NOTE: While I didn’t make it to the shortlist for the 60 Days in Paradise Island Connoisseur contest, I did make a splash with my subsequent wrap-up post on the matter! Thanks for all the support I got in my bid!
I don’t come from a travelling family. Save trips to see family in the States and Jamaica as a youth, I didn’t really start exploring the world until 2005, when I spontaneously used a tax return to go backpacking in Western Europe!
And since that trip, I’ve been hooked.
In just under a decade since, I’ve touched four continents, hit 12 countries and captured it all with tens of thousands of photos and videos in all my adventures!
Music: The Custodian of Records, “You Can’t Eat“, She Hate Me (2009)
As you may have seen from my video submission, I tap into my creative side as often as possible, trying anything from rapping, singing, drawing, writing or photography to express myself. Part of being an Island Connoisseur would involve taking this unique mix and adding it to the 60 Days in Paradise experience, finding ways to tell stories that others might normally gloss over.
Also, I’m comfortable in any climate! Whether it’s the sandy beaches of Montego Bay, exploring the rainforests of a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, or staying in a swanky Vegas hotel suite that’s bigger than my house, if you tell me to “make myself at home”, it’s not too hard to make it happen!
Food: Get Your Nom On!
I’m no gourmand, but you can see from my I Am Not a Foodie blog series that not only do I frequent restaurants across North America in search of the perfect bite, it extends to my life at home — where I’m whipping up tasty treats — and my upbringing, working for my Dad, a restauranteur for 20 years.
Through experience and experimentation, I’ve learned how to take excellent food photos, making people hungry wen they read food reviews since I don’t wash my photos out with harsh flashes. I was a picky eater as a kid, but I’m older and wiser willing to try anything once, whether it’s fermented lizard or mysterious dishes from the front window of a Mexican abuela in Long Beach. What doesn’t kill you….
Adventure — Living Life on the Wild Side
I don’t live a life borne of fear — the world’s too big a place filled with adventure to be scared of trying new things!
You want a Connoisseur who loves water? I overcame an inability to swim at 16 and would later explore Bahamas’ Exuma Islands on a trip with my wife in 2009; been on two cruises — loving them — despite being a land creature; and trying everything from kayaking and canoeing to paddle-boating, putting thoughts of the murky water below in the back of my mind for the thrill of adventure!
You want a Connoisseur that immerses themselves in the culture, striving to live like the locals do? I’ve played mas in Toronto’s Caribana festival, celebrating my Jamaican heritage in full regalia with a million others, dancing through hours of blaring sun and monsoon showers on a toasty August day. I’ve visited tribal villages in Tanzania, bridging cultural and language barriers to learn about their lives, how they live, and how their communities work.
You live life but once, so you’d better live it up, right?
My social media story’s almost a decade long, and my time sharing stories online even longer yet. The numbers you see today don’t come from strategy or some urge to be famous — they come from years of building relationships with the people I now call friends and family, developing trust amongst numbers rather than treat my friends like the audience for a one-way conversation like all too many do.
I treat every social media channel differently — my Facebook is a conversation with long-time friends, keeping up with my antics as the years pass and as I explore family life. I’ve learned how to stuff strong messages into tiny packages with Twitter, favouring its frenetic pace for public chats, quick observations or both seeking and giving information on any number of topics. When someone wants to know how I really feel, they only need to go as far as my blog, where I share in-depth thoughts on everything from fatherhood to the 100 things I want to do in a year.
But social media’s only so much of the picture — to be a social connoisseur “in real life”, you need a willingness to go outside your comfort zone! You’re looking for someone who’ll fly 4 hours to hang with their Internet friends in LA. Or perhaps someone who can score free upgrades at Caesar’s Palace from making the concierge laugh while wearing what appears to be nothing short of a Technicolor Dream Coat! The kind of person who’ll instantly makes friends on a cruise, throws parties that go down in legend (for better or worse), and can win Paradise Island’s “Mr. Riu” crown after a rigorous competition involving karaoke, dancing and lip-synching to “My Heart Will Go On” while cross-dressed as Céline Dion! (That last one’s between you and me, though!)
To give you an idea of my reach, here are some facts and figures:
3100+ followers | 43,000+ tweets | 5 ½ years
Average Score of 72
80+ subscribers | 5000+ views
1600+ friends | 300+ fans | 8 ½ years
CaseyPalmer.com and other blogs
Blogging since 2002
4000+ check-ins | 4+ years
The Bottom Line
Really, though, at the end of the day, I’m a provider. Everything I do — all the social media, hijinks and networking — ultimately it’s to build the life I want for my family. I want my son to know what the world is bigger than his backyard. I want to show him that there’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you dedicate yourself to the work needed to make it happen. My parents moved to Canada from the Caribbean, and I’m hoping that this return there would be the first in many adventures to truly make my wife and child part of a global family.
So, why choose me for the Island Connoisseur to chronicle 60 Days in Paradise? Because I really want it. I’d use all the tools, tech and knowledge I’ve attained so far to tell the tale of an island — its people, culture, heritage and experience — through photos, video, blogging and banter, there’s no end to the possible stories, and with my energy and enthusiasm, I can promise it’d be one to remember!
Tobago’s Division of Tourism & Transportation, consider Casey Palmer as an excellent candidate for your Island Connoisseur because he’ll bring qualities to the table that you just can’t get anywhere else!
See you on the beach!