I had a show last year… watch the video here
Event planner, fashionista, supermommy and painter, there doesn’t seem to be anything that can daunt the bubbly spirit of 31 year old Sandy Thorne. She is petite and slender but her tiny frame houses a larger than life personality that is hard to ignore. A former construction worker and a professional painter, Sandy admits that sometimes there are aspects of construction work that are unappealing “I am a capable tiler” she says “but I really hate tiling” she adds the last phrase with an infectious grin. When Sandy discovered that she was a talented event planner she left construction and turned her hobby into a full-time job “I don’t like to be bored, so I am always reading about the next trend in event planning so that my parties or events are always fresh” When not planning an event Sandy keeps busy by dabbling in makeup artistry, working as a freelance massage therapist and mothering her 7 year-old daughter.
| Last year, I had the opportunity to go shopping in Puerto Rico, whoo hoo! Article and images below with a link to Zing Magazine where the story appeared this month.
The Caribbean is often a mish-mash of culture, of peoples and of experiences, and our neighbour in the north, Puerto Rico, is no different; She shares her history with Spanish conquistadors, with Amerindian peoples and with African slaves almost equally, and yet her inextricable link to the United States is often her defining characteristic.
Today this island is filled with modern sky-rises set against a backdrop of verdant tropical expression. From majestic mountain ranges and tropical forests in the centre of the island, to coral stone caves and wide expanses of sandy beaches along the coasts, Puerto Rico has a little of everything.
The rich history of the island can be seen in Old San Juan in the blue cobblestoned streets and Spanish forts, and in the Taino petroglyphs that can be found in the mountains of El Yunque National Rainfrorest. Many people visit Puerto Rico for its rich and diverse history – but they are also tempted by its varied shopping options.
Closer than Miami, and with excellent and affordable accommodation choices, it is an easy decision to take a quick flight to San Juan in order to shop until you drop at one of the many large malls.
Plaza Las Americas is one of the largest malls in the region, and with shopping options ranging from Abercrombie and Fitch to Macy’s and Charlotte Russe, bumping into a Caribbean neighbour, arms loaded with shopping bags, isn’t such an usual thing.
Carolina Mall has a much smaller variety of stores but remains at the top of the heap for many bargain-hunting fashionistas. Savvy shoppers will be happy with the choices: high-fashion Mango with its designer line and sleek store; Best Buy and Radio Shack for the techies; Aldo for shoppers with a shoe fetish; American Eagle Outfitters for the rugged but stylish, and G by Guess. And if all that shopping works up an appetite, the variety of food is astounding, from Pizza Hut pizza to Japanese teriyaki chicken, my favourite stop was Strawberry farms, with its homemade cookies and chocolate-dipped everything. Bags, shoes, make-up, food and accessories can easily create a credit card crisis during a casual stroll through this mall!
Once your shopping is complete, LIAT has partnered with Cargo Solutions International located in Barbados to help you get your purchases home without the hassle of overweight fees. They even help you make an informed choice between barrels or durable containers, depending on your budget, and offer a pick-up service from your hotel.
If you want a hint of culture to spice up your shopping trip make your way to Old San Juan, where the architecture will take you back a hundred years, and the juxtaposition of Ralph Lauren and jalousied windows somehow makes perfect sense and where the best food is often found by abandoning your tour guide and following the locals. The best breakfast I had during my time in the city was in a tiny café where no one spoke English. Here I was served mouth-watering fresh orange juice, home made bread and coffee potent enough to impress any aficionado.
The city is more than five hundred years old and its history as a military fortification is evident in every stone. The streets are paved with a unique blue brick that lends an air of artistry to the city. Its brilliant blue colour is a residue left by the iron baked into the clay. Many stories tell of the bricks being brought to Puerto Rico as ballast on the ships of the Spanish, but most Puerto Ricans disavow that tale, telling instead a more likely story of English foundries, iron kilns and a desire to maintain the historic value of a city as well as a little old-fashioned mystery. The city’s architectural integrity is maintained by strict town and country planning laws that restrict the type of new buildings that can be erected. This ensures that the city remains beautifully enshrined in its historically accurate mask even as the people evolve and flow through it like a tide. Old San Juan was founded in the early 15th Century as a military site used to defend the island from many who came after Columbus and tried to claim her.
