31 July 2008

Another Honeymoon Post: Sunday 6 July

Rachel in front of the sharks tank(yup, another honeymoon posting)
After checking out of our hotel, we then put our luggage in a luggage storage room at the hotel and headed to the nearby Guadeloupe Aquarium. At the aquarium, they have posted four different names for each species: French, English (with the Union Jack), the Latin scientific name, and the Guadeloupean [Creole] name (if there was a name). lookdown fish at the Guadeloupe AquariumAll of the species are native to the Caribbean (except for some Amazonian species). For any English-speaking person, all of the signs were in French. There were some interesting fish and tanks (combination of fish, etc.). We thought the lookdown fish had a cool color. There were calming sea sounds music all throughout the aquarium to provide some of the ambiance. One of the new additions to the aquarium was the shark tank, although there were only a couple of different types of sharks there. Also in the tank was a very gracefully moving ray.
After the aquarium, we then went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, then we headed to our new hotel, La Toubana, which was quite nice. It was, by far, the nicest hotel of our trip. One thing that made it unique was that it was the only one of the hotels that had American mattresses in addition to there being a DVD player in the room (although this hotel had the fewest TV stations, but that didn't seem to be such a bad thing). Drew in the foreground by the water, with the hotel up on the cliffAs such, we ventured into the hotel's tiny DVD library and found mostly 1980's American action or scary flicks. So, it was slim pickings, but we enjoyed watching a DVD or two that evening. One of the cool things about the place was that there was a small pool of some sort that surrounded and went beneath the wooden walkway upon entering the hotel property that had lobsters and two nurse sharks in the water (those nurse sharks were so gracefully swimming about, it was pleasant to see them swim). The guy in charge when we got there, Laurent, was very nice and helpful and would be so for the duration of our stay there. Also, the hotel had a pool next to which you could swim up to the bar (though we didn't end up doing that). Also, the hotel had a decent work-out room with mostly fairly newish equipment that was not worn out at all. Also, the views were excellent, as the hotel is located at a clifftop. By far, La Toubana was our favorite hotel on the trip and we got a good deal on our stay, as it was during the offseason, though it definitely cost a pretty penny to stay during the winter.

30 July 2008

29 July 2008

Walking Humbly With Your God, Part 3: Talmudic Statements

On the verse of Micah 6:8, there are two Talmudic statements. The first of which is stated by Rabbi Eleazar (found attributed to him on Sukkah 49b and unattributed to him on Makot 24a):
א"ר אלעזר מאי דכתיב הגיד לך אדם מה טוב ומה ה' דורש ממך כי אם עשות משפט ואהבת חסד והצנע לכת עם אלהיך עשות משפט זה הדין ואהבת חסד זו גמילות חסדים והצנע לכת עם אלהיך זו הוצאת המת והכנסת כלה לחופה והלא דברים ק"ו ומה דברים שדרכן לעשותן בפרהסיא אמרה תורה הצנע לכת דברים שדרכן לעשותן בצנעא על אחת כמה וכמה
Rabbi Eleazar said: "What is [the meaning of] that which is written 'He has told you, Man, what is good; and what the Lord seeks of you: Only the doing of justice, the loving of kindness and walking humbly with your God'? -
'the doing of justice' - this is judgment;
'loving of kindness' - this is repaying kindness;
'walking humbly with your God' - this is removing a corpse and the bringing of a bride to her wedding canopy.
And are not these things a fortiori: just as for things that one does publicly, Torah says to go humbly, things that one does privately - how much more so?"
The other is a statement by Rabbi Simlai (albeit in the Talmud interspersed with comments from other rabbis), who expounded about the decreasing amount of actions God requires (Makot 23b-24a):
דרש רבי שמלאי שש מאות ושלש עשרה מצות נאמרו לו למשה שלש מאות וששים וחמש לאוין כמנין ימות החמה ומאתים וארבעים ושמונה עשה כנגד איבריו של אדם
בא דוד והעמידן על אחת עשרה
בא ישעיהו והעמידן על שש
בא מיכה והעמידן על שלש
חזר ישעיהו והעמידן על שתים שנאמר כה אמר ה' שמרו משפט ועשו צדקה
בא עמוס והעמידן על אחת שנאמר כה אמר ה' לבית ישראל דרשוני וחיו
בא חבקוק והעמידן על אחת שנאמר וצדיק באמונתו יחיה
Rabbi Simlai expounded: "613 commandments were spoken to Mosheh: 365 proscriptions, like the counting of solar days, and 248 prescriptions, corresponding to the body parts.
David came and stood them upon 11.
Isaiah came and stood them upon 6.
Micah came and stood them upon 3.
Isaiah came back and stood them upon 2, as it is said, 'Thus says the Lord: Guard justice and do righteousness.'
Amos came and stood them upon 1, as it is said, 'Thus says the Lord to the House of Israel: Seek me and live.'
Habakuk came and stood them upon 1, as it is said, 'A righteous person in his faith shall he live.'"
I'm going to leave these statements here for now and hopefully return to them in later posts.

