Travel

In which the intrepid explorer leaves her cosy home for other parts.

Public Service Announcement!

You may have noticed I’ve been gone a while. That was due to several factors including illness, a very busy period at work, trying to write more, a vacation and general laziness (not in that order).

However, I’ve since got over my bronchitis, killed my work assignment and had a blast on vacation in St. Vincent (My first 5 star resort! Pictures to come!). When life gets that good, it follows that something not so great might happen and that was this week, when I tried to put on my computer and return to my writing schedule.

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Suffice it to say, I paid $1,000 to fix this thing in May, and it’s not working. Again. I was heartbroken. Especially since my vacation has left me with cashflow problems the like of Bear Stearns before it died a swift, painful death.

Worse, I have no computer to write on.

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But there are angels in the world, and one of them is my sister. So I am getting an early Christmas/Birthday present in the form of my very first laptop ever. I’m a bit nervous about using a smaller device and I will also need stuff like a new desk, but I’m incredibly happy to be getting a new machine.

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Unfortunately, this means writing and blogging will also take just a bit longer before I start up again, but hopefully this time I’ll be able to keep at it for a while. My priority these days is writing though, so I’ll not be as frequent a poster as I used to be, as you probably already noticed.

In the meantime, I’ll post cool stuff I find on the internet when I can. So here’s a link to a helpful blog on 51 things that break reader immersion for my writing friends out there. 

Till we meet again…stay thirsty, my friends!

A Wonderful New Review for LEX TALIONIS in Caribbean Beat Magazine

I’m really over the moon about this one!

Caribbean Beat magazine is produced by Caribbean Airlines and given away free on every flight they have, both in and out of the Caribbean, for two months. I’m extremely lucky and grateful to be included in their bookshelf. In the past, I’ve heard about great books like ‘A Brief History Of Seven Killings’–which won the Man Booker prize, among others–from reading the magazine while traveling around the islands on business.

You can read the review here, just scroll down a bit. 

My favourite part? The closing lines:

‘Lex Talionis sings a bloody song of both forgetting and redemption, and of the price we pay for a little tenderness, when least we expect to be taxed for our freedoms.’

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*Squees with joy*

*Dances around*

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programme!

A Film Festival And A Dance Battle

Found this great roundup of the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (ttff).

Great to see the films being appreciated, but even better to hear sound critical advice. Yes, our film-makers need to come from a more critical place, especially when making documentaries. We are presenting positive overviews right now, but I suspect as the industry matures, creators will worry less about offending sensibilities and start doing more to reflect the realities of the Caribbean experience, and start conversations we need to have before we chart our future.

I also came across this amazing dance battle on Twitter yesterday, filmed at the Montreal Swing Riot by Alain Wong. Street dancers faced off against vintage/swing dancers and the results were magical. It’s a bit long, but you won’t regret watching the whole thing.

Keep dancing your cares away, my friends!

A Talk And An Award

* Edit:  It appears I got my history a bit wrong. Marlon James is the first Jamaican to win the Man Booker. However, the first Caribbean national to win it appears to have been V.S. Naipaul. It just so happens he was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago! 

Yesterday I had a great time giving an informal talk about speculative fiction and what it takes to be a writer to the 6th Form students at St. Augustine Secondary School. I also read a bit from one of my current shorts, Wire and Blood.

The school was newly built, the library really nice–just like the librarians–and best of all, it was air-conditioned!

This was my first class of teenagers. I’ve given talks with teenagers present before, and even younger children, but not an entire class of them. I was delighted to meet a room full of intelligent, open, enthusiastic young men and women who needed no prompting to ask questions or react to what I was saying. In short, they were a great audience that gave me lots of energy, and I hope I was able to give them some insight and inspiration.

Here’s me accepting their wonderful tokens at the end of the talk. I made out like a bandit with stuff that included a new book and writing materials. I hope the librarian remembers to tell them how much I appreciated it!

St. Augustine Secondary Talk

On another note, I just read that the Man Booker Prize has been won today by a Caribbean national for the first time! Jamaican writer Marlon James bested the competition with A Brief History of Seven Killings. I’ve been hearing about how wonderful this book is since the Bocas Lit Festival put him on the short list for the OCM Bocas Lit Prize.

Scratch that–I heard about this book long before that, through an article in Caribbean Beat Magazine just before it debuted. It’s in my very large to be read pile, I’m sad to say, but I’m delighted that the Caribbean has another great author to celebrate, and a young one too. Jamaica to the World!

