Friend, Amigo, Pengyou, Vriend, Sadiq, Ami, Freund, Vinur, Cara, Amico, Filos…

…over my 61 years, I have been blessed with many Friends.

And many of these friends are asking me where the heck my blog has gone.  Hmmm…See, I was thinking (always dangerous) that maybe I was inundating people with them, so decided to cut back.  However, what I’m hearing is that many of my dear friends like to read em!  So, I’ve got some catching up to do!

Here at Cape San Blas(t) our pack keeps growing!

from left to right (Mikey, Ken, Ruth, Susan, (Trevor is missing) Kim (Claudio is missing), Jann, Nancy, Christine, Phil, Michele, (Leslie is missing), Catharine (Pete is missing) and Megang1

Most of our new friends are snowbirds, however, some are also owners here – but ALL of them are dog people.   Many of our closest friendships have been through our dogs.  Most of you know that is how Mikey and I met…and he didn’t have a dog!

Here is Jan and her lovely family…. Jan is a fellow photographer and an owner here.  Jan blesses us with her wildlife photography, beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

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Here’s Carol and Andy…another very talented photographer and owner!

16129197_10158238754525454_910684649_o… we also have Catharine who wears many hats as a photographer and Professional Dog Trainer.

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and her hubby, Peter – who is a vet and with this pack, very handy!  feb-2-28ok, now your getting why I don’t need to take my camera out every day?

Suz & Trev…our dear friends…Love you both LOOONG time

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And then there’s Ken (who introduced Mikey and I) and Ruth..again dear long time friends

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Christine & Phil whom we met here last year!  Love you both LARGE

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Nancy Jean, we met last year and have visited back and forth from Michigan and Pickering this past year.. beautiful inside and out.16252024_10158255327495454_5423493161732891761_o

Jannie, our little leprechaun “shenanagator” we met last year and again visited back and forth to Michigan.. so thoughtful and giving16463191_10158319184150454_2523451866368014731_o

Kim and Claudio..we met them  here last year, but really got to know them this year.. Love you both

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Our fun Wisconsin friends that brought us some of their amazing CHEESE!

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Leslie..where did you go!?  I didn’t get to say good-bye to you.  So wonderful to have met you and I hope we can keep in touch!

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and here is a random friend that we met just today…

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So…you get the picture (no pun intended) right?  We got a lotta friends.. and they keep growing. If I’ve missed anyone, it’s cuz I haven’t got a good picture of you..so c’mon over and we’ll fix that.

Now to the point of this blog.  Like family, there are many types of friendships..acquaintences, old, new, casual, besties…When it comes to socializing here at the Cape, due to the size of our pack, many times we can’t do it all together.  But that doesn’t mean that we don’t try!

Merriam Webster defines friends as:

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So blessed to call you all my friends.

I’ll leave you with this:-

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Life IS Good……

Mad Dogs & Englishmen…

Although we do have Englishmen…there are definately no mad dogs here!

img_2707-editThe gang is almost complete..just waiting on Claudio –  who is currently playing at a waterpark..(he tests the rides after he builds em..currently testing one of the largest water features in Orlando).  So, if you can’t be retired, this is the next best thing!

As all of you know, it’s THAT day…Inauguration Day.  Don’t forget to turn your clocks back 300 years tonight.  Hard stop.  That’s all I have to say.

Back to The Cape..  It’s been amazingly warm here for January.  Temperatures above normal since we arrived.  Mostly mid to upper 70’s (24-28C ) and we’ll take it!  We have made even more friends..the pack keeps growing.  So, let me introduce them to you.  From left to right on the picture above…Me, Brody, Mikey, Ryder, Nancy, Trevor, Susan, (Tammi is hiding), Mecca, Kim, Jannie, Magical (Clover is snoozing at home)  Christine and Olive, Leslie is standing, Phil, Ken is standing behind him and Jackson is camera shy, River is hiding behind his human, Catherine, Echo also belongs to Catherine, Nancy and Journey and Ruth is standing behind them.

There will be a test.

