(no subject)

I just booked a week on a tall ship in the Caribbean for New Years.  I am much happier now.

Heading east
Some photos will never be as beautiful as you remember the scene, like the time I sat on the back of a boat heading towards port in Milford Sound, in a comfortable seated yoga pose. This came back upon me in reflection yesterday in the yoga studio, where I returned for the first time in a few months, along with thoughts and feelings from my journey across the Atlantic with my daughters and my mother back in August.

It occurred to me that the feeling is different if you’re heading towards the sun or away from port, or even away from home. When we set sail for England in August, it seemed natural to do it in the eastbound direction. Every day for seven days we were further from home, and for five of those seven days bedtime came an hour earlier every night. I wonder if my British friends have the same dream to take the trip towards home as I did to take it away from home. And actually, other than avoiding a red-eye flight and timing the schedule properly, I never put any thought into whether it would be better eastward or westbound, but I suspect heading west it would be more windy on the boat and you would lose the advantage of watching the world recede into the sunset every evening.

The scene I'm considering captured the end of a long day in Milford Sound. It was that point where I was tired of looking at sea lions and instead chose to sit in peace away from the other tourists. On vacation in August, I did not have many moments of silence and peace like this. When the girls were not with me, I was typically doing something that needed to be done without supervision – like spending 45 minutes on the treadmill or renting a tuxedo or doing some shopping, or perhaps reading a bit to reset my mind.

But it occurred to me in my mind last night that there are moments of this peace and quiet that I picked up and reset me from my home here in Arlington, like that happiness I feel when I look at the photo of Annabelle wearing my suit coat on the deck of the ship as the sun, and my home, recede into the distance.

(no subject)
I, for one, love the little hearts. At the very least, it tells people "I read this post" even if they don't comment.

Yesterday I ran. Amy came over before dinner to watch the girls so I went out and ran six miles.

Early last week I woke up with an incredibly stiff back that converted to an incredibly sore back. That, thankfully, is gone. Now I just have stiffness from not quite being in the ultimate shape I was a few months back and from doing housework all weekend.

I want to run tonight after I take the girls to their mother's, but something is telling me I shouldn't do a long run. I have yoga planned tomorrow and Acroyoga planned on Tuesday.

I have lived.
(x) Shot a gun
(x) Gone on a blind date
(x) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
(x) Visited Canada
( ) Visited Hawaii
( ) Visited Cuba
(x) Visited Europe
(x) Visited South America
(x) Visited Las Vegas
( ) Visited Central America
( ) Visited Asia
( ) Visited Africa
(x) Visited Florida
(x) Visited Mexico
(x) Seen the Grand Canyon in person
(x) Flown in a plane
( ) Served on a jury
(x) Been lost
(x) Traveled to the opposite side of the country
(x) Visited Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the Ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
( ) Recently colored with crayons/colored pencils
( ) Sang karaoke
( ) Sang a solo or duet in church
(x) Paid for a meal with coin
( ) Made prank phone calls
(x) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose
(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) Had children
(x) Had a pet
(x) Been skinny-dipping
(x) Been fishing
(x) Been boating
(x) Been downhill skiing
( ) Been water skiing
( ) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(x) Been camping in a tent
( ) Driven a motorcycle
( ) Been bungee-jumping or ripcord jumping
( ) Been Sky Diving
(x) Gone to a drive-in movie
(x) Done something that could have killed you
(x) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
( ) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel
(x) Eaten just cookies or cake for dinner or ice cream
(x) Been on TV
(x) Stolen any traffic signs
(x) Been in a car accident
( ) Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
( ) Donated blood
( ) Gotten a piercing
( ) Gotten a Tattoo
(x) Driven a four door vehicle
( ) Ever owned your dream car
(x) Been Married
(x) Been divorced
(x) Fell in love
(x) Fell out of love
( ) Paid for a stranger's meal
(x) Driven over 100 mph
( ) Been scuba diving
( ) Written a published book/story
(x) Eaten snails

Sunday I was on my feet all day - literally, starting with making breakfast, cleaning, and getting ready for the birthday party, and then the party itself. When everyone left, I sat down and I thought to myself, "I really don't want to move." I mean, I can run marathons, but I'm just like everyone else. Eight or ten hours on my feet and I'm stiff as hell. So I switched my planned long run from Monday at the crack of dawn to Tuesday at the crack of dawn. And I ran a shorter run, six miles, Monday morning instead. Well, I must be attaining an immense level of fitness because I crushed it.

