Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Honduran Adventures

La Ceiba, Honduras… a vibrant, hustling metropolis whose people are just as colorful as the streets they occupy.  With less than 200,00 residents, it’s not hard to understand why this town gets it reputation as a party town.  At first glance, one would think that there not much to this place, as it’s not particularly attractive or distinctive. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find more than just a drop off point for the Bay Islands or La Moskitia. Sitting ever so proudly below its own Pico Mountain, you’ll discover not just a pulsating bazaar filled with fine drinks and fabulous food… but its people are as warm and friendly as the smiles on their faces.  Come prepared with a phrase book and a bit of Spanish to get by, as English is not widely spoken here. But make an effort and its people are more than willing to assist…if they can.

I only experienced its pleasure by accident.  The original plan was to pass through on my way to the Bay Island of Utila, but problems with the last boat from the mainland sidelined me long enough to experience just a taste of what I would have missed out on. The next boat would leave out at 9:30 am and I was bound and determined to be on it, since partying isn’t really my thing.  But when it Rome… or La Ceiba…

Utila on the other hand has a slightly different vibe… a small island once idyllic for the British elite, now known to backpackers and party people alike as a diving haven. More quaint than it’s bigger and more popular brother Roatan to the east, its inhabitants will more than make up for the lack of beaches and fewer snorkeling sites. Your pocket will thank you as well, as food and lodging are less expensive here.  The longer I stay, the more it grows on me.  At the time of this posting, I would have been here a full eight days, and I can honestly say that I am not yet ready to leave.

My main focus here was indeed diving.  Sharing the same fabulous reefs and eco-system with its more famous and noticeably more expensive neighbor Belize, Honduras is one of the most economical places in the world to gain your diving certifications.  Everything from entry-level open water to dive master and instructor certifications can be obtained here at a fraction of the cost as lesser destinations offering similar amenities. There are currently seven different dive centers on the island and each with a different vibe, but something for everyone. Many also offer free accommodations while diving.  For me, the choice was Bay Island College of Diving who did a spectacular job of walking me through the certification process, as well as their fabulous facility... even BEFORE that had my money.  Charla and Remis... Thanks for the love!  Everyone on staff, from the other divemasters and instructors, right down to Seth, our boat captain was warm, friendly and outgoing. Overall, I can sum this up as a great experience.

Should you be less interested in diving and more interested in snorkeling or kayaking, Utila can certainly meet your fancy.  If rest and relaxation is on your list, then you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised, and your belly will be satisfied too.  I have yet to have a meal that was less than fabulous.  From the street vendors and little cocinas to the more established restaurants listed in the guidebooks and trip advisor, you’ll find everything from Indian and Italian to Sushi and locale fare.  Sadly, I was here for three days before I was able to find seafood on anyone’s menu… but proudly practicing responsible sustainable seafood practices, you’ll find no pouching on this island.  Posters are proudly published all over the island.  That was enough to lift my disappointment. 

These are certainly some of the warmest people I've met during my travels.  Special shout out goes out to The Bodden Family who truly opened their hearts as though I were a member of their own family,  during my stay at the Bayview Inn.  Driftwood Cafe' had one of the best seafood stews I had ever eaten, and Joya's, Ultra Light Cafe reignited my love of "the falafael." And although its not a regular item on her daily menu, Joya’s chocolate cheesecake flan was out of this world! Care for a taste of grilled kingfish, wahoo or baracuda, then let me suggest RJ's Bar and Grill... FANTASTIC! For a quick but fabulous breakfast try one of Liddia's delectable cinnamon rolls or egg sandwiches made on a homespun sweet coconut bread rolls baked fresh daily…Oh so yummy! 

With still a few days left to dive, my stay on Utila will probably end on Tuesday.  Then it’s on to the next stop… Nicaragua!

Monday, May 21, 2012

And The Beat Goes On...

