Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sunset Cruise, Dolphin Cruise and Moonlight Cruise in Destin

It was our house guests’ last night in our area, and we wanted to do something special and memorable with them, so we booked on Olin Marler’s Sunset Cruise out of Destin. We found this trip several years ago, and while our guests enjoy it, we do, too!

 

It is mid-season in Destin. The Spring Break craziness has just ended, and the Summer Madness has not yet begun. A boat for forty holds ten of us tonight, plus the crew, and the crew knock themselves out to show us a good time.

 

We had a gorgeous sunset, with dolphins

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We had a whole bunch of dolphins, grown ones and little ones, and they were having a great time. They stuck around, and we watched for about half an hour, no other boats in sight.

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As we were leaving, the full moon rose and gave us a glorious ride home:

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We can’t promise future house guests this experience. We’ve never had it this good. Maybe our guests brought this good luck?

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April 23, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Photos, Qatar, Quality of Life Issues, Wildlife | | 2 Comments

The Bird Man

At Kailua Beach Park, people are enjoying the last minutes of daylight before the sun sets and it’s time to get ready for the upcoming week. This has got to be one of the most laid-bak places on earth.

 

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We see a man who has birds everywhere. Clearly, the birds know him, they are flocking to him. He has some kind of food for them, and they sit on his arms, they sit on his head, they love this guy!

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The locals know him, and these little boys brought him a sick bird to take home to heal.

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Back at home, the light dims and a full moon rises. Life doesn’t get any sweeter.

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Our flight back is late in the day. We spend the morning walking the beach, down to the Marine Base, past the Obama house, the waves are high and eating away at the beach. We pack, we drink more coffee. I’ve only shown you the fun day trips, but the meat of this trip, the finest part of this trip has been the conversations, the laughter, and the deepening of a life-long friendship.

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I no longer have negative feelings about Hawaii. 🙂 We hit the local drugstore to pick up some great Kona coffee and bags of Japanese rice crackers in a million varieties, which we love. It’s been a great trip.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Relationships, Travel | , | 8 Comments

Buzz’s; a Kailua Classic

Our last night in Kailua, and we are on our way to Buzz’s, a Kailua institution, where the wait staff greet our friend by her first name and show her to a table.

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This is our table. It is right next to the President’s table. We are sitting where the Secret Service bodyguards probably sit when Presidents dine there.

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We speculate what would happen if the reality-star Republican were elected, would he sit at that table or buy the restaurant and tear the plaque down? It’s a glorious night, we drink our drinks, look at the menu and we all decide, after our huge ramen lunch, we are ready for Buzz’s famous salad bar. Buzz’s is also famous for fabulous steak and even better local fish, but we just aren’t hungry enough.

 

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It’s a grand night, we visit the beach, we take a drive and we head back home, where we have the best time of all.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Kona Brewing Company: One of the Best Meals I have Ever Eaten

I’ve been doing reviews on Trip Advisor for ten years, starting with out trips into Zambia, and the Robin Pope Camps. From time to time, when I give a restaurant five stars, Trip Advisor asks me “Is this one of the best meals you have ever eaten?”

We’ve eaten some fine meals in our lives and travels, memorable meals, in Monterey/Carmel, in Germany and France, in the Middle East. Some stand out. Maybe only once or twice have I said “Yes” that this is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

At the Kona Brewing Company, in a little marina on the back side of Diamond Head, I had one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

 

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It started with a ginger lemonade. Have I ever mentioned how much I love ginger beer? This was one of the strongest gingery drinks I have ever had, and it was magnificent.

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My lunch was Shoyu Chicken, with spinach and carrots. The chicken was divine, with a teriyaki marinade and sauce. The spinach was equally wonderful, very garlicky. The rice was rice, but I was so far gone over the chicken and spinach that it just wouldn’t matter.

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My Kailua friend had a root beer.

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With Shrimp Tacos

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And a mango slaw, which she said was surprising and also, wonderful.

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AdventureMan had fish tacos, which he thought very good.

