Tuesday, 13 May 2014

May - and back to the Caribbean...

I’ve lots to tell you this month. Trav and I went back to the Caribbean and visited the beautiful Dominican Republic. This was our second trip to this particular island as we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary there last year. This year, we booked on spec just a couple of weeks prior to departure because we saw it at the most amazing price. So amazing in fact that we expected there to be a catch and we were right to be suspicious. It turned out there is  a major construction project going on in the next bay to the resort. We were amazed to see that the idyllic beach filled with palm trees that we had explored the previous year, was now a vast concrete car park and half built cruise ship terminal.

The bay on the left as it was in 2013 and on the right as it is now: a cruise terminal under construction.

The only way to see this in a country heavily reliant on tourism, is positively, for the tourist dollars it will bring into the island. Luckily, there are plenty more idyllic palm filled beaches in the Dom Rep to explore and, call me fickle if you will, but from over the hill at our beach resort location we could only see a single crane that could easily be ignored when focusing on the clear blue ocean, the hot white sand and the beach bar.

 Left: at the beach bar with Trav.   Right: at the main bar with lovely new holiday friends.

 The beach at our resort hotel
Trav and I have now visited a total of twelve Caribbean islands. We have been to Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Barths, Tortola, Dominica, St Vincent, Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao and Grenada. The Dominican Republic is one of my firm favourites. The weather is tropical of course and the beaches are idyllic. The island is green and lush and filled with amazing rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. It’s famous for its Amber and Larimar. The Amber World Museum is a must-visit and there is a jewellery shop right next door. Trav bought me an unusual and beautiful ring that ‘twists’ showing amber on one side and blue Larimar on the other - see photo. The Brugal rum factory tour is also worth doing as is the 800m cable car trip to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres.

 My lovely and unusual amber and larimar 'twist' anniversary ring

Did you know that the Dom Rep was the location for the Jurassic Park movie? It really does have that prehistoric jungle feel to it. Trav and I ventured through the rainforest and climbed (and jumped from) seven waterfalls - which was an exhilarating experience and fun - once I’d claimed the fear! The Dom Rep is a real gem I and would highly recommend it to you. We stayed at The Riu Hotel Resort, Bahia de Maimon, Puerto Plata.

 Above: the famous Amber Museum and views of Puerto Plata from the cable car
 A dive centre on the beach and the prehistoric rainforest island interior

My Hair Braiding Adventure! The heat and humidity in the Caribbean always plays havoc with my thick curly hair, which refuses to behave itself and drives me crazy. So when I was asked by a young Haitian girl on the beach if I wanted hair braids and extensions - I set aside my fear of ending up looking like Medusa and went for it. I have to say that for two whole weeks it was the easiest holiday hair ever. Once home, it did take me many hours to undo the braids but as my real hair seemed non the worse for its ordeal, I wouldn’t hesitate to have it done again given the chance! What do you think?

 Before, during and after the braiding…!

Trav and I are now back in Scotland and back to work. Our tans are covered up in the usual jeans and woolly sweaters as it’s cold and raining. The welcome home however is warm as our wee west highland terrier Polly is glad we are back and it’s so nice to catch up with our sons #1 and #3.

Son #2, who lives in a city called Daegu in South Korea, where he works as an English teacher, is expecting us to visit in a couple of weeks time. We will be flying from Glasgow to Dubai with Emirate Airlines and from Dubai to Seoul on their new double-decker A380 Super Jumbo. From Seoul we will take the KTX bullet train to Daegu. It sounds like an exhausting trip but I can hardly wait!

So my next post here in June will report on our South Korean trip!

On the writing front: I today submitted a quirky travel feature to Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine. ‘Planning for the Snap Gap’ explains how unlike a gap year, a typical snap gap can be a month, six weeks, or a few months long. Are you someone who looks forward to your annual fortnight holiday only to wish it was longer? Are you, like Trav and I, ready to Snap Gap..? If so then do join me and pop over to the http://www.loveahappyending.com/ website to read my feature when it goes live on 19th May.
The latest award winning LLm e-magazine is out now. It’s Issue 4.
 Download your copy now - it’s FREE!

Since the start of the year when we sold our cottage on the hillside and moved to a rented house down by the river, our lives have changed so much. Trav and I have always owned our own home and I thought it would feel strange, even a little scary, not to have a property of our own to call ‘home’. But actually it doesn’t feel scary at all. It feels liberating. I realise that our nesting days are over and our three boys are all grown up and doing their own thing. So this is the time for us to do our own thing too. We are free to explore the world.

So I had a house sign made. It’s a lovely custom driftwood piece made by the lovely Becky at www.driftwoodmagic.co.uk I explained that we wanted a handmade rustic style sign to take with us wherever we went, which we could hang up on a door or a wall, to make anywhere ‘our hoose’ (that’s Scottish for house!) This is the sign. I’m thrilled with it. What do you think…?


On the 1st July we are back to the Caribbean again - and this time for three whole months - to an island we have not been to before. Have you guessed where it is yet…?

I promise to tell you all about it next time!

Janice xx



Jean Bull said...

Wow! What a breathtaking post! I've never been to the Dominican Republic, but I'll be putting it on my list. Good luck in your new home and I like the new look of your blog. Adventurer is very apt!

Melanie said...

Looking forward to reading more of your adventures over the summer and seeing the places you'll be.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

great places to write ;-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Janice .. it all looks just amazing - enjoy and have lots of fun .. cheers Hilary

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Fabulous post, Janice - as is your hair! You're certainly having a great adventure - good for you. I've been to many of the Caribbean islands you mentioned but not to Dom Republic. I have a couple of thoughts about your secret island but won't suggest them yet!

Janice said...

Thanks for your lovely comments!

I'm hoping to combine adventure and travel with writing and inspiration this summer and to come home in October with at least one finished novel to send to my lovely editor.

I currently have outlines for two full length novels and a novella. I know I need to write them as the narrative and dialogue ideas are keeping me awake at night! (Writers will identify with that and readers will think I'm mad!)

Looking forward to all your ideas on the 'secret island'!

Janice xx

Kit Domino said...

Wow! Superb - and three months in the Caribbean on the horizon. How wonderful and lucky you are. Have only been to Barbados and loved every moment of it. Enjoy your travels and keep safe and look forward to reading all about your Korean adventure. :) Kit x

K. Rosenberg said...

It's great to see you two living the good life! Thanks for the great post!

Linn B Halton and Lucy Coleman said...

I have to say I absolutely adore the hair! It really suits you and it's very 'beach babe'! Hope you decide to go with it for your 'snap gap' and looking forward to the posts. Lxx

Janice said...

Thank you Linn! I enjoyed having braids - it was so easily managed. Yep, I will certainly be looking out for a opportunity to have it braided again - otherwise I'm doomed to frizzy crazy Caribbean hair for three months!

Janice xx

Janice said...

Thanks Kit and Kenneth for your lovely comments. I do feel very lucky indeed. At the moment Trav and I are both working hard tying up loose ends and also packing in preparation for taking this time out. It has taken some organising but I'm sure it will all be worth it when we get there!

Janice xx