Craggy Nook, Barbados

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We have rented an AirBnB for 2 weeks on the South Coast of Barbados. I’ll set up my mobile office – working from the villa – and then it will be the Thanksgiving holiday.

Most of the fancy resorts in Barbados are on the West Coast – or Platinum Coast as they call it. They have manicured lawns, high gates, guards, and gourmet dining that comes included with your room.

We are going more local and on the South Coast, which real Bajans live. We found a home comprised of 3 villas – we have the top floor. Our next door neighbors are the Coconut Court Hotel on one side and local townsfolks on the other. After the cocoon of Petit St. Vincent, we admit to being a little nervous.

The villa is lovely.  We have amazing views from our giant terrace.

But . . . only air-conditioning in the bedrooms (thankfully there are 2 so one can be an office).  We are hoping we made a good decision! 

But the living room is actually quite pleasant with ocean breezes, except in the very heat of the day (or if there is no wind). 

And you really can’t beat the view.

Exhausted and hot from our journey, we retreat to the bedroom to cool down and emerge in the dark to hear sirens going off all around – which turn out to be teeny tiny tree frogs outside our windows. 

Having no supplies – and no yellow flag to raise – we strike out to search for bottled water and found a convenience store that had seen better days. But the people inside were very merrily singing Dolly Parton’s “I Believe in Santa Claus” at the top of their lungs with a Caribbean accent. This was going to be an interesting place.

We also spied an Italian restaurant across the street, so clutching our giant 1L bottles of water, we wandered in. The hostess took one look at us and said, “You must be from Craggy Nook.” We nodded sheepishly. She said, “Right this way, and let me guess, you would like bottled water?” : )

Well, it turned out that this place – Bozu – was the BEST and most authentic Italian food we had had outside of Italy! Upscale, amazing menu, and delicious – who would have thought, right here in Hastings, Barbados?

Now that we can find water and have good Italian across the street, we think we will survive – even if we’re a little hot.  Little did we know what was to happen next . . . .

Farewell PSV, Hello Barbados

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As I took one last sunrise picture, we were pretty sad to leave the wonderful little island of Petit St. Vincent. We were going to miss simply being able to raise the yellow flag and have our private butler to bring breakfast!

But finally, our last Moke ride came. They loaded our luggage and drove us down to the dock.

We loaded the boat and said our good-byes.

PSV even sent us off with a packed lunch for our day of travel.

As we crossed over to Union Island, we reflected on our celebration week.

At Union Island, the PSV crew dropped us off to catch the teeny plane to Barbados.

We had the same pilot, but this time made a pit stop in St. Vincent, where we stretched our legs.

But our trip isn’t over! We are just more independent for this second part. We’ve rented an AirBnB in Hastings, the more local South Coast of Barbados. I will work, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, and live like the locals.

We did have a few rough patches – you will have to read on . . . .

But the sunsets are amazing.

50th Birthday on the Beach

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I wanted to do something extra special for my 50th Birthday. Not only is it a big day, obviously, but it is the 5-year anniversary of the day I started taking tamoxifen to treat breast cancer. Tamoxifen has a bunch of side effects and a lot of women don’t make it 5 years.  But for my kind of breast cancer, it can be an effective prevention for recurrence.  So I have done my best to stick it out.  And was overjoyed that my 5 years was up – and on my birthday!

So we had a lot to celebrate.  And PSV came through for a private dinner on the beach.

First, they picked us up in the Moke jeeps and drove us to the end of the island, where there are no cottages and it was pitch dark.  But soon, we saw candlight and stopped at a fully set table on the beach surrounded by lanterns.  Wow.

Our servers poured wine and set out the soup course – a pumpkin curry – then told us they would return with the main course.  They drove off, leaving me and Frank to pinch ourselves with how beautiful and unique this was.

Then to our next course – lamb shank and lobster stir fry.  And more wine.  By this time, we were giggling and even danced on the beach while waiting for dessert.

And then – the cake. Made especially for my 50th Birthday.

I am one lucky girl.

Sailing to Tobago Cayes

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Today was one of the days we will talk about for a long time – we got to sail on Beauty, a beautiful wooden boat hand-made by Captain Jeff on the island next to us – Petit St. Martinique.

