Memories of my many trips to the island of Curacao

curacao hut copyIsland Dreams

I’m in a seaside paradise,
where my heart is light and free,
where palm fronds wave and whisper
in the breezes from the sea.

Days of idle frolic
on dunes of sun-bleached sand.
Evening skies ablaze with stars,
moonlit strolls, calypso bands.

Sunsets stain the turquoise sea,
liquid gold dips silent, slow.
The sky is splashed with grenadine
and garnished with an orange glow.

curacao tropical colors copyThe bustling waterfront market
is rich with handmade wares.
Tourists spar with merchants
to barter prices fair.

Where sea meets blue horizon,
distant sailboats bob and weave.
I breathe the salty, spicy air,
and I never want to leave.

I travel often in my mind,
daydreams suffice for now,
until I can return again
to the isle of Curacao.

curacao beach copy

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Alas! All good things must come to an end

Holiday’s over.

I’m back home now and let me tell you, Toronto, Ontario is no Naples, Florida! The warm talcum powder sand that my bare feet became accustomed to has now been replaced with snow, snow and more snow. From flip flops to thermal socks and fuzzy slippers!

Ugh. Whaa whaa. Woe is me. Boo hoo. Suck it up, Donna.

No more whining. Instead, I’m going to warm up with a pictorial walk down vacay memory lane by sharing some of the photos I took in beautiful Naples.

What I love most about travel is the opportunity I get to experience an entirely different view of nature in all its glory: birds, animals, and vegetation unique to the area I’m visiting—daily portraits of a lifestyle that so contrasts with my home in northern climes.

There truly is nothing more exciting than leaving behind the everyday familiar and breaking out of the ordinary to give yourself the gift of a change of scenery. Travel is the tonic I crave. I wish I could do it more often.

In Naples we stayed at a house that backed onto a river. From the deck, we watched all sorts of turtles, fish and birds as they swam, foraged and played. Here are my backyard bird pictures:

Anhingas: These birds are such fun to watch. They swim in the river—body submerged, long neck bobbing above the water’s surface (at first glimpse, you think you’re seeing a snake rising from the water). Then they dry off by perching in a tree or sitting on land with their wings spread open in the sun. Every evening at around 6:pm, one by one they fly in to find their perch for the night in the trees on the other side of the river. Most of them have beautiful turquoise eyes.
Anhingas

 

 

 

 

 


Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron
: I only saw the Great Blue a couple of times but a Little Blue could be seen foraging along the river at some point every day. I guessed he was gobbling the tiny minnows in there.
Herons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossy Ibis and White Ibises: Also seen foraging along the river were both types of Ibises. The Glossy is a rich burgundy colour and the White Ibises seem to travel mainly in pairs or groups. You’ll see them roaming around just about everywhere—in parking lots, on lawns, at the seaside. Their beaks remind me of tweezers!
ibises

 

 

 


Little Egret
: I think that’s what this bird is. Though I’m not positive.egret

 

 

 


Muscovy Ducks
: These ducks are everywhere. They’re quite tame and can even be pesky if you feed them. But they’re pretty, especially the black ones whose feathers shine like a metallic rainbow in the sunshine.

ducks & sunset on the river

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sunset on the river was always such a peaceful time, a perfect ending to every day.

Home of the Gator: The Florida Everglades is home to LOTS of alligators. We saw this handsome guy in a pond at the Big Cypress National Preserve, where we went for a hike.
alligator

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous trees and plants: I love tropical vegetation, particularly the palm tree, of which there are over 2,500 varieties, believe it or not! My absolute favourites are the Bismarck Palm with its silver fan-shaped leaves and the Royal Palm with a trunk that appears as solid as concrete and fronds that look as soft as Ostrich feathers. I discovered one called the Pandanus Palm, with round fruit that looks like small pineapples. I’m not sure if the fruit is edible but it is pretty.

vegetation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, being in Florida we passed a number of farms with orange groves when we went for a drive inland. We also saw orange trees growing in a few neighborhood yards.

