A day in the life of a Retiree…

“So what do you do every day?” – the number one question I receive at least once a week.   I am touched that so many people are interested in my whereabouts now that I am retired and it always brings a smile to my face, especially because I am really not sure if the person is baffled, worried or simply interested in how I am managing this thing called ‘retirement’.

It is an important question, mind you – what you do with your days after 35 years of being consumed with your job, children, hobbies and life in general. There is a major gap to fill when you retire to an empty nest.  And I strongly believe that you need to prepare yourself mentally, physically and financially for this new stage of life.  But I was genuinely never worried about filling my days with ‘busyness’ because quite frankly I wanted them as empty as possible so that I could fill them with what I wanted to fill them with.  That was my goal, and my mantra – nowhere to be and lots of time to get there – continues to guide me.

My answer to this question is oftentimes – ‘Whatever I want to do’.  It really doesn’t answer the question and may sound rude but in essence it simply means that I am free to do as I please, that flexibility rules my day.

Today I thought I’d document my every move – because sometimes I too, am not quite sure what I’ve been up to.  So here goes, for those who are really interested in my sometimes-daily routine.

5.00 – Internal alarms goes off – meaning that my eyes can no longer stay closed which I am told is a mature person’s curse.  I have not set a morning alarm since I’ve retired, and you have no idea how ‘freeing’ this is. I get up and start my day and I’ve chosen to fill my early morning with exercise.  So, I quickly feed the dogs and I am out of the house by 6.00 to take a leisurely 8k run.

The sun is rising, lights are still on in my neighbourhood, the air is cool, the birds are already up and searching for food.  As I stroll down my hill, I take in the lush views of the mountains and begin my run slowly, enjoying the peace and quiet on the roads.  I am smiling.

The route is quiet at first but as the rest of the world begins their daily commute to school and work, the sound of the birds chirping is drowned by the noise of vehicles rushing to get where they need to be.  I am still smiling – I have nothing to rush anywhere for.  I feel at peace even with the hustle and bustle around me.

As I finish my run in my favourite park, the squawking of the parrots come back into focus, the squirrels are scurrying from tree to tree, and I share the usual morning pleasantries and chats with my morning exercise buddies.  As I pass the school on my way home, mothers are frantically doing last minute homework with their kids, quick hugs and kisses, and they are off to start their day.  I remember those days and I smile.

This particular morning, the traffic is thick.  I slowly walk back home engaging in conversation with at least four drivers who are at a standstill.  I laugh and jokingly thank the traffic for letting me catch up with some friends on the way.

8.00 – I peruse my garden – feeding the wild birds and the pond fish.  There’s nothing like walking through your garden, trimming, pruning, chatting with the flowers and wildlife along the way – picking the fresh produce of the day.  It’s peaceful and rewarding.  As I sit having breakfast, the hummingbirds are darting back and forth from the flowers to their feeders, the wild birds are having a blast with the fresh seeds, the butterflies flitting gracefully from flower to flower.  The morning is cool.  The rest of the day looms ahead.

10.00 – Hobbies are cast aside today as I have some last-minute shopping to do readying for my big trip next week to see my boys.  At the mall I meet up with my sister unexpectedly. With nowhere to be and lots of time to get there, we catch up on the last days’ events, laugh and even reminisce, forgetting that we have anything else to do.  Then, oops, we do have things to do and continue on our merry way, all the better for having met up with each other.

Alas, nothing like a nap when it is raining…

1.00pm – Lunch while catching up with the BBC and some other personal messages. However, a day is never complete without succumbing to the call of the sleep gods.  And it is raining.  YES!!!  A movie and a nap are in order for the afternoon quiet time.  This was always a must on my retirement list of ‘things to do’ – nap time, relax time, meditation time, me time – call it what you will – the only flexibility about this time is its length, but it happens every single day.

3.00 – I thought I had set aside my hobbies for the day, but my sewing machine is clambering for some attention, and I dutifully answer the call – finishing off some projects before my impending vacation next week.  I am still smiling.

But by 6.00, the sun is on the verge of setting and I prepare myself for the end of another beautiful retired day with a glass of wine.

It was a good day.  I am blessed and grateful. Looking forward to tomorrow ….

Hike to the Avocat Falls

I discovered the Avocat Falls two years ago during the Covid lockdown.  Even though we were forbidden to visit any water sources, beaches or otherwise, the outdoors beckoned, and my husband and I ventured to this quiet part of our rainforest to soak in a bit of nature.  I was enamoured with the silence of the forest, the magnificent roar of the waterfall and the clear clean water filling the many pools we crossed as we made our way down to the mouth of the Marianne River.