Like yesterday, the weather was spectacular today. When you get up an hour before dawn to head outside you get the most of it too. I decided to head straight east, straight towards DC and the White House, rather than doglegging through North Arlington like I usually do. After about 45 minutes I was in Laura's neighborhood and I noticed some nice orange along the horizon so I decided to swing down to the Iwo Jima Memorial by Arlington Cemetery and snap some pictures of the sunrise. Well, I didn't quite make it there. A couple of blocks away, I saw a group of army men, about forty of them all in their early twenties (so two decades younger than me so you all know how old I am) running down the sidewalk across the street. I decided to play tag with them, starting at the back trying to see how many I could pass. I passed nearly all of them. My normal pace on these long runs is about 8 minutes 45 seconds or so per mile, and even in a race I struggle to get down below eight minutes, but for that mile I hit 7 minutes 26 seconds, and that was the ninth mile of my 15 1/2 mile run! I followed them over the Key Bridge into Georgetown and then turned around and came home, and it's all uphill from the river to my place... Ugh, but I kept going.

My phone died two miles from home. And I noticed that my body glide wasn't enough and, well, my right nipple turned red (polite version of events) two miles from home as well. I came home and showered and then I turned around and biked 4 1/2 miles from work.

"Hello. I ran 15 1/2 miles this morning and then I biked to work."


Tomorrow? No fitness. Thursday, a run. Friday I may go for a short run or I may go to the yoga studio. I run Army 10 Miler on Sunday so I cannot run on Saturday although I could go to the studio in the morning. Hmmm...

Falmouth Road Race
So, yesterday I had the pleasure of running the Falmouth Road Race. Rather than repost here, I've made this entry on my journal public:


Read if you're curious. It's about the race and about my experience at the race. Lots of fun.

Falmouth Road Race
Falmouth Road Race

It always surprises me how many people there are out there that don’t know that a marathon is a 26.2 mile foot race. They think that a marathon is a distance race of any distance. But yes, back in 1973, when the Falmouth Road Race got its start, they could have called it a marathon and only a true runner would have known, such was running at the time. Now, on the other hand, everyone in Massachusetts knows how long a marathon is. Patriot Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts where nearly all businesses close down as if it were a true federal holiday, and on Patriot Day the Boston Marathon is run, and everyone knows how long the Boston Marathon especially since the Boston bombing. The Falmouth Road Race is not a marathon, but it is one tough race.

So the history goes that there was a bartender named Tommy Leonard in Boston who had an obsession with distance runners who hosted runners – serious runners – at the bar that he tended in Boston after their training sessions. In the summer, he was tending bar in Falmouth on Cape Cod when the Olympic marathon was being broadcast, and Frank Shorter was about to win it for the United States for the first time since 1908. Leonard was so engrossed by Shorter’s performance that he stopped pouring drinks for the final miles of the marathon, and then he turned to a friend of his – another bartender from a bar in Wood’s Hole, and said, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could get Frank Shorter to run in a race on Cape Cod?” And that’s how the Falmouth Road Race was born. It took a couple of years for Shorter to show up, but he eventually did, along with a number of other Olympians. This year, Meb Keflezighi, two time Olympian marathoner and silver medalist in 2012, ran it along with a number of other “stars” I know. It kind of makes it a true runner’s race when people like that show up consistently and on a yearly basis for a race that isn’t really in any sort of championship circuit and is an odd distance.

7 miles, or more specifically 7.1 miles, is an odd distance. I’ve had people tell me how much they don’t like 10k races. They like 5k races because they can go flat out for 5k, and they like 10 mile races and half marathons because they can run at a relaxed but quick pace for that long. But a 10k is different. It’s long enough that you can’t quite predict a quarter of the way through the race how your body will perform in the last mile unless you run that distance every single day. Very few runners run that distance often. I do. And 7 miles is slightly more. 7 miles is the furthest most runners can run at near-peak effort without backing off the power a bit to conserve it. 7 miles is, for the casual but serious runner, an hour’s run. For a world record holder it’s a 32 minute run.

