Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our First Visitors

Jack and Kori in Curacao!

We all climbed Curacao's tallest mountain - Sint Christoffelberg
Tuesday morning found us embarking on a "3 hour tour" ...
the JonaLisa looked like a sturdy, sea-worthy vessel
but when the skies went dark and the rain came down on
Klein Curacao Jack and I were fighting over who would be
The Professor and who would be Gilligan ...

but the skies cleared and we made our way back to Curacao

Yesterday morning I woke up early to take my great friends, Jack and Kori, to the airport in Curacao and said good-bye. They were our first visitors on Curacao, and we had a great week sharing old memories and creating new ones.
Last Saturday Jack and Kori arrived in Curacao after a long day of travelling from Charlottesville, Virginia where they live. 3 flights, 2 layovers, a delayed flight from Miami - but they finally made it ... but they were missing 3 very important things - their 3 pieces of luggage. In their long day of travelling their bags were somehow left behind, and that left our two friends with the clothes on their backs and whatever they wanted to borrow from us.
We don't need to go into the details but the bags didn't finally arrive until 3 days, and a lot of frustrated phone calls, later, but Erin and I were both excited to have our first visitors, and especially because they were Jack and Kori. This small bump in the road didn't stop us from having a great few days of sharing this little island we now call home. The next day we headed into town to try and at least find a bathing suit for Kori but nearly all of the shops were closed so we decided to stick to dry land activities ... it was off to the Ostrich Farm! The Ostrich Farm was a big hit - it's one of Erin's favorite places to go on the island, and Jack and Kori really seemed to like the small piece of Africa in Curacao. Even after watching their Nile Crocodiles snack on a pigeon (thanks to our guide), and despite having eaten a late lunch, we stayed for dinner at Zambezi, their African themed restaurant, where they serve up delicious Ostrich steaks and fabulous desserts!
After a great day exploring the island and checking out the Ostrich Farm, and still no sign of the missing luggage, we decided to spend Monday climbing Christoffelberg, the tallest mountain on Curacao at 375 meters, or approximately 1,230 feet. We had gotten a nice little rain shower the night before so it was a lot of fun trekking through the small streams that coursed down the mountain. After spending the morning tiring ourselves out on the mountain Erin and I took our guests to our famous cliff-jumping spot, Playa Forti, and Jack and I took the plunge off the cliff. Back in the car it didn't take any time at all for all 3 of my passengers to fall asleep and dream their way back into town.
The next day was one I was really looking forward to - it was going to be our first trip to the small, mostly uninhabited island of Klein Curacao (Little Curacao). We had made reservations aboard the JonaLisa, a 50 foot cataraman, and couldn't wait to get out onto the open water and explore this island famous for it's shipwrecks, abandoned lighthouse, and abundance of marine life. The luggage was still missing, but it was a beautiful morning when we boarded the JonaLisa, and we got a view of the island we had never enjoyed before. We scanned the waters for the frequent flights of flying fish and the chance to spot some of the big marlin and sailfish that roam the deeper waters off Curacao. When we reached Klein Curacao we quickly jumped in and began exploring the underwater world on our way to the shore ... we saw pufferfish, eels, even a sea turtle just on our way to the beach! Once we got onto the island we headed off to check out the old abandoned lighthouse - it's insides we're falling apart and if this old lighthouse had even been left standing in the United States it would have definitely been deemed too dangerous to enter. But that's the beauty of being outside of the country - who needs safety regulations?! Jack, Kori, and I climbed to the very top of the tower hoping our next step didn't send us plunging down to the bottom. The view from the top was worth the scary climb - we had a great view of the entire little island! After some more exploring of washed up shipwrecks we headed back to lounge on the beach, do some more snorkeling, and practice our flipping abilities from the boat. We weren't actually bothered much by the rain that came down on us in the afternoon - it provided us with a much needed break from the hot Caribbean sun. We brought up the anchor and sailed back to Curacao exhausted ... but smiling.
For the remainder of the week Erin and I were back to work, but Jack and Kori finally got their luggage and were able to enjoy the last few days of their holiday. We even got to share a little of the International School with them on Friday as we celebrated UN Day - a celebration of the "Internationalness" of ISC. It was a day full of dancing, costumes, and a lot of excellent ethnic cuisine - a true taste of the diversity at our school. From Indian, to Chinese, to Vietnamese, to Lebanese, to Greek, to Jewish - it was a delicious day. We snuck out early from school and headed to one of Curacao's more beautiful beaches, Porto Marie, where we got to see a large Spotted Eagle Ray and swim right along side it. It was a great way to end a great week with our great friends.
It is so important to both Erin and me to share our lives with our family and friends in a real genuine way. I think that is why this blog is so much fun for us. I know that is why we love to have friends make the trip to visit. We hope you enjoy reading the blog, and we hope even more you consider "cruisin'" with us sometime, wherever we find ourselves.