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We left very happy people. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten.

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cold Drinks, Eating Out, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Kailua to Honolulu; A Day of Wonders

We are all early risers, and we are off on a great adventure today, seeing the island as our friend sees it.  One of her favorite places is Bellows Beach, next to the Air Force Base. We loved it, too, for its beauty and for its seclusion. The parking lot was full of cars that seemed to be doing business with one another, so we made sure to take our wallets and cameras with us.

 

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And then, the brides started arriving. We had no idea that this was a “destination.” We stayed far back, not wanting to intrude, and watched them arrive, marry and depart. The limos were lined up as we left, with bridal parties waiting their turn.

 

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This was a day when we were in and out of the car constantly, each sight more beautiful than the other.

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At one of my favorite places, the waves crashed against the lava rocks, so beautiful. We would have stayed longer but we were choking from the smell of weed coming out of the surrounding cars.

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In the Kona Crater, the plumeria are beginning to bloom.

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And the bougainvillea provided a riot of color.

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Diamond Head lighthouse from Diamond Head road.

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Foster Botanical Garden was a pool of serenity in the middle of the chaos of Honolulu:

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I loved that they had an Alaskan totem; the Alaskans and the Hawaiians are related.

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March 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Gardens, Living Conditions, Photos, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Pah Ke’s in Kaneohe; Really Good Chinese Food

I had asked my friend if we could eat “really good” Chinese food at some point while I was visiting, and she knew just the place.

My friend is a very laid back driver, but she is puzzled, she has never seen the parking lot so full before. It is so full we have to park across the busy street and walk across. The lot is full of small busses, and vans, and there isn’t a parking space to be had. Even all the illegal spaces are taken!

When we walk inside, we are filled with horror. There is an event going on at Pah Ke’s. Does this mean we won’t be able to eat there? There are about thirty very large tables, ten or twelve people at each table, eating some of the most delicious looking food I have ever seen. The waitress ushers us to a table over at the side; there are maybe three or four tables for people not in this large group.

“What’s going on?” we ask the waitress.

“Special celebration for this retired group; Chinese New Years,” the waitress replied.

The place was packed, many of the Chinese women in traditional bright red silk.

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PakHeCrowd

“It doesn’t look like much,” my friend said, “but everyone who loves Chinese food eats here. We have to start with their special salad”

 

The food came quickly, in spite of the large crowd. We got to watch the crowd depart as we savored our own delicacies.

I had never heard of a special Chinese salad before, but this salad is special Chinese-in-Hawaii salad, with tropical fruits and a sweet dressing, and watermelon. It is fabulous.

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Scallops and asparagus on a bed of spinach. Great!

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Our very favorite: Szechuan Eggplant and pork

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Huge shrimp with walnuts

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We ate it all. We didn’t take home a drop. We ate at Pah Ke’s again, on our way to the airport the day we left, and it was just as good. What a treat.

This is where we spent the rest of the day . . . 🙂

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March 14, 2016 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Holiday, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Hawaii Daze; a Sentimental Journey

My friend has been urging us – for years – to visit her in her Hawaii home.

I’ve been to Hawaii before. I wasn’t excited about going back, but when our long and happy friendship hit the 50 year mark, I looked at AdventureMan and asked if he would like to go to Hawaii. He really wanted to go. I booked the flights, and booked a car. Talking with my friend, she told me to cancel the car, we wouldn’t need one. We could use hers if we weren’t going to all go together.

Arriving was such fun. My friend was there to greet us with traditional Hawaiian leis, and we drove from the airport to Kailua, where she lives, stopping here and there to learn the lay of the land.

 

Her house is beautiful. She calls it her “happy place” and she had a firm idea in mind when she had her home built. She wanted it in a local style, and she wanted it to be able to sleep a LOT of people. My friend is the soul of hospitality. There is a gathering wing, with the kitchen, living room and dining room, there is the entry and her private living quarters, and there is a a very large guest wing.

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She looks out over the Pacific to the north of the island, and the sound of the waves crashing on her beach provides a constant, lulling background.