24 July 2008

Wednesday 9 July

This morning, we woke up earlier than the previous two days, as we were checking out today. Just as in the previous two days, I got in some QT with my Talmud learning, although it was not as relaxing, since there was no rain this morning, plus it was hot (I was sweating just sitting there). There was a lady giving massages, so Rachel got her much desired massage. We also were not as rushed, also, since we were able to check out at noon, rather than eleven, the hotel's standard check-out time (it wasn't a problem since business was kind of slow this season (by the way, they charge about 100€ more during the winter season, when they are busier)).
The taxi driver for our trip to the airport was a talkative one who knew some English and heavily encouraged me to work on my French (it's important, a lot of people speak it, and one never knows if one will use it when traveling or on one's job, he said). So, for the ride, we worked on my conversational French (he said it takes just ten minutes everyday to work on it). I found out why there are cattle all over Guadeloupe (and, for that matter, goats): after slavery, the land for people to place their cattle was in their front yards, tying them to stakes that they have to move everyday so there is grass for them to eat. Anyways, at the end of our journey, he said something about Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible at which point, we said we are Jews and he tried persuading us, etc. He said he was a seventh-day Adventist and that he also doesn't work on Shabbat. His interesting message to us was that Shabbat, in addition to refraining from forbidden stuff, to work on ourselves and to somehow show love [like Jesus(?)].
Anyways, we got to the airport and got our liquor from customs and got on the plane (after having to wait an extra hour on account of the plane having been delayed from Panama.
The flight was about 25 minutes long, probably the shortest plane ride of my life. The plane on the Air Caraibe flight was a nice small Embraer jet (much nicer than the old small plane we took from San Juan). When we went through customs, they didn't ask us about the liquor, but that's probably because we were coming from Guadeloupe.
We then took a taxi cab to our new hotel.
We walked around town in the evening and took it easily.

