During my first 20 years of life I had only ever been on 2 flights: one flight from SLC to Boston for a family reunion, and another flight from Boston back to SLC.

So I thought it was ironic when I realized that during the last 2 years of my life I have been on exactly 20 flights. And you know how I love irony, so naturally I'm here to record it. I've probably told you this before, but the first time I met Jared's dad, he gave me a big bear hug and said, "Do you have your passport? Because we are a flying family, and we like to travel." He was right that I'd need a passport! Jared always used to say that he wanted to show me the world, and well, we're off to a flying start (pun intended). First he took me to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for our honeymoon. Then a year later he took me to live on a tropical island.

When I say there were 20 flights between our first flight to Grenada and our last flight out of Grenada, I'm not talking 20 legs of flights (there were probably 50 of those). I'm talking 20 flights from takeoff to final destination. And 7 were done by myself. So this probably won't be interesting to many of you, but I want to list each of those flights to remember in the future and give myself a pat on the back for doing hard things!
Flight 1: August 2014. Moving to Grenada. SLC -> Grenada (GND)
Flight 2: October 2014. Solo flight to do Disneyworld with the in-laws! GND -> Orlando
Flight 3: November 2014. Solo flight back to Jared. Orlando -> GND
Flight 4: December 2014. Christmas with my family. GND -> SLC
Flight 5: December 2014. New Year's Eve with Lamberts. SLC -> Seattle (SEA)
Flight 6: January 2015. Back to Utah to finish Christmas break. SEA -> SLC
Flight 7: January 2015. Begin term 2 in Grenada. SLC -> GND
Flight 8: May 2015. Summer break in Utah. GND -> SLC
Flight 9: June 2015. Miss our connecting flight to Grenada by 3 minutes. SLC -> Miami
Flight 10: June 2015. Spend the night in Miami, then go through St. Lucia to GND. MIA -> GND
Flight 11: October 2015. Solo trip to watch Will in WA while his mom was in Italy. GND -> SEA
Flight 12: October 2015. Solo flight to Utah for a week with family. SEA -> SLC
Flight 13: November 2015. Solo flight back to Jared! SLC -> GND
Flight 14: December 2015. Christmas with the Lamberts. GND -> SEA
Flight 15: December 2015. Quick solo trip to Utah to see best friend married. SEA -> SLC
Flight 16: December 2015. Solo trip back to WA to finish off Christmas break. SLC -> SEA
Flight 17: January 2016. Begin term 5 in Grenada. SEA -> GND
Flight 18: March 2016. Quick trip to Utah for my brother's wedding. GND -> SLC
Flight 19: March 2016. Back to Grenada to finish off our last 2 months! SLC -> GND
Flight 20: May 2016. Move back to America!! GND -> SLC

I'm not going to claim that this is like a record-shattering number of flights or anything. Jared's mom probably does this many flights in a one-year period, and I follow lifestyle and travel bloggers who I swear are flying every week. But it was a lot for me, and now we've got a good system going. I've always seen Jared as a professional-level travel buddy, but after this lineup I feel like I've finally got the system figured out too. There's always a glitch or two when traveling internationally (see last post), but otherwise we've found a smooth airport routine. Here's to seeing many more cool places in the future! And hopefully not having to pack everything we own with us while we do it ;)
20 Flights

The time is 4:50 a.m. The day is May 14. We stayed up late for one last night of games with our fifth-term friends who started and finished with us in Grenada. This meant staying up until 2:00 in the morning to finish packing and cleaning out our apartment, but it was well worth it. Even though I feel like someone dropped a bag full of conch shells on my head.

I roll out of bed and make Jared come with me. We do some last-minute cleaning, Jared showers, and we eat some oatmeal together. If it weren't so early and weren't so stressful I would maybe be pondering about how significant this day is and maybe even crying a little. Instead I'm checking Instagram to force my eyes open. Jared and I line up our six 70-lb suitcases and stuff our backpacks full of supplies for the plane ride.