Getting to the Avocat Falls

The Avocat village is located off the Arima Blanchisseuse road, and you can trek to the Falls the easy way (20-minute walk both ways) or the more scenic adventurous path (2.5-hour turnaround).  And well I am sure you can easily guess that we took the longer route.

Since then, this hike has become our go-to when looking for a ‘quick’ outdoor fix.  It begins with a 15-minute uphill climb through the lushness of the rain forest.  The birds are always nearby calling out to each other and the sound of the river fades at you move further away.  The descent into the river is gentle and you are soon serenaded once again with the rush of the water flowing down river.

There is a slight wade through the river and a quick swim across a pool before you feast your eyes on the roaring waterfall.  What a sight to behold.  The world stops.  You are in a sacred place that nature has provided for all to enjoy.  You sit and ponder the strength and beauty of the water gushing over and thundering into the pool below.  Tempting for the brave to jump in and enjoy the cool refreshment the water brings.  Serene enough for those who just want to sit and enjoy the beauty that surrounds.

Avocat Falls

You are mesmerised and want to stay a while, and only pull yourself away because you know there is more to experience as you make your way down the river, swimming through the many pools of water, soaking up the natural rock formations, breathing in the sweet scent of the white peace lilies that line the river bank.

We have since taken many friends on this hike with us.  And always, but always, it’s a joy to see the smile on their faces.  The sheer delight in visiting one of the best waterfalls in Trinidad and Tobago.

It’s your turn now.  Go venturing.

Avocat Falls

Saving the environment …

… one small step at a time.

I recently re-read the simple story of a young boy saving starfishes on the beach by picking them up and throwing them back into the sea. An older gentleman asked him why, when there were so many starfishes on the beach, did he think that he could make a difference.  And as he threw one more back into the ocean he said simply – “It made a difference to that starfish”.

I often wonder what difference I could possibly be making by collecting my one bag of bottles weekly and taking them to recycle.  Why do I continue cleaning up my favourite little beach when the ocean continues to bring debris from all parts of the world every single day, not to mention those indiscriminate beach goers who could care less.  Why should I go the extra mile to conserve energy by switching off unnecessary lights.  Why should I take the extra time to seek out locally grown food when I can just as easily buy foreign stuff in the supermarket all nicely wrapped in plastic.

Because, the truth is, every single small step makes a difference.

One set of bottles recycled can offset the use of precious raw materials.  One garbage bag of beach litter results in one bag less of trash floating around in the ocean harming our sea life.  A healthier electricity bill, less bulbs purchased and less energy being consumed are good reasons to turn off our lights. Helping grow our economy while limiting the use of plastics, seems good enough reasons for me.

Everything we do has a ripple effect, for better or for worse.  Your one tiny step to saving the environment will make a difference.  So go ahead and take that step.  Your grandchildren will thank you for it.

Bermuda

As a child, Bermuda was synonymous with the legendary Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, a place somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean where planes and ships were reported to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  Even though this myth has been dismissed by the experts, it is still ever present in my mind.

Bermuda is in fact an archipelago consisting of over 150 islands with the most significant being connected by bridges, making it appear as one landmass.  You can literally run from one part of Bermuda to the other in just over 8 hours depending on your level of fitness.  Or if you prefer, you can simply drive around at your leisure in less than a day.  But what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty.

It is located out in the middle of what seems like nowhere, approximately 1000 km to the west-northwest of North Carolina.  Even though I live on an island myself, it’s still kind of scary living so far away from any other landmass, considering the increasing number of hurricanes recorded annually off the east coast of the US.  But in essence Bermuda, even though it has experienced the wrath of hurricanes over the decades, receives some protection from a coral reef, and its position at the north of the hurricane Alley limits the direction and severity of approaching storms.  As safe a place to be I imagine, as any of the other Caribbean islands.

Bermuda remains one of the British Overseas Territories. With a population of just over 71,000, its inhabitants reflect its rich history of slavery, colonisation and migration with descendants from Africa, Britain, America, Portugal and the mixtures in between.  The buildings whether commercial or residential share a similar paint pallet all with white roofs, giving it a feeling of unity and purpose.  A very warm and welcoming people greet you and you immediately slip into the vacation-I’m-gonna-have-a-great-time mode. With an ocean view at your every turn, you remain calm, relaxed and always with a smile on your face.

