About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

The Good, the Bad and the Reality: Jersey Shore

So I am sitting here, roasting in this unbelievable heat and watching this unbelievably stupid show Jersey Shore. The thing is as stupid as it is, I don't miss an episode. It's hilarious and I am a sucker for American reality tv. Yep. I admit it.

Anyway, this girl Sammi has to be the dumbest woman on the planet or at least part of the dumb elite. I watch this chick week after week get dumped on by her meathead, no ambition, shark head boyfriend Ronnie who clearly also has some psychological issues and a serious drinking problem. And I wonder what does this dude have that entails you being made a fool of every week? Is it that good? She is a pretty good looking girl in a stupid kinda way but wow...she has no sense when it comes to this meathead. Even Snooki, who with a nickname like Snooki one would imagine she would be a total puffhead, has more sense than this Samantha chick.

And though I should logically find the guys on this show highly offensive, their own ignorance and laissez-faire attitude to political correctness makes for amusing tv. I really really should be gravely offended by The Situation referring to a girl he does not find highly attractive as an hippopotamus, but he is so clueless about his own doggish appearance, and so self absorbed that it does not matter much. The episode where the girl's fake breast floated out of her bra and into the packed hot tub was another classic, with these silly dudes playing a game of catch with this piece of rubber that was once part of a girl's attempt at a breast. The show is like a large portion of french fries - you know it's bad for you and full of crap, but you have it anyway.

p.s. The Situation is going to be one of the "celebrities" on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. That should be a laugh.

Jurassic Park Personified

When I made this decision to go back to school, one thing I kept saying to myself and to others was "I am getting older" and though you try to fool yourself into thinking you're that hot spring chicken you were when you did your spin as an undergrad, you soon realise that you're a damn dinosaur. (a hot dinosaur, excuse you)

I have been following the social networking chatter from the 2010/2011 intake at my school and I felt like Ty - Tyrannosauraus Rex. I mean, wow...was I this young and foolish once? What's worse, one chick who would probably share a couple classes with me asked my age and I told her, and you would swear I had some infectious cyber disease after that. It was somewhat alarming but more hilarious than anything else. Am I going to be the old fart in the classroom with all these silly twenty-somethings? God help me. Are there going to be more Edward Cullen and Justin Bieber aficionados than people who could tell you about Boyz II Men and Russell Crowe? Will I be that woman I used to frown on at age 19 - the old lady on the block? Yeah. Mature students look different, act differently and even dress differently and as I was going through my own back to school wardrobe, I knew I was going to not be as disheveled as some of the people you see on campus. Well, not all the time anyway. And you would think I was like in my 50s or something. I am still years away from ticking the 35-40 box on application forms, so damn...when did I become a relic?
But note friends, I did not say I felt like a Brontosauraus, all slow and wombly and chewing on grass like a wuss. Nope. I am fierce, I am the H.B.I.C in the park, and will bite your head off if you're annoying. Gives a whole new meaning to the saying "I may be old, but not cold".
I think I am better prepared now for this than I was at 22. I think the life experiences I have had since then have given me enough perspective to appreciate where I am now, and how I managed to get here. The one great thing about where I have been is that I have been able to keep my brain from turning to mush and it's probably sharper and more receptive to knowledge now than it was then. I think I can embrace this new challenge with the force of the fabulous and super woman that I am and love it and succeed at it. I probably have more to show for myself than some of these young'uns and more to show them as well. And show them that 30 definitely is not ancient. I used to think so too when I was their age, but it's a pretty good place to be actually. They may be surprised that I can actually relate to them, and think this old battleaxe is quite a trip! Cause I am. I  am pretty damn awesome!

Quick, hopefully painless update

So I have been cryptic about the stuff that's been on my mind for weeks now, but with everything happening just as God wanted it to happen, I guess I can let you all know that I am relocating for a while. As soon as they tearfully let me go, the Brits have tearfully started my welcome back party. I am leaving my life in Trinidad for a bit to head back to good ole Blighty to study, explore, soul search and take a load off. It was not a very easy decision but it was the best decision for me. I leave in a couple of weeks on my new adventure. I swear...I can start the book now. Blessed I am, and bountiful is my life.
(and you go...wow...just so??)

Now that you have picked yourself off the floor, I have more bad news, but I am hopeful that this will not be a major problem. I saw it becoming a major crisis because having been exposed to Sky and the rubbish they show, I realised...OMG...Grey's Anatomy!!!

It hit me that unless I could access the same streaming sites I access now after a long day at the office has caused me to sleep away the Grey's hour forcing me to stream the episode the next morning, then I am screwed and my Grey's loving fan club is screwed!!! I am hoping to find a solution to this predicament ASAP so I can stay in the loop and in touch with my Grey's girls and guys.

