Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time to start getting ready....

Every year, while we lived in Curacao, I followed the island's tradition and cleaned the house top to bottom. Oh, well, who am I kidding? The housekeeper did that, but I directed her.......back to my point. Homes need a thorough cleaning to welcome the New Year. It is an absolute MUST! So as soon as Boxing Day was over with, we started.

Furniture was moved to really clean underneath, cushions were aired and covers washed, blinds and verticals were dusted or wiped, floors were vacuumed and then mopped, cabinets and cupboards were emptied and cleaned, things were thrown away. Then the garden was tackled, with the help of the gardener ......of course!! Trees and bushes were pruned, lawn was mowed, the roof was checked for dead leaves from our big trees. Everything was hauled away to the dump. All this was nothing in comparison to what others did. Some people painted their homes or tackled bigger repair jobs, anew roof, or a new fence, others washed the walls inside and out with power hoses. The whole island gets into this.

At our home, on the very last two days of the year, sheets and towels were washed, mattresses aired and kitchen scrubbed. It was exhausting...even if I was only supervising! It was also very important to do this right. The New Year had to be welcomed in a spotless home. You are not going to believe this, but I am missing that flurry of activity, the sense of urgency, the sense of accomplishment. Never mind the fact that a clean house means good luck in the New year!

Today I have been gratified to see that the windows of the building are been cleaned!!! There are two men out there...hanging from ropes: very scary! I will not think about it....but it goes well with the cleaning I am giving the apartment on the inside. A lot less to do, but still a big job: more than ever I miss my housekeeper! I still maintain that a good housekeeper is a treasure.

By tomorrow, the place will be ready to welcome 2011 as it should be. Now if I could get my hands on some of the special incense blend from the island and some firecrackers...the Gods of Smoke and Noise will protect this dwelling properly!!! BON ANJA - (HAPPY NEW YEAR) EVERYONE!!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Condo Living....

I have no clue how condo living would be in Curaç high enough buildings there, so I am speculating! Now, I do now how condo living goes in Miami...not that great these last few days.

Since moving to Miami, almost 8 years ago, we have lived in condos. A splendid idea: no garden to tend, no lawn to mow, no preparations for hurricanes,......the list is endless. So much nicer! Of course, this also comes with getting along with one's neighbors, putting up with annoying ones and knowing when do one's rights end and the neighbors start...not always easy.

In our first building, we were isolated, sort to speak because our apartment was on the corner. Most times I had no idea what was going on anywhere on our floor, above or below. There were the usual moving days, the renovations here and there, but it was rather quiet. The problems there were of another nature: management, foreclosures.... Anyway, it got bad enough that we needed to move.

In March, we moved to the building next door. We are now much higher on the thirty first floor with absolutely magnificent views of the city skyline; as opposed amazing views of Biscayne Bay. Management is helpful, reliable and efficient. Neighbors have been polite, pleasant, friendly.....until these past few days.

The apartment above us has been a source of the noise at all hours of the day for days. Furniture is dragged, doors slammed, things thrown. Last night, it was midnight and they were moving things around. Repetitive complains have made no difference. Here I am sitting at my computer trying to get my messages is being dragged I am becoming rather miffed.

Today I left for the day. Spent my time walking up and down the mall...something I do not enjoy! Visited my sister and then came home, thinking that all will be over. After all, I was told the people upstairs had bought a new apartment and were moving!!! It was on my way in that I learned that they are just visitors: absolutely inconsiderate ones as it is. The apartment has been lent to a family with three children! What kind of children are these? and what kind of parents? Can't wait for them to leave!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas celebrations.....

Yes, it's time to celebrate. As magical as this season is, celebrating here on Miami is a challenge for me. I keep thinking back to Curacao where the celebrations start early: late November with the arrival of Sinterklaas. The sight of the old saint in his bishop robes is so much fun! His trusted helpers with their black faces are a sure sign that the Holidays are at hand. Then there are the early Christmas parties, and yes...they are still called that back there: not much of Happy Holidays, Winter Break and other ways of calling the Season. It's old-fashioned. I like that!

Visiting friends, having a drink or two....a ponche crema (an island version of eggnog, but much better!) for sure, delivering presents and going to the beach are favorite activities. There are parties to end all parties and cozy get-togethers with friends and family. Preparations for the New Year's are on their way early since everyone has to make plans for the celebrations after the tiro (an actual canon shot that heralds in the new year!). Fireworks need to be purchased and kept ready to usher in the New Year with smoke and noise. This assures good luck for the rest of the year.

All this makes the Season just perfect and I miss that. The last few years, since moving to Miami, really, we have traveled during this time. There has been no time (or we have strive not to dwell on that) to miss the known rituals of celebration. This year staying put is making it hard. Aside from our building's party, that was full of life and entertaining.....not much activity in the party department. Lots to do in the city, but with a sense of detachment, sort of impersonal...not very warm. We adjust to everything and enjoy what is offered, but I like traditions this time of the year.

So, what to do? Adopt the traditions offered here? after all that is what I did when I went to live on the island! Or better yet, start new traditions...... It's about time!!! I'll let you know.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's been ages...!!!!

I am sorry for being absent for so long. It's not that I forgot this blog, it is almost always the back of my mind. I know I should be posting, but I let deadlines, family matters and other things get in the way. No excuse, I hear you! So here I am again. Trying to keep this up....

The last month was very hectic, but so nice. Camille made an unexpected visit to Miami. Having vacation days she needed to take before the end of the year......she decided on a Tuesday and was here by Halloween. it was wonderful! we had a ball just laying by the pool, going out to dinner, visiting family. We even made time to go to Marco Island on Florida's West coast. Just a couple of days, but so nice. What a way to spend some time. Walks by the beach, sunsets to die for, good food and company, everyone should go to Old Naples, trust me.

As soon as she left, it was time to go to Panama...again. Taking care of an older parent long distance is not easy. Still, my sisters and I managed to have fun while we replaced nurses, ran errands and visited family. We laughed until we cried at old jokes and new situations. The only drawback: it rained every day! It was humid and the mosquitoes were out in full force. Never mind the gnats....there was water everywhere, it got dark early and we ate too much. We should do it again soon!

Back in Miami, I started with my Christmas preparations, got decorations and started buying presents. Camille is not coming for the Holidays and we are not traveling. That is a first in a long time; so Miami it is and we'll make the best of it! Today we went to our building's Christmas Party. It had a Brazilian theme and it was fun. The food was excellent, the drinks abundant and the company interesting....more about the celebrations in my next post!

Friday, October 29, 2010

My friends visit Miami.....

