2017-03-16 / Opinions

Alluring options dominate your mood, overwhelm emotions

By LORAN SMITH
columnist

SAN JUAN, P.R. – There are more than 700 islands in the Caribbean which has, for decades thrived as a playground for people from all over the world. Doesn’t matter where you stop, you are confronted with an atmosphere which is conducive to manana. For many throughout the Caribbean, every day is a day of rest.

A laptop and an iPhone keep you in touch with whomever and whatever you want, but there are so many alluring options to dominate your mood and overwhelm your emotions. An early riser sleeps later in the Caribbean even when on work assignment. A fruit breakfast to start your day, a lunch by the sea which roars ashore with continual and relentless intensity and a dinner in a similar environment makes one want to extend the stay.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory which came to us by way of the Spanish-American War in 1898. You remember Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders? The battle of San Juan Hill? The United States came out of that long ago conflict with considerable real estate, including the island of Puerto Rico. Although the island is a tax haven for many, Puerto Rico is essentially bankrupt.

While soccer is big in Puerto Rico, it was also the birthplace of one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Roberto Cleme nte. It was home for golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez until lately. For health and financial reasons, Chi Chi now lives in South Florida. Lest we forget, one of Puerto Rico’s most accomplished sons is Manuel Diaz, the Hall of Fame tennis coach at the University of Georgia.

An invitation from Jay and Clare Walker, led to a brief respite here which was enhanced by sun, captivating views, breezes, moonsplashed outdoor-dining and the ever present waves of the Caribbean ringing in your ear which led to reminiscing about other years and other places like St. Croix, St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Mealtimes can be an adventure and every hour could be social hour when you come to the islands. Met a couple of new drinks that I really liked: Lynchburg lemonade and coconut sunset: The basic ingredients of the first are Jack Daniels, Cointreau, and lemon. Try it, you will like it. The coconut sunset becomes addictive – created with Bacardi rum, coconut, guava, splash of ginger ale, and mint.

It is best to enjoy such drinks with the Caribbean in view, rambunctious seas thundering about, blue skies, waving palms, mynah birds tweeting staccato, squawking sounds as they forage for crumbs.

The sun is always kissing bikini clad bodies at the Caribbean beaches – some fit for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and some needing to be reminded that the calendar has taken its toll. They need more cover.

Traditional Caribbean music still falls pleasantly on the ear. Especially old time reggae if you stop in Jamaica, Calypso and traditional folk songs. On an earlier trip to the Caribbean this year, I was having lunch one day at a snack bar in the Dominican Republic, which softly featured the aforementioned music on the house system when a favorite folk tune sounded forth.

It carries the title, “Shame and Scandal in the Familee.”

Seems that this young boy from the islands became enraptured with a certain young girl and decided to marry her. He went to see his father and told him about his plan. He then told the father the name of his bride-to-be. To his amazement, his father was aghast, saying, “Oh no, that girl is your sister, but your mamma don’t know.”

Dejected, the boy decided that he would not go against his father’s wishes and broke up with the girl he had selected to be his mate. Soon he found another girl and thought she would be the right one for him. Again, he disclosed his plans to his father, who came with the same refrain, “Oh no, that girl is your sister but your mamma don’t know.”

With the passing of time there was a third girl with whom the boy developed a serious interest and the same scenario surfaced once again with the father espousing the redundant disclaimer: “Oh no, that girl is your sister, but your mamma don’t know.”

In exasperation, the boy sought out his mother and told her what was going on. His mother laughed and told him to marry any girl he wanted, explaining that, “Your daddy ain’t your daddy, but your daddy don’t know.”

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