For me, 7 miles is two miles longer than I can run on a hot summer day without taking a walk break to let my body cool off a bit, and this is something I have been working on this year. And who holds a race in August? People who live somewhere that is usually fairly cool like Cape Cod. On a normal summer day on the coast of Cape Cod, there is a sea breeze that blows so that highs of 90 that Boston is seeing at that time of year end up being about 78 or 80 degrees in mid-afternoon, which means race time is usually about 72 or 74 degrees, just like it was when I showed up on Saturday morning. I mean, if the race was on Saturday, it would have been awesome, with overcast leading to sunshine and a full, steady 20 knot breeze, perfect for the sailing I did with my cousin that afternoon. Then Saturday evening, the weather ended up changing. I was walking back from dinner Saturday evening and I saw flashes off to the north. A line of thunderstorms came through and the air was dead afterwards so when I woke up on Sunday morning at 5:30 and stepped outside, I thought to myself, “This feels like the weather back home in Virginia. Warm and humid.” At 5:30, it was 74 degrees with a heat index to match and no breeze. It didn’t bode well.

Sure enough, by race time, I was standing in the starting corral (they were calling them pulses, but I call a spade a spade) in the direct sun as my body was being warmed by the sun. I checked the weather after the race at 10:30 and it was about 83 with a heat index of 87, so I suspect that when I started over an hour earlier it was probably already 80 and with no wind. It was horrible for me and I had been standing there a while at that point.

Falmouth has some pretty impressive logistics support, but even still it’s a reasonably small town with small roads going over to the even smaller town of Wood’s Hole, so it really does take three hours to shuttle everyone from Falmouth to Wood’s Hole, and there is absolutely no available real estate for parking or to allow easy drop off near Wood’s Hole. When my boss Campbell came to run the race with his fiancé and family, they dropped them off a mile from the start and it took them an hour to drive the six miles from where they were staying.

I didn’t have this problem because I applied the “you never know what will go wrong” rule to arriving to road races early, because you really never do know what will go wrong, but then I was sitting there in the park in Wood’s Hole two hours before the race and thought, “Wouldn’t a cup of coffee from that organic market by the starting line be good?” Bad move, Rob. Yes, I had plenty of time to digest breakfast and enjoy a cup, but I drink a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and I may as well have consumed a couple of liters of water without the benefit of hydration. In the last hour before start time, I stood in line for the porta potty three times.

And then the race started.

So here’s how it worked. At 8:30, they started the wheelchair division. At 8:50, they started the women professionals. At 9:00, they started the men professionals. Then they started everyone who was expecting to finish faster than an 8 minute pace – what they called the “seeded runners.” If you planned to run faster than 8 minute miles, you had to submit proof that you could actually do it for a 10k or faster race and then they would seed you. Also in this group were past prize winners from similar races, including class winners for older classes (you will often see people older than 70 who are still serious runners but slower than me running in the seeded division of races like this). For me personally it is not entirely unrealistic that I would run with such a group, because I have indeed in the past three years run a half marathon at 7:47 pace, but this year I was a bit off of that. And the thing about Falmouth is the weather. There are few runners that sustain a pace like that for Falmouth simply because of the sunshine and the summer weather. Did I mention this? I actually read a study yesterday that spoke to the combination of “longest distance a runner can run flat out” and “relatively high heat index” and talked about how it has ten times the heat stroke rate of races like the Twin Cities half and full marathon that is also run in the summer.

So that explains why there really are not that many people in the seeded group – probably less than a thousand out of 15,000 entrants, and they started them in a block all at once. Then they started the 8 minute pack, which is where I was running. The 8 minute pack probably had about 3000 or 4000 people in it before the 9 minute pack, and what they did is they allowed about a thousand people to start and then cut the group off sharply as it approached the starting line by a volunteer crew with ropes so that it would “pulse.” Each group of 1000 runners was given a two minute window until the next group was released. I believe I was at the tail end of the second group of 1000 runners in the 8 minute block, and I wish I had been in the front of the third group of 1000 runners instead.

Last year, I wrote about what it was like to run the Army 10 Miler, a race where I spent the entire ten mile distance trying to weave around other runners as they were trying to weave around me. The first two miles of Falmouth were similar. Nonetheless, I was “faster” than the average runner in my group. Falmouth reports how many runners you pass during various segments of the race and I ended up passing twice as many people as passed me (so, if I passed 50 people, then only 25 faster runners passed me). This is unusual for me. Usually I start where I imagine an 8:15 or 8:20 pace to be and let more people pass me than vice versa. This time I started 2/3 of the way back in the 8 minute pack and passed more than otherwise, and I finished at an 8:58 pace overall. This means that the folks in the 8 minute block as a whole overestimated their performance on a hot summer day more than I did. I thank my training in Virginia and Barbados for that.

A word about that.

