Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Governor's Christmas party on this Lonely Planet

On Saturday we were invited to the Governor's Christmas party at Waterloo, the Governor's residence. Saturday was a big day. It was the last day that the Dr. Ostapkowicz, the visiting scholar, was at the museum. I had to give a VIP behind the scenes tour of the new Pirate cannon collection, a whole separate blog, to Holland America. Also, Melonie Clifton-Harvey, the visiting curator, came in on Spirit Airlines. We received an invitation to come to the party weeks ago, but I also needed to make arrangements for the museums guests to attend.

In the midst of this busy day, I ran into a travel writer from the Lonely Planet who had come to the museum. Lonely Planet began as a guide for backpackers looking for affordable travel with great experiences. In the mid 1990s, it was also a show on the Travel Channel. The host, Ian Wright, used to travel to extreme locations and have extreme experiences. I used to watch this show and dream of the day I could travel to such exotic places. My desire for more adventurous travel was in part influenced by the Lonely Planet television show.

What I remember about the Lonely Planet series was that Ian would just always show up somewhere and really cool things would happen. The lesson? It takes great effort to learn how to travel, but once you do you can make your own journey.

I had made tentative arrangements to have a guy who has been on island for just a few weeks join us as a guest of the museum. But I began to think that the party would mean more to the Lonely Planet guy. I thought, of all the people to spontaneously invite to the Governor's Christmas party, the Lonely Planet guy should be the first. This would have made great TV.

Out of curiosity, I had asked where he was staying when we had met, so I was able to quickly track down his room. I was going to leave a note, but I actually found him. I invited him, which at the time seemed perfectly normal to me since for weeks people have been talking about the Governor's party. But it probably was a little strange to have some guy you just met show up at your hotel room to invite you to a party - didn't really think of this until after I left. We did wind up picking him up a taking him.

The Governor's party was almost exactly opposite from the Premier's party, except that the drinks and food were free. This party started at 7:30. The Governor is British, and therefore punctual. We arrived at 7:40. Everyone was there. We could barely find a place to park.

The Governor has three children, age 9, 13, and 16. The Governor's wife introduced them to our boys. That was the last we saw of them. I should mention that the Governor's oldest child is also his daughter.

I knew many of the people at the party. Most of the expats on the island were in attendance, plus many prominent locals. I tried to introduce our guests to people they would be comfortable talking with. Then I tried to introduce Deneen to people I had met before. A lot of chit chat later, the Governor invited everyone onto the terrace where we sang Christmas carols accompanied by Yellowman, a local island band. This was truly choral singing with a Caribbean twist. Later, the Governor asked us if we had recognized the songs. The first verses were generally familiar, but then the second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth verses were some totally new bizarre English version of our perfectly fine carols. The night ended with people dancing to the band. Deneen would not dance with me, but she did say she enjoyed this party much more that the night before.

I tracked down the boys who were inside the house messing around. We arrived home about 11:30. Our guests chose to stay and each found their own way home. I guess they enjoyed the party as well.

1 comment:

Scott Kennedy said...

Hello Neal!

it's always interesting to hear the same story from a different prespective - i had a great timne at that party - it was a real highlight to my visit to GT.

you know what, great experiences don't just happen, it takes more then dumb luck - people have to make them happen and thanks to you, your kindnbess and your inviation - i had a great experience at the Gov's ball - and on Grand Turk!

thanks very much!
Scott "The Lonely Planet Guy" Kennedy

to read my version of the story - go to: