Sprightly Quito


We arrived at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport just after 10:00 p.m. tired and hungry.  On our way to the exit we were stopped by an official (customs I believe) and politely asked to follow her into a side room.  My sister and I looked quizzically at each other but obeyed.  The officer immediately asked us how much money we were carrying.  She looked at me in particular and asked me to empty my pockets, purse, money wallet and loose-change bag on the table.  I was puzzled, but complied, all the while keeping an eye on the money (which included a few Barbados dollars).  She counted the US dollars and after a little explanation on the exchange rate for the Barbadian currency we were told we could leave.  I hurriedly stuffed the bills back into their hiding places and went through the door. Was that sinister or what?  No explanations were given and I did not wait around to ask questions in my Spanglish.  I was only too happy to leave, with every red cent.

Our driver was anxiously waiting outside holding a sign with my name and we quickly followed him to his vehicle.  The ride into Quito felt like an hour, but probably was no more than 45 minutes.  For a city the size of Quito, the roads were strangely clear of traffic at that time.  I turned and asked the driver where was everybody.  I do not think he understood me, or if he did, I did not understand his response.  We arrived at our lodging, checked-in and settled down for the night.  By now, our total travel time was more than 16 hours, and we were dead tired.  We immediately fell asleep.  Not even the loud party buses (traveling discotheques) on the outside disturbed our sleep.

On our first day we awoke early, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for adventure.  Our accommodation in the old city of Quito was practically next door to the Basilica, which became our very first stop on the sightseeing trail.  Armed with map, cameras and in my case, binoculars too, we peregrinated the city in tourist like fashion, ooh-ing and ahh-ing as we viewed the historical sites with interest.  One real concern we had for this trip was how well we would adjust to the high altitude, but while that was a factor, the “little” hills proved to be our undoing.  It turned out those “little” hills (to us) were steep climbs.  As we walked, it seemed as if we were moving in slow motion, while everyone strode up and down those streets with ease.  I am not being melodramatic when I tell you there was a hill to climb where ever we went.  Nevertheless, from every vantage point the views, as far as we could see, were simply amazing.

We managed to visit all the major sites highlighted on the map.  Many of them were churches.  After a while, my sister became tired of seeing one church after another and had had enough.  She did not want to see or enter another church door.  I, on the other hand, found the historical buildings interesting and the architecture fascinating.  As we traversed the calles y avenidas (streets and avenues) teeming with street vendors of every kind , we got lost, we crisscrossed, we back-tracked until street names eventually became familiar and we could maneuver around the neighborhood with ease.

Quito26
Quito, Ecuador – Party bus (Traveltinerary)

The following day we headed to the GPS location: 0° 0′ 0″ –  the center of the world. We were not disappointed.  From every geographical location: north, east, south and west, people were busy taking photos standing on the line making sure to capture the symbolic Mitad del Mundo monument in the background. The monument sits in the middle of a square surrounded by cultural exhibitions of beer making, cacao/chocolate processing, Andean products and boutique galleries selling art, ethnic clothing and jewelry, soaps, treats, teas, etc.  It was an educational experience at Mitad’s ethnographic museum where several interesting scientific experiments are showcased.  The scientific demonstrations are a big hit with children and adults.  I had to give up my experiment attempt (causing a magnet to float in mid-air) in order to keep the lines moving.  I did not try “standing an egg on a nail” experiment either, but was satisfied to see someone else accomplish the feat.  It actually works.  We also perused the Intiñan museum where we learned about Ecuador’s early natives, tribes and culture.  In the afternoon we headed over to El Panecillo – another monument, set way up on a hill, towering over the old city as if watching over her.  From walking around the base of the statue, you can see commanding views of the city.  However, it is still worthwhile to visit the museum within the statue and climb to the very top for a panorama of Quito from any angle.