5:30 comes and goes. My visiting teacher is supposed to be here to pick us up, but she's not. I reminded her the day before, but maybe there was a miscommunication? Or maybe her alarm didn't go off? I don't have her number--we mostly use Facebook to communicate in Grenada--so when 5:45 arrives and no one's here to pick us up Jared starts to panic. It's pouring buckets outside. There's even thunder and lightning. I don't remember this heavy of a rain in Grenada since our first term. Jared runs across the street to try and wake our neighbors to give us a ride. I put cries for help on all the Grenada Facebook group pages on the off chance that someone is awake and willing to give us a ride this early.

Eventually Jared wakes our probably-freaked-out neighbors. Tim is happy to give us a ride. Our Grenada people are the best. We stuff Tim's car with our luggage and Jared and I share the front seat. We all got soaked loading the car, so that's a bummer. We have 15 hours of traveling ahead of us.

We give Tim all the NutriGrain bars we didn't eat during the term and hug him goodbye at the airport. Before we check our bags, we scrounge for any dry clothing we can find. We're running late and need to be quick. I procure the t-shirt dress I've been wearing all term as a nightgown. It's so thin that it's practically see-through in some areas, but it's dry. I also grab some fuzzy socks and my jelly shoes that I tried to sell but couldn't. I'm going to look hysterical, but at least I won't get hypothermia.

Security is a breeze, thank goodness. We have just enough time before boarding to exchange our remaining Eastern Caribbean currency into US dollars and change into our dry clothes. Thank goodness I'd found some; I didn't put on a belt this morning and my wet jeans are falling down.

Grenada's airport has a tiny bathroom, but there's only one gate so I have it practically to myself as I change in my dirty little stall. I run into a problem. I threw out my regular bra last week because I'd worn it out during our time in Grenada, so I'm wearing my spare bra--ultra padded because it was for our wedding and the lady who made my dress kept demanding that I find a way to fill out the bodice better. The padding has absorbed the rainstorm and wringing it out doesn't do me much good. If I wear it, my thin dress will be wet in weird places. If I don't wear it, my thin dress won't hide much. I wait for the other woman in the bathroom to leave and I use the hand dryer to try to dry my underclothes. I hold my soaked jacket in my other hand so I can pretend I'm drying it if anyone walks in. I stand at the hand dryer for about two minutes before I decide that I need to get out there for boarding. I put on my almost-dry brasier and tie my damp jacket around my waist so it's not as obvious that my dress is so thin. This will do. Good thing I brought a little blanket in my carry-on to use on the plane.

The flight is a smooth one. Then we land in Miami.

We have to go through immigration and recheck our luggage since we're coming from a foreign country. This is an hour-long process of waiting in lines and waiting for bags and going through security yet again. We have six bags. Each is 70 pounds. So it's a bit of an ordeal to collect it all and get it rechecked. I'm grateful for the chance to rifle through my bags for more comfortable clothes again though. I find some shorts and a t-shirt, and replace them with the wet jeans and shirt I changed out of in the Grenada airport.

We're nearly to security when I realize I don't have my passport. Panic ensues. Jared usually keeps our passports together in a little travel clutch, but mine's not there. I'm stranded without it. We retrace our steps and ask some grumpy airport workers for help. It takes several minutes, but eventually a short lady finds it for me. It was in the cart we used to carry around our luggage. I get a lecture about keeping better track of important documents. I totally deserve it. It will never happen again. Not that I plan on leaving the country again any time soon. I'll be so happy to chill in the USA for a long time.

The last couple times we've flown, I always get chosen for a pat down after going through the TSA scanners. I'm pretty sure it's because my hair has gotten so long and thick that they need to pat down my back in case I'm hiding something in or behind my braid. This time when the TSA worker puts her hand on my back, she immediately yelps and jumps backward. She pats my back a couple more times, cautiously, and says, "Oh! Those are your bones!" My scapulae stick out a lot, and yes, I have the world's boniest back. If I were a self-conscious person I'd be embarrassed about my back for the rest of my life after this incident, but I'm pretty confident in myself so it's NBD. Jared thinks it's hilarious that she thought my bones were like a weapon of some kind.

By the time we get through security, there's barely enough time for us to run to our next gate before we need to board. But we're starving and I need to change out of this chilly t-shirt dress, so Jared grabs us some nasty airport Chinese food (his favorite) while I find a restroom. It's not until after I change that I realize these new dry clothes are the exact outfit I wore the day before. They smell like pizza and remind me of our friends we spent last night playing Super Smash and Bang! with. Luckily our flight is delayed 15 minutes, so we scarf down our food and stare at a wall for a while, feeling relieved that we'll probably never have to move to or from a foreign country again. This is hectic stuff.

