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Countdown to Cayman…or not

January 4, 2013

The final countdown has arrived.  I have 10 days left to confirm whether or not my first Travel Gal Adventure will happen this March.  My dream to share cultures through the lives of artists around the world will certainly not die if this trip doesn’t happen.  But, making this trip is the next step for me.  So even if March doesn’t happen, we will be traveling to Grand Cayman to meet and work with Gordon & Alta Solomon and Randy Chollette and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette.  And I hope you’ll join in.

10 days…will our adventure in March to Grand Cayman happen?

Can you picture yourself here...relaxing and soaking up the Caymanian culture?

Can you picture yourself here…relaxing and soaking up the Caymanian culture?

If you haven’t seen the packages, please take a look at my website

Let’s go learn together and create an experience unlike any other.  Below you will see works by Gordon, Randy and Nasaria.  The spirit that shines through their work is open for you to discover.

Children of The Day - Gordon Solomon

Children of The Day – Gordon Solomon

"Therefore The Sage" - by Randy Chollette

“Therefore The Sage” – by Randy Chollette

Long Celia by Nasaria Suckoo Chollette

Long Celia by Nasaria Suckoo Chollette

This is a cultural immersion experience.  Yes, they will teach you their crafts.  But more importantly, they will share a piece of themselves with you as they share their personal journeys of what it’s like to be Caymanian.

Let’s do this thing.  Message me if you’re interested.  Let’s figure out how to make this work for you.

And….Happy New Year to you all!

All my best-


The Travel Gal

Got Culture: Honolulu Museum of Art and the Shangri’la

January 2, 2013

Got Culture: Honolulu Museum of Art and the Shangri’la

Hawaii is a place of natural beauty and tropical wonder. From the Waimea Canyon to Waikiki Beach, the sightseeing attracts many visitors to this volcanic island in the South Pacific. However, there’s more to this island than beautiful beaches, surf shops, clubs, and coconut trees. It’s only natural that a place so vibrant and cultural would attract artists of all kinds.

Varying up vacation activities in Hawaii requires an attention to the local galleries that really show off the diverse cultures and attitudes found on the island. Two places that bring an authentic and cultural spin to the southeastern shores of Oahu are the Honolulu home of Doris Duke, an Islamic artist, and the Honolulu Museum of Art, a historic visual arts facility in the heart of the Big Island.

Honolulu Museum of Art: The Honolulu Museum of Art was founded in 1927 and is the largest facility and gallery in Hawaii with over 50,000 pieces across 5,000 years. Located right off Lunalili Highway next to Puu Ulakaa State Park and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the museum is a center for films, cultural programs, art lectures, and workshops.

Find paintings like Henri Matisse's "Annelies, White Tulips, and Anemones" at the museum

Find paintings like Henri Matisse’s “Annelies, White Tulips, and Anemones” at the museum

"Hawaiian Mother and Child" by Charles W. Bartle

“Hawaiian Mother and Child” by Charles W. Bartle

Among the collection, you can find pieces from local Hawaiian artists, Asian, European, and American artists, as well as various textiles. The collections here span a variety of cultures across many time periods, even from ancient times. While tours offer learning experiences, many visitors come to the Honolulu Museum of Art for the Shangri’la tour, a two and a half hour event that travels through the historic home of Doris Duke.

Doris Duke’s Shangri’la: The Shangri’la was built in 1937 right on the beaches of Diamond Head. Doris Duke’s distinctive and eclectic collection of Islamic art can be found here. The Shangri’la is a center for Islamic art and culture in Honolulu, offering support for other artists by providing an inside look at Doris Duke’s personal art, archives, heirlooms, and unique furnishings. There’s more than just art to be found inside of this magnificent historic home. Literature, music, and dance resources are also profoundly displayed and made available to the public.

A snapshot of the Muslim decor at Shangri'la

A snapshot of the Muslim decor at Shangri’la

Public tours take visitors through each part of the Shangri’la home, including the Mihrab room and library, Syrian room, Mughal Garden, dining room, and Lanai. The dining area is especially fantastic as a beautiful view of the playhouse, pool, beach, and pavilion are revealed. If you want to see a bit of Doris Duke’s Shangri’la, just head online where you can find a virtual tour that takes you through intimate areas of the house. The public tour lasts for two and a half hours, departing from the Honolulu Museum of Art to the Shangri’la on the coast.