23 July 2008

Barbados Synagogue & Museum Visit

As mentioned before, we had a several hour layover in Barbados on our way back from our honeymoon in the Caribbean. The only thing of which we knew that we wanted to visit was the synagogue and museum in Bridgetown, the capital. So, we took a cab (as we still had our luggage (it was still too early to check in)) to the synagogue.
When we arrived, we saw, as described nearly twenty years ago by Nancy Sharkey, "an
unprepossessing building of buff-colored coral stone and mortar tucked away on a side street in Barbados's capital, Bridgetown, and surrounded by the centuries-old graves of the island's Jewish settlers." Sharkey continues, "the building's exterior, with its balustraded roofline, lancet-shaped windows and thick walls with rounded corners, appears much as it did in the 1830's, the prosperous days of Barbados's Jewish community, which led the island's sugar industry."
So, it was nice being in there and, as it was the afternoon, I davened minhah there.
Sharkey further wrote
The first synagogue on the site was built about 1651 by Jews from Recife, Brazil, fleeing Portuguese lands to English territories during the Inquisition. The original building was destroyed in a hurricane in 1831, and rebuilt two years later. (Curaçao's synagogue, built in the 1660's, is the oldest continually operating synagogue in the hemisphere.) The Bridgetown synagogue, deconsecrated early in the century, was seized by the Barbados Government about five years ago and scheduled for demolition. But through the tenacity of the island's tiny Jewish community, it is now a Barbados National Trust property and is undergoing a $1 million restoration. The building, a short walk from the main shopping district, is to be rededicated as a synagogue when the restoration is finished by next winter. It will remain a National Trust property.
For more information, it has been written in a recent doctoral dissertation:
While the first purposely built synagogue in the British Isles, Bevis Marks was not the first in the English Empire. The first synagogue built in the English Empire, like that in the French Empire, was in the Caribbean. However, the first chapter of Jewish history in the English Caribbean is somewhat shrouded in mystery due to the shortage of documents and historic sites that have managed to survive unto this day. The English began colonizing Barbados in 1627 as part of its venture to compete against the Spanish in the Americas. It is not known exactly when the first Jews arrived in Barbados, but evidence suggests as early as 1629 as a possibility. Following the loss of Dutch Brazil to the Portuguese in 1654, the Barbados quasi-crypto-Jewish community experienced growth from refugees who resettled there. Congregation Nidhe Israel was officially founded in Bridgetown by 1656, following Cromwell’s policy of readmission.1
As far as the synagogue, specifically:
The earliest mention of the Nidhe Israel Synagogue is from a surveyor’s recorded dated from 1664, and mentions the building as already having been built. It was also recorded that the first Torah scrolls came from Amsterdam, demonstrating that the Barbados Jewish community had strong ties with the Jews in the Dutch Empire prior to the rise and dominance of London and its Jewish community. The Barbados community’s first rabbi was Eliahu Lopez, who came from Amsterdam in 1679, and later moved to Curaçao in 1693 to serve as the rabbi there. A second synagogue, Semah David, was built toward the end of the seventeenth century (again exact date unknown) in Speightstown to accommodate the island’s growing Jewish community. Semah David Synagogue was like Neve Shalom on Cura?ao since it was not a separate congregation from the first (Nidhe Israel in Bridgetown) but merely a branch to accommodate more people. In 1739, Semah David was destroyed by an anti-Semitic mob after a dispute occurred between a Jew and a non-Jewish individual on the island. Nearly one hundred years later, Nidhe Israel along with many of the congregation’s records was destroyed by a hurricane in 1831. A second Nidhe Israel Synagogue was built in 1833, which is used by the congregation today. However, the newer building bears little architectural resemblance to the older one. No known description survives of the seventeenth century synagogues of Nidhe Israel and Semah David.2
Throughout this post, you can see various pictures of the synagogue, which is, apparently, the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere still in use.
Speaking of in use, there was a sign on the synagogue that says "Friday Night Services Are Conducted at Shaare Zedek Synagogue" located at "Rockley New Road, Christ Church" with telephone numbers provided (427-7611/228-2102) for information. The museum director told us there are only Friday night services at the historic synagogue from November through March. The rest of the year, there are held at Shaare Zedek. Saturday morning services are not held at the historic synagogue (as far as I know). (Online, there is an article that says in "the winter months, the Jewish community holds its services in the old synagogue building, which, as in days of old, has no air conditioning. But during the hot months of summer, they retreat to the smaller, but air conditioned, Shaare Tzedek for their services.")the outside of the Nidhe Israel Museum
We then headed over to the nearby Nidhe Israel Museum (adult admission price is $12.50, btw, so it's not cheap), which was nice-looking and new, as well, having opened in February of this year. As of this time, the museum consists of one large room with various informational paneling (such as "The Price of Tolerance", "The Days of Intolerance", "The Unknown Jewish Contribution to Barbados", "Jews Coming to the New World", "A Spiced World", "Jews and Sugar", "The Jews as Merchants in the City", "A Story of Hope", and "Saving the Synagogue Once Again"), although they hope to add an art gallery and a Jewish library upstairs. The building in which the museum is located was built in 1750, but they were planning on tearing it down. When they found that behind the walls, the building was originally made up of coral stone, they decided to retain it, as it reminded them of Jerusalem stone, although now they are trying to get some actual Jerusalem stone, so people can see what that is like. The museum's hours are are 9-4, Monday - Saturday.
After we walked through the museum, we had nowhere else to go for a couple of hours and it intermittently rained, so we chatted with the director for a while, finding out that the
Jewish community's size is, during the summer, about 20-22 and about triple that during the rest of the year. Also, there are many Barbadians who are of Jewish descent, with some wanting to reclaim their Jewish heritage. The director said that if one were interested in being a rabbi here, one would need to do something on the side (like conversion stuff).
The director also mentioned to us that they had recently discovered a mikveh there (and nowthe excavation of the mikveh reported yesterday by Reuters), which, built in 1652, was the first in the western hemisphere. When they uncovered it, the director told us, it was greenish, and then there were a lot of mosquitoes. In order to finish off the mosquitoes, they had to bring in fish to eat the mosquitoes' larvae.
I think that
Barbados definitely needs a kosher place to eat, especially during winter, the main tourist season. And, yes, I did consider going down there and being a rabbi. However, before I think of going to be a shul/community rabbi anywhere, I would like to get some experience first (although I am thinking of heading into campus/Hillel work for the time being).
1 - Barry Louis Stiefel, "The History and Preservation of the Synagogues of the Atlantic World, 1636-1822" (Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 2008), 98.
2 - Ibid., 99.

