Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Power outage in Miami!!!!

Can you believe this? This afternoon around 1:00 p.m. the lights went out in Miami...well, in Miami,-Dade County, Broward County and other parts of the State of Florida. People were trapped in elevators, schools went into lockup and 911 was not working! Never mind the street lights that went on the blink...no punt intended, causing traffic jams and other related nuisances. Homeland Security was on top of the problem assuring everyone that this was not terror-related. One added worry in these uncertain times since September 11th.

Fortunately, we live on Brickell Key!!! Lights came back about an hour and a half later. I turned on the television and there it was.....Breaking News!!!! I wondered who was actually watching... didn't they say that about one million customers of Florida Power and Light were without power? Anyway, seems that the nuclear plant at Turkey Point was shot down..no details as of yet why. Once this was done, a chain reaction took over and several relay stations fell causing the massive outage. Some people are not going to get their power back for about ten hours.....I don't even want to think about rush hour, getting home in the dark, accidents, burglaries...who know what else. This is so..... Third World a friend of mine would say.

One of the few things I hated about life in the Tropics was the frequency of power outages! Especially since our home was right on a dividing line (whatever that means!) and we always lost power first and got it back last!!! It was infuriating..... Electricity, being one of civilization's greatest inventions, means more than just light at night time....we need air conditioning in the Tropics, we need fans, we need.....well, you get the picture. We would have moved by now if we would have stayed on the island. I was not going to spend the rest of my life with this problem. At the same time, it is one of the inconveniences you put up with to be able to live in the Tropics...am I contradicting myself? I am sure someone would point out that I am, what to do. Anyway, we would have moved.

That was not necessary, we moved to Miami instead. For sure things would be better here. Why, maybe only during the hurricane season, great storms, high winds, flooding... of which we have had our share in the years since we moved here.... or power cuts announced in advance due to some sort of repair or maintenance could something similar be expected.... now, this I never thought would happen. Which bring me to something quite unexpected, Miami is like Curaçao in more ways than I would like to admit.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Unique, Wonderful, Magical

I hope my friend Krissy doesn't get upset if I appropriate her words about Curaçao! I wrote to congratulate her on her upcoming trip to Korea.... Yes, these women just don't stop, I can hear it..... vacations, trips, traveling. They do not stop......and you'd be right.

Now let me tell you about Krissy and why she is on a trip half way around the globe.....she has been selected by FAWCO as one of 28 American women living around the wold who had made a difference in their new homes. When the project was put together months ago, all member clubs proposed candidates and AWCC proposed Krissy. Practically single handedly, she has raised awareness about autism in Curaçao, organized seminars, workshops, fundraisers and worked tirelessly for the foundation that she started when her son was diagnosed. No small achievement and so successful!! No one in our club deserved this more and she has put our island out there.......because she was selected and her profile and work are appearing in a fabulous book about those 28 women, living abroad, making a difference, just being concerned citizens of the world. We need so much more of them!!!!!!!!!!

When I wrote to congratulate her and tell her to have the time of her life at the FAWCO Conference in Seoul, take advantage of everything wonderful that would be offered, make new friends and everlasting memories, she answered in her typical way.....with capital letters, exclamations points, full of joy and laughter. She told me about these two broads ( she and I) from Curaçao that are having a ball writing books and going places and making a difference! How wonderful it is that we both ended up in this island that is UNIQUE, WONDERFUL AND MAGICAL!!!! (that is her quote) where we have made these amazing friendships that will bound us forever.

P.S. The book tittle is : Beyond Borders: Portraits of American Women around the world.
Go to the FAWCO website on My Favorites and check it out on their Book Recommendations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day...

Valentine's Day...what does it really mean? and isn't it just a commercial holiday? I do think so, BUT....

When my children were small, the International School of Curaçao, as any school around the world, made a big deal of this date. They mad small card for their friend, for their parents and teachers, it was a big deal. There was even a lovely costume...... children could buy sweets or flowers for their friends. Camille used to come home with bags of sweets and armfuls of flowers!!! She was always the one to get the most....... It made her happy and I was pleased; maybe all this was just practice for what was to come later.

As the children grew up and Frank went away to Prep school, Camille was still receiving sweets and flowers. Of course, she also gave sweets and flowers to her friends. It was, after all, a give and take game. As for me, I wrote little notes to both my children every February 14th, lovingly picked and written in longhand, stamped and snail mailed! My children used to keep them for months and years. Even Frankie got his by post, those were the days!! Then this got easier when the Internet came along and we could write emails. Hallmark and Blue Mountain provided us with e-cards! things were easier... but were they better? No, but they were more profitable for sure!!

