Saturday, June 20, 2009


And Sheryl hiking....


Here is part of a trail that Sheryl and Linda and I hiked.

There is so much about our sisters' week that I have forgotten to share. First day, I asked my sisters what they would like for hors d'oeuvres? They all looked at each other, laughing. They indicated that only I eat hors d'oeuvres and they only eat them when they are with me or at one of our homes. We had them almost every night and they laughed their butts off.

And then, when hiking with Linda, I almost stepped on a copperhead snake. She was quite impressed that I didn't go all girly, faint and/or run in the other direction. Ha...I can be an outdoorswoman...see me roar!

I lost two pounds while away which is amazing. It had to have been the water aerobics. Bought some weights and am getting in the pool every day to continue that workout...especially the arms.

And while at Linda's house, we moved some furniture so Ned can navigate the house better in his wheel chair. Now, Linda, the nurse, has had some interesting experiences and travels but nothing prepared me for the several foot long/high pink pig sitting on her hearth. This piggy is a bank but truly is unusual...not the normal living room feature found in the south.

The trip to Costco was memorable. We drove into town and when we arrived, Sheryl wanted gas. She unfortunately had no money, no credit cards and no driver's license with her. We searched the car, finding pockets of stray money but not the $400 she said she had. Back to the condo, searching commenced and, she found her staff. My youngest sister is very organized but a tad messy. And then, back into town to Costco where we bought fruit and muffins to create "trail magic."

We went on our last day to a section of the Appalachian Trail where we left fruit high in the tree so the bears wouldn't get it. While arranging the food, we ran into two through hikers: Bubbles, a very unbubbly young man and his wife, Birdy, who got her name from waving off offending birds. Hikers get named as they go along by others and they refer to each other in this anonymous way. Interesting and both people had been on the trail awhile with no shower. Very friendly and very thankful to eat fresh fruit and muffins. Apparently, those who have hiked the Trail go back and leave treats for those who are on the trail later. I like this "giving back."

Made my reservations for Kenya today and am trying quickly to get ready for that trip.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ned and Kyle

Hmmm...have the photos in the wrong order...Ned and Kyle are below and it is very hard to see but Ned is holding Cady, their tiny miniature doggie. And here is Lynn with Kobe (named after Kobe Bryant and Cady). Kobe is the brindle colored doggie and Cady, the black and brown. This is the last photo shot of Lynn and we were sad to leave her so with her family and yet, so alone and with so much to shoulder.


Here is Kyle, Sheryl's son, playing a flute.

Linda had to leave us a couple of days early due to her husband, Ned's having an issue with his Parkinson's. So, we went down to Orange to visit Lyn and Ned at their home and we went out to lunch. Here is Ned with Kyle.

Sisters' Week

Left to right, oldest to youngest: Teresa, Linda, Cindy and Sheryl.

We have had a wonderful week here in Massanutten, Virginia. The mountains are glorioous, the weather a bit chilly and the wildlife very special indeed. We have seen fox, ground hogs, possum, turtles and deer. No bear, but there are a ton here, or so we are told.

Best is that we have had time to catch up on each other's children (now adults, mostly) and also on friends and grandchildren. We have laughed and cried together as we shared stories of our trials and our tribulations as well as the family successes.

More photos coming of my nephew, Kyle, the only young person with us. Kyle plays native American flutes very, very well and I cannot express how tranquil it is to come back from a walk and hear the flute music reflected off the mountain and in synch with the nature surrounding us.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sisters' Week

My sisters and I are in Massanutten, Virginia for a week of reconnecting, laughs and time to enjoy each other. Today, my sister, Linda and I, went on a 4 mile hike in the mountains...rocky, steep and altogether wonderful. Linda hiked the whole Appalachian Trail, much of it on her own in 2005. She was being kind to me today. We saw deer, a scarlet tanager, gopher and I almost stepped on a copperhead snake...just a three footer! And then, this afternoon, I saw the most adorable spotted fawn near our condo. We just don't see deer in Florida and since there is no hunting here, the deer are very visible and not easily spooked.

We later went to the clubhouse and gym, using the sauna, weights and machines. Feeling very virtous and Lord knows...all of us need the exercise. Went into town (well, Elkton cannot be called a "town") and shopped at the Food Lion. Quite a dive with some of the most colorful, yet friendly help, I have ever seen in a grocery store.

Linda has to work tomorrow and will be back Monday. Cyn leaves tomorrow morning and Sheryl and I are planning to do the hike together. I would expect we will have a rather laid back day and I plan to catch up on all of the health related articles I was sent by ICFJ...need to get ready for the upcoming Africa trip.

All in day. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the mountains. I could live here...oh, I could also live in Colombia and about 16 other places. What I am learning is...I want to live somewhere other than Florida, and pretty soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

and of course, a gorgeous sunset!


