I decided to put my high-school French class lessons to the test by flying over to France. It didn’t work out so well, but here are the things that I encountered in the process.
This episode of Geremy’s Peculiar Snaps spans several months and feels almost as long as an episode of Family Matters!
In this episode, I traveled to Maine, California, and Chicago, I stumbled on an active shooter situation, and I asked about Gentlemen’s clubs.
Earlier this week, I flew to Atlanta for a quick 24 hour trip. I stayed at a place with a mini horse and while exploring the city, I unexpectedly became a movie star. This video outlines some of what I did while I was there:
It was early February when my cousin and I ventured out to Nassau, Bahamas in an attempt to explore more of the world. Our most notable experiences fell into three categories:
After arriving to the estate, our check-in procedures included allowing each dog to sniff our butts for approximately 30 seconds so they can verify that we aren’t bad guys. We passed. After that moment, the dogs stalked us until we pet them. After repeating the process time after time, we memorized the drill—leave the house, pet the dogs, get in the car, drive away.
On the third day, I went to read by the pool when all of the dogs gathered around. I pet two of the dogs and then I returned to reading. Thats when I noticed that each dog was viciously gnawing at their skin.
They had fleas. Probably ticks and other Bahamian parasites also.
I ran inside and washed my hands 5 times, then I took a shower, then I considered soaking myself in bleach. The selfish dogs betrayed our trust!
Nassau had many great options for quality food. Not only were the foods tasty, but every restaurant provided pepper sauce so spicy that it felt like molten lava charring your esophagus. I enjoy the feeling of charred esophagus in the morning.
3. Jet Skis in the open seas
The Bahamas Islands are known for their great beaches and clear water, so we seized the opportunity to see more of the sea by renting jet skis, or as I like to call them: boatercycles.
The last time I rode a boatercycle, I was 17 years old and I almost got devoured by a shark when my boatercycle flipped over. This time, I had one goal: Don’t get eaten by a shark.
Initially, I was the slow-grandpa-driver of the boatercycling world. I rode slowly because I didn’t want to catapult myself into the shark-infested (in my mind) waters. Then after a few moments, I got the hang of things and started to ride like a normal human. Then I decided that I’ll ride as fast as I can.
As soon as I accelerated to the maximum speed, we got the signal that our time was up and had to return to shore. This was probably God’s way of protecting me from a high speed incident that ends with me getting eaten by a random shark.
Note: I’m currently alive, for anyone who is wondering if a shark ate me.
Nassau was very nice and I’m looking forward to future trips to the other Bahamas islands, like the adorable pig island. With all of my recent travels, I can finally agree with the saying, “an investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” These unique experiences expand my mind, give me new ideas, and teach me valuable lessons…like learning to avoid flea infested canines.
How many things can one Geremy get wrong in one trip? Let’s count…
It was January and I flew to Chicago for a quick trip. Within seconds of stepping out the jet, the cold air hit me so hard that it reminded me of when I got a C in Biology class and my mom rewarded me for it…with a belt.
Mistake # 1: Visiting Chicago in January
On my way to the hotel, the Uber driver said, “It’s nice and warm outside.” I replied, “but it’s 20 degrees out and it’s snowing!” He said “yes, but it was way colder before! You picked a great time to visit!” A chill ran through my body, as if my brain was giving my body a foretaste of what was to come.
I checked into my hotel and bundled up, then I walked to the bike station to get my transportation for the day. Yes, I chose to use a bicycle to get around…in the snow.
Hey, I never said that I was perfect.
Mistake # 2: Riding a bicycle in the snow, while believing that my skin is impermeable to coldness
I purchased a 24 hour riding pass, hopped on the bike, rode 10 feet, hopped off the bike and returned it to the station. When I looked at myself in my iPhone’s front facing camera, I was purple like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. The cold was far too intense for me so I needed reinforcements.
I got a winter hat, gloves and a scarf, then I hopped back on the bike, ready to ride to my first destination. The wind made my eyes look like I was crying, so I wore some 3D glasses that I found in my pockets. I looked like Frozone from the Incredibles, but my eyes didn’t tear-up anymore, so I was good. After riding for 45 minutes, my body was frozen in the riding position and when I walked it looked like I was getting ready to do a breakdancing move.
I went to a high-end juice store called Owen + Alchemy. Their juices were sold in glass bottles as if they’re serving a magical elixir to a member of the British royalty. I settled on two drinks: A cashew / honey-nut milk, and a sweet-potato / carrot / apple / cinnamon / ginger / sea-salt juice. The cashew milk was great! As for the sweet potato juice, I have no idea how it tasted because…
Mistake # 3: I forgot the expensive sweet potato juice in my hotel room!