We were fortunate to spend our time with some long-time friends or ‘locals’ as you would say, affording us the privilege of visiting every nook and cranny of this wonderful island by land and sea.  From St. Georges at one end to the Royal Naval Dockyard at the other end of the island and all the beautiful beaches, hilltop views, walking trails and restaurants in between.

Thanks to our very generous and gracious hosts, I’d say a time very well spent.

Blanchisseuse

In my humble opinion, there’s not a bad spot, view or beach on the north coast of Trinidad. Not all beaches are accessible but the views are certainly there for everyone to enjoy. The drive is long and winding but the lush flora and the oceanview makes is all worthwhile.

This is just one little beach with so much beauty to offer. Enjoy the pics.

30 – then and now…

When I turned thirty, some thirty-something years ago, it was a turning point for me.  I truly felt that I had finally grown up.  I was a big woman.  Married with two kids, just purchased my second home, a working career with a great future, and I was secretly thinking of adding one more kid to my small family.  Secretly because my husband didn’t know about this plan just yet, and quite frankly he never really knew.  It just happened – that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

It was a time full of excitement, lots to look forward to with a growing family.  Lots of places to go, people to meet.  I held a party at my home to mark the momentous occasion.  Friends, family, food, drink, music and dancing of course.  As you can imagine, there are a few stories that we reflect on from time to time with our close friends, in awe of what could only be termed as reckless behaviour in this day and age.

There was a certain excitement in my life with what I could only dream were many years of fun and adventure in my future. I was ready to take it all on.

My youngest son turns 30 today.  He has just recently landed a job ticking all his boxes.  He is single, not that this is a plug but I could take applications – LOL just kidding.  He’s just spent the past two days celebrating with friends – fete after fete after fete, as they say.  I tried to curtail his enthusiasm with sage advice.  It didn’t work.  He was determined to put his mark on this milestone.

He organised a party at our home.  Friends, family, food, drink, music and some dancing.  My husband and I retreated early to our ‘not so quiet’ space as we were no longer ‘needed’.  There was certainly a lot of noise, laughter, singing and from the Instagram pics, there was dancing as well.  Thank God he warned the neighbours.

The morning-after clues revealed in no uncertain terms that a fun time was had by all and that my thirty-year old was responsible.  The house was cleaned, leftovers put away or given away, and the bar empty or tidy – depends on the perspective.  But he was missing in action.  My husband insisted on calling him, but I knew in my heart that he was just stretching his celebration to the limit.  And he was. Going to be beach was next on his list of adventures. I was hoping that this was this last hurrah of the celebrations. A quick pit stop to stock the cooler, and he was off.

Turning thirty has not changed.  It is still a force to be reckoned with – no matter the era. It’s a turning point as you head towards the more responsible time of your life.  It is to a large extent leaving a bit of your youth behind.  A youth you’ve lived to the fullest, taking with you your memories, your joie-de-vivre and your optimism for the best future ahead.

Hike – Argyle Waterfall, Tobago

I’ve been going to Tobago annually for the past 30+ odd years.  Since my boys were toddlers and infants.  It’s such a lovely place to spend your holidays with your children.  Beach, sun and fun.  That’s all children really need to have a great vacation.  And friends of course.  And we are fortunate enough to belong to a group of friends who have weathered the test of kids, time and growing pains so that our children were surrounded by what they have grown to call their ‘normal friends’.  Friends who have been with them always.

As a form of entertainment, we have toured Tobago by land and sea.  It’s a small island after all.  So that’s an easy feat to accomplish year after year.  But by far the most enjoyable times have been our adventures by boat and of course hiking.

Our kids may no longer be with us as they are grown and growing their own families, but that hasn’t stopped the adults from continuing the exploration of Tobago without them.

Argyle waterfall, located on the northeast side of Tobago just past Roxborough, is one of the highest falls at 54m cascading down 3 levels officially.  And I say officially because that’s what is told to you by, well, the officials let’s say.  But we managed to hike up the sides of the waterfall to seven levels of pools and rocks.  Each level taking you through the lush green woodland that surrounds, and affording you the opportunity to relax and refresh yourself in the cool water of the rock pools that greet you.

The hike begins with a short 20-minute walk through wide paths adorned by huge trees and the lush flora.  The silk cotton trees were in full bloom and we were somewhat mesmerised by the seeds floating across our path.  You can hear the roar of the waterfall in the distance and your first impression upon reaching the falls is that this cannot be it.  But as you climb further you realise that that was just the beginning of what is truly Tobago’s finest waterfall.

