xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #60 February 6, 2000 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers compare notes on elderhostel programs. EN is an independent project, appreciative of but not associated with Elderhostel Inc. http://www.elderhostel.org EN has a WWW site at http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook To subscribe to the e-mail edition and/or to submit reviews of programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Jim Olson, at EHnotebook@aol.com Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format. ################################################ From the Editor's Notebook ################################################ In looking over past issues of the Notebook it occurred to me that some of the information in previous issues is most likely obsolete for a number of reasons: some programs are no longer offered, some programs with specific problems have probably resolved those problems, others may have developed problems as program coordinators change, accommodation changes have been made, and so on. The Notebook isn't and can't become an inclusive up to date guide to the program selection process. The Notebook was conceived as an online meeting place for hostelers to share information informally much as they do when attending programs and I think along with the Dialogue it still serves that purpose. The report as a vicarious experience remains one of our objectives. When the Dialogue was set up as a separate entity, I thought I might create separate mailing lists, but that hasn't happened as most subscribers want both. I'll just keep the same list for the Dialogue and the Notebook and concentrate in both on Elderhostel programs, bringing alternate programs into the discussion only incidentally. For example, when a disappointing Elderhostel program could best be replaced by another non-profit alternative you are aware of, don't be reluctant to make the comparison. Or if a particular Elderhostel program achieves much more than a similar non-Elderhostel program you took, make that point as well. All this to preface the renaming of the Going to Learn Dialogue back to Elderhostel Notebook Dialogue effective with the next issue of the Dialogue. Here's a valentine cinquain for the ladies: Cinderella Ages She wears The charm of years, And beauty shines from eyes Alive with ageless tales of love's Magic. -jwo ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ Asolo Theater Review Elder Hostel Program in Grants, NM Eckridge College St. Petersburg, Fl. Calif State Univ/San Bernardino/Desert Hot Springs University of New Mexico/Taos Talking Picture Festival ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ______________________ Subj: Asolo Theater Review Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 7:00:34 PM A Total Theater Experience at Sarasota's Asolo Theater Program 09190-0109-01 January 9-14 2000 firstname.lastname@example.org My husband and I just returned from Florida and while there attended the program listed above. This was held at the DaySpring Episcopal Center in Ellenton Florida. The facilities were very comfortable with each cottage having four rooms with twin beds and private baths. There was a common living room with a phone and TV and a mini kitchen with a fridge and a coffee pot. The food served in the dining room was excellent. For breakfast there was always a selection of cold cereals, three types of milk, fruit and eggs, eggbeaters and bacon and sausage. Lunch and dinner always had an excellent salad bar. Supper always had two main dishes, appropriate vegetables and many dessert selections. Lunch always had two soups and sandwiches in addition to the salad bar. The program was run by and actress and director named Laura Smith who truly brought a wealth of material to us about the theater. We saw three plays during the week, Triumph of Love done by Third year students in the Asolo program and two other performances done by the main company. The plays we saw were all nominally comedies. Visiting Mr. Green was a favorite with all of us. Shakespear's Merry Wives of Windsor was placed at a 50's resort in the country. We discussed the plays before we went to see them. We had visits from some of the cast and then had a backstage tour on the day we saw a matinee. We also discussed the plays after we had seen them. We all enjoyed going to the theater and learned quite a bit of what goes into staging a play. This is the first Elderhostel I have attended where several of the couples had returned for a second time. Helen Sternheim Helen@k12s.phast.UMass.edu ______________________ Elder Hostel Program in Grants, NM Northern New Mexico State University email@example.com Thank you for providing a means of evaluating the Elder Hostel programs. I am certain there are many fine offerings; however, I do not believe they get any better than the program coordinated by Barbara Wesley in Grants, New Mexico! The program schedule for Cities Of Cibola: Ancient Civilizations And Area Cultures offered in August of 1999 was rich in variety and gave each participant a thorough understanding of the Pueblo peoples of the area. Variety ranged from a visit to the Crown Point rug auction where we were able to meet and mingle with local residents, the next day we were attending lectures, and on another day we were off to Chaco Canyon. Speaking of Chaco Canyon, I want to commend both Barbara and bus driver, Harry Little, for providing the group the opportunity to make this trip even though weather conditions were not favorable. I believe they sensed that many in our group were eager to go to Chaco, and they were determined to fit the trip into our schedule. It was a memorable experience and I am grateful for their