All posts by AdventuresOfaBohemian

Placencia, Belize

Placencia, Belize
Placencia, Belize

The wind off the Caribbean whips at the shore and carries wisps of my hair on the breeze. The salt air cools skin sticky with humidity and brings repeive from sun that bears down through breaks in clouds.

A neatly narrow and slightly elevated wooden boardwalk carries us over the sand winding through little shops and restaurants. Bright colors jump out of shop fronts while someones grandmother sits on the porch with a handweaving loom fastened around her waist, diligently making pieces of woven fabric in colors so bright they seem to sing. The bass in the ever present reggae music pounds somewhere down by the water, while tourists sink into the heavy limestone sand. Handcarved rosewood bowls and oil paintings are watched over by small eager dogs who’s owners hang nearby in hammocks.

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We are hungry and our stomachs beg us for something familiar, something easy and simple. Around the bend and behind the orange hibiscus, there is a litte wooden house on stilts, icicle lights adorning the front porch. Men are hanging loose in the doorway, sagging from the heat and barely propped up by the porch railing. Inside, a pizza  oven turns out circular dough baked to crispy, golden perfection, cheese bubbling on top as the conveyor belt delivers our hot, familiar desires one by one. Rick’s Cafe is the new endever of Boston native Rick, who has been cooking in Placencia for 7 years. He also offers pasta, subs, and some really fine looking, fresh chopped and tossed salads, rare to the area. Oh, and beer and wine. We are suddenly beyond grateful to the knowledgable staff at the SeaSpray hotel, who looked in our eyes, saw our hearts, and sent us to this little slice of home. It really doesn’t get much finer than front porch dining in a little wooden house overlooking a charming boardwalk on the Caribbean Sea.

Later, we rush the door of the gelato shop like a sweaty mass of super fans pushing their way toward some star, or just regular folks seeking respite from the sweltering heat. As we pile inside the angels sing and the air cools our glistening skin. Tiny mounds of sweet frozen perfection hold us captive in their air conditioned lair, before melting too quickly over our tongues. Tuttifrutti Gelateria is run by Tiziana and Lorenzo, a couple from France, and if it’s not the best gelato in the world, you’d never know it.

TuttiFrutti Gelateria
TuttiFrutti Gelateria

We are here for several days and lobster is in season, and abundant. I never did have just plain good ol’ boiled lobster, cracked, sucked and dipped in drawn butter, but I did have it a few new ways. Creole lobster served with a neatly formed pyramid of steamed rice, stewed beans to the side and a kind of cubed tomato Creole sauce baked on top of large and luscious chunks of meat. A challengingly large lobster burrito stuffed with fresh lettuce and cheese into a perfectly thick homemade flower tortilla covered with salsa. Grilled and seasoned, served with dirty rice and macaroni salad. But my favorite, the lobster tacos, comes later.

It’s early and the masses are still sleeping off hangovers, licking their wounds from youthful debauchery and a night of idiocies leading to the drunken debacle of my roommate, who single handedly woke the entire hotel in her intoxicated belligerence (a common occurrence). The wind is blowing with all it’s might across this tiny Belizean peninsula, palm trees threaten to throw coconuts from their boughs, and the ocean is restless and angrily turns up sand from it’s bowels while ships sit docked.

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I welcome the strong wind hurling salt air and sand fragments at my skin. It is refreshing and helps me wake after a night of little sleep. I am also grateful for the empty streets and dark buildings. For a while, it’s as if I’m the only one here, queen of the road, sole worshipper of the rising sun. It’s peaceful and stark. Slowly, the birds begin chirping and the first signs of life appear, bright eyes and bushy tails emerge from hidden paths. A woman out for a run, a couple looking for an early bird coffee shop.

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A cup of joe, and a smoothy of fresh Belizean fruit are set on a heavy wooden table painted with flowers. The prospect of lobster for lunch creeps into my mind, and I can taste the sweet, tender meat.

