and I, the inspiration for our most rich and fulfilling career may be more subtle. So the question is, "What profession would make your heart sing?" The answer, in the words of Lennon and McCartney, could be your "ticket to ride."

Here's to hoping that you reach your moutaintop in 2011. In the meantime, Seize the day!

November 23, 2010      Still Standing                          Harbour Island, Bahamas

Do you believe that - if there is a yin, there must be a yang?

 

A vivid example of "for every bad there is a good" can be found on the eastern tip of Harbour Island (located 60 miles south of  Nassau.)

One version of the "lone tree" legend states that in 1992, Hurricane Andrew's Category 5 winds ripped this tree off a neighboring cliff.  The tree relocated into its present upright and water-bound position seen here.

Some say this piece of drift wood is an almond tree, other's say a pine. The mystery behind it's original setting, prior to being tossed by Andrew, merely adds to its photographic appeal.

This tree can be found on what's known as "Girls Bank" in Harbour Island. This unique landmark is one of the most photographed natural wonders in all of the Caribbean. It's an especially beautiful site during high tide and at sunset. 

So the next time you reflect on a modern day natural disaster, see if there is a sliver of positivity that can be found from the wreckage. It's amazing the rewards that can be reaped by those who persevere.

   

November 19, 2010      Try Not to Look                               St. Martin

Some beach bars are, shall we say, more colorful than others. Certain beach establishments generate their color from the "personality" behind the bar.

Occasionally a photo surprises or exceeds one's expectation. That definitely is the case with this shot capturing a beach bar proprietor on St. Martin's infamous Orient Beach.

If success is measured by enjoying one's work, then this cowboy-hatted gent is the Caribbean's answer to Warren Buffett. As I'm writing this, I can't help but realize this is my second consecutive reference to a Buffett (see previous blog entry.) Plus, I remember that "Margaritaville" would eminate from this beach bar every time someone would request a shot of tequila (another innocent tie to the previous blog entry.)


This kind of redundancy is rare on Orient Beach. Almost every person, photo opp, and beach occurrence is unique unto itself. If every picture tells a story, then you are free to make up your own caption for the photo above.  

November 18, 2010      What's Up with Sea Salt?                Turks and Caicos

Have you noticed all the recent campaigning regarding sea salt? I've heard several different news stories & commercials in the past three days touting this flavor enhancer.

Personally, I have yet to indulge in this spice, although it's possible I've had it on potato chips. Part of the hysteria over sea salt is it's supposed to be a much healthier option over traditional salt. Studies show it has a quite bit less sodium content.

If I must think of sea salt, then I prefer my mind wanders toward this chalky glimpse photographed in Turks and Caicos. There is actually a barely populated island in the Turks and Caicos chain called Salt Cay.

There was a time, hundreds of years ago, that the salt on Salt Cay provided jobs and economic support to hundreds of people. In fact, when Turks and Caicos was under British rule, the island's salt was what George Washington needed to preserve food for his army during the Revolutionary War.

Another familiar name connected to Turks and Caicos history is Buffett, as in Jimmy's Buffet's father and grandfather. In his autobiography, Jimmy notes that childhood time spent loading a boat with his father on Salt Cay were some of the grandest in his life. Somthing about chasing flamingos and catching lobsters. Sounds like the Buffets were wasting away in TurksandCaicosville.


November 16, 2010 
     It's Okay to Dream                 Grand Cayman

We passed up this little shack on the way to frolicing with the stingrays in the North Sound area of Grand Cayman. I couldn't help gazing at this humble abode and sighing out loud.

I always wonder what the residents of these homes do for a living. I don't resent, but I do admire. What's the story on how they achieved and what are their success common denominators. Wouldn't it be great if you could bottle these dynamic ingredients?

I think it's good to have dreams, to have the carrot just out of reach. Dreams keep you motivated, hungry, and stoke the embers glowing deep inside.

Please share if you know of someone who has achieved this kind of dream home success (just click my contact page on the left side column.) I love hearing stories about those who have reached for the top rung and hung on.


I find these stories to be grand, or in this case, grand Cayman.