The last two weeks have been very nice: friends from Curaçao have come visiting. I truly enjoyed that! First came Mary...she is a lot of fun. Never a dull moment, interesting insights in the goings on of the island: tidbits of Life in the Tropics. She was here with her husband and made time to meet me for lunch. We met in Barnes & Noble in Coral Gables, sort of middle ground between her hotel and my house. Worked a treat! Parked there and walked to a raw bar restaurant on Miracle Mile. It was lunch hour rush, but we got great service since Mary had been visiting frequently during this trip! Food was good, drinks and conversation even better. We walked back and bought some little things and said goodbye, until next time she is in Miami. When I go to Curaçao next time she has moved on to Aruba....what to do. Looking forward to her visits!

This week, Elssy came calling. She is a dear friend from year and years. Getting together with her gave me the opportunity to see Mary (different one!) who also lives in Miami and used to live in Curacao...I know, this is a pattern. This Mary and I try to get together regularly, but not always succeed. She travels, I travel, she lives on Key Biscayne, I lived on Brickell Key....Miami is just too complicated. Believe like planning a military operation. Anyway, I met them at Dadeland Mall, accompanied them while they shopped....had lunch. Caught up with the latest island "redo"...couldn't have been better!

I have made new friends since moving here...and I am not one for making new friends; but they can open your eyes to new things. These friendships can also be uncomplicated.....a definite plus, who doesn't like mindless fun? You are bound to try new things too, and why not? Still, old friends, the ones that know you, the ones that can read you and know where are you coming from, can give advise because they know all the circumstances, the ones you can be yourself with at all times....those are priceless!!! So here is to those friends...may they keep coming to visit!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


When we lived in Curacao, Saturdays were not my favorite. After the hectic week, the grocery shopping, the committee meetings, the office, and not that I didn't do fun things: Wednesday bridge, Thursday Happy Hour, Friday at the movies....Frankie went to the office in the morning, came home, had lunch....later, went to play tennis at the club. I usually went together with my friend Kathy for breakfast, wandered around shopping or visiting, came home for lunch....went walking with friends in the late afternoon.

If there was a wedding, a birthday party, dinner with friends, it was a good Saturday. We plowed along, waited. There was the certainty of friends always there, the week was busy and engaging, Sundays were relaxing and there was the beach. Still Saturday was not completely fulfilling. Once the decision was made to move to Miami, I was looking forward to a change in Saturdays......well...NEEE!

When we first moved, we went to the movies every weekend, had drinks at some nice spot, walked around the island after dinner. Not much difference from Curaçao, but Frankie said all would changed once we settled in our new home. I was skeptical, and I was right! As in every place you live, you have to do your own thing, there is no guaranty anyone will look you up.....not even family.

Nowadays, Miami's Saturdays have become a routine: tennis in the morning, brunch, errands or, better yet, in good weather (not all the time!) sitting by the pool. Church, dinner, television..ugh! Do not get me wrong: there are tons of things to do here, it is just you wander sometimes who to do them with. Sharing is not part of this city's culture, I guess. Seems I forgot the Golden Rule: bloom where you are planted!!!. Definitely needed a reminder and should start planning ahead for Saturdays.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rain and Rebirth.....

During the months and days coming up to Curaçao independence rained cats, dogs and chihuahuas. For those of you that know the island, this is rare indeed. The island is more like a desert with a beach; shrubs and bush, some tall trees and nothing of the luxuriant flora seen in other islands in the Caribbean. Everything that looks out of place, probably has been imported: like mango, palm and other fruit trees. Even the famous laraha (orange) used to make the famous Curaçao liqueur, was brought by the Spanish hoping to cultivate the sweet Valencia orange in the sunny island...well, they were disappointed. The fruit turned sour and can only be used to cook or to make the liqueur!

So when there is a really wet rainy season, or it last too long or both....everyone senses something is amiss. This year it has been raining for months, and not the kind of rain that usually pounds the island and dries as fast as it takes the sun to come out. No, this years it has been relentless and heavy, sometimes with awesome displays of thunder and lighting. That is so uncommon, people started to think that there was a reason the heavens were opening up in such a way.....The suspicious mind of islanders, who are always attuned with nature because their lives are so intertwined with it, immediately told them. It gets that way on the islands, you learned to feel the place, catch its vibes and understand the coming and goings. It is an experience, I tell you!

Anyway, it rained and rained and rained......there was flooding and the soil was saturated and the heat got unbearable, the mosquitoes and other flying pest came out in droves. I was there twice this Summer and couldn't believe was as if a wet blanket was wrapped around this piece of Paradise! A few times during the years I lived there, we had the odd long and wet rainy season, but this was really too much. The political climate was also not too cut and dry. There were elections and negotiations to form a coalition government and things were said and done and tempers was something else to watch and all the while it rained!

Finally, everything came to a point islanders understood: 10-101-10 was coming. All these displays of nature and people's behavior were just like a big lying-in......Curaçao as an independent country was about to be born and these were the pains of labor! The rain subsided and the rebirth has taken place. That difficult part over, this new country can take a deep breath and begin its new life. It is time for the people, like loving parents, to nurture and help and cajole and guide their new country into the force it can become in the Caribbean area.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pais Korsow!!!!!

Today is a historic day for that beautiful has become the newest country in the world. The Netherlands Antilles has ceased to exist. This concept was created in 1954 when the six remaining islands under the Dutch colonial rule became an independent partner within the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Boanire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eutatius (known as Statia) and Saba. They became known as: The Netherlands Antilles. This association lasted until 1986 when Aruba negotiated for a place of its own within the Kingdom. The remaining five islands stayed together.

In a world of economic ups and downs and with little natural resources, The Netherlands Antilles found strength in numbers. At the same time, the differences in economic circumstances, size, mentality, language (Curaçao and Bonaire speak Papiamentu as their everyday language, St. Maarten, Statia and Saba speak English) and the fact that they are scattered in the vast Caribbean Sea made for an uneasy union. It's been one long period of disagreements, small frictions and a need for a solution. Finally it has come to this: Bonaire, Statia and Saba are now part of the Kingdom with no independent government. St. Maarten and Curacao are becoming countries in their own right, independent but still within the Kingdom.

At the stroke of midnight on 10-10-10 it was Curaçao's turn. Crown Prince Wilhelm Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima were in attendance as were political figures, consuls, important persons from the island. There was celebration and canon fired, fireworks and, I am sure, a bit of sadness. It is the end of an era. Most people I know have lived under this structure all their lives. A new era has started and the people of the island are full of hope and energy. They are prepared to do a lot to make this work. I have no doubt that they will. As a friend pointed out: a lot of people call their countries motherland, but no other people call themselves children of their country when expressing their nationality. Curaçaoans call themselves: Yu di Korsow, (child of Curaçao) My congratulations to all...masha, masha PABIEN!!!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walking in Miami...

All of you know how I brag about my walks in Curaçao.....I am sure you think me too partial. Well, my husband and I have started to talk early in the morning......and I mean EARLY!!! He goes to work before 8:00 a.m. so we are up and about around Brickell Key around 6:15!!! For the ones of you that know me longer, you know that is difficult. For the ones that do not: I am NOT a morning person. NEVER have been. The idea of having more energy, getting things done better in the morning is absolutely lost on me. I think you have to be organized, no matter at what time you get up.....but that is a conversation for another time!!!