And yesterday it became apparent that my life was taking a huge huge dive. I saw the awesomest pair of black and brown heels and they fit me perfectly and then I pictured myself rushing from train to tube to bus, and in that picture, I was wearing flat, comfy shoes and not these beautiful heels and depression hit me like a ton of bricks. And my blog name will certainly lean more towards the flip flops and sneakers and maybe, hopefully some cute boots, but definitely not heels. I have already instructed mumsy to vacuum seal my beautiful animal prints, my red leather pumps, my gun metal slingbacks for fear of dry rotting. Damn you public transportation! Damn you!

But the silver lining in all this, just think of the adventures I can blog about for the next 14-15 months of my life. I mean, unemployed Trini in London, the chronicles. Can you see it?

To the few people who did know and helped in the decision making process and gave moral support, gracias. You guys and gals are the best people in the world and I love you to bits. To all my peeps, I am still here basically. You don't see me anyway but I will talk to you as often as I can via this medium.

So...now you know. Leave your comments and pledges of financial support below. More of the latter hopefully.

Beauty by Trininista

Someone remarked that I looked so fresh and pretty yesterday. I put some effort into making my hair a bit neater than the day before, and did a fantastic eyeshadow job which always works to lift my mood. Yesterday I really made the effort to look as good as I did not feel. And I succeeded. I looked stellar even though I felt like crap. There are some days when you get out of bed physically but the spirit and the mojo don't quite get the idea and they stay under the covers.  It may seem like it would take some doing to get yourself from Mumra to She-Ra, but my solution, as I outlined to my colleague, is quite simple.

A good cleanser - I like L'Oreal's Go 360 Clean, because it is good for my oily skin and it also comes with the cute green scrubby which fits neatly in the bottle. Great packaging for the woman on the go.

My secret weapon - Because I have oily skin, I never leave home without my Clean and Clear oil absorbent sheets, but I have also discovered Herbalism from Lush, which after a good cleanser, really makes the skin softer and drags away any leftover oil. And you don't need to use a lot. It's an awesome product and really jumpstarts my day.

Moisturiser - I use Pond's Clarant B3 because it is again, a great matte moisturiser for oily skin and does not give that greasy look. At night though, I use a combo of Vitamin E oil and a night time moisturiser to keep the youth alive and the laugh lines at bay.

And of course...even if you're not going the full monty with the makeup (bring on the awesome shadows from MAC during the work week for me), mascara never hurt anyone. I love Clinique and Maybelline XXL Extensions for my fine lashes. A touch of lipgloss and you're ready to show the world that even in the face of questions, doubts, frustration and exhaustion, you're a star!

So what is your daily morning beauty regime?

Shaken, not Stirred

I would like to thank my friend, Nats for sending me this when I needed some inspiration and guidance. The Robert Fritz quote really really resonated with me and I shared this with a colleague today as well and she also thought it was quite powerful. It helped me make a big decision recently cause sometimes we put things off out of fear of the unknown, out of circumstances that we may think are unassailable, but nothing is impossible if we really want it to be possible. I thought I would share my choicetini with you too and share the love and the wisdom which was shared with me.

Piggylicious

The start of my vacation had marked the end of healthy, purposeful eating. I was eating well and going to the gym regularly. Then I went on vacation and I was also eating well - VERY WELL - and by that I don't mean broccoli and legumes. I was having Thai and Japanese and lots and lots of Italian, and Brazilian and Caribbean food and thanks to my cousin, lots of wine, lots of cocktails, thanks to RT, lots of Haagie. I was the piggy hotness enjoying a well earned vacation. Then I came home and nothing changed but the nationality and readiness of the food. My mum was on vacation and I was forced to fend completely for myself. So while I would cook a healthy, full lunch for work and have a small Mummy-cooked dinner, I was now too tired to manage all that cooking and was having crap. The macaroni pie is not only my favouritest thing in all the world, but it is also the simplest thing to prepare, next to a pelau, and my 3rd macaroni pie in 2 weeks is sitting in the fridge.

So yes, I am an oink oink at this point and feeling it in every inch of my fat body. I had promised to make it to the gym today but nature had other plans so this has been delayed. I have a nice helping of yesterday's "welcome home mummy" pelau, with some cole slaw and a slice of the infamous macaroni pie in my lunchbag - this after digging through the mountain of broccoli in Hi-Lo to find the right bag of my favourite green vegetable for steaming for lunch this week. I am a sinner and I ask for forgiveness.

I hope to get my ass in gear and back in shape, soon.