This, my friends, is a puddle of puppies…how fun is that?  A little sandbar for them to safely play in.  No rip tides and no SHARKS..speak of which…

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Okay, Okay..all you smartypants that shouted from the hills this was photoshopped..you are right (dah).  However, just one day after the below antics of a truly mad Englishman, a siting of a 5 foot shark not 20 feet from shore was sighted.  We all know that we’re walking “Bait” instead of dogs a dusk, as Phil eloquently put it.  But we know the “Jaws” stars come out at that time.  But the sighting was the EXACT same time the NEXT day at the SAME spot just one day after the below antics:-

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Here’s where the “Mad Dog & Englishmen” come into play….blog-pics-21

“What was that that nibbled on my toe”?

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“I’m outta here…screw the man’s best friend thing”!  Run. Tammi. Run!blog-pics-28

Starring the (un) Mad Dogs and True Englishmen!blog-pics-3

Our beautiful Brody.  Thank you for taking us on vacation to the great Cape San Blas(t)!!

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..and then there’s Wine and in this case, Gin O’clock for the humans…Here is Kim muddling a yummy cucmber, lime, mint and gin drink!blog-pics

Fun at the Aplalachicola Oyster Fest.  BEST ever oysters and chowder…oh ya!

blog-pics-13blog-pics-14There’s Mr. Oysterman who scared the poopies out of most of the kids! “Hey little girl, you wants some candy”?  YIKES!

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Today, I will leave you with this….

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Thank you for an amazing 8 years Mr. President.  You will be missed.

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Life is Good………..

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad….

….lizard?  ME!

About a month ago, I had my very first night terror.  If any of you have experienced one, you will understand where it gets it tag line.  I awoke screaming and jumped on my poor hubby, Mikey telling him about the ‘lizards’ that were on my night table.  After Mikey assured me that I was dreaming, I went to the bathroom and then return to bed.  Turned on the nightlight to show him where the lizards were…..I remember all of this.  Mostly I remember how terrifying it was…which brings me to the beginning of this blog…

So, when we got to the condo in Florida, I went through and opened all the drapes and windows to let in the amazing warm air.  I fought with the curtains in the spare room and finally won the battle..I thought.  That was until a big bad LIZARD jumped out of the curtains and onto the sliding door screen.  I started screaming like a fool, calling Mikey who was watching Trevor fish in the backyard….They obviously were not either hearing me or decided not to respond and I stood there, staring at this creature and trying to figure out what to do.  If I left the room and the lizard wasn’t there when I returned, there wasn’t any way that I would have stayed in the condo for fear he would appear at any moment…So, I had a conversation with Mr. Lizard.  “Now, little buddy…I’m going to slowly close the sliding glass door and please, PLEASE don’t jump on me while doing this, or I will seriously have a heart attack.  Don’t worry, I will go and get help and set you free…just don’t jump on me..OKAY?”  I ran downstairs, still shaking and Mikey and Trevor – hero’s that they are, came upstairs and set that critter free….end of story….I hope.  I do still scan the wall and ceilings when going into any room.

On to happier moments…..The Garsides first beach walk!

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How happy is this boy???

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As well as Jackson’s humans!  Ken & Ruthfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-8

…this!

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HIM!  He who introduced me to my wonderful life….first-beach-walk-and-dinner-13

16 years ago, Ken introduced me to my amazing husband.  Here’s how it unfolded..

…Dog walking…..And Mikey didn’t have a dog.

You see, we had a tight knit group of close friends.  We all met dog walking.  Ken & sometimes Ruthie (Maggie) Dave (Neuman), Thom (Shadow), Steve (Duncan), Suz & Trev (Gemma & Tali) Donna (Zoey) and I (Dakota) met every night after work  and every weekend at either Greenwood or Claremont Conseration parks to walk our dogs.  Oh, those were the days.  We had so much fun together.  Singing Christmas Carols in the pitch black dark while walking through Greenwood.  Listening to Ken curse out poor Maggie, as she always took off just before we were finished our walkies. Watching the stars.  Listening to the rushing brooks. Watching the puppies play in all their glory.  Taking pictures.  We are all STILL close friends, although now all our sweet pups are running up there together in what we hope is just as much freedom and fun.  OK..I digress…

One day, Ken said to me “Robz, there is this really, really nice guy at work.  I’d like to introduce you.  You would be perfect together”.  I was a little gun shy, so put Kenny off for a few weeks.  When I received a phone call…from KEN!  Now, Ken is a man of few words (unless he’s trying to recall Maggie) so getting a call from him must not be good.  I brace myself.  “Robz, I’m telling you…you need to meet my friend, Mike, from work.  He’s such a wonderful man and I can see the two of you would hit it off”.  After twenty minutes of Ken convincing me that he wouldn’t be on the market long, I agreed to meet him. But not on a date.  On a dog walk. That way, I could check him out without any stress.  He came, we met and the rest is history.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ken Garside.  I love my life.

