Banana Hammock Escapades

…Your reality is what you make it.

New Kid on the Block

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Exploration of the new neighborhood.

Exploration of the new neighborhood.

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Well, this is the post that I thought was never going to happen — me, writing from Costa Rica. Aside from some major hang-ups, I made it.  Sara and I are officially living in Costa Rica – and I must say – it is beautiful!  My cat, Briley, even made it safe and sound here.  That though, is an entirely different story.  Due in part, to a lack of information and some minor hang-ups, Briley’s arrival was much more difficult and expensive.  Originally, I was set to take her aboard the plane with me as a carry-on, but that didn’t quite work out as planned.  I had paid to have her health certificate expedited to Austin, in order to make sure it arrived on time and within the specified ten-day time period for which it is valid, but UPS completely botched that one.  Instead, I ended up having to fly her on another flight AND shell out an additional $1,200 in flight fare charges and taxes.  Lesson learned, I will never use UPS again.  I had intended traveling and exploring the country whenever I arrived, but that episode drastically depleted my savings and unfortunately put quite the damper on my initial travel plans and whatnot.  Instead, I have hardly had two colones to rub together.  On the bright side, I am quite impressed with budgeting skills.  I am always impressed with myself when I can wiggle out of a tight space unscathed.

I had to immediately start looking for a job whenever I arrived.  It was a little more difficult than I had actually anticipated.  I filled out countless applications and went to a hand full of interviews, with no luck.  I began to panic and I started to wonder if I had gotten myself into a debacle that even I would not be able to wiggle out of.  My money was dwindling quickly and I had absolutely no job prospects in the foreseeable future, I was convinced that perhaps I had made the wrong decision in packing up my life and going into the unknown.  Each passing day I grew more and more frantic, what was I going to do?  I didn’t even have enough money to change my “in case shit hits the fan” flight ticket to go back to the States.  Just as I was more convinced than ever that everything was quickly going down the drain, I got that phone call that changed my entire outlook.  I had another interview and I had a good feeling about this one.  Perhaps it was my positive outlook that helped me land the job; along with being qualified for the position but either way, I landed the job!  It had happened, the moment that I had fantasized about for longer than I care to admit.  I am an English teacher.  That is still a weird statement for me to say – for more reasons than one.  So, I am now teaching English for Berlitz language school in San Pedro.  I’m officially a grown-up, when did this happen?  I’m the girl who has long been buying “professional” clothing with the anticipation of having to wear it some unknown day in the future, perhaps never.  I have been “professional” for less than three weeks and I have already almost fallen in my heels more times than I can count and worn my pencil skirt the wrong way (luckily I figured out how my skirt was actually intended to be worn before I made it into the classroom.)

Who know 2013 would get off to such a great start?  I am quite proud of myself and I don’t say that too often.  I have accomplished everything I set out to do AND I did it in the time frame that I mapped out for myself.  I wanted to be living in another country by the start of 2013 (check, I moved on New Year’s eve,) I wanted to find a teaching position by my 27th birthday (check – I started teaching on Monday, which just so happened to be my birthday,) and I wanted a new perspective on life (while that is still a work-in-progress, I feel I am evolving as a person each day.)  Salud to new beginnings!  I am not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but it looks as if some of the pieces are falling right into place.  I hope everyone’s New Year’s resolutions are working out as well as mine have been.  Inch by inch, everything is a cinch.  I saw that great little saying on the back of someone’s car a few years back and ever since, I have made it my mantra.  I would say that it’s working out quite well.  Now, if only I could carve out enough time and energy to stay on top of this blog.  I hope you’ll decide to stick around and tag along for the adventure that is unfolding.

Ah, how could I forget, for all you Southerners out there in the blog-o-sphere, I hope you are drinking in (pun intended) all the wonderful festivities that go along with time of the year in the Deep South.  Although I am not able to partake in all the festivities this year, I am celebrating in spirit.  I have made sure to wear my green, gold and purple attire.  For those of you who are not familiar with Mardi Gras, it is only the most stupendous time one can have in the South.  Mardi Gras for Southerners means grandiose costumes, King Cakes, millions of plastic beads and toys, MoonPies and drunken debauchery.  If this tickles your pickle and you ever find yourself in the Deep South during this time of year, make your way over to New Orleans, Louisiana or Mobile, Alabama and partake in the South’s deeply rooted tradition!    Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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This photo is intended only to illustrate the scenery of Mardi Gras, I do not own this photo.

