I write about the Caribbean and Latin America, and travel to those regions often. What's not to like about that?
Both regions are filled with fascinating cultures and intoxicating music. Magnificent colonial architecture and historic sites. Mouth-watering, flavorful cuisine. And most of all sun-filled skies, beautiful blue waters, warm temperatures and balmy breezes. You can't beat it.
But no matter where I've traveled, from Aruba to Trinidad, from Brazil to Uruguay, I'm always happy to return to my not-so-little hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., even in the aftermath of a record-breaking snowstorm.
That was again the case this past week following a deft escape from Nassau, Bahamas, where I had been stationed since Thursday to cover the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA)'s Caribbean Marketplace conference.
After a stimulating few days covering the event, I managed to wend my way home Sunday through a flurry of flight cancellations, delays and wall-to-wall broadcast and social media coverage generated by this week's massive nor'easter to return safely to Brooklyn.
The Friday-into-Saturday storm that dumped 26.8 inches of light, powdery snow on New York (including my own Crown Heights neighborhood) also stranded several fellow conference attendees. Among the thousands of cancellations made by airlines in response to the massive storm, JetBlue and American on Friday canceled flights scheduled to depart Nassau Saturday and early Sunday.
But in my case the travel gods were merciful. My departure was slated for 2:03 p.m. on Sunday. I monitored JetBlue flight 1222's status just about every hour on Saturday. At no point was a delay or cancellation posted.
Conversely, one friend in PR had her Saturday flight re-scheduled to Monday. Another journalist friend endured an hour on hold before managing to re-schedule his flight for early Saturday to Monday.
But I traveled to Lynden Pindling International Airport as scheduled Sunday and departed without incident. After a relatively stress-free flight (during which I watched the Patriots-Broncos game), I took a slow-but steady cab ride from JFK International airport to my home, about 10 miles away.
As we steered through relatively clear main roads past several snow-choked side streets, I engaged the chatty driver. We observed some blocks off the main roads were too narrow for large city plows to clear. It would be some time before movement returned to those lanes.
But as we reached my own street we found it was thankfully well-plowed. The driver pulled up beside a snow bank and let me out in front of my house. This being 2016, I posted an image of my snow-laden block to Facebook with the comment "Home sweet home."
Before long one friend, who lives year-round in sunny South Florida, commented "You should have stayed in Nassau."
But you see I don't feel that way at all. I enjoyed Nassau as always but I was grateful to return home without delay, even with 20-plus inches of snow on the ground. I realize that amounts to crazy talk to some folks but to me it makes perfect sense.
Granted, I grew up in New York. I'm accustomed to snow-bound winter streets. Hey I'm used to just about everything. New York weather frequently runs the freeze-and-thaw gamut from Arctic winters to Saharan summers.
But I genuinely enjoy snowy winter days, wind whipping about. "Embrace the cold" one of my professors used to say, and the phrase fits. Storms like Saturday's can be dangerous and folks should always exercise good judgement. But otherwise a big snowfall is an opportunity to pull on some boots, wrap up in a parka and scarf, and walk the dog or take the kids sledding in a snowy park.
If like me you have a sidewalk to shovel, you might lend a hand to a neighbor who's less able to handle the task. In my years here I've witnessed countless so-called callous New Yorkers help one another to cope with winter weather. I'm certain many friendships have formed this way.
The bottom line is as wonderful as it is to experience the sun-filled skies and warm temperatures of the Caribbean and Latin America, for me the feeling would be less meaningful without the contrast of winter and spring here in the Northeast.
Witnessing the first blades of grass return to a previously snowy hillside is no less impressive than watching a wave lap gently onto a pristine white-sand beach. For me, one engenders a profound appreciation for the other.
I'll always treasure my time spent traveling to the Caribbean and Latin America because I live in a city currently buried in snow, but by no means beaten. It's good to be home.
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