Aunty Trininista and the Black Avenger

It's been a life changing weekend thus far. I will talk about life changer #1 later, but the other life changer only indirectly affects me. My brother is now a dad and I am still trying to wrap my thoughts around the fact that this dude I used to beat up and play action hero with, is now responsible for a baby and now has a family. It now makes me an aunt and as I stood outside the nursery peeking at my new nephew, one of the women waiting outside commented that I would be spoiling that kid. I cannot comment on that at this moment, but I know his grandmother aka my mother would be spoiling him rotten. I spent a good chunk of my day at the nursing home awaiting the arrival of this baby boy, so I am a bit shattered today. Baby is adorable though and mummy is doing well.

But let's talk a little bit about customer service. I had 2 not so gleeful moments of crap service and anyone who knows me knows it is a major peeve of mine when people are rude, ignorant and stupid especially when they are being paid for a service.

The nurses at this nursing home were not too pleasant and while I recognised that I may not have been the patient's mother or something, I am sister-in-law and hell, I was the only other person there besides my brother, who was in the delivery room. She was in labour for a long time and I was starting to get concerned, so EXCUSE ME for wanting some information. Sour Sally came out of the delivery suite and I politely asked about the mother and baby, and the woman looked at me like I was asking for her liver. Never got an answer. The midwife was a bit frazzled looking as she was the one really in there doing shit, not like Sour Sally who was just stepping in and out, so I did not want to bother her. I saw another nurse go in, get some info and come out and again I asked how everything was going. Again, the liver look and I swear, anyhow it was my credit card on that counter paying her salary, I would have had to show my bad attitude but out of respect for my brother I stayed quiet. It was a struggle. It was only the kind doctor who when he came out saw my worry and gave me an update, and I looked over at Sour Sally and her cohort and cut my eye at them with all the acid available in my eye sockets!

But let's get to Friday evening when I joined some friends for dinner at a restaurant in PoS and since it was partly my money and not my brother's involved I am not scared to say where it was. So we went to HAKKA restaurant in Woodbrook and though the meal was not outstanding, nor the service, we had a great time. You cannot put a price on friendship. So at one point I noticed a couple exit the restaurant (we ate outside) and I thought to myself "wow, anything goes in here" cause the girl was wearing denim shorts and a tank top and describing these pants as "shorts" is being generous. It was a denim panty. Her male companion was wearing cargo shorts, I think they were sneakers or slippers and a t-shirt that could have used some ironing. I did not really pay them much attention but I was amused by the girl's get up especially.

Fast forward and my girlfriend's husband comes to pick her up and he is hesitant to come in because of his mode of dress - nice white shorts, t-shirt, sneakers. I told her, if the other couple got in, her husband could get in. Ay ay...before the man could inhale the aroma from the kitchen, the big, black maitre d' or whoever he was, fly in on his broom with his black cape, and brace him and tell him bout he cyah come in with that outfit. Tried to explain to this idiot, that the man did not come to dine. He just came in to say hello. However, this fool was not hearing this and was all over my girlfriend's husband like Old Spice on a piper.

Did I mention the denim panty couple was white?

This is the kinda nonsense I cannot tolerate here, and you really cannot blame panty girl and her man cause they thought they were looking good for the Third World eating spot. Clearly. And noone told them they were inappropriately dressed. However, when a local comes in, suddenly there is a dress code. Nonsense! I blame the Trini people and their colonial mentality who facilitate these double standards. I saw the Black Avenger pretending he not hearing us when we told him the white panty girl and her man had no problems earlier, but let me tell you, not me and that place again. Thanks, but no thanks. The double standards crap, not to mention the insect invasion on the patio were enough to turn me off for good.

I did have brilliant customer service as usual at my car service shop, where I paid $46 for a service that I was quoted $1000 for by another provider. This place sweet.

Taking Animal Love Village to Village

My BFF is part of a great initiative in Tobago, which is aimed at reducing the stray animal population in the sister isle of Tobago, and promote animal welfare on the island.
It is always such a big thing for me more as a Trini, and not so much as a huge, gooey dog lover myself (I cannot see a dog and pass it straight), to travel and see animals treated well - I mean beyond the normal boundaries of animal wellness. lol. I love my cousin's neighbour's dog, a West Highland White Terrier named Womble, who is such a little star and is so loved and so spoilt by his owners. My own mongrels get the sort of love and care that Trinidad terriers aka pot hounds aka mongrels rarely get here because of their inferior status in the Trini dog world. Yet so many animals do not get to enjoy this type of love and comfort, but are forced to make it on their own on the streets, diseased, hungry and dying.  Mongrel or not, I really cannot stand to see an animal mistreated or abandoned. They give such unconditional love and such joy to so many, that the ones who are left out on the street through owner abandonment, lack of proper spaying practices or just neglect really tug at heart strings (unless they try to bite me as I work out in the village).

So the Village-to-Village programme is really aimed at addressing some of these concerns, primarily the spaying and neutering of animals to reduce the large number of strays on the streets and highways, who become roadkill, or are abused by evil human beings. The aim is to neuter between 65%-75% of stray, and owned doggies and kitties in Tobago and increase awareness of such techniques among the local population. The great thing about the programme is that it addresses the problem in the rural communities, where one may not have access to veterinary care and where pet owners or concerned residents just cannot afford or will find it impractical to spay or neuter their animals. The programme makes such a service available, at no cost, and is managed by veterinarians and persons very much experienced and committed to the cause.

There will be two rural outreach clinics to spay and neuter approximately 150 animals in Charlotteville and Bacolet, Tobago from Sept 3-5, 2010.

Volunteers are welcome to be part of this awesome initiative for all aspects of the clinic, including clerical staff, vets, vet techs and assistants and anyone with experience in handling animals or a real passion for lending assistance. And if you want to donate items like paper towels, bleach, pet collars, blankets, disinfectant, garbage bags or buckets, please step up to the plate and do it! To volunteer, donate funds or items to the cause, please contact any of the following:


Dr Paul Crooks  1-868-688-8281
Dr Kevern Sawh 1-868-678-8023
Dr Adana Mahase 1-868-689-1586
TTSPCA - 1-868-639-2567

Italy: The End of the Road

By the time we got to San Gimignano, I really think we were too tired to be excited tourists. The sun was unrelenting and we were also faced with a short hill and stairs - no escalators like in Siena, much to my annoyance. But really, the walled city of San Gimignano was breathtaking. The streets were teeming with life - both the tourist kind and the resident kind - with the city's famed towers looking down on all of us. I decided to break away from the ladies and go exploring on my own because I knew I wanted to move at my own pace this time around. I managed to pick up some awesome biscotti for my cousin and tried on some really gorgeous handmade jewellry pieces in a couple of shops. The prices were as hot as the Italian sun, so I made zero purchases but maybe next time.

I made a couple stops in souvenir shops and pitstops, but this was apparently quite the draw and I was loathe to join a line as long as my dress for ice cream but when the boast is that the gelato you're hawking is the world's best gelato and you have a trophy somewhere to prove it...well...I will bite.



I stood in line for maybe only 5 minutes as the staff were probably quite used to this tourist bonanza, and I ordered a buttery flavoured gelato which was fantastic. I took my fat, hot, tired gelato loving ass to a shady nook and people watched until the cone was no more. Then I ran to a standpipe and washed the milky mess off my hands and ran some water over my face and neck and made a slow walk back to the tour bus.

When I got back to the bus, the sea of tired faces, with either water soaked or sweat soaked hair clinging to them was enough to make me laugh. We got on the bus, grateful for the a/c and made the drive to Pisa and thankfully by the time we got there, the sun had been overthrown by some darkish clouds and it was cool and bearable because I will not lie, at one point I was like "F...Pisa!" cause it was so hot. But nothing could have prepared us for how beautiful the Piazza looked as we drove up, with this view.



My Indian seatmate and her dad had made plans to climb the Leaning Tower, while her mum passed, too tired to make it, thus enabling the Canadian girl to get the chance to walk the 300-odd steps to the top. Did I do it? Of course not and had I booked an advanced ticket to do so, I would have sold it cause at this point I was completely exhausted. lol. The other ladies and I walked a bit, did the annoying tourist thing of taking photos, marvelled at the absolute beauty of the Baptistery and the Cathedral and then sat on the steps looking up at the incredible Leaning Tower that til then I had only seen in books and on tv.




It was pretty surreal at that point, that I was sitting on the steps in front of the tower, with 2 Americans and an Indian, having a slushie and staring at an civil engineering  disaster that is celebrated the world over. And I thought, wow, it has been a blessed day.

The bus ride back to Florence was a merry one, with people exchanging email addresses and laughing. I got back to Florence, a little darker, a lot happier, very tired but complete.

Interested in this tour. Click HERE.

Italy: Modernity Meets Old World

The next morning I was up early again, donned a flaming yellow Caribbean sundress, had my breakfast and started on my walk to Santa Maria Novella station to meet up with the rest of my tour group for our day in the Tuscan countryside. I usually like doing at least one organised your on my trips, as it allows me to meet other travellers and see far flung areas that had you organised to see yourself, would take a lot of coordination and research. This particular tour was going to take us out of Florence and into Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa, and nothing beats the airconditioned tour bus.

My seatmate was an Indian-American, whose parents migrated from India to facilitate the dad's doctoral studies. Our tour guide, Sandra was very very pleasant and very knowledgeable and our driver, Billy. We left Florence at 8.30 and our first stop was to be Siena.

What a beautiful city.