Back to my point, I tend to wander. Walking in the early morning, right. Surprisingly, I am coping rather well! We get out of our building and take a left towards the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The lights are still on, the buildings on Brickell Avenue, dark. There is still some coolness and a bit of breeze. All to be expected, what is amazing is the amount of people already running or walking along the water. Who would have known? With all the talk about obesity and unhealthy habits we hear about constantly!!!! Who are these people and wheat what time do they start?

Anyway, they hurry past us with their iPods or not. Some just look up and ignore the passersby, other offer a wan smile, the majority just passes you by....only a handful would say good morning! Really....Brickell Key is a small island, I mean really small. It is true there are several high rise buildings so the population could be in the thousands, but people are bound to run into each other sometime: in lobbies, in the parking lots, in the small convenient store, in elevators......and even if you didn't:... COMMON COURTESY, MANNERS....

That would never be the case back on the island. People would pass you and say excuse me, greet you with a bon tardi (good afternoon) or bon dia (good morning), there will be jokes shared and, don't tell me it is the same. The fact is there we walked with friends, we made our walks a social thing, we walked for health, but also for fun! Here, we walk, making sure we do something healthy everyday, trying to keep years at bay....but not because it's fun, it's just walking. How sad......I miss my walks along Caracasbaai, never mind the over development.....

Friday, September 17, 2010


The fact that is Friday is enticing to many. It used to be to me too.....but now I live in Miami. I know, many would give a lot to live here, but is overrated! There are places to go, restaurants to explore, theater, galleries, movies. There is the beach, the river, the bay, the sunsets, yes, there are all those things. Unfortunately, there is also the crazy traffic, the rush, the fast pace going nowhere, the lack of warmth, the indifference, the keeping up with th eJoneses. You can choose from so many things to do, that most of us end doing nothing on weekends! Same old thing: out to dinner, movies, walks, galleries....and back home. Not very exciting since there are few people to share the excitement with....

In many big cities this is true, so I don't think anyone is surprised, are you? Of course not! Somehow it is not for me....I yearn for the place where I have true friends, people to share happy things with. Was in Curaçao again, at the end of August. Just for four days, quick trip. Went out every night, played bridge, had long conversations, saw friends I haven't seen in years....and different ones from last time. Is it the fact that life is more laid-back there? is it the fact that you need to make your own fun there and that gives you initiative? I have no clue...but it is more fun for sure!

Since coming back, I have been so, deadlines, the house. No time to really sit down and miss anything. My sisters were both here, lots to talk about, to plan, to laugh about. Now they are traveling, so back to boring weekends. It will pass, I'm sure, but for this weekend: NEEE..

Saturday, August 14, 2010

From a View to a Future

This new image I just posted says so much....just a few years ago, I used to walk in this area every afternoon! It was wild and beautiful and so calm. People came at the end of the day to unwind, to walk to see the sunset, to socialize, really. I did tell you once that on this small island, everything counts as a social event!!

My friends and I made this our private "spa"!! As soon as we left our cars, started up the small uphill path....everything such ebbed away and we were at peace. Once on top, we could turn and be treated to one of the most beautiful sights on the island....Caracasbaai! There was always some yacht, some enormous oil tanker, some small fishing boats gently swaying in the bay. There would be some adventurous people swimming in the small beach and there would be the incredible waters, the amazing blues and the endless sky. The sunset would tint everything in different colors: golds one day, purples another, reds most of the time. I was so happy to just stand there and look.

A friend just sent me this recent picture....and isn't it a picture perfect shot? The place now is so developed, so full of life and movement. There are so many signs of progress, of a future. The quiet bay is now a bustling place. There are houses everywhere, built by people looking for the perfect place, the highest ground, the best view. The could not have chosen anything better. At the same time, I hope they keep in mind the beauty of the place: the waters, the sky. the small beach, the unobstructed view of the sunset. This is still absolutely beautiful and I hope it is kept that way. Can't wait to go, park my car and walk up the highest point, look down and see this span of paradise. Thank you, Alan!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wearing Oranje......

Back from Paradise! Yes, the trip was wonderful and almost everything I expected. Went to the beach, watched the sunsets, went to new restaurants and to old favorites, had drinks on Thursdays, played bridge on Wednesdays, cuddled the new baby, visited my oldest friend (she is 91!), had lunch, dinner, breakfast with friends, talked and talked and listened to all the redo (gossip) !!! It was I expected. One BUT, though. I had to see the dentist and that part is never pleasant. Still, he is very good and things were alright, now I need to go back at some point to finish the treatment. Couldn't be better!

You must be wondering why the tittle of this post. Well, the Dutch have descended on the island as I never expected. There is a veritable invasion....retirees, young couples with children, young single professionals, tourists, investors. Construction sites are everywhere, new hotels, restaurants, businesses. Dutch is heard everywhere and you can see signs of this continuing in the near future. It is the future.....

In many ways, with the new deal the island is getting from the Kingdom, is to be expected. As of October 10, 2010, Curaçao will enter into a new partnership with Holland. Not a minute too soon according to some, absolutely not the thing to do according to others. Either way, it is inevitable since the people has spoken in two referendums and it is a fait-accompli. As in every time a major change comes along, there are divisions, but in general, I think people are pleased with this change. It will work out well for the island in general. The world is evolving into a village, countries are intertwined. The state of the global economy is in shambles, unity in the face of collapse is the order of the day. Smaller nations cannot survive easily and need all the help they can get, so let's be positive about this change.

The influx of Dutch citizens have brought money and prosperity. The fact that tourism has become a vital part of the economy (it was not always the case) has changed the atmosphere of the island. It used to be more laid-back and relaxed, more sleepy-town than tourist haven, more familiar and friendly than hectic and......friendly! That is the part that has not changed much. You still feel like everyone knows you and everyone is truly interested in your answer when they ask: kon ta ku bo? (how are you?). And really mean it when they wish you Bon Siman (good week!) every Monday.

Another thing that never lets me down: the sheer beauty of this small piece of rock laying like a jewel in the Caribbean's Windward Islands. It has been raining, so the approach by plane offers a green mantle covering most of the island. Christoffelberg is lush and beautiful, resplendent in the sun. The rough North Coast is full of life with high waves and necklaces of foam, the South Coast is ringed with small coves and bays of the most amazing shades of blue. The city and small towns are alive with cars and homes and roads. This beauty can't never disappoint! So even if the island is wearing Oranje......this is still Paradise!!!! and I can understand why the Dutch are flocking to it....

Monday, July 12, 2010

The World Cup and other exciting things....

After a month of excitement, the World Cup is over. It ended today in a sad note for us: Dutch by birth or by choice. The team played so well, didn't loose a game, scored when it was needed and even ousted the ever-favorite of the world: Brazil! It gave us hope of having the Cup travel back to the Netherlands.....wishful thinking! FIFA, to begin with, had other plans...I am sure.