November 15, 2010    Fancy Coffee                                           Akumal, Mexico

If variety is the spice of life, then occasionally one may want to request an especially hot cup of coffee. In this case, flaming coffee.


In Mexico, flaming coffee is called, "bebida de fuego
." The young lady pictured here was quite adept in mixing and maneuvering the flame. There is no set formula as to what you choose to add to this concoction. Regardless, it's quite tasty.

Mexican coffee actually has a Caribbean influence, having been imported from Jamaica in the 19th century. Many of the Mexican coffees of today have a hint of cinnamon.

So if your significant other isn't what you call a morning person, perhaps you should give her or him a "wakeup call" with a cup of fancy coffee, Mexican-style.

Starbucks and Caribou will be calling you a trendsetter upon your request for a cup of Mexican "electrolysis by the cup." 

 

 
November 12, 2010
  Dance Like Nobody's Watching    Turks and Caicos Islands

There is a saying or a song that states we should, "Dance like nobody's watching." That perfectly captures this little girl's look of joy while she enjoys the music at Horse-Eye Jack's restaurant in Turks and Caicos.

I'll set the stage for what led up to this photo. We were eating a relaxing dinner at an outdoor restaurant in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Providenciales. A reggae band was playing as the sun was setting and all of a sudden this little girl couldn't contain herself.

She started spinning, smiling, and thoroughly having the time of her life. It's too bad how inhibited we get as time goes on. Like the song says, "Dance like nobody's watching, love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening, live like it's heaven on earth."

 

You don't have to be in Turks and Caicos to appreciate those thoughts.

November 9, 2010   Hang a left at Hanging Lake       Glenwood Springs, CO

Isn't it amazing how the best of times often occurs when you do something absolutley spontaneous. That pretty much sums up our discovering Hanging Lake just outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

While driving from Aspen to Vail, we noticed a sign that stated something about "Hanging Lake." We decided to veer off on the exit. After initially admiring the majestic scenery of a railroad track that has been carved out of a mountainside, we began the trek up to whatever Hanging Lake was.

Glancing back on where we had been was almost as impressive as the imposing views going straight up. Trekkers going down encouraged that our destination up was worth the huffing and puffing.

The history of Hanging Lake goes something like this - a miner searching for gold by the Colorado River, found a dead horse near a gulch. He followed along a steep hillside until he found this small bowl-like basin hanging from the cliffs. Thus, Hanging Lake.

One never knows what lies beyond the next turn in life. If you're ever traveling along I-70 in Colorado, take the time to hang a left up to Hanging Lake. You'll be glad you did.

November 8, 2010   Simple, Soothing, Sensory,          Punta Cana

Are you a visual, auditory, or feeling kind of person? When was the last time all your senses were maxed out? On Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, you'll find an amenity where less is so much more.

 

 

Framed by a backdrop of palm trees, white sand beach, and turquoise water, is a massage table adorned with a solitary peach rose. The sights are obvious, the sounds are ocean waves crashing in the distance, and the feeling is for you to decide.

Too often we tend to go overboard when it comes to life's little pleasures. In the case of this Dominican dandy of a massage environment, bowing to the abundance of mother nature is as generous as it gets. Thanks Mom.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

November 4, 2010   Temazcal - Some Like it Hot          Maroma Beach

On stunning Maroma Beach in the Riviera Maya, you'll find a curious triangular hut facing the Caribbean Sea. In Mayan culture, this hut is called "temazcal." You and I may refer to it as a sweat lodge.

At the Maroma Resort and Spa, guests with deep pockets pay big bucks to cleanse their spirit by hunkering down in temperatures that soar well over 100 degrees. Recognizable names such as Redford, Blair, and Driver have found inner peace while contemplating life and perspiring profusely in this very temazcal.

In my eyes, the best part of this ritual is the end. When the door opens, one can dive into some of the bluest water you'll find anywhere in the world. The feeling of rejuvenation that is reached in the temazcal is exceeded only by the thirst that is quenched by the cerveza one downs soon after.

Sometimes life is all about tapping one's inner Corona.

October 28, 2010   Why Can't We All Get Along?          Anguilla   


This photo, shot in Anguilla, is a classic case of putting differences aside and co-existing. I'm wondering about the very first time the bird set up shop and the steer looked up to say, "I like this arrangement."