Because I’ve been training for a marathon, I have been running distances longer than 7 miles, and I have also been running in Virginia where I wake up in the morning and it’s 80 degrees out at 6a.m. I went to Barbados in early July where the conditions were stunningly similar to Falmouth as well – low 80s, direct hard sunshine, running immediately along the coast. And finally, my usual topology consists of running hills – half mile rises of a couple hundred feet in elevation followed by a similar drop. Falmouth in comparison consists of repeated 20 to 40 foot rises with similar drops and a few miles of wide open pavement in broad sunshine along the beach.

So, I took off with my fellow runners through the woods at the beginning, over the drawbridge, around a hard corner, up around a headland past a lighthouse, and then by Mile 1 out onto an open beach for a mile. After Mile 2, we were in the woods for a mile or two and then along a swamp. By the end of the wooded section, nature began calling but it wasn’t until the swamp where I could discretely duck into the weeds costing me 45 seconds. I took water at the first water stop at mile 2 and then took a second cup and dumped it over my head. I did this continuing for mile 3, and then for mile 4 – the only Gatorade stop – I also took water, only water (usually I always take Gatorade) and dumped more over my head. Around Mile 3, you come out along the beach again which is a break from the rolling up and down they have in the woods, but unfortunately it is also a break from the shade they have in the woods. This lasts until about Mile 5 and they skip a water stop because of it (no cups disposed on the road in the swamp for ecological reasons), but between Mile 5 and the finish there are three water stops. At one, I took three cups of water, two to dump over my head and one to drink.

It was a little after mile 5 in fact where I really, really wanted to stop, just like clockwork, because I was overheating. I told myself I would push through until the turn around the channel in Falmouth and then take a walk break, and I’m glad I talked myself into not walking at that point because an oasis appeared. This is where I took three cups of water, and this is also where I was doused by numerous hoses and sprinklers. In fact, at a lot of points on the course, people were standing out in front of their houses with garden hoses spraying any runners who wanted it. Some even had swamp coolers hooked up and some had sprinklers as well. That spot after Mile 5 was enough to keep me going, though, and it’s all I needed. I pushed through to the 6 Mile mark in Falmouth Heights where there is a big round painted pot ten feet wide with a big 6 in the center in the middle of the street. After Mile 6, you continue along the ferry channel towards the beach and then by the yacht club the road comes to an end and you take a hard left onto the coast road at about 6.5. Then you climb for a quarter of a mile and if you are not expecting this it will do you in entirely. I powered up that hill knowing it was there, but then I didn’t realize that it doesn’t immediately drop off when you crest it. Instead, for another tenth of a mile, it still climbs but very slowly. But I kept running even though I couldn’t believe it at that point; I was burning up. Then, when it began to take the downhill plunge, I picked up my pace. I passed the 7 mile point and I sped up to close to a 7 minute pace for the final tenth of a mile, finished and came roaring in.

The first thing I did when I finished aside from stop running was text an expletive to my girlfriend in Ireland. She responded back nearly instantly, “What’s wrong? Are you okay???” Yes, I’m awesome! I just ran 7.1 miles on a hot day!

Last year I ran a 20 miler in the woods in Baltimore County. It was hotter, but it was downhill in the shade. Two years ago in August I ran a 12 miler in Baltimore City. Also mostly downhill, and a bit more shade – it was overcast. This was hotter. Was it tougher? When it was over, it felt perfect. I pushed myself hard and sure I was miserable here and there but it was pretty amazing. It has amazing crowd support and it’s pretty clear that the community absolutely loves the race. I would say I have never enjoyed the crowd along a race course more, and then meanwhile the entire course is absolutely spectacularly beautiful with the beach, the woods, the houses, and the trees. And what history.

Next year I’ll do it again. Well, we’ll see.

running in the tropics
So, first, m "u" and m "" button are both broken right now. I'll let ou guess which the second button is based on the missing letters. Right now I'm pasting in the "u" instead. This is about running, so whenever I need to spell run I have to paste.

I've been back from vacation for a week now and have had four chances to run - first when I came home, then a long run on Mon. evening, then another one on Wed. morning, and another on Thurs. This is comical...

The first three were the same pace regardless of distance - right about 9 minute miles. I was exhausted when I came back a week ago so that explains that being a little slower even though it was the usual 6 mile loop, but I was consistent. The long run was great, though. The work in Barbados prepared me for the hotter temperatures here. I ran 11 consistent miles, including a couple of good uphills. The thing that sucks about running in the summer is the fact that the warmer temperatures just sap power levels. I mean, I sweat and get warm, and much of that can be mitigated. Blood temperature rises a bit though and the brain starts sending off warnings to slow down a bit and even stop. When it's above 75 out I will stop after 4 or so miles and walk a little and then 4 or so miles later, and that drops the blood temperature a bit, but things just sort of shut down after a while. After 11 miles running - running - it takes me a 15 minute cold shower and 15 minutes standing under air conditioning to get back to normal where I stop sweating. And that's what happened after the long run this week, but thanks to Barbados, I was able to run it all.

