Take Me to the Sea

‘Buena Vista Social Club – Full album’

Who needs these Montreal temperatures, I’m outta here🌴

Have a fantastic week everyone – off to the beaches of Cuba🌴


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Barbuda Needs Help To Rebuild

I just watched a special on Antigua & its’ almost completely destroyed sister island Barbuda on CGTN (China Global TV) & their efforts to rebuild in the past year.

I visited Antigua in April during the Antigua Sailing Week 2018 Regatta & fell in love with the country & the people. Jolly Harbor, English Harbor, the lookout at Shirley’s Point, those incredible steel drums, the sunsets, the yachts, the sailors – one of the best vacation experiences ever 🤗

[Important to note, I flew Sunwing – an incredibly amazing Canadian airline which I use 99 % of the time & have NEVER encountered a single issue.]

A big thank you to those who are helping Barbuda – Samaritan’s Purse, China, the UN, Canada, even Cuba .. .. CUBA ffs! helped Barbuda; but no mention of anything from the United States. Do they only stick their noses in other countries when they want to destroy them? {Oh wait – didn’t they try to help Haiti after their hurricane through the nefarious Clinton Foundation but barely saw a dime? Haiti is most definitely NOT fans of the CCC – the Corrupt Clinton Cartel. But I digress ..}

Everybody has the right to live in peace with the basic comforts & necessities of life. It breaks my heart to see good people suffer.

All my love to the people of Barbuda, & Antigua 💖 I will do my part to bring awareness to the situation.

Also important to note Dominica & Saint Maarten & all other beautiful Caribbean islands that could use our help rebuilding their economy.

As I am always reminded everytime I visit Cuba – a country with next to nothing but always smiling & happy – cuz they know what’s important in life.

Every time I come to Cuba (this is my 7th visit) I’m disappointed & ashamed about North America – we have so much & appreciate so little, as we take all we have for granted with our backwards values & principles.

If your 10th Ferrari doesn’t make you happy, your 11th won’t either.

We live in a fucked up world of profit over people & that is not OK.

Poems From My Teenage Self (Pt 6): “Paradise”

My Love Affair with the Caribbean began long ago ..


Chilling on my front porch

Being kissed by

A soft warm breeze

Watching coconuts sway

On tall green palm trees.

Paradise is a warm sun

Ocean waves on a sandy beach

Rolling up warm, white & foamy

As far as they can reach

Taking over the golden sand

Clear & smooth

Bringing with them

Shining sea shells

Sinking in the sand

So they cannot move.


The Bar & Restaurant Industry (Pt 1): Young & Starstruck

“Anyone interested in eating in a restaurant should be required to work in one first.” One can really only truly understand this if they work in the industry.

Oh the things we see, hear, & do in bars & restaurants! May 2017 marked my 20yr anniversary & it’s been a helluva ride. An accurate description of me on the job would be something my friend Heidi’s sister said to me one night about 15yrs ago that I’ll never forget:

‘Karin, I’ve been watching you tonight, you have this incredible gift of making every single person feel like the most important person in the room!’

Right on! I’ve always quoted Confucius when explaining my passion: ‘When you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life!’ It’s nice to be appreciated when you’re doing something you love – I seemed to excel at the lost art of customer service.

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I spent the first 7yrs as a bartender, landing my first job with none other than Club Med. I talk about the importance & necessity of travel & experiences rather than acquiring stuff in my blog To Spend or Not To Spend: Experiences vs. Things. With only my bartending certificate in hand & zero actual experience, I stepped behind the bar for the first time in Eleuthera, Bahamas for my first contract, then moving onto Provo, Turks & Caicos for my next.

What a year – a very drunken one. I was once given a gold pendant from a guest, right off their very own neck, that said ‘Party Animal,’ as they stated “I’ve never seen anyone party like you!” After that whole Mexico fiasco (The Importance of Finding Yourself) & regrettably back in Montreal, I worked at a variety of places, trying to gain as much experience in as many areas as I could, sure one day I’d eventually be running my own place.

From the St. Laurent nightclubs with the barely there dresses, making sure to guard my buns from the sleezy bosses with the grabby hands always trying to make a move; to the pool halls scattered with drug dealers, men in suits & tattooed bikers, thankful for the bouncer breaking up any scuffles; to pubs like the Peel Pub (Montreal’s most popular party place & watering hole) with really cheap beer & dollar shot specials – me navigating my way through the obstacle course of drunken patrons with my tray overflowing with shots in my one hand, high above my head & 5 pitchers of beer in the other. What that place (& the people in it) looked like at 3am when the lights came on I dare not say.

There was the summer season spent on a river cruise ship out of the Old Port of Montreal. We’d cruise on the St. Lawrence, me getting a kick out of ‘standing still’ bartending, but constantly tilting left or the right as the boat did. (Sounds silly now, but that was my first time working on a boat.) We had Molson boat parties on Friday nights, setting sail at midnight til 3am, with people at the bar four rows deep, so thirsty we were unable to get them their drinks fast enough. I did many a banquet, wedding & private party, sometimes through friends but mostly through catering companies. The coolest place I ever worked was this millionaire’s underground bunker/loft.