Happy to have a filled belly and comfortable clothes on, we board our flight to Dallas. We enjoy a stress-free two-hour layover, and then board our final flight to SLC. We take off just before sunset and chase the sun all the way home. Turns out I love flying when I get to enjoy a three-hour sunset from my window.

As we fly over Utah valley, it begins to set in that we're going home. And this time, it's not for a mere month-long break. I didn't cry when we left Grenada, probably because of all our morning stress. But I cry a few happy tears when we land in Utah. I'd been so worried the past few weeks that I'd miss Grenada so much, and that I wouldn't be able to give our island that we may never see again a sufficient goodbye. But as we descend over Utah Valley I'm not worried any more. It's good that it's good to be home.

Goodbye Grenada

As promised, here is the video I put together of my parents' visit to Grenada. If nothing else, definitely watch the first half so you can see a huge leatherback sea turtle lay and burry her eggs. They go into a sort of trance during this process and so you can only use red light to see them because red light doesn't bother them in their trance. We got to touch our turtle, and our good friends Kayla and Evan were volunteering that night so they got to be the ones to catch the eggs and record all sorts of numbers and measurements for research. Turtles are so rad! And these ones are the raddest because instead of a shell, they have rough, leathery backs. They're like legit sea dinosaurs.
Parents in Grenada + Leatherback Sea Turtles Video

 On Thursday morning we went to the most famous of the Grenadian beaches: Grand Anse. None of these pictures do it an ounce of justice, but they do show how much fun we were having! The water was calm as glass. My parents snorkeled and saw a few colorful fish, as well as a big starfish. I just sat there and floated on my boogie board, soaking in the moment. My favorite thing to do in the Caribbean Sea, other than boogie board, is to just float on something and stare at the island, soaking it all in.
Once we'd received our fair share of sun, we popped into Umbrella's Beach Bar for lunch. This may be my favorite restaurant here. The sandwiches are (usually) amazing (it's common for our favorite dishes at each Grenadian restaurant to taste completely different every time we go). The drinks are phenomenal. And expensive. I got artsy in the picture above and put each of our sunglasses in front of our drinks. On the left is my frozen lemonade. In the middle is Mom's mango smoothie. And on the right is Dad's nutmeg milkshake. The waitress was so sweet and when my mom asked her what kind of tree we were sitting by, she told us and brought us some nuts from the tree to crack open later and try. They tasted kind of like Brazilian nuts. The best part of Umbrella's is the ambiance. It's got a great breeze and the best view.
On Friday we made the long drive up to Mt. Carmel falls. We went here with my brothers when they came, too. You can see more pictures of it in that post. These two dogs met us at the entrance and followed us all the way there. They were so adorable! They had some trust issues (many locals are really abusive to dogs, and there are stray dogs eeeeeeverywhere), but we eventually got them to come close enough that we could share some snacks with them, and then they were content to walk by our ankles. Jared loves rough-housing with dogs, so on the way back he got down on his knees and growled at them, and I have never seen two dogs yelp louder or bolt away faster. Poor things were terrified! They must've had some bad experiences with humans in the past. It was so sad. Jared felt bad.