Lunch: lobster tacos. Often simplicity rises above complexity raising a victorious hand as the crowd cheers and whistles.  This was the case with my splendid lunch. Five white corn tortillas, crispy and browned on the edges, soft and pliable in the middle, wrapped into cylinders and neatly lined up on the plate. A small steel sauce dish holds chopped and marinated carrots, onions, and green peppers, but they are of no concern to me. I pick up a delicate and steaming tortilla whose damp middle sags between my fingers and know I must be gentle. In the first bite, the crispy toasted edges crackle between my teeth, linger, and give way to the crunch of finely chopped and marinated cabbage. Then the first taste of lobster. The tender meat resists for just a moment before bursting into perfectly salty, sweet juices, disintegrating across tastebuds…

Lobster Tacos
Lobster Tacos

Train Dreams

Cumberland Steam Engine Photo by Caroline Blizzard
Cumberland Steam Engine
Photo by Caroline Blizzard

The ghostly whistle of a lonesome train floats into the thin night air and frees my restless heart from its cage.

Somewhere in the near distance, tracks laid on the land by the hard toil of men nestle themselves into the soft earth with the shimmy and shake of each passing giant, leading men to freedom and hope.

Brisk nights nip at the heals of days filled with toil and purpose, while visions of grandiose lives and forgotten tycoons tug at the corners of wandering minds.

The train’s whistle seeps into the night and into our dreams and into our hearts, at once embracing us as captives yet freeing us as dreamers.

Breaking the Law: The Daily Post prompt

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breaking the Law.”

“Pull over immediately!” It’s the year 2000 and my band and I have just embarked on a three-month tour. For the U.S. leg, we’re driving a sweet but sketchy 1948 GM Greyhound Bus that we have converted into living and working quarters. This thing is awesome! It’s a double clutch with no power steering, and it takes two of us to turn the steering wheel. Our touring comrades are Boo!, a popular South African band that we have to pick up at the airport in some cornfield town in the Midwest. So around and around we go, circling the airport, waiting for our travel weary friends to arrive. I’m sure you can imagine the scene we’re making, and the surprise of the poor town’s people who have clearly been descended upon by delinquents meaning to uproot their very beliefs. Suddenly we hear the bullhorn, “Pull over immediately!” Well, when you’re driving a bus that’s hard to turn and  you are in fact maneuvering around a circular pattern, that’s not the easiest request in the world, but we made it. Eventually. All we can think about is what kind of ticket we’re going to get, and how many day’s per diem we’ll have to sacrifice to pay it. That’s food! Luckily, our band leader has been blessed with the gift of gab, and when the cop’s ears get tired, we get back on the road, find our friends, and wander away free of fines. I guess they decided we weren’t Breaking the Law after all!

Our Beloved Bus
Our Beloved Bus

On losing my cat Monster

Monster
Monster

As the first light of day stretches across the ground, a sharp and sobering pain shoots through my heart, radiating to the ends of my being. There is no warm, fuzzy, loving cat next to my pillow. Nothing to pet when I wake up. Nothing to brighten the first moments of the day. She is not down drinking water because I’ve taken too long to rise. She is not staring at me, just waiting for my eyes to open. She is not here at all. And she will never be here again.

IMG_1883 The paralyzing pain begins immediately. Before my eyes are open all the way, it knocks me clear on my ass. This morning I will not go to the kitchen to warm her food then coax her into eating it from my finger because she has been getting sick, and become afraid of the bowl. She will not warm herself in the sun at my feet, stretch that good cat stretch, then force her old bones into limberness to play like a kitten for a moment, if only a moment. No. I will go by myself to face the day. I will sit alone in the silence of my living room and beg for mercy from my heart.

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Her Favorite Toy

For almost 16 years I have woken in the same way. I may have woken to heartbreak from lost loves, or friends and family who have passed on, crushing blows, flattened hopes or dreams, but I have woken nose to nose with a tiny creature determined to resuscitate my heart and make it beat again. Like CPR for the soul. Eleven pounds of boundless love…for me.

Travelin' Cat!
Travelin’ Cat!