After taking months off to be a virtuous daughter, and a dedicated new author, it was now cerebrally necessary to take my heart and my head back where it belonged… back on the road.  The urge to pick up where I had left off had been calling me for months, but it was essential for me to stand in for grander mission. One which had sidelined my road trip from the start.

During a stint through Guatemala, in mid-September of 2011, I received a dreaded phone call, informing that breast cancer struck again with a vengeance. It would be almost exactly one year to the day since the surgery of my mother’s original diagnosis.  Knowing there was no way to conscientiously continue my personal journey, I took time out to pause and handle business.

Today, I can thankfully report that Mom is now cancer free for a second time.  She has since been placed on notice to not accept or otherwise incubate any form of cancer at anytime in the foreseeable future. Eating in a more conscious manner, while engaging in a slightly more physical lifestyle than the sedentary one she had been used to, was no longer an option.  To insure this happened, at least temporarily, I left my beloved companion with her, an active but sweet two-year old Jack Russell mix, whose own lifestyle requires walking three times daily.  Not to insinuate that anyone would dare wish this dreaded disease on themselves or anyone else for that matter.  But making this declaration while taking my stance was my way of exercising my faith.  ("Faith without works is dead..." James 2:17 NKJV.) Throwing my demands out into the world to be heard and manifested, I have always believed in the power of words.  It is in large part why I decided to become a writer. ("The power of life and death is in the tongue." Proverbs 18:21)  But as an added insurance policy, a heart to heart with His Royal Holiness was needed. ("The effective prayer of the righteous man availeth much." James 5:16) And just like that in my heart I recieved, “the cancer will not kill her… although you just might.”  With my quick confirmation, I now believed I had permission to carry on.

I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of a airline fare war that required leaving out on the very day of my mother’s last cancer related doctor’s appointment. I’m not sure that sat well with her. I’m not sure that would have sat well with me either, had the situation been reversed. It bothered me to leave town on what could be a pending thought that implied I just had to take to first flight out to get the heck out of dodge.  This was not the case in the least, and a $150 savings in my flight costs partially justified my guilt. Nevertheless, this forty-four year old woman would succumb to the pressure, print the email, and explain my decision, all to avoid any drama that could potentially be lurking at some unknown point in the future. Luckily for me… the truth worked, at least for the time being.

With that being said, arriving on a flight that should have landed at 1am into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, didn’t until 3:00am, because of storms. The original plan was to get a hotel room for the night, knowing that there would be a bus at 9:30am. But under the current circumstances that didn’t make much sense considering the first bus out to Tela left at 5:30am.  Perhaps there was no need for a room, but was it wise to sit parked in the public terminal of an airport that was well known for it's  pick pockets and thieves, even despite the police presence with guns in tow? Surely there would be others that would be forced with the same dilemma until the bus and cab drivers were ready to report for duty. As I pondered my dilemma, a consoling awareness covered my body like a blanket, reassuring me that all would be well.  As luck would have it, a sizeable, yet amicable "gringo" by the name of Bobby, fresh from his American roots in Alabama, took a liking to me.  A 12 year resident of Talanga, just outside of Tegucigalpa, this formidable southern giant looked as mean as an ogre, but in actuality, was as gentle as a lamb.  It didn’t take long for me to comprehend that he was my blanket, but the irony here was, it was Bobby who was comfortable enough  to catch a hour-long nap, and I would be the one designated to watch over our belongings.  Some how, I was okay with that.  As I diligently stood guard, I noticed another less formidable gringo walking to and fro, but in a very unsettled manner.  I made sure to keep an eye on this one, as his clearly he was wrapped too tight.