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We took a day trip away from Quito in the Pichincha province to the Cotopaxi province.  We would tour: an indigenous farmer’s market at Saquisili, hike down and up the Quilotoa Crater – a portion of the Quilotoa Loop, visit Toachi Canyon, and finally meet a Quechua family.  For more than five hours we traveled by tour bus along a scenic route which took us through small Quechua communities, over rolling hills, down into valleys and on occasion often spotting mountains like Antisana, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Chimborazo, and other names I cannot pronounce.  At the first stop – Saquisili, our guide told us the market opens once a week for local farmers to sell their vegetables and other ware.  We were impressed with the amount, variety and freshness of the produce.  Being so far away from a major community like Quito, I wondered what would happen to the unsold perishables, but I am sure they have a system to manage the excess.

Our second stop on the tour was the Quilotoa volcanic crater.  Quick facts:  elevation – 3,914m, location – Pujili Canton, Cotopaxi Province, Parent range – Andes, Mountain type – Caldera, last eruption – 1280)  – Wikipedia

When we pulled up to the quaint Quilotoa community, not many people where around since it was still very early in the morning.  We walked the few meters to the landing vista where you could see clear across the aquamarine lagoon below.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.  Weather conditions at Quilotoa can be unpredictable and we were advised to dress warmly and be prepared for rain.  The day turned out to be clear, windy and chilly. I was excited to begin the hike, but my sister had other plans.  She took one look at the crater below and decided she was not going down that trail.  She opted to sit in the bus with the driver.  I was disappointed and had to cut short our subdued argument so as to not delay the group.  Again, I am learning two things about her – the overly cautious: how stubborn and how wise she is, and me – the radical impulsive: how competitive and impulsive.  Four of us managed to hike down to the caldera in less than 25 minutes, normal descent time is 30 minutes.  Unadmitted, I was a little nervous about the climb to the top (280m vertical ascent) so I started back up the steep trail ahead of the younger, more agile folks in our group.  Of course, there was an option to take a $10 mule ride to the top.  Let me tell you, many times on that trail I considered the ride, but once I am committed to a task I have to complete it (go big or go home).  I prayed a lot.  I thanked God that my sister had the commonsense not to come.  I gave myself pep talks, prayed some more.  It took me more than one hour and a half to reach the top.  I can only thank God who gave me the strength not to faint, but to complete the hike with a half hour to spare.    Yaaay, I did it!

The hike into the Quilotoa crater was the highlight of the day after which we had a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant.  Our third stop would be the Toachi Canyons.  The wide, open crevasses are similar to canyons in Nevada and Utah but on a much smaller scale.  However, there depth and grandeur are nonetheless just as awesome.

The last stop to visit with a Quechua family was vetoed.  By now, everyone on the bus were too tired (except my sister, lol) to fraternize and endure the daunting five-hour drive back to Quito.

Before the cat could lick his ear, it was time for us to leave sprightly Quito.  We had a blast and would like to go again, because there is so much to discover there.  I am not a good photographer by any means, and since pictures can say a thousand words, I will let those I have sprinkled throughout this post speak for themselves.  I hope you enjoy my recollections.  Indicate with a comment in the box below, like or follow.  To find out what other dramas happened as we moved on to Peru stay tuned for subsequent postings.  If you have gotten this far, thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

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Vacation Ultimatum


Understand this, is your vacation adrift?

Love tantrums, hissy fits or rifts?

Today or tomorrow it is all the same

If you keep your head in the game.

Many couples use Travel Itineraries to rekindle,

A dwindling love which is abysmal.

Together they plan of how to succeed

Until an ugly argument impedes,

Mostly because of an ultimatum.

 

 

Stats a Big Deal


I reached 100+ followers!  Stats a big deal.

Talking about my accomplishments is something I have never felt comfortable doing, even when I had to recite all that I did or did not achieve for my annual job review.  On one hand I understand the premise being, there is no one more capable of highlighting my successes better than me.  Also on the other hand, to talk of how well one may have done is a lot like blowing one’s own trumpet.  Is this a dilemma or what?  Look, there are no plans afoot to solve this conundrum.  The two main reasons for posting my stats are to encourage first-time bloggers to keep going, and to give thanks to my followers for their endorsement.

Travel Itinerary blog and website was created for the sole purpose to offer travel assistance in itinerary planning, talk of travel experiences, spur travel interest with informative tips, and relay timely travel news.  In 2017 TI started and 21 posts later the website has achieved, wait for it (drum roll please), the following:

WP Awards2WP Awards3WP Awards4

Views  =  2,517 (highest views in one day = 177)

Visitors  =  867

Countries that visited website  =  64

Most likes  =  275 (most recorded in one day = 13)

Comments  =  84

These statistics are small potatoes when compared to other blog sites and given the fact that I do not use FB or tweet, tweet for added leverage.  To beginner bloggers who will read this post, here are a few tips for you.  If blogging is your passion as this is mine, then keep on writing.  Check your stats daily because the data gives you a benchmark to improve on.  Stats are important and give you some validation.  They tell you who your audience is, what peaks their interest and where they come from.  All in all, remember even though you want to increase your numbers it is not a race.  Greatness takes time.  If you build it they will come and the sky is the limit are clichés that express perfectly what I truly believe in order to raise the bar.

I thank God for all the progress made on this site.  All I can say to my followers, friends, well-wishers and supporters who encourage me – my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.  Without your interest I would still be at square one.  You have been great.

Now you know what to do.  Comment in the box below, click follow, like, thumbs up or send me an email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Alerts


Are you wondering how you should approach your travel plans for 2018?   Are you asking yourself, how can I get out ahead of the maddening crowd and get the best deals on airfares, hotels, attractions, destinations and such like?  The answer is simple.  Sign up to receive email travel alerts.

Man travel companies for leisure and business are busy touting all the best deals, steals and to-dos for this year: cheapest destinations, best hotels, must-see attractions, most beautiful this or that, exotic places, rare finds, and the list goes on.  Now is the perfect time to sign up to receive their alerts.  In almost every case it will cost you nothing, so why not sign up, you have nothing to lose.  It is only wise for you to take full advantage of their expertise, dedication and hard work to bring you the best chances at affordable travel, and to be the first one to receive their well researched information.  Besides getting an early heads-up, when you sign up with more than one travel alert website you will be able to use their information to compare prices against airline websites and other travel search engines, you can track price changes, and recognize best times to make bookings.

A travel alert will give you the chance to act swiftly if you see a fare that falls within your projected budget, or that appeals to you and you simply cannot turn it down.  Generally, the travel industry’s recommendation to book travel are four to six weeks for domestic and eight to 12 weeks for international.  Barring those travel schedules, if you have a destination in mind, I recommend keeping a lookout as early as six months.  As it gets closer to the industry’s standard time-frame, start a daily search until you come within the ballpark of your budget.  Timing is everything.

With only your email address and a few clicks you can set up your alerts.  Here are some fare alert sites you may find useful:

airfarewatchdog

Smarter Travel

Skyscanner

Justfly

Hipmunk

Kayak

Yapta

Farecompare

Iwantthatflight

To travel 4 less you will need a great itinerary.  You have found an affordable fare and now you need help with the day-to-day plans.  No problem.  Leave it to me.  I am happy to assist you in pulling the details together.  Click on the consultation request below to get started.

First Stop – Bogota


Recent travels to South America has whet my appetite for more experiences of the same.  My statement sounds as though I am not accustomed to travelling. On the contrary, all I am saying is this trip was phenomenal and I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of things to do, places to go or people to see.  Ecuador and Peru were the focus of my trip but I managed to see a little bit of Colombia too, with Bogotá being the first stop on the many legs of the travel itinerary.  There is so much to tell I will have to give you the highlights with photos in three or four posting segments.

On this vacation I had a travel companion (my elder sister).  The night before we left we hardly slept so we could be up in time for our flight which was in the wee hours of the morning. On December 4th, we begin an amazing journey that neither of us will ever forget any time soon.

