Traveling By Land, Sea and Air Hotel @nyware: January 2013

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Archive for January 2013

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A day without you is like a year without wifi.

 I'm in a serious relationship with my internet at sea. You can say we have a good...connection! No Strings Attached...

When you are in the middle of nowhere and the center of everything--that means one thing--a strong internet connection at Starbucks. Around the world, the best signals have been:

1. Coming Home To Starbucks In Catalonia

Haikus are easy/
But sometimes they don't make sense/Starbucks

Sure I am in Barcelona, romanticized as Cafe Life, where dudes smoke Havana cigars with a post-lunch carajillo (Coffee/Congnac).  I miss my Epiphany chair like @ SBUXS USA, where life changes in an instant, as I drank from a paper cup.

 It's not just about the coffee; it's about the lifestyle. The Urban Monk attitude, no strings attached, living in this world but not of this world, telecommuting at location neutral, Hotel @nyware from a wi fi hot spot. I am back to that place that I have never been before...

2.The Urban Monk On The Hong Kong Express

A giant escalator takes me "up" to get a cup of coffee from my favorite drug dealer, Starbucks. Coffee is the new tea in China. The Starbucks Effect--Everwhere and Forever has its gravitational pull even on the locals---exerting almost cosmic influence on their lives...

3. Kona Joe-It's Not A Drug. It's A Vitamin.

Kona has coffee; and where there is coffee there is caffeine, and where there is caffeine, there is (Starbucks) and the opportunity to do stupid things faster; and that's where the teachable moments are---because time doesn't exist in Hawaii but being stupid does (has its benefits). Ignorance is bliss.

4. CDG--Mind, Body And France-It's A Beautiful Day

I shrink therefore I am part of — and apart from American, European and Asian culture. and the countries I visit(ed) and live(d) in are as eclectic and restless as airports I "inhabit". Along with the displacement, and the associated jet lag, I am simply a fairly glib product of a movable feast, living and working in a world that is itself increasingly small and increasingly hybrid---a transit lounger, forever heading to the departure gate where, on a round planet, it is hard to take sides-still, I get the chance to vote for Starbucks today.

5. Bordeaux-More Cowbell

It has the longest password, but they are The French- Why be difficult when you can be impossible

6. Make Coffee Not War
I'm in my own world--
but it's ok--they know me here.

The best  SBUCXS in the Caribbean is right here on Rafael E. Melgar LB, Centro, San Miguel de Cozumel.

SBUX---America's favorite drug dealer is serving up, what Mexicans  call "Dirty Water".

They have persuaded millions of cruise ship passengers  to spend $4 for what had been a $1 product." That's an amazing-getting less for more value proposition. Drinking OK coffee and standing in line to buy it. The cult of the amateur, the army of one, patronizing the YOUniverse. Now that's EGOomics.

Honorable Mention

1. Bahamas-Coffee Is My Cup of Tea

Blake flies in from "on high" to Paradise Island for some Seagull Management; makes a lot of noise, $h1ts all over everything then flies away again.

Ed Reif, former NYU classmate of Alec, and Starter for Team Baldwin, votes for Starbucks today, where life changes instantly, as he drinks from a paper cup.
 Roll Video...
Midnight Espresso

2. Live from Kusadasi, Turkey SBUXS


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Water Park(ing) 5 outside Georgetown this morning
The Ocean Waits, and even if you are just staring at it, you are already cruising a little. If you are thinking about   a voyage I would say go. The things you don’t like about cruise ships (buffets, crowds and noise) are not worth mentioning, it is like complaining about your wife to your mother in law. 
On a cruise ship, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.

When I go onboard, I always sail from Ft Lauderdale, because it is such a pleasant place to get away from. This is Wave Season—the three high-volume months when everybody books a cruise to get away from the winter. Just do it.

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One day my life will flash before my eyes. I am making sure it’s worth watching. My life hasn't   gotten better by chance; it’s gotten better by change. By changing nothing, nothing changes. When in doubt, I always have chosen change. All these changes, however, were preceded by chaos, and the bridges I burned, have lit the way.

There is no YES, in yesterday, and when you are sailing, you are what you are right there and then.  My  bizarre travel plans have been dancing lessons from God. As soon as anyone starts telling me to be realistic, I cross that person off my  invitation list. We are still friendly but no longer friends because they don’t get “it that if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.

There is wise and other wise--When my left brain is too  good at telling my right brain what to do, I am a normal man, adapting  to the world; otherwise I am  trying to adapt the world to myself.  So all my   progress depends on being  a paranormal man.  After all, “normal” is the setting on a washing machine-you know the spin cycle-same old, been there done that.Para normal, on the other hand,is an art rather than a science and can't be easily explained or measured.