Let's see, Brazil, the world's favorite, and Spain, the European champions were put on a collision course....they were to be the final teams standing. The Dutch sort of derailed this......Oh, no!! Not well received, I'm sure, but accepted. Today, Spain faced up against them and...won. Don't like to sound like a complainer, but really...the referee was a total nincompoop. He gave yellow cards up and down, mostly to the Dutch, he ignored things, failed to give corners...what to do? I don't want to think about it today. One thing is sure, this was the third time the Dutch went to the finals, losing every time.. Things come in three, maybe the obstacle is gone....who knows.

On Tuesday, I am going to Curaç looking forward to this trip. I will visit, go to the beach, enjoy my friends, hear the latest gossip, have a ball. Everything has been planned and friends have been informed. Know who, when and why. Definitely, time to relax, recharge my batteries and get back to Miami refreshed!!!! The World Cup will be a distant event by then, other things would have taken its place.....can't wait!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July: the Real Summer Month

Have you noticed that? I don't know what it is, but July says Summer like no other month. I remember when we lived in Curaçao and this was the month everyone that could......went on holiday!!! Curaçaoans are great travelers...and because they live on an island, they have to! Anyway, back to July.... people take vacations at this time of the year, schools are out and life on the island comes to a standstill. Never saw anything like it!

In Miami, July is a very hot month. The days are humid and somnolent, slow and oppressive. IYou have to do things in the morning before the heat of the day really hits. In Curaçao is hot too, but dry. A different kind of Summer altogether. Still, July is the month that says Summer out loud on the island.

It starts on a similar note: there, July 2nd is Flag Day (Dia di Bandera) which means this weekend is one big celebration. With Holland playing Brazil on Friday.......everyone is on a party mood! Here is 4th of July Weekend, celebrations will abound and people will take the time to see friends and family, enjoy the outdoors and the fireworks.

In both places, the rest of the month there will be beach days, picnics, bar-b-cues, long days melting into nights. Everyone that stayed home, didn't go on holiday, would make the best of this time. This when people get inventive and where things are different. In Miami, it seems that staying indoors most of the time is a must. Trips to the movies and the malls would be expected. There will be Summer Camps and Day Camps. That not withstanding, life in the big city stays basically the same: no allowances made because is Summer.

In Curaçao, everything seems to come to an end. There is a sense of suspended animation, when everything just stops. I don't mean children's activities...I mean everything!!! Clubs suspend meetings, nobody plays bridge, certain businesses close and others have Summer hours, people leave work earlier, going out for a drink becomes a must, it is absolutely wonderful!!! I miss that.....but I am trying to enjoy this too.

The view from our balcony is great, the afternoons and early evenings are not too hot up here, so you can sit outside. There are trips to the library and books to read, lazy days by the pool and delicious fruits to eat. Yes, you can definitely enjoy this too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Summer is here! You can tell, even in Miami. School is out, earlier than other places, clouds gather and usually rains in the afternoons, humidity hits the highest levels (sometimes it's the same as the actual temperature), every television station keeps us updated on the latest tropical disturbance. Oh, and we know practically all the storm, yes, Summer is here.

These things combined to make us weary....this is not to say that I am not enjoying the season. Summer has a charm all its own. The longer days invite us to sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature.....birds, insects (the ones that don't bite you!!!), lizards and rodents, if you have a garden. Plants bloom in a riot of colors, you can stay out late into the night. Because our apartment is high above the city and the bay, we can watch the cars go by, the boats glide in the blue water, the sailboats (few!!!) and the cruise ships....the lights of the high risers, the red and orange reflected everywhere at's beautiful.

I know you don't believe me...I have been negative about my new city that is hard to accept I now love it. No, I didn't say that, I still have my qualms with Miami. It doesn't hold the magic that our Dushi Korsow has, it doesn't have the peaceful sunsets, the warm embrace of the evening, the perfume of the gardens, the incredible shades of blue of the ocean, the lay-back lifestyle, the friendly people...... you get my point. What it does have is moments of brilliance, days that are so clear and bright that hurt your eyes, the hustle and bustle that turns into a quiet evening, the busy bay and the river delta so close I think I can touch has its moments!

Summer is here, time to enjoy outdoor living.....alright, we do that all year long here, but somehow, this time of the year it really feels like we should be outside. There is a mood in the air that only Summer can offer and even in Florida, we recognize it!!! On the other hand, it can be that I am so much more positive these days........LOL!!!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

65 Days.......

Now, isn't it amazing? 65 days.....on my gossip and negativity diet! Can't tell you all is fine, or that I have been good every day...Neeee! It's a series of ups and downs, some days better than others, some easy, so hard. One can't never expect to achieve things easily, how would that make you feel? Alright, don't answer that one! Some of you will say it is so much better when we make a resolution and we can achieve it without too much work....But then it wouldn't be the same, would it? We have to work for what we really want, if it comes easy, we don't appreciate it.

Anyway, it's been 65 days. It all started as a lark, I suppose. Some kind of challenge, something I picked up from a wonderful lady on Vibrant Nation. I didn't know how it would work or IF it would work. I still don't know that! Still, the every day challenge to remind myself to look at the positive side of things, make an effort to stop paying attention to gossip and lend a deaf ear to negative comments, has brought some other benefits.....

I now see good things even before I notice the bad ones; I have stopped, most days, listening to gossip and passing it along...and I have really think that what is the use of just complaining about the negatives in our daily life?....we have to change that with our attitude, or offer constructive ways to deal with what bothers us.... Never thought that day would come!

So, yes, this is a good thing. It has not become a way of life yet, but it really makes me feel better. So now I am looking forward to sitting with friends, reveling in their company and reminiscing, relaxing, enjoying. This is going to be a great Summer!!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

These are the times.....

These are the times when I do miss the island, my friends, my former life. After coming back from New Orleans, I came down with a horrible head cold. I have been miserable and alone. Frankie had to travel to Curaçao on I am not doing well. Then Camille is traveling back to London via Newark...and the weather is awful! They just arrived and she called to say the plane moved and shook and it was very unpleasant. Not a good thing for me to know: I am also terrified of flying. I am grateful she has Tim. He is steady and reliable and seems to know how to calm her down. I am also grateful they will not travel again tonight, they will rest and take a flight tomorrow morning, when the weather would be better!!!!

In this not so favorable atmosphere, I received an email from back home. Just a couple of lines to let me know that one of my friends, a dear friend, passed away. It was so sudden and so sad.
I last heard from Marja on my birthday. She was happy and full of plans, leaving for Holland to see her grandchildren, twin boys, that were turning two years old! She was always cheerful always with a smile on her face or joke to tell. She remembered birthdays and important dates in our lives, she came to bridge full of joy and was always pleasant to play with.....I have missed her since I moved. What is happening? have the circle of life caught up with us? Is our group beginning to just .....go? I can't think of that....not now, not yet.

