Travel | Islandlife in Sweet Tobago

A trip to Trinidad isn’t complete without paying a visit to its sister isle Tobago. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a scenic stay in Pembroke in the countryside. Although it was about 20 minutes drive away from Crown Point, the hub of Tobago’s nightlife I really got the opportunity to appreciate the islands greenery and sea views. The drive between Crown Point and Pembroke runs along the island’s coastline which conveniently allowed me to capture some amazing landscape memories of this trip.

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It may seem like I didn’t do much, however my two-day stay in Pembroke was still quite satisfying and enjoyable, not only because I enjoyed taking beautiful landscape photos, but I also appreciated immersing myself into Tobago’s country life giving me a rare opportunity to unplug and detach myself from my hectic life.

I have to say though, the best part of my island getaway was my trip to the calm and relaxing waters at Store Bay in Crown Point.

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20180409_104625The convenient and probably the best thing about Store Bay is that it is just a stone throw away from Crown Point’s nightlife. The ANR Airport, the bars, lounges, nightclubs and multiple resorts are all within a few minutes of each other surrounding Store Bay. In Crown Point you can surely have it all, there’s the serenity of Store Bay complimented by the pizzaz of the nightlife.

DSC_0752One thing you’d find most interesting about Tobago is that the locals are so warm and welcoming. Dawn Cape, owner of Sips WIne & Cocktail Bar was the perfect host and so willing to pose for all my photos that I just had to feature him in this blog. 

sips barLast but certainly not least, another highlight from my visit to Tobago was the food. Long before I had even arrived in Trinidad, I had been fantasizing about eating Tobago’s infamous crab and dumpling. crab dumpling1.jpgCooking is a social tradition that the family I stayed with enjoys doing outdoors in their backyard. The Sunday norm is to invite friends over and together they’ll cook up a storm over drinks, laughter and good conversation. 

All in all I genuinely enjoyed living the country girl, island life for a couple days. It was stimulating and refreshing, I would definitely recommend taking a visit to Trinidad and Tobago. Hopefully, I’d be able to enjoy another Caribbean getaway this summer, so look forward to more travel and adventure blogs from me here on hellomirabelle.com 

 

Travel | When Your AirBnB Sucks!

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Traveling to the Dominican Republic had been long over due. On the agenda since 2015, on November 18 I was finally making my way to Santo Domingo. Just a disclaimer though, the above picture is just for visual appeal, because my real air bnb sucked! 

I admit, I absolutely love the idea of the AirBnb app, its innovative, easy to use and offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves directly into the local lifestyle and culture. Nothing against the big chain hotels and resorts, but when I travel, I want a genuine experience and not all the over priced bells and whistles that mask your destination’s reality and beautiful grittiness.

While preparing to arrange a reservation to Santo Domingo for 9 nights and 10 days, I probably spent three weeks filtering through rooms looking for decent, clean accommodation at affordable rates. Keeping in mind that I was traveling out of the country for my surgical appointment with one of the best breast reduction surgeons in the region, Dr. Mallol, I had to adhere to my planned budget for accommodation which was around $22 – $30 bucks a night. I eventually, decided to book a quaint little one-bedroom apartment for my mom and I to share which cost us $220USD for our entire stay in Santo Domingo. Judging by the pictures, it wasn’t anything fancy, just decent and comfortable enough for my stay. Once I have a clean comfortable bed, air condition and wifi, I’ll be satisfied. 

Prior to leaving New York, our host and I exchanged conversations about her apartment, and the purpose of my visit. Having been informed about the reason for my trip to Santo Domingo she became concerned about my dirtying her sheets and towels. Apparently, according to her, she had had a bad experience with a guest who stayed in the apartment who also had surgery. Understanding her concerns I promised in advance to be very careful not to damage any of her property. 

After my tediously draining 4-hour flight, I was finally on my way to my Airbnb, I had never been so excited to just crash into bed and sleep. Our host was very polite and she spoke English really well too. Opening the door to the apartment she began mentioning–as if she had only just remembered, “Oh, we are in a electricity controlled district. The power shuts off every day for a couple hours.” I wasn’t too bothered, although it didn’t concern me until it actually happened. 

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The next morning at about 10am the power shut off, and with that we had no air condition, no wifi, no sanity! The room became so humid and clustered that my mom sat out on the porch until the power came back on. My second day in the country and I’m getting the true experience of life in the Dominican Republic. I just wished she had mentioned this in her AirBnB ad. It’s ironic how one problem brought light to all the things that was wrong in the apartment. 

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Apart from the daily power loss, our host also chose not to provide sheets or towels. How in the world can you host a guest at your home and not give them sheets or towels? We also didn’t have hot water in the shower, and this wasn’t due to the power loss, the hot water didn’t work period! I know I said that I liked experiencing my trips in all it’s authenticity, but this was a little to real for me! At least she was courteous enough to have the maintenance come to try to fix the water heater. 

crocAnd I say ‘try’ because yet still on the fourth day of our stay we still didn’t have hot water. Imagine being hot and sticky with no air condition while also being to scared to take a shower in the icy cold water. We ended up having to boil pans of water to bathe which my mother hated greatly. 

