#TBT – “War and Pieces” #fiction

This story will make you think twice about the “friends” you trust and with whom you travel…

Gym, Star Princess 2016
Gym, Star Princess 2016©2016 Marquessa Matthews
*inspired by a conversation I overheard while at the gym on a cruise.

“War and Pieces”

Jessie walks up to Melissa who is jogging on the treadmill like her life depends on it.

Jessie: “It’s your turn to stay with Sarah.”

Melissa turns the treadmill down to a slower mode and takes out her earbuds: “No way. I stayed with her vomiting last night and missed hooking up with that cute guy we met at the wine tasting. And I’ve barely gotten a chance to workout since we got onboard – I need to keep training.”

Jessie shakes her head: “Well, I’m not staying with her anymore. I’ve done more than my share and she’s not even my friend! I paid good money for this cruise and I’m not going to spend it babysitting her because she’s seasick.”

Melissa stops the treadmill and jumps off: “I don’t want to be mean because Sarah’s a sweet girl and all but she’s Emily’s friend. Sarah should be her responsibility. Where is Emily anyways?”

Jessie: “When I woke up, she was already gone or maybe she hooked up last night and never came back to the cabin. I didn’t really give it much thought ’cause you know how Emily is.” She suddenly points through the full glass window lining the gym wall. “Speak of the devil, there she is.”

Jessie and Melissa watch Emily walking the deck flirting with a cute young man.

There is a heavy silence until Jessie looks at Melissa: “Uh, isn’t that your guy from the wine tasting?”

The daggers shooting out of Melissa’s eyes are deadly. She says nothing for a minute, stares until Emily and the guy are out of sight through the glass and then says: “This is war.”

Jessie looks scared to open her mouth again but she does: “Is this the first time you’ve traveled with Emily?”

Melissa grabs her towel and dries her forehead: “No, but it will be my last. When I’m through with her, she’ll be in tiny little pieces in the ocean.”

TravelTip: Choose your travel partners wisely.

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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#TravelTuesday: Doing Your Thing On The Beach

I’ve spent a lot of time on Isla Verde Beach and I love it. Beach-goers are just “themselves” and the only important thing is to enjoy yourself.

There are also things that I see there that I’ve never experienced elsewhere and even during my last trip, another hotel guest told me that she had never seen full-out barbecues and pop gazebo tents set up on the beach.

I smiled because I had the very same thought over twenty four years ago when I first fell in love with the island.

If you take a trip down, here are a few things you’ll notice:

  • You might feel self-conscious about the extra pounds you think are spilling out of your bathing suit but believe me, no one is thinking about it because no one cares. If no one even gives a second look at that woman twice your size in the tankini or man in the teeny weeny Speedo that just walked by, you should stop sucking in your gut and relax. The only person judging you is YOU.

  • A variety of different sized speakers playing music on the beach ranging from mini-speakers to jumbo DJ-style playing salsa, reggaeton, Marc Anthony, La India and a little Ricky Martin mixed in for good measure.

  • “Real” barbecues and pop-up gazebos, especially on the weekend. Everyone spends the entire day at the beach with family and simply hang out. Don’t be surprised if the family gathering sitting next you offers you a burger and a Medalla (beer) to join in on their fun.

  • Dancing on the beach, either with others or simply by yourself. As you’ll see in the video above that I took from the 12th floor of the hotel, this “Dancing Man” was enjoying himself and feeling good (I added the music for fun). Tons of people walked by him, no one batted an eye and no one thought he was crazy. Zoom in…he’s got wireless earphones on. And the woman below used to stop and dance at intervals during her morning walks;

  • The smell of cigars.
  • Private hotel beach-parties spilling out onto the beach;

  • The “helado” (ice cream) or “piragua” (shaved ice) man walking up and down the beach yelling out the flavors of “pina, parcha, coco”.

I’m sure that there are plenty more but those are the ones that came to mind.

What do you love most about the beach?

Images, videos and content ©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

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#TravelTuesday: Why I Don’t Prefer All-Inclusives

Photo credit: JoeInSouthernCA via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

I’ve done a handful of all-inclusive vacations in the past and they were awesome.

But given the choice between an all-inclusive and renting a condo, I would likely opt for a condo.

Okay, you now think that I’m crazy but hold on while I tell you why:

  1. my day doesn’t revolve around the all-you-can-eat format. I quickly get tired of seeing food all the time;
  2. there is no single supplement to pay. At an all-inclusive resort, I’m constantly annoyed that I had to pay more or even double than others, which is #freakingunfair;
  3. no one truly knows that I’m traveling solo. I could be a party of one, two or four and that’s “safer” for me. Once at a 5 star resort, a creepy staff guy paid too much attention to me and when I realized that he had easy “swipe card” access to my villa, I promptly demanded to be relocated closer to my friends;
  4. having a kitchenette is awesome. I can do my own thing and still have flexibility to dine out and enjoy local cuisine;
  5. more space. I love that “just like home feeling” than being in one room where I can only walk around the hotel bed;
  6. having a washer dryer makes life easy. I can pack less in my suitcase;
  7. usually no maid service which means that I don’t always need to lock everything up in the security box. And I’m not messy so it makes no difference to me;
  8. I’m forced to explore the area and not lazily (is that a word?) staying within the confines of a resort;
  9. I’m not paying for services I don’t use like the swim up bar, childcare services, spa, golf course, etc. which are basically all hidden into the cost.

What do your prefer? Fancy or not fancy? Condo or all-inclusive? Or just staying at home?