efforts. In addition to the daily outstanding educational offerings Barbara planned, she handled an unbelievable number of details including our housing, meals and transportation. As an example of her creativity with regard to tasty meals--lunch our first day was a picnic in the beautiful Red Rock State Park, another outdoor meal featured the best BarBQ west of Memphis, a special evening meal was a steak cookout, and our graduation dinner was at the Grants Country Club! Barbara was gracious and always prepared, i.e. she loaned many books from her personal library to members of our group and if anyone forgot bug spray, sun screen, etc. Barbara was always there to save the day. I mention the attention to detail because I know from personal experience that for any event to be successful it must look as if it just happened effortlessly. Barbara Wesley is one of the few people I know who has that talent and more! editor's note: This an example of the importance of the host/coordinator to a successful program, information the catalog description doesn't provide but the Notebook does. _________________ Eckridge College St. Petersburg, Fl. 1/9-15/00 IDan452573@aol.com The Elderhostel was lovely. It's a small campus and the greenery and flowers were a treat coming from Chicago. They have just built a whole new area for Elderhostelers, a sort of 2 floor motel, nicely furnished with telephone and TV. The cafeteria and classroom were nearby. They gave us a bus tour of the campus. I missed the first night, as I have family in St. Petersburg and spent the evening with them. From then on it was all uphill! I chose Dali/Chagall, Symphony and Advertisements. Dali/Chagall facilitator was Vera Martin. She was absolutely excellent with a wonderful sense of humor. She showed us slides of certain paintings and gave us a background of the artists and I wished that class could have been longer. She took us to the Dali museum and a docent talked to us for an hour, also not long enough. Symphony's facilitator was Dr. James Deegan, who also had a good sense of humor and explained various parts of symphonies, composers, etc., and then played a few minutes of their music on tape. In the evening we were transported to Clearwater to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, where we heard "Symphonie Fantastique" , which was excellent. The conductor was Mexican, whose name I cannot recall. He spoke good English and also had fun with the audience, who gave him a standing ovation. I've heard first class orchestras, and this was no poor relative. The Advertising class was facilitated by Fred Farrar, who had original material dating back to 1600, newspapers and magazines. He shared them freely and we were able to take them to our rooms, which amazed me. He explained, also with slides, when the idea of advertising in newspapers began and thru' the ages until modern times. The food was good and plentiful. We had an excellent salad bar; I have never seen better. There were choices of hot foods, which were good, considering it was a cafeteria, and always a choice for making your own sandwiches, hot soups, plenty of fruit and dessert including a soft ice cream machine. There is also a swimming pool available (outdoor), but we could not use it because it was spring break and no life guards were available. Also we ran into some very chilly weather. There is a gym, which I did not investigate, but I heard it was more than sufficient. The huge library was at our disposal, of course. There is a non-denominational little chapel on the grounds. It is situated in a very lovely area, surrounded by water and greenery. The chapel itself is extremely plain with no sign of any particular religion, except for a cross on the top of the roof. There were many foreign students on campus, I believe Oriental and South American (Hispanic). They were in a separate area and their meal times were not the same as ours. A computer is available both at the computer lab and next to the dining room for a small charge. The people were friendly, and though' I was the only single person there, I had no problem finding company at mealtimes. I usually take a single room, but this class was booked and I had to wait for an opening, which came with a roommate, who turned out to be very nice and we got along well. She was with a couple, so I didn't see much of her. If you cannot find a companion, do not hesitate to take a class anywhere. This was my 17th EH and have enjoyed them all, from primitive in CT. to lovely in Chicago (for the Art Institute). Ilse Daniels IDan452573@aol.com _____________ Calif State Univ/San Bernardino/Desert Hot Springs Jan 9-14 firstname.lastname@example.org Lovely hotel Miracle Hot Springs. Natural hot pool with 7 smaller pools of various temperatures made it a very relaxing 5 days. Computer class instructors Rita and Judy were very knowledgeable,easy to follow and right on the dot with assistance. Field trip of Palm Springs narrated by Rita was very professional. Judy sang at close of progran graduation and knocked us out with her beautiful voice. Great food.lots of fruit and veggies,chicken and fish. Hotel staff most accommodating. airport pick up available. Free afternoon to go to Palm Springs Follies-a must. Worth the 54.00 for 3 hrs of the best entertainment. all over 50 but look 20. A real pick me up. ___________ University of New Mexico/Taos Talking Picture Festival Program Number: 31667-0116-01 January 16, 2000-January 21,2000 Service Program MacRuth@aol.com The Taos Talking Picture Festival will hold its sixth festival, April 13-16-00. The Festival office receives hundreds of submissions from around the globe for consideration at the Taos Talking Picture Festival. This Elderhostel, the first of its kind, was to