“This place is GREEN man!” said my travel companion, Tadd.
I thought he was joking as I looked at cracked mud caked streets blowing up clouds of smoke as vehicles sped around them. The whiteness of the dust was off putting. This wasn’t green. Befuddled, I looked at him.
He met my side-eye and chuckled. “Yea, this is green.”
I took a sip of the beer he greeted me with at the airport and looked out the window. Shrubs were plentiful, but I saw no trees and patches of grass trying to grow.
September is off- season on the Providenciales (“Provo” to locals). During the off -season, many business, shops and restaurants are closed until hurricane season passes in late November. The island felt slow. There wasn’t much traffic except for a hundred cars or so on the two -lane highway where jitneys drive like maniacs. Their driving shenanigans were akin dollar van drivers in New York who swerve to pick up and let off customers, only in Provo, it’s an off the highway.
The water took my breath away. I don’t event think Crayola has color definitions for the various blues of the ocean. I was hypnotized by the neon hues, turquoise tints and deep blue gentle waves. Turks & Caicos has the third largest coral reef in the world. It is visible as airplanes make their decent.
Turks & Caicos has a historically strong salt mining background. Hardly any vegetables grow its arid soil. As a result, goods and food are imported. This drives the cost up for products. There’s hardly anything under USD $5.00 in the supermarkets. I had forgotten my shower sponge and paid $7 for a replacement.
The country is a leading international investment center. Off shore investors are lured by the islands’ “zero tax” jurisdiction. There are no taxes on income, capitol gains, corporate profits and estates. Many of the homes are sprawling mansions or villas by the waterfront equipped with helipads and a yacht or two bobbing in private waterways.
Honestly, I didn’t feel any outside of fish fries, johncanoo dances and ubiquitous conch shells decorations. I felt and saw the heavy influences of Jamaica with jerk something on every menu. Reggae music blasted from car stereos and ripped Bob Marley T-shirts seemed to be the preferred attire.
I went the Western Union downtown to send money to my sister and everyone on the line was sending money off to other islands like Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. In fact, the fee to send money was much less than what I paid in New York. Folks here work and send money home because they are earning US dollars that although it might be a stretch for them, to make a living here and live like the folks they wait on, but it goes so much farther back in their homeland.
“Whappen Smiley?” the bartender with a heavy Jamaican accent greeted me. I later learnt his name, Jerome. He was built like a barrel with skinny legs sticking out at he bottom. Jerome had a booming voice that demanded attention and he used it often.
“Ah me yaa call ‘Smiley’?” I responded hand on my chest.
“You from Jamaica? Which part?” His eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“Oh yea? Me too. Which part of St. Andrew?”
“I’m from Red Hills”
“Ya. Good pan chicken.” I affirmed as my mind harkened fleetingly to the small mountain town where iron jerk chicken pans line the main road on both sides. Motorists block traffic as they stop to order flame kissed chicken and pork that gets passed to them wrapped on foil paper. The foil does nothing to stop the heat from penetrating and burning fingers. Many wince as they reach through the windows and exchange money for silver wrapped meat.
Jerome nodded proudly as he scooped up a glass full of ice.
I kept coming back for the fish tacos here. The atmosphere is lively with DJ sets and a live band on Fridays. Watching the sunset from a perch on the top floor is truly a delight. The cocktails are generous and strong.
The Old Beach House owned and operated by helpful and delightful husband and wife team, Emma and Roger Halliday, is a spacious one-bedroom apartment. Located in Thompson Cove, the apartment is a short twenty-minute drive from the airport. The out door garden had a dining area and lounge chairs to spend lazy days. I liked having all the amenities of home especially in the fully equipped kitchen. The washing machine was a godsend at the end of my week’s stay. I washed my clothes then pinned them on the line like a true island baby.
Off the Beaten Path
Just as I was thinking that every road led to a major hotel development, Blue Hills stepped into my life. My friend I like to take photographs of the quaint and quirky. We drove to Blue Hills, just south of the airport in the downtown area. I liked the old island feel of tattered roofs and rusty chairs strewn along the roadsides juxtaposed with bright and colorful paint jobs. Many of Provo’s charms are no longer a secret. But this rustic stretch of street was right up my alley. Curious school children enquired why we were taking of pictures of “old things”. They did not see the beauty of their surrounding. After photographing, Mr. Groupers was a welcome reprieve from the heat. The menu boasted island delicacies like cracked conch and coconut crusted grouper. I ordered the jerk shrimp salad. The jerk’s sweetness was balanced well with the peppery undertones.
Go to Malcolm Beach
Pack a cooler, umbrella and some snacks for an uninterrupted day at this soft sand pristine beach.
If the island gets a big downpour, the mosquitoes are plentiful. Bring your own repellent, as the selection on ones in the stores is limited and expensive (shocker) costing USD $10-$12
Get your drink on!
For the widest selection of wines and top shelf liquor on Provo, go to the Wine Cellar.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ladydiwanders. Much love, x.
Since returning to New York, I’ve been taking several walks. On one of my recent jaunts throughout Little Italy I’ve seen some lovely street art. Here are a few I managed to shoot with my Samsung phone. The energy of these pieces aren’t the same as London, but why should they be? I like the whimsical nature of these pieces. Hope you do too.
Why is everything so fast? Why are so many people crammed into such a small space? Why am I hyperventilating?
My first day back in Brooklyn I was excited. I ran out to go check my mentor at my alma mater, LIU (Long Island University) then decided to walk around DUMBO to see how the neighborhood has changed. I made it a whole four blocks before I had to retreat into the apartment.
I texted my friend, “I need to lie down. New York has chewed me up and spat me out.”
