when travelling, the little things can mean a lot

In this post we talked about our most memorable travel moments. It got me thinking about how it can be the smallest things about a trip that bring a smile to our lips and define that trip in our memory banks.

For example, as much as I loved everything about the wonderful resorts we stayed at in St. Lucia– and certainly standing in that infinity pool in our sanctuary at Jade Mountain was a high I’ll never forget– it was being out in the jungle with a naturalist who told us all about the local plants, the history of the island’s cocoa plantations, and introduced us to “Peppa” that really stands out in my mind.


Peppa proudly showed us how he could strip a coconut with his teeth.

No matter where my travels take me, I find it’s always the moments in which I’m closest to nature that really stand out in my memory banks. Or the moments that I connect with someone who is totally unique and epitomizes the essence of the place I am visiting.

Such is the case of our adventure in the jungles of St. Lucia with “Peppa,”  a rastafarian who was chillin’ among the palms.

Our guide, Tyson, seemed to have a good level of comfort with Peppa (which I’m sure is a mutation of ‘Pepper’) so we quickly felt in the spirit of the discourse and welcomed Peppa’s comments from among the trees. The next thing we knew, Peppa came running out of the bush with a possum for us to see!


The possum didn’t seem that interested in meeting us.

It seems Peppa had awakened the possum from his afternoon siesta, and the possum was in no mood to meet a couple of chocolate lovers from Canada. So after a bit of prodding, he hustled back into the bush.

Peppa chose to inspire us with more of his survival skills, and decided to show us how he could strip a coconut shell with his teeth! That was no easy task. We watched in awe as our rastafarian friend tore the coconut hair strip-by-strip off the coconut shell, and then cracked it open for us to drink from.

These proceedings made a lasting impression on both my travelling companion and I, giving us something to joke about and remember with fondness.

Have you had a similar adventure in your travels, when something most unexpected happened, only to take front stage in your memory banks of that particular trip?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

76 Responses

  1. Linda says:

    Hi Doreen,
    I had a very demanding day today and it was nice to receive your e-mail.
    Reading your story made me relax and enjoy what you had to share.
    I felt like I was on the journey with you.
    keep them coming.
    Take care

  2. Mary-Anne says:

    Yes Peppa did indeed give us a show….definitely not rehearsed….no large audience….no fancy costume…..but still entertaining….just doing what he knows best.

  3. Hi Doreen,
    Thank you for sharing your travel experience. While in Costa Rica, Evelio, a guide from Drake Bay took us down to a gorgeous waterfall with a 2 metre-deep swimming hole. Afterwards his sister served us lunch in her humble home. Meeting Evelio and his sister was an amazing experience.
    Merle Rosenstein recently posted…Something Old – Something New – in CubaMy Profile

  4. Karen says:

    What a great story! Sounds like a great trip. I haven’t been on any great “real” vacations since our daughter was born. This story has me dreaming of St. Lucia! The last little trip we did was a family share in Cape Cod for a couple of days and really the thing that I loved the most and sticks in my mind is just the non-stop laughing with my sister. We both have kids around the same age and it was just nice to have that time while our parents watched the little ones and we sat around chatting away!
    Karen recently posted…Pretty Paper ChainsMy Profile

  5. Susan Cooper

    Ah, I couldn’t agree with you more. Peppa sounds like a very memorable character. I can’t even imagine how he did that with a coconut… WOW! For me it was my trip to Norway. I was taking a boat tour thru the fjords by myself. I ran on to a foreign exchange student from Canada who was also traveling alone that day. She was a delight. We shared stories, talked about why we were in Norway and took a ton of pictures along the way. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Fear – A Four-Letter Word: StoryMy Profile

    • Doreen Pendgracs

      Love your story, Susan. Sometimes, travelling alone can open up opportunities to bond with someone we would otherwise miss. My main objection to solo travel is that I don’t like to eat (or drink!) alone.

  6. Jon Jefferson says:

    Just how upset was the possum?