The test to find whether my Hero’s Journey on earth is finished is simple--If  I’m  alive, it isn't.  Remembering this is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking I have something to lose.. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

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By the way, Im wearing the smile you gave me
6 Night  Cruise from Galveston
Traveling is too important to be taken seriously. YOLO-You only live once, right? 1 universe. 9 planets. 204 countries. 809 islands. 7 seas. And I had the privilege to meet you. I haven't been everywhere, but it is still on my list.

I would have to say that these two ports of call-Grand Cayman and Cozumel are the nicest in the Western Caribbean. These little islands of prosperity, peace and happiness are so exceptionally awesome.

Life of PIe-The Road Of Excess Leads To The Palace Of Wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.

The best part of cruising is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time. It puts you  in the position in which almost nothing that is so called “normal and familiar” is taken for granted. It usually starts out with the food.  YOLO took on another meaning-Eating 3 times a week at Nobu Japanese Restaurant onboard the Serenity and Prego Italian, the other days in the week that end in Y led to me tipping the scale at over 200lbs-.

 I was  190 pounds of rock hard muscle, underneath 10 pounds of sturdy protective fat!

It's Official:Bald is a hair color.
Shave your head and join the Union. Be brave and shave.
I have  calmed down with deserts and am eating "clean" fresh fruits and vegetables- I wrote about my contempt for my default mode of  24/7 feedings, last December on a nautical/gastronomical hiatus  in Lahaina, Maui; after the 2011 World Cruise Grand Expedition.  I am back to normalcy.

πhe United States of Unconscious Eating

With Bob Reif- I was  190 pounds of rock hard muscle, 
underneath 10 pounds of sturdy protective fat!

Life After Luau 

A good-bye is never painful unless you're never going to say hello again.Aloha Maui. Aloha Oahu.

 I know travel zoos are no longer in my good graces.Neither is eating on a cruise ship.  Certain illusions about freedom plague them both. Life off the cruise ships ,however,isn't much of a culinary life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn't be more simple, nor the stakes higher. I have to pay for  in food stuffs. This is certainly different from the  luaus and eat-what-you-kill safaris and big game fishing expeditions I took this year, where no matter where I was ,the stuffed animals on display all looked the same.

 Staged authenticity and First rule of cruise club-never miss a meal.Second rule-don't forget the first, and don't miss the 6pm all aboard. It has been predictable as an episode of Seinfeld. Yadi yada yada.

 No more choc-a-holic and midnight buffets. My favorite food on the ships had been Seconds! And the desserts. It was the life of pie. Playing the game of staged authenticity in the tourist themed spaces of Tahiti, Fiji et al.,while it was't the Mcdonald-ization of the South Pacific, it played more like a Disney animated feature film The Burger and The King featuring the fat Elvis belting out his own karaoke version of My Way like a good old hound dog with a few miles left.

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The copy is better than the original

Around here you can live with the assumption that every day is good fishing
If it is you are right. If it isn't  you are still fortunate.

The  most photographed and stolen sign here

Last time I was here-2 years ago

Ernest Hemingway - "That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best - make it all up - but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way."
Roll Video...

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Passing the sunshine state on the way to Key West, Ernest Hemingway’s port of call.

From the beginning I have had  a sense of destiny , as though my life has  been assigned to me by fate and has to be fulfilled and I have  a sense of security-but I can’t prove it to myself it proves  itself to me over and over again -I don’t have it, it has me.

The devil may be in the details but God is in the vagueness, and the human soul needs immensity, like an ocean to ponder, only then  can it be happy and feel free to breath.

The remains of the day can get you off your game-freedom, however, is what you do with what has been done to you. I always have the last word in shaping my life; even though the earth school kills all of its student. I have never let my schooling  interfere with  my education.

It only ends once---everything else is just progress. Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.

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Tranquility Base, The Ego Has Landed

Greetings from the user-friendly universe 
Cruise ship service is about downplaying the negatives and creating the illusion of perfection. The FOH (front of the house) is all things to all people. Now that I am finally traveling as a guest.  I  DO  like to be served, but invisibly.

Working on floating hotels. you are the United Nations Ambassador,and the whole passenger manifest  become non-persons and are granted an ethical equivalent of diplomatic immunity. Anything goes. No judgments. Still, I know I need a vacation from my vacation, when the little things, like elevator behavior, or grab and go at the buffet line start to irk me. It's actually, the tip of the iceberg.

