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Caribbean Chronicles – Part Seven

Published 08/04/2013 by julierkendrick

Well, we are coming to the end of our amazing holiday of a lifetime. Only 2 more islands to go. The first of these was Aruba, another of my favourite places due to the vibrant colours and happy people. The weather didn’t hurt either.

We had tried to book an excursion on a boat where there was a rope swing out into the sea and scuba diving but unfortunately we got in too late and the tour was full. However later we went ashore for a little bit of shopping and what turned out to be an ice cream extravaganza.

We met up with the Perrymans after lunch and decided to have a mooch around the shops and stalls ashore. There were so many wares on display outside it was difficult to tell which shop they belonged to and there were times when there was no assistant in the shop we were in because they were taking money in another shop for the owner there. A very strange but trusting way of doing business.

Trevor & Sam in the wide streets of Aruba

Trevor & Sam in the wide streets of Aruba

First of all we went into a shop that sold alcohol and much to our delight they had rum in every flavour imaginable  (including our favourite tipple, cherry) at a ridiculously cheap price.  Needless to say we stocked up and then realised that we would have to carry about 12 bottles with us. The shop assistant kindly let us leave the drink there until we were ready to board the boat. So off we went, in the blistering heat along the main road where covered stalls had set out their stock. Everything from coloured flowers pots and fridge magnets to pieces of furniture made from gnarled varnished wood. Lots and lots of t-shirts, dresses and bra tops were on display but oddly enough none of them had any shorts for boys which is what I was after.

Trevor had wandered off and came back looking very excited. He told us to follow him and led us round the corner to an amazing ice cream emporium called Lecca Lecca. Although I am not a mad lover of ice cream there was no way I could resist the bright colours of all the different flavours. All seven of us rushed in and up to the counter to see what they had to offer. So many flavours, rum and raisin, orange sherbert, chocolate chip (white and milk), pineapple, mint, mango, coffee, tiramisu, bubblegum, cookies and cream and even carrot sorbet. I really could go on. There were sprinkles, nuts, sweets and sauces to add if you wished too. Just remembering this fabulous shop is making my mouth water.

So Many Flavours

So Many Flavours

Oreo Cookie Ice Cream

Oreo Cookie Ice Cream

Once we had had our fill we wandered back out into the heat and carried on shopping. Aruba is so lively and probably the most modern island we visited. The streets appeared to be newly paved and the shops fronts were pretty ornate. The roads were wide and busy with cars and buses and Caribbean music was being pumped out of shops and stalls alike. It really was a place where you could indulge all your senses.

After a few purchases we made our way back to the boat for pre-dinner drinks, not forgetting to collect our rum. I was sorry to leave Aruba and would have liked another day there. But, the next day we were in Curacao and, much to Sams delight had a date with some dolphins.

Conversely, Curacao was the island that I liked the least. It was very run down and unkempt and seemed dowdy in comparison to Aruba and Barbados where bright colours and music were all pervading. The people didn’t look as happy that we were there and our welcome onto the island was all but nonexistent. But, we were going to play with dolphins so we put that to one side and looked forward to the trip.

After a bus ride of about 20 minutes we pulled into a park and were let out, with strict instructions to be back in 3 hours.  We were then separated into group and led into a theatre where we were shown a safety video. After a bit of hanging around we were taken outside to see the dolphins and their trainers.  We were then split into smaller groups and assigned a particular marine mammal. Ours was called Buscoo and had a broken fin from getting caught in a boats propeller when she was out in the open sea. We waited around some more and finally we met Buscoo’s trainer and got into the water. We stood in a line on a ledge about waist-deep in the water and Buscoo swam past us so we could stroke and tickle her. The trainer got her to do some tricks and gave us the commands she recognised so that she would clap her fins on our command.  After about 15 minutes a photographer came along and took photos of us kissing the dolphin and some of her kissing us, a weird experience being kissed by a fish. (Yes, I know a dolphin is not a fish, but it certainly felt fishy when she kissed me).

