I have a lot of pictures of me surfing, but sitting on my board looking out to the ocean is one of my favorite parts. Thanks Alan (alanconda@gmail.com) for capturing this.

I am sitting on the balcony of my new home.  It has been a beautiful, sunny day and the heat continues to linger into the evening.  The parrots signal that the day is cooling, as they caw and roost in the nearby trees.  The tree frogs will be out soon in their symphony.

I am loving the presence of water.  The sound of water flowing through the fountain by the pool reminds me of the ocean, where I spent a great deal of time this weekend.  There is nothing as glorious as jumping on your surfboard and paddling out into the ocean, especially when you have missed its touch for a couple of months.  The water was turquoise and clear.

My trip to Canada was stressful.  There was some fun at beach volleyball and saying hello to good friends.  But I had to “clean up” many things, including my storage locker and unfinished business with friends and family.  At one point, my life-long friend Anita called me on the phone while I was in Ottawa.  Her purpose was to make plans to get together, but what she got was a frustrated, sobbing voice that said, “I don’t want to be here anymore.  I want to go home.”  And so it goes, that Barbados feels more like my home at this time than the place that I was born.

A beautiful part of my trip to Canada was the opportunity to show Ontario to Lorena, my best friend in Barbados.  She flew up for my last week and we toured cottage country, the Niagara region, and Toronto.  I missed her from being away for three months and it was the most perfect girl’s road trip.

Here is what I learned through the eyes of someone who has never been to Canada:

1. It looks American.

Lorena is from South Africa, and we have been living in Barbados; both are heavily influenced by the British.  Canadians (me included) adamantly oppose being compared to Americans.  Yet, compared to the European and Asian cultures, we are more similar in our appearance to our southern neighbors.

2. Niagara Falls is a weird place.

The Horseshoe Falls in Niagara are truly a wonder of the world.  Lorena and I went for the “Journey Behind the Falls” and stood at the observation deck to watch the falls thunder down beside us.  It is a magnificent sight.  The main street of Niagara Falls is a site to be visited, but in a kitsch, little Vegas sort of way.  The juxtaposition between the two is something to see.  We made our way to Niagara-on-the-lake for a wine-tasting stop, which was a special experience with a special friend.

Lorena in front of the Falls at night - this is an actual picture!

Journey Behind the Falls

Wine tasting at Le Simone in Niagara-on-the-Lake - highly recommend the service and the wine

3. The water wasn’t as cold as we anticipated.

We live in Barbados where the water is the temperature of a bath, which I love!  I didn’t anticipate getting in the water at the cottage, but it wasn’t as cold as we thought.  We got out on the SUPs, went for a spin on the tube, and even got up water skiing.  I have always loved being on the water.  My cousin Tara treated us to an afternoon on the boat.  We cruised, went through the hydraulic locks, and saw the Big Chute carry boats over the land from one water entry to the next exit.  The scenery is stunning and never grows old.

Lorena brought home a little COVID souvenir.  Good thing that Barbados does not require PCR tests any longer.  She was fine when we got up early to travel to the airport but had a scratchy throat by the time we landed.  She is feeling good now after only a couple of days.

There have been many horror stories about recent travels.  Our flight was only an hour delayed and we made up some time in the air. [On a side note, the woman beside me was the last one on the plane.  The flight crew of the gate beside our flight allowed her to board the flight to Cancun!  She sat in a seat until a family boarded and pointed out it was assigned to them.]

Lorena and I breezed through immigration on this end and there were no one manning the customs booths.  This eliminated the need for me to explain the brand-new surf skateboard, helmet, and protective gear, the new-in-the-box front door keyless entry, and the multitude of new clothes and shoes that I had packed.  All to the tune of two 50-pound bags, which came out on the baggage carousel shortly after we walked up.  A welcoming back to Barbados.

There is an ebb and flow of energy here on the island, just as there is in the ocean that surrounds us.  Jen and I had dinner overlooking Accra Beach last night.  Yesterday there were waves, during dinner it was clear and calm, today it is covered in seaweed.  We talked about Jen missing her family and returning to the States for a visit in September to “fill her cup”.  I compared this to my yearning to return to the island and the ocean.  Someday I may be like Jen and feel drawn to return to the place I grew up.  For now, home is where the ocean is, in Barbados.

Jen and I at Champers overlooking Accra Beach.