Connecting More Dots In Nassau!

“Connecting The Dots Around The World” will be a huge learning curve each day in  finding a gracious way to “step over the bar of expectations” from our American point of view and will be a skill that needs to be practiced. Trying to be understanding and be considerate of different cultures and their values will be of utmost importance. Kindness and peaceful communication about all kinds of situations will be the order of the day to maintain peace within ourselves and thereby create peace among people and nations.

I have been reading the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson as required reading for the students and Life Long Learners on the voyage for Spring 2011, Semester At Sea.  The book is about how the passion for an idea can change the world with just one person pursuing the vision of their dreams. The message that is coming to me from the book is one of belief in convictions no matter what it is.  Not that Greg’s passion would be my passion but that his example shows how an individual can make a difference with their actions.

The dots that are connecting for me from a global standpoint which I can take back to my local community, the “glocal” lesson is one of raising the bar with the best quality service to attract the consumer. I can see clearly that business in general, the global business community included is fighting for the discretionary consumer’s dollar.  The video of David in front of the Big Ten Restaurant on Bay Street in Nassau included in my post  from the past week, shows how retailers are literally fighting for that same dollar.

My belief is the consumer will spend their discretionary dollar and share with their friends if a business provides the  Nordstrom quality service at an affordable price.  Taking those concepts to a practical place to implement, a business must have clean presentations and superior customer service to get repeat and referral business from past consumers.

The number one reason my husband Tom and I are on this voyage is the fact the program was 2 for 1 package on Semester At Sea and it had been on our life “goddard” list for five years.  The opportunity was right being able to leave home for 4 months and with the value of the package we stepped up to experience this journey. We arranged for a house sitter couple that worked from home and would take care of the cat and off we went!

We are very grateful to the Semester At Sea program for this opportunity and did  not want to shake up any relationships on the first day with the group……. but after considering the message in  the required reading book “Three Cups of Tea”  and knowing that “raising the bar of expectations” is a passion of mine I felt impelled to try and correct a situation with the Hotel we are staying at as it just appeared to me they were taking advantage of a large group of people, probably 300 rooms or more of families seeing their students off on this voyage.

The hotel we made arrangements to stay with at Semester At Sea was actually below average and the room with a channel ocean view seemed extremely overpriced at $188.00 per night. I had to have some self-talk, telling myself that my expectations needed to drop down a little as this experience was about cherishing and respecting different cultures and different value systems. After seeing the unpainted ply wood circle in a window with pen scribbles, the hangers too large for the closet space, no screen on the sliding glass doors in the room combined with the stained carpet in the elevator, stained tile floors, dead palm fronds in the atrium and windows so dirty you can’t see anything but the dirt drops into the garden, I decided that corporate America and/or international resorts really need to raise the bar for service and conditions if they expect to receive top dollar for their products and consumers sharing their experiences to get repeat and referral business.

Pen markings on unpainted plywood used as a sun block in $188 per night room

Dead Palm Fronds in atrium area

Tom Brokaw reviews “ Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin “proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of Character and Determination, really can change the world.”  This concept encouraged me to stand up to do the right thing and help create change. I think this is what the Semester At Sea experience is supposed to do.. encourage people to take action. My action is a not anything compared to Greg Mortenson but his writing has stimulated me to take a stand and to reach out to corporate International connections to really let them LOOK at what the consumer sees and then try and modify behavior from the bottom up.

This concept has stimulated another aspect of my conscious reasoning: the first contact with the consumer should be one of the VERY best experiences if the consumer is going to continue to spend their discretionary dollars with that company. Now the issues corporate business has is hiring people who have actually experienced the level of service the company is expecting their employees to give to the consumer. Why not train the front line by letting them experience that high end service in some sort of practice exercise. Then they will KNOW what it feels like and can attempt to recreate that feeling for those they are being paid to serve.
I had some guilt feelings about the mini rant however; as I reflect on the day and what I am learning I think that the consumer needs to DEMAND the bar be raised to spend their money where they feel the service provided is worth the price. Talking about International business we spoke with the cab driver about the condition of the hotel and he said it was going to be torn down. Now that gave me some insight as to why they were not maintaining the facility.. It was going to be torn down and they were going to take advantage of all the tourists they could as long as they could. This does not seem right.. and even though we got a discount through the Semester At Sea group the condition was not acceptable for a group of such magnitude.