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Friends…first-beach-walk-and-dinner-17

first-beach-walk-and-dinner-19Who always know when to draw a line in the sand…and never step over it.

first-beach-walk-and-dinner-21I’ll leave you with this….

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Life Is Good…..

We Made It…..

…despite the weather.

We slept in a bit on the 2nd days drive, and it’s a good thing we did.  As usual, before leaving the hotel we double, triple check the room to ensure that we haven’t left anything; had a great continental breakast and headed out for LaGrange Georgia, our second of three travel days to Cape San Blas(t).

All was great driving through Kentucky and then into Tennessee when I asked Mikey to hand me my sunglasses, as I was driving.  OK, my family and friends know what’s coming next, as I lose my sunglasses everytime I travel.  I have an expensive taste in glasses, so during every day life, I always make a point of knowing where they are at all times.  Dominican, lost my Gucci’s.  Next Dominican trip, I lost my Maui Jim’s.  Last year at The Cape, I lost my Tiffinie’s (which were prescription glasses and our new found friends, Pat & Rick Smith found them!).  Michigan, I lost my prized polarized Ray Ban’s.  And now, I’ve lost my newest designer glasses who’s name I can’t remember..(some guy that charges a lot of money for his name). But there’s good news!  I call the hotel, Country Inn and Suites, Georgetown Kentucky, and they found them!  I can get them on the way back…in TWO MONTHS!  The other good news is that when I stopped at Costco, they had these amazing polarized sunglasses, which I love…and they were only $25.00!  Maybe that’s the way to go.  Like everything at Costco, if you like ’em..pick up a couple!

The drive through the rest of Kentucky and into Tennessee was beautiful and sunny…Then on to Atlanta, Georgia.  All I can say is..Atlanta, we are no longer friends.  We’re breaking up and I never want to see you again.  Highway closures, accidents, detours and even more accidents.  Nope, no more second chances for you.  We’re done.  I’m going to take up with Nashville and i65 from now on.

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Next morning, we both awake early and decide to forego a Cracker Barrel breakfast (really?) to get on the road to our destination..Cape San Blas(t)!

The morning sunrise is beautiful…mist and all.

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Better still, the temperature is warming up!

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And we are (almost) there!  We arrive at the Piggly Wiggly…..

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….and bump into Trevor & Suz and friends we met here last year who are from Ottawa, Claudio and Kim.  So it goes like this…I run into pick up a few things and Mikey stays outside with Brody.  He’s sitting on the bench in front of the store when Trevor sits down beside him…they have a good yuk  and then  run into Kim & Claudio, friends we met at the Cape last year who are from Ottawa.   I come out of Piggly’s and see the gang….Trev tells me Suz still in Piggly’s.  So I go back in and spot her at the fish counter.  I sneak up behind her and give her a hug…she sees it’s me and immediately starts to cry and hug me and tell me how much she has missed me…we’re hugging and Suz crying when I say..”Suz..it’s only been a week since I’ve seen you”…as the nice lady behind the fish counter looks on in disbelief..Canadian’s eh?

WE ARRIVE to our home away from home.  It’s like we’ve never left!  We dump out stuff, change into our shorts and head for the beach with the Lewin’s……and so it begins…..

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Suz doing her happy dance!

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Brody is beyond excited to be back on the beach!first-beach-walk-and-dinner-2

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Lovin life!first-beach-walk-and-dinner-13

It’s contagiousfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-14

The three Amigo’sfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-16

Two newbies! Their first year at The Cape…betcha it won’t be their last!

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Then two pups become three as Kim, Claudio and Mecca join us on the beachfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-19

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Strollin…first-beach-walk-and-dinner-25

Strollin

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At last!….Ruth and Ken arrive and meet for dinner at our place with the Lewin’s…Suz yummy, yummy Chili and some shrimp boil..

