Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday....walking and enjoying

Can you imagine playing soccer next to this incredible fortress wall every Sunday? What is missing is the sea air, the wind, the heat and the sun to get the full picture. Each visit, there is some team or other playing here...and they vary. Some have uniforms like these guys. Other times, it is clearly a pick up game with homemade goals and no nets. No matter who is is deadly serious with men screaming, families cheering their men on and with "coaches" on the sidelines waving their arms and shouting obscenities. It never fails that some mother is telling the guys to remember that there are youth around and today it is the Lord's Day!!

While on my grandma trip with Kenz this summer, she shot photos of us together everywhere. So, to prove I was here near the sea in Cartagena, I took a photo of myself. Pretty damned ugly!!

Not so sure what happened with the photos but there is a door photo that is difficult to get the perspective on. Doors here in the old city are quite unusual. A super coffee table book would be to take photos of them all and compile them. Without exception, including the door to FNPI where I visitied my friend, Jaime Abello this past week, is no more than say five feet high. So one must duck into the doorway or get your head smacked seriously. Sorry these are out of order.

Walked all along the seawall between the old fort above...cannot begin to tell you how special it is to be immersed in the history here. The U.S. is such a young country.


The church where I went to mass this morning. I thoroughly enjoyed saying "paz" or peace and shaking hands. Various people made an effort to leave their aisle to come over and shake my hand and even give me a kiss...cheek to cheek. I felt very, very welcome and there was not one other person in this huge church who looked like this gringa!!

This is a typical street in the historic center. This was around 9:30 a.m. and no one was out and about selling. Generally sales people are lined up selling purses, clothing, shirts and trinkets of all sorts as you pass.

Well, yesterday was horrid. After my half day of Saturday work at the paper, it began pouring. Within 20 minutes, roadways were flooded and it continued til late in the day. Held prisoner in a hotel without balconies and without an open air, roofed restaurant. Nothing worse than having to stay in all day. Anyway, today was spectacular...walked the beach at 7 a.m., came in and had breakfast and then after cleaning up, walked to the old historic area, went to mass where I had a "moment" and then, eventually, I came back to the hotel.

My "moment" occured during mass....I went in to the Basilica and, of course, the church is hundreds of years old and gorgeous. While I could understand the words and the mass, I didn't have the responses to say in Spanish so was a bit lost. At one point, I swear, the Virgin Mary floated down and gave me a hug. Those who know me well, know I am not that terribly spiritual but I just had a moment when I truly was surrounded by the grace of God. I cried. Crying writing this...the warmth and the feeling of home was so pronounced.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Caught up!

I mentioned a few days ago that I am staying at another hotel. The good news about this place is that it is in town so I can walk the beach at night, walk to restaurants and to shops. The bad just doesn't feel like home. It is a HOTEL, five stars, very lovely and very cold.

My view from the 19th floor...quite spectacular. And here is a Cartagena sunset....que bueno, no??


I am terrifically behind...before coming to Cartagena, Colombia a few days ago, I was able to spend several days at the cottage with the girls, their kids and my son in law...other one, Chris, was working!!

Here are Addison, Chase and Owen playing in the front yard. Below is a photo of the "girls." My friend, Lois to the left, Heidi next to her and the one with the unusual expression is my older daughter who is very definitely pregnant!! The cutie behind them is my grandaughter, McKenzie who spent a week travelling with me around the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan just before the cottage days.

Check out Kristin's expression and how alike Heidi and her daughter are. Lois thought we all were a tad nutso.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


So, I arrived in steamy Cartagena to find that that my world has been turned upside down. I am not staying at Las Americas where I stayed in 2006 and every visit since then. I have "friends" there and the staff all know me and we joke together and I look forward to teaching English classes and getting my Spanish corrected.

I am, instead, staying at the Hotel Almirante on the 19th floor in a five star hotel which is just gorgeous. The hotel faces the beach and we had the most picture perfect sunset tonight. I couldn't open the window, though if I sign a waiver and assure folks I won't take a dive, someone will come with a special tool and pry the window open for me. Now, I hate heights and wouldn't be leaning out of the window anyway. What is super about this place is that it is near the city center so I can walk to stores and to restaurants. Tonight, I found a supermarket and went and bought some wine, water and coffee....I DO drink a lot!!