I know, this is the part where you say, “You foolish woman, be grateful! Few people have had it so good!” And I know. You’re right. And every day, particularly in the last few years, I’ve made a point to let that little beast know that she was loved, and beyond which. She was no beast of burden, that is sure; less it be the burdens of the heart. She was loved and she was spoiled, and because she traveled with me, we had adventures few cats have with their owners. I never had any children, just her. Together we went 20-plus times across the U.S.. She’s flown on a plane, and even been on a ferry. She’s a well-traveled cat. Was. More worldly than many folks. She used to sit on my lap or on my shoulders, and just watch the world go by, sniffing the wind or laying in the sun. But none of that makes it any easier.

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IMG_1654And she was a bad-ass, bad to the bone. She moved like a panther, kind of strutted in this sleek, stealth way, ruler of everything that was. She was a fearless and mighty panther, and had no idea she was just house-cat size. She had a habit of corralling large dogs, and chasing them into submission. She would stand on chairs so she was tall enough to look down at them, then swat their noses until they bowed down to her. In her mind she was the alpha and omega, and every other being was going to bend to her will. Occasionally you read about a cat who has taken on a bear and either won, or sent it cowering. She is without question, one of those cats, she just never had a chance at a bear. And me? I’m rather stubborn myself, and we had to lock horns several times over who was in charge. But the winner, is really still in question.

Snow Panther
Snow Panther
Chillin'
Chillin’

I’ve cried for her several times in the last year when I knew she was sick, and old, and nearing the end, but that doesn’t make it any easier. She has had some outrageous struggles, but an iron will to live. Never before have I seen an animal so resilient and so determined to live. Several times I thought we were facing the end, then I’d just add a little love and she would fight her way back. She’d start playing, asking for catnip, and climbing her scratching post, then she’d want to go out in the sun, sprawl out and watch the birds.

Kitty Pillow
Kitty Pillow

And she would always, always sleep by my head, curled in the crook of my arm. If it got too late at night and I was still up, she’d tell me it was time. She would move toward the bedroom in increments and wait patiently until I followed. My husband would come and kiss me goodnight, then she would take her spot by my pillow, but if he came back in the room a second time, he was not allowed near me. She would stand for no interruption of our time together. Once we had had an hour or so of cuddling time, he was allowed to join us, but not before. After all, she had been with me over twice as long as he has. We were blessed with an inordinate amount of quality time together, but that does not prepare a person for something like this.

Such expressions!
Such expressions!

photo-2 I got her when she was three-days-old. Her mother was killed by a car. I kept her on a heating pad until her eyes opened. With a cat that young, you must keep them warm and feed them every four hours with an eyedropper or a needleless syringe. It does not matter that you need 8 hours of sleep, they need milk. You must teach them everything just like their mother would have. To teach them to clean, you take a damp cloth and wipe their fur until instinct kicks in and they get the idea. And they have to stay warm. Monster often stayed warm in the mouth of a large Rottweiler who belonged to a friend. She would pick up the tiny kitten, put her on her tongue, and close her mouth, leaving just a crack for air. The first time, we thought the dog had swallowed her, but she was just exercising her motherly instincts. Perhaps that is why Monster was not afraid of anything. That was almost 16 years, and many adventures ago, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

My Beautiful Girl!
My Beautiful Girl!

Now I must brave the days, armed with pictures and memories: warm and loving moments with an animal too human to truly comprehend. But the minutes drag on in unbearable silence. An emptiness so expansive it fills the room and pushes the air out of my lungs. Now, only from the computer screen or my phone, do those intense green eyes look straight into my soul and comprehend with unwavering love and compassion, the state of my being.IMG_1868

Some will say a tiny creature just like Monster opened their eyes to unconditional love. Others will tell you it had always been there, but some similar little companion had opened their hearts to it, and let them accept it. I guess that’s another way of saying the bond between human and animal can be extraordinary if you allow it to be. Despite the current debilitating pain, when I am healed enough, I will jump in again with reckless abandon and let another little beastie right in to smooth my faults, warm my days, catch me when I stumble, and love me when I fall…and all other minutes of our existence. There will never be another Monster kitty, but there will be some other little creature with it’s own foibles and triumphs, and when it’s time I will welcome it. Because I know Monster would want me to be happy. Until then, I’ll have to contend with the fact that my husband does not want to be “petted”, and I will probably get a few sideways glances for trying anyway. 🙂

