Latitude 17N

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Training Tri Series #4

So...we had finally gotten some really nice weather here the last few days until today. Today being the day of the 4th race of the training triathlon series. It was really nasty out today. I woke up to find the weather was rainy and the winds gusty. Two bad factors for a triathlon. For a running race that would be fine but swimming in choppy water is not easy and biking against the wind is not fun either. I called Reggie down at the Cycle Center and asked him, hopefully, if the race was rain or shine. He informed me that the people from St. Kitts were on their way so it was going to go on as planned. I headed down there about 45 minutes before the scheduled start. I knew it wouldn't start on time but better to be there on time than not and miss an on time race. I met our friend Nick at the end of his road and we looked out onto the water as we passed and it was not looking good. All this time I was worried about the nasty weather on a road bike with slick wheels and hadn't even thought about the churning water we were going to be swimming in. We arrived at Oualie Beach to find there was only one other bike on the rack and I thought to myself that if there weren't more people showing up I wasn't going to race. I saw a couple of women who normally compete but they are not strong swimmers and decided that they should not risk it today. One of them, Sarah, ended up doing a relay with a couple of other people and she did well with that. So...we waited around for a while as people showed up. We ended up with 16 entrants which is better than last time. The swim was kind of a funny little course going out to the first buoy which was out by the end of the Oualie dock. They had changed the configuration at the last minute due to the rough conditions of the water. So, out to the first buoy then parallel to shore over to another buoy and back to shore where you had to climb up on shore and round a bunch of sticks and then back in for lap two. It was kind of funny. So I got in from the swim near the back but not last. I took my time getting ready for the bike making sure my helmet was on right and cleaned up my feet and put on my hydration pack. I started the bike pretty well. The first half went fine because I was riding with the wind. I knew things would change on the way back as I could feel the gusts all around me. The rain was holding off and that was the one good thing that happened from here on out. Wendy and her kids were at the turnaround doing their best to keep the turn safe although the cars she was trying to stop didn't want to heed the warning and honked their horn to let me know they were coming through. So I got turned around and the wind really hit me. Up past the gas station in Jessups I lost my chain so I had to get off and fix that. I was slow going most of the way back and lost the chain 2 more times. Not sure why that was happening. I got off my bike and started my run which went pretty well. I felt ok on the run although going over Hurricane Hill is no joke after all that biking against the wind. I got turned around and headed back to be the 2nd woman to finish. Out of 3 so not as good as it sounds. My time was 5 minutes slower than last time which was all due to the wind and chain problems on the bike. My swim was actually good and my run time was 3 seconds better than the last one so I'm maintaining at least that. But it was a fun day all around. Jaime (still injured) and Julian were supposed to go to Julian's fencing lesson but Jaime got there and didn't see the people so he went home instead. I think he feels really bad that he isn't able to compete. The last in the series before the big one is 3 weeks so hopefully he will be ok by then.

Song of the day...Against the Wind by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Haha.

Philosophy of the day...She who bikes against the wind...gets tired legs.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Freakish weather going on around here

The last few days have been so weird with weather here. We've been getting these sideways downpours that last a few minutes and then clear up. Today it has been overcast for a good part of the day. A few times the sun has come out but not for too long. Then the rain will start and you can't even see where it is coming from. It comes in sideways and collects in my window tracks and then fills up and spills out all over the floor. Aaaaaahhhhh.....the Caribbean!

Julian and I started a new unit on dinosaurs the other day. Holly helped us organize our stuff and told us how to simplify some things to get more out of less. It has been great. We are working on a diorama right now and we will also put together a book with all the stuff we have been learning. It is going better than with the boring old workbooks we had been using. We'll still use some of them but most of them will be pushed aside for now.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A my back pocket!

I have had a gem in my backpocket for months and didn't even know it! Holly, who is the wife of a student here has a degree in curriculum development! That to me is so exciting! I have been wanting to re-vamp Julian's school program to be more interesting for him and every time I try I get totally overwhelmed and keep plugging away with his boring text-books that he hates. I did a little bit in the fall on Native American Indians and that was fun but it wasn't organized at all. Sooooo she is going to help me get organized and design a plan so school can be a little bit fun. I am going to show her where the library is tomorrow and then we are going to have a power lunch at Unellas (Julian's favorite burger spot) and start working on a plan. Holly is not only smart but she's fun too!

