Archive for May, 2017

Oaxaca, how I love you!

Sunday, May 28th, 2017
In the old chapel

In the old chapel

John and I slipped down to Oaxaca for a long weekend – we were here almost 20 years ago, but we had forgotten just how much we loved the city. It’s gorgeous and about the same altitude as Guadalajara, so the weather is nice – in fact, it’s been a bit rainy, which we enjoy immensely.

There’s so much to see and do, it’s impossible to describe, so let’s do it in pictures. First, the hotel – a former convent, built in the 16th century – just lovely.

The old chapel at our hotel

The old chapel at our hotel

Hotel gardens

Hotel gardens

We spent Saturday in a cooking class – just the two of us. It felt like we were in an aunt’s kitchen. We made tortillas, salsas, stuffed chiles, and guacamole – all delicious!

Making tortillas with Esperanza

Making tortillas with Esperanza

Cheese, squash blossoms, and chiles

Cheese, squash blossoms, and chiles

Chiles

Chiles

The cultural museum attached to the church here is just incredible – chock full of pre-Colombian artifacts, but the building is the real attraction.

And the food! Just incredible.

Chiles de Abuja stuffed with ceviche

Chiles de Agua stuffed with ceviche

Making salsa table side

Making salsa table side

The textiles are probably my favorite, and were beautifully displayed in a lovely museum – and in every shop!IMG_1189

Textile museum

Textile museum

Textile museum

Textile museum

The light here makes it seem magical. Here’s a very handsome photo I took of John. We were sitting in La Casa de La Abuela restaurant, overlooking the zocalo – que guapo!

Handsome John

Handsome John

John found a little coffee shop he likes a lot – La Brujula. They have fun graphics.

I'll sleep when I die

I’ll sleep when I die

I’ll leave you with some more images. Click to see all photos.

Cactus bloom

Cactus bloom

Casa Oaxaca

Casa Oaxaca

Tile floor - bats

Tile floor – bats

Tile floor - skulls

Tile floor – skulls

Church

Church

Hotel grounds

Hotel grounds

Hotel grounds

Hotel grounds

Buying tortillas in the market

Buying tortillas in the market

View from museum

View from museum

View from museum

View from museum

Cultural museum

Cultural museum

Beautiful girls

Beautiful girls

A week at the beach, and a bonus friend!

Sunday, May 21st, 2017
Pelicans

Pelicans

John and I flew together from Little Rock to Houston, then parted ways…he headed home to Guadalajara and I headed to Puerto Vallarta to run our office down there for the week. We had a very busy week, handling routine passport and citizenship cases, plus we helped repatriate a young man back to the United States. It was a complicated case, so I went with him to the airport to be sure everything was ok.

Back at the office, I took the guys out to lunch to say goodbye since I likely won’t see them in person again. I think we all got a little teary-eyed. They have been so professional yet so fun. Erika was on maternity leave, but came to the office to say hello and let me meet her baby. What a great team.

With Hector and Fernando

With Hector and Fernando

During the week, I ate almost every meal from the back of Fatima’s food truck – literally her pick-up truck filled with her home cooked food. I would get lunch to eat at the office, then get a to-go box to take back to the hotel for dinner. Thank you, Fatima!

With Fatima

With Fatima

I also had another incredible meal and visit with Allyn, my college friend, and his husband Scotty. It’s always so fun to go to their apartment with its gorgeous view of the ocean, then go to their latest favorite restaurant- this time, Cafe Naranja. We were so busy having fun that I forgot to take a photo!

When I got home Friday night, our good friend Kelly from Seattle was at the house. So good to see an old friend! We had a nice dinner at Cortazar and walked around downtown a bit. (John had taken her to Tequila for the day.)

John and Kelly

John and Kelly

Saturday the three of us went to Tlaquepaque to go shopping. John and I picked out fabric for a groovy bench. The fabric is hand embroidered in Guatemala – usually used for shirts. I can’t wait to get it! I also picked up a purse I had ordered – it took me three years to convince the designer David Luna to make the purse and add a strap. It’s almost been a running joke, but I finally got what I wanted!

 

Kelly at the Palace of the Government

Kelly at the Palace of the Government

Today we had a delicious breakfast with Kelly at Dainzu, then we went downtown to the Centro. We went first to Las Cabanas to see the lovely Orozco murals, then we walked through the cathedral and the the Palace of the Government, where there’s another cool Orozco. We then went to the art museum to see a Tamayo exhibit, and finally ended the day with a late lunch at La Tequila, a Guadalajara staple. What a great day – John and Kelly are unwinding with a gaming session so I think this visit was a success!

Saying goodbye

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

 

Taps

Taps

The memorial service for Joyce was yesterday in Malvern, Arkansas. It was lovely. Tommy Stiles spoke and did a beautiful job of telling how Joyce taught him and Dail how to play guitar. Two old friends performed a guitar duet. Aside from hearing Tommy speak, another highlight was a video of a picking session with Dail, Tommy, and Danny on guitars and Joyce playing fiddle on “Rocky Mountain Breakdown” – and especially moving to see beloved Dail, who we miss so much. His widow Nancy was at the funeral, and I know that meant a lot to her.