assist with screening the submissions for viewing at the Festival in April. Needless to say, it was a very popular Elderhostel and the program filled up on the lottery with a long wait list. I was fortunate enough to make it into the program from the wait list and merrily found my way to The Land of Enchantment, New Mexico. Expecting very cold weather, we were all surprised with sunny warm days, reaching up into the 60's. The program did not disappoint. Each day we had lectures about the media, the power of the moving image, the effort to develop a new language to describe the underlying philosophy emerging in film making, and much more. We were dazzled with the concepts and the power of the visual media. Each day we were divided into small groups of 5 or 6, assigned rooms and given a stack of videos to view and evaluate. We had trouble learning to fast forward through those that were obviously not well done, and we had heated discussions on what we liked and what we didn't like. In the end, we wrote our individual evaluations and recommendations, and moved onto the next film. We stayed at the Quality Inn in Taos, a very comfortable facility. The hotel provided our meals, and though not exciting, they were adequate. It would be difficult to find things I did not like about this Elderhostel. On the extra bonus side, we were able to watch the full lunar eclipse under the clear cold skies of New Mexico, while two women from the program drummed on their new drums purchased from the Indians in the area. There were also hikes in the nearby foothills for late afternoon, forays into Taos to check out the art galleries and T-shirt shops, and time for sight seeing in nearby villages, the Taos Pueblo, and much more. An excellent program. Ruth McCormick MacRuth@aol.com _____________ ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES NOV. 22 - DEC. 5, 1999 CarolKD@aol.com I recently returned home from a remarkable trip, even for Elderhostel. It was led by Anne and David Chesterton, an American and an Englishman, who now live north of Toronto and are very special people -- caring, helpful for each traveler's specific quirks a problems, always tactful and always helpful beyond the norm. We were a terrifically varied, pleasant, well-traveled, and well-behaved group of people, many of whom had done a lot of sailing and travel on windjammer-type cruises or family yachts and could tell us all about yachts, boats and ships in the harbor before us. We arrived one week after Hurricane Lennie had sent very damaging waves onto all those islands, so beaches had shifted and had wood and debris dumped on them which had to be cleaned up, sand was being shoveled endlessly off the ruined waterfront gardens, piers and a few waterfront buildings had just been destroyed. But the weather had calmed down by the time we arrived. We were very happy staying at Paradise Inn on Villa Beach, St.Vincent's best, which is volcanic greyish-brownish sand and usually clear water and where I, a nervous shallow-water swimmer, was usually perfectly comfortable in the lovely warm saltwater. Amazingly, many of my usual crotchety aches and pains disappeared with the 2xdaily swimming! Others snorkeled, using rented snorkels from the next-door swim shop, and had a great time. Our days were well-balanced; one day very active with a hike, boat trip or van trip to explore various parts of the island, and the next a quieter one with more time to swim, free time to take the local Dollar Bus into the town to explore, shop or try the local Guinness ice cream cones. The currency is EC -- Eastern Caribbean -- and our 1.00 is equal to 2.67 of theirs, so we spent very little while there. Even a non-alcohol drink over at Young Island, the deluxe resort island just across the water from us, was only 2.00US during an optional evening spent over there to hear their fine steel drum band. Meals alternated between the hotel and local restaurants. After an arduous day, we were very glad not to have to go out again in the evening and to enjoy the dinner nicely served outside on the beachfront porch. We had excellent lecturers, especially the historian, who really is a fine speaker. We visited a woman on her beautiful banana plantation where she and 6 workers do all the work by hand, and she made a huge impression on me. Another day, a local horticulturist took us on a very pleasant walk through the beautiful Botanic Garden, first in the western hemisphere if I recall, and first planted in the early 1800s. A cheerful civic leader talked to us twice about the local life and social problems, punctuated with tapes of island music. We had a gorgeous day flying our group of 19 on 3 tiny planes from St. Vincent to Union Island at the very south end of the Grenadines, just above Grenada. There we got aboard a gorgeous 78 foot catamaran and sailed to swim and snorkel off the very small island of Mayreau, with its beach chopped up and full of fallen branches. Then we went on to the Tobago Cays, 4 absolutely gorgeous tiny islets for swimming and snorkeling; finally to Palm Island, a resort island where construction and storm damage were happening. It looked very stormy by then so everyone just took a walk and looked over the resort being rebuilt. On board the boat we had a gorgeous lunch with lobster salad served from beautiful Italian ceramic bowls and lots of other goodies. No one really drank much in our group except the good Hairoun beer made in St. Vincent. (I found pretty Kutira who could make a really good rum punch.) One day we did an exhausting climb through the jungle-like rain forest on the Vermont Nature Trail, something the locals wouldn't dream of doing, with a great Rasta guide named Elroy who has taught himself all the botany and biology. What a