Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time to Set Sail

Barbados - Day 4

Every year that my family and I have ventured to the island of Barbados we make sure we make time to set sail (aye aye captain). This day is something I am always eager to taste because there is nothing that beats the gemstone colors of the Caribbean ocean on a catamaran using nothing but wind power. Now just tell me God didn't know what he was doing. He's created amazing minds that have learned to travel with the stream of the wind.

From the moment I woke up that morning, which I believe to be around 6am, I was longing to set sail, but our shuttle would not depart for our launch city, Bridgetown, until 8:15am. So, that morning I made sure I had a scrumdidiliumptious breakfast and had all my gear ready so that I might bolt out the door. I packed a long sleeve shirt, since I was pretty severely sunburnt the day prior, my much loved and four year old wide-brimmed sun hat, extra sunscreen, my aviators and a towel. I was set to embark.

This shuttle to Bridgetown was buzzing with excitement of people who have never been on a catamaran before. A Welshman, Steve, and his Canadian wife, Georgia, were among the buzz and a super sweet couple I will add. Talking with Steve and Georgia was nothing but a piece of cake; they were engaging, interesting and fun to talk with... Not your typical tourists without a brain traveling to pretty places and getting conned into each tourist traps. Nope, they were quite fun.

Finally, Bridgeport, our launch sight! We've reached it and were ready to set sail into the beautiful Caribbean. The day was seamless... perfect and lovely in everyway. Just a few white puffy clouds filled the skies against a turquoise blue sky that almost blended with the sea. The wind was breezing strongly to carry the boat across the waters and our captain steered his ship along the Western coast of Barbados. During our cruise, we made three stops, two in which we got to feed turtles and see some beautiful works-of-art fish. The fish were red, pink, dark and light blue with sparkles. They were striped and polka dotted, fat and thin. Some had big eyes and others small. There were loner fish and schools of fish. The turtles swam near us as the crew fed them with their favorite treats. We got to touch them and feel their shells and once in a while one would come up and nudge your foot, but mostly because we were in their way. Have to learn our place around the turtles I guess. Our third stop of the day we had a delectable lunch consisting of fresh, fried flying-fish, salad, chicken, potatoes and rolls. And... rum punch for everyone. One of my favorite lunches of the year.

After lunch we take the cruise back which is always a delight; the captain picks up speed in the wind and water usually splashes against everyone's face as they bounce up and down from the small waves in the water. As the catamaran reaches its port, everyone is always slightly sad that the day trip has come to and end, but never sorry for taking the trip.

For dinner that evening my family and I went to a local restaurant called the Waterfront Cafe where they serve traditional Bajan cooking. There's just something about home cooking wherever you go that brings comfort to your soul. This day was so pleasant and I am so thankful yet again.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today, Let's Go All Over the Place

Barbados - Day 3


Each morning being here I have woken up with the sun. The sun rises early in Barbados, or so it seems, and doesn’t let you get a late start with the day. It’s nice waking up early to greet the day and hear the birds singing so beautifully. The smell of rich mahogany drifts up to my nose as the breeze whisks through the doors and is so delightful.

This morning I was awake before the rest of my family. I sat on the veranda from the room and read for a while, which I most enjoyed, then soon made myself ready for a day spent on the beach and in the clear waters.

After a little breakfast I took a stroll to the beach staircase and gradually made my way down, admiring the sun kissed waters and swaying palms each step of the way. There were very few people on the beach at 8:00 o’clock in the morning, but the few there enjoyed the morning by the sea with their books alone and some with a friend. The line of chairs and umbrellas were set up by the beach staff around 5:00 o’clock in the morning, and seemed to wait with anticipation for some souls to plunge into them. I first walked towards the water to feel the warm temperature, then turned to face these beckoning lounge chairs. Hmm... which one should I choose? But soon made my pick. I walked up towards the cushioned blue lounge chair, covered it with my towel, positioned it toward the sun and lied down with a book in hand. The sound of the water beating the pink sands and tall, limestone cliffs just relaxed me even further. A few hours later in the day, Mom, Dad and Derek joined me. We swam and continued to be soothed, until I did get quite burnt. Eh... what should I expect for being so fair.