Our pictures from the synagogue and museum.
Further reading:
Donald H. Harrison, "Who Were the Bearded Ones: Reclaiming the Jewish Past in Barbados"
Lauren Kramer, "Jewish Island Spirit" 9 November 2006 Jerusalem Post

22 July 2008

Thursday 3 July

Another honeymoon posting.
On our first full day of our honeymoon, we went over to Philipsburg on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. Some things we hadn't known prior to our trip: the island is duty-free, there are lots of jewelry stores (especially on the Dutch side), there is more going on on the Dutch side. So we walked about, doing some shopping, getting, among other things, some jewelry for Rachel and some liquor (the prices were fantastic! Generally, bottles of liquor were half of what they are in the US). We chanced upon Nick Maley's That Yoda Guy shop. Maley helped create Yoda and worked on the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in the first Star Wars movie. When we walked into the store, an Englishman greeted us and, at first I didn't think it was him, but, indeed, it was. I got a picture with him after purchasing something. He was a very nice guy, who said he has plans to expand his store and has some stuff from the Star Wars movies, as well as some other movie memorabilia.
We also saw the Guavaberry Emporium, the building of which is described on their website as "The old cedar townhouse on Frontstreet is a local landmark & legend. Built on the site of an ancient synagogue (abandoned in 1781), it was once the Governor's home. Now it is the Guavaberry Company's World Headquarters." So, as far as I know, this was the only point of any Jewish interest on St. Martin (although, apparently, on the nearby island of St. Eustatius, there is an archaelogical dig of a synagogue (thanks, Barry!)).
After about five o'clock, the streets were clearing out as most of the people walking on the boardwalk and along Front street, as the two cruise ships which were docked were departing a little after that point. So, around six o'clock, we took a taxi ride back to our hotel and that was our evening.

Friday 4 July

St. Martin from our planeAfter checking out and taking a taxi over to the airport (which was fairly empty, but it could just have been the morning), we then caught our flight to San Juan where we had our connecting flight to PTP.
When we arrived in San Juan (yes, we were briefly in the US for Independence Day), instead of just going to the next gate over to catch our next flight, we went through customs, then picked up our checked luggage, then deposited it with the TSA agents, then had to go through another security checkpoint, even though we had already gone through one in St. Martin, and then finally were at our gate.
Rachel with the pool of our hotel in the background
After we got to our gate, we got on a bus that took us only about 200 feet away(!) to our plane. After we were on the plane and started to taxi, we then waited for an hour to take off - apparently, it was due to some radar problems in the Guadeloupe area(?).
We then arrived in Guadeloupe and took a cab to our hotel. Whilst leaving the airport, we noticed cattle grazing nearby. In fact, as we went, we kept seeing more and more cattle, which was weird to me (finally, on Wednesday, I would find out why).
Drew & Rachel at the beach at our hotel
Eventually, we got to the hotel and it was fine - we then looked at the bar, the pool, and then the beach on the hotel property, which was neat.
We then walked over to the synagogue, which was about a ten minute walk from the hotel, and inquired as to when services would be that evening. We headed back to our hotel and got ready for shabbat and headed over to the synagogue.
There were between 30 and 50 men there and several women there. For Kabbalat Shabbat, they were using the regular Sefardic tune thing until they reached Mizmor LeDavid, when they used the tune that is commonly sung in America. Some of the youths were wearing shorts, though all of the adults were wearing pants.
After services, we headed back to our hotel, where we had some food and went to sleep.