As luck would have it, my less formidable gringo went by the name of Tony. He and Bobby were plane-mates a few rows behind me during our flight, and had already agreed to split a cab to the bus terminal. He too was nervous about the wait, and exhausted from the flight, he knew that if he sat down long enough, he would fall off to sleep. Tony decided the best way to not become a victim was to simply keep it moving. At 5:00 am, the  first cab drivers arrived to take us to the bus terminal, and as previously agreed by the two gingos, the three of us would split the $15 cab ride.  $5 per person was hard to refuse. As we parted ways at the terminal, it was my less formidable gringo, who took the second shift assuming the responsibility of my blanket.  It turns out that we were both headed in the same direction, and he promised Bobby that he would keep me safe.  God works in mysterious ways.

The guide book I am using for this trip called my beach destination, Tela…“a hot mess with sinister appeal."  As much as I hated to believe it, their description was sadly quite appropriate.  Barely on my second day, and I had yet to find anything to entice me to stay a third.  Void of all character, the town was divided into an old and new section, separated by only a bridge and the captains that parked their barges below it. To make matters worse, there was nothing "new" about its "new"section. Trying hard not to pass judgment so early on in my visit, I really searched hard to find the good within it. On the surface, it's beaches and town were both disappointingly dirty. My search to dig deeper uncovered only that's its people were cold, the food was average, and most of the service around town was marginal at best.  With two exceptions worthy of mention, Cesar Mariscos’ restaurant, whose ceviche was slammin’ and customer service was stupendous, and  Mango CafĂ© B&B, who despite the language barrier, made an effort to find someone whose English was just as bad as my Spanish and yet managed to make it work with a smile.  My travel guide made mention that English was spoken at most places.  Most of those people must have gone on vacation, knowing that I was on the way. I suppose this means that I must work harder on my Spanish to avoid the handicap. Oh well, lesson learned.

Next up La Ceiba and Utila Honduras…

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to Me Too!

I am a daughter... I am a sister...  and of course,  everyone knows I am the best AUNTIE EVER!  But because I have chosen not to have children, does that not give me the privilege to celebrate Mother's Day?  While most would probably say no... I say absolutely YES!  Happy Mother's DayTo Me Too!

I know for a fact that I am not alone in this either.  There are thousands of other women just like me, who for any myriad of reasons, have been placed in the same boat.  For us, this day is bittersweet, but for all of the same reasons.  For us, this day is about more than just giving birth.  For us this day celebrates the act of mothering. For the record, and let me take this opportunity to make this clear... I am not for one moment minimizing the physical stamina and fortitude it takes to nourish and care for an unborn fetus that grows within the womb for nine months.  Nor am I weakening the strength necessary to push out a six to nine pound being out of ones body. I am simply pointing out that NOT going through these steps, in no way belittles the fact that you have not performed the act of motherhood. You can be just as important to someone as a mother can be, even if you haven't given birth to them.

For me, being a good daughter meant having a little sister attached to my hip since the age of twelve. For me, that translated into diaper changes, late night feedings and trips to the babysitter. For me, it meant after school homework sessions, and making sure that dinner got on the table, simply because mom had to work. She always had to work.  My parents divorced when I was about nine years old. When my sister was born, it was necessary for mom to take on several jobs just to keep the roof over our heads. And I, of course felt it necessary to do did my financial part as well. Relaxed labor laws allowed me the privilege to take advantage of the ability to take the little one to my after school gig at the local dance studio, and the summer gig at the community pool. Two incomes were certainly better than one in this case, and although it wasn't much, it was enough to pay for school lunches or contribute to school clothes shopping.  I vividly remember not being able to hang out with my friends because I had to babysit, or participate in sleep overs because I had to work.  Barely a teenager, I intensely recall the duty, urging and responsibility of motherhood, all the while blind to the obligation that I was feeling.

I tell this story because I know that I am not alone in this.  I tell my anthem to bring prominence to all of those who perform the act of motherhood simply because they feel the need.  Mothering is more than the act of giving birth... and I celebrate all of those who do it, even though they haven't had to push a little human being out of their womb. For them, they've chosen to act like a mom, even love like a mom,  and hold the responsibility of a mom, despite the obvious. Kudos to those who do it... simply because it needed to be done.  For me, it was done out of necessity. I can honestly say that I didn't choose to do it... it chose me.  Does that make me a hero for doing it without the option of a choice?  I'd say no... but I'll gladly take the option to celebrate this holiday with pride!