PSV did it up right – loading the boat with cold water, soft drinks, wine, beer, juice – and lunch.

It was a beautiful day for sailing, and Frank and I had the whole boat to ourselves, along with Captain Jeff and his crew Simba.

We close-hauled from PSV to Tobago Cayes, which is a small island chain surrounded by coral reefs. It is a national park, so all is protected. Boats have to pick up mooring balls (no anchoring) and no fishing is allowed.

Once on the mooring, Simba lowered the dinghy and took Frank and I to the outer reef for snorkeling.  We could pretty much float along with the current as we drifted back toward the boat.  We went from reef to reef and saw colorful fish of all sorts – schools and schools of them – plus sea turtles!   

Then back to the boat, where the table was set and the grill was on – Angus steak and freshly caught lobster and tuna.  Plus good company with story after story of how Captain Jeff, who hails from the UK, worked his way around the world on boats to end up in the Grenadines, built this boat, and recruited Simba, who grew up on Petit Martinique to join him on these adventures.  One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Then they turned the boat over to me and Frank to sail us home!

We remembered why we are sailors at heart.  Thank you Captain Jeff and Simba.

“On the Town” in Petit St. Vincent

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While it is very tempting to just raise our yellow flag and order room service all day, Petit St. Vincent has a lot to offer.

We usually start the evening with cocktails in the lounge, where you can tell the bartender your favorite flavors, and he will concoct a bespoke drink just for you.

There are two restaurants. One is “fancier” with a 3-course menu each night.  (When I say fancy, it is still all very laid back, but in an elegant way.)

The other is the beach club, where we sit with our feet in the sand.

Both are delicious, but the beach club is my favorite.  You can pick out a lobster from the pool and they will grill it for you right there.  All is included except alcohol – so you can try as many dishes or order as many lobsters as you want! Sailboats anchor off of here and dinghy in for lunch and dinner – we’ve had fun comparing notes with other sailors and dreaming of a future charter back in the Grenadines.

There are water sports (also included) and snorkeling on reefs right off the beach.

And a fabulous spa.  It is run by a team from Bali.  Frank and I had a couples massage up in an open-air treehouse overlooking the sailboats.

And after lunch, the beach club is a perfect place for a nap.  (Notice the fishing pole, too – Frank has found his place!)

Flags of Petit St. Vincent

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So we are on Petit St. Vincent (PSV), an island in the Grenadines not too far from Grenada.  Besides the beautiful beaches and views, they are probably best known for the flags.  Here’s how it works.

Each cottage has a flag system.

Red means we want privacy – do not disturb.  

Yellow means we want something. 

There is a box in our room full of menus – breakfast, cocktails, even Afternoon Tea. 

If we want something, we fill out the menu, roll it up, put it in the circular mailbox by our flags, and raise the yellow flag. 

Butlers in Moke jeeps ride around and when they see a yellow flag, they stop to pick up the message. 

Before you know it, someone is outside of our cottage ringing the bell to deliver our request. 

We can also order laundry, fishing gear, or even to be picked up by Moke if we don’t feel like walking somewhere.  All included (except cost of alcohol).  It’s brilliant!

Celebrating 50 in the West Indies!

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The Two Fools are back on the road – this time to the West Indies!

But . . . we we had so much fun on our last trip that we didn’t even finish the blog.

We love looking back at past blogs to re-live memories. So – we are going to finish up our winter travels with Frank’s Sicilian cousin Enza after we return from the islands.  Once you see how much we did, you will see why we just didn’t have time to host Enza, make pasta, speak Italian, run around Sicily, drink limoncello AND write a blog.  (I like to think that I am adopting the Italian lifestyle – I’ll get to it when I get to it.)

But first – to the islands.

You may wonder why we chose to head to the Caribbean at the tail end of hurricane season.  Well, it is my 50th Birthday!  And it turns out to be an excellent time to be in the islands because hurricane season is just about done but Christmas season has not yet started so there are great deals to be had. 

We are spending my birthday week at a tiny private island called Petit St. Vincent.  To get there, we had to fly to Barbados and then pick up a 6-seat puddle-jumper (where the boarding passes were handwritten!).

We flew with one other couple to Union Island, where we were the only people going through immigration.

