Tuesday, May 27, 2008


This past week brought some of my friends to South Florida, and that was wonderful!!! Marja was here with her daughter Carina attending a Spa Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Carina is opening her own spa in Curaçao....

As busy as they were, they made time to have dinner with Frankie and I on the Sunday evening. We met at Espanola Way, on the Beach. A quaint place, made for tourists of course, but still very nice. The food was alright, the wine great and the company.....fantastic! We talked of everything, which was fantastic. Have I told you that I really love it when I see old friends? people that know me so well, I have nothing to explain or clarify.... They got me up to date with other friends' lives in a familiar and comfortable sort of way.

Then on Monday I drove all the way to Aventura Mall to meet them again. Shopping is still one thing everyone from the island does when traveling abroad. There is always something you can't find on the island, or is cheaper here, or it's new. I remember those times so well. It took me forever to get there by way of Biscayne Boulevard...I hate the expressway, as you know, but so worth it! Marja and I sat and had a drink, yes on a week day, while Carina shopped.

We drove back to their hotel, had another drink and talked some more and had fun. Except for the bartender who got mad at us because we asked him to turn down the music! He was so rude saying he couldn't work without music, so he was closing the bar and leaving early! He presented us with the bill and stormed out. Great service..... We stayed there and finished our drinks and then I said good bye, it was hard..... I drove home reminiscing of other times and other places. Still, I was so happy to have seen them.

On the next Saturday, Carolyn came calling. She lived in Curaçao years ago and we have kept in touch through the years. We hadn't seen each other in fifteen years. Since she was visiting family with her mother, we could only get together for lunch. We made the best of it, meeting half way between Lauderhill and Miami...in Aventura! Picked a Chinese restaurant that was conveniently located and enjoyed every minute. As with Marja, there was so much to talked about, so little explaining to do, so comfortable. We want to meet in Curacao in the Fall!!

Finally last night, we met Tony. He was here on his way to Mexico, and had been...shopping with Frankie in the afternoon. We went to our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. It is small and cozy and the food is so good. Tony was full of news about the island, the changes since we last were there, the new places that have opened, the get together with mutual friends. He could give us a better idea of the situation on the island: political, financial and social. For the first time since we moved to Miami, he didn't discouraged me when I said...we should move back! Well, he did say Panama would be cheaper, but I was surprised.

Even though it was a bit sad to see my friends, even though it was hard to say goodbye, I am grateful for those friendships started so long ago that still are so much a part of my life. In times like these, I wonder...is it not written in the stars that I should go back to Curaçao???

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fuel Prices and Frienships....

This makes sense to me, but I am sure everyone else will go........huh? It is quite simple, really... It's no secret that oil price is at an all time high, over $130 a barrel! There is a worldwide outcry, people cannot afford gasoline prices, heating oil prices...or food. Yes, that too has gone up the roof. After all, food has to be transported from farms to markets, from country to country, sometimes across the ocean. Every mean of transportation needs....fuel! and let's face it, there is not enough cheap ethanol to go around.....so oil is the thing.

What does this have to do with friendships, you'd ask. A lot. For expats like myself, who have not lived in their home countries in decades, this complicates things. We have made friends all over the place, we have kept in touch for years and ties have become stronger with time. Technology, that dubious blessing, have kept us in touch with emails, Skype, Facebook or MySpace. Even I, mostly computer challenged, have learned to keep up with the latest developments.

Unfortunately, nothing can take the place of a hug, a touch or a shoulder to cry on. That is only possible if we can see each other. This involves traveling! Every few years, if we can afford it, we will travel, sharing so much during those visits. So, now you can see...traveling to visit friends, meeting them somewhere interesting and new, getting together for special events in our lives are all cherished moments in an expat's life. If airline ticket prices and gasolines prices keep going up......how are we to continue enjoying all this?

When it comes to family, there will always be a way. Children will find they need to go to their parents' home, grandparents will make the trip to see new grandchildren; somehow, we'll manage. I am afraid that we will find doing the same for our expat friends would be more difficult and that is going to be a shame. Sitting here, looking out my window....I wonder how are we going to accept these changes. I'm sure we will ignore them as long as we can. We will keep in touch with the usual technology, plan visits and hope all will be fine...but would it?Can't even think about it without feeling sad. It would not only be age and distance that separate us, it would also be the cost of fuel!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Smoke and Rain, only in Miami!

Amazing! yes, it is true. I have been suffering with allergies for weeks now; cement dust being the major culprit. Headaches and watery eyes and a dry cough. I have been miserable!!! Don't recall anything this bad in years....