Congratulations, Marlon! Thanks for raising we nose!

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

The New York Times Is Loving Our Food!

Here we go in the New York Times again!

This lovely little article about a Trinbagonian family cooking and living in New York has definitely captured the essence of us.

We are no faded copy of any ‘mother’ country. Trinidad and Tobago is a blend of races and foods uniquely its own, and like all other places, we like food the way we like it. Our curry is not like India’s, but in a really good way according to most visitors. Many Trinis will tell you stories of traveling abroad and missing roti, especially if they’re an East Indian family. I spent two weeks in Barbados once and almost cried when I was able to come home and eat doubles lol. I love travel and I love to try new foods (another Trinbagonian trait), but after a while, you just want a good souse or plum chow and you can’t get that the same way anywhere else but home.

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Speaking for the islands though, when it comes to Caribbean food, there are ideas people have about us that are mostly wrong, so two hints. One, we wash most meats with vinegar and/or lime and water to cut the gamey taste (a lot less with pork though). Two, we don’t really roll savory foods in coconut flakes. We use coconut milk in everything, and put flakes in dessert, but coconut shrimp is NOT Caribbean.

What’s your favourite cuisine and what do other countries get wrong about it?

The New York Times Mentioned Trinidad and Tobago!

It was no big deal though. Just a bit in their travel section about the new hiking trails we opened, but at least we were in their headline.

Still, we tiny nations so seldom get into the news I was quite proud to see us listed there.

Now, if only we could get this kind of recognition for Carnival. That’s when tourists would really enjoy us. Just ask Nikki.

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Have a good weekend and remember to have one on me guys!

Reunion Island Must Be Wondering What Gives

Poor little Reunion Island. Before last week, it was a place known mostly to surfers and scientists. Now it’s got an international spotlight on it since pieces of a plane that might be MH370 washed up on its beaches.

Oh, and its volcano decided to erupt again. That’s after sharks made it a new playground and scared off most of the surfers.

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Must be fun to have journalists descend on you while nature is having its way with you.

The article caught my attention because it mentions an outbreak of Chikungunya as well, a few years back, but in a strange way, pointing out that it causes heavy fever. As someone who’s had Chik V, I can tell you the fever is no big deal. It’s the insane body pain that lingers for months, even years, that really characterize this debilitating disease. There’s a reason some people compare it to the more severe Dengue fever–popularly known as ‘break-bone fever’.

Anyway, Reunion’s due a bit of luck now, especially since the residents mention in the article that they hope their discovery helps bring the families of those aboard the missing plane some kind of peace.

Here’s hoping tourism goes up and the volcano goes quiet, guys.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

Your Office is Freezing. Here’s Why.

So now I know why all my coworkers, girlfriends and my sister keep complaining to me about how cold the office is. I’m assuming this shit is international, because it certainly seems to be.

Apparently, the formula used to program thermostats is based on a 40 year old male of a certain size. Because back then, that was the typical office employee.

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Anyway, methinks it might be time for a change.

And as it happens, it’s better for the environment to keep it a bit warmer.

As for me, I don’t have this problem for two reasons. One is, despite being born and bred in the Caribbean, I like to be chilly. I’m much more comfortable feeling slightly cold than feeling even the slightest bit warm. I love rainy days. Sunny days, to me, are good only for the beach and cricket. I even had a taste of winter and fall in Canada. Loved it.*

The other is, I control my own thermostat.

‘Cause that’s the way I roll…

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Stay thirsty, my friends.

*Let it be known that the coldest fall day I endured was around -4 and the coldest winter night was -10 with a -30 windchill factor. That was–eye-opening. However, I was kinda sorry I missed the -50+ weather that descended days after I left Canada last year. My Canadian friends say, no I would NOT have been sorry, but I still sorta of want to know what it’s like to feel your nostrils crack on contact with air. Otherwise, how can I say I’ve lived the good life?

Caribbean Sporting Glory!

I just have to acknowledge that this past week has been a great one for the Caribbean when it comes to sport, and for my country, Trinidad and Tobago, particularly.

First, to the Reggae Boyz for making it to the final of the Gold Cup against Mexico, a hearty congratulations. You had a magnificent tournament and even though the Mexicans won (congrats to them too!) you should be proud of being the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a Gold Cup final. We in the Caribbean were all rooting for you and we are proud of what you accomplished.