hard trip!!, constantly up and down immense climbs and drops using stone steps or tree roots all the way, ultimately going up to a high parrot lookout where you search the open sky for the Vincie Parrot, only found there. Fortunately, we saw and talked to, a few of them in cages at the pretty Botanic Garden. When we finally got up there, there were several huge yellow hawks soaring around which immediately meant no parrots, but when we staggered down and down through the tree roots, we could hear parrots chattering (laughing?) behind us. It seemed like about 3 1/2 miles but in theory the whole thing was only about 1 3/4 -- hard to believe. Most of us did the hike but it was a difficult one. Another day we took 2 speed boats all along the leeward coast to near the top of the island to see a waterfall and briefly swim in its pool. I stayed on the boat for that part since it was a climb down into deeper water than I like and a short swim over the rocks, so I didn't even attempt it. Later we all swam and shelled at a gorgeous beach. Every other day or so we had a bus excursion somewhere -- to a good training school for "delinquent" but very sweet boys from bad families, a nursery school where the kids were hilarious, and to see the windward, wild Atlantic coast where the sugar plantation has been shut down, the rum factory operation cut a lot and there's not much work anymore. There are 2 tunnels over there, cut through the mountain in the 1800s by hand to get the sugar through to the coast for shipment. And several of us would get up early to swim before breakfast, just down the beach from our nice little hotel, with the local of men, women and dogs who all take a 6:30-7am swim, by far the best of the day. Heavenly warm, usually clear water although the sand on St. V is volcanic grey-brown-black and not glamorous. One day after a big rain, the sand was suddenly black and silky and hot under our feet. We ate very well, usually local island food at most of the hotels and restaurants -- lots of stewed and curried chicken, mutton which may be lamb or goat (they look almost alike), some beef but always in a good, spicy sauce. We always had baked breadfruit, steamed "ground provisions" -- carrots, crystophene (white translucent and my favorite), kalaloo which is like spinach and makes great soup, dasheen the root and "pumpkin", which I think is hubbard squash cooked with ginger and MUCH better than sweet potato; I loved that. Good papaw, grapefruit, bananas always available and delicious, limes, sorrel -- the good red drink from a red plant that begins just before Christmas, and lots of ice cream. Bakes are small fried balls, like doughnuts, that are local treats...some are kind of tough, some really good. I never had those on more upscale Bequia with more sophisticated food. Ba joul is salt codfish and onions cooked for breakfast and served with breadfruit and bakes; for lunch it has more veg and is spicier. I liked it a lot. St. Vincent is not a good island for walking: it's too hot, the traffic is too fast and all over the roads, and there are constant hills up and down. Our van drivers were excellent -- careful, fun, and informative with plenty of room on the two vans. I took the local ferryboat over 9 miles of open water to Bequia on my own for 4 lovely days afterwards, stayed at Pat Mitchell's Gingerbread which is pretty and fun and a bit overpriced, with nice staff and very good food. Pat ran the Frangipani Hotel next door when I was there 30 years ago, and her daughter runs it now. When I was on Bequia in early December, mainly Europeans seemed to be at Frangipani. I Had a very good time there, swimming about 1/2 mile down at the beach of a neighboring deluxe resort...a beautiful, clean white-sand beach. Daily, I walked a short distance along the shore into the village to the shops for a drink or lunch, to shop, or stop at the stand of the market ladies who sell bananas or grapefruit. The shore is now lined with small boutiques selling island crafts, books, and clothing (and T-shirts). The whale-boner bar has always been right between the two hotels; you enter the bar through an arch of whitewashed whale ribs and right next to it is a small shop with pretty silk-screened print fabrics made right there. The Bequia village has several local beach cafes for rotis (kind of a Caribbean burrito) or tuna sandwich of fresh tuna. After a good breakfast while it was cool, I only ate bananas or fruit in the terribly hot, humid mid-day when I was literally dripping wet from the short walk. People sit in the very center of the harbor, under the almond trees by the ferry dock, and where there is a breeze in the shade. You watch the ferries, big yachts, small cruise ships and the people. This village shore is the center of island life. I saw the island by hiring Alvin, a taxi man, to take me around for 2 hours in the afternoon and then While there, I really enjoyed taking taxi for 1 1/2 hours to see the turtle man, Brother King, who for the past 4 years has collected eggs from the threatened loggerhead turtles who lay them on the beaches of quiet islands. He raises them to 2 years in very organized series of tanks for different ages and sizes, bands them for future research, and finally releases them back into the ocean and says in the 4 years he's had his farm that about 397 have been released so far. His first 3 turtles plus a big tray green turtle that he found out at sea are his permanent pets -- the green because local people will immediately eat him. He works individually with those who are sick or injured, keeping a good number in individual small tanks in his large "hospital" section while they recover. His farm is beautifully organized and built and Brother is very fascinating to talk to.