Designer. Writer. Traveller.

Antigua Part 2: St. James' Club and Devil's Bridge

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As I'm going through all the images we took in Antigua, it's incredibly difficult to curate which ones to post since there are so many! So, I'll be posting a link to the entire gallery with Part 3.

The second part of our Antiguan adventures continued on a different side of the island where the wedding was taking place, at St. James' Club. (If you missed Part 1, click here). About a 45 minute taxi ride from Jolly Harbour, we drove high into the mountains and through some really gorgeous scenery - none of which I have pictures for because I was too busy trying not to be sick from the winding roads, the heat and being in the back seat of a minivan. But boy, was it worth it.

We arrived at the hotel and met up with Mark's brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law right away, since they just happened to be in the lobby. After some giddy excitement, a few beers and a walking tour of the property, the rest of the family started to arrive, and with that, shenanigans ensued. It. Was. SoMuchFun.

A really good family friend, Judy, decided to come last minute. Everyone had kept it a surprise, so to see the look on my father-in-law's face and the tears in his eyes when she walked in was so incredibly special, especially since they hadn't seen eachother in about 15 years.

After that (and a few 'welcome' cocktails in the lobby), we congregated on the balcony of the villa where we were staying and spent hours catching up. And, because my mother-in-law is amazing, they had already stopped and gone shopping for food and booze, so we were all set and good times were rollin'.

Now, you may be wondering what the heck is in this picture below? Well, let me tell you...

After dinner a few of us kept the party going at the hotel bar. All of a sudden, Christina (my almost sister-in-law) comes running around the corner to me screaming "there's a bunny on the dance floor". Without hesitation, I ran over and there he was - a white rabbit hopping around all by its lonesome. Long story short, there was a magic show earlier and as the magician was packing up, he let the rabbit roam around. Did we ask to pick him up? Uhh, of course! That's when we found out there was a dove, too. And they were friends. So without further ado, meet Cotton and Peter! (I'm not gonna lie, I completely forgot the dove's name so I made this one up and for some reason Peter seemed fitting). And yes, they're sitting in a black top hat.

We tried to keep them but eventually (after running around the bar showing everyone including my husband who was super impressed), we had to give them back. But this picture is proof that we weren't crazy or hallucinating on drugs.

The following night everyone headed to Shirley Heights where the view was spectacular and the party was happening. The place was a logistical nightmare and you'd have better luck battling Genghis Khan than trying to get a hamburger, but it was worth it for this.

After the wedding, we rented a car so we could go exploring. Our first stop was Devil's Bridge, and while it's incredibly beautiful, the story behind it is quite dim. Devil's Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved from the sea, where slaves used to go and throw themselves overboard to their death. Hence, the name... Now how 'bout we revel in this marvelous natural formation?

More to come, stay tuned for Part 3.

- xomo

Weekend Wanders: The Murder House

Morgan EmmessComment

Before we left for Antigua, my good friend Andrea offered to teach me about photography. As I had never shot anything using a DSLR camera before (iPhone or point-and-click cameras were as technical as I got), and I had a wedding coming up that I was photographing, I thought it was probably a good idea. So, I dragged her to a place I'd heard about that turned out to be extra-creepy but super cool. She wasn't exactly pleased and proceeded to dub it "The Murder House".

In case an extremely creepy house wasn't enough, this place came with an added bonus - an equally creepy abandoned ice cream truck. It's interesting to imagine the history behind places like this. Seeing things in this state makes you wonder about the stories these places hold. 

The place was clearly abandoned and random artifacts were strewn about the property. Books, single shoes and cassette tapes to name a few (if you're too young to know what those are, click here). Being the nosy toad, as my father would say, I am, I had to go inside...

Warning: disturbing content ahead (aka the remains of a cat to put it nicely), so if you do not want to see that, then do not scroll past this point.

Now, I'm wondering how many of you didn't want to see that but scrolled down anyways!

I promise I'll wander somewhere a bit more uplifting next time.

- xomo

Antigua Part 1: Sunburnt Adventures and The 4 O'Clock Club

Morgan Emmess6 Comments

We recently flew to Antigua for my brother in-law's destination wedding, and if you're wondering where the heck that is, it's in the heart of the Caribbean right beside St. Kitts (see map). Being our first tropical holiday in a while, we were super stoked for palm trees, beautiful, blue water and some non-Canadian sun... which, we regretted not 24 hours after we landed as we burnt various random parts (armpit, kneecap, lower calves and belly rolls to name a few).

The island was lush with tropical forest and surrounded by beautiful beaches. And, as we found out when we landed, contained an impressive mountain range. We already knew about the mountains (my husband definitely does his research), but we were impressed with how big they actually were. The largest mountain on the island, Mount Obama (yes, the name was changed once he became president), stands 402 meters high or just over 1300 feet, which is nothing compared to the Rockies, but still offered one fabulous vista.

We spent our first three nights at a hotel called Sugar Ridge, just outside Jolly Harbour. The wedding was being held on the other side of the island, but we thought we'd get some quieter time in before we met up with everyone for the wedding. But then, the 4 o'clock club came along and quiet time was a distant memory.