I took some action.. called the manager.. explained the dead palm fronds.. the scribbling on the plywood in the room. The view over HVA equipment to the ocean and the price of the rooms for the condition of the building. I wanted my bill to be cut in half as that is what I thought the room was worth.  He could not do that but could move me to another room and give me 2 free breakfast buffets with a $40.00 value.  He gave us an ocean view rooms for the next 2 days and the breakfast buffets.

When I asked the manager if he felt dead plants in the atrium, dirty floors, and scribbles on the wall is what the company wanted reflected in their image. He said “no” so he knew it is not acceptable and maybe my discussion can help management change the maintenance policy.  Who knows with tearing down some of the building but I did my best in trying to make them aware the consumer is watching.


The dots are starting to connect around the world
and you dear reader, can help by commenting on any of the posts sharing what is on your mind. Enter the contest: Where In The World is Carra Riley? Go to the right hand side of the home page  to register and participate to win a trip to one of the seven wonders of the world! Contest starts January 12, 2011 as the ship embarks.

Where in the world is Carra Riley? Nassau!

Nassau, Bahamas Day 1 Continued: Connecting The Dots Around The World.

The contest actually starts on January 12th.. That will be the official 1st day of the contest when we embark from Nassau.  We have just been “practicing!”  Thank you for playing along!

Warm weather of mid 70’s in Nassau was a welcome feeling as we left Charlotte, North Carolina at 18 degrees F Sunday morning.  The welcome calypso band playing at Immigrations was certainly a pleasant surprise as we waited to enter Nassau. This warm greeting  from the local band was only a start to an education in how the entire island, including the omelet lady (another post later this week)  at the resort is working to create a pleasant experience for all who come here.

We found a bag porter who helped us get the bags through customs without a glitch.  He took us right to a large SUV taxi driven by a delightful girl named, Tamika who explained she owned the vehicle and worked for herself. She was born and raised in Nassau and shared some interesting statistics such as the size of the island being 7 miles wide by 26 miles long with only 200,000 residents. According to Tamika this week is supposed to be in the 70’s as last week they were in the 60’s which is cold for Nassau.   We asked her to stop at a food store and we purchased bottled water, soda and snacks to save excess mark up at the resort.  We made arrangements with her to pick us up on Tuesday at 11:30 to board the ship by noon so we continue to “manage our mess” in an organized manner. The attitude of the locals was one of kindness and appreciation  for the business. Lessons to take back to our local areas.

Learning to roll with the punches is part of having “balance” in travel.  Sunday morning in Charlotte, NC we expected to go to a Money Exchange outlet in the airport during our 3 hour layover to obtain $30.00 in currency for each of the 11 countries where we will be dock.  I had the 11 envelopes all ready to organize the funds and be prepared when we arrived and needed to get cabs for our first location.  We had our first opportunity to exercise the “10 second rule.” The money exchange store was closed because it was Sunday.  We had the plan all arranged in our minds for the last couple months and now there was nothing we could do about the store being closed.  We just implemented the 10 second rule of being upset LESS than 10 seconds and made a new plan B to find a bank in Nassau on Monday or Wednesday when we have time to go get the change.  The activity did not turn out the way we wanted it to but the end result will be the same, just on a different day in a different place. The bottom line will be the same as we will get the different currency in the 11 different envelopes and the money issue should be smooth sailing.   Our taxi driver let us know we could walk to Royal Bank from the hotel and get that job taken care of. Problem solved and less than 10 seconds of stress.

The vision for me in this trip is to “Connect The Dots Around The World.” I had no preconceived idea of how any of the dots would start to connect but they have already started to come together. Your comments and input will be invaluable as I post on my blog with a stream of consciousness writing along with just sharing what I am thinking and the observations I am making from exactly what I am experiencing.

The “bar of expectation” for many businesses and services is a moving target today and we have had our experience with this two times in the first day of travel.  As the world economy is changing the fight for the discretionary dollar is actually going to the street with customers one on one. Watch how this is evidenced by the video where a “meal hawker” aka host, actually comes over to the taxi we just got out of to entice us to eat at the restaurant he works for.