Then a boat whisked us to Petit St. Vincent.

Where we were met on the dock with cool towels scented wth frangiopane, pina colladas, and little Jeeps (called Mokes – Mo-Kees) to drive us to our cottage.

Petit St. Vincent is a resort with 22 “cottages” – all set apart from each other for privacy and good views.  We are right on the water in a villa with an outdoor living room.

And plenty of places to sit and read and soak up the sun.

All on our own private beach.

And best of all – no Internet or phone.  We will be off the grid for a week.  (I wrote this sitting in our backyard with a view of the ocean – but had to post once we returned to civilization.). 

Tomorrow I’ll write about my favorite part of Petit St. Vincent (or PSV for short) – the flag system, where you can raise a yellow flag and a butler will come by Jeep to your cottage to deliver whatever you want.  We could get used to this!

Un Pasto Italiano (An Italian Meal)

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Enza has completely spoiled us with homemade specialties that she just whips up.  Instead of writing too much, I am just going to post pictures. All of this pasta is made from scratch – eggs and flour. 

We either roll it out (with my new rolling pin) or use the Pasta Queen machine. 

The teeny pieces are noodles for lentil noodle soup. 

We also made ravioli.

With both salsa pomodoro (tomato) and green pesto (made with my hand blender).

Bruschetta is also a favorite – especially for pranzo (lunch).

And we always take a break to dance.

Buon Apetito!

Una Cucina Italiana (An Italian Kitchen)

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Una Cucina Italiana (An Italian Kitchen)

On our first night home, it was snowing and we were tired, so I picked up zucchini ricotta ravioli from the refrigerated section at the grocery store (what I consider the “fresh” pasta, trying to impress our Italian guest).  It was fine, but after that, Enza decided to take matters into her own hands and teach me a thing or two! 

First – the ingredients.  We have gone all over town and decided that the very best pane (bread) and salsa di pomodoro (tomato sauce) are at the Italian market in Annapolis.  In fact, we go there nearly every single day because Italians only eat fresh bread.  Enza knows the whole crowd there and found out that they make the sauce in-house, flying the tomatoes in from Naples every week.  Wow!  (I admit – it is amazing!)

Then we go to Fresh Market, which has been deemed to have the best verdure (vegetables) and olive bar. 

Also important is flour.  I learned that different pastas require different types of flour.  Enza says, “Non Bianca” – no white).

Next – the appliances.  Enza gave Frank a stern lecture about not equipping me with the right tools to make a proper Italian dinner.  While I worked, she made him take her to pick up a mixer (for torta – cake) and a handheld blender (for pesto).

Apparently she also threw in a rolling pin to roll out pasta dough – , which Frank took back out of the cart, figuring he needed to draw the line somewhere.  And boy did I hear about it !  (From both Frank in English and Enza in Italian).  So I told Enza no problema, we can order on Amazon.  Two days later, it arrived.  We opened, and Enza crowed, victorious – a triumph for women everywhere! 

Next up – see what we do with all of these tools!  Lots and lots of hand-made pasta!

To Annapolis!

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We are leaving the Big Apple for Annapolis.  We have LOTS of luggage – Enza brought lots of clothes and gifts for everyone.  But we successfully made it down the stairs to the Uber. We are on our way!

When we got to Penn Station, Enza exclaimed, “Mamma Mia” (a sentiment I often have held when traversing Penn Station).  But thankfully, we had access to the Acela Lounge, which was much more quiet – and had red caps to help us with the luggage.

Then it was time to board!  At Penn Station, they post the track at the last second, and there is a mad rush for the escalator.  It is possible to get run over and completely turned around.  But in the lounge, they call your name, and the redcap escorts you to the train BEFORE the track is announced.  Totally worth the upgrade.

We found our seats and settled in.  Enza loved it all – taking picture after picture of the scenery and sending messages back to Sicily.  She even wanted a picture of the conductor.

And absolutely loved our train attendant – especially when he brought hot towels – that got another “Mamma Mia!” (And she made him reenact it for the picture.)

By the end, the whole car knew she was visiting from Sicily.

Finally, we disembarked in the snow  at BWI– from the big city to the country. 

We have settled in at home now and celebrated our first night with a poco limoncello.

Buona Notte!  (Good Night!)