Just this past week in New Orleans, I spent time with Vicki and Nadja. Took pictures to share with our bridge friends back home. It was a happy reunion in the middle of such happy celebrations. It was warm and expected and felt good. Can't believe Marja will not see these pictures, she will not be back on Wednesdays, I will miss her when I go visit in July.

It is at times like this that I miss everyone, the fact that I could drive and visit, get to spend time consoling and reminiscing, go out and have a drink, sit with someone that will understand without explanations....It is now imperative for me to go, it is so important for me to go. Plans that were just forming, nothing concrete yet, have become central. I have to get over this cold, get my deadlines in order and plan seriously! I will miss Marja and I have to see all the others! Then, I will plan a trip to visit Camille, see Thelma, to enjoy time with loved ones!!! That sounds like the perfect plan!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...and then, there are Weddings

In about a week, Frankie and I will be flying to New Orleans for a wedding. I don't like flying, but will not miss trip. You know how it is, can't stay behind just because we have to fly! Especially these days, when so many of our loved ones live far away. Anyway, focus....we are talking wedding here. The bride is the youngest daughter of two of our dearest friends. Nicole was born and raised in Curaçao and while studying at Tulane met and fell in love with Ryan, All American boy. The stuff of romance novels, of romantic we are going there to celebrate their union. Valerie (bride's mother) is originally from New Orleans, Ryan's parents have never travel far, it was just natural to celebrate there. What luck for all of us attending!

Tony and Valerie are having several events and we are so looking forward to them. Also looking seeing friends from the island, hearing about their families, catching up. It's going to be wonderful! As I have said countless times, islanders really know how to celebrate; and be it in Curaçao or in New Orleans, I am sure we are going to have a great time. There will be dancing, laughter, great food and drinks. We will have long conversations after dinner, walk along the lively streets of the French Quarter and there will even be time to relax. It is Memorial Day weekend as well, so we can have an extended holiday.

Camille and Tim are coming over from London. Tim's first encounter with island culture; everyone anticipating how that would go. Frankie and I are also looking forward to spending time with our lovely daughter, we see her so seldom; and getting to know this tall and quiet Brit who has come into her life. So we are excited about this holiday. After the move, the organizing, the settling-in in our new apartment, this is a very deserved time to enjoy ourselves. We are going to recharge batteries, Curaçao style, even if are not on the island!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Birthdays and Celebrations...

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?....well, you wouldn't be wrong. It's just that back in Curaçao, celebrations are important, and there is always something to celebrate! Really, can't think why this doesn't happen everywhere. It makes for such a fun way of life. Does it have something to do with life in a small place or is it just idiosyncrasy? Or maybe is just the fact that there people have a more engaging way of life? Or is it that there people are happier? Which ever it is, it's a lot nicer, trust me!

This week was a friend's birthday. Milan is so much fun, full of life and engaged with the world around her. Much more than most of my friends, I tell you. Every time I think of her, I can see and hear her laughing. Isn't that a nice picture? Anyway, yesterday was her birthday. For days, her husband Alan, who is Frankie's cousin, announced to the world, through Facebook, this coming event. It was a countdown of sorts and so nice.

I am sure the day went wonderfully, she was surrounded by her family and dear friends, enjoying life as she always does. This is her biggest strength. I remember she loves birthdays. When her children were growing up, they had the most fabulous birthday parties. All with a central theme, everything coordinate to the last detail and so much fun. One year there were watermelons everywhere, a soda fountain, name it, she did it. Still have pictures somewhere! She should have gone into business with those ideas, but then, maybe that would have ruined the whole thing.

Last year, I happened to be in Curaçao for her birthday, so I went to her home. She was on the phone, laughing with well wishers, entertaining someone sitting in her welcoming porch, waiving goodbye to passersby....and enjoying every minute. There was coffee, tea and cool drinks, there were pastechis, croket and bolo (meat turnovers, croquettes and cake). Once I sat down, I was served something delicious, she thanked me for dropping by, made sure I was comfortable, all the while making everything look so easy.

This was not an anja será birthday (birthdays ending in 5 or 0), so I am looking forward to that celebration...and if I am around, I will attend for sure: it's going to be great!.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Memories triggered by recipes..

Absolutely, I agree, food is one of the most potent memory triggers. Don't you remember with amazing clarity the dishes you grew up with? don't you sometimes can actually taste them? and when you are far from home, don't you miss the smells and tastes of you mother's kitchen? I knew it!!! So does my daughter Camille.

She has been living in London for almost seven years. I can hardly believe it. It was just suppose to be for the duration of her studies, fourteen months and she'd be back in Boston close to us that had just moved to Miami.....but there is a lot of her mother in her! I adore London! Anyway, she fell in love with that fabulous city, finished her Masters, made friends, got a job and flat...and stayed. I don't think she herself knew for how long, it just felt right at the moment and things moved on from there.

All these years later, with more experience, a job she loves, a new relationship and a truly open mind....she is still there! I am sometimes jealous, she went for what she wanted, even when it has not been always easy. Anyway, I could move there myself, but with age comes caution....
I digress, as always. We are meeting in New Orleans in three weeks to attend a wedding. Camille is also looking forward to a visit with some friends that studied with her in London. It sounds like we are in for a treat!!!!

Today, she asked for some things she wants me to bring her. There is always something she wants from the States..... but she also asked for a notebook with recipes!!! Let's face it, she dabbles in cooking, but is not very interested. She likes entertaining, but is not going to spend the day preparing anything, no matter who is coming. Takes after me in that department too!

She wants the recipes for things she misses, dishes I used to make at home in Curaçao. I took out my recipe books....yes, I have a few. I looked through them, saw the recipes she wants, read others, sat imagining the way it was back then, when I thought we were going to live there forever and my house will always be home for my family. It made me so sad.

There is the book the American Women's Club gave me when I left, copies of which I signed for so many members that left before me. Saw all the messages written by my friends...not a good idea on a Friday afternoon. There are also the recipes that I don't make anymore. They are suddenly important again: Camille wants them!!! I have changed my way of cooking, new recipes, easier dishes, after all is only the two of us......but I remember.

I am going to make this a work of art. I'll include recipes, anecdotes, pictures, advise. I will make it so that she will laugh and enjoy every one of the recipes.....even if she doesn't really become a great cook. After all, London has great restaurants!!! Still, cooking makes for a great way to share memories and food binds us with our past. I am going to enjoy this!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Koniginnedag and other celebrations

Koniginnedag is Queen Beatrix's Birthday. Not her real one, but the one as queen. She ascended to the throne on April 30th, 1980 on her mother's , Queen Juliana's, 71st birthday. Every year The Netherlands and Dutch subjects around the world celebrate with gusto. This year's Queen's Birthday came and Dutch subjects around South Florida gathered at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach. Our Consul General, Lucita Moenir-Alam, decided to have the annual party at a larger medium since it was her last. She is being transferred to Trinidad-Tobago as the ambassador of the Kingdom. An honor indeed and one richly deserved. I have known her since she was working at the Foreign Office in Curacao. I was working for the Business Journal, a small newspaper on the island, writing a series of articles on successful women. I interviewed her and was very impressed......positively sure she'll go far. She has.....

