Dominica On Domingo!

Dominica On Domingo!

We are in the Caribbean at an island called Dominica at the port of Rouseau. Frankly speaking, I had never heard of the island of Dominica prior to this trip around the world on Semester At Sea so everything we learned was new to us!

Dominica named a, “Best Trip of 2011″

20 Best Trips of 2011 — National Geographic.

Looking for an out-of-the oridinary destination for your next vacation? Check out these 20 top trips, hand-picked by National Geographic Traveler editors as the best of 2011.

The name Dominica came from Christopher Columbus when he re-discovered this Island on Domingo. It was Sunday so the name stayed with a minor twist from the original Spanish word for Sunday.  We are here on Domingo or Sunday and absolutely everything is closed except the ship tour programs. The guide explained that the town center shuts down on all Holidays and every Sunday.
This is an untouched island with tin roof homes of Caribbean colors and people who love their community and island. The smile of the island inhabitants is contagious as they are just happy inside and out. I took some video which I will upload on Monday when the cyber café opens and I can have enough bandwidth. The ship has limited Internet access so uploading videos is strictly prohibited.
Facts about Dominica:
• The island is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide.
• The major business is agriculture with 11 varieties of bananas.
• There are no monkeys on the island. There are 4 types of snakes none of which are poisonous
• Population 72,000.
• They have the worlds 2nd largest boiling lake.
• There are 11 dormant volcanoes with the likelihood of an eruption as very possible.
• Sperm whales live in the area year round
• China is assisting with funding the construction of roads to the rain forest and built a new soccer field.
• One of the oldest inhabitants of Dominica was 128 before she passed in 2007 and is in the Guinness Book of world    records. There are five octogenarians in Dominica so the life is good on the island.
• The currency exchange is the Eastern Caribbean dollar with the current rate at US $1 = ED $2.67. I paid $7.00 for   4 cookies at a coffee house. Cookies were my only purchase. My photos will be my memory of this quaint island.
• The average temperature is 81
• The water is a deep turquoise blue which is crystal clear!


The rainforest is recovering from hurricane David which devastated the island in 1979.
Today we took an Aerial Tram over a 47 acre rainforest in the Trafalgar Valley to Laudat, a village nestled more than 3,000 feet in the mountains.  Most of the flora was destroyed so the guide called it a “secondary rainforest “ as the vegetation was not old. We entered an aerial tram to go up and over the forest floor. At one point we were 300 feet above the riverbed and falls below.
The most amazing story of the day was that of our tour guide. He knew the scientific name of all the flora and fauna along with describing all of the animals that inhabit the island. He had the history of the economy and information on the direction of his island in easy to follow stories. One of the women on the tour dropped something when we were about 100 feet above the rainforest floor.

rainforest floor

She didn’t know what it was that she dropped but we all heard it hit the floor of the gondola then out the side of the car. The guide immediately assured her he would have someone find whatever it was that she dropped. I looked over the edge, saw the dense rainforest below and only had a “mustard seed of faith” that anyone could find the object which was not even identified at that point. Another passenger said she thought she saw something black and round fall to the ground. My question was: how in the world could he send someone to look for something which was yet to be identified? The guide called to the base operator and told a co-worker to go look for “something” black on the ground between pole 8 and 9. In my wildest dreams I questioned how some unknown object could be found on the floor of the rainforest. The guide was so confident they would find it, the feeling was electrifying. It seemed like he had a connection and KNEW where the object was, even though we had not identified what had actually fallen.

After five minutes of looking the woman who dropped the object saw in her back pack that it was her flip video cam. The guide called the ground operator and let him know what he was looking for. The group continued to climb to the top of the Tram area, took a walk over a hanging bridge and got back on the Tram. When we came to pole 8 the guide yelled down to the person on the ground and told him to look closer to the pole. In less than 15 seconds from telling the man where to look the co-worked yelled he found the video camera.

What was the message to me today or in other words…. What did I learn today?

Beauty on the rainforest floor!

The power of conviction in KNOWING and believing in what you are doing. The guide never doubted that the lost object would be found and he was right. The video camera was right where the guide thought it dropped. He directed his co-worker to find it from 100 feet above the rainforest floor. The woman who dropped the flip cam had two daughters, age 7 and 9 with her today. She was fearful of heights and was doing this just to give the kids an experience of a lifetime. What a great sense of community we all felt going through this lesson together.

The guide shared a very important gift with us today: The lesson from Dominica with one who loves his land.

Be sure to sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” Lot’s of fun just posting and following the journey around the world!

Great Day In The MV Explorer Neighborhood!

The second day of school was smooth as silk.   We got to sleep in because there was not 8:00 a.m. class to go to.  Just made coffee time by 8:30 and had time to sit out and enjoy some sunshine before going to class.

