Elderhostel Notebook #60 February 6, 2000

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

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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

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    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

    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

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

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

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.

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

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

Calif State Univ/San Bernardino/Desert Hot Springs
Jan 9-14

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

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


NOV. 22 - DEC. 5, 1999

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

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

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.