This is certainly an example of meeting the customer where they are!  The street or beach vendors are also “asking for the business.” The worst it can be from asking for the business is someone saying “no” so if you are not afraid to get out of your comfort zone to ask for new business, it might be there. We went to “Big Ten”  for dinner and actually never went back to Twin Brothers so you see.. David asked us to go to his restaurant we did.

Now here we go!  Fun in the sun and it’s almost time to get on the ship and sail! It was a peaceful day with 3 hours in the sun to get going on our required read  “Three Cups of  Tea” by Greg Mortrenson.  An inspiration to all and another post will be coming sharing the PASSION this man had for building schools for children who want to learn.


The Island of Nassau relies on tourism for it’s very existence. The atmosphere of all the service providers is one of trying to please and create a memorable experience for everyone here.  Taking this attitude of a community working together to survive can come right back home to our local areas where we need to come together on what we are trying to do to survive also.

This is the 1st GLOBAL lesson that we can apply to our LOCAL communities as we go “Glocal” in our thinking!

Register to comment and play:  Where in the world is Carra Riley? You could win a trip to one of the seven wonders of the world!

Day 1 Where In The World Is Carra Riley?

It’s 4 a.m. in the morning….. la..la…la.. Elton John sings on in my mind.  My husband Tom and I are in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina in Charlotte Douglas International Airport .

Carra writing first blog post for SAS

The reality of the journey of a lifetime became crystal clear as we took off from Phoenix, Arizona just after midnight, January 9, 2011. We are on our way to Nassau, Bahamas to embark on the MV Explorer with the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea voyage. As we taxied down the runway and the lift of the engines took us high above the desert development in the dark of the night, the vision of our world and our expectations of this life changing adventure began to form in my thoughts.

I could see the engineered design of the city planning with the sparkling red and white lights outlining the checker board  streets of the Scottsdale,  Avondale, Tempe and surrounding Phoenix areas.  I wanted to keep that vision in my mind as we begin to connect with cities around the world.  How different it will be flying into other parts of the world and seeing how the cities and villages come together.

As we rose higher in altitude we emerged into the cloud cover and a gentle fog enveloped the plane.  Was this like my consciousness becoming distorted and waiting for the light to shine through and melt the fog?  I was thinking that was the message I was receiving.  Taking off from my concept of civilization going out into the big wide world and learning from other cultures about life and the importance of all the details we experience in our daily lives.

It was easy to drift off into my thoughts at 1 a.m. just thinking about the messages I would receive if my thoughts were open to learning.  I thought about the day, how things evolved and what I would share.  Back to the beginning ….  deciding to take the trip is where I needed  to start as the sense of relief in all of the preparation was now feeling good.  The preparation has been a marathon since mid September when we decided to implement the plan to take a voyage around the world.  Right here I want to take the time to thank my friend and editor, Karen Connell who introduced us to the Semester At Sea program in 1979 when I met her.  In September Karen sent me an e-mail with the information on this voyage with the 2 for 1 value price which is what pushed us over the edge to undertake this trip on such short notice.  Thank you Karen we know this will be a life changing undertaking!  Our connection and the preparation is another great post in itself and will leave that till later.

The emotional changes I have gone through during the preparation to take off have been varied.   Anxiety, fear, excitement are all things out in the “Cosmic Cow Pie”  I have felt because of the unknown. An adventure of this magnitude is way out of the “comfort zone”  but at the same time exhilarating.   The food, water, culture, weather, confinement  all add to the unknown expectations of the experience.  We are expecting only good and know that we will learn every step of the way.  We shared our thoughts below on the what we THINK we will experience and it will be fun to see what we have to say at the end of the journey.

Fun facts in how to “Managing The Mess” and applying the 10 second rule have already been implemented on our adventure and I will expound on those later.  The time is ticking by and we need to catch the plane to Nassau.  I have uploaded the photos of today to the flickr account and today’s  video so “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World” is on track and we are so appreciative that you are following along with us!

Remember to register to Play the game:  Where in the world is Carra Riley? in the forum area.  The game to win a trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World starts January 12, 2011 so get ready to play and share with your comments!