Happy Mother's Day to me... and continued blessings to all of those who chose the dedication of motherhood... whether or not they have chosen to give birth!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Movin' and Shakin'... Keepin' Y'all in the Loop

The past few weeks have certainly been a whirlwind... and for that I am truly grateful!  Ever since the book launch celebration held on February 28th, 2012, WHY SHOULD MEN HAVE ALL THE FUN?! has been rippin' and runnin' all over the southern and eastern coast.

The first stop was a signing held on March 3rd at The Cup in Atlanta, Georgia.  A fun event involving gourmet cupcakes, desert wine, port and a very interesting conversation with a book club who happened to be there to discuss another book they had read.  Curiosity led them to not only ask questions about WHY SHOULD MEN HAVE ALL THE FUN?!,  but we also exchanged witty repertoire regarding the position of women and their ability (or lack thereof) to date multiple people at the same time.  What made the dialog so engaging were varied opinions shared by both young men and women within this book club.  It was a fabulous time, and kudos to the book club for their interest as well as all of those who attended this special debut event.

Next stop, Houston Texas.  April 14th, 2012 was the day of the 5th Annual Houston Indie Book Fest.  Authors, publishers and lovers of indie books all converged upon Menil Park to participate in this fabulous event that pulled in a huge crowd. I think it's probably safe to say that the perfect, sunny 80 degree weather may have had a little bit to do with attracting book lovers to this fabulous outdoor event.

In between book signings and festivals was the tremendous opportunity to be interviewed by radio hosts, Ms. K, The Diva and Deacon Boss on the popular radio show, TALKIN' DA BIZ.  Although the conversation was mainly focused on WHY SHOULD MEN HAVE ALL THE FUN?!,  the premise and thought process behind the books purpose was widely discussed. I can't speak for the show's host, but I can honestly say that I had an amusing time.  Feel free to click on the underlined link to hear our discussion. Heartfelt thanks goes out to Ms. K for the invitation, as well as The Diva and Deacon Boss for the compelling and enjoyable conversation.

The latest signing, on the Rutgers University Campus in Newark, NJ was held on April 28th. The 1st Annual Harlem Book Festival was in full effect as it began at 10am to a "brisk" 45 degree morning.  It was thrilling to be back in the area where I grew up, for the first time in almost seven years.  The fact that I left 80 degree weather in Atlanta, was by no means a deterrent, but honestly speaking, my poor fingers were so frozen that there was no way to hold a pen... much less sign books.  Saving the day was the quick-thinking of my beautiful and brilliant niece, La Sha, who rescued my fingers simply by remembering she had hand warmers in the trunk of her car. Those hand warmers ended up being a life saver, since the high for the day ended up being a warm 58 degrees.  Yet still another highlight early on in the day was prompted by a young male psychology major who was genuinely interested in the thought process behind the book.  A very progressive and independent thinker whose opinions were not just encouraging to me, but uniquely obliging to the women he befriends. He also happened to be my first sale of the day.  Kudos to you, Dominic!  I sincerely thank you for your support!

This road isn't over. Not by a long shot. There is certainly more to do, much more work to be done.  This is just the beginning! I've been asked to do more radio interviews, and working currently to get this book into local indie bookstores in Atlanta and Austin. The marketing charge is also in full effect. It hasn't been an easy road, but it goes to show that if you only believe, with prayer, hard work, and the faith of a mustard seed,  you can be successful at anything you set your mind to.

“All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

Here's to the pursuit of dreams and happiness.  For more on photos, updates, and reviews go to

WHY SHOULD MEN HAVE ALL THE FUN?! is currently available on, in both paperback and e-reader versions. Fingers crossed, it should also be coming soon to an indie book store near you!