First photo is of my husband, Richard with Sweetie, Deb and Brian's dog. And then, there is Deb and Brian and the three of them mugging for the photographer!


A couple of nights ago, our neighbors, Deb and Brian, invited us out on their pontoon for hors d'oeuvres, laughs and a gorgeous sunset. Had a ball. Pontooning is quite different from our fishing boat. Very relaxing and NO fishing this evening. Next time, we will fish. Apparently if one person fishes on a boat here, all have to have fishing licenses and I do not. Getting one shortly so I don't hold everyone else up.

Here are a few photos...a great time was had on the Caloosahatchee!

Home is where the heart is!

Made it home a couple of days ago and have been catching up with family and friends via phone, working on my upcoming Africa trip and wrapping up my promises made in Cartagena. Busy but happy.

Had a harrowing trip over from Ft. Lauderdale...serious monsoon the whole way and people were driving on Alligator Alley as if it were a sunny day. Saw more accidents in 2.5 hours than I have in the last two months. Ugly ones.

And then, after a pit stop at a rest stop, I saw something ahead of me on the access road leading up to The Alley. It moved and was about four feet long. As I approached, the baby alligator, on its tippy toes, turned his head to look at me. I moved the car closer and went for my camera and he bolted across the road and into a ditch, filled to the brim with water. Away he swam. Had to smile. In the middle of nowhere and yet, I had scared this local resident.

Today, I am finalizing all of my plans, packing and getting ready for "sister's week" which we will celebrate in Masanutten, Virginia. My sister, Linda, is picking me up at the Roanoke airport tomorrow and then we will continue driving up. Sheryl has arranged for us all to stay at a condo, using some "points" she has. We don't see each other much and it will be good to reconnect at our leisure and not at a funeral. Once one's parents are gone, and with families in different states, it is difficult to pull everyone together. Am very happy we are making the effort.

We are contemplating selling our home here in Florida to get ready for an eventual retirement...I may just slow down one day. Who knows!! Went to the doctor's the other day to check on a couple of things...all fine. And I needed a malaria prescription because that is a danger in Africa. Had a super great surprise. The tech who weighed me in asked if I had been ill. Told her, "no, why?" I weighed 10 pounds less than I had six months earlier. Guess the gym and walking the beach in Colombia has helped. Feeling good.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Walking....and thinking

I was walking the beach this morning early after a horrid night of monsoons and had to reflect on what an easy life we have. Men were out setting up their plastic cabanas for the Sunday family crowd and had to sweep, rake and dig holes to bury the trash that had come on the tide. I was fascinated with the concept of digging a hole in the sand and burying the crud...rather than carting it off somewhere. The city workers appeared around 11 to begin picking up many raked up piles of trash...after the small independent business men had worked for hours making their tiny plot of beach that they marked out, clean and nice for the visitors.

And the is everywhere but the need to bathe in the sea, wash your clothing there and then begin fishing for your food is just so alien to our lives. I walked quite a few miles today, pondering and mulling and often found myself laughing at this woman walking the beach, talking and thinking in Spanish.

There is a conference here and there are several people who are speaking English in the to hear it even though they make me cranky when they get frustrated that the waiters don't understand them. Have interrupted a couple of times to help translate. And I have three very special men who wait on me and who are practicing their English greetings every day. And they are terrifically proud of themselves. We even practiced hello, good-bye, thanks and you are welcome in German and Italian. This is a very international community and I could easily live happily here for the rest of my life.

Here are piles o trash and men pulling in their catches.

Gerardo's Finca

His finca, or country home is in Turbaco, about 35 minutes away from the newspaper. This was his in-law's home and he bought it and rennovated it. As you can see, it is gorgeous. Artwork simply stunning and the views are breathtaking. I was a bit bothered by the large cowhide on the floor but everyone ignored it and walked on it. I couldn't...seemed wrong. I felt totally special to be invited in to see this part of his life. And his father, quite an accomplished man himself, came into the office the other day and I met him. He has written a book...Seeds of Wisdom and I enjoyed talking with him a moment. He has been an ambassador, author, columnist, owner of many, many businesses and his best work...father of eight and husband. Great sense of humor. Gerardo's brother, Fernando is running for President of the country.
Here is Ledis and Johanna again, with Wilmer, our IT guy, Edinson, our production guy and German who is the class clown, head of Q'Hubo a popular daily newspaper that is wildly enjoyed and purchased. He sings, dances and has a "Teresa is coming" song he has created to celebrate my arrivals...of course in Spanish. He is a mime and a mimic and hysterically funny and well respected.



And to the left is Johanna, Gerardo's right arm; Claudia or Clau who is head of advertising; Ledis is the newsroom head and of course, Teresa with a queer look on her face!