Not so in Barbados.

The usual route I took in Barbados took me a mile through Barbados, up a steep hill, down another steep hill, and along the coast however long I pleased. When I came back, I would reverse it. So, on the first run I walked most of the steep hill both directions. The weather was not optimal, in the low 80s (27 C) with heat index in the low 90s (31 C), whereas here on even a hot morning it's 80 degrees (26 C) with a heat index in the upper 80s (28 C), and this summer most of the runs have been a little cooler.

So, Run #1 - 6 miles including the hills. Mile 1, 3, 4, and 6 were about 8:40 pace. Mile 2 and 5 were over 10 minutes.

Run #2 - 4 mile run. Mile 1, 3, and 4 were at 8:45 pace. Mile 2 was 9:30 pace. Then I scrambled a mile down the beach that's covered with rocks and ran another mile back to the inn at about a 9 minute pace.

Run #3 was the long run. Mile 1, 3, 4, and 5 were about an 8:45 - 9:10 pace. Mile 2 was a 9:45 pace. This was at dawn and it was clear with tropical sun though and whenever the breeze died down and the sun hit me, I slowed down. For the next three miles, I took a number of short walking breaks. I think Mile 6 was 10 minute pace and Mile 7 and 8 were 9 1/2 minute pace. Mile 9 was a good 8:45 pace as was the first half of Mile 10, but then I hit the beach and walked a mile in about 12 minutes (this included the rocks). The last mile was about a 9 minute pace. When I was running on the beach and climbing over the rocks, the tide came in and I ended up getting wet, so when I got to the point where I was on flat beach, I just ran into the water's edge with wet shoes.

Run #4 was creative. One afternoon, I went out and did hills. I started at the bottom of the hill next to the inn and started running uphill the best I could, then I turned around when I ran out of steam. I did this about four times for a total of a mile and a half, then I ran over the hill behind the inn and down the other side a bit, reversing and returning back. This totalled 3 miles, and it was close to 90 with a heat index over 95 - the hottest I'd seen in Barbados (so, 30C and about 35C).

Run #5 was a simple six miler, but with a mile on the beach and rocks. Average, including the slow rock section, was about 9:10 pace.

Around Bathsheba I became known as the one who runs. The next town down was a bit more white (I don't know how else to put it) and people didn't look as much, but in Bathsheba I stuck out a little. Not that I minded.

I had no plan for Barbados. Really. I did not.

A couple of years ago, I was flipping through… a travel guide? No. I was flipping through the contents of my brain and the Internet trying to decide which Caribbean island would be a good fit for me to visit. The ideas that seemed to fit were no big islands (no Jamaica or Dominican Republic), no impoverished islands, probably destinations aimed mainly at snorkeling and scuba diving were not my best bets, and I needed to be able to get there preferably with a direct flight from DC, Philly, or New York. No Miami connections or Puerto Rico connections. Last year, I started trying to figure out which islands were good for summertime visits. That narrowed down the list to:

1) Aruba – oriented mainly towards package vacations and scuba diving, plus a little hotter to interrupt running
2) Curacao – not enough to do, plus also a little hotter
3) Barbados – well diversified, large enough to be slightly cosmopolitan, not on the radar for a lot of Americans, but popular with Europeans

That’s how I landed on Barbados. Also, I found a part of the island where I felt I wanted to stay and I found an affordable but comfortable-looking guest house. I realized this spring that it was cheaper to fly to Barbados and stay for eight days than it was to take two long beach weekends to Delaware and stay somewhere I felt comfortable, so back in May I booked it.

Then I showed up without a plan.

Sure, I got a rough overview of the island and I asked for tips. I even downloaded Lonely Planet Caribbean and checked out their information on the island. But for the most part, I landed without a plan. I merely had a rough idea where things were. The people were mainly concentrated in the southwest. The flatter beaches were in the west with some rough water beaches on the south. The natural areas were in the east. I was staying in the east.