After getting these mistakes out of the way, I had a great time! Riding around by bicycle turned out to be a good decision because it was a nice way to see the beauty of the city. Also, the hotel (whose name I couldn’t pronounce) was a beautiful place to stay for 24 hours in a great location.
After the quick trip, I flew back to New Jersey, where the flight attendant had a nice warm demeanor as she handed me a warm towel to clean my hands before presenting me with a warm banana bread and a warm scone with a warm tea on the side. When I asked her about all of the warmth, she told me that I looked like I needed it because I was “…walking as if [I] rode a bike through the snow for 12 hours.”
I wonder what tipped her off?
In 2010 I stumbled on the best deal I’ve ever seen in my lifetime: Pay $500 and fly as much as you want on Jetblue for a month. This was like buffet-style flights and my little heart was overjoyed! I gladly handed over my money and came up with a plan to visit the places that I’ve always wanted to see. I visited Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Puerto Rico, and Florida over the course of a month and then the pass expired. It was one of the best experiences of my life, but thinking back on it made me realize that I blew a great opportunity!
I only traveled on weekends even though I was allowed to use my 18 paid-time-off days at work. In my mind, the company would suffer too much while I was gone so I didn’t want to leave at such a crucial time. I also didn’t travel to any international destinations because it made me uncomfortable. There were also times when I cancelled flights in order to stay home and lay in my bed because it took too much effort to pack and drive to the airport. In the end, I missed out on what could’ve been a significantly more fruitful experience because I was overthinking things and I didn’t fully recognize the amazing opportunity that I had in front of me.
I once read that you’re more likely to regret the things that you don’t do rather than the things that you do. This became real for me when I realized that I missed out on the chance to fly to Aruba, Jamaica, Colorado, South Carolina, and Maine for free. After this realization, I try to constantly take advantage of every opportunity I have because the future is not promised.
My latest travel opportunity came a few weeks ago when I got to to fly on my favorite jet of all time, The Cessna Citation X, and visit one of the top cities on my to-visit list: Houston, Texas. I was fortunate to stay at a wonderful artist’s loft, which had such great amenities such as a saltwater pool, a koi pond and a deaf dog.
They say that the Citation X is the fastest business jet of all time and can travel to almost Mach 1. Our top speed was about 575mph, but it has still earned itself a spot on my Christmas list this year.
I went to a place called Les Givral’s Cafe that sold the best sandwich and coffee ever and the sandwich was only $3.75. The coffee seemed to be sweetened condensed milk mixed with espresso and ice. It made my tastebuds very happy. I loved that sandwich so much…
Houston was great…now I understand why Beyoncé mentions it so often in her songs!
If you’re into astronomy, you already know that largest craters in our solar system can be found on the surface of the moon or on New Jersey’s streets. The potholes that are on the streets of NJ from January through August are large enough to swallow medium sized cars or severely crack wheels on low-profile tires.
Back in 2008, I installed large 20” wheels on my beloved Lexus and one month later, the craters claimed the wheel’s life. Two months later, they killed the wheel again in an act of revenge. Tired of dealing with constant trips to the tire shop, I downsized my wheels for the next 8 years, but recently I bought my ol’ lady (my car) new 21″ wheels and I tried to carefully avoid the potholes.
It didn’t work.
I earned myself a slight hairline fracture in my rear passenger wheel that allowed air to leak at a speed slow enough to avoid a flat tire, but quickly enough to annoy me on a hourly basis. Eventually I became tired of putting air in my tire every 8 hours, so I took the wheel to Jorge at the tire shop for his expert opinion. Jorge’s solution: “I’ll just superglue it back together.” Um… I’m no tire expert, but I’m pretty sure that superglue isn’t strong enough to hold back 45psi’s of air traveling at hundreds of revolutions per minute. But he said “trust me!” I trusted him.
I shouldn’t have.
Somehow, the expert’s superglue trick made the air leak quicker, which left me with a flat tire. Conveniently, I also didn’t have tire changing equipment, so I made a call and roadside assistance quickly changed the tire. I drove to Tesla and they loved the story of the superglued wheels. Then they quickly put an end to this exciting chapter of the crater chronicles by putting my original, smaller wheels back on the car and retiring my 21″ wheels forever! Thanks, New Jersey!!!