The first stop on our trip was at the El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá, Colombia.  Since we had to spend quite a few hours before our connection to Quito, Ecuador, I had the bright idea to scout out the area instead of sitting around the airport.  We asked the information booth representative for suggestions of nearby places of interests where we could go with consideration to our limited time in Colombia, and the directions to get there.  Armed with all the information that we needed, we boarded the local bus from the airport and headed to Plaza de Bolivar, a square of historical worth.

En route to and from Plaza de Bolívar my sister was nervous.  She was uncomfortable not knowing where we were going, how long it would take for us to get there and back given the traffic conditions at the time, and not being able to communicate.  She did not understand a lick of Spanish.  Yo creo que mi español es muy malo también (I think my Spanish is very bad also) and since I didn’t have any recent practice, it was with good reason that she was not liking our first deviation from our planned itinerary.

You should have seen the look on her face when I wanted to go further away.  Big sister was not having it when I tried to convince her to relax and that we would make it back in time for our connecting flight.  She was so afraid that she did not realize the buses had their designated lanes and were not hindered by the jammed traffic in the neighboring lanes.  When I pointed this out to her, it brought her some relief, but she was still adamant that we should stick to the plan.  Obviously, disagreeing so soon after our eager start to our vacation together was not a good way to begin for our travels I thought, so I listened to the voice of reason (hers), urging me to return to the airport with enough time to spare.  The ride would take approximately 90 minutes round-trip.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I like to live dangerously, or flirt with missing my flight (more to come on that in the next post), but when I travel I always want to know what lies beyond the bend, around the corner, further down the road.  You get what I mean.  The adage says, “curiosity killed the cat,” well not this time, thanks to my sis we made it to a little square outside of Aguros Bus Station and back.

Here are our first pictures of Bogotá, Colombia.

Bogotá is known for its street art

On the bus but not in the traffic jam

At the airport

Colombia_Aguros Station Square

Statute at Aguros Station Plaza

We made it to a square outside of the Aguros bus station.  I don’t know the name of the statute but it is not the Plaza de Bolívar I wanted to see.  Even though our little detour was short, it was very interesting.  We met people along the way who were eager to show us true Colombian hospitality.  They were more than willing to help whenever I asked in my halting Spanish for directions and in a few instances they did not hesitate to stop and offer their assistance to us.

To sum it all up, I realized a couple of interesting facts on the first day of our trip.  Generally speaking, people are more willing to help than to harm.  Two worlds collided (mine and my sister’s) – the radically impulsive and the overly cautious.  If we were going to have a great trip then I would have to reign in my independent solo-traveler nature and make it work so that we can both enjoy ourselves for the duration of the trip.

More to come on Ecuador and Peru and traveling with my sister in tow in subsequent postings.

Dear followers and visitors to my website, 2017 was simply an awesome year.  Thanks to you who followed, supported, viewed, or read my blog.  You made it worthwhile.  I look forward to bringing you a lot more travel related information, and experiences in 2018.  I am eager to see how God will lead me and the level He will take this site to in 2018.

I love hearing from you so don’t forget to click follow, like or please comment in the section below.  I wish you God’s choicest blessings and pray that you travel safely as you broaden your horizons in 2018.

Much love and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Itinerary Planner

A Bajan Christmas


It is too late for me to jet off to Barbados (ticket prices are a budget buster) in time for the holidays.  Below are pictures of Bajan foods I like and will miss diving into during this season.  For certain, some, if not all, will be served as part of the cuisine in every household for Christmas.  Check out the links and try some of the recipes.  You are bound to get a taste of Barbados if you do.