To the Soca Warriors, I’m incredibly proud of your run, especially since we are a rebuilding team and had five losses before we started the tournament. You’ve done us proud and I look forward to seeing you go from strength to strength as you prepare for the World Cup qualification campaign. Go Soca Warriors!

In the just recently ended Pan Am Games, the US finished first, as expected. But Trinidad and Tobago’s team should take a bow for getting their highest number of medals ever–8 overall, with three gold, three silver and two bronze. That was just one behind Jamaica and we finished 15th to their 14th placing. And there was the Dominican Republic with 24 medals overall. Caribbean Massive!!

Below is Cleopatra Borel, Trinidad and Tobago’s Queen of the Shot Put, O’Dayne Richards, Jamaica’s King of the Shot Put, Candida Vasquez Hernandez, the Dominican Republic’s Queen of 48kg weightlifting and Trinidad and Tobago’s victorious 4×400 metre relay team.

Candida Vasquez Hernandez of the Dominican Republic celebrates after winning the gold medal in women's 48kg weightlifting at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Saturday, July 11, 2015. (Photo by Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press via AP Photo)

Finally, but most importantly, to the Red Steel, Trinidad and Tobago’s team in the Caribbean Premiere League of cricket, congratulations on winning the entire tournament and lifting the ugliest trophy in sport!

Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. But the sight of that thing warms my heart when I think about how hard the team worked to get it. It’s really hard to go from bottom of the table to the final, taking the long road and winning two semi-finals, one of them the day before the final, while Barbados cooled its heels for over a week waiting in the finals berth. And what a game! Both sides fought hard, but in the end, Trinidad had the self-belief, crowd support and momentum to take them over the line.

Well done lads!

I will admit, I wasn’t even sure they would be able to make the semis. I had a chance to buy tickets for the semis and the finals and decided against it after the heartbreak of the first year. I satisfied myself with season tickets that allowed me to attend all the preliminary matches instead.

Lord knows every Trini was criticizing the team and probably stopping the Bravo brothers in the road to give them advice when we landed at the bottom of the table. But it’s clear they listened to the prevailing wisdom, changed their strategy and started gelling as a team. And now here we are, Champions finally in the third year of the competition.

If you only knew how much Trinis love T20 cricket. Then you would understand why many are still floating on air this morning, just like I am.

So here’s to having a good Monday! I hope yours went by in a haze of good feelings that sets you up for a magnificent week. I know mine did!

Stay thirsty, my friends 😉

Here There Be Life

Just read this article on New Horizons’ fly by of Pluto and the problems that were solved while the probe was millions of miles away. Amazing to think we can do that now. Solve problems without even being there. Send out probes that will never return, for the sole purpose of flying through the universe that, almost certainly, none of us will ever see with our own eyes. I’ve been so excited seeing the pictures New Horizons is sending back all over my Twitter feed.

Sometimes I think the technologically advanced world we live in does contribute to a sense of being weary with it all. We get tired and jaded and think, ‘Damn. I guess my phone is obsolete again. Have to get a new one.’ We read the science news and hear about new developments and it goes right over our heads because life goes on, right? I mean, are we supposed to care about such things when you have to get up, get to work, get on with it, no matter what?

And what about the world itself? Wars and hunger and collapsing economies and murders and politicians we hate and celebrities we wish would shut up…it never ends. We want to hide out from the never-ending news cycle. The barrage of negativity. The sense that no matter how right things might be with you at any given moment (which almost never happens, if  you ask anyone), things will never be right with this crazy world.

But…

The world is more than human society.

It’s also clouds and oceans and mountains and space and a tiny Earth-born machine talking to itself–talking to us– as it trundles along on an arid landscape, millions of miles away.

When I get tired of the unrelenting, constantly judging, prattling heads on TV, I check out my science news pages, and I never fail to be inspired. The idea that no matter what goes wrong with me or the world today, our flawed species has managed to send out the most hardy of ambassadors, complex machines that have done so much more than we hoped, against all odds, and that are sending back information, right now, that could help us alleviate that age-old condition.

Loneliness.

Perhaps Mars Rover will never find evidence of even the most basic life-forms. Maybe Philae will find nothing but ice on 67P. But…

…science is so fun now. We are exploring our world, our universe, ourselves, on a regular basis in ways we only dreamed imaginable 50 years ago. And the answers are coming back to us, loud and clear and amazing.

Most likely. Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Out there.

There be life.

If so, I hope they’ll be as excited to find us as we will be to find them.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!