Tom and I both had 12:15 classes so ate a quick lunch at 11:30 and were off to class again.  Tom is taking a WWII history class and really enjoyed it.  I am taking an advanced Anthropology class where we will be writing “ethnographies.”  We were assigned a research project to study groups of people that represented the ports we would visit or our on ship community.  I will be studying the children on the ship along with the lifelong learners. This was research I was going to be doing on my own and now I have a class structure to help define the work for a specific purpose.

Later in the day there was a great  “Cosmic Connection” with the children as one of the parents came to the lifelong learner meeting at 4:30 and was looking for speakers to come in and talk with the children.  All the dots connected…. the perfect opportunity to share the 14 principles in Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Elementary School Dots.  So I will be going in for 14 weeks talking about each of the chapters and working with the children about learning the concepts.

We started to see birds so we knew we were getting close to land.  The black bird you see in the slide show is called a masked boobie, yes, that is the name and it looks like it has a mask on it’s eyes.  The island in the slide show is called Saba Island.  it is about 8 hours outside of Dominica.  Look at how high the town is up above the water level. You can see the docks and then the steep road up to the middle of the Island before development starts.  There are even homes at the TOP of the island.  Interesting enough to make me want to do more research on the development of the island.

January 16, 2011 we will be in Dominica and are going on an aerial tour of the rain forest! I will be able to upload videos at a cyber cafe and share more of the beauty!

The World Is My Classroom!

The World Is My Classroom!

Today was the first day of class for Spring 2011 Semester At Sea, the 104th voyage of this floating University.  I awoke at 6:55 a.m. and needed to make my first class at 8:00 a.m.  Visions of Colorado State University, 1974 danced in my head and I knew I could make the class.  I pulled on my jeans and t-shirt, put on my “Skecher’s” pulled back my hair etc. etc., grabbed my notebook and took off to the Dining Hall.  There I filled my “food network” coffee mug, ate some pineapple chunks and got to class on time.

The world is my classroom!

Exhilaration is the feeling that rushed through my 57 year old body on the first day in the floating, world classroom. I took some time to silently express my gratitude for this incredible opportunity to be able to become part of a 700 member ship board community. To be able to learn how global issues can be assimilated and the lessons brought right back home to our own cities and towns.  It’s energizing to go   “glocal” Thinking Globally and Acting Locally.

The college classmates around me were laughing with each other about not getting their pictures for the first day at school and of course I could not resist and had to take the photo op. I do have pictures of my daughters first day of school from Kindergarten to Freshman at college… So these were fun photos for Tom and me!

Carra Riley first day of Class Semester At Sea

Juliana Acheson, PH.D is the dynamic instructor for Anthropology 3000 “Food and Culture.” She is traveling with her husband and two daughters.  I am hoping to work with her children on the Cosmic Kids e-workbooks and really have some great research on how the principles in Cosmic Cow Pie come together for kids.

Dr. Juliann Acheson

The “Food and Culture”  class is so popular it had to be moved to the Student Union to accommodate all the students wanting to learn about Food and Culture.  Instructor Acheson started out requiring the classroom be configured in a circle so everyone could see everyone else.  The students were way out of their comfort zone in re-arranging the room.  The effect of the activity was interesting as the results of the group coming together in a circle created an instant connection among the participants.  Leave it to an Anthropology instructor to show such a good example in human behavior and how to get people to engage.

The first question Dr. Acheson asked the group to share around the circle was “What is the most recent NEW food you have tried that you liked?

I had to take a few minutes to stop and think about my food habits.  Trying new things has been something that I have not consciously thought about for a long time. Pondering the question and thinking about my behavior, I have to say I have not been very adventuresome about trying new foods lately.  What a great blog post this can be for people to start conversation or even a fb update. The list of new foods the students had recently tried and “liked” went from blueberries, brussel sprouts cherries, an omelet, pomegranate, chicken masala to raw heart, squid ink pasta, conch, frog legs, buffalo, bear guiney pig, chocolate covered worms, citric ants, sea urchins, and monkey brains.  No joke, one young lady said monkey brains!  I thought the student might be taking a line right out of Raiders of the lost Ark but evidently in South America, where she had visited it is a delicacy and she tried it. The raw heart was something a lifelong learner had tried in Pakistan.  We had young students and mature lifelong learners sharing their food experiences and touching one another by stimulating the concept of adventure with food around the world. There were certainly some real “foodies” in this group and it inspired my thought to consider trying new food, culture and the countries we are going to be visiting with a different vision and attitude.

After attending school this morning, I signed up for a cooking class in Brazil. We will create our own dinner with a chef using local products!

Teaching and learning is happening all over this ship at all times of the day and night.

Last night we had our first group meeting to discuss the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. The book is an account of how one man with a vision built 54 schools in Pakistan to help educate women and children. The discussion delved into why and how this man was able to do what he did with only a dream and a passion for helping others.

Discussion group talking about the transformation process of a trip around the world together

The entire ship population, including 66 lifelong learners and 598 students are divided into groups of about 20 participants.  The group will get together before and after ports to discuss what we expect and then after we return what we observed then later, how it manifested in our thoughts. The Semester At Sea vision is to create an “experiential” education event which can possibly transform the lives of those participating.