I was glad to get an early start on the day because that day we planned to eat lunch at Sandy Lane Country club: a beautiful golf course grille that overlooks the course and even further the ocean. The meal there was excellent and the people were very kind. My family and I enjoy food, especially my Dad and I, so whenever we get to tickle our taste buds, we are as pleased as punch. For my meal, I enjoyed some excellent smoked, thinly sliced salmon on a toasted wheat bagel accompanied with cream cheese, capers and sliced raw, red onion. Makes for quite a refreshing lunch. I truly do believe food is a gift in many ways. Not only does it fuel you, but the colors, when admired, bring pleasure to the eye, the textures and tastes bring enjoyment to the mouth, and the smells can rehash the greatest memories due to our most fascinating olfactory glands. Isn’t it incredible how God has created all that we can eat and how we can also enjoy this? And, food in it’s simplest forms has the most exuberant flavors. If you ever are in the mood to experiment new cuisine with someone, I’m your girl.

On the way back from lunch, Willie drove us through some of the highlands of Barbados. There are eleven different parishes here on the island, each of them having something unique. We heard about a man named John Springer who lives in the highlands and makes his own clay right from the earth or Barbados clay. He uses this clay to make his very own work which included mugs, jars, candle decorations, and pitchers. He also does private work -- for those who can afford it. His work is beautiful! I bought a pitcher which I fell in love with at first sight. I think this a is a lovely souvenir to take home, use and tell a story about when using it. Coming down from the highlands after we stopped at John's place, we passed by the coast, saw many rolling hills, and thick forest. All so beautiful and difficult to place in words. Bathsheba Beach is one of the beaches we pass on our way down from the highlands. This is a place where surfers usually congregate, the locals go for picnics and where many stop for a local banks beer at one of the roadside cafe's. If you're looking for something more local and away from large crowds of tourists while you visit Barbados, this is a nice change of pace and I would encourage you to come. Expect to get lost if you rent a car, though. The Bajan street signs, er lack of them, will not help you too much. This just adds to the adventure.

Today was yet another gift. Tomorrow we’ll go sailing on a catamaran. I’m looking forward to buoyant times :)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Praise Among the Palms

Barbados - Day 2


7:30 in the morning. This is the time our Christian brother Willie picked us up from our villa for church. Now normally I’m used to 11:00am services scheduled from about one to one and a half hours longs. New Dimensions Ministries began at 8:00am and ended, well, when it ended. I didn’t know what to expect.

Willie and his lovely wife Dreena drove us to church with them. The church building was located in an old warehouse and the congregation size was about 1,500 people (this is just to give you a picture of how big the building was, because truthfully, numbers don’t create worship). As we arrived, a beautiful harmony of voices was already spilling out from the church. Neighbors near and far could hear the singing because there were huge doors located on all sides of the building, allowing fresh air to circulate within. Willie and Dreena lead us in and told us we needed to sit near a fan because it does get hot... not a problem.

So maybe to your disappointment I won’t go into details of how the entire church service was because even in my own heart I fear I will compare thinking this church is better in this area than this church in this area, etc. But If I do this, where has my focus lingered to? I will share that New Dimensions has a body of believers that I would love to grow to know; hospitality is present in this church and glory was given to the King to whom it belongs. Honesty was very present; deep struggles were shared and the power of Christ was viewed as His alone. Walking from this church helped me take a look into my own heart and the Lord faithfully encouraged and reminded me of His presence and realness. As I grow and take new steps in life, questions arise, but I am more assured that He is alive, His word is living and He allows me to come with questions and doubts. He is a very GREAT God.

After our church service, it was time for our family to stock up on a week’s worth of food. The supermarket is smaller than at home, but has everything and yet still more than we needed: chicken, herbs, pretzels and chips, locally grown vegetables and pure sugar from sugar cane. Oh yeah, and some rum for rum punch. Cooking at home is always nice being it saves money and you can enjoy each other’s company without having to go far.

This day was complete with a swim at the pool to cool each of us off and relax us before heading to bed. Derek is still so sleepy, but he’s adjusting better now. Tomorrow we look forward to a day spent wisely at the beach.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Step Onto Pink Sands

Barbados - Day 1


As usual I worked late and when I got home, sleep was hardly an option. More because I was just too excited to sleep than me actually having the sleepies. It was that time of year again to head to a Bajan paradise with my family; a place with pink sand and water the color of glistening, blue-green gemstones. Where one day spent feels like three days passed and where the people have a beautifully simple yet rich life. This place is called Barbados.