You'll see more of this in the video I made, but we slid down the falls just like we did when my brothers came. My mom is such a champ! My dad and I were both chicken our first time going down. Mom wanted to slide down so badly, but it turned out that her arm really was broken, and every time my dad went down he'd go over this one bump where he'd have to catch himself with his right arm to keep his balance, and that's the arm that my mom had broken so she was nervous to do it. But even though we kept telling her that she didn't have to and that she should keep her arm safe, she totally slid down anyway! She'd come all the way to Grenada for this experience, and nothin' was gonna stop her. I'm not going to lie, I was terrified when she went down. She did fall to her right side when she went over the bump, and it looked like she nearly fell onto her arm. You'll see it in the video. But apparently it didn't hurt her at all and she was so excited at the bottom! Proud of her.
We stopped at La Sagesse beach on the way home just to show them. I was hoping to swim here, but Jared needed to get back to class for a lab. So we just went home and napped instead. I think I've finally figured out the best way to host visitors in Grenada, now that we've had our last ones. The correct formula is as follows: sleep in, breakfast together, swim/fun morning activity, lunch, afternoon relaxation, fun late afternoon activity or dinner out, fun evening activity or movie/board game in. We get a lot of sun when visitors come, so this was the perfect balance. We felt busy and like we were seeing a lot, but just when we started getting tired out we'd come home and just relax all afternoon. Shower, read, nap, whatever. And I think we all slept great at night, too. I would like to thank the Lambert family for being our guinnea pigs as our first visitors. Looking back at their trip compared to my parents' trip, I'm pretty sure we ran Jared's family completely into the ground with activities all day everyday. And they got way sunburned too. Good thing those Lamberts are tough cookies!
 ^^THIS SUNSET on their last evening here. I wish we'd been able to see it without the fence in the way, but it was amazing. The sun was bright red and we caught it right as it was dipping into the sea.
^^An accurate portrayal of how people who live in "tropical paradises" really look like. Dad's hair is completely just flat in the wind, mom's is so fluffy in the humidity, and mine is just a fuzzy mess. Also, jumpsuit and no makeup again. And you can tell we're all a little pink and look a bit wiped out after a week in the sun. 
We had our last dinner at a local place I'd always wanted to eat at: Patrick's. This is the place to go if you want to eat what local Grenadians eat. I'm not going to say all the food was amazing and I'm going to try to cook it when we get back to America (I won't), but it was a super cool cultural experience! I'd already had oil down and fried plantains, but our waiter (you'll see him in the video) served us lots of things I'd never tried before. The meal was "tapas style," which means we had small portions of like 16 different dishes. I can't even begin to remember all of them. Garlicky fatty chicken, polenta, a green banana salad, callaloo soup (so good--I might actually try that one in America), crabcake, some kind of green bean, something breadfruity, parmesany eggplant...a bunch of other stuff...and we finished up with nutmeg ice-cream.