Even today most of the protective walls remain, and the main fort, Fort San Cristobal, rises like a sentinel in the East, silent and insurmountable. Monuments to Christopher Columbus are numerous on the island, despite the fact that many Puerto Ricans seem ambivalent or mildly irritated by the mention of the Genoese sailor. James Larkins, a resident of Old San Juan, described the dichotomy this way: ‘Puerto Rico is a country of contrast and controversy. Many people are not very happy about Christopher Columbus,’ he shrugs, ‘but the statue is still there.’ In the shadow of that statue in Plaza De Cólon you will find local craftspeople selling jewellery made of sea shells, clay beads and bone, wooden mortar and pestles. It is one of the few places I visited where I was able to see indigenous art—in the shadow of Columbus.
Puerto Rico is historically rich, culturally vibrant and visually stunning, and it is certainly a shopping stop not to be missed.
I received a FWD in my inbox today, I don’t often get forwards as I have my spam filters set to block them but somehow this one got through. It was titled “Funnies” and it was peppered with racist, anti-islamic and anti-immigrant humour, it wasn’t at all funny.
It was sent to me by someone who would never consider themselves racist, who would be horrified by such a charge and yet this is precisely how racism grows and is spread, we don’t think, and by not thinking we perpetuate stereotypes and feed racism . Here is a link to an excellent article on stereotyping and why we sometimes laugh at racist jokes and I have posted my response to the forwarded email below.
“The Red Cross just knocked on my door and asked if we could contribute towards the floods in Pakistan. I said we’d love to, but our garden hose only reaches to the driveway”
I was devastated to find out my wife was having an affair but, by turning to religion, I was soon able to come to terms with the whole the thing.
I converted to Islam, and we’re stoning her in the morning!
Question – Are there too many immigrants in Britain ?
17% said yes;
11% said No;
72% said “I am not understanding the question please.”
“There’s a new Muslim clothing shop that opened in our shopping center, but they threw me out after I asked if I could look at some of the bomber jackets.”—
This one in particular hurts, insert any of our Caribbean countries or people instead of Pakistan, it’s the same thing. I know you didn’t think too hard about these “jokes” but I was deeply upset when I saw them. Dehumanising people who are not like us through popular “jokes” are the actions that make it easy to act in racist ways, these types of actions, when directed at black people- President Obama as a witch doctor or as a dreadlocked, weed smoking drug dealer- offend us greatly and with justification, we cannot stand by and do the same thing to Indians and Muslims.
When I visited England to stay with my ex’s parents this was precisely the kind of thing his family found funny and I was told racist things like this on more than one occasion. Regarding immigrants in England I was told “this is a white country you know” all this said while I held my little brown half-English baby in my arms.
We cringe (or at least I cringe) when I hear of Iraqi civillians dead from the war, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, babies I cringe because I see my own family in their faces, they are human, with human wants, human needs and human loves, when we help spread the belief that Muslims and Pakistanis are not human, that they “sell bomber jackets” implying that they are all terrorists, or that the way to “help” flood victims in Pakistan would be to add water presumably so more Pakistanis can die we reduce their humanity and make it easier to accept the atrocities committed against them.
These are the same tactics used against black people in the early twentieth Century and still in play today, all the mockery, the coonery, the “humour” about black pickanninies stealing chicken and eating watermelon, the blackface, the “jokes” about black people living on welfare, or having multiple babies by multiple fathers, about our women being overly sexual-a charge often still leveled at young black victims of sexual assault in the media and in popular culture- all of that desensitised a nation so that when pregnant Mary Turner was strung from a tree by her ankles, burned and disemboweled and her foetus stomped on no one was prosecuted, no one was charged, few people even remember and even fewer care.
“Snow White and de Sebben Dwarves” featuring the over sexualisation of black women and the Mammy caricature, it also portrays us as stupid, uneducated and more interested in money, sex and bling than in self improvement…sound familiar?
I took the time to write all this because I love you, because this hurts, because I can see some unthinking person saying these things about my brown, vaguely Arab/Muslim-looking child and mostly because it matters that we brown people not fall into the traps set for us by white supremacist culture.