Sandra told us the city was built on the hills and I thought to myself "Oh God! Another day of walking up hills in this heat!" I started planning how I could get one of the big men on the bus to give me a piggy back ride up the hill, when Sandra told us there were actually escalators to take us up to the city. What a progessive people!!! There were, I think, 5 "flights" of escalators which took us straight to the city, where we put on our whistles and headphones so we could hear everything our tourguide had to say. Our Siena tourguide, and I cannot recall her name now, led us through the city, with its narrow streets and beautiful old world architecture, telling us all about the city and its traditions, including the Palio di Siena, an annual horse race which is unique to Siena. The race takes place in the Piazza del Campo, the beautiful square in the middle of it all.

Our official tour ended at the Duomo di Siena, where we got to tour in the church and learn about its history. This was a much needed respite from the mind frying heat outside. Nah man...I am from a tropical country eh, but this was no jokey heat, dread. I was dying.



We had private time to explore more of the city on our own, during which time I struck up conversations with some American and Aussie ladies also on the tour - sisters in melt, because we were just all wilting under the Tuscan sun.

Our next stop was to be lunch at a farmhouse near San Gimignano, where we first got to tour the property, from its vineyards and olive groves to its wine cellars and cow shed. The cow shed part I was not feeling so that was a short session for me, but the wine cellars, and the exotic smell wafting from the dozens of barrels and storage containers were heaven.





Lunch was superb. It was lilke a huge Italian family meal, with tables set up on the terrace overlooking the vineyard - gorgeous gorgeous view. We were served pasta (of course), along with pecorino and proscuitto and insalate  with everything made right there at the farmhouse, except I think the proscuitto. Of course the best part was the sampling of the vineyard's wines, and we had a 5 wine line up, from a very lovely young white to a very sweet dessert wine, which we dipped our biscotti in while digesting an absolutely splendid meal. I had a lot of the white and was really toasty after that. And happy. Happpppppy.



Thank you Ryanair for being so lame with the luggage fees and restrictions that I could not buy bottles of wine to take back with me. I only have fleeting memories of the taste, so thanks eh. You rock!

We headed to the walled city of San Gimignano after lunch, another hour or so away so after food and wine, it was no surprise that there was some serious snoozing on the way up. My seatmate was knocked out and was giving me a little snoring concert as well, but it was okay. I was too tired and fattened to care.

Italy: The Day the Slushie was King, to the Trini Queen!

Walking along the Ponte Vecchio was really awesome. During a tour later in our trip, we learnt that initially, butchers set up shop along the bridge but the members of the Medici family, when having to walk along the bridge to get to work at the Palazzo Vecchio, did not appreciate the smell. Thus out went the butchers and in came the gold merchants and to this day, gold, art and beautiful souvenirs rule the roost on the bridge.

I eventually decided that I did not want to pay money to go into the Boboli Gardens. I had been in enough free gardens during vacations, and truly, after the huge lunch I had, I thought it best to keep walking and exploring the city. So I decided I would head to the Piazza Michelangelo, where the view was supposed to be breathaking.

What was breathtaking was the trek to the square. Literally. No...it really took my breath away. My guidebook had detailed directions to the square, with both a bus option and a pedestrian option. Brave traveller that I am, I opted to walk. Travel tip - uphill walking is not recommended in 36 degree Celsius heat and in a floor-length sundress. When I got to the base of this hill I was supposed to climb, I almost turned back because it was so incredibly hot, I was incredibly tired and the incline was incredibly steep, but then the Cuban woman, who looked almost 100, put me to shame taking her steps up the incline gingerly. I continued going up, taking little breaks with my fan and stopping to chat with other tourists who had taken similar breaks along the way. Tip: Take the  bus up the hill, folks. lol

By the time I made it to the top of this hill, I was dead. I was hot, sticky and exhausted. I immediately got myself a strawberry slushie (the best!) and sat down with my fan for 5 minutes to "ketch mihself". But the view at the top was well worth the exercise. It was a clear, sunny (did I mention, hot?) day so you could see the entire city for miles. Just gorgeous.



There is also another replica of David in the square, so again, the desire to see the original was not an overwhelming one.



I got myself another slushie and sat in the sun where I baked for 3 minutes before getting yet another slushie and some water and found a shady corner. It truly was a breathtaking experience.

The walk down of course was much more pleasant, and with slushie #4 in hand I took a leisurely stroll back to the city centre, back to the corridor of the Uffizi where I realised my feet were a black, dusty mess from all the dust and grime. You can imagine the length and bliss of my shower that night.