The photo below includes Alonzo to the left, Gloria, who I am training and David, our controller.

The finca continued

Still issues with seeing what I am doing. I am posting photos of the executives and some photos of the finca...enjoy.

The Finca

Yesterday, after work, Gerardo, the owner of the newspaper invited all of the executives out to his finca for drinks and lunch. This was the first time he had ever done this and folks were very excited. We laughed, ate a superbly huge and delicious lunch and totally enjoyed his little piece of heaven high above the city. We could look out from his mountain perch and see down to the sea.

Work here is for five and a half days...half day Saturdays and I really like this. Fits somehow. Many don't come in because they have Saturday off as their day of relaxation instead of Sunday.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Christmas tree bulbs: birds

Over the top self-esteem!!



Going to take me time to figure out this photo thing...sorry. You should end up seeing a couple of things. There are trees filled with Christmas ornaments. They are white birds just sitting like bulbs on a tree. Love it.

And then, I am hoping to append a photo of a woman who has super wonderful self esteem. Not the largest person I have seen in a thong bathing suit...but adequate. And then, there is the genius who decided to pull his jet skis out of the water when the tide was coming in. When I last saw this truck, it was up to the floorboards in sea water. Very funny, given that it is illegal to drive a vehicle on the beach...done constantly!!

Other items

Ave Maria

Dios Mio is a frequent saying around here...MY GOD! But today, my driver used Ave Maria in the same tone. He is from the Barranquilla area of the country and this is the "oh, crap" saying for that area. We had about six inches of rain in 30 minutes and consider that there is literally no drainage system here to carry the water away. Flooding is the word! I have photos of enterprising young men who offer to carry people across the flooded roads. One pays based on one's weight...fat people pay more than skinny! When I figure out how to upload photos, you all can see them. I used to do this daily while on Fellowship, but appear to have lost all knowledge of how to do this. We shall see.

Ave Maria

Dios Mio, or My God is a local saying but I heard today, for the first time, Ave Maria instead of My God. Liked that a whole lot more for who knows what reason. We had a ton of rain in a short period of time. Once I remember how to upload photos, I will show you all how incredibly resourceful Cartagenans are. IF the road is flooded and you want across without getting wet, some enterprising young man will carry you across. The price of the carry depends on your weight...fat people pay more than skinny people!! Very entertaining but the rain is horrid. Like our hurricane season but just a "tormenta." A normal storm, but say, six inches in 30 minutes without any type of drainage infrastructure so cars literally begin floating after a storm. Homes goes on.

Tonight, at dinner I got a bit teary. I was watching the wait staff manage a large number of guests and still take care of me. I am treated very well...I have made friends with the guys and they know me. The manager was a bit distressed because I had my glass of wine (in a small glass from my room) and he felt it looked unseemly. So, my wine was dumped into a wine glass and because this was an inconvenience, I recieved another glass of their wine free. Anyway, the manager is a bit of a putz and is always second guessing service that could be held up as an example in a five star restaurant, so my buddies are running around harried for no good reason.

I am blessed to have met these people, all of whom work hard. IF only I can improve the newspaper's service to this level, I will be so successful. I wonder

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Maite: The Wanderer

So, based upon family and friends' recommendations, I am back to blogging. I will try to keep updated every few days. Photos seem to be needed regularly so will work on that. Most recently, I sent out a letter telling you all about my experiences here in Cartagena, Colombia. I love this country and cannot imagine a better place to live and work. The people are warm. The ocean is pristine. The breezes powerful and the hotel I stay in, Las Americas is a five star enterprise. NO clue if it really is but what makes it special is the customer service. I know all of the staff by name and they are so welcoming....they see I am back and remember my name and my peculiarities.

For example: I need/want my newspaper before 6:00 a.m. each morning. I really want it at 5:30 so I can read every word and be prepared for our stand up critique of our "baby" every morning. Reading in another language isn't easy and I absolutely have to be better informed than the rest of the group. So, I pour over this every morning, reading every word, looking for every opportunity to improve.

What is fun is that I get my paper around 5:3O a.m. every day but the other customers get theirs later...around 7:30 which is way too late for me. Today, the paper was late and at 6:15 a.m. it hadn't arrived at the hotel, so I went to eat breakfast and the reception clerk ran it down to the restaurant for me around 6:45 with many apologies.

We have cool parrots here...and many are able to talk. Sunday, I had gotten a Las Americas towel to take to the beach and was returning it so I wouldn't be charged. I didn't see the parrot standing near the cash register and as I leaned against the counter, the parrot said, "no puede!" As aren't able to do that. I about died laughing and he kind of cackled back at me. I will upload some photos so you can see the guy and see where I am staying.

More later....luego.