Was that place ever something!

You walked in & the first thing that greeted you was a Ducati motorcycle & an F1 car. To the left there was a big lounge area, with sofas & hightops, just like a bar. In the middle was a huge kitchen, with an island/countertop at least 20ft long. There was a wine cellar housing hundreds of bottles of the finest wines. In the back, there was a poker room, with a built-in black leather poker table, with drink holders & surrounding round red & black leather couch; behind that room, a gorgeous rectangular marble hot tub that could fit at least 8 & next to that a marble Roman-type shower that could probably fit close to a dozen. I heard rumors about the wild after-parties that took place there after our shift ended.

But after the trauma of 2004, everything changed. 2:43am: “I Hope My Murder Wakes My Neighbors.”

I couldn’t bartend anymore. I couldn’t stand being another lonely man’s eye candy, making conversation while he ogled my breasts. Rule #1 in the bars: “Don’t ever tell clients you have a boyfriend / girlfriend. You’re single, got it? ‘Gotta ‘Sell the Dream!'” Rule #2 was: ‘Don’t ever refuse a shot from a client! You lose 2 sales, yours & his!’

.. as long as they weren’t trying to make us into sleazes or alcoholics ..

I was no longer interested in selling the dream. I had just lived a nightmare. And with that I started to do the job I swore I’d never do: Server. I used to always say, ‘Screw servers, they’re servants, just running around in circles all night.’ I thought I was better than them, thought I was hot shit. Bartenders can be a cocky bunch – I was no exception. ‘I don’t run around. I stay right here; they can come to me.’

Not to mention bartenders make more money. But then there’s all that goes with it – that damned inventory, that damned restocking of the fridge, the damned balancing of your cash – while you’re somewhere between tipsy, drunk & hammered. Having dinner at 4am. Getting home when the sun came up. Sleeping all day. Rinse, repeat.

My favorite (albeit cockiest) memory of bartending was at Club Med Turkoise, Turks & Caicos. One night reception raced over to our dinner table to let us know they were expecting the arrival of a Calvin Klein model any minute. I’ve never seen a group of women jump up from a table & flock to the bathroom mirrors so fast. With the start of my shift fast approaching, I hurriedly took my place behind the bar, knowing that’d be the first place they’d hit upon arriving. “Who is it, who is it?’ is all we could think of.

Doesn’t Antonio Sabato, Jr. (famously known as Jagger on General Hospital) walk up with his cousin Joe, a nightclub owner in Miami!

I gave them a ‘Hey,’ as casually as I could, & asked them what they’d like to drink. “Make us something good,” Joe says. (In Montreal my friends & I concocted a drink that became so popular they began selling it at our favorite hangout, Cheers. We named it after a popular movie at the time,”Twister.” Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, orange juice, 7up, & a splash of grenadine.)

“This is really good. You know what you can hang with us,” Joe says. To which I replied, “Oh no you can hang with me.” Cocky? Fuck yeah. But it worked.

Next thing I know I spent the entire week hanging with Antonio, sometimes his cousin Joe, I met his sister & some other family/entourage members. I had dinner with them in the restaurant after it closed to the guests, so he wouldn’t be disturbed & we could eat in peace. We took dips in the pool, chatting away, & some days I lay on the beach next to him suntanning, opening my eyes & sneaking a peek every once in awhile in disbelief, trying to memorize his tattoos & I guess his body in general loll I was after all, just 26, & it was the first time I’d ever hung out with someone so famous, & so damn beautiful! (That was back when I was young & foolish & stupidly focused only on outer beauty.)

Some afternoons we played a few games of pool at the table by the bar, with the occasional coworker walking by mouthing ‘Oh my God,’ ‘What the fuck’ & other ‘niceties,’ visibly annoyed. Perhaps they thought I had ‘snagged’ him; but no, there was no snagging. We just hung out like buddies cuz I treated him like a normal person. Secretly I was swooning on the inside; of course I washe was kind, beautiful, friendly, respectful, funny & did I mention drop dead gorgeous?

But looking back now, I’m happy with my memory, just as it is 😉 It was a week I’ll never forget.

You have no idea who I am, but thanks for the memories Antonio xo


LoveInfusion

Antigua Sailing Week 2018 Festivities

Seems I booked my trip during some pretty exciting festivities that I really hope to partake in! It just so happens that it’s Antigua Sailing Week 2018!

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50th Antigua Sailing week 2017
Past winners of the Lord Nelson Trophy return for the 2018 edition of Antigua Sailing Week & include Sir Hugh Bailey’s Team Rebel © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Internationally acclaimed reggae artist, Tarrus Riley is headlining Reggae in the Park.

ReggaeInTheParkAntigua

And every race morning at 9am, join Chase the Race with Wadadli Cats & enjoy a full day of chasing the race, sailing & partying beach side with all inclusive food and drinks!

ChaseTheRaceAntigua

Decisions, decisions!