Friday, October 17, 2008

YouTube Politics

Check out our new feature at the bottom of the page!!! The YouTube video bar will keep you tuned in to what the world thinks about this year's Presidential Race!
Now Erin and I want to know what you think about the 2008 Presidential Race, and we need to send our Overseas Voter ballots back home! Tell us who we should vote for, and why?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Photographs are like reflections - they give us that special chance to look at who we are. Here are some photographs, and some brief reflections, on what Erin and I have decided was definitely the "Best Year of Our Lives".

One year ago today I suggested we take a look at the surf at my favorite place to surf in Pensacola, "the Cross". All part of the plan, it was here that I took a knee and asked the most incredible woman in the world to be mine forever. I'm not sure why, or how, but she said yes ... and the adventure officially began. Sure we had already set off to places like Puerto Rico, Machu Picchu, the Amazon; we had been to Dallas together twice for close friends' weddings; and we had spent a Spring Break and a couple weeks of summer in California with my family; but now we had taken the leap - made the promise to make the promise - and no surprise, it's only gotten better.

I have to admit those first couple of months could be a little scary at times (just kiddin' honey), but I learned that my greatest joys and most cherished moments would always be shared with Erin. Christmas and New Years with the Kinzer family was a blast, and my wife-to-be left no doubts as to her place in the family. Baja surf trips, border crossing haggling for cheap mexican wares, and quietly bringing in the New Year in the living room. As always, she was a big hit - sometimes I think they would have just traded me for her if they could.

We made a couple trips to Vanderbilt for some SEC football and basketball action, and Erin got to see my old college stomping grounds. We also made our second trip together down to Orlando for the Disney Marathon. I chased Erin around the park (I was in the car of course) to cheer her and the girls on. Nashville and Orlando were a lot of fun, but they cannot compare to the experience we had in Nicaragua. Whether it was playing with the kids at the orphanage ... working in the heat to help build the palapa ...

watching Erin's loving spirit as she served up food for the local people ... or just taking in the beautiful surroundings (read: waves) of this most inspiring country - we left Nicaragua changed as individuals and changed as a team.

The Spring Break trip to Nicaragua was amazing, but the best day of the past year - the best day of my life - came a couple of months later ... May 24, 2008. I walked out of the church that evening the happiest man in the world, and I haven't looked back. What a joyful day!!! I even snuck in a few waves with my Best Man (and little brother) and best friend Brian early that morning. It was the party of a lifetime, and I can't imagine celebrating anything more wonderful than the promise Erin and I made to each other that day and the hope and joy we have in our future together.

The party continued as we made our way to California to celebrate my little brother's (and Best Man's) high school graduation. He gives me and the whole family so many reasons to be proud of him. From there we were off on another globe-trotting expedition - Singapore and the Maldives for a Honeymoon that has to rank as one of the best ever.

I guess the Honeymoon isn't really over yet ... we enjoyed a week back in California for the 4th of July and then made our way to the island of Curacao. I never would have guessed just how unique and diverse this small Caribbean island is, and it seems as though every week I find another hidden treasure. Surprisingly, we had a few days of really good surf in early October, and when the waves died down we took the opportunity to learn how to windsurf.

Everytime I look underwater I find something new, and each week during our exploration of the island I make an unexpected discovery. Whether it's the beautiful view from the top of Sint Christoffelberg, the fact that Erin is the "fastest woman on Curacao" and has the 12 Km trophies to prove it, the beautiful cove called Boca Ascension where you can watch the Green Sea Turtles feeding in the rolling waves, or the stunning and humbling candlelit Yom Kippur service in the longest continually running Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere - this island is full of treasures.

I told my breathtakingly beautiful wife (I submit photo above if you need evidence) tonight that this year has been without a doubt the most magnificent of my life. She, despite the fact that I certainly have gotten the better deal, feels that this year is by far the best year of her own life. I should say that the "Best Year of My Life" award is not given out light-heartedly - we've both had some incredible years, and even before we met each other we agreed that we had enjoyed rather fantastic lives. This year has earned it. The amazing thing is, I fully expect that the next 12 months will be even better.