News That Made My Day!

IMG_2472It’s been such a busy summer for us, with over twenty different beds in the past two months. We have absolutely loved seeing great friends and family, and working hard amidst the fun, but we are sooooo ready to be home, and so very tired! Loads and loads of work to do, and miles between us and home…

Then, the mail comes today and, hey, it totally makes my whole week!

You remember a year ago, when O’Neil McGean at Café Playa Sur hosted that wonderful USA Independence Day party where we got to bash not just one but TWO Donald Trump piñatas? Well, I posted a clip of the festivities to the VidaMaz YouTube channel.

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Back at the end of April I received a message from a guy named Mike Cram, who asked my permission to use part of that YouTube clip on the Trump Bashing. Evidently he is involved in a project called “Trump Growing Nose Watch.” Having no idea what that meant, I said, “Sure, you are welcome to use the clip. Just preserve our © and a link back to our site.” I didn’t think much more about it.

Low and behold, on my birthday, August 6, Mike emailed me the promotional clip that incorporated my video footage. It highlighted our son. And oh what a hoot it gave Greg and me! Wonderful birthday gift!

Today I received an even better gift: one of the watches! On the left, normal Trump. On the right, Pinocchio Trump!

Thank you, Mike! It is truly funny. Thank you, Oneil, for hosting this event. I’ll let you borrow my watch anytime, buddy. 😉

 

If You’re Ever in Cartagena…

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Last night Greg and I were very excited about dinner. He’s traveling with me in Colombia, where I am on business. We’ve made a side trip to Cartagena, and he took the time to research the best restaurants and pick  out one that he was confident we would love—Carmen’s, in the gorgeous Hotel Ananda. Click on any photo to see it larger and view the full description, or to view a slideshow.

The meal so did not disappoint! We paid for a 7-course tasting menu with wine (about US$80 per person now with the low valuation of the Colombian peso), and received TEN courses and SEVEN wines.

The restaurant is based in Medellín and owned by Diego Angel, a former video game entrepreneur. Executive Chefs and proprietors Carmen Angel and Rob Pevitts are graduates of the Cordon Bleu San Francisco. The chef here in Cartagena, Jaime Galindo, is an incredible talent! He does not have a culinary arts degree but, rather, has learned on-the-job and through sheer raw talent or the don de cocinar. Having worked with chefs with degrees from the top cooking schools in the world, Greg was very impressed by the passion and talent that Jaime demonstrated.

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Chef Jaime Galindo – Job well done!

His brother Yonatan is the sous-chef. Not one course was less than spectacular, and we only felt one wine pairing was less than ideal: the rosé with the crab. The wine was just so acidic and overwhelmed the flavor of the food.

Kudos, Jaime and staff!!! The kitchen is small, and open to the diners. Everyone working there was nose down and focused on making every plate perfect. The restaurant serves not only the tasting menu that we had but a full a la carte menu and creative cocktails as well. In addition, front-of-the-house service was impeccable thanks to our terrific waiter, Juan Carlos, who took special care to ensure his Spanish-language explanations of the food and wine made sense to Greg and me.

Las Labradas on New Years

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Happy New Year! May the Year of the Monkey bring you much joy, playfulness, flexibility, creativity and community!

We all know and love Las Labradas, the gorgeous National Cultural Heritage site with its incredible oceanside petroglyphs that is located just north of Mazatlán in Chicayota. What better, more beautiful and sacred place, to bring in the new year? So we headed there today after lunch.

The petroglyphs include crosses, foxes, spirals, cats, pelicans, and people—faces, figures, arms, hands, the hunters, the swimmer. Last time we visited the new museum was operational. This time we were happy to see that signs have been installed along the path, pointing to key petroglyphs, and there is a small brochure with a map, which really helps. In addition to the magic of the petroglyphs, the site is absolutely gorgeous, as well. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Most of the petroglyphs are from 750 to 1250 CE, but some could be as old as 3000 BCE. We very much enjoyed the ride and the hike, and our New Year’s toast with Danny and his roommate. It is so very wonderful to have our boy home with us for winter break!

Danny brought me some camera filters for Christmas, including a neutral density filter. It allows me to take long exposures without letting in too much light. In the photos below, you can see several shots taken at normal quick exposure, followed by the same shot taken with the ND filter and the lens open for a couple of seconds (of course using a tripod). Note that the ocean waves start to look soft, smooth, and misty. It’s a whole different look, and both ways of course have their advantages.

Driving up to Las Labradas, there was a HUGE snake in the middle of the road. He had to be about five feet long and about 6-8 inches around. Scary! A few pics of him are below, taken before he slithered away into the brush.  Anybody know what he is? Is he dangerous? I wanted to get close enough to get a good pic of his eye, but caution prevailed.

I also have to share a few of the pelicans playing in the pre-sunset color, and the two kids on a motorcycle on the beach. On the way out, I couldn’t resist getting a few final photos of a regal rooster. Does he look proud or what?