** Side note: do you see what I did with the title? TIRE’d of craters?!? HA! **
As I walked to the helicopter that awaited me on the landing pad, I was in disbelief that I was going to be air-lifted to a jet. As if my own disbelief wasn’t overwhelming enough, the people around me caused me to constantly question if this was actually happening. The man who walked me to the helicopter asked, “is that entire helicopter for you?” I responded “yes, I guess so…” Then as I boarded the helicopter, the pilot turned and asked “are you the only person who will be flying?” I responded, “yes, I guess so…” Then as we departed for the 20 minute ride to the Westchester airport, we landed alongside a jet. As one of the men walked me to the plane, he asked “that entire jet is for you?” “Yes, I guess so…” Then I stepped onto the jet and the pilot said “that helicopter was for you and you’re the only passenger for the jet as well? Wow” “Yes…I can’t believe it either!” Then as the pilots filled out some paperwork for the international flight, a few of the airport workers stealthily peeked inside the jet to see who was inside—I guess they assumed that I was a big deal instead of regular ol’ Geremy.
This flight was the start of the wonderful one-week trip in the amazing city of St. Johns, located in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. For a place that I didn’t even know existed a week prior, it sure exceeded my expectations in every conceivable way. The food was great, the people were eerily friendly, the weather was great (especially for a place that’s known for its bitter cold weather), and the historic sites were breathtaking. It was the perfect location to work on the Peculiar PPL brand, and the beautiful scenes influenced a lot of things that will be released soon, including the new website. It was also quite cool to stand at the most easterly point in North America for a few minutes, which means that for a few minutes, there was no one in North America that was more east than me! Can I put that on my résumé??
The best piece of advice that I can extend to anyone reading this is: Go to St John’s, Newfoundland…and take me with you, please!
After we left the airport, we immediately went to the South Beach area for scooters. The shop owner must have had it out for me because she gave me a scooter with a broken fuel gauge, a maximum speed of 11mph, and a very moody ignition that was never in a good mood. Here’s one of the moments when I needed it to start and it wasn’t in the mood:
Even though the scooter was rebellious, rarely started after it turned off, and fell apart while I drove it (I had a pocket filled with scooter parts that fell off), it was lots of fun. We rode around the city for about 5 hours and explored the entire Miami Beach area in record timing. Then we went to play basketball.
Basketball was fun because I won. I didn’t just win, I demolished. This paragraph won’t make my cousin too happy because sometimes the truth hurts.
After an intense game of basketball, we retired to the hotel to spend the remainder of the night. Since we were only staying at the hotel for a couple of hours and had an early flight, we chose a place that was near the airport for a reasonable cost. We were pleasantly surprised once again when we went to the room and it exceeded our expectations with its full kitchen and new fixtures and appliances. However, this hotel had one massive downside that seemed to affect me the most.
We were in the middle of a game of monopoly on our iPads when I leaned over to turn on the air conditioner. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cockroach that was the size of a Nissan Altima. It stood right next to my bed and froze when he saw me. I immediately yelled, “THERES A ROACH ON THE FLOOR!!” With reflexes of a jaguar pouncing on its prey, my cousin sprung off his bed and landed on the floor within a foot of the roach. We quickly strategized on how to end the roach’s life and since my cousin demonstrated a stellar reaction time and exceptional speed upon hearing about the roach, we agreed that he’d be the one to introduce the roach to his Roachy God. He grabbed my sneaker and prepared to crush the roach and the next few seconds happened in slow-motion…
As he lowered my sneaker onto the roach, the roach looked at the sneaker with an expression that said “I AINT DYING TODAY! I’VE GOT A WIFE AND KIDS BACK AT HOME!!” Then he quickly ran under the air conditioner to freedom. My cousin’s speed and prowess was no match for the roach’s wit and agility. But the huge problem was that I had to sleep in this room with a rabid, intelligent cockroach! I called the front desk and explained the cockroach situation and they said “sir, it’s 1am and we can’t do anything about it. Call back at 9am.” This solved nothing since our flight was at 7am. So I slept with one eye open to protect the both of our lives.
The next morning, we boarded our flight for New Jersey and we were in the air for about 20 minutes when the pilot mentioned that something was wrong with the plane and we had to land immediately. Surprisingly, everyone remained calm as we circled around for 30 minutes to burn off fuel. Then the pilot made another announcement that sent everyone into a panic. You could hear the stress in his voice as he sternly announced that everyone must stay in their seats and shouldn’t move AT ALL. Suddenly, the flight attendants rushed over to the exit row behind me and said “are you all ready to help everyone survive if something happens to the plane?? This is the moment that we told you all about! Review the emergency pamphlets now!!” The girl behind me immediately started hysterically crying, which made a number of people panic. The situation became more intense when the pilot told us that the airport doesn’t want us to land until the hospital is prepared to handle all of us in case something happens…how comforting.