When the going gets tough the tough gets going! On the fifth day yet another problem came up, the wifi stopped working. Our trip was beginning to suck, suck really bad! I was extremely disappointed. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but I was beginning to like our host lesser and lesser with each passing day.

Not sure if this was just a way for her to make a quick buck, but the business of hospitality management isn’t for everyone. Taking on the responsibility of being a host to foreign visitors should be taken seriously, after all I did pay cold, hard cash. Had I just been staying there for free I wouldn’t complain. Shouldn’t there be certain standards that these hosts adhere to? I totally understand being in an electricity controlled district, it’s really not her fault, however hosts need to be held accountable for their integrity and honesty on their AirBnB ads. She could have inserted a disclaimer explaining the  true conditions of her apartment. I get it, it would probably affect potential guests interests, but you can’t advertise bread and cheese sandwiches and only serve bread! 

It all became a little too overwhelming, I had to check out of her sham of a lodging earlier than planned if I wanted to maintain my sanity. I contacted AirBnB for a refund for the balance of my reservation. I did appreciate though that our host wasn’t resistant and aggressive about our decision to leave. 

dreams-la-romana-resort-and-spa-23152457-1505313478-ImageGalleryLightboxLargeI definitely still stand by what I say, I always hope to have an authentic experience when I travel but I also like to know in advance what I’m getting myself into. So I guess when your AirBnb sucks you may find yourself having to upgrade to the fancy shmancy perks that I claim to not prefer, yet I will admit that perks aren’t so bad after all. Room service, breakfast buffet, housekeeping with clean fresh sheets and towels–I think I could get used to luxury traveling. Although, the last minute change of plans did put a major dent in my budget. Four nights and five days at the W&P Hotel cost us about $490USD, but when you consider all the carefree benefits, its a cost that’s worth affording. Bare in mind, I did say worth ‘affording’, because why stretch your budget if you’re going to go back home broke? 

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Who knows, maybe on my next adventure I will spring for the bells and whistles in advance. I really love traveling and I hope it’s something I could incorporate into my life at least once a year. Next destination on my bucket list is Costa Rica! 

The Daily Post | Priceless

Have you ever stopped to think about what you really value most in life? Not what has the most value, but the uncountable treasures that you wouldn’t trade for the world. Your education? Your family? Your children’s happiness? Your spirituality? There are so many things that come immediately to mind when thinking of priceless treasures, but after crawling out of the pits of depression, experience protests that peace of mind holds the most value in life.

 

We all have had some experience with sadness, whether directly or indirectly. Think back to a moment when you felt your lowest. Be it depressed, angry, disappointed, frustrated, unhappy; do you remember how exhausting that lack of level headedness was? Were you able to think clearly? Did you make appropriate decisions? Did your state of being affect those around you? Did you like the way your thought processes flowed when your mind was at its weakest? It must have been a challenge to come to terms with your inability to accept that you were not your usual self. Whatever caused your shift in emotions may have been the trigger–gaining weight, losing your job, flunking out of school, marital problems, being abused; but what haunts our mind the most is our inability to come to terms with our situation. We’re only human, of course losing a job will take a hit at our emotions, however, can we control these emotions? Can we ever experience experiences without being broken by barriers?

Have you ever seen the calm waters of the Nylon Pool off the coast of the tropical island of Tobago in the Caribbean? Peaceful knee high clear waters in the middle of the ocean bedded on oat white sand; seems unimaginable, maybe near impossible, but it does exist. Despite the surrounding shark infested rough waters, the Nylon Pool remains unaffected and constantly at peace. Shouldn’t we be able to train our minds to be uninterrupted by our unfortunate circumstances? Why should we let our rough waters disturb our peace of mind?

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In the age of millennials when our minds are constantly at work–busy at school, busy at work, busy on our commute, busy on our social media, busy being social, busy being successful; we train our minds to think, rethink and overthink almost everything we do, so much so that it becomes automatic. So of course when we’re faced with a situation that causes discomfort our mind kicks into overdrive frustrating our sanity with figuring out how to be comfortable again. Our mind shouldn’t just be “comfortable” our mind should be allowed to bask in the everlasting bliss of peacefulness; seems unimaginable, maybe near impossible, but it can exist. We should always train our mind to relax, not to overthink, but to think less.

 

Meditation has been proven to stimulate peace and promote a sense of calmness and overall well being. Among those who practice the art of meditation, holds the ability to maintain composure and sustain level headedness in the face of emotional disfunction. Granted, successful meditation may not be accomplished on your first try, however it’s definaelty worth the effort. After all achieving a lifetime of peace will surely cost you far cheaper than a trip to the Nylon Pool.

  • plane ticket to Tobago – $496USD
  • boat ride to the Nylon Pool – $10USD
  • Peace of Mind – Priceless!

 

The Daily Post | Priceless