So far, all is good. Was great to see the staff at the newspaper and get settled in. Tomorrow will be a full day with systems, news and advertising and the next day, I will be focusing on Human Resources....much to be done there. My head is tired...up at 4:30 a.m. and I haven't heard Spanish in keeping up was a tad difficult today. It will be much better tomorrow. Going to bed early tomorrow.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nothing much to share....

I have been home a few days from Michigan where I had a few last warm days with the girls and their families and my friend, Lois. Had a ball and even had time for dinner with friends on Sand Point. Since getting home, I have been trying to slowly clean things up and eliminate piles from around the house. Thinking we would like to put this house up for sale when season rolls around and to that end, am having a realtor come over Monday to share how we can best get the house put right for selling.

And also trying to get ready for my trip back to Cartagena. Had my first dream in Spanish last night...I generally switch when I am getting ready to go and while I am there. Very disconcerting the first time but made me wake up and smile. The good news is...we are getting low on Colombian coffee so clearly time to visit.

Paco has a serious issue...appears he somehow got into some caustic substance and his eye is in horrid shape. He is taking meds and eyedrops but he just sits and cries. Hoping he will mend soon...he goes back to the vet on Tuesday. Chica is trying to console and love him with snuggles but he quietly gets up and moves away from her.

My good friends, Cortneigh and Matt have just had their first child...Sebastian arrived early, early this morning. This couple I lived with and I worked with Matt on our Honduras project. Cannot wait to see the photos.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More with Kenz

The colors of a Michigan summer!!

Another wonderful lighthouse...liked the windows and this was near Ft. Michilimackinac. The view from the top out over the straits and the Mackinaw Bridge in the shimmering sunlight was spectacular. We could not have asked for a more gorgeous day. Kenz shot this photo of the flowers nearby...I never miss flowers in Florida until I get to Michigan in the summer and see the glorious colors.

The UP continues

Kenz climbed to the top of this rock climbing wall and as I told the woman sitting next to me...this was a girl who less than 10 months ago could not walk and had issues crawling. She also did a zip line and we hiked a good way today. Had a ball. Hit three different lighthouses and am beginning to understand why my friend, Dianne likes them so much.

It was a warm sunny day and we made it an outdoor day which was fun. We spent about four hours within 10 miles of St. Ignace and then, drove on down 23 and we are spending the night in Alpena...nothing here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More UP

Rapids from the Lower Falls...we loved seeing the falls and the speed with which the water cascaded over the rocks. Gorgeous. Scary and ever so interesting.
And, Kenz being McKenzie!! We had a great time doing nothing, seeing everything and enjoying it all together.

Tahquamenon Falls

Today was an outdoor day...sunny and warm. We walked all along the upper and lower falls and walked a variety of trails. We did have rain but not until we had settled into our hotel room in St. Ignace where we will launch our trip to Mackinaw Island and Mackinaw City over the next couple of days. The scenery was spectacular, which is wonderful because there was NOTHING in site for hours. All we saw were trees. Still have not seen a deer and I love seeing them!
We have been eating breakfast at our hotels, eating lunch out and then eating dinner in our room. Tonight's dinner: yogurt, nacho chips, string cheese, soda, red wine (only for me) and fruit. We are feeling a bit frugal but also enjoying lunches, we had a "special" at the Lower Falls...had a chili hotdog, cole slaw and a root beer float which was the biggest float I have ever seen. Kenz finished hers...I did not.

Upper Peninsula stories

This guy was huge...just sitting and watching the world go by. Liked his markings. And clearly the bear had been socialized...they followed us around. Saw several swimming and bathing and the cubs were segregated and having quite the frolicking time wrestling each other.

Kenz feeding a year old cub some fruit loops. Had a ball with these bear.

More UP stories....

We ended our day driving down HWY 2 along Lake Michigan after driving through Engadine and Brevort...two tiny towns...oh Naubinway was a must see also. Had to get gas in Engadine and there was no charge card reader on the gas pump. So, went in to pay...the woman said you pay after you pump the gas. There is NO crime up here. This photo is of the lower falls...really the calm part of Tahquamenon Falls. Just pristine...we loved the upper and lower falls.
We started our day off by visiting a bear preserve and Kenz fed some cubs some fruit loops...little guy loved them and we were surprised how soft and fluffy his coat was.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More UP

This is one view of the Algoma Steel mill on the Canadian side. Huge and odorous...fumes everywhere. I guess the good news employess over 4000 people.

Kenz and I have ended up eating at two interesting places...a diner with Coca Cola memorabilia in Grayling and the Cozy Inn Bar and Grill on the way to the Iroquois Lighthouse. Both have had incredibly wonderful food and the Grill had a juke box which Kenz had never seen before. We played quite a few songs.