Look Ma, No Training Wheels!!!

Julian was riding his bike two days ago and one of his training wheels fell off. It was like something you would see in a movie when a kid is going so fast the training wheels spark and fall off. It was really funny. So then he practiced riding by balancing between the one training wheel and the big bike wheel. Today he decided it was time to take off the other training wheel and now he's riding un-aided! He is a bike rider!!! And a proud one at that. He took a spill and scraped his arm but we all do that from time to time.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Triathlon Training Series - Race 3

Yesterday I competed in race 3 of the triathlon training series. We did a 450 meter swim, 15K bike and a 4k run. I felt pretty good on this one. I was second place among the women. There were only 4 women competing. It was a good day for a race being a bit cloudy and not too hot. I rode the bike down to the race to get warmed up. Once I got there I put my stuff in place and went out to do a short swim to keep my lungs warmed up. The water was very C-O-L-D! The race started a bit late with only 11 people competing. The swim went pretty well. The water wasn't very choppy which was good. I finished in 11 minutes and got to the transition area to get ready for my bike. Julian was there cheering me on with Jaime filming the event today due to an injury that has kept him immobile for the past couple of weeks. He got a thorn in his ankle and has been limping around ever since. He thinks he still has a piece of the thorn in there. So back to the race...I was getting ready to go on my bike, getting my shorts on and shoes. This time I had a bucket of water for my feet which helped to get the sand off. I started off on my bike and at the very start I lost the end to my hydration pack and it was losing water all over the place. I doubled back around to get it and lost about a minute. I sensed someone right behind me and didn't like that. I started pedaling faster and thought I had lost them. As I came around near Jessups where the long hill is they caught me and passed me. It was Wendy. She was on a mountain bike! She was pedaling hard and not having any problems. All I could do was watch her pass me and keep on going. I was trying to keep up but my skinny little legs just dont' have the muscle power. So I got to the turn around point and noticed that she wasn't much farther ahead of me. All the way back I tried to reach her but didn't make it. At transition number 2 I got off the bike, ran it in, took off my helmet and camelback and started running. I didn't have time today for comforts like the mp3 player. I wanted to catch her. She was just ahead of me going up the hill and on the other side near the bottom of the hill I passed her. She kind of chuckled as I went by. I ran well on this 4k course. I made it back with an overall time of one hour and 13 minutes. Wendy was not far behind me and as she came across the finish line she smiled and pointed at me and when she finished she just looked at me and smiled and said "that was fun". It was good for both of us to have some competition that day. I went over to her and toasted a good race with our water bottles and said "You've got some strong legs, woman!" And she told me that for a long time she couldn't afford a car so she biked her heart out wherever she went. Haha. All in all it was a great event. I hope the next one brings some more people. It's always more fun with more people.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Johnny Damon and the evil empire

I STILL can't believe that Johnny Damon defected to the NY Yankees. I just had to write that because I hadn't written about it yet. I was running on the treadmill at the gym at the Marriott when I first heard the news. I was not pleased but it did wonders for my run. It just goes against what he claimed in his book "Idiot". And now to quote him he says "I might be an idiot but I'm not stupid". Now I need to re-read his book and make notes and write him a letter. Not that it will matter but it will make me happy. He was my favorite player and now he's all clean cut and going against his own grain. OK, I've vented now, sorry about that. I will never cheer for the Yankees.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Julian on his new bike

Here is a picture of Julian riding his new bike down our road. Hopefully he will be ready to go without training wheels soon!

Mount Nevis Hike

Today we hiked up Mount Nevis. It was Julian's first time up and he was NOT the last in the group to make it to the top. Our trip rounded out at a little more than 6 hours which is a long hike. It normally doesn't take that long but Jim Johnson always hikes at the pace of the slowest climber so we all kind of stuck together. Julian and Jaime were at the front of the pack and if they had wanted to they could have made it up a lot quicker. It was a fun group of people. One of the guys who hiked with us had a sister who attended Phillips Exeter. Another interesting note is that Jim Johnson has a son, Patrick, who is very smart. There is a man here on Nevis who is very wealthy and gets a kick out of talking with Patrick about chemistry and stuff. So he is offering to pay for Patrick to attend Phillips Exeter. The man is an alumnus of the school. One of the things he has to do as part of the criteria for his acceptance is to have an interview with someone who has graduated in the past 10 years. It is supposed to be an in person interview but he is pretty sure that they will bend on this and allow a telephone interview since the guy is willing to donate a million dollars to the school. So if anyone knows a person who has graduated in the past 10 years let me know. I know Laura Waleryszak has but I'm not sure where in the world she is now. So it's a small world! Anyway, I am hungry and have lots of leftovers from last night so I'm going to go eat.