The art collection at Shangri’la shows off the beauty and culture of Islamic artists with multiple artifacts and pieces from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including collections from Mughal, Safavid, Qajar and Ottoman dynasties. Duke also made a point of collecting items that were from lesser-known artists, allowing for a varied collection that spans furniture, trinkets, artistic prints and historical pieces. As she was an avid collector who sought interesting over prestige, the collection provides an intimate look into what she loved the most and allows others to appreciate a wide variety of Islamic art.

While visiting Oahu, experiencing authentic Hawaiian culture and the artistic history should be a priority. Sure, where you rest your head at night will be an important part of your experience, but it’s places like Shangri’la and the Honolulu Museum of art that is going to capture your heart and enhance your stay on this beautiful island.

A New Contributor to Travel Gal: Kendra Thornton

January 1, 2013

I’m excited to announce that Kendra Thornton, travel expert, will now be contributing to the Travel Gal blog.  You can read a bit more about Kendra below.  Keep a look out…she’ll have some interesting information on art and culture in Hawaii coming soon!!!

About Kendra

Kendra ThorntonKendra Thornton has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she visited the Bahamas at 3 months old. Kendra grew up in the travel industry with parents who own Royal Travel & Tours, the largest travel agency chain in north central Illinois. The family business afforded her the opportunity to travel the world and experience first-hand the evolution of the industry over the past 30 years. Kendra also appears regularly as a travel expert on ABC, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates across the country to share travel trends, tips and deals with millions of viewers every year. She’s been quoted frequently on travel trends and issues in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and appeared regularly on the ABC, CBS and CW networks and affiliate stations across the country to discuss travel.

Caymanian Culture by Alta Bodden Solomon

December 12, 2012
Alta Solomon

Alta Solomon

Whats my culture?

For me my culture is my forefathers/mothers way of life, my way of life. I think culture is different for everyone of us and the same IN everyone of us Caymanians.  My intimate knowledge of my family stems back only to my grandparents – yet I’ve always wanted to know about and asked about and continue to learn through oral avenues of the older generations – by my parents and aunts mostly.

It is the love that generations of Bodden’s and Ebank’s/Scott’s and Henderson’s from my family tree have established either in the words they passed down through poems and songs or conversations. The recipes they used that are still being cooked in our kitchens.  The love of the earth and the fruits/food it gives to plant and care for our “grounds”.  The call of the sea to be cleansed and to catch our meals. The bonds of a love I have not found in any other family except mine, which may exist in yours – and the respect of family and forgiveness we extend that is foreign to some and known to many.

My Great grandmother Isador Henderson (Tibbetts) a midwife with hands that brought many babies into the world and sewed clothes to make a living. Left widowed by husband, Greatgrand father Alfred Henderson, drowned at sea on the “Noco” while in route to/from Tampa delivering cargo, 9 children to care for and never to remarry

My grandmother Alta “Tiny’s” Henderson’s (Scott) love for each grandchild by making cotton pillows from the cotton trees in “Cotton Tree Bay” CYB – I still have mine, and it is enjoyed by my son now. She was welcoming to any and everyone to her home and at her table with a quirky and jolly personality and quick temper – from her “Red Head”.   My grandfather Alford Scott’s love for God – to preach, tell the Word, his nomadic ways that made him uproot his family of 12 and move from one island to the next on a whim time and time again and his hot tempered disposition that would shake the roof of a house with anger.

My Great grandfather Atwood Bodden who moved to Little Cayman after retiring a Quarter Master on the schooner that sailed so far away they though they’d never make it back home.

My Grandmother Iva Ebanks (Bodden) food, the little made with lots of love and shared with out restraint, but grumble of the hard work it took and still given with a smile. Her thatch baskets that were priceless in her eyes and the scent of the tops drying in her hall way. My grandfather Winston Bodden’s wayward ways that let one wife with children to find another in Jamaica and make a home – to leave and find another ….(and another?)