Spending an overnight on land in Central Florida is the best way for me to compare these two mundane worlds. Its a kind of deliverance, a release from the stronghold of the sea, and its own kind of underbelly, wildness and danger, isolated from the gloss and safety of the USA. Gravity hurts.

Legend In My Own Mind

It’s easy come easy go with sailing  memories, as the older I get the better my past gets. Everyone lives with self  mythology.  I am no miraculous exception.  A  figment  of my  imagination, I a legend in my own mind. It's not brain surgery, it's rocket science, fooled by randomness, I have left everything up to chance, yet my "career" at sea  reads like a novel, page by page.
I am the hero of my own life. This self  mythology are the stories I tell about myself. The more  I tell these stories the less likely they are true. 

Going on land to get a more  accurate view of the world and myself can be shocking---Life on board a ship is like a carton of milk, with an expiration date stamped right on the carton.
Understanding the mythology of myself at sea  is far more important than watching the instant replay of what actually happened.
The more important a memory is to the story I tell myself  about myself, the more often I rehearse the memory. And the more often I relive those memories ,  the less likely it is that they are true.

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I no longer live on Cloud 9. I leveled up

Airplanes are like diets, I don’t like being on them. Float planes however (you know flying boats) are the exception. This summer in Alaska, I got a business class ticket to cool, with complimentary mojo on takeoff.
This landing strip is the only thing   aviational besides the staged authenticity-wrecked prop planes on Disney’s Castaway Cay.

I used to live on Cloud Nine in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, riding my carbon fiber bike 100 miles a day down the Venice Beach strand through  the boat yard of Marina Del Rey, and out towards Manhattan Beach.  It gave me an energy and enthusiasm and natural high that begged the question “What are you on?” I was simply on my bike.
Environments create mood, and  Starbucks, Yoga,  drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juices and good sunny weather  created fuel for thought. This   west coast life style suited me well. It gave me momentum towards a greater something.  

That something became a move to Cloud 10, sailing the seven seas on cruise ships.

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That funny feeling that you have sailed past  here before...

When I think Texas, I think Cows and Cowboy, a mashup of the Deep South and The Wild West but in metropolitan Houston, it is impossible not reach the conclusion that this is the energy capital of the world. Evidence of the fossil fuels workforce is everywhere.

Down-to-earth, international, very friendly, Houston has that water-cooler vibe where everything is petroleum based. It's easy to think that Exon Mobile and Shell are "Big Oil" but in reality, having traveled around the globe, most of world oil reserves, and an even greater % of the remaining reserves of “easy oil” are held by national oil companies controlled by kings and governments like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Norway and Russia.

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An  8 nights Bahamian Cruise, it's a mostly the Sunshine state-Florida Keys and  Disney World via Port Canaveral.

I  last visited Key West  January 2010. For me, it's a celebration of  the good life and a bygone era
 I soon discovered that life in remote Key West was like living in a foreign country while still perched on the southernmost tip of AmericaHave fun up North doing battle with The Snows of Kilimanjaro,

 "It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks." Ernest Hemingway.

Key West  was considered the  "Gibraltar of the West" because it is only 90 miles from Cuba. Which reminds me- the last time I was in Gib, at the rock was 2009, another pretty cool place every sailor should go.

The first stop is Castaway Cay, Disney's own private island.  I had a wonderful time there 6 months ago with my sweet heart Sarah Kennedy, who I will be joining on this trip.

Castaway Cay, Bahamas7/4/2012

This  private island in the Bahamas, is a Disney Cruise Line port of call. In answer to the question: "When Is The Copy Better Than The Original?" This would be it.

I am not talking about staged authenticity, like my visit to Papette TahitiMost designers spend their time creating shopping malls. Re-creating the island paradise, however,  is admirable.

Once  used as a stop for  drug smugglers.Think “Snow White” or “White Snow” . There is an airstrip on the island, but it is no longer in regular use nor maintained (I shot some video below) .It's unusual isolation becomes, in its own way, a paradise-somewhere in the Bahamas..

It is not Gilligan's Island but it has also been used for filming; the beach where Tom Hanks first encounters Daryl Hannah in Splash is on the island.If youw ant to read more about the islands checkered and colorful past, here is the link.

Papeete-PolYNesian Disneyland and The Audacity of hYpe
Travels In Hyper Reality-Tahitian Choreo-Musical Performances

Moorea in the distance

One thing for sure, they all came by boat. So did I!
Reprint from World Cruise 2011 With less than 24 hours in port, the locals and locale  are living up to their sterotypes---the Tiki style roofs, the tropical gardens and swaying palm trees, and more than that, there is still the visual sovenier that, like the Postman, always delivers: The   beautiful  exotic Tahitian Princess with their down-to-the knees long raven hair ---hand-weaving leis  effortless, while wraping themselves  in water-colored flowered sarongs, in the post colonial suburb of Paris, known as modern day Papeete. As the  ukulele soundtrack in the background  is playing , I feel like I am on safari-- Polynesia cannot escape being a human zoo seeking to contain the lives of its star attraction--its 'first'and native  people.