Pigeon Peas and Rice  and Macaroni Pie

 

 

Fish Cakes and Steamed Pudding

 

 

Black cake

 

 

Sorrel

 

 

Soca vibe  Maizie  by Calypsonian Red Plastic Bag (Stedson Wiltshire)

Besides the foods, I will miss the warm weather, the hustle and bustle of Bridgetown, watching the fashion parade in Queens Park, and listening to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band’s performance.  If you are like me and cannot make a quick getaway for the holidays, then I hope these few pictures of traditional Bajan foods at Christmas time, and the links demonstrating how to make them, as well as, listening to the local Soca vibe that is most likely being played on the airwaves there now, would be enough to encourage you to add this destination to your bucket list for 2018.  It is never too early to plan ahead.  Need help with your itinerary?  Let me know, I am here to help you.

In three days we will celebrate Christmas and I want to wish my blog community, viewership and supporters a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Itinerary Planner

First Blog Award


Hooray, hooray, hooray!  I received a nomination for my first blog award.

Since entering blogosphere, I realized blog awards are quite common and are given by other bloggers who enjoy reading your blog and are willing to recommend it to their blog community and viewership.  This indeed is an awesome validation.  Ospreyshire nominated me for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award and I cannot be more humble and thankful for the honor.

Naturally, I should explain how the award nomination process works.  Here are the rules:

1) Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
2) Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
3) Share 7 things about yourself
4) Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
5) Include this set of rules
6) Inform your nominees

Let’s get started on the things I want you to know about me.

I love to travel.  Exploring foreign lands, sampling exotic foods, meeting interesting and indigenous people, and experiencing different cultures are some of the reasons travel is important to me.  There are many facets to making the travel experience perfect.  The biggest reasons most people cite for not traveling are affordability and time.  Well, I have found ways to make travel affordable, not only for me, but for others too.  Timing is totally up to the traveler.  My goal is to seek out and enjoy the beauty that still exists and share my experiences as well as my expertise with others, after all, the world is my oyster.

Planner and Organizer.  These are two of the most important tools I use in prepping for a travel itinerary.  I love to research destinations, read current news of the travel industry, follow travel forums, listen to the opinions of work colleagues, friends and family members who travel often.  The process of gathering information relative to the travel industry is never-ending but interesting, nevertheless.  Social events, parties, weddings, cruises, you name it and I have a plan for it.  Local events that I have planned and organized include: community health fairs, women’s ministries retreats, weddings, tea parties, showers (baby and wedding), Thanksgiving community dinners and church outings just to name a few.

Wild Flower by Skylark is my favorite song.  I am probably dating myself here but if you hear or know this song you will know why I like it and you might like it too.

Hiking or going for an early morning walk is therapeutic for me, if not only for the exercise, it is one of the ways I relax.  Whenever I go for long walks I am more impressed with the discoveries I find in nature.  Even listening to the thump of my own heartbeat during a strenuous climb can be exhilarating.  As I hike trails or walk the streets of my community, the further I go the more I use the alone time to meditate and pray.  Typically, on these kinds of walks I can get much inspiration for my blog.

I tell stories via my scrapbook hobby.  This is a great way to recount my travel adventures.  A picture does tell a thousand words and says it best of all.

Reading has always been a love of mine from a child.  Pouring over books, magazines, and anything I could put my hands on to read.  The best and only book that I never tire of reading is the Bible – the Holy Word of God.  It holds wisdom and instructions concerning practical, right living.  It forms part of my daily devotion.  It is the source of strength, inspiration, wisdom and the joy of my life.

I used to be a closet Trekkie.  Yes, I loved the TV series – Star Trek.  Actually, I find sci-fi films fascinating.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe they appeal to my wanderlust nature to explore the unknown and to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Nuff said.

There are many sites I find interesting along with travel.  However, rule number four limits me from listing all of them.  Therefore, here are my nominations for the One Lovely Blog Award:

Alaska Or Bust

Natalie Wera

Creativity Boost

Curlygirlabroad

Travel is Rewarding

Annie Johnson

A Beautiful Distance

Absoluteari

Java and Junkett

Notes by Laura

Living and Writing in Mexico

lifeisacelebration

There is no pressure to take part in this nomination, but I sincerely hope that all my nominees do.  Recommending blogs I follow and/or like certainly have been my favorite to-do on the list of award rules mentioned above.  Let me know in the comment section below your thoughts on blog awards and what they mean to you.

