…behind a stranger’s face.” ~Maya Angelou
…And the runner up goes to good ol’ Brian Cleary… “When a child says, “Smell my hand, it almost never smells like cinnamon.”
…behind a stranger’s face.” ~Maya Angelou
…And the runner up goes to good ol’ Brian Cleary… “When a child says, “Smell my hand, it almost never smells like cinnamon.”
The Bahamas. A country made up of over 3,000 bits and pieces of land sprinkled North of Cuba and Southeast of Florida. They’re known for many things. Things like giant starfish.
And adorably kind and funny families.
And in Andros, they have this little gathering once a year. A little gathering called “Crab Fest.”
Remember those parts in the movie Forrest Gump when they’re talking about all the different kinds of shrimp they can make? Bubba says, “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” In Andros, that’s pretty much how they see crab. And it’s all delicious.
During my visit to Crab Fest, however, one thing kept popping up in my mind. Every time I’d look around, in any direction, I saw something that made me think: OMG.
There’s a man drinking beer out of a large, empty stewed tomatos can. OMG.
This stuffed crab (literally) is delicious. OMG.
There’s a rather large woman wearing a bikini underneath an entire body suit of black lace…leaving not a whole lot to the imagination. OMG.
That is one of the most adorable babies I’ve ever seen. OMG.
People bring babies to this event? OMG.
This Bahamian music makes me want to open a beer and dance. OMG, how fun!
There are amazingly talented, half-naked male dancers on the stage. OMG.
Did those amazingly talented, half-naked male dancers really just do that?! OMG. (Those amazingly talented, half-naked male dancers looked like they were having some X-rated fun with the air.)
And so the night continued. After about 30 seconds of mentally processing one OMG moment, another one came right along after it. For a girl who grew up on a farm in the country, that’s one heck of a long night. While Crab Fest was certainly an experience I’m sure I’ll never forget, I’m thinking once in my lifetime is just about right.
I think I’ll stick with traveling to the Bahamas for all the other reasons I love going there (the people, the fresh conch salad, the Kaliks, the great fishing with great guides, the almost hot-tub-like temperatures of the crystal clear water, the fresh conch salad, the starfish as big as cookie cakes, the traffic-stopping (literally) crab-parades across the streets, the fact that they serve almost anything with grits, the children who look at my long hair as if it’s Christmas, oh, and did I mention the fresh conch salad?)…Yes, I think I’ll stick with those reasons. For all the other 361 days of the year.
It’s 2:37 in the morning. You know this because, well, you’re awake and you’ve only looked at the clock about four times in the last two minutes. You’ve changed positions roughly six times, fluffed your pillow, flipped it over, and then gave it a good one-two punch to the sides for good measure.
To make matters worse, everyone, including your cat, is snoring. You know this because you can hear them, well, because you’re awake. As you have to get up in three or four hours, it’s too late to take any heavenly sleep drugs. If only you would’ve known you’d be wide awake at 2:30 am, you could’ve warded off that pesky insomnia with a little modern medicine. Dang it.
This was me last night. This insomnia was particularly painful because I had to be up at 5:00 am. Have you ever watched two and a half hours click by on a digital clock? Pain.ful.
I, of course, tried the good ol’ standby of counting sheep. Sadly, I’m a failure at this. It’s ridiculous. Those sheep, my sheep, are completely unruly. How is that even possible? Picture a grassy field. Then picture a cluster of big oak trees. Somewhere in front of the oak trees, there are two wooden fence segments. (The rest of the fence is suspiciously absent.) Theoretically, a person, or a sheep, could walk right around either side of the fence. And, *sigh*, that’s just what many of them do. Walk right around the dang fence they’re supposed to jump over. Then there are a few eating grass, milling around completely oblivious to their cue. Finally, there are some over-eager sheep who want to jump over the fence as fast as possible, causing me to lose count after about seven. “Hey, can you slow down?!” No. They stubbornly refuse. And I have a front row seat for their disobedience. I give up and watch them take a detour, eat grass, or race for some imaginary finish line for a bit. And then I start the count all over again. (I’m not even kidding.)
This, needless to say, is ineffective in trying to fall back asleep. When you find yourself having conversations with four-legged animals in your brain, frustration and embarrassment make it difficult for sleep to take over. After realizing I stink at counting sheep, I tried numerous other traditional tactics, none of which seemed to work. I moved on to new, untested sleep-inducing waters. For example, I tried opening my eyes creating animals and palm trees and things from the shadows in the room. (*Note to Self: Do Not hang your dress for work up by the closet. It *will* look like a person standing there watching you…creepy…) As these were also ineffective for the task at hand, I figured I would make you a list of some not-so-good ideas, a list of what not to do when you’re trying to fall back asleep.