I digress, as always. The whole point of this is the celebration....and it was a very nice one. There was good food from Holland, exotic drinks from the islands and good company. There was a mixture of Dutch, Antillians, friends of the Netherlands, diplomats and the group to which I belonged: Dutch passport carrying citizens that are proud to be included in the Kingdom. Yes, yes, I do hear you! Kingdom? you'll say. What is this? in this time and age?. Trust me, it makes you proud to have received the honor to be Dutch. Aren't you proud of your country? what if you became an American citizen? are you proud of that?....see? On to other things, then!

Celebrations this time of the year are plentiful for me. There is Easter close by, then my birthday, then Queen's Day and then Mother's Day. Somehow they all come together in the Spring and really make for a wonderful few weeks of cheers. I look forward to each one of them. All would have been celebrated in a bigger fashion if I was still living in Curaçao, but thankfully, I can still celebrate all of them here!! Well, most of them....I can't celebrate Labor Day on May 1st; for that I would have to get back to the island. This year the celebrations took four days!!!

Don't kid yourself, public celebrations are as important as private ones, especially in Curaçao. I have to say that there are few places on Earth were you can have equal time to both. Take this past weekend: a grand flea market in the center of town, an International Food Fair at a tennis club, vendors and street fun all over the city, days off for schools and government offices, private ones as well, fireworks and private celebrations at the beach or at people's homes. This weekend rivals Carnival! When it comes to celebrating, this place has no equal. I do miss that and hope one day to celebrate the meantime: on with the party!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New decade, new attitude.

There, it's in black and white...if not in paper. Attitude is everything, I believe. Not in the way most people take this: sort of challenging, edgy, in your face...NO, I mean positive attitude! That is my goal in this new decade I have just started.

Since I decided to go on this gossip and negativity fast, this have moved fast. I feel energized. You have to put an effort, of course, but the rewards are great. Relaxation will come as well....or not since I am a worrier by nature. BUT this is so worth trying!

My big birthday came and went. I was surprised how many people remembered, how many others actually paid attention to the Facebook reminder and posted something, how many called, emailed and showed they care. It was a realization, since I usually think the worse first... called me skeptic. This year, and maybe because of my positive attitude, things went differently!!! One more reason to continue with the fast.

I have stayed away from gossip, most of the time. I have reigned in my desire to have an opinion on everyone I get in touch with, or give a report on people I meet. I have decided that time could be better used in pointing out the fun I had, the good news that person shared. Not easy sometimes, I tell you. Most people want to talk about....well, other people! Stirring the conversation away from that is a challenge at times. One doesn't want to offend anyone. So trying has been, well, trying.

Then there is negativity. You know that not everyone has the ability to be positive and sometimes your encounters are a bit drab. Tell me bout it, I have been a recurrent pessimist. You know exactly what I mean: there is not a silver lining in your dark cloud and you tend to see the bad first. In the real world, sometimes you need to console and to reassure, or simply you cannot avoid bad news. This is different from just complaining and dragging everyone down with you. Again, not easy, but I have managed with some far!

So here's to changing attitudes, to starting a new decade with a new outlook, to have something better to do with your time and to enjoy life to its fullest!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birthday Week!

A week you'd say...I can hear it now. There she goes again, unpredictable. You might be right, but why not? My birthday is on Friday....I'll be older than I would like to admit, but feel better than I thought I would at this I'm celebrating!!! Not with a big party, that involves work and little enjoyment, not with any of the rituals we tend to have on these occasions, NEEE! I plan to do things for me, because I like them, because I enjoy them, because I feel like it!!! A bit of selfishness is in order, I think.

Women tend to try to hard on themselves, trying to be everything to everyone in their's an ingrained mechanism we don't know how to shake off. Well, I am trying to be positive, remember? trying to "dish the bitching".... This includes being nice to myself. Someone said, I believe it was Dr. Christiane Northrup, "Women are here to serve, but they are NOT the main course"!!! Couldn't have said it better myself. So, I would go on with my home routine this week, but :

I will laugh more often
Keep up my negativity and gossip fast

Move to the music whenever I hear it

Start my day with a moment of gratitude

Go walking as meditation

Keep in touch with friends

Pamper myself

Have to remember that I cannot control the lives of my loved ones, consequently, I have to accept that there is more than one way to live a life! That will bring some serenity to my days, I hope, because it means I shall have the freedom to live my own as I please.....What a great birthday this will be!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moving On......

Yes, this positivity thing is catchy. I have received responses from family and friends, no idea yet how is it going for them. For me, it's keeping me focused and that in itself is a great thing!

This week I have been in touch with friends from Curaçao. Called Laurita first. She is 91 and very active. One of the local newspapers ran a story about her last week. After 60 plus years living on the island, she is a celebrity of sorts and she is so sharp and with it! Told her that since I am planning a trip sometime in July, I want to hear everything that is going on: from political news, to celebrations, to the real estate market to the power outages. Sort of an scout mission. Haven't been there for about a year, a lot can happen even in our small island.

Read some of my friends' Facebook pages, to see what is new in their lives. Emailed others and asked about their plans, making sure they will be there when I come. Simple straight forward queries, it was so much easier and felt great. Moving on, don't need details of things I cannot change or information that is not useful......

Anyway, I am being positive and keeping away from gossip. So if I am missing some of the information in this deal, I really don't care! All I need to know is that the beach is still beautiful, the days are warm enough to spend them outdoors, my friends are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, going out on Thursdays for a drink and there is power at night to sleep in the airco (AC for you in the States!). I want to see as many of my friends as I can, spend time just driving around, eat and drink well, play bridge and walk in Jan Thiel at sunset.

I want to meet the new additions to friends' families, enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and recharge my batteries. It will be just wonderful and it can come soon enough.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Challenge

Well, I have gone and done something I thought I was not going to: start something personal on Facebook. Yes, yes, I remember saying to myself: Keep it light, keep it mostly impersonal, share few things. As it happens, things have changed since I read that inspiring post about the fast on gossip and negativity. I went on Facebook and posted it there and then asked my friends to joined me.

Can't take all the credit for the second part, my friend and fellow blogger, Prati, gave me the idea. It was a bit of a challenge and I decided, why not? We all need to take small risks in life, do some things not everyone would approve of, or simply things that sound a bit strange.....what to do? I think my real friends would expect anything from me. Mercedes, they'd say, can be so unpredictable! So there it is: I have embarked in this fast and are doing my darnest to keep it up. Not easy, I tell you.....especially the gossip thing. The negativity has been, so far, less of a challenge, a bit easier to handle. That can change, I know!