Game On: Where In The World Is Carra Riley?

Let The Games Begin: Play “Where In The World Is Carra Riley?”

Carra Riley is a writer, speaker, small business and real estate consultant going on a 104 day voyage around the world on Semester at Sea with her husband Tom. They live in Williams, Arizona and are taking their local community with them as they travel from the East to the West. This is the announcement post of the new INTERNATIONAL game… Where in the world is Carra Riley?

The Theme of the Spring 2011 voyage is  “Global Interdependencies: Thinking Globally Acting Locally”

“Glocal: Someone who is able and willing to think globally while acting locally to improve the human condition and the planet we inhabit.”

7 wonders of the world

Williams, Arizona IS an International melting pot with visitors coming from all over the world as it is the “Gateway” to one of the SEVEN natural  wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. Photo image courtesy of Bob Ribokas His appreciation of one of the seven wonders of the world is amazing!

As the Author of Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots I am inviting you to PLAY a game of engaging as we journey around the world sharing transformational concepts and information.

My vision of the trip for the experience is three fold.

  1. Learning how we are connected globally, what the outcomes of this connection are and how we can be a positive force in this process as we go “glocal”.
  2. Bring back the message from around the GLOBE on how we can better serve those coming to visit our country and specifically our local Williams, Arizona community.
  3. The contestants can ALL take the information they are sharing and then implement those ideas in their community.

Carra has been creating videos on youtube with her WilliamsArizona1 channel and posting pictures of this diverse community on flickr. She has posted on her blog information about fasinating local places to go and things to do in the Williams area such as Bearizona, The Grand Canyon Railway and the Grand Canyon Coffee and Cafe.

Carra and Tom love their local community and are looking at this experience as an opportunity to help bring global issues and concerns back to the local community to process this information and start thinking about how all the dots connect together. The Williams News ran a great story about the adventure and Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce is excited about the opportunity to share Williams with the world!

Enter the “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” contest.

What you can win!

How to enter and rules:

Get points for engaging about the world and how lessons abroad can be taken back to local communities.  Watch the videos, photos and blog posts, then participate by commenting. It’s as easy as that.  Sharing global issues and talking about how we can take the information and apply it to make the world a better place.  Carra will be writing the book “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World” and your participation will help clarify the information that can possibly help the world come together in sustainability, global economics and peace among nations. Each comment on any of the social media site will be counted as one point.  The more you comment the more points you can build up! First register at the Cosmic Cow Pie Forum at “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” section so we know you are playing then just go watch the posts all over cyberspace and comment!

  1. Register in the forum at CosmicCowPie.com and comment on the days events on the blog or in the forum, start a conversation, add a cow tip and/or
  2. Visit the facebook page CosmicCowPie “like” the page comment or share a link and/or
  3. Subscribe to the CosmicCowPieSAS youtube channel and comment and/or
  4. View the photos on flickr and comment on what you are thinking it.

All the points from comments will be tabulated starting January 12, 2011 when the journey embarks from Nassau, Bahamas.  The contest ends on April 24, 2011 in San Diego, California. You must register for the forum, post your location with all your usernames for facebook, youtube and flickr along with a statement that you are “in the game”  to be eligible for the contest. You do not need profiles on all those accounts just let us know the name you will be posting under.  Limit to 5 comments per day per username. In the event of a tie, the Cosmic Cow Pie team will look at additional participation on the social media sites… so if you post a Cow Tip or a link to something that will help readers “Connect The Dots Around The World” that will be taken into consideration for additional points.. again this is just in the case of a tie.   The winner will be announced on the Cosmic Cow Pie website, Friday May 13, 2011 in time to make summer plans in Williams, Arizona, “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” from connecting the dots around the WORLD. The winner will also be notified by e-mail and must respond within 48 hours to claim the prize.

Connect The Dots Around The World with Carra Riley and win a trip to Williams, Arizona the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and experience one of the seven wonders of the world.

Carra Signature Large

Going Glocal! Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Going “GLOCAL!”

Global Interdependencies: Thinking Globally, Acting Locallly

“Glocal” is a great word for 2011.  I am looking forward connecting the dots around the world in economics and sustainability. Processing what we learn and bringing it right back down to our local communities where we live, work and play. 

