Not In Kansas Anymore

Photo credit: Here’s Kate via / CC BY-NC-SA

(Repost – 2017)

It’s always a rude awakening when I return to the real world after spending time in the islands or any place that is blessed with bright sun and gorgeous weather almost every day.

In hotter climates, I find the local people to be friendlier, more personable and laid-back than in my neck of the woods. Maybe it’s because they know that they are living in paradise.

It’s normal to pass a stranger on the street who smiles and says good morning or hello. It’s also not out of the ordinary for someone to strike up a conversation with you on the street, city bus, or the beach. It’s just part of what they seem to do.

So it’s like splashing cold water in my face when I get back home, step into an elevator, say hello (after getting into that habit while I was away) and get silence – the kind of silence that is accompanied by an awkward look that makes me think that I’ve suddenly grown a third eye.

And that’s when I remember that I’m not in Kansas anymore.

To me, the hotter the weather, the friendlier the people…

That’s my perspective but maybe I’m biased.

What do you think about my theory about hot weather people being friendlier people?

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.




Travel Kudos #travel #traveltuesday #aircanada @aircanada

I consider myself to be a seasoned traveler.

But earlier this month, it was the first time that I had a flight cancelled on me.

A flight cancellation that happened after midnight…

After 4 (or was it 5?) delays that same evening…

While the empty plane sat “crew-less” and mocking us at the gate for the entire time.

It also didn’t help that I had my two exhausted 80-something year old folks with me and if you have eldercare responsibilities, you know the challenges involved.

To be honest, I am still p*ssed about the situation but like I said in this post, I will give the airline an opportunity to respond to my complaint before I share all the details with you.

But in the meantime, I’m looking to balance that negative travel experience with a few positive ones over the next #TravelTuesdays.


You know, we are often quick to make a complaint (I fall into that category) when we encounter bad customer service. But how often do we take the time to give kudos for great service?

Well, that’s what I’m doing today.

Long story short, the American Airlines agents did not provide the correct protocol to follow after they re-booked us with Air Canada so naturally, when we presented ourselves at the AC gate to get boarding passes, it was like a never-ending comedy of errors.

But let me tell you…

The two agents at the Air Canada gate did EVERYTHING they could to get us on that already overbooked flight.

My panicked face (thinking that we would miss an important medical appointment that Monday) might have influenced those agents, but the fact remains that those AC agents didn’t have to help us at all. They could easily have said “Sorry, we can’t help you” and left us to fend for ourselves like you-know-who did.

Their attitudes were awesome and not only did they lighten the mood with funny banter with me and between each other, even with a huge line of passengers to board, one of them took the time to explain the “proper” protocol to follow if I ever encountered a cancelled flight in the future.

We were the very last ones to board, they held the flight to properly place us on the passenger manifest and seated us in First Class when they could easily have bumped up a “priority” passenger to First Class instead of us.

No one forced those AC agents to go the extra mile but they did and that is indeed what great customer service is all about. And I know because I’ve had my share of face-to-face customer service positions in my past.

I had really thought that great customer service had gone the way of the dodo bird but they restored my faith in efficiency, kindness and wanting to do their best. Their kindness resonated with me so much that I made a mental note of their names from their name tags and a few days ago, I sent a very detailed message to Air Canada about how pleasant and professional they were to us.

Air Canada has already promised that our “thank you” would be sent to their “Commendations” division and I hope that they do get our message.

Giving kudos where kudos are due can only be a good thing, don’t you think?

What great customer service have you experienced during your travels?

M xoxo

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews



“Just The Two Of Us” #travel #fiction #anecdote

*inspired by a true event

Still Just The Two of Them In 2017 ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

“It’s just the two of us left in this entire world now,” Jeanne** told me about thirty seconds after introducing herself and her sister Cassie** to me on the beach. “And we are going to enjoy this trip like it’s our last one together.”

I quickly realized that her words were more literal than figurative…

It was still quite early in the morning but these sisters had already gone all out and splurged by renting chairs, an umbrella, and little table for the day. The older sister’s name was Jeanne and her younger sister was Cassie, both in their fifties. We had crossed paths countless times, smiling and saying “Another beautiful day” to each other on the beach, at the pool and in the lobby. Jeanne and Cassie were always cheerful and pumped up for another day in the beautiful sun.