Happy New Year, everyone! I trust the year will bring blessings and, most of all, peace.

 

Día de Muertos in the TAP

One of the main catrinas, my friend Lilzy and me

One of the main catrinas, my friend Lilzy and me

Regular readers of this blog know that Day of the Dead in Mazatlán for us closely rivals our port’s ultimate party, Carnavál. And that is saying A LOT! So much so that, this year, I willingly woke up at TWO A.M. (!) in Seattle in order to get the earliest flight back to Mazatlán in order to attend our traditional callejoneada—CULTURA moved the event up one day to avoid the overtime hassles of having people work on Sunday. I got home just in time to welcome two of my girlfriends, Jessica and Lilzy, for a makeup party prior to the evening’s events.

Walking with the two gorgeous main catrinas to escort the dearly departed from their altars around El Centro to the ever-after was wonderful as usual! This year the donkey-drawn beer carts were replaced with motor-driven versions (two donkeys did head up the parade), at least four bandas took part, and there were hundreds of people who made the effort to paint their faces and dress the part of calacas and catrinas.

Below is footage from 2012’s alley parade, or click here to view a photo album of this year’s callejoneada.

Very exciting to me this year was that for the first time ever—I’ve stood in line for hours in previous years, to no avail—we were able to get tickets to the events in the Angela Peralta Theater. I have heard how awesome that event is, but we were never lucky enough to make it to the front of the ticket line. And, yes, many of you ask us why CULTURA doesn’t give us tickets, since we promote them so much. But, they don’t.

Even though I was out of town working, my wonderful husband Greg stood in line and scored us a pair of tickets! Then my good friend Jessica gifted us with two more, so a couple of friends could join us. After standing in line for the tickets, gentlemanly Greg didn’t even go in, but let the women have the opportunity!

The theme this year was Mictlán, honoring pre-hispanic Mexico. Entering the theater the very first act was a tribute to the Aztecs. Going on to the stage we saw two large dance performances: one looking out to the theater (in the seats) and another looking in towards the back of the stage (a wedding). All were gorgeous.

Walking through the hallways and stairways inside the theater was a bit like a spook house, but emerging out onto the upper deck some calacas were playing classical music and singing opera, and below was an aerial dancer wowing the crowd. Throughout the theater were located multiple altars honoring the dearly departed, and multiple dance and visual art installations.

Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Both Carnavál and Day of the Dead show just how strong our local arts community is. Young people practice for weeks to prepare for these big events, and hundreds of people dress up, make up, and bring their families and friends to participate in the events. We are so blessed here with every type of musician, singer and dancer, from classical to banda, as well as to artists of every form of visual and performing art. Many thanks to Cecilia Sanchez Duarte, who devotes the major part of three months to making events in the theater come to life, and to all the makeup artists, costume and set designers who contribute their skills as well! Such a terrific event, and the tickets are free! If, of course, you can get them!

The last two days have been family time, with altars at home to reflect on those we’ve loved and lost, visits to the cemetery, and raising a glass and a song to celebrate their lives. Day of the Dead is, indeed, yet one more of Mexico’s great contributions to our planet. I trust you’ve enjoyed the long weekend and used the opportunity of the holiday to connect with family and friends!

Mexico Beats Vietnam 6-0!

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We have new best friends, and they are terrific! The young men from Hanoi were excellent, friendly and courteous athletes, and it was truly a pleasure to meet them! In contrast to the empty feeling after our hosts, Lafayette, beat us last night (in their defense, it was midnight, and everyone was tired), as Mexico won 6-o today, our boys thanked and cheered the Vietnam team in heart-felt Mazatleco style, and took mixed group pictures. We were told repeatedly that Vietnam is hoping we go on to win the Series. Viva international friendships! The Vietnamese team told us that one of the Mexican jerseys we gave them would go into their “Hall of Fame” in Hanoi. Cool, huh?

It was a sunny, warm and humid day here in Indiana, and everyone was in good spirits. The crowd today was much smaller, no doubt because the local team wasn’t playing today (they only play every other day as long as they keep winning). Our boys played very consistently, scoring in four of the seven innings. Various bases were stolen, and after the game, several of our players were asked for autographs by young fans. It was wonderful to see.

Pedro was our pitcher today; he pitched the entire game, and he did a great job. Considering Mazatlán played the last game yesterday, the first game today, and travelled 55 hours to get here, our boys did not show any fatigue. Congratulations and job well done!

You can view the full game here:

http://livestream.com/accounts/1037086/events/4179081/videos/95630090/player?autoPlay=false&height=360&mute=false&width=640

Remember that from that same site you can watch all games via live-streaming.

We will play again tomorrow, Sunday, again at noon. We will play the loser of the game that is going on as I write this—either Puerto Rico or Michigan. Click here for a link to the updated bracket.

DSC_0367PS: Puerto Rico won vs. Michigan 3-1, so we’ll play Michigan tomorrow at noon. Go Patasaladas!!!!!