I looked around as the day started to wind down and the doors of the gallery were closing and the tourists started heading back to the Duomo where seemed to be Tourist Central. I sat on the Duomo steps, hoping Francesco did not make an appearance, and had a tiramisu gelato and some water, while chatting with a Mexican man and his fiancee who had also climbed the hill to Piazza Michelangelo and who were also going to the Tuscan countryside the next day, though not with my tour. One thing I absolutely love about my adventures is meeting all the fellow travellers and sharing our experiences. I did mention to my uncle yesterday that I am always the lone black tourist, which is a bit sad.

I window shopped for the rest of the evening, with of course, a Sephora stop, where I indulged in a smoky eye and a lip gloss application (remember I travelled via Ryanair, so I had only cabin baggage, and left 99% of my makeup behind, so this was free bliss!). Ready for dinner!!!

I decided to try Trattoria da Guido for dinner since I had a hankering for ravioli and Florentine steak. I love the outside dining of Europe, and I chose a table which gave me a good view to gape and observe people passing by. The food here was excellent (dunno what the one negative review on Tripadvisor was about), even better than the food I had the night before. I especially loved the bruschetta and I remarked the next day that even something as seemingly simple as toasted bread with olive oil and tomatoes tasted different everywhere I had it. This was good bruschetta though. I had 3 glasses of wine with my meal, and was toasty and very happy after that.

Italy: African and Italian Beauty

I had set my alarm to wake me up pretty early the next morning cause I wanted to avoid the long queue at the Uffizi, so I was up by 6.30 and taking a shower and getting cute. One thing I really loved about Italy were the square toilets. Now to answer my aunt's question, no...I did not have a toilet that was a tiled hole in the floor. lol. My toilet was pretty modern as you can see. Everywhere I went, there was a lovely square toilet. I want a square toilet!

The complimentary breakfast at the hotel was pretty good. I am not a very heavy breakfast person, nor very Trini when it comes to my breakfasts, so I don't typically eat things like sada roti and choka, or hops and sausage. lol. I usually have cereal and soy milk so continental breakfasts are never a problem for me. But this was a lot. I had a pretty merry serving of croissants, Italian bread, muesli, fruit, yogurt, fruit juice and of course cappuccino. The breakfast experience would have been much better if it had not been for the Japanese guest who clearly had no social graces when it came to eating and the way he was shovelling, and smacking his lips, and slurping the coffee, was enough to make me want to leave the dining area. I also had an amusing albeit slightly annoying conversation with one of the hotel staff. He was very sweet and I was not annoyed with him as much as I was annoyed by Italian ignorance which I was being faced with for the 4th time in less than 24 hours. So I am trying to be the polite tourist and say please and thanks and other little things in Italian. He brings me my capuccino.

Me: Grazie
Him: Prego. How do you say "Thank you" in your country.
Me: Thank You.
Him: No no...in Italy, "grazie", in inglese, "thank you". What is it in your country?
Me: (inner eye roll) "Thank you". We speak English in Trinidad.
Him: No African language?
Me: Trinidad is not in Africa. Umm...near Venezuela.
Him: Ahhhhh...si si si....Trinidad.

If I taught one Italian something, my life is richer today. He did manage to tell me I was lovely and he would want to visit my country one day. I forgave his ignorance after that.

I grabbed a peach and my map and trusty travel bag, packed with Clean and Clear oil absorbent sheets (a must-have anywhere), my camera, water and anti bacterial lotion, and headed outside into what was still the cool Florentine morning. The Duomo looked even more beautiful without the bag o' tourists blocking the view, as did the Piazza della Signoria where I stood and gazed at the sculptures for about 30 minutes, with the sun's heat starting to sear into my skin. I walked through the Palazzo Vecchio for a while, admiring the architecture and enjoying the shade, before I was accosted by the already long line at the Uffizi. I muttered to myself "Not me and this shit" and kept walking towards the Arno River. The river is beautiful at 8am and even with the tourist life buzzing around me, it was rather peaceful. I walked towards the Ponte de Vecchio, trying to convince myself that I did not really need to see the fantastic Renaissance works behind the Uffizi walls but failed miserably and walked right back and joined the long queue, with my Firenze fan in hand. As I mentioned before I struck up a brief friendship with a woman originally from Paraguay and we chatted haltingly in Spanish for 2 hours until I got to the head of the line and inside the gallery.

I was in heaven for the next 4 hours, though the hell of standing in that heat for 2 hours really broke me down and just before I entered the room with Michelangelo's masterpieces, I had to run to the expensive ass cafeteria to get some sustenance if I were not to faint in the gallery. That and my hawked peach from breakfast surely saved me. But just as I had enjoyed the Louvre, I enjoyed Uffizi and walked the length and breadth of it until I was tired.

