Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…


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8th Annual Let’s Get Kicked Off Another Island Bar Crawl

The older I get the less I like to travel. Oh, I love actually being at new locations, breathing in new experiences, seeing new sights, trying new cuisine, enjoying old friends, but the actual planning, packing, airports, TSA, et certera, are not as exciting as they once were. I look forward to it like I look forward to my annual mammogram. But somehow the wonder that is the turquoise of the Carribbean pulls me back each year without my normal grumbling, probably because I already know what the payoff will be…and positively because, besides what I put in my suitcase, there is no planning on my part. This is the eighth year Julia has handled that monsterous task for a group of ten to twelve people, and it is a huge undertaking. I feel guilty about that, but obviously not enough to relieve her of the burden. In my defense, I can follow instructions with the proper motivation, so she just needs to channel her inner bitch and tell me what to do to help. (See how I turned that around and made it her fault? It’s a talent of mine.) I usually end our trips by telling her how much I appreciate her hard work, but thought it would be a great place to start this time. Her life is hectic enough without planning trips for the Dirty Dozen. Word of advice, Julia…if you’d book us a place like a tiki hut on Gilliagan’s Island just once, that not helping shit would stop.

So, after all that planning, our 8th Annual Let’s Get Kicked Off Another Island Bar Crawl has finally commenced. Our destination is a house called Cascades on Turks and Caicos (https://tcvillas.com/prop/cascade/). You should see this place…six master suites with outdoor showers, three pools on two different levels, a waterfall walkway. It’s decadent. The exact opposite of a tiki hut on Gilligan’s Island. Whenever I arrive at one of these places I have to pinch myself. I was a military brat and our vacations growing up consisted of spending three weeks at my grandparent’s farm near Crowell, Texas. We didn’t have the Carribean, but we did have plenty of sand, my Granny’s yeast rolls and peach cobbler, and a childhood filled with Papa’s teasing and countless memories. 

I wouldn’t change a thing about any of those years. I also never in my wildest dreams envisioned staying in a place like this. To dissuade you of the notion that I’m totally spoiled, I can report that although there is maid service, we do not have a full staff with this house…no house manager…no driver…no breakfast cook…no lunch and dinner chef…and (gasp) no bartender. I suppose we will have to muddle through on our own. Dave K has already voluneered his services as bartender, but if he starts pouring floaters, he will be relieved of duty immediately. Alcohol poisoning is not on my agenda this week.

Two of our Dirty Dozen are MIA. Dave and Judy are missing out and the purpose of my blog this year is to make them so filled with regret that in the future they move heaven and earth to get this trip on their calendar. I actually requested that a trip be scheduled a couple of weeks later than normal several years ago because of the impending birth of a grandchild. After that, the kids were put on notice about pregnancies and due dates. That, my friends, is dedication. 

One of our first orders of business after arriving was dinner and drinks since we haven’t had a chance to buy mixers yet. It’s called priorities, people.  Everything was excellent. I had fresh caught grilled Wahoo fish (I had to look it up), with vegetable risotto and caper sauce…oh, and two pina coladas. I didn’t really want the second, but they brought it by mistake so the waiter said he’d just leave it and not add it to the bill. Joe swears he hasn’t seen me move that fast since he sent me to the Louis Vuitton store the last time we were in Vegas. While waiting for our entrees, Gina became distraught because her phone was nearly dead. I thought I was plugged in, but she takes it to another level. The palm trees were strung with lights which means what? Electricity! I swear she eyed the nearest tree, calculating her odds of making it the nine or so feet to access the plug. I really, really wish she had tried. It would have made for some great blog pictures! I guess it’s going to take more than two drinks…now I have a goal! Stay tuned.

 

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My Two Cents

I saw a post yesterday on an Instant Pot Community Facebook page that stopped me in my tracks. If you don’t know what an Instant Pot is, it’s a miracle of technology, has a cult following, and is kind of like a crock pot/pressure cooker on steroids and you must be living under a rock because it was the hottest item on Amazon’s Prime Day the last two years. A woman wrote that she was deleting her post because “people can’t be nice.” It’s a freaking cooking page for Pete’s sake. Is there anything more benign than food? If we can’t be polite there, of all places, where can we be? Where will we be? If you spend more than two minutes scrolling through Facebook at any given time, the answer is nowhere it seems, and it makes me incredibly sad. How did we fall to such a level of disrespect that you can’t post about a recipe on a cooking site without getting nasty comments? Really? There’s a scroll bar. Learn it. Use it.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that social media has done more to kill civility than anything in history. Facebook used to be the place to post pictures of your kids or vacation or jokes, but not so much anymore. It’s been hijacked by an ‘us against them’ mentality. Not only are we no longer polite but too often we we aren’t even civil to each other. The anonymity of social media has stripped away any semblance of decency. It gives us free license to say things that we would never in a million years say to someone standing in front of us on the street, and society is the worse for it. I know this, yet I’m no better than anyone else when I feel attacked.