Don’t forget to select follow, like, thumbs-up or comment whenever you can.  Many thanks to my followers, viewership and overall supporters for reading this post.

More times.

Itinerary Planner

Par Excellence


Flying can be an ordeal at times, especially when you have a hectic itinerary to fulfill as I have on my Ecuador and Peru travels. I chose to fly with Avianca, and I am glad I did. Here are some reasons why.

Their service is world-class. As far as I have witnessed, they approach their jobs with a level of professionalism that is commendable. They handle customers respectfully and patiently. So far on each leg of my travel itinerary, I received patient attention, answers to my questions and helpful directions to where I wanted to go. What happened next is a testimony of an airline crew par excellence.

img_0880I recently celebrated a special day, you know, the kind of date that rolls around once a year, and what we call a birthday.  I boarded Avianca flight 807 bound for Cusco from Lima, Peru. Little did I know that my day would go in an unexpected direction. Captain Luis Palacin, First Officer Christian Crosby, Cabin Pursers Ursula Zegarra, James Ysimura and Claudia Gonzales all played a part in changing the course my day would take.

Captain Palacin directed his crew to invite me and my traveling companion to sit in row 1 of first class. I practically jumped out of my seat and ran up front. As soon as we sat down we were given our drinks (that’s a sure sign that you are in first class). I am sure other passengers may have wondered why we were taken to first class, but they would find out a little later in the flight.

img_0879The flight to Cusco from Lima is just a mere 55 minutes flying time. In less than an hour Cabin Pursers Zegarra, Ysimura and Gonzales, respectively, showered me with attention. Captain Palacin and First Officer Crosby may not have known this but I was already flying on cloud nine even while they were navigating the aircraft high over mountains that made up a part of the Andes Mountain range.

It is not often you will hear your name announced on the aircraft’s intercom by the captain wishing you a happy birthday on behalf of himself and his crew members. It is also not on every flight you will receive a cupcake with your birthdate and a note saying “Happy Birthday” from AV Crew 807. These sentiments were not lost on me. This team went above and beyond what I could ever have imagined for myself that day. It was not a part of my plan or theirs, I am sure, as we certainly did not know each other before then. However, upon learning that it was my birthday, they all jumped into action to ensure the little time I had in their presence would be memorable and lasting. Even fellow passengers joined in offering their wishes of a happy birthday to me as they exited the aircraft.

I am not shy about birthdays and have welcomed them each year since I do not relish the alternative. I want to thank God for blessing me in such a wonderful way and allowing my travels to cross the flight path of Avianca 807 crew members. May God bless, keep and watch over them on all their journeys.  I say thanks to them from the depths of my heart for making my day extra special. I want them to know, it will never be forgotten.

Blog followers and viewers, if you have had a similar experience on this airline or any other, please share in the comment section below. I like to read your comments, receive your likes or thumbs up, or you may select the follow button to be the first to know what I’m up to.  More of my travel experiences throughout Ecuador and Peru will be posted this month. Thanks for reading my blog.

Stay tuned.

Itinerary Planner

Conkies and Barbados Independence


Today is independence day in Barbados  or Bim (short for Bimshire) as it is known.  Barbadians (colloquial names: Bajan or Beige) at home and abroad are celebrating 51 years of autonomy from the British Monarchy.  Bajans from all walks of life will gather to celebrate their culture, foods and heritage.