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“What do you want to see in Hawaii?” she asked me as we were planning our trip.

“I want to see your life,” I replied. “I want to see where you go, what you do, where you shop for groceries. I want to see what makes you happy.”

So our first day there, she took us to the Kailua Farmers’ Market, and to several places she shops. I loved it.

 

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This is the view behind the Farmers’ Market.

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Beautiful flowers, beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables, and exotic fruits, apple bananas, ugly oranges (but they taste wonderful). We bought food for dinner that night.

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In front of the Kailua Foodland, there were wild chickens, and she explained to us that chickens roamed wild everywhere. Once she pointed it out, we could see them, too.

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“You won’t see this in Seattle,” my friend said, and showed me the Poke Bar in the Foodland. Poke is a fish native to Hawaii, and the locals love it fixed a hundred different ways.

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They also had wonderful fresh vegetables.

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March 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Shoot Out in Pensacola with the new Bonnie and Clyde

 

We’d been up late. This was the first text I received, early this morning, as we entered our day a little more slowly than usual.

 

“Shoot-out in Pensacola! Are you OK?”

 

Yes, we are OK, and we were in the thick of things last night. We’d both had long days, and we were headed to bed a little earlier than usual. I had just finished my prayers when I heard a very loud screech of wheels going around a nearby corner. Usually when the screech is that loud, it is followed by a crash or a thud, but this time the car seemed to be OK. Very soon after that, however, I noticed flashing lights on the ceiling, flashing and dancing in red and blue.

 

I know those lights. When we lived in Kuwait, we lived on a busy corner, a corner where the Kuwait police frequently set up check-points to check people’s residence cards. AdventureMan could sleep right through them, but sometimes I was wakeful, and would watch. There was a lot of drama as the cars had no where they could go, there was no where they could turn off, they were trapped. Many people who lived in Kuwait illegally, or whose visas had expired were caught and taken in to be processed and, if they couldn’t prove someone was sponsoring them, deported.

 

It was ugly, and heartbreaking, and sometimes . . . comical. Ancient Arab men would talk to the police, it was begging of a different sort, and kiss the policeman. Kissing a policeman is just something that would never occur to me, so to me, it looks absurd, but in the context of Kuwaiti culture, it is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes the old Arab man would get a pass, just as a pretty girl in the US will sometimes get a pass.

 

So I “arose from my bed to see what was the matter.”  There were big SUVs with flashing lights blocking traffic to the south, seven or eight cars in an array to the north, cars blocking entrances to several streets to the east. The only traffic were Sheriff’s department cars, trucks and SUV’s, some with flashing lights, some unmarked. They were all working together.

 

I called the Police Department.

“I live at blah blah,” I said, “and there appears to be a lot of activity, flashing lights and stuff, is there something I should know?”

“We’re looking for some suspects,” the officer answered tersely.

“OK, thanks!” I chirped, not knowing any more than I knew before.

There have been gangs of kids who come through the neighborhoods from time to time, looking for unlocked cars to steal cash, guns, or even the cars if the owner leaves the keys in them. Recently three young teens in Pensacola stole a school bus and drove it for about three hours before being stopped. This response seemed a little extreme for neighborhood looters, even more grown burgers. There were a lot of resources involved, people, cars, canines, a lot of man-hours and teams of people going door to door, searching the backyards with flashlights and the dogs.

They searched our yard twice.

We have a high fence and keep our gates locked. When I saw the team methodically making their way towards our house, I called out to AdventureMan to go down and unlock the gates. As the team was trying to get in, I opened the window, and flashlights zipped up to illuminate my face.

“My husband is on his way now to unlock the gates to let you in,” I said.

One of the guardians of the law looked at me, astounded, and said “You lock your gates?”

It seemed very funny to me at the time, considering the activity, but I didn’t dare laugh, clearly this was serious business, and around then AdventureMan opened the gate for them.

It was a cold cold night in Pensacola, near freezing, and I felt sorry for the pure, hard work of searching house-to-house in the very cold temperatures.