New Years

Well our New Years Eve was very uneventful. We rented a couple of movies to watch. While we were in town doing some last minute shopping before the stores were to be closed for a few days we saw Cache and her mom Carol and had chinese food with them. We were contemplating going out at midnight to watch the Four Seasons fireworks but later on we decided to stay in and avoid the drunk drivers. We were however, up at the turn of the new year which is the first time that has happened in a long time. New Years Day we didn't do much either. Last night we had Cache and Carol over for dinner...baked stuffed tufoli. They enjoyed it and brought champagne so we had a couple of glasses and ate a good meal before we braved the big mountain the next day.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Jen's last full day

On the last day of her trip we did a little last minute souvenir shopping. We went to the pottery in town and to Knick-knacks which is run by a woman that I know in town. Jen was nice enough to buy Julian a little locking treasure chest that he has had his eye on for months. He was very excited to have that. We spent the afternoon over at Oualie Beach. I like that beach because they let you use their chairs and there are usually kids there for Julian to play with. On this day there were NO chairs available to sit on. The place was packed! So we found a plot of sand and lay down our towels. Jaime and I swam some laps out in the water and Julian and Jen played some football in the water. When I came out of the water she and Julian were eating their sandwiches and had a little friend sitting with them. A dog named Sam (we think). He was sitting on the sand and waiting patiently for a scrap. Julian gave him a little bit of his crust and then put down the rest of his sandwich and the dog swept in and took the rest! It was kind of funny and I think Julian was pretty much done anyway. So we hung out there for the day and then went home to get ready for our dinner at Coconut Grove. What an experience that was! The owner, Gary and his wife are so nice and really do a good job making sure you are happy and talking with all of the customers. Our waiter was from Germany. His name was Jens (pronounced Yens). He was very polite and knowledgeable and personable. The food was really good. They started us out with what they called “a teaser” which was a tiny little bowl of a warm coconut and lime soup. Each bowl had a tiny little spoon. It was so cute. Jen and I started with an onion soup and Jaime had a scallop appetizer that he said was really good. They bring everything out on these really nice, decorative interesting glass plates. For dinner, Julian had the kids chicken fingers that were atop a bed of egg noodles with a side of marinara sauce. He ate every bite of the chicken so I think he liked it. He was really good in the fancy restaurant. I had a mahi mahi which had a salsa on top and a plantain and tomato side dish that was really good. Jen had a seafood napoleon which she said was excellent. It was made with an Indian type flatbread and seafood and had a bunch of different sauces or something on each corner that each had a different flavor. Jaime had beef medallions which was served with a mashed potato. The beef had a cabernet butter melted over the top. All meals were excellent. For dessert, my mother's honor, we had a crème brulee and also a pistachio torte that was out of this world! It was an experience to remember. Although it did last 2 ½ hours. By the time we left the place was packed with people. They bring the bill over in a big gold painted coconut. Not just the inner coconut shell but the outer husk. It is really funny. An excellent last meal for her vacation. I'm so glad we finally got to have a visitor come to stay with us. We also had a great Christmas with my parents here pampering us at the Marriott. Very relaxing and fun.

Plantation tour

On Wednesday we toured around the plantations. We first went to Golden Rock and had lunch. It was a beautiful day and the view from up there was spectacular. We also looked at Old Manor and Montpelier Plantation. Then we went back to the grocery store and ran a few errands. On the way home we saw a man drinking water out of the street! That was really gross and then we saw a man on a Segway riding down the street up by the airport. That was a sight. We weren't fast enough to get a picture but I'm going to keep my eyes open just in case I see him again. It was very weird to see that here. That night Jen made us an oriental stir fry over noodles that was really good and then we played games after dinner. We watched Skeleton Key after Julian went to bed.