When trying to fall asleep, I would suggest avoiding the following:
5. Think about going for a run. While it’s great to partake in physical activity outdoors, going for a run when only you, the bats, and the scary people are out of doors is not a good idea. It’s dark outside, and it’s kind of creepy, and by the way this night has been going already, something terrible would probably happen when you’re half way from home, far, far away from anyone awake enough to help you. Thinking about what scary things might happen is exhausting…buuuttt not quite exhausting enough to seal the sweet sleep deal.
4. Plan a vacation. Or six of them. Or, if you’re like me, fifteen of them. I traveled the world about four times last night and stopped off at all my favorite places like Andros (where the fishing is good) and visited new favorite places like Bora Bora (with a name like that, how can it not be a fantastic place to visit?). Then I remembered my passport expires later this month. And then I started to think about waiting in line at the post office to renew it…and while that certainly isn’t stimulating, it doesn’t seem to induce sleep.
3. Curl your hair. I have a sweet little burn on my thigh from sitting cross-legged on the floor curling my hair, not taking into account that while no, I’m not sleeping, I am, in fact, sleepy, which apparently impairs my sense of judgment. Take it from me, after being burned by a curling iron, you’re wide awake. *sigh*
2. Plan your day. While this may seem like a productive use of your time, once you realize just how much you have to do that day, the urge to actually just get out of bed and get started is hard to fight…Hence the curled hair and the burned thigh. Save yourself some anxiety and physical pain and plan your day when you’re brushing your teeth. Much safer.
1. Match-make your siblings and your friends. While playing cupid can be fun, having your sister date your college next-door-neighbor who had an affinity for pot, video games, and anyone named Stacy, is simply not quite as good of an idea in the daylight as it is during an insomnia-induced haze. Danny, you know I love you, and we know you’re a Gator (and not bad to look at), but on your wedding day, I don’t want to be fighting off images of you playing Madden in your boxer shorts, Doritos, donuts, and Bud Light on your coffee table, the same table you got from the dumpster behind our apartment.
Tonight, I will be sure to avoid all of these things. Although, knowing me and my disobedient sheep, I’ll have envisioned a herd of cows pummeling over any attempted rapists on their way to Tahiti to marry off their mother for the fifth time. To you, I wish you a comfortable bed, a full eight hours before you’re required to do anything productive, and sweet, sweet dreams. Me? I’ll probably go look at my empty freezer for the fourth time on the hunt for something sweet for dessert…or breakfast…depending on how the rest of the night looks.
**Photos courtesy of sflchronicle.com, pyschologiesmagazine.be, qi-spot.com, lets-go.com.hr, and trutv.com.
“They” say everything is better in the Bahamas. While I haven’t had the opportunity to try “everything” in the Bahamas, from what I have experienced (Thanks Bradley – the fishing is always great!), it sure does seem like it’d be better there. In Spain, I was a stalker attempting to catch people at their finest unbeknownst to them (with my very large Nikon…not so sneaky…). In Andros, people, particularly children, were flocking to me.
Not only were they flocking to me, they were happy about it. Smiles were everywhere. Beautiful brown skin and shining white teeth surrounded me for most of my days on my last trip. Now granted, during the day, I was at a school…a school where their motto is: Learn while you can. So much to say about that…maybe another time.
Instead, here are some photographs of the happy people I had the opportunity to spend my time with. A day with these children offers a great deal of perspective. Their childhood playground consists of sand and water. That’s it. And they’re happy with that. In a time where we are bombarded with advertisements for video games and dolls that cry when they’re hungry, it’s nice to see kids happy with what they have, essentially nothing more than the land and sea The Big Guy Upstairs gave them. I don’t blame them. I’d be happy with that, too. **Fantasizes about a move to the islands** So without further ado, the stars of an island vacation. (Next to the fantastic fishing, these smiles make it all worth it.)
Maybe it’s because I’ve actually met these children and spent time with them playing “ball and bat” (a version of baseball utilizing a UF squish football I’d brought, random tree stumps and ropes for bases, and our arms for bats), but every time I look at their smiling faces, I can’t help but laugh. Even though they have holes in their shoes and stains on their collars, these kids know how to have a good time. So if you’re feeling a bit overworked and underpaid, consider taking a trip to paradise. The sandbox is huge, the water is warm, and I have no doubt you’ll be welcomed with open arms and, of course, big smiles.
Fishing. A perfect excuse to spend your day out on the water. And because fish tend to be fickle with that whole North wind thing, no one seems to mind too much if you come home with an empty cooler (no beer left, no fish caught). Regardless of the fish, and in the midst of all their philosophizing, experts agree: there’s nothing quite like it.