Here is the lighthouse....

and I actually climbed to the top. Not so bad til we had to come down. The windy stairs were an open weave metal, so looking down meant looking ALL the way down. I hate heights...very scary but glad we went to the top to look out over the Sault, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the town.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Kenz

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie last night and took off this morning for a day of adventure. We took a boat trip through the locks where we rose up 21 ft. to the height of Lake Superior, cruised by the Algoma steel mills on the Canadian side and then back through the locks where we were lowered 21 ft. down to the Lake Huron water height. Very cool to watch the locks closing and the boat rising and then, falling slowly.

We also went to the Tower of History, actually built to represent the three crosses on Calvary but went to the top and looked over the "Soo" and the town. Went to St. Mary's Catholic Church, the home of the first Archbishop of the UP, Bishop Baraga. See the stained glass is gorgeous.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Michigan Bound

Am sitting in the airport waiting to leave for Michigan to take Kenz, and hopefully, Logan on our annual grandma trip. Given that Logan is not being particularly family friendly, I am unsure if he will be joining us. Hoping so but betting not. I have, however, decided that his presence will not make or break this trip. I will have a great time with my chattering grandaughter who is so full of life and love. We shall see and do things neither of us have done/seen but the trip has been altered due to the uncertainty of whether we shall be three or just two. I didn't want to buy expensive tickets and get stuck...and so glad I listened to my inner self on this one.

Should also hear today or tomorrow at the latest as to the sex of our newest grandchild who will be joining the family around Christmas this year. This will be Kristin and Pat's third, and I hear tell...last!

So, leaving my doggies and men folk to go visit the girls and their families. We need to be closer. I am trying to make that happen. Richard is dragging his feet.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home, at last!

The trip home was exhausting and boring. At one point, I just sat in the plane and airport doing nothing. Just people watching. Realized I couldn't even manage my usual sudoku puzzles. Brain wouldn't work. Saw two movies on the plane....more than I have seen in a couple of years. Saw "Seventeen Again" and "Young Victoria."

I may have mentioned a couple of years ago (yes, years) about a pair of orange leopard flip flops my friend, Mary gave me when I went off to Colombia for six months. Well, those flip flops have been packed for every trip since and they long ago lost their spots and have become very thin and worn. I smile as I pack them and I talk to them when I put them on...and no, not losing my mind yet! I just tell them that Mary would be enjoying where we are going and what we will see and do.

When I got moving this morning, I saw that I had mail on the desk up by the bed. And there was a box from Nordstrom's. Now, I don't shop there very often and we don't have one here in Ft. Myers. Opened it and there was a beautifully wrapped box...inside, from Mary are a gorgeous new pair of black elegant flip flops. Was first excited and then sad...means I shall have to retire my orangy flattened, world travelled pair that have accompanied me to three different continents and at least six countries. New ones feel new and they have been told that we will be seeing the world together. Kinda hard to tell but I think they are receptive. We shall see!!

I noticed, sitting in the Amsterdam airport, that I had seen no adults in shorts since I arrived in Africa nor did I notice a woman without a bra. Funny what you miss until you see it everywhere. Everyone wore long skirts, dresses or slacks. Am sure it has to do with malaria and cholera and wanting to keep covered. I found that Africa is very religious...oh, people go to church Sunday mornings and they stay for hours and hours...five or six hours on average. The Catholic Church near my hotel in Kampala had mass for no less than three hours straight! Then they follow church with social time.

Tried several times to work on my expenses and my report due this next week but again, cannot get my arms wrapped around much more than slowly unpacking. Have a board meeting and a doctor's appointment today. Got to something for the raging trots and also figure out why I cannot breathe. A lady on the Entebbe/Amsterday route asked if I had been a heavy smoker!! Sound horrid and Michelle called while I was in Atlanta and couldn't even finish a conversation, I was hacking so badly.

Went to bed last night around 11 p.m. and at 12:30 a.m. our alarm system went off. I say our alarm system, but we haven't had one connected. Richard took out the battery after talking with a friend and nothing happened. Screeching was going on til 1:00 a.m. when we called a neighbor who came over, couldn't get it to shut off so he cut the wires!! Silence IS golden. Figured I was so hyped up I wouldn't sleep but I did. Up early, as usual but now, just up from a three hour nap. Hope I can rest tonight.

Hugs and thanks for following my life on the blog!