What did I learn today? I need to be open to trying new food options. Not sure if I am going to eat everything we are exposed to but I will be open and watch those who do! The big lesson is just being receptive to new concepts presented by different cultures with a respect for their values.

The world is my classroom and I am ready to learn!

Sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?”  Win a travel voucher, lodging, food and entrance to other attractions at one of the Seven wonders of the world!

What Is The Next Charm On The Travel Bracelet?

Is life just a big charm bracelet?

Are the expectations for a travel journey just to get that next gold charm on the bracelet and to say you have been there and done that?

These are questions asked by Executive Dean, Dan Garvy at orientation for the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea Voyage leaving Nassau, Bahamas today.  His candor and dedication to “experiential” education is reflective of the magnitude in time and coordination that has gone into creating the 2011 Spring voyage around the world with Semester at sea.   Dean Garvy told  the students and life long learners that they “were needed to make this all happen.”  Without the participants, the vision never becomes a reality which can make a difference in the world.  To me the keynote speech said that “WE” the individuals on the trip are what it takes to “connect the dots around the world” to create a memorable and harmonious experience.  The connection described today made me feel like an integral part of the community and that my contribution will help others as we create the music of life together in harmony all over the world.

It might seem funny to you, the reader, to be describing the event in musical terms. Dean Garvy had piano music as part of the presentation showing how individual expectations alone do not create a melody.  One note alone,  even two notes alone mean nothing and if you have many notes not in sync it just sounds like noise.  It takes combining several notes with harmony to come up with a balance and a meaningful presentation.

One of the goals of the Semester At Sea Organization we heard about earlier this morning is to “Educate Individuals… have infused shared learning coming together with faculty and students.” “We believe strongly in the program’s mission and that the experience truly deepens one’s understanding of issues and culture…”  Today we heard  about how the experience in the confines of the ship with seniors in their late 80’s to college students in our community would impact who we are and where we are going with the rest of our lives.  Dean Garvy explained how we would all be engaging in groups about our personal journey as we experience different cultural exposures around the world. The Theme of this voyage is Thinking Globally Acting Locally.  The opening remarks set the bar of expectations to be one of growth, harmony and change within the 104 days at sea.

It seemed like my husband Tom and I have been planning, packing and waiting for ever!  We finally left the port in Nassau! As the ship pulled out of dock it was like embarking on a journey with 700 individuals we didn’t really know but deep down we know after the 104 days we will all have something very special in common as we learn and process world change together!

Hang on the ride is just beginning.….. actually the wind came up and it is rocking and rolling a bit!  We did a practice evacuation drill so we are set to sail!  We are cruising at a higher rate of speed to make up the three hour delay!  The journey of a lifetime began today!

Be sure to sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” Lot’s of fun just posting and following the journey around the world!

Practice evacuation today before sailing

Saying Goodbye to parents on shore

Bon Voyage Spring 2011 SAS taking off!

Let The Game begin! Where In The World is Carra Riley?

Today, January 12, 2011 is the official launch day of the game, Where in the world is Carra Riley?

The contest is an opportunity to win a $500 travel certificate to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is combined with 6 other connected prizes from Williams, Arizona the Gateway to the Grand Canyon: 2 meals from Grand Canyon Coffee & Cafe,  3 nights at The Grand Country Inn, train ride for 2 on the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon, bull whip lesson with Buck Williams , two rounds of golf at Elephant Rocks Golf Course, 4 car load passes to Bearizona and more to make winning the trip extra special.  See all the rules here.

Join in the fun.. all you have to do is engage by commenting and come to the party!  You will be sharing the journey with me, Carra Riley as I travel with world with my husband Tom on the  Spring 2011 Semester at Sea voyage.  I will be doing research as I write “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World.”

Today was a full day of checking out of the hotel, getting to the dock, going through customs, unpacking and participating in a “meet and greet” with the parents of the students on the voyage!

I set up the computer with the ships wireless system but we cannot upload video.  I will have to save the video till I can get to Cyber Cafes in port and stick to small file pictures to share!  You can also go to my flickr account and see the photos of the day all along the voyage!

A picture speaks a thousand words.. so this is what we did today!

Tom Riley in Nassau Semester At Sea

Carra Riley Nassau Semester At Sea

Our Ship MV Explorer

More pictures on flickr in the Semester At Sea MV Explorer set.

So let’s get this party started! Comment on the blog posts, the facebook fan page, the flickr account or youtube videos!  Get a point for each comment up to 5 comments a day!  In the event of a tie, additional engagement or posting on any of the sites will determine the tie breaker!  Go to the forum at Cosmic Cow Pie and register so we know your screen name and can keep track of your points.  If you don’ t register we will not know you are playing the game!

This should be fun and you might just connect with some very interesting people from across the world!