In those four blocks I almost got ran over twice, by a bicycle messenger and an MTA bus. I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. My senses were thoroughly overloaded. I decided to take my re-emergence slowly. I had had every intention of meeting up with friends and family my first week, but I quickly realized that that wasn’t going to happen. I could only manage one meet up a day then it switched to every other day because I needed a day to recover from the previous meet-up.
Re-acquainting with the NYC Subway Culture
The subway was weird. After living in New York for 18 years, I should know it right? But alas, I stepped into the treacherous bowels of the New York subway with trepidation in my stomach. I had quickly forgotten about the subway culture. Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t stand too close to the platform edge.
-No eye contact. (Oh shit, I just locked eyes with a creepy looking man with his hand down his pants.)
-Always have a distraction so you can avoid eye contact, music, and a book, games on your phone.
-If you have no distraction, look at your hands.
-Know exactly which car and which door to board on so you will be close to your exit.
-I did none of those things. I remain an avid observer on the subway because New Yorkers are a funny set of people. I felt as if I was watching repeated patterns of behavior over and over.
Side note: Why do we need distractions? Everyone looks the same being busy. I love hearing snippets of people’s conversations. Random words thrown together are fascinating to me. I like being present and aware of my surroundings.
I walk at a much slower pace than the average New Yorker and people just speed right by me like a rock sitting in the middle of a stream. I get jostled and bounced on stairs because of my sauntering.
People talk miles a minute and it’s hard to catch up. They get annoyed at me at Chipotle because I take a few moments to decide if I want extra guacamole for $2 and even more so when I reach to take out my money.
Why do y’all need so much?
Can we talk about the amount of things people have? Why do you need four bottles of lotions, twelve handbags and a closet full of shoes? I used to live like that and it wasn’t until I packed up my apartment and moved and stood in the midst of my piles clothes, books, shoes, and stuff that I realized how much I had. I visit my friends’ and family’s homes and there’s just so much stuff. Consumerism is crazy here. I find myself being sucked in as well. Since arriving in NY I’ve bought six pairs of shoes. Granted, they are all closed toes shoes, since I’ve been living the shorts and slippers (sandals) life for a few years now. But they are all so cute! See what I mean? I am not buying any more shoes. Mark my words. I do need winter gear and will spend some money on that, but nothing unnecessary. I don’t want to be wearing the same things over and over again, being fashionable is important to me. So I’ll be patrolling this “30 looks in 30 days with the same old clothes” for inspirations. I am embarking on living a minimistic life in New York City, the belly of the beast of consumerism.
I refuse to return to my former hardened New York demeanor. I am not the same person before I left and can bring more sweetness that didn’t exist within my personality.
These days, I make eye connection and smile, not a terse smile of just spreading my lips, but a genuine smile and that throws strangers off. Undaunted, I will continue to do so. I see how I used to be a snarky and skeptical New Yorker and I will strive to connect more with people’s humanity. That is a part of myself I found in Bali, the part that dropped her armor and mask and allowed people to get close to her.
I’m not thinking about the future in terms how much my 401K can stretch to cover my retirement. I am thinking of which beachfront property I can own. Because, let’s face it, I’m island baby, forever seeking luminous sunsets.
I am thinking about setting roots and have one foot in America and the other someplace else. Bali? Maybe. There is more for me to discover there. More about myself that I need to unearth. So for now, I will hunker down in New York, be around my friends and family and let them “see my face “as my aunt would say.
This weekend I met up with my friend Tatiana at her favorite New York festival. Tati has been going to San Ganarro in Little Italy since she was a little girl. San Ganarro is an eleven day festival for all the senses. It felt as if all of New York descended upon the ever shrinking New York neighborhood to partake in religious processions, musical performances and the plethora of food. One could cut the Italian pride with a knife as cigar and sweet sausage wafted smoke up my nose. I liked the large photographic displays of New York streets from the early 1900’s juxtaposed with what they look like today. Festival patrons toted sausage, peppers and onions sandwiches as the munched on biscotti’s. Here are a few shots I took as I carefully balanced my cannoli.
The North Nordic Food Festival returned to New York City with an exclusive, private dinner by Finnish chef Sasu Laukkonen. Laukkonen’s specialty is new Nordic cuisine, his innovativeness garnered him his first Michelin star earlier this year at his Helsinki restaurant Chef & Sommelier.
“I was very surprised!” Laukkonen remarked. “It’s an incredible honor.”
Laukkonen is passionate about wild and organic food. He prides himself in being a ‘no waste chef’ who uses less than desirable cuts of meat like tongue, belly and leaves, barks and stems of plants.
The milieu of North is sustainability, freshness and originality. Nordic cuisine’s tenets are simple ingredients, clean flavor profiles and lots of seafood. The dinner was staged in a pop up restaurant on Bowery Street in downtown Manhattan. Finnish ingredients were served in their simplicity with Laukkonen’s inventive culinary twists.
Helena Niskanen, marketing representative for Visit Finland admitted that she was worried about all those ingredients making it through U.S Customs. “Sasu wanted us to eat the best Finnish food tonight so he brought over some key ingredients. I was relieved when he emerged from customs with no problem.”
The highlight of the night was the sea buckthorn berry. Bright orange welcome drinks made with crushed berry, Finlandia vodka and Sprite were delightful libations. The Finns sing sea buckthorn berry’s praises because of its high Vitamin C content and anti-oxidant properties.
Before sitting down to dinner guests were treated to confit salmon and golden caviar on top of rye crisps and cracked black pepper cod hors d’ oeuvres. The highly anticipated five courses set menu specially prepared by the chef took a while to be served, but that whetted diner’s appetites. Each course was paired with a different wine to accentuate the delicate Finnish flavors.
This week I did a quick video on one of my favorite temples in Bali, Uluwatu. Hope you like. Until next time.