It was on this day that my family and I packed our things and headed to the airport; we left our house at 4:00 o’clock in the morning to make our first flight to Charlotte, NC, where we would transfer to our destination of choice. Plane rides are always a little interesting to me; you never know who you’ll end up sitting next to, if there will be a conversation and if there is a conversation you just know it’s bound to get a little awkward at some point. I mean, it’s not like you can just get up and say, “Oh excuse me, this has been a really nice chat, but I have to go now.” No! You are stuck in that seat and the only place you can retreat to is that sliding door bathroom... hardly a retreat (but for some reason it still provides a hint of sanity as we marvel how we actually got in and out of there to do our business). During our first plane ride to Charlotte, I sat in the middle seat. My brother, to my left, slept the entire plane ride from the exhaustion of just coming home from China on a cultural exchange program... poor guy was so very tired. To my right sat an elderly gentleman at the age of seventy-three. Being from Germany he said to me, “Ah, allo. Und ver are you vrom?” And this sparked a sweet little conversation of what it’s like in his homeland and what it’s like here in the States. We shared traveling adventures and traveling dreams. I could tell, through his words and interest, that he had an interest in the youth. The plane landed and we parted ways.

Again with my family, we waited in the Charlotte terminal for an hour for our final flight to the country we so longed to be visiting. My brother spent the time snoozing, Mom, finally showed a relaxed looked on her face knowing she was away from very hectic things at home, Dad eager like a kid on a car ride to get where he most wanted to be and me, I had fun people watching. I was mostly thinking how all the bleach-colored people, including my family and I, were excited to get color on a scale of bright-red to golden-brown. When it was time to board, a sweet reminder came to my heart and mind that where we are going is not on our own means, but a beautiful gift from God; I was very excited as was the entire plane :)

This plane ride I had the window seat, my brother had the center and a nice lady sat on the isle, which I later found out she had never been to Barbados before. I wish I knew so she could have had the window seat, but I guess for a five hour plane ride, there is only so much sea and clouds to gaze upon until they become redundant. Derek, again, slept the entire ride, I snoozed here and there and as did my parents. There were many “little lambs” on board who were getting restless; oh the pain a parent must feel when there is nothing one can do to console their child. But seeing these little ones was a precious sight.

About three and a half hours into the ride, our captain came on board and announced there was only one hour left. That time passed like a pocket of rain in the summer time and before we knew it the sparkling waters and coastline of Barbados appeared outside our little windows. I’m pretty sure a huge smile came across my face and I didn’t even realize it. Our landing was a little bumpy, but nothing short of exciting knowing where we were. There are no terminals in this airport, just a tarmac where upon exit the entire plane loads into a bus and we are driven to the customs station. We waited in line for quite some time. My mom and I having the personalities we do, I guess, attracted some very talkative southerners who spilled just about their entire life stories, many of their problems which appeared to almost be a cry out for community and care. I am always amazed how people who lack this community will so openly share their lives. I am convinced, at times, that a soul knows where a temple of the Holy Spirit is and flocks to it, and I know this is God’s working to draw his lost and hurting sheep to Him.

After making it through customs (yep, they didn’t catch us haha), we got our luggage and met Emmanuel Tours, where our dear Christian brother Willie, the owner of this company, met us. One of my favorite things about Barbados is being with our Christian Family; it is always the greatest encouragement to me, personally. My dad so eloquently reminded me, “The Lord has his servants all over the world to do His work,” and this same Lord Jesus knows I really need this encouragement. Again... this trip is a gift in multiple ways.

We left the airport and arrived at The Crane where we were welcomed with the traditional drink of the island, Rum Punch. Yum, yum, yum! With our bags already relaxing in the villa before us, we headed up the elevator to our room. “Chirp chirp” is what we heard from the key card that let’s us know we are welcome to come in and relax. Opening up the windows was our first priority to allow the constant, Bajan breeze to flow through our place, quite a lovely alternative to stale air-conditioning air. The unpacking began and we made the place our home for the week.

The evening was completed with an Italian dinner at the new Italian restaurant right in the resort complex. With satiated bellies, little sleep and calmed nerves, that evening we all collapsed in our beds and had Rip Van Winkle kind of sleep. What a pleasant day of arrival.

Tomorrow we are going to church with Willie and his family. Read about this in my next entry.