    • Doreen Pendgracs

      I think he was pretty upset, Jon. He was hissing at Peppa when he poked him with a stick. Of corse, I, too would likely hiss if you poked me with a stick! 🙂

  7. Naomi says:

    In Costa Rica, we stayed at a little hotel that was empty save for us and the owners because of the off season. While eating dinner outside, we had a family of Coatils (little bear looking creatures) come right up to us for food. They weren’t scared or anything. It didn’t bother us, and eventually they walked away. Still a good memory.

    xo Naomi │ Be Ready Bravely
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  8. Doreen — many years ago my husband and I stopped at a French restaurant on the Left Bank in Paris for dinner. We asked for two glasses of Lillet (a French aperitif) to start. We had a table near the bar but we waited and waited and couldn’t understand what was taking so long. Finally, a waiter brought us two glasses of le lait — or milk in French. We were stunned until we realized that the waiter hadn’t understood our poor French pronunciation. The maitre ‘d had sent the waiter out for milk because the restaurant didn’t have any. They must have thought what strange Americans to order milk as their cocktail! When we all realized what happened we laughed and laughed. The meal was wonderful and the chef, in his toque blanche, came out of the kitchen, escorted us outside and hailed us a taxi. I still smile at that wonderfully funny memory.
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  9. Leora

    Oh, the possum sounds quite fun! And neat to have Peppa open the coconut for you. Good service on the go!
    Leora recently posted…Red Peppers for Thursday Challenge RedsMy Profile

  10. Kelly Wade says:

    Great story! When I was living abroad, our group took a trip to Paris. After visiting the Eiffel tower, we were all walking through the city to another destination when my four girl friends and I got separated from the group. At first we were upset and dismayed about losing our group, but we ended up making the best of it and having fun in the city with each other and finding out way around. Its one of my fondest memories!
    Kelly Wade recently posted…Healthy Ideas for Late Night SnacksMy Profile

    • Doreen

      Hi Kelly: Yes, I’ve been in the same position, where finding yourself off the beaten path and away from your “group” can open up new opportunities that would not otherwise likely have offered themselves. Best to just roll with the punches when you’re travelling, and not get flustered when things don’t go as planned.

  11. Abbe says:

    Love reading about adventures. Getting away from the touristas is the best way to do that! Fun!

    • Doreen

      Hi Abbe and thank for joining the blog. I believe it’s your first visit!

      I totally agree. What good is visiting a new place and staying in the touristy areas where everyone you meet and talk to is a visitor? I love getting into the local neighbourhoods where you get to interact with people who actually live there. That’s why my favourite places to visit in new places are the local farmers’ markets.

  12. I’m from Trinidad&Tobago and let me tell you, I have had many interactions with coconuts (i LOVE coconut water) and I know for a fact that it is really hard to get open. I must say though, I’m surprised there was even water in that coconut- we only ever use the dried coconuts to make coconut milk for cooking. But how was it drinking straight from the source? Good right?
    Rynessa Cutting recently posted…The Health Benefits of Cottage CheeseMy Profile

    • Doreen

      Thanks for your comment, Rynessa, and for joining us here on the blog.

      I’ve drank from a coconut before. It is indeed delicious and to eat the fresh coconut meat as well.

      How lucky you are to be from T&T. We visited previously, and really enjoyed our time there. I’m hoping to return and visit the Cocoa Research Centre, and also meet Isabel of CocoBel Chocolates. They come highly recommended to me. Have you tried them?
      Doreen recently posted…when travelling, the little things can mean a lotMy Profile

      • Unfortunately no. I was actually watching a tourism video on Facebook the other day and I realized how many places I have never been to in my own country. It’s sad but citizens rarely ever treat themselves to the finer things. When I return home I need to give myself the tourist experience because this is unacceptable. lol
        Rynessa Cutting recently posted…10 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and VeggiesMy Profile

        • Doreen

          I know exactly what you mean, Rynessa. Too often, we overlook the finer things in our own backyard (homeland) thinking that everything is better somewhere else. In all my travels, I’ve certainly learned that is not necessarily true. Let me know when you do get to try the CocoBel Chocolates. I believe there are some on their way to me right now!

  13. Mary Slagel says:

    I agree that it is often the small things. I spend a summer traveling the Mediterranean and as breath taking as many of the views were, it is the little things that stand out the most. While I was meandering through Spain with a few friends, we decided to stop off for a drink. The bartender spoke very little English but enough to communicate. He had on a Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirt and was playing my friends favorite band. It was so cool to try to communicate with him and discuss his love of Springsteen and the music he was playing.
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  14. Jeri

    Our tour guide at The Temple of Poseidon was named Effie. She was an elderly French woman with a thick accent, so it hard harder than usual to hear her narration during the bus ride. Once she got off the bus, she proceeded to take out a shade umbrella, and click her heels on the slick stone that led to the temple. Not to mention, Effie was a heavy smoker, so she started to wheeze as she walked and talked. All in all, I really don’t see how she kept going. We saw her the next day leading a tour at the Acropolis as well. Effie was also very mean… Possibly someday I need to write a short story inspired by her.
    Jeri recently posted…Public Reading: Charles Frazier’s Writerly MelancholyMy Profile

    • Doreen

      I’ve had some interesting experiences with Greek tour guides as well, Jeri. We were on a tour bus on Santorini. The guide put far more emphasis on perfecting the application of her lipstick and making time with the bus driver than she didd in giving us ANY narration on what we were passing on our journey.