 

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—>> Holiday Delights

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Hello, everyone!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.  Well, this week has been pretty relaxing and just plain fun.  I have been enjoying the holiday with all of my family in the Lone Star state, in the great city of Austin.  This holiday season has been a bit different from most of my past winter holidays because I am not in Mississippi for it.  I have always visited my family during the spring and summer, so this has been awesome.  I am not used to seeing Texas decked out with Christmas lights for the holidays or being cold in Texas, for that matter!  I am currently enjoying being unemployed – hoping it won’t be too long until I land my first teaching job though.  So, these last few weeks have been the calmest I have seen in quite some time.  So, that being said – I have been making the most of it – I have spent a lot of time exploring Austin.  I love that it is so easy to be healthy here!  I have no problems locating great spots to indulge myself in wonderfully healthy treats.  I spent the entire day yesterday just riding the bus all over town and walking up and down the streets downtown.  I just recently bought myself my first professional camera and laptop bag, it is the Libby bag from Kelly Moore.  It was designed for women, so it looks very stylish and is perfect for everyday use.  This bag is awesome, not only is it able to carry my 17-inch MacBook Pro; but it can also carry both of my cameras, my multiple lenses, and all of my other miscellaneous camera equipment that I have accumulated.  Plus there is room for my everyday items that I need on a day-to-day basis.  This bag is going to make the perfect travel companion for my upcoming adventure, which is set to start in less than one week.  Sara, my kitty, Briley and I are set to fly out on Tuesday afternoon.  We will be landing in Costa Rica just in time to celebrate the new year.  I haven’t decided on my New Year’s resolution yet, perhaps I may be cliché and start my long-intended plan to start working out.  Have you all decided what it is that you are going to different in the new year, if anything?

Sunset view of South Congress street from Capitol hill.

Sunset view of South Congress street from Capitol hill.

Taking time to take a stroll along Guadeloupe street and have a lunch date with my wonderful boyfriend, Daniel.

Street vendor on Guadeloupe.

Street vendor on Guadeloupe.

Wedded bliss at Capitol hill.

Wedded bliss at Capitol hill.

Vintage parking sign.

Vintage parking sign.

Welcome to Austin!

Welcome to Austin!

The Lone Star state's Capitol building.

The Lone Star state’s Capitol building.

The Wikileaks van spotted in my storage facility!

The Wikileaks van spotted in my storage facility!

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Afternoon Read

In light of the recent school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary; I think it is appropriate to repost a respected view on the subject of school shootings, Michael Moore. I enjoy watching and reading stories posted on Democracy Now!, so this is a short, but worthy share.  This is the link to Amy Goodman’s short interview with the famous filmmaker.  My condolences go out to the families and friends affected by the horrific tragedy.

 


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Pond Scum is Yum.

_DSC0005Hello, lovely readers!

I hope your day has been as calm and lovely as mine has been, even though I had to work the entire day.  On a typical day, I probably would not describe my shift using calm or any other like adjective.  My job isn’t typically all that calm and often is quite frustrating and hectic, but anyone who works within the service industry can attest to this.  The last couple of years I have tended bar and waited tables at an awesome musical venue that doubles as a bar and restaurant, Government Street Grocery.  If you are ever on the coast of Mississippi and anywhere near Ocean Springs – check the place out, its stellar – it is in the heart of the historical downtown area.  Being a bartender is usually typically quite entertaining and the people who you get to know along the way make it that much better.  Today was one of those days when being stuck at work is not so disheartening.  Upon walking into work; I was presented with a lovely “going away present” from Rachel and, of course, I had to immediately open it.  She bought me some 10+ kiwi fruits (she knows how much I love my fruit!)  This week has been especially hard because it is my last week working at the Grocery.  My co-workers and all of the regulars who I have met over the last couple of years and made my job that much better, thus making it that much harder to move, but all good things must come to an end as they say.  Saturday is my final day…strange to say that.  I have worked within the service industry for over ten years now and I have dreamt about this day for so long now — now that it is here, I cannot quite believe it.  So, since today was a rather slow day, I decided to put my new present to use and concoct a delectable drink for myself – hence the reference to pond scum in this post’s title.  The kiwi seeds remind me of tadpole eggs and the green color of the drink reminds me of the ponds I played in frequently throughout my childhood.  There wasn’t a known drink name or recipe before I concocted this delicious medley, so don’t let the name fool you, it’s amazingly tasty and good for you too!  I did not put any alcohol in this drink, but a good vodka such as; Greygoose, Kettle One, or whatever your preference will blend perfectly.