That’s not to say that there’s not a lot to be angry about these days. The political divide in America is the greatest it’s been since the Civil War. Not only is the country angry but there is an unprecedented level of outright hate. I’m no fan of Trump. I think he’s probably the worst candidate the Republicans could have picked, but I understand how he was elected. Among other things, people got tired of being called homophobic, Islamophobic, greedy anti-Christian racists by the Left simply because of their political affiliation. Most of my family and friends are conservative, by a wide margin, and I can only think of one person who might be those things. That’s a very small percentage of people I know, probably less than a quarter of one percent. Social media, as well as the mainstream media, takes that very small minority and paints every conservative with the same brush. They don’t just paint us as such, they actually believe in their hearts we are all like that, and they hate us. The mainstream media loves the Left, but their treatment is every bit as bad on social media. And the vitriol and hate on both sides has only gotten worse since Trump has been in the White House. Before you say “but what about Obama…,” it’s no secret that half of the country pretty much thought he was the worst President ever (and for 99.99% of us it had nothing to do with race), but I don’t remember anyone in Hollywood, much less elected officials, calling for his assassination. It’s worse. Much worse. There is no high road, we are rolling around in the gutter.

I worry. I worry about our country and soul of the nation. I know people who think we are actually headed for Civil War II…and soon. I hope that they are wrong. I hope that the haters are just more prolific posters than the lovers. I hope that people really are more civil, more caring, more tolerant, more kind than what is so prevalent on Facebook and Twitter. I hope the humanity is just getting hidden beneath the avalanche of shit out there. I hope that someday soon a young woman will not feel attacked on a post about cooking because of obnoxious comments. And I really, really hope more people will learn to use their scroll bars. As my Granny used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Wise woman. In the meantime, I will continue to worry while I whip up some comfort food in my Instant Pot…and I’ll try harder to follow Granny’s advice.

 

 


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Pura Vida, Y’all!

Today is our last full day in Costa Rica. ☹️ Last night, after the blog we were treated to a great fireworks show over the Pacific. It was most certainly for a private party, but we prefer to think it was just another service offered by Villa Estrella. Diego, the house manager stopped by and was commenting that the fireworks show on New Years Eve is spectacular from this location. Vibe asked if there was a big show for the 4th of July…crickets, followed by lots of laughter. I wish we could blame this lapse on alcohol but sadly, not so much. 

Yesterday was so full of activity, we took the day off to recover. We may be the only group in history to need a day off from vacation.The pool party got pretty wild by late afternoon. I hate to name any names, but I’m pretty sure several of the girls might not be feeling the best for the trip home tomorrow, although this group has exceptional restorative powers, so you never know. In any case, it seems prophetic that Crazy Train by Ozzy Osborne is playing as I write this and listen to those crazy girls.

We had an extraordinary dinner tonight as a goodbye from the staff. Dinner included watermelon gazpacho soup, lobster, seafood risotto with crab, calamari and vegetables, and to finish cheesecake with mixed berries. The staff here at Villa Estrella has been over the top good. We come back to Texas more spoiled than when we left. I think consensus is that we’d love to come back sometime and that’s not something we often do.

After dinner we played a game of Squints. Which may be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some wild shit. I have included a description of the game. I’m just going to leave it there to protect the guilty.

We hope to make it safely back home to Texas tomorrow. The weather looks iffy for thunderstorms all day. We’ve already been told we can stay another night if needed, but truth be told, as much as this is paradise, I miss my house, my family, my dog and Texas. Thanks again to Julia for bringing us all together for another perfect week. It’s hard work setting all this up and we really do appreciate her efforts!

 One of the Costa Rican phrases we’ve learned this week is pura vida, which translates to pure life. It has many different meanings. It can mean something as simple as hello, goodbye, take it easy, or all good. I have been giving it a lot of thought these past few days. To me, it means living a peaceful, uncluttered life, in the moment, with a deep appreciation for friends, family and all your blessings great and small. It’s a sentiment I take home with me. Pura vida, y’all!

 


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Iguana, the Chicken of the Trees

This is our adventure day. Part of the group is doing zip lining and tubing and part a hike through the national park. Do these people even know me? Do any of these activities sound like anything I would be remotely interested in? The answer to both is no.

Breakfast was at 6:45 and we were on the bus by 7:15, which should have been anotherred flag. Ray and Tracy are our two guides for the day. The zip line includes about a dozen lines with climbing walls up to the platforms and two sections you have to repel down. Sign me the hell up! 