 

Cayo Coco,Cuba 2012: A Brush with Hurricane Sandy 

Rise/Set is the last Weekly Photo Challenge for the month of March. I chose this August 2012 pic from Cuba, the view from my room, which wound up being during Hurricane Sandy.

SunriseCuba2012
“Room with a View!” Cayo Coco, Cuba, August 2012

After a 14 year ‘involuntary’ Caribbean hiatus, I was back on track: I had a wonderful two week solo trip booked for the last 2 weeks of August in 2012. Those 14 years were half filled with me getting pummeled by life & the other half spent wondering, ‘WTF just happened?’ This is the time I refer to as the ‘eye of the tornado’ in my hell. After three back-to-back traumas in a 6 year span, I spent a lot of time digging myself out of hellholes. I handled ‘starting over’ like a pro. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve recreated myself & my life. Every single day is a chance to start anew 😉

BeachTherapy


About halfway through my vacay we got the severe weather warnings & it didn’t take long for the weather to change: starting with very heavy rain as the angry clouds rolled in, with winds that were really fierce. We were told the next day or two would be pretty rough. They slipped notices under our doors, advising us to pack a small bag with essentials including passports, just in case; but it was preferable we stay in our rooms for our safety.

I figured I should probably get my drink on ..

The next day I woke up to quite the storm. I could hear the wind howling outside. I went to my window & noticed it was raining sideways. Looking for the path of least resistance – or the least drenching – I took the giant room umbrella with me & started heading over to the buffet for lunch. But the wind was so strong! Knowing the umbrella would never retain it’s shape – & my refusal to struggle with it – I returned it to my room & grabbed a beach towel to hide under instead. The palms were getting blown with such a force I thought they’d rip right out of the ground.

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After lunch they did not open up the bars; & much to my chagrin I soon learned that alcohol would not be served at any of the resort’s bars. Seems they wanted people to keep their wits about them. So much for that idea .. Initially I wasn’t too worried – having never experiencing a hurricane before, I didn’t realize how bad it could get – but I soon learned many others were. I spent the afternoon & early evening in my room, watching tv & trying to wait out the torrential downpour. You know, so the bars, where all the liquor is, would be functional enough to get me to a non functional enough state 😉 

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Soon I heard a lot of hustle & bustle outside my room – hurried voices laced with panic. Then came several knocks from neighbors with similar requests: ‘Do you have any tape so I can tape up my windows?’ Um, sorry no. Did not think to pack that, no. I looked out from my balcony & sure enough, saw the big tape ‘X’s’ on people’s room windows. That’s when my anxiety cranked up a notch. ‘Surely they’re exaggerating!’ I thought. But it was still raining sideways. A tad nervous, I got in touch with some friends on the mainland, in Morónwho promised to come hang if things got too rough. But alas, the little two lane road, the pedraplén, from the mainland to the keys (Cayos) was unsafe to use & was closed; no one allowed in or out: 

El Pedraplén, Cuba: To drive along a pedraplén (causeway) is an incredible experience, especially the longest one in the world, going from Caibarién to Santa María CayCuba, about 48 kilometers long & feels as if driving over the sea. When the sea is calm there are no waves & the sky is mirrored on the water’s surface, giving the impression that the horizon has disappeared & that you’re driving across a flat world.

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The rain of course brought plenty of mosquitos – way more than usual; & they ravaged me like never before. It was so bad that people kept approaching me with looks of concern, asking if I was ok. I looked like I had a sudden, major chicken pox outbreak. I had bites everywhere. Thankfully some vacationers took pity on me – they’d never seen anyone bitten so bad apparently – & gave me their stash of benadryl. So by 8pm that night, unable to meet up with my friends, or get drunk, I figured my best bet was to try to sleep through it; I decided to pop a couple of those benadryl & crash.

I didn’t know if I was gonna die that night, but I sure as hell didn’t wanna feel it if I did  .. 

I survived – we all did – there were no serious issues aside from the early onset panic. And tons & tons of sideways rain. All we got was really, really soaked.

I’ve definitely been paying much closer attention to those hurricane forecasts ever since. I was lucky – but as we see with many a hurricane aftermath, many aren’t so lucky. I guess I thought Cuba, at 110,860 sq km (42,803 sq mi), would be safer than the smaller islands like Dominica & St. Maarten that got pummeled with Harvey last year:

  • It is now being estimated that the total amount of economic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 billion dollars.

So I guess the moral of this story is ‘Be Smart, Don’t be Stupid’ & ‘Don’t Mess with Mother Nature.’ I hardly suggest living in fear of what might happen, as that’s not living.

But putting yourself in the path of a major hurricane during hurricane season is probably not the wisest choice. I’ll never forget that Wind – this incredible force that cannot be seen, touched, or put into a box – can surge up to 250km for a Cat 5.

It’ll tear the roof right off your house like it was made of flimsy little paper plates.

I always say Love is the most powerful force in the Universe, but Mama Nature’s got some pretty powerful forces as well. Be Smart. Don’t be Stupid 😉

 


BELIEVE


BreatheInLove