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Top 5 Posts of the Year: #3 Hold on to the Beautiful Moments

“First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest (or hairy chest).”

Does anyone else remember chanting that in line when in pre-school? It was often accompanied with some shoving, elbowing, or (if one was lucky) polite moving when racing to get into line at the teacher’s call.

Well, my third most popular post from the past year is a personal treasure chest. I wrote this post because I needed it. I needed to comfort myself. Titled Hold on to the Beautiful Moments, I wrote it during the height of the Venezuelan protests and marches. It was when I finally began to take pictures of what was going on around me. Before then, I had been too scared to do so.

Top 5 Posts of the Past Year: #3 Hold on to the Beautiful Moments

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Papita, Maní, Tostón

A few weeks back I went to see a hit Venezuelan movie, Papita, Maní, Tostón.

Now, according to the trailer it was supposed to come out in December. In actuality, I don’t think it came out until April, but I could be wrong.

Regardless, it was wonderful because it was my first time watching a movie (I couldn’t pause or rewind) all in Spanish with no sub-titles. I was able to get the gist of the movie and was even holding conversations with people about it. Essentially, it’s a romantic comedy about two people who fall in love even though they are fans of rival baseball teams, Leones del Caracas (Caracas Lions) and Navegantes del Magallanes (Magellan Navigators from Valencia).

While exiting the movie theater a loud, earnest shout went out. It was a small group of students protesting in the mall. The barricades may be a thing of the past, but there’s still a spirit of protest in the air.

That put a damper on my mood because in no way, shape, or form do I think marching through a mall is an effective form of protest, but–come what may–my Spanish is slowly improving!

36 Hours in Curaçao

Clockwise from top left: a scene from Mambo Beach; inside Cato Caves; a bird at breakfast on Porto Marie Beach; Porto Marie Beach; a torture instrument from slavery; Dutch pancakes at Porto Marie Beach

In honor of one of my favorite columns, 36 Hours from the NYT, I have decided to try my hand at my own 36 hours piece. I was in Curaçao for six days, but I’ll cull it down to my favorites.

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Go Tell It On the Mountain

PathonWe were greeted with a cool mistiness and warm lights.

After disembarking from the 4×4 that had chugged its way up an impossibly remote and steep mountainside, I felt as if I had stepped into a dream sequence.

Back when the protests were in full force, and I was losing my mind, I decided to take a trip outside of Valencia. A few weeks later, I’d called a posada some co-workers had stayed at and organized for myself and two co-workers to go. We went this past weekend, and am I ever glad that we did.

Pathon (5)For one, the posada experience was tranquil. Located twenty minutes outside the mountain town of Bejuma (and about two hours from Valencia), the ladies and I drank wine in the evenings, ate delectable meals of black beans, arepas, cheese, soup, chicken stir fry and the like, and just rested.

I finished reading a young adult series that reminded me of why I fell in love with books in the first place, fell asleep to the sound of deep-throated frogs, awoke to the sound of roosters crowing and birds chirping, and just relished the small, quiet moments of life that come when nature surrounds you more than people do.

Now, the trip was not without its drama. I’d foolishly left the light in our cottage on one night, which meant we were greeted with buzzing junebugs and moths when we returned. That same night the power went out and said junebugs swarmed our heads, attracted to e-reader and computer screens as we tried to watch a movie and/or read. It was a scene to behold to see three twenty-something to thirty-something grown women screaming and swatting at objects in the dark while trying to rid the cabin of the insects (we succeeded).

Then, there was the huge spider carcass which the four year old announced was “small but we [the visitors] thought it was big because we saw it in the dark.”

The next morning there was a large (in my mind), very alive, spider sprawled against the wall. I killed the thing with a shoe and was given the nickname Xena, Warrior Princess for the rest of the weekend (do y’all remember that show???).

With the rainy season returning, the entire weekend was like living in a cloud. The clouds lifted briefly each day, a steamy wall of humidity on the horizon, before descending on the posada’s land and obscuring a view that was once clear. The clouds brought with them a drop in the temperature that required light sweatshirts and/or a jacket.

Pathon (3)Each morning chairs and tables had to be wiped down because of the dew that was left behind. I wondered if anything would be able to fully dry in such weather.

When it was time to go Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but smile. I was happy the ladies had come with me, and I was happy to see another, quieter, softer side of Venezuela.

To fight off the end of year blues that comes as I chug towards the finish line, I’ve decided to organize more trips. Up next is Curacao for six days. It’ll be Spring Break!

Hold on to the Beautiful Moments

One thing I try to focus on when going through a difficult time is The Beautiful Moment. Usually, that moment comes in the form of nature, food, family, or friends. On really rough days though The Beautiful Moment may just be sleep, and that’s OK too.

Thus, despite the roadblocks, the blooming flowers brought me peace today–as did the fresh French bread I bought at the bakery. It was so hot it hurt to hold it pressed against my side. Of course, the entire loaf–all twelve plus inches of it–was gone within an hour. I can’t resist fresh bread and, all of a sudden, I can’t resist snapping pictures. Like yesterday, roll over the pictures for captions. Not all pictures are captioned though. Some speak for themselves.

Don’t Take Photos Please

A co-worker and I walked to the market today. Again, it was packed. In the middle of the market a small parade of people came through protesting. My co-worker (who’s also learning Spanish) said they were chanting that business should not be going on as usual while protests are occurring. I didn’t hear them/understand them. My response? People need to eat. Besides, there ain’t nothing else to do if (for reasons I’ve already discussed) you choose not to enter into the protests.

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Signs of Protest

These are some photos that I’ve taken around my neighborhood. There has to be a silver lining somewhere: the road blockades are helping my Spanish because I am reading the signs. In the captions, there are rough translations.