16 July 2008

Monday 14 July

(another honeymoon posting)
We arose early, finished packing, then we took a taxi to the airport (which was, just like our taxi trip to the hotel, expensive (we had wanted to take the ferry in to Fort-de-France, then take a taxi from there, but since it was a holiday, the earliest ferry was not running (a later one was, though it wasn't early enough for us), so we couldn't take it). Again, just like the taxi ride to the hotel, the Martinican countryside is a nice sight to behold, with many verdant hills and some houses dotting those hills.
We got to the airport and got to our gate and waited and waited - without any notifications that our Liat flight would be late: the boarding time was supposed to be at 8:45 and flight time at 9:30. Finally, at 9:33, they announced that it was delayed to 10:10. Apparently, the previous flight had been delayed. Our flight to Bermuda had a stop in St. Lucia, which was a 12 minute flight. When we had arrived onto the [old American (e.g. the emergency door instructions were in English)] plane, it smelled a bit. We weren't the only ones to notice it - as the flight stewardess came down the aisle and sprayed air freshener - certainly a first for me. And she did the same for our flight from St. Lucia to Barbados.
We arrived in Barbados and they had a nice little fountains and flowers area (pictured) that also had a little free wifi (yay!). We then went through customs, exchanged our Euros for Barbados dollars, then we tried to go and drop off our luggage for our next flight and then head into town.
However, it was only noon and the lady at the ticket counter said that they could not take luggage until three hours prior to the flight - at 3:30. So we waited for a half hour to see if they would pity us and capitulate - no such thing. Finally, Rachel and I decided we would go to the capital and see the synagogue and Jewish museum there and maybe walk around as well. So we went to the capital and went to the synagogue there and checked out the Jewish museum, about which I will write in a future post. After that, we decided that we would just go and try checking in for our flight.
When we got to the ticket counter, at 3:30, we still had to wait for the Air Jamaica agents to get back from their break for 15-20 minutes. Whilst we were checking in, we overheard another gate agent say it was delayed - it was not supposed to take off until 9 o'clock! When we found out that information, it was 4 o'clock. We decided we should hang out at the airport for several hours rather than trying to go back into the capital. Then, two and a half hours later, we found out that it was pushed back another half hour. Finally, around 9:45 or so we boarded.
Although we had thought that they had forgotten about our kosher meal order, lo and behold, they actually had our kosher meals. The kosher meals on the Air Jamaica flight are from Jamaica - Jamaica, NY that is. Made by Borenstein Caterers, the little slip of paper accompanying our meal said, "is the largest Kosher Airline Caterer in North America and a leader in its field. We meet the USDA standards and supply meals to 52 International Airlines."
After the in-flight movie (something that I only watched because it was showing on the plane and would never have watched otherwise), which was okay, I napped for less than hour, before waking up as the plane entered into its descent. Finally, we arrived after 3 am and were back in the States (of course, we still had to go through customs and then collect our luggage before going back to our apartment, but we were otherwise back).

Clubhouse Cafe

I went with my wife last night to the Clubhouse Cafe for one of her friend's birthday dinner. It was my first time being there and it was a good place to eat. The ambiance was nice, mostly darkly lit. The prices were decent. The waiters, as the birthday girl's husband remarked, were nicely built, which was a first in my kosher dining experiences. Although my wife, from her previous two visits, had found the service to be slow, I thought it was just fine (our waiter did a good job, I thought).
We started off with a bottle of white sangria, which was fine (my first ever - I've had red sangria before made by friends, so this was a new taste for me, albeit not as sweet as red sangria). Then, my wife and I ordered buffalo wings (which came with a white dipping sauce), which were tasty (my wife found them too spicy for her, although, to me, they were barely such), along with some club soda. My wife and I then got their house punch, which was a fruity drink, with an amount of alcohol that did not dominate the drink's taste.
For our main dishes, my wife got a roasted chicken sandwich with avocado, which tasted nice. I got their spicy beef chili, which actually was spicy - neither underwhelmingly so (like I had expected), nor too spicy - and tasty, as well. Although there were some beans and even some vegetables, the beef was tasty and filling.
I was, by that point, too full to eat any dessert, but I had a bite to eat of their chocolate soufflé, but I got a part of it that was burnt.
All in all, I enjoyed the dining experience and will probably return.
(Yes, I think this posting is my first one about a dining experience (maybe it is a by-product of all of the watching that my wife does of the Food Network).)

