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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lies, Half-truths & Alternative Universes


“White foods” (sugar, flour and potatoes, most notably) are now
disappearing from my diet in an effort to return to feeling
attractive wearing my “itsy bitsy teeny weenie … bikini.”
Contrary to best-selling author Ann Vanderhoof of “An Embarassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude” and “The Spice Necklace:  My Adventures in Cooking, Eating and Island Lifenot all cruisers slim down, nor do they bond with the locals while simultaneously becoming stupendous Caribbean cooks.

Don’t get me wrong; I

However, I
  • packed on some pounds; while unlike Vanderhoof I rarely touched fried food, those French territory cheeses truly were a terrible thing to waist (click here to read more about that)
  • found the rampant tourism in many places created barriers to establishing authentic relationships (many locals are depend heavily on tourist dollars and our travel relied heavily on maintaining a very tight budget … click here to read about one of our most unhappy stops)
  • learned to consider up front how much space, heat and propane would be required to make anything.  For example, delicious as they are, there was no way I was going to spend 4 hours boiling breadfruit nuts (click here to learn about breadfruit and breadfruit nuts) in 80 degree temps in our 250 square foot, un-air-conditioned boat.
  • thus far, learned more about practical galley cooking from fellow cruisers than locals (watch for a future post on that)

To be fair, St. Lucian locals are not known for mingling socially with outsiders, arguably, for good reason if you delve into island history.  Most other places we were passing through, rather than staying long enough to learn how best to become more socially savvy cross-culturally. 

You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet. -- Couchsurfing
As we travel to destinations more off the beaten track, I expect we’ll find more opportunities to connect more with locals, as we did in Saba (click here to read about Saba) and Great Inagua (click here to read about Great Inagua).  My greatest hope is to give more than I take when those encounters happen, from the heart, rather than the wallet as we did with our Couchsurfing experiences. Wayne and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting others in our hometowns via “Couchsurfing” (click here to learn about that international organization), and we befriended folks where we were Couchsurfing guests and still keep up with some.

Your Turn
  1. What are some of your greatest travel experiences, especially ones where you made a genuine connection with someone who called where you visited “home”?  
  2. Can you share a story of when your travel experience differed drastically from your expectations, especially compared to what you’d read or heard?
  3. What tips can you offer to us and other cruisers to keep in mind going forward on socially engaging with locals (and keeping the pounds off)?
Meanwhile, whittling those pounds off, albeit slowly, doing the usual "move more, eat less," with a goal of a lookin' good in a bikini by cruising season, and staying that way.  And if I'm fortunate enough to learn more in someone's kitchen this coming year; that would be awesome.  But I'm not expecting it.