  15. Catarina says:

    You are so right that it’s often small things that stand out and we remember them forever.

    Was once at a leadership seminar in Victoria Falls and I remember more than anything the little monkeys that used to visit me every day when I had breakfast outside in the morning.
    Catarina recently posted…External directors boost startupsMy Profile

    • Doreen

      Hi Catarina: I love monkeys, too! They were sure an awesome welcoming committee to our visit in Misahualli, Ecuador. Never a dull moment when they’re around!

  16. Joy says:

    Your story is one of the examples on why I love to travel. It reminds me of when I traveled to a beach in the tropics where I met the family who managed the site. They were a simple bunch of people but they impressed me on how happy they were despite their simple lifestyle. Take note that there was no electricity in their place since they lived in an island far from the city.

  17. Veronica says:

    Peppa can be an inspiration to those of us who are struggling in life. He has great survivor skills in a world where he has to feed himself and make a living for the people who depends on him. Also, I find all your travel adventures very interesting and entertaining to read. Thank you and keep up the good work Doreen!

  18. Stacey says:

    More than the place that people travel to, locals are also a source of very inspiring experiences. I went to a fishing village once, it’s not the typical place where tourists often visit but it’s still one of the most memorable vacations I’ve experienced. It makes you think about how people strive for happiness, there are a lot of people who are poor but act as if their the happiest creatures alive.

    • Doreen

      Great comment, Stacey. I, too, have visited several fishing villages over the years. It is a similar experience to my experiences on the cocoa farms I visited in South America. People living off the land – or the sea – share similar challenges and triumphs. Simple lifestyle, great contentment.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. The book recounting many of these journeys (and much more) will be out in May. Stay tuned!
      Doreen recently posted…when travelling, the little things can mean a lotMy Profile

  19. Kelly says:

    So Peppa is considerably your rastafarian tour guide. Thank you for sharing to us about this good man Doreen. He is especially an inspiration for those people who are losing hope. I think Peppa is happy with whatever he has right now. Happy and content. That’s the most important part.
    Kelly recently posted…New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney 2012 Harbour Fireworks Cruise!My Profile

    • Doreen

      Hi Kelly: Sometimes, living a plain, simple, and natural life is the best best kind. I’m sure Peppa has very little in the way of cash, investments, or property. But he has the world by the tail because he lives at peace with nature and can look after most of his needs thru his survival tips and tactics. I think I could handle that kind of lifestyle – as long as there was some good chocolate included every now and then …

  20. A.K.Andrew says:

    Wow! Stripping a coconut with his teeth is pretty amazing I have to say, though i also really loved the possum pic.! your journeys always sound so relaxing Doreen, though I know that they are work for you. It does give a much better ability to get to know the local people, which is always great, but not always so easy on an ordinary holiday. i think that’s why in part i enjoy renting apartments – food shopping in a foreign country is so much fun. Thank you for the post.
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    • Doreen

      Hi A.K.: Thanks for the comment. Yes, renting a place and trying to live like a local is great fun, isn’t it? I love going to local grocery stores (or huts!) and seeing what the local people are eating. And I really love going to the local farmers’ markets as that’s where you get really fresh products, baked goods, and handcrafted items at a fraction of the cost you’d pay elsewhere.

  21. Geek Girl says:

    I love stuff like this! It reminds me of how much we take for granted as part of daily life.
    Geek Girl recently posted…Motivational Monday: 3/4My Profile

  22. Calra says:

    Remarkable rastafarian and tour guide you have there! Thank you for featuring inspiring people like Peppa. I hope there are more people as cheerful and as happy just like him. Salt of the earth, that’s what I’d call them.

  23. Kristine says:

    There are a lot of people who travel. All with different reasons. I for one love to travel because I find it of high interest to meet people from different places. It’s amazing to see how different we live our lives.