John Buchan, a novelist, historian, and fisherman said, “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” And hope is the feeling that events will turn out for the best. A day spent hoping out on the water is most certainly a day well spent.
Another writer/fisherman (and priest!), George Herbert, explained about fishing (and life), “You must lose a fly to catch a trout.” Now even if your preference is for dolphin, this idea can be applied to many scenarios, including people. If certain people in your life end up with terrible nicknames, they probably fall into the “fly” category. No real loss in losing those people, right? Just sayin’. Need to romance a girl? Call her a trout. No. Bad idea. Need to romance me? Call me a trout. I’ll get it.
The trouble I run into is the only person who actually takes me fishing with a big ol’ smile on his face lives in a different country. (Thank you Bradley!) While Andros is gorgeous, it’s not super convenient for a day trip. Because of this, I thought it might be helpful if I made you a list of logical reasons why it’s a great idea to take me fishing, too. So, here we have it:
10. Bikinis. I believe this one is fairly self-explanatory.
9. Bragging Rights. This sort of ties in with bikinis. When it comes to a day out on the water, men like to tell stories. Wouldn’t it be nice if your fish stories included a hot girl (or three) to go along with all those giant fish you caught? I can take care of the hot girl part. The fish, well, we’ll just have to hope for the best.
8. Stress Relief. Salt water (sweat, tears, and the sea) is the cure for everything, right? Part of the healing power of the sea is that a day on the water provides a sense of freedom. Freedom from what, you may ask? Freedom from anything that ails you. Work. People. Money. Sickness. Fill in the blank. Whatever it is, amazingly it takes a back seat when you breathe in that fresh air and feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. This *may* sound cheesy; however, for those of you who have experienced it, you know it’s true. And for a girl who grew up in the dirt, I certainly don’t take this feeling of being out on the water for granted.
7. Perspective. This goes along with #8. When you’re on a small boat (or even a big boat, for that matter), and you look out at the endless ocean ahead of you, life seems, well, good. Really good. In a time when we are constantly battered with everything from new email alerts to breaking news, it’s nice to gain a little perspective. Whatever it is, in the big scheme of life, “it” is most likely not a crisis. This becomes very apparent out on the water.
6. Patience. Patience is perseverance. And perseverance, according to some, is grace. It’s the ability to hold the steering wheel instead of flipping the bird and to hold steady when you know (and hope) better days are ahead. (It’s also wishing for a long time that a trip out on the water is just ahead.) Patience. A perfect time to learn this is when you’re fishing. You can spend your whole day waiting for a single fish to bite. And that’s okay. And sometimes, if you’re used to running all the time, the waiting part, that’s the good part.
5. Health Benefits. If you think about everything you need to do to go fishing (hook up the trailer, fill up the cooler, help the aforementioned hot girl onto the boat, etc.), you burn a lot of calories. Going fishing may seem like a hassle at first, lifting and lugging all that needs to be lifted and lugged, but once you’re on the water, it makes it all worth it. Sure there are other ways to burn calories, but at least this is something you can tell your parents about if they ask.
4. Make Someone’s Day. When’s the last time you’ve brought total and complete joy to someone’s day? Can’t remember? That’s a clue that it might be time. Yesterday? Great. Keep up the trend, please. A very easy-to-please girl is eagerly awaiting her day to be made. Not only will her day be made, but she’ll appreciate you for being a sweetheart for taking her out on the water…even if you didn’t really want to all that much. Plus, surely you know The Big Guy Upstairs is out there paying attention. That just might make His day, too.
3. Dinner. How cool is it to catch your dinner?! I wouldn’t know. I’ve never really done that before…unless you count chatting with the Seafood guy at Publix as he pretends to toss my scallops over the counter as if they were baseballs… The real deal sure sounds fun, though. Help a girl out?
2. The Thrill of the Chase. If the hot girl is on the boat, you probably don’t need to chase her. Have no fear. Your masculine need to pursue something can be fulfilled by that whole fishing thing. Life’s a trade off, and that’s a pretty darn good trade.
And the number one reason to take a girl (this girl) fishing…
1. It’s a nice thing to do. It’s as simple (and logical) as that.
So while you may be able to think of 50+ things you’d rather do, taking a girl fishing certainly has its perks. And just imagine how happy she’ll be that she won’t have to travel 300 miles to get out on the water. Like Mark Twain said, “Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.” Just you wait and see.
**Photos courtesy of outdoors720.com, sodahead.com, openclipart.com, justglasssite.com, backpackingmalaysia.com, freeclipartnow.com, thedancingcrab.com, pinterest.com, and dogsblogs.net.
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