Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Surrender to Possibilities

 As the year unfolds, seconds, minutes, hours,days,weeks,months, years and into the continuum of eternity, I will surrender to possibilities.

Respond to the call of the open road that challenges my sense of belonging and expand my being at one with the expanse of the heavens, the wonders of the stars, and the embrace of the universe.

Relish the next stop with family, friends and strangers alike where we delve into the luxuries of friendships, the benefits of simple connections, the comforts of intimacy, mind to mind, soul to soul.

 Bask in the power of sharing in experiences as sublime as a spiritual reunion, a congregation of souls, workers for peace, dedicated beings engaged in uplifting humanity, heart to heart, hand in hand.

Ride along the path of service,
sharing my gifts with the world, learn to do my best and give my all 
 Take no offence to drunkards who call out names or shout insults, nor accept ignorance as an affront. Dedicate my prayers to the removal of any and all afflictions that prevent us to experience true love,  joy and happiness.

As each day come to a close, I will contemplate the blessings of being alive, toast to the gratefulness of a wonderful life, and look forward to the possibilities of another day.

May the light in each of us shine resplendent

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Believe in Humanity

A Canadian, Cameroonian and a Romanian are in an ice cream shop... sounds like a bar joke that takes place in an ice cream shop. However small nor casual such encounter might be, it has a profound implications in the direction the world is moving and what is fast becoming the  normal (people of diverse backgrounds interacting and settling in countries not their country of birth).

Whatever the circumstances, historical forces, or personal motivations that made us three individuals find ourselves in the beautiful island of Key West-FL, having a friendly conversation, says a lot about humanity.

Steve left Vancouver Island-Canada and has been traveling for eight months now . We met in Boston-Massachusetts at a Birth of Baha’u’llah celebration (special holy day for Bahais ).

He arrived in Key West Wednesday afternoon and in the evening we met for a walk  around Mallory Square to check out some of the performers for sunset celebration with no spectacular sunset, boardwalk on sunset key, and before making the walk up Duval to the beach we stopped for some delicious ice cream, and that is where we met the lovely young lady from Romania. In no time we stroke a conversation about the weather, life in paradise (Key West), to lives of travelers and immigrants.

We were at  awe appreciating the fact that the three of us from such far corners of the earth find ourselves in Key West enjoying conversation and ice cream. Not only did we represent diverse backgrounds in terms of countries but representing three continents as well; Africa, the Americas and Europe.

It was a sweater or light jacket wearing evening, cold by Key West standards, clouds covered  50 degrees weather with a light breeze, but the Canadian was loving it.

At the beach watching the lights of boats far off  from the Atlantic shores, Steve shared some stories about his travels and adventures of the past eight months, his renewed belief in humanity and an ever increasing faith in God.

We contemplated on this irony travelers and nomads encounter: people of various backgrounds, occupations, class, religion and upbringing who time and time again go beyond the call of duty to welcome, care for and love complete strangers are the same ones who when saying goodbye warn you by saying “be careful out there, its dangerous”

We  made it to Grateful guitar for a Wednesday  Bluegrass jam session.
It was such a wonderful jam session, and by the end of it Steve made new friends, an engaged young couple from Kansas.

I rode the bike home happy and content with the beat of the bluegrass song Gold rush.

Another lovely time for this 21st century nomad in Paradise.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Here Comes 2014

All over the world people celebrate in various fashions to usher in the new Gregorian year, whether it's plunging into frigid waters, praying at temples, watching spectacular fireworks, or a beach party of unequaled proportions. There are symbolic countdown drops that accompany such celebrations across many cities in the United States, there is the famous ball drop in New York City, fleur-de-lis in New Orleans and the peach drop in Atlanta-GA.

In Key West-FL it is  done by watching the red shoe drop or the conch shell drop. Inaugurated this year to be an annual drop is the giant cigar drop at El Meson de Pepe, and that is where I went to dance my way into 2014.

It was around 7 pm when I did walk on Duval and it was already teeming with people, drinking, loud, and with the help of live music waiting for the countdown drop whether its the red shoe drop at Bourbon Street Pub or conch shell drop at Sloppy Joes.

Went home for rest, caught up on some TV series and waited till 11 pm to make my way to El Meson de Pepe where I knew there would be Latin music from Salsa to Bachata, and it was going to be quiet according to Key West partying standards. I took the back streets to avoid the chaos on Duval. When  I arrived the musicians were playing hard, the people were dancing and having a good time. I met a friend whom we became acquainted at Virgilios’ Thursday Latin music night.  She introduced me to her daughter and his boyfriend and a few of her friends.

We wasted no time to get into the groove, we danced until it was 11:59 pm, the lead singer of the band led the countdown and when it struck midnight the giant cigar dropped, everyone shouted as loud as they could Happy New Year!!!! hugging, taking photos and dancing.

Stayed with the group until 2 am when I decided to venture into Duval again. This time the streets was less crowded, but littered with confetti, plastic cups and broken bottles. A heavy police presence patrolling the streets, random people coming over giving me high-five saying Happy New Year, others would give a nod or a shout out from across the street.