M xoxo

#TravelTuesday: Are You The Ideal Travel Partner?

Cute couple outside The Mission, Santa Barbara (2016) taken by Marquessa Matthews

Cute couple outside The Mission, Santa Barbara (2016) taken by Marquessa Matthews

We need to talk” is a phrase you usually don’t want to hear when you’re in a “love” relationship. But for friends planning on traveling together, it’s a good starting point for a pre-trip discussion.

Travel preparations are stressful so the last thing you want is to be stressed while you are actually on vacation with a (new) travel partner. If you’re not careful, you may end up wishing that you had stayed home and saved your money!

If you’re not comfortable traveling solo, compromise, “give and take” and flexibility are essential parts of the travel equation.

Do yourself a favor, have a candid talk with the person you plan on traveling with to determine your compatibility before booking non-refundable tickets.

Are you:

– messy but they are a neat freak?
– a sun worshipper but they seek shade?
– an adventurer/explorer while they are laid-back and don’t like to do much?
– a superplanner versus their fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants attitude?
– an early bird but they are a night owl?
– an introvert versus their extrovertness?
– a seasoned traveler but they are a newbie?
– the type that wants to be joined at the hip all the type but with an “I’ll do my thing and you do yours sometimes” friend?

It all sounds like a common sense discussion to have but many don’t bother, thinking that all will go smoothly.

Until it doesn’t and they find themselves in a very delicate and T-E-N-S-E situation…

Image and content ©2016 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

#TravelTuesday: Hat Selfies

I love taking photos of others.

But if you try to take a photo of me, the end result will likely be a blurry hand blocking the lens out of habit, the side of my face as I look away or a great shot of me rolling my eyes.

I’m not keen on being in photos so there is no surprise that selfies have never been my thing.

But seeing how we’re in a selfie world, I thought that it was high time that I try a few just for the hell of it.

This is how it went…

Wait, how do you keep your hand steady and click the button at the same time? My arm is already tired.

Oh, the trick to set the timer delay? Okay, a delay of 2 or 5 seconds? Maybe I should ask the teenager next to me here on the beach.

Hmmm, maybe not.

Do people still do those ridiculous duckfaces and if so, are they inappropriate for a woman my age?

Uh…yeah.

How do I not squint with all this sunlight? And wait a minute, I’m facing the wrong way and I can’t even see my own face ’cause it’s so bright…

It took me all of 5 minutes to jump head first off of the selfie train.

But I did get some great shots of my favorite sun hat, like this one. Pretty nice, eh?

Images and content ©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

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He Couldn’t Last More Than 2 Minutes (2016) #TravelTuesday #puertorico

Afternoon heat on the Isla Verde Beach (2016)  Afternoon Heat On The Isla Verde Beach ©2016 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

“I’m telling you, you won’t last for more than 2 minutes. It’s too soon. Why not wait a while?”

I tried to convince him but I knew that he wouldn’t listen.

“I can handle it. I’ll be fine.”

“Suit yourself,” I told him as I flopped down onto the couch and turned on the tv.

I watched him slide the patio door open and step outside with his iced tea. Before the third commercial could air, the patio door slide open again and he was back in the room. I said nothing but I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Okay, you were right…” he said, showing me that all of his ice had instantaneously melted. He headed back to the fridge to pour himself a fresh glass.

Those are the kind of days in San Juan that I call “boricua” hot where it’s as if you are in a sauna and can’t escape. The kind of hot when there is absolutely no air movement and the sand feels like scorching hot coals under your soles. Those are the days when your best bet is to either stay in the ocean, grab lunch  somewhere with great A/C or stay indoors until the sun is less angry.

But I don’t mind.

I prefer it hot and a little angry…

Image and updated content ©2017 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

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Can’t Stop The Feeling #vacation #music

Like I said  in “All I Ask“, I’m answering questions I receive from time to time…this is question #4.

Dr. K.E. Garland, aka Kathy and I have a number of things in common, one of them being the love of vacationing. 

Kathy’s got a great book out, “The Unhappy Wife” that I would encourage you to get a copy of. Filled with many life lessons that also serve as “reminders” for others who have already dealt with similar challenges. The stories are more than read-worthy – they are group discussion-worthy.

Kathy asked me an easy but also hard question: What has been my favorite vacation?

If you follow my blog, you know that I love being anywhere near the ocean, preferably near the beach.

But I can’t say that I’ve had “a” favorite vacation.

I’ve had several “favorite” vacations for very different vacation-feeling-reasons like:

  • the time my cousins and I invited the cruise DJ to dinner with the sole purpose of supplying him with our playlists for the week. We had no shame and the poor guy didn’t stand a chance. We danced, laughed, and shut the cruise disco down each and every night;
  • my first solo vacation where I spent two weeks with a penthouse view of the ocean (a I’ll admit to using a smile), mainly bathing suits in my luggage and with “nothing” on my agenda. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, if I wanted to do it at all. No compromising and no competing interests. The simple pleasure of staying on the beach all day or in bed with the A/C cranked up watching Turner Classic movies and the Food Network because of the 40C degrees + outside…. It may sound boring to you but it was heaven to me;
  • “staycations” that get my “to-do” list handled – repairs, redecorating, trying out new recipes, going to the movies, hanging out at the bookstore or just puttering around in my own space is  “zen”. Again, boring for some but I’ve had some staycations that were more enjoyable than some “away” vacations .

Exotic destination vacations are great but a great vacation is really about the feeling you have inside and your state of mind.

What about you? What do you consider a great vacation?

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

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