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POND SCUM

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: One kiwi fruit, two to four slices of cucumber, orange juice, pineapple juice, soda water and a mortar and pestle ( two ounces of vodka, optional.)

This drink is rather simple to make and quite fun, especially if you like muddling as much as I do.   First, you are going to need to remove the skin from the kiwi and slice (or if you’re one to eat your kiwi with the skin still on, then by all means, skip this step.)  Once you have completed this, place the whole kiwi fruit and two to three slices of cucumber in your mortar and using your pestle, completely muddle all the contents in the mortar.  Now you’re finished with the most time-consuming part of this entire process.  Now, pour the muddled contents from your mortar into a tumbler or glass – whatever you have handy – and then add two to three ounces of both orange and pineapple juice and a splash of soda water.    I prefer this drink without much ice (I think it makes the drink a bit easier to drink but this is your preference.)  Shake vigorously and then pour, garnish with a cucumber and enjoy!  

Allan knows that is pays off to be the taste-tester.


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——» Moving Hoopla

Today marks a great day to start officially blogging on my new blog.  Welcome, readers!  I am delighted that you have chosen to make yourself acquainted with my little corner of the blogosphere, I hope you will stick around.  I have been trying to work diligently on creating and banging out ideas for what it is that I really want to blog about but working as much as possible, while also managing and completing everything that goes along with such a huge move is quite difficult – as most would guess – and I am still currently banging out those ideas.    I would have to say that my life has been pretty chaotic these last few months, which have been leading up to my first international move.  Last weekend I made the move, I moved all my belongings to Austin, Texas!  Just my buddy, Sean, my kitty-cat, Briley, and myself and the long, chaotic drive.  I say chaotic because chaos seems to follow me – it’s been this way since my grand entrance into this world (my mother loves telling stories of my clumsiness as a young child and anyone who knows me can attest to my clumsiness/bad luck.)

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It was a cramped ride all the way to Austin in the Uhaul.

I should bring you up to speed with what lead up to this last statement, because if you’re like most I have told this story to – you too think I may be a bit off my rocker or be very excited for me and the adventure that is about to unfold.  Those two reactions seem to be the most common reactions whenever I tell people what I am preparing to do.  You see, I live in a rather small town on the coast of Mississippi, Ocean Springs.  It’s a particularly quaint and quirky town, there is no shortage of wonderfully eccentric people.  Many people in the United States have heard of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I live in the area that has been devastated by both of these events.  Katrina wasn’t what made me really want to leave Mississippi, it was the BP oil spill that happened nearly three years ago that really was the final reason that I needed to make this difficult decision.  While most in the area seem to be uninterested in what the short and long-term effects of the oil and the use of dispersants in our water really mean for us and the people that we know, I am on the other end of that spectrum, I completely disagreed with the Government’s use of Corexic to fix the disaster.  That is a whole other discussion – perhaps for a later date?  I graduated from college a year-and-a-half-ago with my bachelor’s degree in journalism and since then I have had little luck in locating a remotely decent position within my intended field.  South Mississippi is a rather difficult area to pursue a fulfilling career in environmental journalism.  The April following my graduation, I decided to make the leap I had been talking about for quite some time and sold my car.  I now commute by bicycle and carpooling with friends.  So, let me make my way back to topic, this decision to commute by bike also helped in deciding what it was that I wanted out of my life and what I am willing to do to achieve that.  Also, lack of any real job opportunities made it that much easier to make the needed leap for such a grand move.  It also helps that my boyfriend is always down for a little adventure as well – so here we are – at the turning point I have been working towards for over a year-and-a-half.  I am going to be joined in my new life adventure with my boyfriend, Daniel, our two dogs, Brady and Leila, and our cat, Briley; along with our friend, Sara.  Now, we moving ourselves, our lives, and our animals to Latin America in search of new beginnings.  I hope you will decide to follow along as I embark on this new journey in the great game we call life.

♥ Alexandra Cathlin

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