It's A Small World After All
Marketing the definitive view of paradise

Playing the game of staged authenticity in the tourist themed spaces of Tahiti, while it is not the Mcdonald-ization of the South Pacific, it is playing more like a Disney animated feature film----Staged Authenticity! I feel even weird participating in the rituals of sightseeing and taking pictures--Even at the Gaugain Musuem, the pictures are fakes (They can't afford to preserve and curate the orginals). I have seen most of them around the world, mostly at the Hermitage in St Petersburg Russia of all places. But anyway the copies are better thant he orgininals!
The hyperreal world is the world of ‘the Absolute Fake’ where imitations do not only reproduce reality, but try improving it. The French artist Gauguin's  obsession with French Polynesia is still  working!!

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So I called up the Captain, ’please bring me my wine’...

My life According To The Eagles Lyrics
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mamma. Another Caribbean cruise  at sea onboard the Disney Magic. It all starts on embarkation day tomorrow.

From Hotel @nyware to Hotel California.

It's been voted " One of The Greatest Songs of All Time",  synonymous with 1977, my  high school soundtrack and  visual vocabulary, I immediately  can access the album cover to the Eagles tour de force, while here in TX.

My blog is literature in a hurry--It  spins  stories of me sailing  the globe, as I get trapped in the golden hand cuffs of living and working on luxury cruise ships (Hotel @nyware). For the most part, it appears inviting and tempting. I hint on the hedonism, self-destruction, and greed in it all.

Welcome to the hotel California Such a lovely place Such a lovely face  Plenty of room at the hotel California. Any time of year, you can find it here.
This morning Downtown has the look and feel
of of a Matthew McConaughy movie set

 Architecture is a Verb-The Classic Land Yacht

It's a beutiful is a beautiful piece of art and aerodynamically very functional

From Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht
Sleek and shiny, Airstream trailers have been turning heads on the highways since they first started caravanning across America in the 1930s. These "aluminum skinned, gleaming silver bullets" are currently enjoying a revival in popularity. Praised for their clean lines and timeless aesthetic, movie stars and design buffs are snapping up these vintage beauties. Airstream equal parts travelogue, cultural history, and biography of Wally Byam, Airstream's charismatic inventorcelebrates the trailer's enduring appeal as an icon of simple, aerodynamic living. A dazzling array of images tell the story of how Byam, the father of modern trailer travel, created less a product than an entire culture. From the Eiffel Tower to the pyramids of Giza, from the Acropolis to the Golden Gate Bridge, Airstream caravans continue to travel to the far reaches of the earth. Amazing photographs from the Airstream archives document this metallic nomad's significant place in the history of design, from its streamlined origins to its current vogue. Airstream has always been synonymous with the freedom of the open road. Today the dream lives on.

Now it reminds me of New Orleans and Key West

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We made the trip to Manhattan for my Mother's funeral at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. She didn't want a big service but we chose the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in the United States, recognized throughout its history as the  center of American  Catholic life, because we loved her so much.

A Few Good Reifs' 
.The accumulation of birthdays is the leading cause of death in the USA, although she lived only 84 years, she had a great run. The last time the whole family got together at the cathedral was at my Dad's service. RIP Mom

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be. And in the hour of darkness, She is standing right in front of me, Speaking words of wisdom,

Let it be.

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Travel is an art and a science-- proven to alter perception, personality and may even rewire your brain. That’s what I mean by Ship for brains. The novelty and unique one-of-a-kind experiences drives up levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that gives you optimism, energy, curiosity and creativity.  My brain makes me travel...

Cruising = f(dopamine flow); Money= happiness

"Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy travel and new experiences, which is kinda the same thing"

The Persistence Of Norway
The need to break free and sail away is ancient, enduring and incessant. Voyages  trigger a concept called   psychological distance: Something about the experience of leaving your place  creates a shock and awe, a pathway  into a new perspective that floods the brain with ideas. For me, this shift in perspective starts as soon as I'm on  a cruise ship . Ships are weirdly the most lucid part of my life. Every cruise I take somehow changes my life in some way.

The actual cruise  might be four days or a week, the anticipation of   Norwegian Fjords cruise, for instance was months  and the memory will probably  last for years or forever. So, while I   focus  on the joy of the doing the cruise  there is  joy or anticipation and the joy of  THE memory of it all the time.