I decided when I landed, that I would stay around the guest house in Bathsheba my first full day there. And then the next morning, I promptly discarded that idea. I woke up wanting to go out and explore – to go for a drive and find a beach. This resulted in me trekking to Heywood Beach, north of Speightstown, the second largest town on the island and one of the old ports. I parked in Heywood Beach and walked the beach and settled down on the sand for a few hours and then I walked into Speightstown for lunch – flying fish, fried chicken, sides, and two Banks beers. Then I saw the Arlington House Museum which told a bit of the history about slavery, sugar cane, and shipping in Barbados over the years. And then I made my way back to the hotel to sit and relax. Eventually I made my way to Oistins fish market for the Friday evening festival (they do this every week – dining, signing, and dancing at all of the market stalls) bringing along with me the German couple I had made the night before.

This is something I ended up doing while I was staying in Bathsheba. The hotel where I was staying served dinner five nights a week, and if you paid for dinner, they would seat you with the other guests who paid for dinner. This is how I got to know most of the guests at the hotel. Most of the time while I was there, there were only four or five rooms full of guests out of 12 rooms total, being the off season and all. The guests consisted of:

- A couple from NYC, one Chinese-American and one Norwegian
- The German couple, Uricke and Henning, both probably in their upper 20s, work colleagues who started dating less than three months ago who were very much tentative around each other
- A Swiss family of five, man and woman and three boys; their dialect, although German, was noticeably different than the German couple’s dialect, and very hard for me to comprehend
- Two ladies from Michigan – Patricia who was 62 and Laurie who was 55, aunt and niece, who had been “best of friends” since childhood
- A Jamaican man staying with a British woman
- A British couple, early 30s, who lived on St. Martin; they piloted a 52 foot sailboat for a yacht ownership company and actually stayed for 2 ½ weeks, moving from the room next to me to the room above me so the Jamaican guy with British girlfriend could have their room
- An older British couple, probably in their early 70s
- Sheena, from Brooklyn, newly broken up from her divorced boyfriend; Sheena, Patricia, and Karen ate dinner with me the last night there and were every bit as entertaining as the British couple (boat captains) were the night they tried to get me intoxicated

When I left Barbados, I felt as if I could stay another week or two. I spent my whole time on the island basically wandering from place to place. Every morning, I woke up, went for a run, had a shower, and then came up with a plan over breakfast, and frequently I discarded my plan entirely. I figured out a day or two after arrival what I definitely needed to see – a few of the beaches, Oistins, Bridgetown, the museums, at least one old plantation, and the wild west coast – and I mapped out a rough route to make sure I saw it all while making sure I still had plenty of time to lay on the beach and sit in a hammock. I regret not doing a few things and I also regret not doing a few things twice, but I do not regret not doing a few things that a lot of different people told me to do. I did not go out in the submarine, nor did I go snorkeling, and I definitely did not go on a catamaran cruise. Would I have enjoyed these things? Certainly, but at $75 - $150 each, I enjoyed the time I spent having lunch at a beachfront bar and having an overpriced home cooked meal at the hotel with foreign guests far more. And I certainly enjoyed wandering down the road to “De Garage” to sit with four drunk men after dinner until Laura called.

This was my first time to travel to a foreign country alone without expecting to see anybody I knew. Barbados in many ways feels like a different world, as well. The infrastructure in Barbados looks a little rough around the edges. They have roads with huge holes in them and cracks and crevices that make it so the roads might as well be unpaved, but at the same time nearly every road in the island, of which there are a huge number, is indeed paved. Honestly, it looks third world in many ways with roadside chickens and cows, but it is not.

One thing that struck me about Barbados is that everyone is incredibly friendly whether they are wealthy or poor. By my third day there, I was known as “the guy who runs” in Bathsheba because so many of the locals had seen me out running while they were waiting for the bus in the morning. At one point, I ended up in a very wealthy enclave while I was looking for beach access, and the opposite approached me – a man in a very expensive German sedan flagged me down in my cheap rental Jeep as I was looking for beach access and helpfully told me how to sneak through Crane Hotel in my tank top and sandals past the other up market tourists to enjoy the beach there.

I was content while I was in Barbados, far more than I was in New Zealand when my world seemed to be in flux back home. And compared to England and France which I visited for New Years again this year, I felt as if I was out on my own wandering some more. Every time I go somewhere, it feels as if I leave a piece of me behind. In Barbados, I released my fears. When I left, I was apprehensive about being alone in a foreign land for eight days. When I came back, I was ready to do it again. Next time? Maybe Brazil or somewhere else in South America. Perhaps I am ready for my Faroe Islands expedition. Or someday, somewhere else.

Now, five days later, I am home. For the first time in a long time, my vacation glow has not worn off right away.


Log in

No account? Create an account