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First of many, many wonderful meals together…just missing two more of our buddies, Janny & Nancy…They’ll be here soon!

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What an amazing beginning to creating some wonderful memories!

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I’ll leave you with this…

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Life Is Good…..

Cape San Blas(t)…we’re on our way!

And so it begins…….We’re off to an early and good start…But first, let’s back up here for a moment….

New Years Eve…we’re in bed by 6:30, (that’s PM for all you party animals) watched a bit of the tube willing ourselves to be tired enough to get to sleep early in anticipation of our 3:am alarm. So, we turned off our phones (all of you who so graciously text those expoloding and loud “HAPPY NEW YEAR” fireworks, thank you…we got them this morning. I did hold back in responding..at 3am…), closed our eyes and viola…we fell asleep around 9:00PM. For those that know me, that’s my regular time..ynuk, ynuk.

3:am…up and at ‘em and out the door by 4:10am..now for coffee (you knew there was going to be a story, didn’t you?). We pull into our favourite Timmies and..it’s closed. After all, it is New Years Day and who would be out on the road at 4:am looking for coffee?  Glad you asked..let me tell you. DRUNKS and Snowbirds. As panic sets in, we reluctantly opt for McDonald’s…hence the drunks…lots of them. REALLY drunk. Some passed out and drooling on the tables, some making out with one another forgetting they are in a public place and others failing at making their lips move with sound coming out to place their order. So, back in the car and head to the drive through.  Now, there is a milk carton blocking the way into the drive through lane. As there are cars ahead of us, we simply drive around it (OK, we need a coffee already!) when this little snot nosed, pimple faced employee who looked no more than 40 comes up to our car and starts to shout at us. HELLooooo…you really shouldn’t mess with me at 4:30am when I haven’t had my coffee. So after I politely told him to have a Happy New Year, I proceeded to, as my dear Mother-In-Law (Bless her soul) used to say…”Tell Him His Fortune”. After all, doesn’t he know that I’m (almost) a senior? Where is the respect? I’m not drunk; I just want a coffee!  I ended the diatribe with a civil “Smarten Up”…(not really the choice of words that first came to mind, but after all I am a grown up-sometimes) .  However, they just refused to serve us. Thinking back, it was most likley for the best..as my snot nosed kid sits in that tiny room where they take your money  would most likely have done something nasty to our java. We we’re at the end of a 4 car line up waiting and waiting to order (the very bright OPEN 24 hours sign was blinding) and it just wasn’t going to happen. So, I got out of the truck at which point the kid ran back to his little room with head headphones), moved the milk carton and Mikey backed up. It was decided at that point that we would wait until Cambridge OnRoute and hope to heck the Timmies was open…and it was…..AHHHHHH, all is right with the world. Onward and upward!

The weather is perfect!  The sunrise, beautiful….

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Unfortunately, it looked like Snots the dog from Christmas Vacation was traveling with us.

Crossed the border without incident at 8:15am. Nice border guy drilled us about, amongst other things, Brody’s food. What are the ingredients? Really? Um..it’s Pacifica made by Acana in Canada. Not good enough..”Lady, I don’t care who makes it or where it’s made, I need to know what the ingredients are”!  Okay… “SALMON!  You know those big fishies that swim upstream?  I believe what’s in the bag comes from Vancouver. But they also are found in Pickering….swimming upstream.  Some don’t make it. They die and my dog rolls in them on our hikes”.  At which point, I did see one side of his mouth start to curl into what I hoped was a smile. He really wasn’t being hard to get along with, I think he just thought I was a few cards short of a deck… or a smart @ss.  wink, wink.

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On to the great United States of America! ( I’m holding back all Trump jokes out of respect for my American friends.) The sun is shining. There are no big trucks hogging the lanes. The construction didn’t even bother us in Ohio.  All those out partying the night before are still sleeping…

Did I tell you we have the BEST traveling fur baby?  Well, let me then.  All except his potty rituals…They just don’t happen.  There is that.  First of all, he thinks his harness/seat belt is a punishment.  His sad little droopy eye tugs at my heart.  AND HE WON’T PEE…nope, we stop every two hours and this boy refuses to pee or anything else.  Last year, we were freaked about this..this year, we try and then give in.  When we finally arrive at Country Inn and Suites, he obviously remembers and empties the very large tank….for about 60 seconds.