My baby is gone forever, but she will live un-flickering in my heart and in my thoughts. I am proud to have had such a companion, and I am better for it.IMG_2206

RVing Away Nashville to LA on I-40

Dec. 23, 2014: Nashville to LA on I-40

Cherokee Trading Post, OK
Cherokee Trading Post, OK

We set out across the great U.S. almost three weeks ago, propelled by a burning sense of adventure and the open and welcoming arms of I-40. Nashville to Los Angeles, we made our way through Elvis’s home, land of BBQ and the blues, across the dangerous waters of the ol’ Mississip’, and on through Little Rock and the fine evergreens. Past the small town neighborliness of Arkansas we moved through to the Great Planes of Indian Country.

Cherokee fine art, OK
Cherokee fine art, OK

Oklahoma, home to many, many Native tribes, is a state whose name literally means “Red People” in the Choctaw language. We stopped at the KOA in Cherokee to stay the night and see some of the beautiful and intricate art and handiwork of the local Indians. In the Cherokee Trading Center we found picturesque scenes depicting old and new ways of life for a people bound to the freedom of the wide open sky, the prairie grasslands and the red earth mesas.

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Cherokee fine art from the Cherokee Trading Post, OK

Amarillo by morning                                                                                       Up from San Antone                                                                     Everything that I’ve got                                                                                    Is just what I’ve got on

“Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait

Sour Mother Pucker
Sour Mother Pucker

In this part of the country the drive is long and lonely without much of anything around except a hundred miles of signs leading to the Big Texan in Amarillo, a place otherwise known as home of the 72oz. steak, which is free, as long as you can eat it all! Men from all over the land have tried and failed, and the record is held by a skinny little lady, who devoured it in four minutes! With a shooting arcade, a brewery, a nice gift shop, and giant everything, the place is well worth the stop even if you’re not going to belly up to the challenge. The food is good and growlers of home-made brew are available to take home. I recommend the ‘Sour Mother Pucker’, which is surprisingly good considering it harkens to something like Sour Patch Kid ale. A stop at the Big Texan definitely breaks up the monotony of the vast land imbued with the wanderings of tumbleweeds.

Shooting Gallery
Shooting Gallery

Safely through Tornado Alley, we moved into the Navajo Territory of New Mexico, a state that takes it’s name from early Spanish colonization. However, New Mexico was inhabited long before the Spaniards came. Paleo-Indians settled in that area of the Great Plains at the end of the last Ice age, roughly 18,000-8000 B.C., when brave men hunted mastodons with arrowhead spears. Somewhere around the 1500’s, when Mexico was called New Spain, the Spaniards named the area New Mexico for the Indian population which reminded them of the Mexica people in Central America. Later in the 1800’s, Mexico was named.

Sunset over red earth mesas
Sunset over red earth mesas

The flat-topped mesas of red earth continue in Arizona as does the wide open sky, which makes sunrise and sunset equally thrilling. Here we kept our nose to the grind stone and kept pace with the big rigs and over the road drivers. Our Arizona outing was a quick but memorable trip to the Meteor Crater site. Somewhere around the time when those Paleo-Indians were fighting mastodons, an iron-nickel meteor hit Arizona at 40,000mph and made a crater 550 feet deep and large enough to fit 20 football fields on it’s floor. It lifted the earth up and created high ridges around the hole.

A small piece of the iron-nickel meteor!
A small piece of the iron-nickel meteor!

Pedal to the metal we made it ‘home’ by nightfall and just in time to see the beautiful Santa Monica sunset! But this was only the first leg of the journey. After a great party, we headed to the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., then on to Corpus Christi, Texas, and on the New Orleans, La.

My home!
My home!