My great Aunt Vedell’s poem “The Old year’s long campagin” I heard her recite until she went “home to Jesus” and learnt it so I could pass on and stories of her young days in Northside and relocating to Little Cayman with her Father and mother and of my own child hood days she’d share. Her story of a “late in life marriage” to Uncle Arthur, a Jamaican who was living in Cuba as a farmer, then when the war was over came to Grand Cayman to be told of a woman in Little Cayman who he could marry – and their walk on the dock in Little Cayman to meet each other for the first time and to be engaged.  The story of Uncle Arthurs one regret she’d tell me of time and time again, as if she had not told me once – “Not meeting you sooner Vedell, not meeting you sooner” was what he said was his one regret in their relationship.

Cayman Cat Boats

Cayman Cat Boats

The shipbuilders from Cayman Brac, the Scott’s (My Great great great Grandfather – ship builders and sailors came from England, dissembling his boat and building his home and shop from it’s remains on Cayman Brac) He and his generations hands made Schooner’s for brave men, some who would never know them and they would never know. To make Iron Men lifted into history and respected forever by their Caymanian generations.  (And of late I’ve learned that my Husband’s great grand father sailed aboard my forefather’s ship)

My culture is the way my mother Shirley Mae Scott (Bodden)and father Alva “Billy” Bodden lived in their youth, harvesting from Little Cayman waters and enjoying cat boats rides with nothing but the wind to hear.

Daddy quietly wading into Tar Pond to shoot Whistling ducks for fresh meat,  and “proging” for squab at night in the shallow waters and whelks on iron shore. He left Little Cayman at age 13 to support his mother, brothers and sisters, a boy among men on deep seas with broad skies.

A Little Caymanian – traveling from the Amazon to France, Ethiopia to India, and New York to the Ivory Coast and too many other places to mention.

My mother, a young wife, her drive to build her own home while daddy was away to sea; cement blocks she made in Grandfather Alford’s block “factory” and coloured tiles made in the same place, grace our family’s home floor, making a remembrance of their strength, mentally, spiritually and physically to us every time we walk through the doors.  Her entrepreneuring spirit; she saved a few pounds and pence to purchase goods and re-sold making a business from nothing, over 40 years “Billy’s” Supermarket has been open on the Brac.

It is my mother’s talent of writing that has been passed on to us, for poems, and reasoning’s and songs.

My culture is the pot of sea grapes (that many would have walked by – or on)  bubbling away on my electric stove with sugar making a jelly that you’ll never forget.  Stewed fruits and jams are my specialty – learnt by watching Granny Iva and mommy, finding nothing more fascinating than the making or tasting of their “waste not, want not” creations….past down to generations from generations.

It is diving conchs with my four sisters in Little Cayman’s clear waters and Gina breaking the shell with speed and precision, Teresa and I cleaning them and Lolita clearing a place for “the Kitchen” under the coconut tree and Mia preparing the conch- marinated, on the “Key” (Quay – Owen’s Island) that was once partly owned by our forefathers. It is seeing my Uncle Franky and cousin Justin pulling ashore his catch and my aunt Eulalee talking of the meal it will make and all our mouths drooling!

It is the lines in the faces of the older generation that are now faster and faster being laid to rest, weathered skin, tanned and salted by a harder and simpler time that now.

It is my need to share all these things with my own children, my own people – this is my culture, this is who I am and what has made me – us.

And then again it is still so much more.

Alta E. Bodden-Solomon – 20.11.11

One Love Artist Randy Chollette

December 11, 2012

After I returned from Grand Cayman, I immediately started searching for information on Randy.  I just had to know more about this soulful artist I met on the beach in Bodden Town.  Here’s a link to the first article I found on him.

After reading this, I knew his spirit was perfectly aligned with my dreams for Travel Gal.  Take a read and get to know more about him.  Then you’ll know who you can work with and learn from on our Travel Gal Adventure to the island in March.  If you haven’t considered joining us before, please take a look and learn more about this cultural immersion experience.

Meditating on the Island

Meditating on the Island

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette’s “Just Long Celia”

December 3, 2012
Did I tell you Nasaria was chosen to represent the Cayman Islands at this year’s Olympics in London?
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, poets from the 205 Olympic nations competed to be part of the UK’s largest ever poetry festival, Poetry Parnassus.  This event was part of the Cultural Olympiad.  And Nasaria was there!
Here’s her poem “Just Long Celia” and  art work “Long Celia.”  Enjoy!