I wish I had discovered this years ago, when I was in my negative period back in Curaçao. Before I discovered Life in the Tropics is fabulous, that I was very lucky indeed to have landed there. Youth! what do we know in our 30s or 40s for that took me so long. Never mind, new page!

So how about it? are you ready to do this? could a bit less negativity make us happier? I am sure. Could a bit less gossip make a difference in our relationships with family and friends? You bet. Could we use those hours we spend in these useless endeavours for something more constructive? absolutely!!! This is sounding better already so I hope you all join me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Solitude and Gratitude!

A few months ago, I gave into the age thing and joined Vibrant Nation "where smart, successful women 50+ connect with others to make the most out of life every day". It has been such a positive experience so far! Members come from all over the US and Canada.....with a sprinkle of expats. I am sure at some point it would develop into something more encompassing. For now, there are plenty of women sharing everything from how to go gray to how to look younger without surgery, from traveling solo to girls nights out, from divorce to widowhood to relationships with younger men. A veritable spectrum of experience and advise. Great reads at the very least! Enjoyable for sure.

Today I discovered a new thread about how to really get more of what you want, it goes something along these lines: I know many (maybe most) of us have an ingrained habit pattern that focuses us on what we don’t want. Changing this pattern can be challenging. And I've seen with myself and my clients that it’s definitely worth doing! Says the author, Bonnie McFarland. It is inspirational and the comments that followed can take you in all directions. What I like most, is the openness of the discussion and the heartfelt advise. One really made me stop and think: " helps to start and end the day (most days) in silence and gratitude. Today I decided to go on a 90 day fast of gossip and negativity". What a concept!!!

I am adopting this! Have no idea how hard it would be, but I am willing to try. It goes splendidly with my new resolve of buying only when replacing...a whole new attitude in life that can only enrich my life. As with this latter mantra, I am sure it will all depend on my behavior, on the way I see things and react to them, on the level of involvement with myself, in the way I meet challenges and work with them. Also goes well, with change is good!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Having fun while being charitable

Having fun while doing good, that is something we always did back in Curaçao. From the American Women's Club fundraisers, which were famous and well attended. We used to have theme parties (Hooray for Hollywood, Back to the 50s, Mexican Night...) and danced until the wee hours. There were theater presentations and Wine and Cheese Parties. The Lions Carnival party signaled the arrival of the Carnival weekend and still goes on every year. The Rotary Club had dances and International Food Fairs. Of courses, there were dinners, trivia nights or beach parties organized by other service clubs. The whole island did some good while enjoying itself....and still does!

I remember looking forward to all those parties, enjoying every minute of them and knowing that while we dance the night away, dine in style under the stars or answer all those trivia questions, we were helping make our island home a better place. It was a great feeling!...and I have missed that.

Here in Miami, our contributions to charity have been in the way of sending checks to different institutions. Once in a while, we would participate in a walk or something along those lines, nothing much fun, really. Until last night........

We attended a Bollywood Nights event at some one's beautiful home in Coral Gables. The place was done with rugs, flowers, carved screens, tents and a stage floating in the swimming pool. People came in their finest, with Indian saris, glass bangles, embroidered slippers. There were henna artists working their magic on everyone's hands. There was a silent auction and a show that included a girl dubbed: Fire Vixen. There was a female Bengal Tiger called Umba and even two camels!

The food was excellent and there was an open bar. Well, that is what I call a real charity event. Everyone gets to have fun while helping. In this case, all proceeds went to Sunil's Home, an orphanage in India...hence the theme of the party. Finally.....We had such fun, maybe because we did some good while remembering old times. May this be a new beginning!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AWC Tattler

It's that time of the month again.....I just received the American Women's Club of Curaçao's newsletter: The Tattler. It is always a pleasure to read what are the girls back home up to. The club, as anything active and vibrant, has changed a lot since I moved away. Still, there are things that remain the same: fundraisers, children activities, advise for the newcomers, beach days, out-to-lunch dates, reports on the weather.....I do miss all that!

Among the many hats I wore while I was a member was Tattler editor, so I can understand the challenges of keeping the newsletter interesting and fun. It was printed at the time, so much more work , but more rewarding I say. I'm grateful I am still receiving it, keeping me in touch, giving me a window into the new club, the changes, the challenges, the fun. Wonderful!

Miami, as you all know, has not become home in the sense I was expecting. It is not as bad as I thought even a year ago, but not the same. So, the arrival of The Tattler always brings back memories and an irresistible urge to buy a plane ticket and go visit!

Things to look forward to this time of the year: beach days when you can stay until sunset with not so many mosquitoes, light breeze when you take your afternoon walk, Queen's Birthday flea market in Punda. People take trips abroad and the island feels quiet and deserted, then Easter weekend when almost everything is closed and you need to entertain yourself...not so hard, really. What lovely times we had every year at this time.

We have plans for Easter Sunday with Frankie's family. I am sure it will be relaxed, fun and interesting....but it will not be the same: no beach day, no laying in the sun drinking some delicious concoction involving tropical fruits and liquor, while looking at the amazing blues of the water, no coming home in the afternoon and going for a walk or visiting friends for a drink. Oh, well....things change and I did say change is good. Let's embrace it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Roller-coaster Weather in Miami, too hot and oppressive in Curaçao

Miami, what can I tell you...2010 has been a strange year so far. So mild, it has people wondering where has the hot and muggy weather gone. The days have been cool, clear and generally beautiful. It is so nice to walk around Brickell Key, evenings are perfect to wander around the neighborhood, go to our favorite restaurant, just sit on the balcony. Not at all what we expect this time of the year.

While the rest of the country receives more snow than they can handle, or more rain than they want, South Florida has been delightful...and I don't say that lightly. No need to turn the AC on, some days we actually needed a bit of heat! Amazing!!! Of course, being Miami, this was just a freak occurrence. In the last few days, it has been everything: cloudy and muggy and in the 70s, clear and sunny and in the 60s, breeze and cool and hazy, warm and dry and in the 70s: roller-coaster weather for sure. Hope Hurricane Season treats us well this year......but who knows.

In Curaçao, though, things have not been going well, weather wise. Reports say that it is too hot, not a breath of air most days. Muggy and sticky, something rare on the island especially this time of the year. This is Lent, when the cool breeze is omnipresent and it's beach weather, well, more than usual! I wonder how did they manage with the Regattas.

Comparing again, I haven't done this in a while. Still, it needs to be done. My friends are commenting about it, or complaining...It is absolutely not the usual thing: no breeze during Lent? How is that? Should we pay attention to all those that tell us Global Warming is most definitely affecting world weather? should we start paying more attention to our carbon footprint? Or should we just ignore the whole thing and take this year's changes as they come.....what to do? Indeed things are so different this year. We will have to keep an eye on these developments. Roller-coaster weather, maybe not only in Miami, but around the world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Changing times.....