Our first order of business when travelling is always to go exploring. And by exploring, we mean head to the pool bar. We became fast friends with everyone there and the 4 o'clock club was born, which basically means you know you'll see the same group of people, at the bar, around 4 o'clock. Makes sense, right?

On our last day at Sugar Ridge, we decided to go on a hike with the group. A local gentleman by the name of Vonn, offered to take us through his village which he did - for 3 hours. For 3 hours we walked (and sweat) our way through parts of Antigua you may not normally see. We visited his family home, various gardens where he taught us about the plants, fruits and vegetables that grew there - mango, lime, okra, tamarind, carob, the black pineapple (which is indigenous to Antigua) and a few more I can't remember the name of - and even a local boy getting his hair cut, who I'm pretty sure didn't appreciate all eight of us cramming in to watch.

It was hot, but beautiful and so worth it. And the best part? We were back by 3:55.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3. Also, notice the armpit burn!?

- xomo

From Fit To Fat To Fit Again - The Journey Begins

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Sooo... I used to be kinda fit. Like, super healthy fit. I ate really well, worked out and had a confident glow. Now, I'm kinda fat. Not to the point where I need my own show on TLC, but to the point where I can barely squeeze into my old-old jeans (meaning the ones I was supposed to donate because they were too big for me). Yeah. It's a problem.

My husband and I travel a lot and whenever we do, I always indulge in whatever I want because hey, I'm on vacation. The problem though, is that whenever we return home my mind remains in vacation mode. I'll continue to indulge in food and drink simply because, why not? It usually takes a few weeks to get back into the routine of working out and cooking healthy, but since we returned from our honeymoon last June, I haven't really bounced back.

I continually tell myself "enough is enough", but I'm also really good at convincing myself "I'll start tomorrow" or "next week"...usually once I've polished off a delicious croissant breakfast sandwich from Starbucks at my desk. Yeah, right. Then, because clearly I've already failed at eating healthy for that day (it's only 9am by the time I decide this), I use it as an excuse to eat more crap.

Note: I'd like to mention that this isn't my everyday routine. But there were a few times late last year when this happened quite often. What else was going on in my life at that time, you ask? Doesn't matter. No matter how busy or stressed you become, it's no excuse to eat this poorly. As a result, I was miserable, had less money from eating out and am now overflowing in my not-so-skinny jeans.

I wrote this post a while ago when I finally overcame my laziness and was proud of my one time (which actually did turn into a one week) accomplishment. But I treat the holidays the same way - a time to indulge in whatever I want. And since Christmas has now come and gone, it's time to do something about it.

So, in hopes that I don't lie to myself yet again, I'm going public. I will blog about this journey, and as one who's always struggled with food, I call it a journey. Some don't get it, but some do. And for those that do, thank you.

- xomo

PS - If you don't see any updates it means I'm still sleeping in and eating terribly. Feel free to contact me here and give me a kick in the ass :)

Finding Balance + A New Take On The Bucket List

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Looking back on 2015 I can honestly say I don't know where it's gone. It's like you wake up to a fresh new year, excited for what's to come and ready to take on the next 365 days with vigor, then all of a sudden, it's December and you're sitting here, like me, right now, wondering where the time went.

With January comes "new year resolutions", or in other words a poor excuse for a do-over... "okay so I slacked off this year so I may as well try again next year". It's the time where we dream big and set goals, complete with a strong sense of determination to meet those goals and make those dreams happen.

But by the time December rolls around, and boy does it come quick, we start gauging the success of our year based on what we set out to accomplish 12 short months ago.

Did you get that promotion? Did you go skydiving? Did you take that vacation you've been dreaming of? Did you lose ten pounds?

And if we didn't reach any of these goals, we get all pissed off, then lie to ourselves by saying we'll make it happen next year.

While there is a difference between new year's resolutions (goals) and a bucket list (dreams), both are developed the same way - by keeping a list of what we "have to do" this year, or in our lifetime.

But, what we're really doing is setting ourselves up for failure. Because with every goal set, there's always the chance that it may not happen. Sure, if you're determined enough and you set realistic goals then you'll probably have no problem reaching them, but if you don't (even for reasons beyond our control) we'll still beat ourselves up for it.

I'm a big fan of the bucket list and have an ever-growing one myself. But a video I saw recently, that you can watch here, has inspired me to look at things a bit differently. Instead of filling up an imaginary bucket with things you "have to do", start with an empty bucket and fill it up with moments throughout each day that made you happy. This, come December, will help you be grateful for what did happen instead of regretful for what didn't.

2015 went by in a flash because I was behind the desk for most of it. So, going into 2016 I have only one goal. To find balance. Balance between work and play. Continuing to work hard, but making necessary time for myself, friends and family, and appreciating life's moments no matter how big or how small. And even when stress hits, having a full bucket will remind us that every little sliver of life is entirely worthwhile.

- xomo