Alligators Overhead Trailer

Monday, March 20, 2017

Embarrassed and Near Death, Not in that Order

Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. Here's one about the time I was sure I was going to die--either of a particularly evil stomach complaint or embarrassment.

Havana grocery shopping.

In Cuba a couple of years ago seven friends and I hired a bus and a guide for a couple of weeks to take us from Havana around the island. One morning I felt lousy, and when we hit a rough and endless road, I went from lousy to miserable. There's nothing like a Cuban backroad to churn your stomach into a slushy volcano. I took over the back seat and stretched out. At least I wouldn't die sitting up. When we did find a small town, there were no restrooms for weary tourists with engorged bladders and, in my case, a Vesuvius stomach. 

Bougainvillea and Moorish Architecture
A Never-Fail Combination

Juni, our guide who had been a professor at the university and became a guide so she could support her family (bless Castro), turned out to be one resourceful and spirited girl. She had the bus driver stop in town, found a house and negotiated with the owner until her eight tourists could use the bathroom. Yay, Juni!

Inside the house the living room was small and pink with a large TV, a couch and tons of doilies. If I didn't get into that bathroom immediately, I was going hurl all over that pink room and those doilies, so I dashed in, and barely noticing that this room was a baby blue, hurled into the porcelain bowl. Problem solved. But not quite. When I pushed the lever, nothing happened. Being mechanically inclined (cue laughter) I removed the doily and miscellaneous objects from the back of the toilet, lifted the lid and discovered. . . this water closet had no water. 

Havana Open Book Market (double entendre fun)

I stuck my head out the door, avoiding the glares from the engorged seven, and yelled, "Juni, I need a bucket of water!" Being a Cubana, she immediately translated that to mean, el baƱo no funciona and came to my rescue. 

Moral of this story: hire a university professor as a tour guide.

Did You Know. . .
The average wage for Cubans was $17/month in 2015. It rose to $25/month in 2016. 

Quote of the Week: “The most poetical thing in the world is not being sick.” 
G.K. Chesterton, author

Monday, March 13, 2017

Oh Shoot! It's the Tunnel Chute & #IWSG News

Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. Here's one about the time I ran the Tunnel Chute.

This is the North Fork on a different rafting adventure. My son's to my right. My husband's down in front and almost under water. Nobody filmed my Tunnel Chute experience. My family said they were glad they missed that trip.

I'd rafted the North and South Fork of the American River, but not the Middle, so when a friend asked if I wanted to go on one of his rafting trips, I jumped at the chance. We'd had a wet year, and the river was boasting a lot of Class V rapids.

I wound up with a group of about five other rafters plus the guide who were all surfers from Santa Cruz. They were also about twenty years younger than I was and were still immortal. I didn't know that until after I stepped into the raft, so common sense had no part in my decision to go along.

When we came to the Tunnel Chute, the river guide made us hike up to the top of the gorge and "study" the rapid. He told us we had to have our paddles in when he called for them, and we had to hit the boulder on the far bank with our raft at an exact spot. If we did it right, we'd bounce back, into the rapid and be on our way down river. If we missed. . .well, let's just say, we didn't want that to happen. A lot of the others on the river that day portaged around the Chute, others capsized and swam. 

They save the Tunnel Chute for the last. It's worth the wait! 

As I stepped into the raft, I eyed the trail, thinking portaging sounded darned good, but I grabbed my paddle, said a prayer to the river god and pushed off. 

I was aft with the guide, so when we hit the rapid, and he yelled paddles in, then flew off the back of the raft, I was the only one who knew the six of us were on our own. I didn't have time to shout, "guide overboard" before our raft "folded" and I flew up and out. The river god must have heard my prayer because before I had a chance to go under water a second time, the water threw me back into my seat, paddle and all.

We shot that rapid and, of course, celebrated our success by jumping into the icy water. Why not. We were already soaked and blue. The guide met us. He swam the rapid faster than we rafted it.  

An interesting fact about the American RiverThe river is known for the 1848 discovery of gold at Coloma which started the California Gold Rush and contributed to the initial large-scale settlement of California by European immigrants. 

Quote of the Week: The danger sensation is exciting. The challenge is to find new dangers. Ayrton Senna, Brazilian Celeb.

Here's a special Announcement from #IWSG!

Not on Goodreads?
The IWSG book club is a good reason to join.
Hope to see you there

Monday, March 6, 2017

I'm Back with March's Featured Follower, Bish Denham

Did you miss me? I missed you, but I loved my break and how it re-energized me. I hiked, even in the rain! I ate extra cake because it was my birthday--I decided to have a birthday month instead of only one day. More cake that way! I learned how to be an administrator for IWSG. Very interesting and fun to do. And I remembered some more stories I want to share with you. 

And now I'm here with my Featured Follower for March, Bish Denham. Yay, Bish! Great to feature you and your books this month. 

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there and visits them regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named them, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Pirates plied the waters and hundred of years of slavery left its indelible mark. It was within this atmosphere of magic and wonder that I grew up. My hope is pass some of that magic and wonder on to my readers."


She has published three magical tales.

A Lizard's Tale: From the moment he hatches, Marvin P. Tinkleberry knows he is destined for greatness. For one, he has a marvelous, well-groomed tail. For another he can puff out his throat pouch in the most spectacular way. Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters. REVIEW

The Bowl and the Stone: It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike. REVIEW

Anansi and Company: How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble. REVIEW

GIVEAWAY: Bish is generously giving one of her books away (digital format). To request your copy of a book of your choice, just leave a request in the comment and a way we can contact you. 

Quote of the Week: "The wonder of imagination is this: It has the power to light its own fire." John L. Mason, author

Next Week: Let Me Tell You a Story returns with Oh Shoot! It's the Tunnel Chute.