Ray gave us lots of handy tips on the drive. For example, don’t forget to cover up with sunscreen so you will stay forever young. Too late! Also, you must wear close toed shoes to zip line. You’d think this would be a problem for Vibe as she only wears heels (I’ve seen her climb a mountain in those things) and I have no doubt that she will be able to talk them in to letting her wear them. I just hope someone takes a picture of her on the climbing wall.

We dropped off the zip line group and headed for the national park. Our guide was great and knowledgeable about all the native plants and animals in Costa Rica. Not only does Ray speak Spanish, German and English but he is fluent in monkey and bird. We saw iguanas, or as they call them here, the chicken of the trees. We also saw more exotic species including white faced monkeys, several species of birds including a Toucan, tarantulas, blue butterflies, volcanic mud pits with boiling mud, babbling brooks, and a waterfall. The  scenery was spectacular. The heat and humidity were also spectacular. I have probably been hotter, but never wetter. I could have wrung my shirt out. I had sweat running places it should not run. The hike was also about five miles long, uphill, both ways. By the last mile, and the fiftieth time we stopped to bird call, I wondered if it would be bad form to say, “Fuck this shit” and head to the car.

 We met up with our zip liners who didn’t hear the fine print about the climbing walls and the repelling. I would have lost my bet on Vibe as she actually traded in her heels for water shoes. I think the zip line kicked their proverbial butts.

We split up again for white water tubing and a tour of the snake terrariums and butterfly garden. You might think that the tour would be wussy next to the tubing, but the only thing standing between us and certain death was a thin layer of plexiglass. It also added another mile to my already tired feet.

We met for lunch at a nearby restaurant after all the ‘fun.’ Earlier in the bus trip our guide asked if anyone was vegetarian. I replied, “Vegetarian? We’re from Texas. We eat a whole cow every day.”

Our last stop was for mud baths and volcanic hot springs. I smell bad enough without rubbing mud all over myself and as for the hot springs, I am so hot I may never be cool again. The idea of getting in a lobster pot holds no allure. I think I’ll pass. Nubb, however, was enthusiastically going for it. He was slathered from head to toe and headed over to me with his arms open wide for a big bear hug. I called his bluff and leaned in for the hug. It ruined my shirt, but it was totally worth it for the look on his face.

On the way back, we were chatting with one of the tour guides and discovered she also teaches boxing. She invited us to come to one of her classes tomorrow. I suggested she just whip my ass when we got back to the villa to save me the trip.

Every time we come back from an outing, the staff meets us with drinks and people to help with our bags. You could get spoiled. And speaking of spoiled, dinner was corn soup, followed by beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, grilled eggplant and sliced potatoes with melted cheese. Dessert was chocolate soufflé. Every night we think this is the best, and then they top it.

 

 

 


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I’m No Mona Lisa

I can’t report any big outing for today, but when you are staying at a house like this, it makes it hard to work up the ‘want to’ to go anywhere else, so we didn’t. The first day and a half they had the pool heater set to the Hotter than a Thousand Suns setting. Today it had finally cooled off and was perfect. The laughter was flowing even more profusely than the drinks. At one point we were trying to get a picture of all the girls in the pool. Even the simplest tasks take on a new challenge when you get to be our age. Monkeypoo was in charge of the camera but without his glasses he couldn’t tell if he was getting a good picture or not. Meanwhile we were trying to hold a geriatric pyramid pose, which consists of just leaning over someone’s back instead of standing on their shoulders…you go with what you’ve still got. Anyway, it was taking what seemed to be an inordinately long amount of time to get the shot, so I popped off, “You’re not Ansel Adams, just take the damn picture.” I thought that was a quite a witty comment and was rather proud of myself until he came back with, “And you’re no Mona Lisa.” Ouch! Monkeypoo is going down.

Eleanor received a text from her office that one of the guys taking care of things while they are out of town had accidentally given a sales rep a tea bag instead of a business card. He then said to tell Single Malt that they were enjoying the new office margarita machine. Eleanor just sent back a picture of Misch saying, “This is our margarita machine.” I like ours better.

I couldn’t tell you everything funny that happened today, but we were physically worn out from laughing. I didn’t know that was possible, but it’s a good kind of tired. 

The day ended with a slow rain and dinner on the patio. There was even key lime pie. It’s like all the planets aligned to make the perfect day.

 

 

 

 

 


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Beached Boys

The howler monkeys made a visit to the house early this morning. They were in the trees, one mountain over, most of yesterday afternoon. Nubb kept doing his Tarzan yell to try to entice them to join us, but they were having none of it. We watched them off and on through binoculars for a couple of hours. Someone wondered aloud what they were thinking, looking back at us watching them. Joe: “Probably to hell with this Darwin thing, if that’s the end game, why evolve.” Anyway, this morning they showed up at the house to see what kind of idiots they were dealing with. Luckily, a couple of people had cameras at the ready.