As with anything here, I spoke too soon. This past week, some deranged man started a fire in Central Florida. With the dry season still lingering in many parts of the state, the consequences have been devastating. Thousands of acres of land have been burned out, hundred of homes either destroyed or damaged, so many people affected. Today, even the Everglades are in danger of going up in flames.....it would just take a thunderstorm. Did you know that Florida is one of the most prolific lighting producing areas of the world?

So, this morning, going out grocery shopping....not one of my favorite chores and getting worse with food prices out of hand....I encountered a hazy world. It looked as if there were low clouds....but hot and oppressive. It certainly didn't look like rain, I deduced it was....smoke! Of course it was, those fires were out of control and spreading. I later heard that there are a couple of them raging in South Miami-Dade county.

I quickly bought what was needed at the nearest supermarket, never mind prices! Got home just in time to get everything up before the elevators were closed down for repairs........yes, that too happened today. When it rains, it pours...figuratively I thought! Too soon, AGAIN.... I looked out the window and everything looked dreary and a light drizzle was falling. And soon after...oh my...rain!!! Real and coming down in buckets. Couldn't see Fisher Island or Key Biscayne or the bridge over to Brickell Avenue. It looked awful because the smoke was still lingering...how was that possible? Only in Miami. Since I cannot contemplate what this will do to my allergies, I am staying put.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rainy Season is here.......

Yes, indeed the rainy season has arrived. We know this not because it has been raining...even though we have had thunderstorms and showers in the last few days.... we know because the humidity levels have reached unimaginable highs!!! Today it must be 90 degress with humidity much higher than that. At least it feels that way.....

In our small island, this is an important day: 11th Annual Brickell Key Day. It's a lovely idea and a good excuse, for most, to walk around the island. From the balcony of my 15th floor apartment, I can see the tents, the traffic and the preparations. It looks so festive and inviting; but that is because the breeze can still be felt up here. Can't imagine what it would be like down there. Of course, I will find out soon..... it's time to join the fun!

Well, we went and came back. It was a fine experience. I am sure the organizers thought that it was a great way to encourage community life on our small island. In many ways, that was needed because this place is a melting pot of sorts. People from so many countries from Argentina to Cuba, from Colombia to Jamaica, from Russia to Romania. You hear so many languages being spoken in elevators, parks and the small market.

There were vendors selling everything from paintings to sculptures, from jewellery to ceramics. There were second-hand books, plants and food. In the village green, there were clowns and jugglers keeping the children and their parents amused. There was live music and other entertainers, and of course there were the groups of friends just socializing in the shade. All in all, not a bad day in our small community!

Next year, maybe some reference to the advent of the rainy season should be made. After all, not long after it starts raining another important date arrives: hurricane season!! The beginning of six months of playing hide-and-seek with Mother Nature. She of the willful mind, who keeps us in suspense most of the years, and punishes us in others. Yes, Brickell Key Day will serve to get us in a hopeful frame of mind.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day....or Labor Day in the rest of the world!

Yes, it is...Today is Labor Day all over the globe, except in the USA. Never mind that, the bottom line is that while everyone is working here, laboring at their jobs with the usual American tenacity........the rest of the world is having a holiday.

Talked to my sister Laura, who lives in Venezuela, this morning. She was getting ready to leave Caracas and spend the next four days at a friend's beach house. Friday just becomes a bridge between today and the weekend. Isn't that convenient? Anyway, I would love to do the same! True, you could take a short holiday now...but going to a hotel these days can set you back a few hundred dollars, and gasoline is so expensive, a long drive makes you feel so guilty! Besides, good beaches.... with white sands, clear waters and few people are a rarity on this side of Florida. So, forget that idea!

In Panama, everything is closed today; and, as in Venezuela, Friday will become just part of the weekend! Traveling abroad for such a short period is expensive; so friends and family, I have been in touch with, are planning to take it easy this weekend. Many will go to their weekend houses! Gasoline is expensive there too, but drives are shorter and getting away is important.

In Curaçao, they have five days off this year! Queen's Day was yesterday, celebrating the Netherlands' head of state: Queen Beatrix; today is Labor Day, tomorrow is a bridge that was given a purpose...Ascension Day! and of course, there is Saturday and Sunday. People will travel, if they can afford it, or they will go to their beach houses!!!

Noticed anything in common? besides the fact that the USA doesn't celebrate Labor Day with the rest of the world? Beach or weekend houses!! not timeshare units, not rented hotel rooms....houses, homes, property! Here in the States, having a second home or a vacation place is not as common. Really, how many people here do you know with a weekend house? Isn't that amazing? I am telling you, the more I think about it, the more I conclude: there is a better way of life that is more gentile, slower, healthier and definitely more fun!!!