When we finally landed, we had a wonderful welcoming party on the ground that consisted of fire trucks (that repeatedly circled the plane), police cars and ambulances. They cleared us to disembark and then we spent the next couple of hours in the airport hanging out in a seemingly abandoned terminal. Seven hours later, we were back in the air and enroute to Newark, New Jersey where we landed safely a few hours later. The best part was when my local Tesla service center sent a Tesla P85D to pick me up from the airport and take me to my car because they’re great people and heard about my wonderful ordeal.
Despite the rabid roach and the frantic flight, everything was all good when I returned home…alive!
When I was in first grade, I had a friend who was a well-known thief. He would steal things directly in front of people and immediately deny that he did it. I remember him stealing a pair of sneakers from someone’s gym bag, wearing it to school the next day, and denying that the sneakers were stolen. “But Wilton*, the sneakers that you’re wearing have my name written down the sides…they’re mine!!” At this point, he was too far into the lie to abandon it, so with the confidence of 11 Kanye Wests, he replied, “no, my name is Elizabeth too!!” I went to Mexico last month, and it reminded me of my friendship with Wilton*, because although the fun times were really fun, I had to stay on guard because at any moment I could fall victim to a number of different unethical acts of crime.
Prior to my cousin and I landing in Cancun, we thoroughly researched all travel tips for visitors of Mexico, as if we were preparing to write a doctoral thesis on the country. One recurring comment that past travelers left is that corruption in the country is rampant, even among the police and government officials. Because of this, we were on guard from the moment that we landed. Well…I was significantly more guarded than my cousin—probably because I used to listen to too many rap songs that said “don’t trust these streets and always pack heat!”
Shortly after arrival, we went to get the rental car that we reserved and there were 5-6 people who immediately approached us because we probably seemed like easy targets. They basically told us that Budget Car Rental is out of business and our only option was to book our car with their shady service for 5x the price. Unfortunately, my one semester of Spanish didn’t prove to be too helpful as I responded with the only phrase that I learned in Spanish: “Por favor, abra la ventana.” Eventually we got our car and we were on our way to the condo where we would spend the next few days.
The condo and it was ridiculously nice for a ridiculously low price. On the first day, I kept expecting someone to show up and ask us what we were doing in their room. Luckily, this did not happen, but on the third day of our stay, I looked onto our balcony and saw someone climbing into it from the outside. Were we being robbed?!? Was he coming to reclaim his room? It turns out that he was simply a daredevil who wasn’t into the idea of taking stairs, so he took the path less-traveled. He lived. We lived also.
Mexico was great, especially the beach. The entire beach was very peaceful and the water was warm and clear, just like in the travel catalogs. Also, in the vicinity of the condo, the stores and restaurants were great and we were able to try new foods at very reasonable prices. My favorites were the mango chow for around $1, banana waffles for about $6, and a horchata drink for $.75.
Being in Mexico without any knowledge of the Spanish language wasn’t too bad until the one day that we left the tourist area and wandered into the heart of the city to try to play basketball. After driving to a basketball court at 8pm, we were surprised to see a group of about 30 people playing full-court soccer on the basketball court. My cousin suggested that we politely ask them to leave, but I didn’t think that “por favor, abra la ventana” would summarize our request, so we went to a local food stand instead.
At this stand, there was a little girl who wouldn’t stop staring at us, because apparently we didn’t look Mexican enough. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I immediately accepted the staring contest. She won after 2 minutes when I was forced to break eye contact to order. I asked the food stand worker, “what do you sell?” He said “qué??” At this point, the language divide wasn’t going to get any smaller, so I pointed to a random thing on the menu and handed him 100 pesos. When I got the ice pop of some sort, it was brown and tasted like sour grass, so I gave it a valiant effort to eat as much as I could tolerate, then I threw it away.
When it came time to leave and go to the airport, the number one tip that we learned was to try our best to avoid the police, as they tend to target tourists driving to the airport to extort money from them. So on the morning of our flight, I drove as slow as ever and kept a keen eye on my surroundings for police. We made it to the airport without any issues, so I took a sigh of relief and then boarded our flight for the next portion of our getaway— 24 hours in Miami.
* Name changed to protect his identity and his crimes