With Nancy and Tommy

With Nancy and Tommy

We had lunch with Nancy before the service at Keeney’s store (an old favorite of Dail’s). David and Alison were also sweet enough to come to the service. Afterward, we drove to the Lono Cemetery where his ashes were interred next to his mother Myrtle’s grave – John and I were amazed that people still pull to the side of the road for the funeral procession to pass. Nice.

After the graveside, the family got together at a local restaurant, including Danny and his kids and Carol and her oldest son Chris with his family. Click to read the obituary.

I flew up on Wednesday and stayed with David and Alison on the lake until John arrived Friday afternoon. The lake was so relaxing – here’s a view from their porch and a picture of their new kitten, Buddy.

Yes, that's a big ruby ducky!

Yes, that’s a big rubber ducky!

Buddy

Buddy

While in Hot Springs, I went to an art show with David and Alison where Alison’s sister Lori was having a show. I was tickled to run into my old friend Chuck Dodson there.

With the very debonair Chuck

With the very debonair Chuck

John and I spent Friday night in Mt Ida with his good friend Russ. We always love going up there to see him and all of their animals – currently four cats, four dogs, and at least one bird. Here’s Penny and Pickle.

Pickle in a bowl

Pickle in a bowl

Penny and Pickle. Pickle let's Penny drag her around upside down - it's hysterical.

Penny and Pickle. Pickle let’s Penny drag her around upside down – it’s hysterical.

We flew home from our wonderful trip to Palenque last Sunday. I forgot to mention last week that we also saw gorgeous Scarlett Macaws flying overhead! Then I woke up the next morning a year older, and my work team made sure I had a fun birthday!

 This has been an odd tour. I came to Guadalajara with both parents and now leave with neither. I feel a bit unsettled and unmoored, but they both had good, long lives. I hope they are both at peace.

Love the fiddle

Love the fiddle

And a hummingbird

And a hummingbird

Mom

Mom

Joyce

Joyce

I love Palenque

Saturday, May 6th, 2017
Temple

Temple

Wow. Just wow. This is one of the most beautiful places I have seen! The Mayan ruins here are on par with Siem Reap. The park is very well done, with nice walking paths and bilingual signage. With the backdrop of the looming mountains and jungle framing the ruins, it’s truly a sight to see! I’ve always wanted to come here since my cousin James told us about how much he enjoyed it.

Temple

Temple

We’ve also been completely delighted with our hotel, Cha Nab Nal. It’s been one of the most peaceful stays – we may be the only guests. Our room is beautiful and we have a completely private and large front porch and plunge pool.

And the best part is the family of howler monkeys who live on the premises – a mom, tiny baby, and dad. The dad will come down to take a banana from your hand. It is so wonderful to hear the troops of howlers in the area. We’ve also seen some birds, including a toucan, flycatchers, a kingfisher, an orapendula, and a purple gallenule.

Cesar, the resident howler

Cesar, the resident howler

John and Cesar

John and Cesar

Being here really reminds us of Costa Rica. We were treated to a freak storm Thursday night, which really cooled things off, so we’re enjoying the relatively cool weather, too.

This morning we did a jungle hike with a guide, also in the area of the park. They say that only 30% of the area has been excavated, so our hike took us climbing over structures that haven’t been uncovered yet, but we could see taletell signs of walls and steps. We were rewarded with this small, lovely temple about an hour or so in the jungle.

Temple in the jungle

Temple in the jungle

Click to see the photos from our trip.

Happy birthday to my good friend Joan who is celebrating in Ireland!

Mexico City

Monday, May 1st, 2017
A church near the Embassy in Mexico City, surrounded by high rises.

A church near the Embassy in Mexico City, surrounded by high rises.

I flew from Arkansas to Mexico City on Monday to attend a crisis management exercise in anticipation of hurricane season. It was well done, and we all learned a lot about how we will react when a hurricane slams the coast and puts U.S. citizens in danger. It was also wonderful to see my counterparts from around the mission instead of just communicating via email. Our dear friend Rick from Pakistan was there, as well as Tammy, Christina, and Lola. I also was happy to finally meet Rick’s wife, Claire, at dinner Monday night.

With Tammy, Christina, and Rick

With Tammy, Christina, and Rick

With Tammy

With Tammy

With Lola

With Lola

John returned home from Suriname this weekend after a three-week trip – it’s so nice to have him home again! He enjoyed his time there, especially since he was able to housesit two cats instead of living in a hotel – and those cats like to sit on his lap, as opposed to Flavia who won’t give him the time of day!

John's new best friend in Suriname

John’s new best friend in Suriname

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the Hendrix reunion last weekend. Click to see all photos.

With Jerry

With Jerry

Muffy in charge!

Muffy in charge!

With Davids Miller and Sargent

With Davids Miller and Sargent

Dr. Henenberg gets a ride

Dr. Henenberg gets a ride

The campus was gorgeous

The campus was gorgeous

With Holly

With Holly

With Pam, Tammy, Sonya, and Paulette

With Pam, Tammy, Sonya, and Paulette