I saw an interesting tree at Big Cypress, as well as at the Naples Zoo and at Lowdermilk Park called the Strangler Fig. This tree seems to wrap itself around another tree as it grows, while still allowing the other tree to grow as well.
vegetation 2

 

 

 

 
Yards in Naples are beautifully landscaped (fortunate for them, it’s summer all year round) and there are so many gorgeous varieties of flowers and shrubs to plant. My favourite has always been the Bougainvillea but there are so many splendid blooms; if I owned a home down there, I know there would be an explosion of colour in every corner of my yard!
vegetation3

 

 

 

Beaches, beaches and more beaches: With Naples right on the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless miles of beaches to enjoy. My favourite is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, though they’re all pretty breathtaking. The draw for me at Delnor-Wiggins is that it is a seashell-collector’s paradise. Is there such a thing as Seashells Anonymous? If so I need rehab because I have a serious addiction!!! It doesn’t matter that I have a cupboard loaded with shells I’ve collected from past beach trips, I simply could not walk past a beautiful shell without scooping it up. Of course I am back at home with yet ANOTHER carton filled with shells. Looks like I have some more shell art projects ahead to work on. 🙂
beach and birds1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from collecting shells there was no end of entertainment in the form of wildlife antics. I often felt as if I were watching a live documentary unfold—big pelicans and snowy egrets hanging around all day in the sand beside the fishermen, waiting patiently for a morsel of bait to fall off someone’s hook. It’s pretty funny to watch the fisherman who forgets to tighten the lid of his bait pail because the minute his back is turned, one of these birds will sneak up and attempt to steal the contents.

beach and birds2Very often between about 4:pm and sunset, we would catch sight of dolphins playing in the surf. It feels like magic, watching these amazing creatures leaping and rolling like little kids right there before your eyes. At times they were only a few yards away from shore. It was a spectacular sight to behold. I got a picture of a fin but was too mesmerized watching them to capture any more than that.

dolphin fin

At the end of every day spent at the beach listening to the waves washing up on the sand; collecting shells in the sunshine; observing the birds and sea life; watching the sun dip behind the horizon, turning the sky into a plein-air canvas awash in hot pink and fiery orange, soft violet and glowing ruby; I would return to the house with the deepest sense of calm and well-being. Who needs a spa? The seashore is the most rejuvenating place on earth.

end of day

 

 

 

 

 
My last set of pictures were taken while sitting on the backyard deck. This little lizard, which I think is called a Brown Anole, is the size of my little finger. He would pop out from under the deck every once in a while to soak up the sun.
lizard

 

 

 

 

lizard 5.so long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So long, Naples.

The sea and me

Being down here in Naples, Florida gives me daily access to one of my favourite forces of nature—the sea. Is there anything more soul-cleansing than sitting in warm sand, contemplating the body of water that stretches out before you to touch the horizon? Water is life and it doesn’t matter if I’m looking out over the sea, a lake, a river, or even a pond. Any body of water is the most beautiful sight to me.

In a salute to all my past seaside adventures as well as the one I’m on right now, here’s a poem.

The Sea1.delnor-wiggins pass beach

The sea draws me
Like a breath draws air.

I travel to destinations
Contingent upon the sea
Being steps from my room.

The sea is my anesthetic.

Its indigo expanse spreads
Like a rich swath of dark velvet7.very shelly beach
Beyond the airplane porthole.
The velvet is patterned
With tufts of white,
Like pulls of thread.

And then it changes—
Crystalline zircon shallows rising up
As the plane glides downward.

The sea is life. 

It fills and conceals4.pelican friend
The earth’s nooks and crannies
For as far as the eye can see.

It curves its back at the horizon
To meet the warmth of its companion
The sun.
Its mood changes from moment to moment,
Day to day.

Our emotions are connected,
Mine and the sea’s. 3.lots of waves today

Calm today, it mirrors
The slow rise and fall of my chest
As I breathe in
Its sweet saltwater scent,
Rest in its soothing whispers.

Tomorrow, it releases its displeasure
In a churning, foaming fury
That explodes viciously35.pelicans
Against the shoreline rocks.
Once spent, it laps relentlessly,
Quietly onto the sand,
Apologizing in gentle murmurs.

Sometimes, under a grey
And tired sky,
The sea attempts to shrug itself5.little egret on fisherman's bait pail
Into a mighty swell,
But nothing comes of the effort
And the surge abates with a sigh.
For the sea loses its sparkle
When its friend—the sun—
Departs.

The sea is eternity.

It existed long before us,
And will exist long after we’re gone.

 

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