Friday, June 27, 2008

Tourism Development......

How much of a good thing is this? Our lovely island has become a strong competitor in the tourism market...and that is great as long as the natural beauty of the place is preserved. That is exactly what the tourists will come out to see.....the responsible tourists that also want to preserve the Earth for future generations....NOT the ones that want a Disney-World view of a beach vacation, artificial in every way and not at all what the island is all about.

Unfortunately, the lure of money has made politicians and developers around the world new strange bed-fellows. Right now, there is a proposal in Curaçao to turn over the Jan Thiel Wildlife Conservation Area into a tourism development area!!! WHAT!!! whose brilliant idea was that? and why is there not a bigger outcry on the island? I heard about it through my son, who got a message from a friend through Facebook.......These young people are the future and they take this responsibility seriously, so there is a petition going around. I plan to sign it!!!

One of the beauties of this island is the unspoiled landscape and the wildlife, the way you can walk around and admire a land that hasn't changed much in years. Do they want to convert this into an artificial environment, where everything is made today and there is no historical monuments or natural sites anymore? I feel so sad! It will be like any other Caribbean island....competing for tourism money without regard for what that can do to our island.

All of you that have followed my blog know of my love for the island and its beauty. If you want, you can help. Sign the petition and safe a piece of Paradise!!!

read and sign

Sunday, June 22, 2008


It's been a while since my ramblings have taken me back to the's time, I think. Camille, my daughter was here for a few days. She lives in London, so we were so excited about this visit! She was to attend a wedding in the Bahamas with her boyfriend and then come over to be with us for a few days. We were counting on the weather.....Miami had other plans.

It rained and there was thunder and lightning and there was not enough time to see everyone or visit with friends.....which takes me to Curaçao. When either of my children visited the island, it seemed that we had time for so much. Get togethers, visits with friends, out to lunch and out to dinner, drinks on Thursdays, beach on weekends, how did we do all that?

Simple. The lifestyle is so laid-back and relaxed. There is no place too far, no hours on highways crawling with cars, no downpours at all hours, no waiting for everything you need to do. There is no rush or missed opportunities. You can be spontaneous, plan a picnic, a beach day, a dinner party or to have friends over for drinks from one day to the next! Planning doesn't take so much effort and everyone is always game for anything that includes a celebration of any sort.

Here, just the logistics of getting your friends to agree to anything, is daunting. There are the jobs, the chores, the grandchildren to babysit. Then there is the fact that not all of them can come on a given day. Then the execution of your plans: go to the market (here you can find anything, it's true!) where you can waste a fair amount of time, go back home and prepare all the fare to be offered and get yourself ready to entertain. Your friends will arrive at your home...and you'll be exhausted! I am surprised anyone gets anything done here! I am also surprised people are not in a constant bad mood.

Miami has a lot to offer and it's a place where many people are very happy, I'm sure. For others, and I know some of them, things are too hectic, to impersonal, too stressful, So, YES, take me back to the island. I need to relax, enjoy the beach and the sunsets, see my friends, play bridge, have a drink on a Thursday, make a surprised visit to anyone.....recharge my batteries. I am again counting on a visit...soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Afternoon Thunderstorms!

Alright, it's Summer! never mind that is only June 18th......Summer has come with a vengeance to South Florida. I know this is far from the worst we could tropical storms yet! Still, the rains come down without fail every afternoon. It is so upsetting. I sit at my desk and look out at the bay. The sky is gray, the sea is gray, the clouds hang low.

All contributes to a sense of desolation that should not be part of Summer. This season means outdoor living, barbecues and late evenings sitting on your porch or balcony.... neighbors walking past your house, children playing outside and sunsets that come so late. Even the presence of bugs is a welcome sight, remember the fireflies? and the fact that school is out and families have more time together?

These are the images I have of Summer in this part of the world. My American friends always longed to come home for the Summer. They missed so much about this season, even if they lived in the Tropics. It is not the same, ever, they used to tell me. The slow movement from the dark Winter days, to the rebirth of Spring, to the glorious days of Summer has no parallel. Now, I am living in the States, but somehow the rhythm of the seasons doesn't applied to South Florida..... does anything? Never mind! So I'm back to the reality of the Summer season here: more or less sunny mornings and afternoon thunderstorms.

Consequently, I run my errands in the mornings, take a break for lunch and sit to write in the afternoons. Instead of walking outside, I go to the gym and use the treadmill. This has become my rhythm....adjusting is still taking time, but I am getting there!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Old Fashioned Conveniences....

Housekeepers. My friend Prati in Mumbai just hired a new housekeeper, a gem for all I hear. She works, her husband works and they have a huge dog! The monsoon season just started and things were getting scary.... now she need worry any more! This just reminds me of one thing I truly think makes life so much easier...I maintain that Lucy, my housekeeper, is what I miss most about Curaçao!