A part of me also felt sorry for whoever was being chased, hunkered down somewhere, being chased by dogs, and, once the adrenalin wears off, being really cold.

Cars raced here and there, the teams continued their searches and we kept watch. We heard a helicopter, briefly, and we don’t know if it was a police helicopter or a news helicopter. Then, around 12:30, all the cars raced off. Somewhere. It was very quiet, and we gratefully went back to bed.

This morning I didn’t feel quite so sorry for the couple, who had invaded a house in our neighborhood, held a couple hostage, and then stole their car to escape. Those were the last few minutes of a man’s life, and he spent them terrorizing and stealing that which was not his. After another – their third – dangerous fast car chase, they were trapped, and a gunfight ensued, killing the man. During this final gunfight, Blake Fitzgerald used his girlfriend, Brittany Harper, as a shield.

I was never afraid. If you had seen the number of police / sheriff’s deputies out last night, you would understand. They were focused and professional. They were given an opportunity to practice their skills. They performed as a team, and you could feel that they were excited to be doing the job, on a grand scale, that they are trained to do. They stopped a couple on an interstate spree of kidnapping, abducting, robbing, invading houses, burglarizing and terrorizing. They can feel good today, about what they accomplished last night.

And I was just telling you in my last entry what a quiet life we lead . . . 🙂

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

“You’re Not Wearing a Coat!”

My friend exclaimed as we left church on our way to breakfast with our husbands. “I have never seen you wearing a coat!”

Well, actually, I remember maybe four years ago on Christmas wearing a coat, but hey, this is Pensacola, and for the most part, it just isn’t cold enough for me to wear a coat. I have some nice sweatshirts with hoodies that get me through the post-water-aerobics chill, and that is usually enough.

Yesterday morning, however, was coat weather. This morning is even colder, but since I can wear jeans and a heavy sweatshirt, I won’t need the coat. It’s 28 degrees (F)

 

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January 11, 2016 Posted by | Friends & Friendship, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

Beryl Markham and the EPIC Book Club

When the EPIC Book Club met this month, we were discussing Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun.  Several of us had enjoyed her book about Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Wife, and had thought this one, about the famous early aviator, would be another great book. I was so impressed with The Paris Wife that I immediately read Hemingway’s The Movable Feast, his novel about the same period of time, and loved the way the books “danced together”. I think good historical fiction needs to stick to known facts.

It was a lively discussion; Beryl Markham was an unusual woman in an unusual culture in a time of transition. She grew up in Kenya as the British were beginning to colonize just after the first world war. Her mother abandoned the family, taking her frailer younger brother and leaving her, with no explanation. Some other woman moved in with her father; Beryl greatly raised herself with the indigenous people. Her father loved her, but was distant. He was first and foremost a horse breeder, and Beryl worked closely with him in breeding and training the horses.

She made a disastrous first marriage, leaving it to pursue a certificate – the first ever for a woman – as a horse trainer. She was spectacularly good at it, and worse (when it comes to the opinion of other women) she looked terrific in riding breeches. Men liked her. She liked men. She was not particular about boundaries, like marriage to other people or being the consort of her good friend, Karen Blixen. Later, she set records as one of the earliest female aviators.

It was also a time when women had few options, and most of the options required a man to take care of her. Beryl Markham had skills, and had more options.

So as we are discussing her behavior, which could be self-defeating and self-destructive, we discussed it in the context of Kenyan colonial society. Then one of the EPIC members mentioned that the same behaviors in the very church where we meet have been the spice of Pensacola gossip for more than a couple centuries; that people don’t change much. We were laughing, and another member mentioned being forbidden to read Peyton Place, many years ago when it was a banned book, and his wrestling coach told him “All the world is Peyton Place.”

I think of all the places I’ve lived and I am inclined to agree.

 

January 10, 2016 Posted by | Africa, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, EPIC Book Club, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Humor, Interconnected, Kenya, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Pensacola, Relationships, Social Issues, Values, Women's Issues | Leave a comment