15 July 2008

Monday 7 July

(Another honeymoon posting)
We started off the day relaxing around the pool at the hotel, Rachel reading her book and me learning Talmud, when it began raining, so we went to a table beneath the canopy. That is, until the wind took the rain more horizontally, so we then went inside and sat on couches in the empty hotel restaurant, with the rain falling around us.
After learning, I then went back to the hotel room and set out to get an electric adapter. After walking about a half hour, I arrived at the hardware store, but it wouldn't reopen [from lunch break] until an hour later. It wouldn't make sense to go back to the hotel and back, so I continued walking into town, looking for a place that would sell adapters. Although I found no such place, I did get to see how small Ste. Anne, the nearby town, was. I then returned to the hardware store, getting an adapter and a file to get it to properly receive cords. I then walked back to the hotel and we relaxed and read in the afternoon.
In the evening, we showered up and headed back to Bas-du-Fort to go to the kosher restaurant for dinner. We took a taxi and went to the gate of Fort Fleur de l'Éépe, finding that it had closed one hour prior. Not that it mattered, though, since we weren't there for that, anyways, and we probably only missed out on a great view.
Up until this point, this day was the most relaxing day of our trip.
We then headed down the road to hopefully find the kosher restaurant beneath the synagogue. We didn't see a restaurant, so I went up to the synagogue (Or Sameah). When I arrived, I found them about to pray minhah, so I joined them. Between
minhah and ma'ariv (the evening prayer service) (or 'arvit), I inquired of someone regarding food. It turns out that there is a restaurant open for lunch, but not for dinner. But, after talking to this person, I was able to talk to the pizza maker. So, we returned for 'arvit. At 'arvit, not only were there many more men, but there were also a lot of women who showed up (and there were none for minhah). Afterwards, the rabbi, Rabbi Benisty spoke and I thought we would then get pizza. Nope. Another guy got up to speak for 5-10 minutes. And then another, at which point I left, mainly because I didn't know what was going on and to check on Rachel, but also because I was too hungry to try and concentrate on the words I could understand. After departing, we asked what was going on. Apparently, a community member had died eight days prior and this was a special evening for him. Had we only known. Then the pizza maker lady informed us that she had to set up food to follow the speaking.
Finally, at 8:20, we went with the pizza maker lady, her husband, and three small kids into their car for a brief car ride to their apartment. She told us that they had had a dairy/pizza restaurant up until four months ago, but there were not enough people interested in keeping kosher for dairy, but they are interested in making sure that the meat they eat is kosher (although there are people like that in America who do that, I realized that halav stam is in America, but not Guadeloupe, France, etc., so kosher cheese and milk are neither common, nor inexpensive), so she didn't have enough business to keep her pizza store going. When we arrived at their apartment, we saw that they still had all of the equipment from the restaurant at their house, including the refrigerator for drinks (a "souvenir", said the pizza maker's husband). We chatted mostly with the pizza maker's husband while she made the pizza, speaking in Hebrew, French and, when necessary, English. At almost nine o'clock, the pizza was ready, although, for the two medium-sized plain pizzas (or, as Rachel called them, personal pizzas), it cost 26€ (although, I figured, the cheese had to be what was particularly costly about it, having to be halav Yisrael, coming from, perhaps, France). On our way out, the pizza maker's husband told us that the blessing on the pizza was mezonot.
We then got a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
Upon our return, we ate our pizzas (three and a half hours after we had planned to eat dinner), which were actually tasty.
We were kind of tired and Rachel fell asleep, whilst I watched a movie I would never have otherwise watched or of which I have heard - Raw Deal, a 1980s Schwarzenegger movie (which made me appreciate his acting in 1990s movies).

