Saturday, 29 December 2007

While it is raining noticeably more the last few weeks, the rain showers are mostly short and the temperatures are still around 30 degrees.

With the weather being just a tad different than to what most of you might be used to for this time of year, you might think it's a bit hard to get a Christmas feeling. While this might be true for me personally (it's always like that I'm afraid), make no mistake, Christmas and New Years is serious business here.

Almost every house is decorated and everybody has a Christmas tree. And I mean a proper Christmas tree, not a Christmas palm.

Now hang on a minute you might think. You probably don't remember the traditional sort of trees as a particular landscape feature from your last Caribbean holiday. Well, they're not. Christmas trees here are shipped in in containers from Canada!

I haven't really been shopping, but I think the approach is a bit more relaxed here, but then I am used to the Oxford Street frenzy where there are more people to be found on 200 meters than on this whole island. You can't escape the Christmas music however, even though it's a nice change to the English Wham-based attacks on your ears.

There is Christmas parties as well of course.

My departmental Christmas party was an even more subdued affair than back in England, which came as a bit of a surprise. Normally my new crowd is a bit more jumpy than the Grosvenor House Finance team where I just had 2 or 3 people to fall back on when it came to after dinner entertainment. Here, there was no after dinner entertainment!! This is a first I believe. This was made up for the next day at the Managers Christmas Party with subsequent partying on the beach.

In contrast to England Christmas parties here seem to be less of an opportunity to get completely lashed and to misbehave. Well, nobody told me, so all the misbehaving was up to me and you'll be proud to hear that I promptly stepped up to the plate... Good that I was working a late shift the next day... I won't say anything else.

Here are some of the more civilized pictures of the 2 events.

P1020293 P1020267 DSC00028

That leaves one more Christmas subject: the Food.

People stare at you in disbelief when you announce that the traditional Christmas fare back home is goose or maybe duck. Here it is turkey, again.

I never understood that. Why, with turkey just having been the main attraction for Thanksgiving do you you rely on the same again for Christmas?

Anyway, turkey is far too boring to talk about, so let's talk about the other Christmas delicacy here: Pigs Ears.

That's right. Pigs Ears marinated in vinegar, then fried and served with onions. Crunchy. People love it! I did try it, but I doubt I will become a committed fan.

Okay, so much for Christmas. We survived another year and are now waiting for New Years. This is a big thing here too!

And there is something these people here do seem to love more than Pigs Ears: Fireworks!

Now to say that Curacaleneans like fireworks is like saying fish appreciate water. Good Lord!

In the not so distant past my friends and I have spent many a New Years buying fireworks and spending hours and days trying to blow each other up, so I think that I speak with some authority here. But we were merely the most ridiculous amateurs compared to what people here put on. There is more or less constant banging even while write this in the afternoon!

Companies compete on who can make the longest and loudest firecracker strings. And when I say strings, I mean long long strings, as measured in hundreds of meters!!!!

There is fireworks displays every day now. I watched a 20 minute one yesterday!

And when I say fireworks displays I mean something comparable to what they do at the Olympics closing ceremony or similar. Absolutely Amazing!!! You could probably build a bridge to Holland for all the money being spent. I'm looking forward to the big ones on New Years Eve.

With that I will leave you now. It's sort of the last chance for me to go to the beach before all the crazy Year End/Budgeting frenzy starts and Happy Hour is about to start.

So, to all of you a healthy, prosperous and adventurous 2008! I hope I will see many of you in the new year. Bottoms Up!


Saturday, 29 December 2007 20:39:23 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Sunday, 23 December 2007

Apologies again for not writing more often, but time really flies when you're having fun, or have a lot of work or are traveling or all of the just mentioned as seems to be the case for me.

I have been snowed under with work and have been away from the island for a couple of days (for those of you who are keeping notes, I've been to Puerto Rico on a work related trip, so unfortunately nothing special to report). I'm also pretty sure that I had some fun somewhere in between, but here is the thing, I can't particularly remember. This has become a big deal for me lately. Remembering stuff. I seem to have stopped remembering stuff.

I used to be very good at it, indeed I was (maybe I even still am) well known for it. The good old Platzl hotel where I did my training did not have the keycards that every hotel seems to have now, but real keys with number tags. I was famous for recognizing guests and their room number so I could give them their key even before they asked for it.

I also used to be very good at remembering birthdays, car license plates and names. The birthdays I still try to keep up even though I have to make use of little gagdets for it. Any license plate other than my own (and I find even that taxing these days) has been erased from memory.

Names (and people) then is the really worrying bit. I increasingly meet people that I could swear I have never before seen in my life. These people however are very familiar with me and who might even have been through some rather hair-raising situations (hair-raising for them that is) with me. I obviously try to pretend remembering all these particular incidents and fake recognition, but afterwards I have conversations with people that remember us both that go something like this:

Me: Now who the hell was that?

Common friend (CF): Well, that was Miss XY of course

Me: Who is Miss XY?

CF: She was in the year below us in College in Switzerland and you were really trying to chat her up at the Summer Barbecue on Riederalp.

Me: I've never been to a barbecue at Riederalp.

CF: Yes, you've been. You were part of the organizing team.

Me: I was what? When the heck was that? What happened?

CF: Well, everybody got pretty drunk, you disappeared for a while with Miss XY, almost missed the last gondola back down to the valley and in the end she took over your room when you left Switzerland.

Me: I had a room?

I have had conversations like this with my ex-girlfriend that went on for days and I still have been none the wiser at the end.

I guess it's just a sign of age and I have to say there is three good things I can say about age:

I can sleep sitting up now, I can read the same book or watch the same TV program over and over again with no clue as towards the outcome and I can't actually remember the third thing.

At least it adds entertainment value for everybody else. Increasingly I have telephone conversations with the girls in my office that go like this:

Me: S, I'm in Purchasing, why am I here?

S: You've gone to get some Purchase Orders.

Me: Thank you.

Similarly I have wandered from my bedroom to the kitchen (which is not all that far) to find that upon arrival I had no clue what I wanted in the kitchen.

You would think that this problem gets better the older you get as there is less of a mind to grow absent, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

My neighbor, the ever loyal Miss M from P has put me on some Gingko tablets now to sort of provide doping to the gray matter upstairs. We'll see if it works, or, more interestingly, if I remember to take the tablets on time.

Speaking of time: Time is actually another interesting one: Should the police ever show up and ask: Where were you in the hours between 4pm and 11pm on December 21? I will just hold out my hands for them to cuff me and take me away as there is no chance of me remembering.

It's been like this for as long as I can remember, which, of course, is not very long.

In any case, before rambling on forever, I better quit. I believe the point I was trying to make was that forgetfulness is not necessarily a bad thing, but to tell you the truth, I don't remember now.

Sunday, 23 December 2007 17:57:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |