Riza Oledan-Ramos is a children’s book author living on Saipan. A while back, she attended one of my “saipanpreneur” workshops and expressed to me her desire to publish her first book. She became my client, and a few months later, after a few coaching sessions, she launched her website and published her first book, The Boy Who Dreamed to Be With His Parents on Saipan, a unique based-on-real-life children’s story that even adults have found compelling and emotional.
The book is available in paperback from her site, as well as on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as in Bestseller Bookstore on Saipan.
Last week, Riza, now a published author with her book on Amazon, and in two languages, made her book signing debut at the public library on Saipan! And, while I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to share the moment with her, here are a few photos of the event she sent me! Enjoy, then pick up a copy to support a new author! https://www.rizaramosbooks.com
If you’re going to do an outdoor book signing, there’s no nicer place than a tropical island!
“Sign my copy, please!”
Greeting the public!
Sharing the book’s original art by Rodante Guardia! Great idea, Riza!
We also translated it into Spanish!
The kid’s arrive!
Sharing the spotlight with other authors: Seated: L-R- Riza Ramos, Honora Tenorio, Jose Sanchez; Standing L-R- Joanna Aquino, Lino Olopai, Catherine Perry, Kurt Barnes (names and spellings not verified)
Photos by Riza’s coworker, Lilia! Thanks for capturing the moment!
After my coconut water respite, it’s time to resume the arduous task of finding specific fruits and vegetables I haven’t had since 1997 and before. Actually, one of the things that endeared Saipan to me is that fact that I discovered sweetsop, soursop, nesberry, breafruit and practically all the fruits I knew and loved from my childhood in Jamaica. However, there are certain fruits I haven’t found in my travels through, specifically ackee and June plums.
There’s also something magically restorative, rejuvenative and, perhaps even vital about eating the food grown in the soil and sun from whence this physical form was formed, fashioned and first fed. With that in min, next stop: MegaMart to pick up some nesberries, June plums and mangos!
Now, normally, I would get my fruits from street vendors and open markets. However, it’s Sunday in Jamaica, and vendors are not out on the streets. Many stores are closed, and the few that have opened will close by about 4 or 5pm. (For your information, just a generation ago, by cultural consensus, one simply could not purchase–and wouldn’t even dare to ask for–certain items in the stores that chose to serve the public on Sundays. If you wanted kerosine oil for your lamp, for instance, you simply had to wait for a business day to make such a purchase–so my mother tells me.)
DAY 2: Monday, April 22, 2013
The next day, we went exploring through Kingston to run some errands and to locate some health food spots I found on HappyCow.net. So, it’s off to the wild and wonderful streets of Kingston!
Now, at the risk of dating myself, the last time I drove a right-hand drive car in Jamaica–where we drive on the left side of the street, by the way–The Right Honorable Edward Seaga was Prime Minister (JaminChina JA to US political reference translator: “Ronald Reagan was President!”)
Every payment to the government gets done here. Driver licenses, tax payments, you name it.
While driving, Ron spotted a “Natural Health” sign, and we made note to check it out. It was the perfect first stop on my continuing global quest for vegan-friendly destinations!
There were no health food stores like this last time I was in JA! Supplements, apple cider vinegar, health bars, wheat-free snacks and much more!
Natural Health has two locations in Kingston. One at 134 Constant Spring Road and another in Orchid Village Plaza.
As mentioned, we just chanced upon it while driving, since it wasn’t featured on HappyCow.net, so I told store owner, Marie Chen, about HappyCow, and she promised to get the store listed (it’s free, and I’m sure it will be good for business from other health-conscious tourists and nomads!)
Next stop was a raw food spot Marie told us about. It’s called “Mi Hungry.” Got some fresh tamarind juice and, since it was early in the day, I’ll have to return another time to sample the menu!
Mi Hungry is located in The Marketplace at 67 Constant Spring Road. There are also many other restaurants for carnivores as well! So, while Mi Hungry boasts “No water, no fire,” another nearby restaurant boasts “caressed in smoke, wrapped in fire” or words to that effect.
Next, was Earl’s Juice Garden on Haining Road in New Kingston. I was actually looking for Livity, which I’m told (and saw for myself) is closed down. Got some cucumber and callaloo juice! Good stuff for $300J or $3US. (The US-JA exchange rate is just under $100J for each $1US)
Next, was a trip down memory lane to visit where I grew up. It’s called Hughenden Housing Scheme. The roads in this neighborhood, built during the late 1950s, have an Olympic game theme.
There’s Relay Road, Bronze road, Silver, Gold Road, and I grew up here…
in this house on Marathon Drive….The roads looked much wider when I was younger!
Then, wrapped up the day with a view of Kingston from the hills in Cherry Gardens!
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Okay, so I’m mad at Google. In the past, I’ve been elated when someone searched for “I want to date a Jamaican in China.” That was cool. But, yesterday, someone googled “a picture of a healthy Jamaican middle age man” and my blog showed up. What the—?!! I mean, come on!
See? Click to see the tracker evidence!
Now, as you know, I never reveal my age, (That’s one of the rules in my book, A Clean Cell Never Dies), and the few people who know my earthly calendar age, have been, um….taken care of…..but, really now…Do I LOOK like a middle aged man??? Ahem…
I’ll have you know, Google, I have the body of a 26-year old!!……um, it’s in my basement. Please don’t tell the authorities.
Act quickly! This one may be gone tomorrow! Are you a writer who needs to escape the hustle and bustle and noise of city life to be creative? Do you dream of having your very own tropical island getaway with a view of the ocean to inspire you? Has a fiji vacation been on your mind, among other islands? Are you just an overworked and underpaid working person who dreams of escape? Well, now you can!
Forget about expensive villas and vacation condos! All you really need is right here!
In the previous installment of the Papaya Chronicles, I shared with you that the best price I was able to get for a papaya was about 5RMB, at the supermarket. Whenever I shop at independent vendors, I get the foreigner price. Seems they can always tell I’m not originally from China. I think my accent gives me away. In any event, last week, when I went shopping with Peggy and Fanny, they took me to an outdoor market and introduced me to their favorite papaya vendor. I selected my single papaya, he placed it on the scale, and announced the price 2RMB. I couldn’t help chuckling out loud. He laughed, too, likely because he knew foreigners don’t often get to hear those words, “Two RMB,” attached to anything in Sanya (or China) except perhaps a bus ride.
So, I asked them to tell him to remember my face (hee hee), so that when I returned, he would treat me like a regular ol’ Chinese customer since I planned to return. Then, “happy as a pig in papaya juice,” I took my new acquisition back home and enjoyed it.
Yesterday, I returned, found Mr. Fair Deal Perfect Papaya Man, he remembered me (good eye for faces), and sold me TWO papayas for 4RMB. So, I’m not exactly sure what the unit price is (my ability to palm and weigh in kg needs some work), what I do know is that this….
Costs me 2RMB, not 5, not 8, and not the 15 Mr. Papaya near Lost Hostel wanted me to pay.
So, here’s my traveler’s tip for you: when YOU come to Sanya, Hainan, and want a plump, perfect, plausibly-priced papaya, take the number 8, 16, 10, 2, 7 or 10 bus to the stop closest to original Wang Hao Supermarket #1, not the Wang Hao nearest to the bus station, but the one that’s now the new location of the original Wang Hao after the owner of the building they were renting from didn’t renew their lease, forcing them to move to the new location near the International Hotel, (got it?), and then walk through the mall, out the back, across the street, through an alley, past the covered area with the meat vendors, past the vegetable vendor ladies who may gawk at you if you’re Jamaican, step over the dog lazing in the exit, and into the open area where the fruit vendors are located, make your way through the crowd and find this man….
Mr. Fair Deal Perfect Papaya Man.
Say, Ni Hao in your best Putonghua, and then tell him that Walt, the Jamaican, sent you. Pay for your papaya, and enjoy!
The ebook edition is completed, but my writing energies are still being diverted towards completing the paperback edition of Living True to Your Self. However, I’ve been able to raise my standard of living here in Hainan:
I was able to locate sea salt here in Sanya. Now, that may not seem like earth-shattering news to you, but it is for me. I don’t eat table salt (check the ingredients of your favorite brand of supermarket-bought salt, and note the dextrose (sugar), aluminum (think “Alzheimer’s), and other unnecessary anti-caking and otherwise harmful ingredients. Sanya, being a coastal town should have natural sea salt readily available, right? You would think.
However, the authorities have convinced the people that consuming sea salt is bad and that it is most often contaminated. Whether true or not, it takes a bit of asking and searching to find it, as vendors are forbidden to sell it openly, and one has to ask (with the help of a Chinese person), the right questions, the right people, and, presumably not appear to be a government plant searching for violators.
I won’t reveal my methods, my contacts, or my supplier. I’ll just show you the hand-off.
I’m breaking my fast today! Yay! I’ve been on a water-only fast for the past 6 days. I started about 2 days before leaving Xishuangbanna, and have been on it for the past 4 days in Sanya, Hainan. So, if I look skinnier than usual in any of the Hainan photos, now you know why. So, this morning, I will have a watermelon, then rambutan, papaya and other fruit throughout the day to break the fast. In my initial travels around Sanya, I’ve found a protein bar and some wheat-free cookies and I’m anxious to taste them!
Found a good way to pass the time while I fast
Meanwhile, I’m currently staying at a youth hostel near the airport. In between jaunts on the beach, I’ve been on a quest for an apartment with a kitchn here in Sanya. I have found a 80RMB/night hotel a short ways away (no internet). The challenge is that Chinese new year is coming up on February 7, and all the hotels and landlords raise their prices to take advantage of the rush to celebrate new year on Hainan. I was paying 40RMB/night($6US) ( for my third floor hotel room in Xishuangbanna with internet access. Here, the cheapest hostel charges 120RMB/night ($18US). Some of the quotes I’m getting for a one-month apartment rental start at 6,000RMB/month ($909US). I REFUSE to pay $900 for an apartment! That’s a New York price!!!
The secret, for those of you planning a similar trip, is to go out and find the smaller hotels that are NOT listed on the internet. (you can only do that once you get here, of course, or if you have a friend on the island)
Now THAT’S a small hotel
An alternative travel narrative: Pursue Passion! Break Free! Cross boundaries! See the world!