Many of my friends, especially the ones that have never lived abroad, cannot understand why I miss this aspect of life in the Tropics! Really? A good housekeeper is a treasure, I have always said. Back home, my mother always had live-in help, in Curaçao I always did. It is part of life in many places around the world and not the evil that people tend to think it is......Never mind how many modern appliances I have at home, I have to do the work: load the washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher. I cook and wash afterwards, I fold the clothing and make the beds, I dust and vacuum...

I'm sorry, but I would prefer someone else to do that. Do I sound callous? what to do. Are you sure you wouldn't want that too? Most people here work full time, husband and wife. Weekends are a never ending marathon of chores they didn't have time to do or finish during the week. If they entertain at home, they will be preparing for days or so busy on the day that they can hardly enjoy the whole event...of course there are exceptions. I know of incredible organized women that can do anything effortlessly....not many though. A good housekeeper would take care of all that..that's just part of the job.

Talking of which, many of the people that cannot understand, tend to think that housekeepers are just helpers, someone that is there to do what you cannot do or finish anything you couldn't. Well, NEEE, they are there to do the things you prefer not to do, to get all housework finished and all cooking done and all laundry organized. It is a job like any other.

My paternal grandmother, who lived to be 98, taught me that the world has to have everything to be able to work. She compared it to a hand: not all the fingers are the same, she pointed out. We need thumbs, and index fingers and even our pinky has a task. If all fingers were the same, the hand would not work!! I thought that was brilliant.

So I am really sorry I cannot get a live-in housekeeper here. Especially now, that age is catching up with me: I have bursitis on my right shoulder and my whole arm hurts at times...... My doctor wold like me to rest the arm for a few days and then start therapy. Good luck! Once more I am reminded that not every aspect of Life in the Tropics applies to Miami, no matter what the tourist trade wants us to believe....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Modern Conveniences...

Cellphones. Yesterday Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple (iPods, iPhone) introduced his latest gadget: a slicker, thinner iPhone... and as much as I admire this man, I asked myself...WHY?? Don't we have enough things to distract people already? You'll point out that these gadgets are a necessity in this modern world where we need to know everything in an instant, can't be be out of touch with the whole world at all times and one phone call can make or break our day.

On the other hand, I see another side of this. Since I work from home, and writing is a very emotional and fickle task, I do have time to get around the city at odd hours. Like today, I decided to go to the drugstore after lunch. Driving out of our small island, I hit Brickell Avenue... this is Miami's financial center, full of highrise office buildings and men and women walking from place to place...where are they going and why so fast? Never mind. They all have a phone stuck to their ears, or one of those devices attached to the ear itself. Yappying away, like the world depended on whatever they're saying. Really?

Are they talking to anyone or pretending? I'm sure a lot of them pretend! It makes them look important, they think...can't be without direct communication with the office or the client. Or, how about this: it makes them look like idiots! I'm sorry, nothing is that important and some of them will get run over by a car one of these days. I know I always have to wait from someone to cross the street when the light has turned green in my favor. These people don't look right or left and behave as if they own the street. Since most people driving the cars are also on the are there not several dead every day, it's a mystery to me.

So back to Steve Jobs. I am sure he is having the time of his life coming up with all those gadgets and making all that money. Don't get me wrong, I love his computers, have had several since I first started using them. They are fabulous and I should have bought shares in this company from the beginning: put your money where your mouth is (I have always loved Apple) sort of philosophy...too late now, of course! Having a phone for an important call, for an emergency, to have access to important information in a instant...all that is great. My family lives all over the place and a cellphone is a lifeline and a blessing. Still, I cannot understand at all the necessity of having a constant communication with someone else. When do they have time to think, to be with their own thoughts? I must really be getting old, or I must really be missing the slow pace and relaxed lifestyle of the Tropics!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Think Pink!!!

When I moved to Miami, I told myself that making new friends was out of the question. Many times here, I have said that I love old friends, people that know me well and need no explanations about my life or my actions. That is true, in many ways I still hold that to be one of my great truths. Of course, life has a way of making us rethink our words....

Last year I bought, on an impulse, a book called The Hindi-Bindi Club, by Monica Pradhan. It was a wonderful read and I contacted the author and told her so. She turned out to be a warm and friendly young woman.....and she has started a forum with other readers on the premise that "if they can connect with my book they can connect with each other". I was not too sure about this, anything done through the internet seems to me very impersonal..... I know some of you might agree, not for everyone..... but she was right and new friendships have developed. The forum is very supportive too.

Now one of us is in a position many women find themselves...she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I really like her and, without meeting personally, we have developed a friendship I didn't think could be achieved. Her surgery is this Friday, June 6th. Our small group has decided to wear pink that day, all of us from all over the world: in the UK, in India, in Canada, in the US.....will be wearing pink! How is that for moral support? I love it! Our friend in India has a new entry in her couture shopping pink is also going to happened!

So, yes, new friendships are not really my thing...having to explain myself again or having to start anew makes me weary. Who knows if and when I meet some of these women how are we going to take each other. I have no clue, but so far it seems like a good idea. It feels comfortable, amazingly, it feels right and I can't be against that. As soon as she gets better, I am planning to go visit my new friend. In the meantime, I will keep her in my prayers and my thoughts in a positive mode!