Valentine's day is certainly a very commercial holiday, but still brings back lovely memories.......and we all love the flowers, the chocolates, the cards, e-cards and presents. So why not? What harm is there in this? None if we stick to home-made presents, flowers and loving notes.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christoffelberg on travel magazine

I know, what is Christoffelberg? you'll ask. Well, it's the highest mountain in the Netherlands Antilles.....in Curaçao, really. Anyway, it's a rather small mountain, 1239 feet make it more like a high hill. Still, it was featured in Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. Fabulous! Slowly, Curaçao has been popping up in travel magazines and websites. I couldn't be happier.

The short piece brought back such memories! When I first went the island in the 1970s to visit Frankie (my then boyfriend now husband!!), one of the first things I was invited to do was go up Christoffelberg. We left in the early morning hours for the short ride to the mountain; it was not a National Park yet, I think. I am not very good at anything before 9:00 a.m., so the car ride was spent dozing.... We arrived at the crack of dawn, literally. The best time to start according to local lore...before it gets hot!! My hosts had brought a complete picnic of hot coffee (which I don't like!), some juices, water, cheese pastechis (a local cheese pastry) and other goodies I don't quite recall. We started up through the arid landscape and up we went.

The day was breaking and the air was cool. The winding path was well trodden and surrounded by tall candelabra cacti and other prickly shrubs. Curaçao was not at all what I had expected of a Caribbean island, but it was a beautiful. I noticed that half way up, when I was actually awake.....the landscape had changed. It was greener and definitely different: flowering plants, orchids, bromeliads, big trees....and just as beautiful! Dozens of trupials (similar to the oriole and Curaçao's national bird) flew between the tall trees. The climb was not easy, I had to stop more than once, thinking that maybe I could just sit and stay behind. No such luck, I was urged on. What to do, I was only a guest. And then we were there.....

What a view! it was worth the climb. Did I mention the fact that I hate heights? Or that I have never climbed anything unless it had stairs? Or the fact that I do not subscribe to the school of thought that promulgates that mornings are to be enjoyed? Or that this was probably the first sunrise I had really seen? Anyway, I got up there and the view that greeted me took my breath away. The sun was just over the horizon and the morning mist was lifting. All around you could see this dry landscape with patches of green and bursts of yellow flowers; everything surrounded by the most gorgeous sea, in every shade of blue! I think that was the day, I fell in love with the island.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


It's Carnival time again... These four days before the start of the Christian Lent are celebrated the world over. From Rio to New Orleans, from Nice to Venice, from Las Tablas, a small town in Panama to Willemstad in Curaçao, people are having the time of their lives. This secular, some say pagan, celebration is not to be missed.

Since I can remember, Carnival has been part of this time of the year in my life. When I was growing up, we used to visit my grandmother in Las Tablas on our school vacation. Celebrations started about a week before with rehearsals of the new songs. Everyone would show up, the music would start and so would the fun!!! For the youngsters, this was the best part since we were allowed to participate. During the celebrations, we were allowed to stay up later than usual, but not late enough to see everything! The fireworks were the best and still are. This small town spends outrageous amounts of money in the most fabulous displays. Even thirty, forty years ago fireworks experts would come from far away places...Italy, for example.

The floats were amazing and so well designed and constructed. You couldn't tell they were produced locally. They could rival anything presented anywhere in the world, I'm not kidding! A couple of years ago, there was a Chinese theme float with a huge fire-breathing dragon! All the revelry comes to an end on Ash Wednesday.

In Curaçao, the party starts weeks before with the Tumba Festival...yes, they have a contest to select the Carnival theme song! The whole island participates in one way or another: you attend the festival, you follow the developments on television or you actually compose a song. Then there is the jump ups, literally groups of people jumping up to the music for weeks before the actual celebration.....rehearsals for the party to come. Let's not forget the year of preparation for the Grand Marcha, that takes place on the Sunday! Floats, dancing in the streets, music everywhere..... people even wish each other Happy Carnival!! Then King Momo is burned on the Tuesday night.....Mardi Gras....... and the party comes to an end.........until next year.

So the fact that here in Miami hardly anyone notices this celebration, can be a bit frustrating, what to do?