Today is our boat day, and odds are the cook won’t have to feed all twelve us tonight. If history is any indicator, someone will be down for the count before we get back to the house. We left the house a few minutes before 2pm to meet the boat at the beach. My very good friend did not tell me until we showed up at the airport to leave that there was no dock and we would have to ‘wade’ out to the catamaran. Seriously WTF? I’m short and I don’t swim so unless the water is extremely shallow, there’s an excellent chance of me being towed like a beached whale out to sea. Next year I will be asking specific pre-trip questions. First question, will there be a dock? Luckily, they sent a skiff for us, but that was no picnic as it took two people to hold it steady enough to board and you had to hurry and get on that sucker between waves. Fun times. Because the waves were so big they had to take us in two trips. The girls and the Wanderer went first without incident. We were then able to watch the remaining guys get beached several times before finally launching. That’s when the Wanderer came up with the name of today’s blog…Beached Boys.

The coast of this part of Costa Rica doesn’t really lend itself to our normal bar/island hopping crawl, but that doesn’t mean it was boring. On our sail out to the snorkeling hole, Single Malt, as we call him, caught a nice sized black tuna. Ceviche for everyone! The resulting fish cleaning left the pool noodles a little worse for wear. I heard someone remark that they were going to need a blood free noodle. And really, who doesn’t? Snorkeling and floating, with recently cleaned equipment, was enjoyed by those who actually like swimming with the fishes. I watched and captured the Kodak moments. 

By the time everyone was back onboard, a little thunderstorm was blowing in. The ride back was kind of like a ride at Six Flags or the bucking bronc at Billy Bob’s. Oddly enough, the rough seas didn’t scare me as much as the thought of the drive back up the mountain. By the time we got back to the cove, the rain was over and we were able to enjoy a sunset through rain clouds. Even though we were barefoot, we looked like we had on men’s dress socks after walking the black sand beach back to the van.

We made it back to the villa just in time to enjoy another fabulous meal and rehash the day’s events. Wish you were here.

 

 

 


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Naked and Afroed

Bright and early this morning my wayward butt pellet finally made good on its escape. The spot was really tender this morning and as I gingerly felt of it, a perfect pellet just popped out like April the giraffe giving birth. Ok, not that messy and it’s more the size of a couple of grains of rice than 150 pound baby and I don’t have to raise it or pay for college, but it was still kind of traumatic for me and my butt cheek. I’ll admit I kinda freaked the hell out. Downstairs I related the grisly incident. Nubb: I can’t believe you’re talking about butt pellets. Me: Hey, I figure when the vibrator makes its first appearance any subject is fair game. Nubb: You make a good point.

Today was massage day for ten lucky people. This place has a two table outdoor massage pavillion. Insane. We had massages the year we went to Eleuthera by a woman named Monique who had some serious mystical mojo going on and has become a legend among us. Since then, she is the standard against whom all others are judged. Monique was not dethroned, but it was close. The massage was Devine but I did have a small issue. As any curly head can tell you the first rule of curly haired girls is, don’t touch your hair. The second rule of curly haired girls is, DON’T TOUCH YOUR HAIR! Where curls are concerned the less you fuss with them the better. Things can turn Roseanne Rossana Dana bad in a heartbeat. If my masseuse had understood English I would have told her to skip the scalp massage. Instead, she was going at my head like a rotary sander, but in a good way. Between all the head massage and oil on my neck, I had a greasy mullet in the back and a Phil Specter do on top. The massage was still worth it.

About mid-day, Howler got an email from someone in his office with a request to review a 40 page document. This poor guy apparently has nothing better to do on Monday morning. Howler sent back a picture of him in the pool surrounded by all us women and a note saying, “Sorry! I’ve already got my hands full.” His colleague responded that he was jealous and offered to be here by tomorrow to lend a hand. That guy’s dedication to the firm is commendable.

I won’t tell you what we had for lunch and dinner because you would just hate us. After dinner we played a couple of games of Heads Up. It’s played on an iPad. You divide into teams, the men against the women naturally, pick a category and the person holding the iPad above their head gets clues and has to guess the phrase from the chosen category. Picture this, the women are up, the category is Adult Supervision, the phrase is Kama Sutra. We are shouting out clues such as “famous book that illustrates different sexual positions!” Sassy’s answer…wait for it…I kid you not…honest to God…”Fifty Shades of Grey.” Best answer of the night and the guys wouldn’t even give us partial credit for creativity. We still beat them by one point. That must hurt.