Long Celia Acrylic and Paper on Canvas

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette’s “Long Celia” – Acrylic and Paper on Canvas

Just Long Celia

By Nasaria Suckoo Chollette


It was long Celia they called me

Not Ntozake

Or Mamma Zulu

Or even Nanny


Just Long Celia


Just Long Celia longing for freedom

Just Long Celia hoping for home

Just Long Celia free


Unna hear dem drums?


Naseberry sweet dem words was

Just like to bite in

And let dem run sticky down my chin


free      free      free

Unna hear dem drums?


Dis my Sunday offering

Dis my boxin day dinner

Dis my candle wood


It’s in the wind that’s fidlin’ through the wattle where the daub has worn away

It’s runnin’ mad like ants across the table where heavy cake has just been cut

It’s spillin’ out of hushed lips like drunken men pouring another cup of sea grape wine


Start a revolution…

Take a puff and pass it around


Unna hear dem drums?


You can’t kraal my spirit but for a little time

I feel the light you cannot see

And I will swim back home to lay my clutch

Where I began to be

And iron wood don’t sink


Unna hear dem drums?


Sarah, you gyapseedin duppy

You a blackgyardin tell-tale dead woman

You lie

And 12 white ghosts are fighting over my pickins in fifty lashes


I a woman

I a free woman

I a naked woman

I a torn an tattered woman


Buy you still cyan’t break open my cockspur thorny shell

And ‘memba what happen when ya rub a “nicka” wrong.


Wake up its morning


You still tied to that dock

One knot away from

Walking on water


You still taking lashes from

That raging monster

Whose rib you took


You still fighting the refection

You see in your basin

That is me


Wake up!


Lick dem drums Julia,

Lick dem drums

Book Your Spot Today – Explore Grand Cayman Like Never Before

December 1, 2012

Island Life….ahhhhh….

Explore Art and Culture in Grand Cayman:

March 23-30, 2013

I’m so proud to launch the first Travel Gal Adventure on the island of Grand Cayman. We are officially live and accepting reservations at

Primary School Folk Singers

Come join me in Grand Cayman. I stand behind the experience I’ve built. I’ve been a travel enthusiast since I was 12. Yes..that was a while ago. But let’s not get stuck on that.

Over the years, I’ve discovered what fuels my passion for travel. It’s the real moments I’ve been able to share with locals like:

  • My 5am solo mission to get our rental car out of the parking lot in Granada, Spain. After having to break into the lot (it wasn’t officially open yet), I discovered the ticket machine was broken. Believe it or not, I successfully explained to the attendant, using only hand gestures and facial expressions, that I needed to make change to use the machine.
  • Stumbling into Charles Square in Prague only to discover a massive viewing party of the World Hockey Championships was about to launch and grabbing a prime seat surrounded by Czechs ready to party. (Oh and they won!)
  • And let’s not forget my encounter with the Gibraltar apes (If you don’t know, just ask).

So this trip to Grand Cayman was built around my true passion for travel; Real moments with Real People ( or apes). Of course, to make this even juicier, the people I’m referring to just so happen to be the island’s most premiere artists, Gordon & Alta Solomon, Randy Chollette and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette. And wouldn’t you know that when I met them, they were already dreaming up ways to share their culture and heritage.

Randy in his Studio…yes, you’ll be there too.

The way I see it, the package I built is just the foundation. A starting point for us to continue building. It’s going to be a totally unique, cultural immersion experience. And together, we’ll make it what it will be. I’m excited to share this experience with you. So let’s get it booked so we can all post this on our calendars and have something to look forward to to kick off Spring ’13!!

My hopes for this trip:

  • A group of curious explorers sign up – I’m really looking for 8 lively people willing to play and learn
  • We all go into the experience with open minds ready to catch whatever unexpected delights come our way
  • My amazingly talented artists get to share a part of themselves and their talents beyond what they’ve experienced before
  • Meaningful exchanges develop new lifelong friendships and lasting memories are created
  • My sides and cheeks ache from laughing too hard for too long
  • New perspectives are embraced and shared with others back home

Travel Details and Booking Information Here!

Or download the PDF here: travel_gal_grand_cayman

I’ll be posting more tidbits on this trip over the next few weeks. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m committed to doing anything I can to make this trip an experience of a lifetime for you.

Let’s travel!! The island is waiting.


Do you hear the call of the Conch?

Do you hear the call of the Conch?

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