After a quick trip to the grocery store on Saturday morning to pick up some of Grenada's famous local dark chocolate and chocolate balls, we dropped my parents off at the airport to fly home. It was so weird to come back to the apartment without them. Visitor weeks go by too quickly! I was surprised that I started crying after I waved goodbye to them in the airport and as Jared and I drove home. I mean, I was literally going to be seeing them again in less than a month since we're living with them this summer? It was just so nice to have my mom and dad around, experiencing this crazy corner of the world that's been our whole world for a while. Also it was kind of weird (in a good way) to have them come visit us at our home and stay with us as our visitors for the week. It made me feel too adultish. We've lived with my parents for two summers in a row now and for a month last Christmas, and they came and visited our apartment many times when we lived in Provo, but they've never been our guests before now. The first of many times, I'm sure. Thanks for coming out and giving us an excuse to visit all our favorite spots one last time, Mom and Dad! We'll see you in two weeks.

Mom & Dad Haines Visit Grenada: Part II / III

I know I said there was just going to be one more post of my parents' trip here, but there are so many good pictures of when we took a catamaran to Grenada's underwater sculpture park that I just had to give it a post all to itself. So there will be one more after this one.
On Wednesday morning we drove down to a hotel on Grand Anse beach and met up with some friends and a rad bus that took us to our own personal catamaran tour! It was literally just us and our friends Billy and Tori with two of their cousins. We had a big catamaran all to ourselves with just the tour people. I highly recommend this experience.
 ^^My dad told us to do this, hahaha
This catamaran trip to the sculpture park is also in my top three favorite things to do in Grenada. Mostly I just love chilling on the boat, letting the wind whip my hair back and staring at my beautiful island from the water. The boat in this picture is just some stranded boat that's been there forever, and now it's all rusty and cool looking. To the left of it is Grenada's cute national stadium. Behind it are our island mountains.
^^Do any of you ever look at your husband and think, "What the heck, how is he so gosh darn cute?" This is a thought that I have regularly. Usually when he's making goofy faces like this one, or when he gets all dressed up in his doctor clothes.
 ^^Jared loves clouds so much. And the moon. If I bought him a fancy camera, I'm convinced he would love it. I'm also convinced that he would only take pictures of clouds and the moon. He thought this particular cloud looked like the island Grenada. I don't see it, but it's really pretty!
After about a half hour ride past St. George's city and past a couple bays, we stopped at Flamingo Bay to do some snorkeling. We saw some really big fish and some really colorful fish and a spiny lobster. Our guide was being kind of annoying and wouldn't let us explore. We mostly stayed close to him, but we still saw a lot of cool things! Next we went around the bend to the bay where the underwater sculpture garden is. It was a bit murky this time, but here are a couple pics.
Click here to see some better pictures of the underwater sculpture park. Honestly it doesn't look quite as cool as that in real life. Usually it's a bit dark and murky. And this time of year, not many cool fish. But nice underwater cameras and photo editing make it look incredible. And it is neat! Where else are you going to be able to go snorkeling in deep water and see dozens of huge underwater sculptures beneath you? Probably nowhere. Fish have started to make their homes here, so it's actually really helpful to the marine life in this area. My favorite sculpture is I think called "Nutmeg Princess." It's a woman holding a big nutmeg out in her hands. Nutmegs are of course Grenada's thing (there's a nutmeg on their flag) and I am obsessed with them after living here. The famous section with lots of people holding hands in a circle is really sweet too. There's also a mermaid, a girl praying, a woman with her baby, a guy riding a bike, a student studying at a desk, and lots more. I'm guessing they all portray different aspects of Grenada culture. Jared and I like diving down to the sculptures to get a better look at them.
The boat ride back is the best! They feed you tuna sandwiches, which sounds cheap, but they're super good. I don't know if it's because all the snorkeling works up a serious appetite, or if it's because they use fresh tuna. Oh, and you're probably wondering what's up with the gold headband. It's for some pics I took for my new website.
 ^^Snorkel mask mark selfie!
This is "The Carenage." It's essentially the waterfront of Grenada's main city (St. George's). Lots of cargo ships dock here to unload everything shipped to the island. The buildings are all so cute and picturesque! So anyway, that was our morning snorkeling at the underwater sculpture park. I've done this three or four times, and I hope we'll be able to make it back to do it again someday! 20 years in the future probably. When we've finally made our way out of our student debt :|
Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park

Yesterday I almost lost alllll of our Grenada pictures and it kind of freaked me out a little. My laptop's memory is pretty much completely full. It's a problem, because I shoot tons of photo/video these days, and videos especially take up a ton of memory. So I needed to make more room on my laptop, and quick! I went ahead and moved lots of stuff to my external hard drive and then began deleting lots of my photos and videos from last year that had already been blogged. That wasn't freeing enough space for me, so I went into my downloads folder (which had so many huge files in it) and began deleting away. Some of the biggest files were sample lightroom catalogs that I had downloaded as part of an online course I took last year to learn how to use lightroom. That did the trick, and I shut my computer, happy to have enough space to at least get me through our last two weeks in Grenada.