Tuesday 8 July

(For now, I am posting what I have and will be working on filling in the gaps in my postings about our honeymoon, so the posts may very well be out of order.)
Today was definitely a chill day throughout. After waking up again to rain, we made it inside to the hotel's restaurant's couches and Rachel read whilst I learned Talmud. After a while, Rachel returned to the room to nap. Later on, I joined her to read in the air conditioned room.
Eventually, we decided to go into town to see if we could watch anything of the first day of the 21st annual Gwo Ka festival. Well, although we didn't see any of the festival, we meandered around Ste. Anne and we got some bread, some ice cream, drinks, and wrote some postcards (but got to the post office after it closed). Rachel also got some cute jewelry and I stopped at an Internet Cafe to check e-mail and Facebook (even though there was some wi-fi at certain places at the hotel, it was easier to type at a computer).
Upon our return to our hotel, we tried going swimming, but there were bugs all across the surface of the water, so we quickly decided to return to our hotel room.
After I showered, Rachel pointed out that there were plenty of bugs in our room (after all, the windows were not glass, but rather kind of like shutters, leaving small openings when they were "closed"). After killing a dozen or two dozen bugs, I figured out that since we had turned off our patio light, bugs were attracted to the lights inside our room, the patio light should be turned on, as it had been the previous two nights - indeed, it worked. After showering up, we saw The Bounty and went to sleep.

Back from Our Honeymoon

My wife and I are back from our honeymoon and I hope to be posting about our trip (fortunately, I was keeping track of our goings-on on our iPod (iTouch) and will be able to get a lot of stuff up soon.

01 July 2008

Disney World

Now that we are heading off tomorrow for our honeymoon, I figured now would be a good time to post about our quasi-honeymoon trip to Disney World a half year ago. We were there from Sunday 23 December through the morning of Friday 28 December.
We stayed off Disney property for our stay there, which I think was a mistake, as we took a bus each way that dropped people off at various Orlando hotels. We stayed at the Wyndham, which was fine, although we had asked if there was transportation between them and Disney World, they said yes, but did not tell us that it cost $20 and it took an hour. Also, it would have been nice if they had a mini-fridge in the room for us to keep food there. Also, it would have been nice that, in addition to a shuttle between there and Disney World, but also between them and the airport. The bus, itself, was fine: it was operated by Town & Country Transportation and we had a really informative and fun Italian bus driver. Next time, however, instead of spending two hours both ways in transit, we will spend on Disney property.
Random bits:
Because it was the last week of December, there were a lot of Christmas/holiday/wintry music playing about. Also, there were a bunch of special performances, but we didn't go to any of them. Something I noticed which was slightly peculiar to me was that almost every gift shop was selling DVDs of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie - it was ridiculous how many different places were selling them.
We got to MGM Studios and EPCOT at the opening of each, which was great, as we had such little wait for the Great Movie Ride and Spaceship Earth, respectively.
I was surprised that in the instructional video for the Star Tours ride that they had Teek from one of the three Endor films.
Of the college paraphenalia, I saw a lot of people wearing Ohio State hats and shirts, although I also saw a fair number of people wearing LSU and Florida wear. However, on Thursday, I started seeing some MSU and BC gear being worn, as fans of each time were now around for the game the next night.
Kosher Food at Disney World: We didn’t know this ahead of time, but in each of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World, there is one dining place with some kosher entrees. All of these entrees are provided by Webermans Traditional Foods under the supervision of the Circle K. The first day we were there, we happened to notice at
Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom by accident as we were walking by and saw the line at the bottom of their menu that said kosher food. They have pizza, hot dog, and chicken - all double-wrapped. Anyways, the other places are the ABC Commisary in MGM Studios (in the Commissary Lane section), which has hot dog, hamburger, and corned beef. Also, for desert, there is chocolate chip cookie/cake. In EPCOT, there are kosher hot dogs and hamburgers at Liberty Inn in the America section of the World Showcase section. Lastly, in Magic Kingdom, Cosmic Ray's the kosher options are hamburger, chicken strips, and corned beef. Additionally, there were lots of stands with SuperPretzels, which are, I've heard, kosher.
Since it's been a half year since we went, I probably have a lot of other things about which I could've blogged already, but this will have to do for now.