Rudyard Kipling wrote "Milford Sound  is the eighth wonder of the world.".  National Geographic Traveler Magazine  selected Norway as  The Top Natural Tourist Attraction in the World. After visiting both, Norway in 2010, and New Zealand in 2011, I didn't need a second chance for 2012 SE Alaska Fjords to make a first impression--It has brought me back  again to a  place I have never been before...

I used to think working on cruise ships was bad, but I stopped thinking- I guess I have ship for brains!

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The Cavalry is coming 

I sign off the Noordam tomorrow after 6 consecutive  cruises. This is the last stop before Ft Lauderdale--Half Moon Cay. White powder sandy beaches, vivid  blue water and these wonderful horses.

I used to think working on cruise ships was bad, but I stopped thinking- I guess I have ship for brains!

The need to break free and sail away is ancient, enduring and incessant. Voyages   trigger a concept called   psychological distance: Something about the experience of leaving your place  creates a shock and awe, a pathway  into a new perspective that floods the brain with ideas. For me, this shift in perspective starts as soon as I'm on   a cruise ship   Ships are weirdly the most lucid part of my life. Every cruise I take somehow changes my life in some way.
The actual cruise   might be four days or a week, the anticipation of   Norwegian Fjords cruise, for instance was months  and the memory will probably  last for years or forever. So, while I   focus  on the joy of the doing the cruise  there is  joy or anticipation and the joy of  THE memory of it all the time.
Travel is an art and a science-- proven to alter perception, personality and may even rewire your brain. That’s what I mean by Ship for brains. The novelty and unique one-of-a-kind experiences drives up levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that gives you optimism, energy, curiosity and creativity.  My brain made me travel...

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Making a splash

Death to DeCaf

Each island I visit gives way to endless regret or secret happiness, depending on the amount of caffeine in my system. Today it is not a drug, but a vitamin.

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We're callin' everyone to ride along to another shore 
We can laugh our lives away and be free once more" 
I used to think that working on a cruise ship was bad so I stopped thinking. Two  songs that inspired me to sail are -Cool Change ,a top 40 Aussie hit, and The Blues Image's, Ride Captain Ride,
Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best 
"If there's one thing in my life that's missing It's the time that I spend alone Sailing on the cool and bright clear water There's lots of those friendly people They're showing me ways to go But I never want to lose their inspiration Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change And I know that my life is so pre-arranged I know that it's time for a cool change .Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best" -Little River Band

"Seventy-three men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay Rolled off of their ship, and here's what they had to say "We're callin' everyone to ride along to another shore We can laugh our lives away and be free once more. Ride, captain ride upon your mystery ship Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip On your way to a world that others might have missed"-Blues Image

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Taking on water--liquid sunshine today
On December 25th, several guests complained to me about the music--" Why is there nothing but Christmas music throughout the ship?"

The Quest IS In The Questions

The most ridiculous questions I have ever heard out of the mouths of passengers.

Here are my top 3 stupid cruise questions?
 "What time is the Midnight Buffet?
"Will this elevator take me to the front of the ship?"
"Do these stairs go up or down?"
 "Is there music in the Disco?"

And Then some:

 "Is the water in the toilet fresh water or sea water?" (Taste it!)
"How far are we above sea level?"
"Does the crew sleep on board?"
"Do the ship generate it's own electricity?"

To Photographers:

 "If the photos aren't marked, how do we know which ones are ours?"

To the Cooks:

"What do you do with the ice carvings after they've melted?"

The bigger the summer vacation the harder the fall

The march of stupidity and the routines of tourism are even more monotonous than those of daily life.

In an excursion, when you are always sure of reaching your destination, where everything is so well arranged, souvenir shops sell made-in-China-junk,(adding drywall to the tainted pet food and lead-painted toys), taking a tour is a kind of self induced torture, like going on a wild stuffed animal safari, with stupid rules like Do not feed the animals and No flash photography applying. When you have taken enough of these tours, however,each additional one you may ever take again, is both unbearable and trifling.

My impressions from December  and April 2012, my last visit have not changed:

When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat. Island life is Project Manana.

I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good Tourist because I like to form my own opinions
Is it Manana yet.
Mañana: 1. Tomorrow 2. An unspecified future time
Banana Republic Is Hiring!
Christopher Columbus never actually discovered Dominica, it had merely been detected. After he spotted the island on a Sunday (dominica in Latin, domingo in get the idea). It's more like manana-nothing much gets done on time when it happens, it just happens, life goes on, and you can just pee in the ocean. Carpe Diem verses Carpe Mañana.

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