Note though that there is a small entrance fee.

Green …

#WordPrompt

As I sit, my view is filled with the lushness of the natural green of my garden.  Green parakeets flit from one palm tree to another feasting on the berries and then cooling themselves off in the water captured in the guttering of the roof of my home.  They are funny little creatures, these parakeets.  The sweetest chirping fills the air as they chat with each other. I imagine them like children, playing with each other, hiding under the leaves of the palms, calling out to each other as if to say – “Look at me. I’m right here”.  Then flying off again dancing from one tree to another.  Laughing with the wanton abandon of kids with not a worry in the world.

My garden attracts all different species of birds and other wildlife.  I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by the lushness of the environment all my life.  Green is a colour that calms me and fills me with a great sense of peace and quiet.  In my garden the green of the grass and the leaves of my plants assure me that nature is alive and healthy.  Thriving.  Contributing to the environment positively.  It tells me that the creatures too are at peace as I notice the butterflies taking their fill of nectar from the flowers while the birds feast on the berries they love.

As I venture in the natural forests that make up a great part of my home, the twin island of Trinidad and Tobago, I revel in the green that brings everything together – a perfect backdrop for the native flowers and wild bushes that nurture the many birds and insects that prosper in this environment.  Again, I am at peace with the world.  Everything seems to be in its right place.  The order of the universe continues regardless.

I’ve not always been an admirer of the colour green and all it implies.  Simply from a purely materialistic standpoint.  Green just never looked good on me.  It’s silly. But true.  However, as I’ve matured and learned to appreciate the beauty that surrounds, Green has become one of my favourite colours.

It has become a critical part of our vocabulary.  No longer an adjective, it is now a verb as we focus on the future of our world and our environment.  We want to ‘Green’ the earth again.  The concept of ‘Greening’ is on the lips of the CEOs of our largest corporations, our governments, the leaders of the world.  As we realise that without the natural greenery that surrounds, we are nothing.  We realise that what we have been doing over the past centuries does not complement what is there for all to not only enjoy but to profit from naturally, mentally and physically.  We have taken advantage and continue to take advantage not realising that the beauty that surrounds, the green in our world is there to ensure the longevity of our existence.

Green complements and nurtures everything in our life. From our physical beauty to the simplest things in life.  Our flora and fauna thrive with the natural green beauty that surrounds.  And with that, we too will thrive.

The Marianne River – Trinidad…

The mouth of the Marianne River

I constantly boast that there’s not a bad spot, beach or view on the north coast of Trinidad.  And even though I’ve driven along this coast hundreds of times, I am still in awe of its beauty.  The rugged coastline, the small, isolated islands embellishing the ocean view, the lushness of the flora lining the road and cascading down to the beaches.

There are many beaches that are easily accessible and some that take a bit of a hike to get to.  But all are beautiful, peaceful and welcoming.  The Marianne beach and its river mouth are no different.  Frequented by beach lovers daily, this spot has become a much-loved location for weekenders and those seeking a quiet getaway anytime during the week.

We simply intended to take a quick refreshing swim in the river, but lingered on peacefully until the sun set. Highly recommended to relieve stress and put a smile on your face.

Matura River Hiking Trail – Trinidad

Pristine waters of the Matura River, Trinidad

I suddenly felt that I was in the middle of a dream, floating gently down a body of water, not quite sure exactly where I was, for the beauty that surrounded was like no other.  The clear turquoise waters, the lush green forest, the babbling of the water running over the rocks, pool after pool after pool.

Swimming in the Mystic Pool in the Matura River

As a group of avid hikers, we were in search of the Mystic pool – one of the many pools which form the Matura River in the north-eastern part of Trinidad.   The nearby Matura beach is known as one of the best turtle watching sites in Trinidad, but I can assure you that there are other natural resources which make this small village spectacular beyond words – a dream for nature seekers.

The hiking trail is by no means challenging, except maybe for the short decline and ascent to and from the river, but the trek through the river, with its numerous waterfalls, picturesque gorges, and amazing swimming pools will more than make up for any discomfort you may endure.

We had ample time to swim, dive off rocks (mainly the teenagers in our midst), swing from the ropes hanging from the trees (not only the teenagers but the young at heart as well), snack, capture the natural beauty in our heart and mind and cameras, wade through the waters and, of course, loll in the many babbling brooks.

Certainly having fun…

Did we have a great time?  We certainly did.  A must visit for all nature lovers.