Foolishly, I thought somehow I could have managed to walk along the Ponte de Vecchio without some lunch, with only a cookies and cream gelato in my stomach, but nah...the sun was really doing its worst and I had been walking for what seemed like eons so I stopped at a trattoria and ordered a pizza which was epic, both as a single serving and in taste. I loved sitting there just watching the people and the Vespas pass by, and snickered every time someone walked in and left the door open, causing the owner to curse in Italian as his precious airconditioning was being compromised by the heat coming through the open door. He sat with me for a couple minutes to ask me where I was from because I seemed to be a real oddity. I was not a street person, did not look nashy but rather posh and divaesque and was not with a sugardaddy so I was as rare as the Uffizi art and every Italian man I came into contact with was curious. It was very hilarious.

With my guts overstuffed and my wine palate once again satisfied, I paid for my pizza and decided I would walk to the Boboli Gardens for some rest and nature.

Italy: Planes, Trains and Flip Flops

Now that I am back home and back at work - thus back to boredom, I can write about Italy a little.

The Trini saying of cheap ting nah good rings true when one thinks of Ryanair. Without a doubt, this was the worst flight of my life, beating back even Tobago Express. I mean, not only was the check in annoying, but the constant hawking of Ryanair related products and services throughout the 2 hour flight was beyond intolerable. Travel tip: Take your MP3 player with you on any cheap airline service. You will need it.

When we landed in Pisa, it was supremely hot and I was glad I had dressed for the weather and packed for it as well, by which I mean, one small bag and no load. The sacrifice of leaving behind makeup, lotions etc was much appreciated at that point. Italians though are not very good with instructions or directions. Signage at this little airport was preposterous and as friendly as the ticket lady was, she did not fully explain that I needed to change trains when I bought my train ticket for the commute from the aiport to Florence. So while my ticket said Pisa Airport to Florence, nowhere did it say, train will change at Pisa Centrale. So there I am, sitting, chilling my heels waiting for the train that says Airport to Florence, when I should have been looking for Airport to Pisa Centrale. So the train is sitting there, I am looking at it - me and my fellow tourists with similar tickets in hand - and we are all clueless that this is our train. But I dunno what it was that made me go to the train conductor and ask, and sure enough, this was when I learnt that we needed to take this train to Pisa Centrale and then change to the train to Firenze. I swear, communication is a helluva thing.

The other bad thing about the cheap airlines is that they fly to the Pisa Airport which is about 90mins away by train from the city centre, and there is not much to see on the way in, except run down neighbourhoods as is to be expected around any rail line. But once we got to Florence, and I walked out of the station, there it was - beauty and magic. The beautiful old world city of Florence or Firenze.

Now I am really challenged when it comes to reading maps and the like cause somehow I always end up going the wrong way, so it took me a little while to find the hotel, and by the time I did, I was hot and greasy. I chuckled to myself as the receptionist at the Hotel Nuova Italia took one look at me and decided I could not be a guest at HER hotel at all. When I confirmed that I was indeed staying there, she grudgingly passed over my key. My own reflection made me laugh - wild airplane hair, smudged mascara, etc. I just looked like something the cat dragged in so I quickly did a makeover so by the time I flounced down the stairs all fresh and diva-esque the receptionist's heart was lifted cause I know she was probably nervous that she had let some street person into the place. lol. But the hotel was lovely. The best service ever, and spotless rooms, great bath products which I appreciated since I was dreaming about my Bath and Body Works gels, lotions and spritzes all on my dresser in London.

I spent the next few hours traversing the cobble stoned streets of Florence, in my flip flops, amongst a throng of tourists. The Japanese tourists, my arch nemeses of travel, were out in their numbers. It's like they are on every single vacation with their cameras, taking photos of every insect, every stone, every blade of grass. lol. Gotta love their enthusiasm though. I virtually mapped out where I would go the next day and then sat my weary ass down on the steps of the Duomo, with a tiramisu gelato. As my coffee tinged milky goodness ran down my arm in the searing heat, the old dude next to me decided it would be as good a time as any to try to make his move on the cute black girl next to him. I got every positive English word he could muster, and a dinner invitation to his house for pasta. Sadly for him, he was too old, and his teeth too black from tobacco to make a good impression.

I went back to my room to wash the sticky ice cream off my hands and then consulted my brand new friend, aka the receptionist, who now thought I was unique and stunning and was ever so eager to help, on where to go for dinner. I eventually ended up at the little place just outside the hotel door, Trattoria Antichi Cancelli, where I had bruschetta, lasagna and a lovely red wine. Highly recommend the food here, coupled with exceptional service.

I went back to my room, took a long long hot shower and then got to bed cause the next day was all about Uffizi, and walking across the city.

Back to Reality

So I am back home and what an "up yours", it has been so far. I needed to renew my driver's permit so I would be legal to speed on the nation's highways. Get to the office near my house and the woman gives me her best Third World answer:

I can give you a form but the camera is not working so you would need to go to another licensing office.