“Thinking Globally, Acting Locally” is the theme for the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea voyage my husband Tom and I are taking in January.  Carra & Tom Riley

is a 104 day journey where we will be living with 605 college students and 55 Life Long Learners taking global issues and bringing them back to a local level.

“Glocal” Is my  new favorite word and coined by Semester At Sea 2011 voyage originators:

“Glocal: Someone who is able and willing to think globally while acting locally to improve the human condition and the planet we inhabit”

The voyage director writes:

“Our voyage will expose partipants to a wide range of issues regarding globalization and its implications internationally and locally across the Americas, Africa and Asia. While we think of globalization as a modern condition, its roots actually stretch back far historically…..

Our voyage will use the many opportunities provided by the diverse cultures we will encounter in our stops to compare how globalization has affected our world both historically and currently…… global marketing ….Through Global Studies, our voyage will consider how globalization makes its presence felt on a local level. We will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of globalization on individual, national and regional levels.

……global effects of international and national economic policies. Service learning courses will provide the opportunity to understand more fully how we as individuals can make a difference on a local level.

While globalization is sometimes considered a negative force in our world… The internet promotes the preservation of localized languages, food and cultural practices while also allowing international marketing practices to customize products according to local customs and practices. Our curriculum will explore the question of how we are connected globally, what the outcomes of this connection are and how we can be a positive force in this process as we go “glocal”.

I have been participating with the local Williams Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce on events, doing videos around the area and am now ready to take the engagement to the next level We  have the community support as we go on this world adventure. Williams, Arizona is the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and as such is host to international guests from all over the world as they come to see one of the seven wonders of the world the, Grand Canyon.  The local paper Williams News did an article on the journey so our entire community is going to be aware of how global concepts can come right back to our local community as we evolve into being “glocal.”

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego

My hometown in Broomfield, Colorado also printed an article in the Broomfield Enterprise so this is going to be fun with world wide followers!

Now to add some Cosmic Cow Pie fun to the adventure.

Do you remember “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?”

It was a game to teach geography and reasoning skills.

Now you can experience this exciting concept LIVE as you play

“Where in the world is Carra Riley?”

Go to my website at CosmicCowPie.com and register in the forum to play the game.. it is all about getting points for comments!

The winner will receive a $500 Travel voucher to one of the 7 wonders of the world! The Grand Canyon! And A trip on the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon, entry to Bearizona, Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Coffee and Cafe, golf at Elephant Rocks Golf Course and possibly more!  Watch for the next post or go to CosmicCowPie.com for the details!

There are so many incredible places we are going to go and THE most exciting for me is building a house in Ghana with Habitat for Humanity!

We are going to swim with the dolphins in the open in Mauritiusa, share love at the Taj Mahal and shop at the floating market in Viet Nam.

I am going to do a LIVE blogtalkradio broadcast from Viet Nam and think about Robin Williams as I open the show!  Then we will experience the floating market in Ha Long Bay.

We will also be fishing for piranha on the Amazon River and bonding with Monkeys in the rain forest!

Here are the Ports of Call Around the world!  Strap in and buckle up, it is going to be an exciting journey!

  • Nassau, Bahamas ~  January 12
  • Roseau, Dominica ~ January 16 & 17
  • Manaus, Brazil ~  January 23-27
  • Takoradi, Ghana ~ February 6-10
  • Cape Town, South Africa ~ February 17-22
  • Port Louis, Mauritius ~ Febryart 27  ( Swim with dolphins in open water)
  • Chennai, India ~ March 6-11
  • Singapore ~ March 16
  • Ho Chi Minh, City, Viet Nam ~ March 19-24
  • Hong Kong/Shanghai, China ~ March 26 to April 1
  • Kobe/Yokohama, Japan ~ April 4-8
  • Hilo, Hawaii ~ April 17-18
  • San Diego, CA USA ~ April 24

So come along with us on the adventure of a life time and live it with us through our youtube, blog and flickr posts!  Comment on the the posts and win a chance to see one of the 7 wonders of the world in Arizona at the Grand Canyon!

Glocal: Thinking Global Acting Local