What adds to this photo is the purplish-pink house in the background. Caribbean architecture is all about the funky colors that really add a vibe to this laid-back environment.

Many homes in Anguilla have a resident goat in the front yard. I'm assuming the goat doubles as a source of milk and a lawn mower. Anguilla is definitely a place where they pay more than lip service to the saying,  "love your neighbor."   

 

 

 

 



October 26, 2010   Where's Walt Disney?          Sedona, AZ

For all I know, Walt Disney had homes all over the world. I was definitely surprised to learn that he owned a home for many years in Sedona, AZ.

As we were driving a rental car on the outskirts of the city, we happened upon a quaint residential neighborhood. We quite accidentally looked up to see a street sign bearing Mr. Disney's name. Apparently Walt lived a quiet existence in Sedona for many years, long before the area exploded as a tourism mecca.

The red rock mountain that looms behind the Disney Lane sign is the give-away that you're definitely not in Orlando. You never know what you'll find or who you'll meet when you venture outside the standard attractions. It's a small world after all.

 


October 22, 2010  Golf Class- from France to the Dominican          Punta Cana

When I prepare for an article, I occasionally second-guess how I'll measure up to the person I'm interviewing. Will he or she have time for me, will they be surly, and will their answers to my questions be compelling?

These were my thoughts as I prepared for an interview with Olivier Brizon, the Director of Golf at La Cana Golf Course  in Punta Cana. Olivier immediately put these thoughts and my mind at ease. This golf professional from the south of France, was quite simply one of the nicest people I've ever met.

I learned that Olivier had designed and built courses in France prior to focusing on golf professional duties. What really impressed me about Mr. Brizon was his gentleness and respect for the game. I was also fascinated by his golf travels around the globe.

One of the bonuses to writing is the people you meet.

This photo of Olivier and me captures a writing memory I'll cherish. Olivier Brizon epitomizes class in any language or hemisphere.

October 21, 2010   Jo Jo the dolphin          Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The previous blog about the rooster got me to thinking about some of the other wildlife we've encountered on trips. Probably the mammal that stands out is Jo Jo the dolphin.

Jo Jo has generated international acclaim for swimming with people on the shores of Grace Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands. What really got the Jo Jo story humming was his enduring friendship with swimmer Dean Bernal of San Jose, CA.

The legend is that Dean was swimming off of Grace Bay about 20 years ago, when suddenly, a dolphin began tagging along side-by-side. Bernal was curious if he could make this happen again, and Jo-Jo continued to show up over the course of several months. Over the years, two movies were made featuring Dean's guardianship and discoveries regarding Jo Jo.

Most dolphins swim in "pods' or groups. Jo Jo is unique in that he swims solo.

When we were in Providenciales, which is where you'll find Grace Bay, we noticed Jo Jo swimming parallel to the shoreline for almost a mile. He also showed up the next day during a boat excursion we were on. Click this link if you're interested in learning more about Jo Jo.  This dolphin is another reason why thinking about Turks and Caicos makes me smile.

October 18, 2010   Roosters in Training          Harbour Island, Bahamas
During a trip to tiny Harbour Island, one of the Bahamas Out Islands, I was amazed how roosters and chickens are such a welcome cog in the fabric of the community.

What stands out was a morning when we were taking a photo on the eastern end of the island. I began hearing the worst rooster crowing ever. It was like hearing roosters with a frog in their throat or roosters going through puberty. It was really comical. I told my wife it sounded like "roosters in training."

Golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation on this island. You had to be careful when driving because roosters and chickens would bolt out of nowhere. Have you ever wondered about the question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" I think someone on Harbour Island would have the answer.

October 14, 2010  A Shell of a Home          Isla Mujeres

The homes in the Caribbean have a personality all their own. What may be considered an outlandish exterior in your neighborhood, looks just right when it's a stone's throw from the Caribbean Sea.


The home to your left can be found on Isla Mujeres, an island located about 25 minutes from Cancun by boat. One can't help but wonder about the inspiration or motivation behind this one-of-a-kind abode.