Walked into Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville where a rock band was playing. Stood and listened to them. A young man who was totally wasted, was  arms length slowly staggering up and down the dance floor. When the band was done for the morning, I went into the street taking photos of the party aftermath and looking for a place I could eat, hungry from all that dancing. Luckily there was a pizza place open. Got two slices of pizza to go, made it home, where I sat down staring at my computer and eating pizza.

Here comes 2014 for this 21st century nomad.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sing Not the Blues

Two nights before Christmas,  she struts onto the dance floor swaying and waving. Her right arm and thighs covered in tattoos, a lone dancer under the mood lights. She motions to the three piece band she wants to sing with them. The band finishes the Blues song they were playing.
The lead guitarist asks, “What song?”
She replies, “Obviously not a Blues song, but I need lyrics in front of me”
and blurts out a swear word for not remembering the lyrics to any song she wants to sing.

The band strikes a few chords and use her swear words as the lyrics. She tries to hide her smile of embarrassment, but then she reaches into her pause, pulls out a smartphone and frantically searches for a song. The bartender promises her a shot if she goes on stage and sings.
Satisfied with what she finds on her phone, she waves to the band,
“Am ready”
“Where is my shot” she asks the bartender.
“After you sing, my dear” he responds.
The guitar player chimes in “Already a diva I see!”
She smiles, walks on stage, tells the musicians which song and what key she plans to sing in. She asks the musicians to cue her in. The guitar player hands her a microphone.

Right on cue as the musicians get into the groove she starts to sing a Country song looking at the lyrics on her phone, interjecting swear words whenever she forgets to sing the right lyrics as she sings along. She’s got a beautiful voice.
She sings her lungs out, with every ounce of her body giving itself away.

With a dramatic flair the song ends, she bows to the band, hands over the microphone and heads to the bar.
The guitar player says
“That was great, what’s your name?”
She adjusts her wavy blonde hair and replies “Nicole”
“Good job Nicole” the bass player applauds her.

The bartender hands her a glass of an alcoholic beverage, she raises her glass,
She gulps it in one go, hands over the glass to the bartender, pulls out a cigarette, tries to light it with a candle lighter. With three more tries, a gentleman and the bartender extend a hand to help, she refuses and gives it another go, she gets it this time, she inhales and puffs, looks towards the band and asks
“You ready for another one?”
“One song, and she wants to hit the road?” the guitar player teases her
Ha-ha, that’s how it is” says the bass player
“Oh well...” she puffs again, exits the bar with a few cha-cha-cha steps through the entrance where a huge black and white photo painting of Marilyn Monroe welcomes you in all her seductive glory.

Outside, the moon is bright, the temperature pleasant and the night still young for the many party-spirited individuals who congregate at this island known as  Paradise.

So goes another night of live  music hunting for this 21st Century nomad.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Beautiful Feeling

Its been a while since I truly danced and my soul was aching for it.  I got that opportunity last night. 
Hanging out with some friends who are visiting Key West, we had a  delicious dinner at Turtle Kraals restaurant where I enjoyed a mouth-festive Arepas-Toasted Pistachio & Raisin Chicken Salad plus sweet potato fries I've been craving for months.

It reminded me of the time I went to Blue Heaven restaurant (courtesy of Fareed)  for a most magnificent taste buds exploration, where I had Caribbean BBQ shrimp to die for and  Baby Greens Salad that would awaken sensations in your mouth you thought you never had. 

 To help out with digestion and Island enjoyment, the couple and I decided to bike around town and check out a few music venues. 

First stop was Virgilio's where we found out about Latin music night that begins at 10 pm. It was early and we had time to spare, so we strolled into Little Room Jazz Club (the same venue I played with a Haitian fusion jazz band  last Tuesday)  for some live music and board games. The musicians played hit songs from various decades,  sprinkled in some classic Christmas music, it's that season.

It was time to go back to Virgilio's for dancing. When we arrived the band was already in full mode, dancers grooving to the lively music. Shy as we may, we made it to the dance floor and danced to some Salsa and Meringue before my friends had to call it a night. Being the night owl I am, I stayed and danced the night away in full steam with the other dancers , bar hoppers, and lovers of Latin music. 

 Through chitchat with a few friendly faces, I was made aware of some of the regulars and their nationalities, for at Virgilio's every Thursday is Latin night; a place where Mexicans, South Americans, Africans, Spaniards, and Eastern Europeans are on the dance floor moving to the beat of the music with deep African roots. I danced till my hearts content which at that point was 2 am. 

I rode my bike home through the quiet streets of Key West, with the breeze from the Gulf wafting over me. When I got home and got ready for bed, a beautiful feeling came over me, a certain joy beyond words.

"Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body"
-Martha Graham 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Bridge over calm waters

Bridge over calm waters

The waters were calm, the day as bright as any other day in the Keys, sunshine and temperatures of about 80∘F, blue skies and a steady breeze. A day to be outside to enjoy the beauty of Island life, a day for a drive far from the hustle and bustle of Key West (if there is such a thing), a day to walk over calm waters literally, not a Jesus-walking-over-water kind of display, but walking over waters on an iconic  bridge.