Welcome home!!!

I was loathe to do it because I knew what I was going to meet at 9.00am but I went to the San Fernando office to get the job done. I will spare you the mind numbing details but it took almost 4 hours to pay for the renewal, get the photo taken and have the little Third World permit laminated. 4 hours! Never in my life was I so annoyed as I was sitting on the old rickety benches this morning waiting for these people to get their act together. I mean, the volume of people who come in to that office is tremendous so why on earth would you have one person to check the completed forms, one person to accept payment, and one person to take the stupid photo? And then the one person who had to laminate the permits was busy talking on the phone while I looked at the product of my then 3.5 hour wait sitting on her desk just waiting for the plastic jacket and some heat. I almost ran up to the desk and up her chest and told her I would go laminate it myself. I mean, seriously!!!! I left there so vex you could see the steam coming out of my ears.

Then, after not having breakfast nor a regularly scheduled 12noon lunch, and after making a Hi-Lo stop, where I had to tell some jackass to haul something, I decided to go to Eat It to get some bbq chicken, but on the way the traffic buildup was horrendous, adding to an already ridiculous kinda day so I did a 3 point turn and changed direction and headed to....you guessed it...

KFC. My arch nemesis.

As if the magical ineptitude of yesterday's near KFC experience was not enough, God saw fit to make it a double, in less than 24 hours. So I decided to forego the drive thru after yesterday's over the phone experience and go meet the bad customer service face to face. I am always amazed that every time KFC advertises something I would actually want to eat, and they do a very good job of promoting these items I may add, they never seem to have them. I get to the counter after 15 mins of waiting and order the 3 piece crispy strip combo, and the girl takes my $39 (needed a biscuit too) and tells me it would be a 3-min wait for the strips. Twelve minutes later, I am still strip-less and she comes to tell me her supervisor would come out to talk to me. Never a good sign. I mean, shit...even to get some chicken in this place is a task. The supervisor keeps me waiting for yet another 5 minutes and then tells me the strips were marinating and it would be 30mins and did I want to wait, or order something else. You serious, lady?? I was not going to wait 30 mins for some fried chicken and a biscuit, nor do I eat any other KFC item so I asked for a refund. I was beyond exasperated at this point.

To her credit, not only did I get my refund but she also wrapped up a free Cruncher and a bottle of water for my troubles. I sat in the carpark with my free sandwich and inhaled it before I passed out from sheer hunger and exhaustion. The glowy joy of vacation was gone, that was for sure. Gone!!!!

Speaking legs

Last evening I braved the chill, rain and sure pneumonia to meet Cat at Sadler's Wells Theatre to catch Tanguera, the tango musical. It was worth every sneeze, every sniffle and every cough I am fighting this morning. It was mesmerising,  beautiful, provocative and totally enjoyable. A story told primarily via legs and no words. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to see it. Thanks to the lovely Cat for such a treat!!!

Cat and I had also gone to see Sweet Charity earlier in my vacation, which was also quite good. I love the theatre, good theatre that is.

I have been really craving a Trini roti though. It's been too long since I had some proper curry. I even dreamt about it last night so I may take the train to get it. There is no price I would not pay today for a dhalpuri.

Tanguera teaser.

Sniffles, no snuggles

Coming down with a cold. I think between standing in the cold on Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday evening, and then with the weather being hot and then 2 mins later, chilly, this was bound to happen.

The bbq was fab. Everyone had a great time, and the pelau was well embraced by all, and I was completely toasty after copious volumes of wine in all colours and nationalities. I just lay on the couch with a huge smile on my face, and bepped until 3am. Then we faced a seemingly unassailable task of cleaning up the kitchen before I finally hit the bed at 5am. At noon I was dressed and off to cricket, where the team I was expected to support was totally abysmal. I mean, there I was, all cute and imaginary pom poms in hand and the team allowed a bunch of fat, rolly polly Brits beat them. However, I must add that 90% of the team were out until 5am at a soca party and were nursing hangovers and more. It was really hilarious. The eye candy on the other team (not the fatties) was marvellous, and behind my sunglasses I smiled lustily. The smiling did not last very long as the cold winds picked up and my cute outfit complemented by a matching pashmina just were no match for the biting Blighty breeze and I knew this cold would soon take hold of my brown Trini body.

Last night's post-cricket dinner was jerk chicken and wine, and it was another late night so it was not a happy woman who rolled off the bed at 7am to keep an appointment outside of central London. Add the sniffles and cold-induced arthritis (I'm sure that is what this shoulder pain is all about) and I am not the hottest thing out today. I am going to drown in some ice cream, Redoxon, Comtrex, white wine and sleep and hope to feel better in the morning.

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