Chorus to Barbados National Anthem

“We loyal sons and daughters all
Do hereby make it known
These fields and hills beyond recall
Are now our very own
We write our names on history’s page
With expectations great
Strict guardians of our heritage
Firm craftsmen of our fate”
–  Irving Burgie

Here are a few interesting facts about Barbados you may not know:

  • It has the oldest parliament of the British Commonwealth
  • It is 169.50 square miles, 21 miles long and 12 miles wide, located just outside the chain of islands in the Caribbean
  • It has a population of 284,996 people
  • The Bajan dialect is a broken form of the English language – “Gimme a scotch” has nothing to do with the alcoholic malt/grain whiskey but actually means, “May I have a seat”
  • It has a stable economy and boasts 98% literacy rate
  • It is home to one of the retired supersonic passenger airliner jets – Concorde
  • No other foreign country has ever invaded Barbados

So, how is Independence celebrated? Read on.

During the month of November, residents dress-up in the vibrant blue and gold colors representative of the nation’s flag.  Government buildings and businesses are decorated in bunting of similar color.  Besides an over abundance of entertainment that can be found on the island at any given time (a tourism slogan says “Never a dull moment in Barbados”), there is a month-long competition which highlights the creative work of local artists.  The event is hosted by the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).  Groups as well as solo performers vie for the “best-in-class” titles, and for awards in categories of: art, crafts, dance, drama, music, photography and song.  On the evening of the grand gala, and before a sold-out crowd, stellar performances are rendered for the judges who select the final winners of each category.

Besides national entertainment, in every community there is a direct thrust for nationals and non-nationals to buy and eat home-grown foods.  Residents are encouraged to use Bajan products and support local businesses.  Farmers and vendors at various market places display a wide variety of Bajan fruits and foods:  dunks, gooseberries, golden apples, fat-pork, ackee (genip), sea-grapes, yam, pumpkin, eddo, breadfruit are a few of the fruits and foods you will find around.  Whether day or night, the aroma of foods such as:  fried fish, fish cakes, bakes, sweetbread, pone and other culinary treats including the national dish – cou-cou and flying fish, may be found in any kitchen.

A must-have and the star of the season is a sweet delicacy called conkie or stew-dumpling.  Made only during this time, families gather to make and share these delicious treats, which in my estimation are labor intensive.  You must grate pumpkin, coconut and sweet potato in preparation for the conkies.  The grated foods are then combined with other ingredients such as: cornmeal flour, sugar, butter, essence and several spices.  Once combined, spoonful’s of the mixture is wrapped in a singed banana leaf and steamed.  Other the years, this recipe has evolved to include other ingredients such as: raisins, eggs and milk.  I am partial to the authentic conkie and therefore cannot attest to the taste or flavor of a conkie with the latter ingredients.

On the morning of November 30th, all eyes turn to the national parade of combative and non-combative arms of government.  Troops assemble at the Garrison Savannah, home of horse racing, for the official independence ceremony.  Before large spectator crowds, speeches are given by government officials, the national anthem sung and the national pledge recited. The troops then parade before onlookers and are inspected by the Governor General – the head-of-state and the Queen’s representative on the island, and the Right Honorable Prime Minister. A gunfire salute is given to the cheers of hip, hip, hooray, and the parade begins its final march through the streets to government headquarters to the beat of Barbados’ Police Force and Defence Force music bands. People line the streets securing every vantage point to catch a glimpse of their favorite detachment or to see and support a family member marching in the parade.

After all the national pageantry, crowds head to the seashore to fun and frolic.  You might hear senior folk reminiscing of the olden days. Still, you may find others at social parties talking of pastimes, reciting old sayings, singing heritage songs, and playing games like: picksup, scables, tip fuh two, pitching, tic tocs and rounders (words are spelled in local vernacular)

Every island has its own charm, claims to beauty and uniqueness.  The same can be said of the land of my birth. It has been a favorite destination for members of the British Royal family and former US Presidents: George Washington, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. It is the playground for regular A-list visitors like: Kerry Packer, Oprah Winfrey, Simon Cowell, Tiger Woods, and home to superstars: Rihanna, Olympic Bronze medalist Obadele Thompson, musician Eddie Grant, cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers, and a Guinness book recorded checkers champion Ronald ‘Suki’ King to name drop a few.