Of the over  1700 Islands that make up the Florida Keys, about 43 are connected by 42 bridges, and of those 42 bridges none is as iconic as the seven mile bridge. Through the influence, vision and work of Henry Flagler and his cohorts the old bridge was completed in 1912 as part of his famous railway to Key West.

Apparently hurricanes are not fond of having bridges along their path in open waters; the railroad bridge sustained extensive damage in 1935 thanks to Labor Day Hurricane (one of the worst hurricanes in this part of the world), it was reconditioned into an automobile bridge, and  in 1960  Hurricane Donna decided to  give the bridge a severe beating. A new bridge had to be built.

The new seven mile bridge opened in 1982 and who cares if its 0.21 miles shorter, we’ll still call it the 7 mile bridge. The two bridges stand side by side as testaments to human engineering on “the highway that goes to sea”.  The old (famously known as “Old 7”) and the new.  The new bridge for automobiles to drive as fast as speed limits allow for those in a hurry to go party down in Key West, the old bridge for those who like exercising, romantic walks, history and making touristic claims such as: I've watched the sunset on both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico at the same time on a bridge over open waters, click it, I might tag you on a photo.

To prepare ourselves for the walk on the 2.2 miles on “Old 7” to Pigeon Key from Knights Key (Marathon,FL) open to pedestrians, my friend  Carl treated me to lunch at Sunset Grille where I stuffed down a Cuban sandwich as big as my head. We ate our lunch to the music selection of a DJ that gave more of a South Beach vibe than being in the Keys, and a guy dancing who was either well-paid to promote dance-by-the-beach-life or he was on ecstasy. Anyways people at the restaurant were absorbed mostly by football games on TV, alcohol and food to care much for the dancing guy, but boy was he having the fun of his life.

It was an invigorating walk, the cool breeze, the sun over the waters like a flashlight through a crystal bowl, Carl and I made the walk to Pigeon Key and back. We got a glimpse of the Island which is a museum in itself. Drove home and took a short swim in a heated pool.

So it was, another day in Paradise for this 21st century nomad.

PS: I hear there are some folks trying to save “Old 7”

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Bike into Sunset

Have been basking in the sunshine of this tropical island famously known as “Paradise”
close to two weeks now with temperatures just a little over 60०F. This island that has captured the interests of pirates, presidents, famous writers, immigrants, artists, water sports enthusiasts and lovers of laid-back life. Its been a place of eccentric showmanship, a haven for the free spirited, it swoons the spirit of nightlife junkets and woos the hearts for romantic getaways, a destination for creating and celebrating significant events.

Have been here a number of times and spent many a days amazed by life in this beautiful island; the easy going pace (even though some locals complain its becoming too busy for their liking, still its not the hustle and bustle of Miami nor New York),  the friendly nature of locals and the cordial smiles of strangers alike.

I rode into town for sunset celebration so common in this island (there is a daily celebration of the sunset at Mallory Square with plenty of entertainment). I leisurely rode my  bike into town via Roosevelt boulevard where the ocean breeze from the Atlantic wafted over me, my mind and body taken-in by the sights and sounds: boats going into sea for fishing excursions, people on the boardwalk conversing, runners and joggers, sexy roller skaters,  tourists lounging on beach chairs drinking beer, others conversing and fishing, families taking photos, friends playing games on the white beach sands, a mother and toddler in matching red dresses taking photos and videos documenting moments into memories.  

At the pace of the ride, I knew it will be too late to catch the sunset at Mallory Square, I opted to watch the sunset on the Atlantic side at Smathers Beach. With the bike secured, I took off my shoes, walked on the sandy shores and sat on a rock and observed the movement of the clouds far off into the horizon as the evening sunlight gives way to dusk. A mother was silently meditating by the shore, a father taking as many photos of the sunset as he could, a child playing in the sand. I placed my shoes and pretended to be a photographer on an assignment to take a photo that depicts “travel”. I placed my shoes on various rocks and used my cell phone taking photos from different angles with the sunset and the ocean as backdrop.

Following the example of the meditating mother, I sat quietly and offered a few prayers, and then walked back to the bike, not before trying to take those classic Island-life pictures: coconut trees at sunset, boats and canoes lying by the beach on white sand, boardwalk with street lamps,  a colorful sky backdrop, bikers and joggers, a family playing on the sands.

Satisfied of having taking in the sunset, I increased my riding pace so as to catch the end of the celebration at Mallory Square. Rode by Hemingway's house, took a photo of the side placard and then made it to the square. There I witnessed a lady who had come down to celebrate her 50th birthday with her girlfriends join one of the entertainers as backup vocals, they sang that classic  “Banana Boat song” made popular by Harry Belafonte. She is from Louisiana, after thank you hugs to the entertainer and photos, they stroke a conversation with a couple from Australia who are on a cruise.

I walked to El Meson de Pepe restaurant to enjoy the band that was playing Latin music, danced to a few songs of Salsa and Meringue, rode my bike along Duval (the most famous street in Key West) it was becoming crowded, made my way home where I had a delicious meal with the family am staying with.

So marks another beautiful day in paradise for this 21st century nomad.