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We arrived at   Country Inn and Suites around 2:30 in the afternoon.  They are pet friendly and we luck out and get the same room as last year!  Brody is happy.  He remembers.  And so, we are happy… Until I spilled the RED WINE…

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….all over the carpet and night stand.  After about 1/2 an hour, I was able to get the wine out of the carpet and enjoy a glass…or two!

Brody, guarding our room

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Ater Mikey’s quick snooze (I had mine in the car) we headed out to one of our favorite restaurants in the U.S.  Cracker Barrel…Oh my…BEST fried chicken in Kentucky…hmmmm….Kentucky Fried Chicken..no you don’t hold a candle stick to the Crackle Barrel…SO much food we have leftovers for lunch and maybe dinner tomorrow!

Who remembers these???  What was your best?  We got down to 2…

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It’s been a long day…so I’ll leave you with this…

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Life Is Good….

And I Thought The Mid Air Explosion Was Bad……

I’m happy to report that I am home snug as a bug in my own sweet bed and it never felt better.

What was planned as our get-away to paradise for a “rest” vacation turned out nothing even close…Let the drama begin.

We arrived, as per my previous blog, to our favorite vacation spot at Cayo Levantado – Samana – Dominican Republic after the minor “mid air exposion” of my sharpie pen, leaving me with hands of indellible ink.  And to look back and think I should fret about such a minor incident, which completely ruined my salon manicure….(as Kimmy would say…”Sorry about your first world problem, Auntie Robin).  That was Saturday.

SUNDAY – great day at the beach all day. In the ocean – reading on the beach, wonderful meals and topping it off with a cigar on the balcony with a great glass (or two)  of vino.  Who could ask for anything more!?

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Lea, here is your pool…as you can see, it’s still empty and waiting for you!cayo

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MONDAY – wee hours of the morning I was awaken by pain everywhere..in my teeth, my face, my head and a cough from hell.  Really?  Seriously?  And it started to RAIN. Oh ya…and it gets worse.  We feel the salt air from the ocean will make me feel better, so Mikey parks us under a palapa to keep dry as the torrential rains intermittently pass through.  I felt like pooh.

TUESDAY – Just when I think I can’t feel any worse, well, I feel worse..I think my head is going to explode; each breath is work.   We have dinner planned for our favorite a la carte restaurant, Don Pablo’s….We have to leave before desert (I know, right?).

From what I could actaully taste, this asparagus, pumkin (yes, Mikey ate PUMPKIN!) soup was yummy!

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WEDNESDAY – It’s not letting up – the cold or the RAIN!  We were told there was a system coming from the states (we’ll blame that on Trump) that was suppose to pass through, but decided to stay.  Now Steve, before you get all – “I told you it was the rainy season”…we have been to the Dominican at this time of year many, many times.  Never rained like this before! Not that it stopped anyone from doing what they pleased.  It wasn’t a constant rain – but when it did rain…it poured, as the saying goes.  Cancelled our dinner reservation to the new Rodicio restaurant.

THURSDAY – I’ve had enough.  I know now that the cold is not going to run its course on its own.  I had not slept well since Sunday..actually not really at all with the constant coughing.   I make the dreaded call to the island doctor.  Now when our West Jet Tour guy insisted we meet to discuss all the do’s and don’t on the island (and of course, to try and sell you the excursions) the one thing he did say was “Don’t go to the doctor without calling me first.  Last person that went to the doctor paid over $2500 dollars for an ear infection”.  Bad right?  Don’t call the Dr., right?  Call Herman, right?  Mikey calls him – no answer.  No answering machine.  This guy was as useless as a grave robber in a crematorium and a personality of a brick.  So we call the big bad Dr. and she was able to see me right away.  Dr. A. Figuereo-Garcia is a young, bright and sweet physician practising her trade for the past 5 years.  I immediately trust her.  She had that way.  However, after my examination, she is concerned about my blood pressure; “So Robin, you haven’t taken your blood pressure medication today?”…”Oh yes, I did take it about an hour ago.” Fast forward to an awaiting boat to the island then  greeted by Johnny, the parametic.  My ride is a blue and white ambulance.  Apparently a resperatory infection and high blood pressure in an “older” person is quite dangerous…so this is where the adventure begins…

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Did I mention this was the one and only real beautiful, rain free days?  Check out the sky!