While many people may think of Barbados as just another destination, to me it is paradise and a place called home.  While many go there to enjoy the sea, sun and sand, I go there to enjoy all things Bajan.  It is the only place where the term “Only bout hey” is understood by all and sundry.  Even though distance separates me from this land, it is always enjoyable recounting memories of the things that helped to make and shape who I am today. I want to wish my homeland a happy and blessed Independence Day.  I love you Barbados. Happy birthday!

I hope this post peaked your interest and caused you to add Barbados to you bucket-list. Remember to drop me a comment in the section below or like.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Travel Conniptions


A week from today, my travels to Ecuador and Peru will begin.  This will round out all travels for 2017 (see ‘Coming to a Place Near You’ page on http://www.traveltinerary.com) and I will be able to add them to the list of countries visited.  The itinerary planning and research for these destinations have been extensive having read everything I can on both countries.  After perusing other travelers comments and tips online, and talking with Ecuadorian friends, I had to concede (more like have a travel conniption) that I simply cannot do all the things I would like to do, or go to all the places I would like to visit within the allotted time-frame of my air ticket.  Consequently, I had to make some changes to my plans.  It would mean trimming the itinerary in a way that would afford me the most bang for my buck.   Hence, The Galápagos Islands would become the “fall guy” because of time constraints, but Machu Picchu would remain on the must-see list.

The terrain of Ecuador and Peru does not allow for easy over-land travel.  Internal flights are available but can be pricy for non-nationals.  To capitalize on multiple territories, I purchased an open-jaw ticket, which in this case, is heavily bundled with travel connections, but the price could not be beat.  Since I chose the low-priced ticket at the expense of much-needed travel time, flexing on the itinerary then became my next priority (see tips on ‘Itinerary Planning’ page).  Once committed to a budget, one has to be willing to alter plans, if necessary.  This is the way it works for budget travelers who do not want to break the bank, figuratively speaking or literally, but instead, wishes to enjoy as much of their destination as do their wealthy counterparts who spend heftier sums.  Currently my budget is on track and well below the allotted self-imposed spending limit of $1,500 per country.  I must interject here that this amount goes a long way in some parts of the world than in others.  More spending power is available to me on this trip than would be on a similar trip to Europe.  Still, if properly navigated, travels can be had within the budget you set.

“He who will not economize will have to agonize.” – Confucius

While I may forego The Galápagos Islands at this time, God willing, I hope I will get another opportunity to revisit Ecuador on a longer timetable.  The flight schedule as it stands below promises to be quite hectic.  To date, I have received one airline change to the ticket schedule since purchase. I hope there will be no further changes.

New York → Bogotá, Colombia
Bogotá, Colombia →Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador → Guayaquil, Ecuador
Guayaquil, Ecuador →Cuzco, Peru
Cuzco, Peru → Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru → New York

Following the pre-travel checklist posted last month has served to:  keep my plans on track, keep travel essentials in view and keep travel acuity of the region high.  Below are my last to-dos before I jet off to find the spot where I can stand on the GPS location – latitude: 0°, 00′, 00″ known as the middle of the world.

Week 4
Pack travel bag
Confirm flights
Check weather conditions
Give copies of itineraries to family members
Print boarding passes

Am I excited about the adventures ahead?  A resounding YES!  However, I do have a few reservations.  Will I acclimatize in time to accomplish all the hiking I would like to do?  Will my plans be sabotaged from altitude sickness?  Will I enjoy the food in either country as appetizing as they look?  I am no Bourdain or Zimmern, I draw the line on what goes into my body temple.  So, no guinea pig thanks (pun intended).  Will I feel safe walking around at night?  Only time will tell the answers to my questions.

To all my blog peeps in WordPress, LinkedIn, Google+, stay tuned as I bring you the most impactful experiences and scenic photo shots.  As always, I love to read your thoughts/recommendations on my post.  Please write your comment in the section below.  Shy?  You can select the buttons:  follow, like, thumbs-up, or email to convey your encouragement.

Keep it real all.

 

 

 

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