On Tuesday we headed over to Pinney's beach to get some sun and later have lunch. There were beach chairs set up over by Sunshines so we asked the waiter if we could use them if we had lunch there later. He said the chairs were complimentary if we ate there so we set up our stuff. After that we headed over to check out the Four Seasons Resort. They have added a new pool! It didn't take them long to build it. We saw Kelly Rippas husband Mark Consuelos. He is the one on the far left next to the guy in red. We tried to be sly about getting a picture but it ended up being so far away you can't even see him. But we tried. He is as good looking in person as he is on the screen. So after that we went back to our chairs and a guy came over and told us it would be 5.00 a piece for the chair, US dollars. We told him the guy at Sunshines told us we could sit there and long story short the waiter didn't have anything to do with the chairs so we ended up paying the guy. We had lots of excitement that day. There were a couple of guys escorting a guy off the beach. The beach chair man was there when that happened and he said a rasta mon was making some trouble so the undercover police (didn't know they had those here) are trying to get rid of him. We watched them struggle with him for 5 minutes or so until the police showed up very quietly and the man was put into the car without incident. It was very quiet and surprisingly professional. No noise or lights or brutality. After that we decided it was time for lunch. Jaime had gone over to Oualie to swim so he wouldn't be joining us. We found a table and waited to place our order. It was packed over there being another holiday and all. We finally ordered and played polish poker while we waited. WE finally got finished at 3:00 and headed over to pick up Jaime. During his day he had seen Paul Simon who was also on island and the caterer we know, the one who is opening up the deli here, Wendy, was catering a dinner for him that night. Very exciting for her! So we all had excitement that day. That night we played a new game that Julian got for Christmas and watched some t.v.

The day after

The day after Christmas was our departure date from the Marriott. We got up early and met my parents in the lobby for coffee and pastries. They took off around 7:00 and shortly after that we hailed a taxi for ourselves. Unknown to us my parents ended up right back at the Marriott shortly after we left. Their 9:00 flight got delayed until 2:30. I guess the flight that was supposed to come in the night before never showed up so they had no plane to get on. They let American Airlines know how they felt about their experience with them for this whole vacation and got some applause from the vacationers in line behind them. They finally got home at around midnight that day. They thought it was strange when the lady from the livery service asked them if they had had any garlic with their dinner. They thought she was trying to cover up for her own garlicy smelling self. So they got home brought their luggage in to the house and fell fast asleep. When they woke up in the morning they noticed right away that the whole house smelled like garlic. Their luggage had been a little bit wet when they retrieved it from the baggage claim but they didn't think anything of it. So at this point they figure someone must have had some pickled garlic which smashed and leaked all over their stuff. They said it was really nasty! OK, so back to us...we headed over to the ferry terminal not knowing what time we would get a ferry. Jouvert (the dancing in the streets that lasts the entire day) was in full swing. Our taxi driver quickly changed his route and got us around it in no time. He dropped us off with all of our stuff and Julian and Jen and I headed over to check out the action. It was LOUD. They had floats with HUGE speakers blaring music and people everywhere were dancing. They had plastic bottles slung around their necks filled with beer. We watched for a while and then when our ears couldn't take it anymore we headed back to the ferry. I told Julian that the music made my heart feel like it was going to jump out of my chest. He said "I know, I had to button up my shirt so my heart wouldn't fall out". Haha. My father had said that to Julian a few times when he was being heartless. It was really funny to hear Julian say it. We were told there would be no ferries until noon time but at around 8:30 a guy came around and announced there would be a ferry at 9:15. We got our tickets and soon boarded the boat. We met a girl on the boat from the peace corps named Laura. She was really funny to talk to. Once we got home we had to hang around town while Jaime freighte a bunch of our luggage home and then we got some groceries and went home. Jen and I decided to go to the Boxing Day Horse Race. That was really fun. We got to watch a guy go out into the MIDDLE of the track and take a pee. Of all places. Haha. There were lots of vacationers over there and we had a great time picking our horses and waiting around for the races to start. We watched 4 of 5 races before getting out of there and heading out for chinese food at the Tea House.

Nutty takes a vacation

My sisters son, Jacin, sent her away with his favorite stuffed animal, Nutty. We brought Nutty everywhere with us. Nutty played giant checkers and had breakfast with us. He even came to the beach but he is embarassed to be seen in a bathing suit so we didn't take any pictures. He even made a new friend. I think he had a great vacation!