When I opened it later to upload a new batch of pictures into lightroom, I was mortified to see that instead of 2500 photos in my lightroom library, there were only 80. What happened to the rest?? I poked around a little and realized that I had deleted my personal lightroom catalog when I deleted all the sample ones earlier. And then emptied the trash bin. And they were unrecoverable. Most of the pictures on there had already been edited and exported to my desktop, but lots of the stuff from this term wasn't saved anywhere else. Fortunately I did a time machine backup of my Macbook at the beginning of March and was able to get back all the photos I took from before then. Unfortunately, all my March and April stuff was gone. It's ok because I still have most of the RAW photos I snapped during that time on SD cards that I haven't cleared yet, but it was a good wake up call and got me pumped to hurry and get my recent pics into blog posts. 90% of that will mean nothing to my parents, who I am writing this post for. Sorry about that, parents! Let's do this.
My parents arrived in Grenada the second Saturday in April. When Jared and I land it's usually pretty late, but they took a red-eye flight and got here in the early afternoon so we had time to play! After unloading their bags and drinking our favorite Caribbean grapefruit soda (called Ting), I ordered them to change into their swimsuits and we spent the afternoon lazing away on Grooms Beach. It was heaven to show my parents the gorgeous beaches that are my lifeblood!
In the evening, Jared and I took them to the tide pools. The sunset was beautiful, but the rocks were really sandy and slick and my mom tripped! The tide pools are not a good place to fall. Everything's jagged and pointy. She got really banged up. Cuts, bruises, black eye, the works. Jared sprinted home to bring back first aid stuff and our car, and by the time he got back we were pretty certain Mom had broken her arm. And this was only day one! Brought back memories of when our car completely broke during the first day of my brothers' trip here and derailed many of our plans for the week. But this was obviously worse. I felt so bad! We took them to the Greek Kitchen for dinner and then took it easy for the rest of the evening.
On Sunday we went to church. I think they enjoyed seeing how church is run in Grenada as compared to in Utah. But for my part, it was fast Sunday and filled to capacity and it gets REALLY hot in there with so many bodies+high temps+humidity+no air conditioning. Add to that an empty stomach and some hot flashes I was having, and I have never been so exciting to finish up the three-hour block. As a detour before going home, we took them up to Grenada's forts, which are usually completely empty on Sunday and have a nice view of the whole south side of the island.
In the evening we showed them Jared's school campus and caught this lovely little sunset. Now that I'm posting these I'm realizing I need to shoot some pictures of SGU campus before we leave. It's really pretty!
^^A test shot from my parents' little digital underwater camera they bought for the trip. Come to think of it, I should've had them leave it with me for our last month here! Oops. I actually have a disposal underwater camera that I've almost filled up though, so that'll do the trick.
Monday was pool day, which Mom was especially a fan of. How could you not be with this setup?? We read and floated and had pina coladas with fresh nutmeg. My favorite "smoothie" on the island. Obviously we took way more pictures than will appear in this post, but I've gotta limit it down somehow! In the evening we drove to the north side of the island to watch a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs. I don't have pictures of it for this post, but I did get lots of video footage! I'll share the video in my next post. 

The experience was very similar to when we did it with my brothers in July (you can read that post here), but it was unfortunately too early for hatchlings this time around. Watching the leatherback sea turtles lay eggs is easily one of my top three most amazing Grenada experiences. The stars are so beautiful, and you can see tiny islands dotting the ocean in the distance by moonlight. And then these enormous, beautiful turtles make their way to shore and are very meticulous as the lay like a hundred eggs. It's just incredible.
 ^^Aren't my parents the most beautiful couple?? I'm so grateful for them.
^^A sunset walk to our favorite dock! This is the place Jared and I go whenever there's a full moon. We just sit here and talk and enjoy the sky and the breeze. I'm so happy my parents took some good pictures of us together. Most of the pictures I've taken in Grenada are just of Jared or random fruit, haha. Speaking of random fruit . . .
^^Leo, out fruit guy. Again, so happy my dad snapped this picture! This is honestly how I look in everyday island life. Wearing a jumpsuit, hair frizzy and thrown into who-even-know-what, makeupless, buying local fruit from Leo. Leo's the many because he always gives me tips about how to pick the best fruit and how to know when it's ready to eat and how to prepare it. Last time I went, he told me that when I buy pineapple, I need to boil the peels in water, and then strain it and add some sweetener and drink it as a juice. Pineapples are too precious to let any part of them go to waste!
^^ I love this picture of my mom because I feel like I can see a lot of me in her face here. My parents and Jared don't see it and you probably won't either, but I do and it's really special to me.
 ^^Dad with a cocoa bean nose. Mom with a soursop nose (unfortunately it never got ripe because it's not peak soursop season, so we ended up throwing it away).
 ^^Inside of a cocoa bean! You pop one of these "beans" into your mouth, suck off the sweet fruit, and spit out the bean.
^^My mammy with a mammy apple. Mom served an LDS mission in the Philippines, so she loved trying all our tropical fruits. This is one of the things I'll miss most about Grenada, too.

Tuesday we went to BBC beach and then downtown to walk around the spice market and get some local fruit, and then for 2-for-1 pizza night at Le Phare Bleu in the evening. At least I think that's what we did. My Tuesday memories are hazy. We got the yummiest fruit from a nice guy downtown! Mango, soursop, cocoa bean, bananas, mango, and mammy apple, which I hadn't tried yet! It's really good. Crunchy, kind of like an apple, but with a flavor more like mango. We actually went and saw Leo later in the week. From him we got passion fruit, wax apple, water lemon, and fresh coconut. We had some on point smoothies the next morning. One more post to come!

Mom & Dad Haines Visit Grenada: Part I


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