Once we left the water we still had about 45 minutes to wander around and look at the other water creatures in display pools and then just before we departed we watched a dolphin show where all the inhabitants got to show off their skills. It was a great experience, one that Sam will treasure forever I hope.

DSCN0552

Buscoo

Happy and tired we boarded our bus back to the boat.  That night at dinner we felt a little sad that we were now at the end of our cruise and we were on our way back to Puerto Rico to begin our mammoth journey home.

Next time, our last day at sea and trip back to Blighty.

Arrr ye be walkin the plank

Julie 🙂

The Mysteries of Book Shop Customers #1

Published 17/09/2012 by julierkendrick

Welcome back.

While thinking about what to write for this blog I found my mind wandering (see previous blog ha ha) to my time working in Waterstones, a job I loved more than any other and which I was sadly only there for 7 months. I was initially employed as a Christmas temp to work for about 6 weeks but once the festive season was over they extended my contract for another month. 7 months later my lovely manager, Emma, told me that head office had decreed that hours had to be cut and unfortunately I was the casualty of that decision.  As sad as I was to be leaving such a fantastic place with amazing staff it did leave me with some lovely and sometimes funny memories, particularly of customers and the things they say.

So I thought you might like to read about some of them here.

I had not worked in retail for almost 30 years when I join the staff at Waterstones so to say I was a little unprepared for the diversity of customers is an understatement. Little old ladies who are rude and shout at you to groups of teenage pierced, tattooed boys who are incredibly polite and funny. Leave your stereotypes at the door and walk into a book shop.

I remember once a man came in with his child and took him into the children’s section. The shop was pretty quiet so the whines of this little boy, who was no more than 5, filled the silence.  I watched the man try to control his son with little to no success, offering him various books or toys to amuse him. The child only became more fractious and loud. Eventually the man chose a couple of books and came to the till.  He was trying to search through his pockets for some change while holding onto his son’s hand and the little boy started to screech and pull away from his dad. In desperation the man handed the child the only thing he had in his hand, his credit card. The boy immediately stopped screaming and looked at the card.  I breathed a sigh of relief that my hearing may not be permanently damaged and smiled at the little  boy only to watch him bend the credit card in two resulting in the card snapping in half. I don’t know how strong the little boy was but I have tried to snap my cards when they expire and end up blunting 3 pairs of scissors before they are in enough pieces to dispose of. Anyway, the man looked at his son shocked, apologised to me and ran out of the shop, dragging his son behind him. He left the books as he had not found the cash in his pockets after all. So almost deaf with no sale made I put the books back on the shelf and went to help my next customer.

Working in a specialist shop means that customers believe that you know everything about the product you sell. Now this may be true if you are selling TV’s or phones where there are a few products but in a book shop it is damn near impossible to know everything about every book.  However this does not deter them from asking for books using the most obscure information. We do have a couple of systems we can search on the computer but obviously the more you put in the more you get out.

I had one lovely little old lady come in and and say,

“I’m looking for a book about a man”.

I asked who it was but she couldn’t remember. I asked if it was a fiction book and she didn’t think so but wasn’t sure. I asked when it was released but again she wasn’t sure. I asked her if she knew anything else about the book and her face lit up;

“He’s wearing a flat cap”.

Soooo, we have a book, about a man, possibly non fiction, wearing  flat cap.  I really didn’t want to disappoint the lady who was so sweet and kept apologising for wasting my time. I told her that I love a challenge and if she would hang on for a while I’d do my best to find it.

So I searched my systems using any number of keywords without success. I was just about to give up when one of my colleagues came up and asked me what I was looking for. I told her and after laughing at my misfortune said,

“Ooh it might be the Terry Wogan book”. She went to the biography section and picked up the book “Wogan’s Ireland” where he was indeed wearing a flat cap on the cover.  When I called the lady back she was over the moon that we had found what she was after with so little information. So maybe I was wrong, maybe we can remember everything about our products.

There are many more customers for me to tell you about but I’ll leave them for a later blog. Something to look forward to I hope.

Oh just one last thing. When I was looking for pictures to put into this posting I came across this wonderful photo of my favourite vegetable. Too good not to share. YUM.

See you soon.

Julie 🙂