Sanibel Retreat 2019 — Day One

San Carlos Bay, Sanibel (2019)

Blue sky, no clouds, 80º, when I set out for Sanibel Island on Thursday. It is my annual retreat. The drive was great. I left early (8:15 am) to make a whole day of it, even though check-in was only at 3pm. I stopped at what are now called the Sanibel Outlets, looking for Vanity Fair. Alas, no Vanity Fair. However, I did find some black sandals in the SAS store.

When I arrived on the island, I went directly to the Sanibel Café, where I enjoyed piña colada French toast. This café is one of my favorites. Afterward, I stopped by Pandora’s Shop where I bought $50 worth of cards – despite the fact that I make my own greeting cards! I love the fair-trade quilling cards from Vietnam.


It was still too early to check in – not yet noon, so I drove to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The outdoor wall displays and the bathroom paintings are still in good shape, but I found the nature center a bit ragged and in need of updating. The gift shop is closed until further notice – tarps covering all the display cases. I didn’t drive through the refuge because it was high noon and 90º, and I figured that the birds and animals would be hiding in the shade somewhere . . . napping (a place I longed to be, myself).


I decided to check the Seahorse Cottages to see if my cottage was ready early, and indeed, it was. By 1:30pm, I was unpacked and settled in the Sand Dollar Cottage, and ready for a nap. I rested for a while, but didn’t sleep. By about 3pm, I decided to walk to the beach for a swim before the anticipated afternoon thunderstorms. Still hot and sunny, but large dark clouds overhead. I could see rain far out over the Gulf. To my surprise, the water was brown – not dark green or blue or grey, as I have seen it before – but a rusty brown. There was only one woman on the beach and no one in the water. Tentatively, I waded into the water. With the wind picking up and “sprinkles” already falling, I headed back. This was disappointment #1. The garden pool was inviting: warm water, no one around, right at my doorstep. I “water-walked” for quite a while.

Thunderstorms did arrive about 5 pm and lasted a couple hours. I ate early, watched a bit of BBC America news, and continued reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Because of its recommendations, I had added it to our list of suggestions for our church book club. Disappointment #2 of the day was with the book. The story is interrupted in alternate chapters with detailed science lessons. It’s not a book that I want to finish or recommend to our book club.

After the Rain (2019)

When the rain stopped, I walked to the bay side of the island. Lovely evening. Beautiful sky. Brown water on this side, too. After making a few photos with my phone, I returned to the Sand Dollar to change my shoes. Disappointment #3 – or maybe a saving grace – was with the ice cream flavors at Pinocchio’s. Nothing tempted me enough to think I would be back every night. And I really like ice cream! I settled for dark chocolate, which I did enjoy.

Disappointment #4 – and I still can’t believe it! – is that there is no hot water in the Sand Dollar! Really?? Is this Bogotá? (In July, when I traveled to Bogotá, I had difficulty getting hot water in the residence where I was staying. I later learned that I was turning the faucets in the opposite direction.) I tried all three faucets at the Sand Dollar, and let the water run. Still, no hot water. I learned the next day that the faucets are installed backward!

So, what’s with all these disappointments in a place I love? I have been coming to Sanibel Island for five years, and all my previous experiences were wonderful. Even before coming this year, I had said that I would “lower my expectations.” I had the same feeling when I first arrived in Bogotá in July, comparing that visit to previous wonderful experiences. I think that I have become so comfortable and content in my home and my life in Sarasota, that I have a harder time now leaving my comfort zone. It takes me a day or two to adjust to new situations – even familiar ones. Despite the disappointments, I am glad to be here on Sanibel Island.

Pelicans at Sunset (2019)

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