  24. Sandra says:

    You sure lead a very exciting life with all the travelling you do. And that man is just remarkable how many people actually shell-out a coconut with their teeth!? Amazing.

  25. Emilia says:

    People from all over the world have a lot of different stories to tell. Aside from that, you’ll get to see how our lifestyles differ. This is why I love to travel; I get to learn a lot more.

  26. Patrick Huff says:

    My first day in England my luggage was delayed and I had no clothes. We were invited to our hosts parents house and I was given some old clothes her father had. Did not fit and made me look 50 years old. Caroline’s mother took us to see new born puppies at her friends house and I still looked like her father.
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    • Doreen

      Hi Patrick and thanks for your comment. That’s why it’s always a good idea to take a change of clothing with you in a carry on. that way, you’ll have at least one outfit to wear while you’re waiting for your luggage to find you. On the other hand, look at the humorous travel memory you have because of the mishap! 🙂

  27. It is the moments that take your breath away that stand out the most but they happen in an instant. Staying open while you travel, open to any of those moments and not being so fixated on going to the next “monument” or thing you are supposed to see that you miss it. I have many of these flashes, sadly too many years ago now and hope I can travel again one day. One that stays in my mind was in Innsbruck. We had walked down this narrow street with small shops on either side. The end of the street was perfectly framed with snow capped mountains. At the end of the street on the right was a church which we went into for 15 minutes. We came out and as I turned right to look at the mountains, the sun hit the snow and the church bells started to peel at that exact instant. I am almost ashamed to say I stood there and started crying. The beauty of it was immense.
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    • Doreen

      I know precisely what you mean, Susan. That’s why I generally don’t like groups tours or press trips. I like to be able to have the flexibility to stop and smell the roses, listen to the bells chime or take in whatever special moment may come unannounced or unexpected.

  28. Aayna says:

    I loved reading this great post, quite an engaging story. The conclusion I drew is that some people are so simple, yet they make a special place in the heart of others through those simple gestures. Thanks for the share.
    Aayna recently posted…How To Use The Ribbon in Excel 2013My Profile

  29. Fatima says:

    I always love reading about unique travel experiences from people across the globe. Appreciate your share.

  30. Arianne says:

    Okay, I cringed at his ability to pry open a coconut husk by his teeth. But I think Peppa’s a wonderful gem of a rastafarian. Thank you for this post Doreen. Please keep writing.

  31. Vianney says:

    Another excellent share from you Doreen, I just love reading your blog and imagining your adventures. They’re truly one of a kind.

  32. Great post. One of my most memorable moments traveling happened in 2004. I was in Cuba in a little park. I struck up a conversation with a local and eventually it turned to discussing Cuban music and dance. Right there in the middle of the park in the afternoon, me with my back pack on, he gave me an impromptu dance lesson. It was a blast and the photo my friend captured of us dancing is my favorite one from the entire trip.

    • Doreen

      Hi LGB and thanks for your comment. It’s always great hearing from you.

      Yes, isn’t that the truth! Those brief unplanned, unexpected moments can indeed be our highlights and most treasured memories of a trip. That’s why I really prefer unescorted tours/visits where every second of the day isn’t previously accounted for. Cheers!

  33. Mary says:

    Nice! I also had a memorable experience in the rainforest of St. Lucia. I was young and would not have thought of having a guide, but really wanted to see the St. Lucia parrot which is the national bird of the island and only found there. They are very rare (the population has recently increased to about 500 due to captive breeding and release, it was less than that when I was in St. Lucia). I took one of the minibuses to the mountain forest, hopped off and had a look around. I watched a variety of other birds, waited, was a bit nervous to be out there alone. Before long I was rewarded by two parrots flying by squawking!
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  37. Today’s dinner ranks with our “world’s bests.” Nothing fancy, just delicious chicken. For you Canadians, it’s like Swiss Chalet got to open a franchise in Heaven, but only because they promised to raise their standards to heavenly levels. The restaurant was actually called “The Chicken-In.” Perhaps I have a simple palate, but all three of us were saying the same thing: this is one of the best meals we’ve had anywhere on this trip.
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  38. Thanks for sharing your wonderful travel experience, Doreen. Gotta love St. Lucia!
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    • Doreen

      Thanks for your comment, Kathryn. I do indeed love St. Lucia! I hope you had a chance to look around a little on the blog. There have been some amazing chocolate adventures!

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