December 15, 2020 ~ Weston CT
I have about a dozen drafts started, telling of travels from before, all waiting for that spark of inspiration to finish off my scribbled notes. I’m a little jealous of that old self that was free to roam. The winter blues are setting in and warm tropical breezes that soothe my soul seem so far away. I know it will return. I know there will be a day when I won’t think twice about getting on an airplane, or getting within six feet to talk to someone. But alas, here I am. Here we all are. Trying to make do, trying to make some semblance of lemonade out of the fruit we’ve been served.
I’m knee deep in holiday chocolate orders and my mind is wandering to cacao. More specifically, to the lovely warm places that hug the equator where cacao is grown. What would it be like quarantining in Hawaii or Costa Rica or Barbados? It would be warmer, for sure! There wouldn’t be a foot plus of snow outside my window. Maybe I’d have fruit trees growing outside, negating the anxiety-induced grocery store run. Would I care that the Grinch has preemptively stolen Christmas? All maybes. Paradise is a state of mind, after all.
December 15, 1930 ~ Trinidad and Tobago
Hired a car to drive us to The Saddle and Blue Basin before lunch. Soon after we started it began to rain and our driver assured us it would continue all morning. We were annoyed but disliked to give up the trip so drove on with our umbrella open over our knees. Although against the law, our driver picked and opened a cocoa bean so that we could taste the sweetness of the milky white coating of the cocoa seeds. We found the view from The Saddle beautiful in spite of the rain and mist over the valley and distant mountains. The country was beautiful with trees and foliage of great variety. Especially beautiful are the bamboo trees.
I’ve been on two December vacations that I can recall. The first was when my sisters and I were little and we went down to Disney World as a family. I was maybe five years old? All I recall is that Santa brought us a stocking and hung it outside our hotel door — I was impressed he found us so far from our Connecticut home, and that I was sick with an ear infection. I’m sure there were Disney characters, I was told there was a parade with fireworks that I managed to sleep through. The pictures my folks have look pretty magical!
I hadn’t thought to travel in the winter again until 2016. I booked a vacation longer than my allotted 2 weeks leave from work, giving myself no excuse but to bid adieu to the dreaded hell hole that is corporate America. I gave my notice and headed south.
It was the most glorious notion, to be somewhere warm when it was winter up north. Why had I not done this more? Grand Cayman turned out to be quite grand indeed.
Somehow the world feels okay when your Christmas tree has sand for a skirt. Or when you’re snorkeling alongside turtles and sting rays. Life becomes pretty effortless down there under the surf. It’s calm and quiet and peaceful.
December 23, 1930 ~ At sea
The Captain’s dinner turns out to be an elaborate affair. Every lady wears what she considers her best evening dress but Anne decides on her black chiffon velvet, long sleeves and all, simply because she had not worn it at all on the trip. Connolly is dressed in a tuxedo in common with only one or two other men. The table is decorated with crepe paper bands; we get motto snappers, balloons, noisemakers, fancy caps and streamers. Everybody is noisy and jolly. We throw streamers across the room to other tables until its difficult for the waiters to wade through the tangle. Connolly has provided Sauterne for our table and Dunnett is persuaded to have a glassful but no more. More and better jokes and stories are being told at our table and laughter – liquid laughter – reigns supreme. For dessert we had ice cream Santa Clauses. A very successful Captain’s dinner, except that the Captain was absent.
After dinner, Anne changed into a dinner dress to enjoy the balance of the evening. The paper hats, balloons and noise makers were still in evidence. I wandered about the boat and saw Edith, Drexel, Gwen, Lake, Connolly and Frank at the piano on B deck signing “Hail, hail the gang’s all here” with much abandon. M. M. and Guy in the smoking room otherwise deserted at the moment in serious conversation, dancing in the lounge. The outside decks are deserted. We are scheduled to arrive at quarantine about 9 P.M. and take on our pilot. Put on my coat and tried to get out on the boat deck but after opening the door with difficulty, found the deck pitch dark so go down to A deck. It’s snowing and lights from the shore and other steamers are clearly visible. It’s pleasant and doesn’t feel a bit cold walking about in the snow without a hat.