Jeanne stood out from the other beach regulars because of the beautiful head scarves she wore. Today’s head scarf was sky blue with silver edging. From the fragile wisps of her hair escaping from underneath it, it was obvious that though an illness had managed to steal her hair, it had not robbed her of bubbly and friendly spirit. Cassie had the same energy but spirit was dulled by a hint of sadness.

“You know, I was just telling Cassie that the next time we saw you, we should introduce ourselves. Why waste time just saying hello when we can get to know each other? Life is just too short to waste, don’t you agree?”

I definitely agreed.

And we spent the next few hours chatting under their umbrella. 

**names changed of course

2018 update : This was written in 2016 and I saw them from a distance last year in 2017. I didn’t bump into these lovely ladies during my most recent trip so I am hoping that it is still just the two of them.

“Looking Up” video©2016 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Photos, video and content ©2017-2018 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.








More Power To You… #travelhack #traveltuesday #travel

I am now officially an Instagram filter junkie!

So yeah…

As you already know, my recent vacation ended on a sour note due to American Airlines.

But while I wait for the AA response to my complaint and request for reimbursement of my out-of-pocket costs expenses and inconveniences suffered, I’ve decided to bring back my #TravelTuesdays for the summer.

I consider myself to be a seasoned traveler but I did learn some new travel lessons which I will be sharing with my email subscribers in my next newsletter.

In the meantime, I will be re-sharing travel hacks that I regularly use and have already posted on this blog so if you enjoy my travel tips, you may want to think about signing up for my newsletter.

Making lemonade out of lemons and all that jazz…

Here we go!

My Favorite Travel Hack #1 – The Power of the Power Bar

Even though it was almost midnight, I still leveraged my power bar!

My AA flight was delayed by five hours before being cancelled at midnight so it’s not like I had to scrounge around for an available charging station – there were plenty to choose from.

But I still used the power bar that I always pack in my carry-on.

It allows me to keep and eye on ALL my devices in one spot AND charge EVERYTHING at the same time. I can charge six devices with access to just one plug – travel cell, regular cell, laptop, tablet, camera, MP3…

You know that frustrated feeling when all charging stations are full?

Avoid the feeling. Do yourself a favor and simplify your life by packing a power strip in your carry-on luggage.

You will thank me later.

This is my favorite travel hack and I always laugh when a stranger comes up to me and says, “Wow! I’m going to do that too!”

Image and content ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Ending On A Sour Travel Note…. #travel #americanairlines @AmericanAir #AAL4742

I am now officially an Instagram filter junkie!

(Update: A reader suggested that I re-post with the flight number in the title and I did – the reason why you may see this twice in your timelines. I’m quickly learning a lot about how the airlines systems work that will definitely benefit me (and you) in the future. Stay tuned.)

So I’m back from a wonderful vacation on a slightly sour note.

Well, that’s not true – it was like a majorly sour note.

Okay, okay – it was more like a bitter note. And if we are on each other’s FB, Twitter and Instagrams, you saw what my recent mood was/is.

Bitter enough for me to sit and fume while at the American Airlines gate at the Philadelphia International Airport and waste the last of my USA gigabytes venting on my social media accounts about their lack of handling a situation that still makes no sense.

Frustrated enough to spend hours corresponding back and forth via DM with one of their American Airlines Twitter representatives feeding me generic public relations spiel, all the while knowing that I was making myself even more frustrated by their responses.

Angry enough to know that I will be making a formal complaint before the week is out to American

I may be bitter, frustrated and angry but I will give American Airlines an opportunity to resolve the situation as they should and must before I give you all of the details and the outcome.

This was not any kind of racist incident (we have all seen and heard about those).

This situation is about my personal experience with the company and what I see as their lack of transparency and customer service.

On a semi-related note…

For this summer and since I will be on WP a lot less, I had already planned on reviving my #TravelTuesdays with old travel hacks I’ve already shared in the past – everyone loves a good travel hack, right?

But this recent negative travel experience with American Airlines has provided me with some new travel tips/hacks that I will share here and more in my monthly newsletter.

I’m grateful that I am home now, compliments of AIR CANADA and by no less than FIRST CLASS.

Yeah, you heard me right, “First Class”. That will be a story for a future #TravelTuesday.

I know that all airlines have issues but a number of you have already contacted me to tell me that you have had issues with AA.

Have you had issues with American Airlines? If so, I would like to hear about it in the comments – I really would.

Signing off for now…as I wait to find out when my luggage will be delivered to my home,

M xoxo

#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.

#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.