With lights flashing at 125kms in a 40kms zone;  dodging dogs, kids and bazillions of motorcycles with Mikey in the front seat of the “bambulance” trying not to allow his terrified screams to escape him.  Now I must interject – I wasn’t dying here, but Mario Andretti apparently had team orders.

We arrived at Las Terrenas at the private clinic and a medical team was waiting..

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Before I go further, I want to say that at no time did I feel that my health was compromised.  The team of doctors and nurses treated me with empathy, respect and kindness….all in SPANISH.  Not a word of English.  Funny isn’t it, when someone doesn’t understand what you say..you say it S-L-O-W-E-R and louder…still sounds the same to me…Spanish!  There was an interpretur there…who could speak a bit of broken English.

After the initial examination and sounds of ewwwwww and oooohhhh when I coughed, I was sent for an x-ray and hooked up to IV to input stuff to make me feel better..YES!

cayo-7We thought this would be a great blog shot for effect!  Sent it to the children at home to get their attention…let’s just say they didn’t think it was a funny as we did.  I am still the guilt master…

At this point, all I wanted to do is breath and SLEEP!  So, just before they released us, they shot something wonderful into that IV of theirs…and I was pretty much in la, la land.  Even sitting in the little house where they gave us 5 different medications and  the $1800 U.S. Hospital bill, didn’t phase me.  Wonderful Johnny & Estephan  waited the approximately 4 hours for us to be released from the clinic to take us back to…paradise.

Then this happened about a half an hour into our return trip….

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A truck carrying sugar cane rolled over and blocked the road.  It was a free for all!  People running to grab the 50 pound bags of sugar cane over their shoulders onto their motorcycles…some even had two bags!   (pictures compliments of Johnny!)

After our caring paramedics checked out the scene to make sure there was nobody in need of medical attention, we turned around, backtracked and took a different route back home.  Me…I didn’t care…still in la, la land..except when I coughed..which was often.  I ran out of water so Johnny instructs Estephan to stop the ambulance and he runs and buys me more water.  I love this guy!  Johnny  looks to be in mid twenties, and does his job very well.   I find out that he is also part of the Red Cross and helped during the hurricane crisis.  Johnny tells me they work 24 hours a day for 20 straight days, then 10 days off.  Our 45 minute trip home has now taken us through the coast.  The parademedics then turn into tour guides, as you can tell they are so very proud of their country.  I’m pretty much out of it, so they ask Mikey if he would like to stop and take pictures of some of the amazing sites…. Our 45 minute ride turned into over 2 hours due to the detour!

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Our tour guides – slash Paramedics.  Two amazing men – BRAVO and thank you to you both!

FRIDAY – Did I mention the rain?  It did stop here and there…

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I was starting to feel a little bit human.  Mikey talked me into going for breakfast….cayo-11

We were able to keep our reservation ‘do over’ at Don Pablos that evening and so glad we did.  We had an amazing feast..most I’d eaten in days…which leads into our final …adventure…

Sill looking a little under the weather..

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Amazing dinner!cayo-19

Although I had to sleep sitting up, I did sleep most of the night.  YAY..it’s time to go home!!!!    I can’t wait to get home, even though I’m going to be THAT person on the plane; the hacking, snot nosed, sneezing person.. Then it happens….The explosive diarrhea….I can only pray that the 45 minute bus ride to the airport, without an on board toilet is not going to go sideways…Holy shit…literally and figuratively, I need to catch a break…

I have white pants on.

P.S.  I wasn’t the only snot nose, sneezing, hacking person on the plane….I gave it to MIKEY….

Let me leave you with this…although our vacation was nothing like we’d planned, I take away a different understanding of this third world country.  Where the medical staff use an iphone’s flashlight to look down your throat and the only time they use gloves is for a turniquette, this country houses the most kind, real people I’ve met in the world.  Hats off to you …. and thank you.

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Life is Good……