Did I tell you that this is the time to change? did I mention that I have become more and more aware the if one doesn't cannot be happy? I have no clue when I came to this sort of sneaked up to me in the last few weeks. Maybe it was the move to this new apartment, the new view, the fact the the weather is still cool in mid-March, that my friends on the island are not always in touch lately. Or is it the fact that I don't think about it in the same way.

I still love it, I still think I can move back, but somehow I don't expect it to be the same or to have the same life if I ever do. There, I said it. Isn't that something? It has taken me all these years of yearning to be back, all these years of writing about it, dreaming about it......maybe it is a natural progression, don't you think? It is definitely NOT that I have started to love Miami....NEEEE! I am relatively sure that that is not in my stars. I have a new appreciation for the city, I recognize that it has its charms and its glories, I have to accept that this life has not been as I expected, but it hasn't been bad either. That's a weight off my shoulders!

So change is GOOD. The view from my balcony is so different, but in a way, just as beautiful. The layout of the apartment is so different, but it's convenient and flows easily. The marble floors give the place a warmth...even when they are so cool to the touch. The black marble kitchen counter tops gleam in the fluorescent light, the big sliding doors open to the sky...we are that high! Changing places has opened a whole new world for me.....

I did such cleaning since I moved. Several boxes are piled around the apartment full of things I really don't need anymore or would like to replace. There is a sense of expectation about this: buying to replace... Another change that I am relishing. This is definitely a good thing. Then there is the age thing. I am having a big birthday this year and thoughts of mortality, of realizing there are more years behind than in front of me...bring change into a new plane. YES, change is fabulous and I am enjoying it!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Never ending task......

Yes, that is how I feel about this unpacking business. I mostly like to work on my own because I know how I want things......but this is ridiculous. It's been a week since I started unpacking. Everyday I do more than I think I would, I throw out boxes and papers, I pack what I'm giving away and I still have not finished. Do you think, maybe, things are multiplying? Wouldn't that be something.....and wouldn't a bit of help be welcome?!

I have found things I have not seen since they were packed in Curaçao......and then I decide to throw them away! The move then was a bit more chaotic, more traumatic, so that is why I kept so much. For whatever reason, I didn't want to let go of anything last time. Trying to hang on to the good life, the good times, the life that was changing. Nowadays, I am sure of what I really need, what is it that I can keep, what I want to be part of my baggage from now on. It feels great, Prati is absolutely right. Downsizing is liberating.

Now, this never ending process will come to an end sometime, right? and then I would be just organizing what is left, putting paintings in place, moving the end tables, shifting the computer desk, getting more books out or simply rearranging the kitchen cabinets or the linen closet. That is good too, because I will find more things I can do without and next time I move it will be easier. Or I would be moving to another country and there would be expert movers packing everything away, and unpacking at the other end!!

I absolutely miss my housekeeper...she was so helpful back then, seven years ago, during my last move. Nothing escaped her, she was on top of things and helped with everything: from the garage sale to the selection of items to pack, to answering the phone and keeping people at bay when I was exhausted. She is a treasure, I wish she was here...LUUCYYYYYY!!! I would call and she would appear with a cup of tea or an iced cold drink, a smile and a word of encouragement.....Such is Life in the Tropics, I want it back!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What a difference a week makes.......

Remember that song: "What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours...." Alright, I might be dating myself, but it applies to my life these days. On Monday we got the keys to the new place, from then on everything moved so fast that I had no time to think. I finished packing whatever was left, Frankie contacted the movers and we just move on......

The movers came on time on Wednesday, prepared to move everything in a couple of hours, after all we were only going to the building next door......of course NOT! Murphy's Law took effect: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". The elevators in both buildings shut down at the same time, it took 2 hours to fixed them and the move was delayed. Then there were the rules of moving on Brickell Key: no big truck in the underground parking, no moving after 5:00 p.m., no this and no that.....what can I say. Most things were just pushed along from building to building. What a way to move in the XXI century. These are the things we put up with to have a peaceful existence in this small oasis in the middle of the city!

Anyway, things progressed at a slow pace, but most things were moved on time. Unfortunately, my family and I had to do several trips to bring what was left behind....not exactly what I wanted to do, but we had to leave the other place! To make things worst, it's been so cold (for Miami, that is) so with being exhausted, walking back and forth and unpacking, I just go sick. This morning I have a cold and have not been myself.

The place is larger and has beautiful marble floors and expansive bathrooms. The balcony is bigger but faces Downtown Miami, a bit of the glorious bay to one side. No morning sun to warm the glass doors and windows, so the chill of the night takes its time to dissipate, but I'll get to see the sunsets...I think....and in Summer it will be much cooler than other places.

Every time I move, I try to get rid of stuff....I have been faithful to that and have a couple of boxes so far ready to be taken away. I also have dozens of boxes still packed, things that would not fit because of the different floor plan or not enough walls for all my packing is still been done to put all that in storage!!! I was hoping to bring things up, well, that means I have to get rid of more stuff. Can't wait to have everything in place, put my feet up and relax!!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Yes, we were approved and we get the keys on Monday! What a relief....The only thing that cannot be avoided is packing. Regardless of how I feel about moving, I am doing some of the packing for this move. Why? well, we are moving to the building next door...besides I thought we didn't have so much!!! Think again. It seems that we have accumulated so much in these seven years! and I thought we were being restrained, what was I thinking? Need to stick to my plan: buying only if replacing; getting rid of things that are not useful, beautiful or loved.

True, the packing has not been not so awful (right!) because we are not moving overseas or even across town. Still, not one of my favorite things and now I am beginning to hate it!!! Maybe hating is too harsh a word....or not! Everyday, I wake up, put together some boxes and start filling them up. No, not randomly, just a sort of organized chaos: whatever is close to where I am, goes in the same box! I mark what's inside, seal it as best as I can and move on. The Universe will take care of them and nothing will break.....fingers crossed.

Every couple of hours, I take a break and reward myself (a cup of tea, a visit to Facebook, a chapter on a good book, a phone call, a snack) for a job well done. This is an idea put forth by my daughter Camille's boyfriend. Don't you love it? It really works because you are never too exhausted and have time to look at what you have accomplished and pat yourself in the back. Very important when you are alone in the house and nobody is cheering you on! One more thing: at the end of the day my fingers are so dirty: black ink from newspapers I use to wrap the breakable takes several washings to get it off. On the other hand: I am doing manual labor and can't think.

This weekend I was expecting my husband and son to help. Frankie is here, amazingly enough he is packing too! Frank is absent so far, but hopefully he'll show up at one point. They both can help moving the boxes out of the way so we can move around the house. The heavy lifting will be done by the moving company sometime next week.

Then will come the next chapter in this saga: the unpacking. Mostly to be done by me, I guess. Now, both the men in my life should be aware that they are expected to help without being asked too many times. We'll see how that works!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Place...

Yes, we have found a place we mind you, not LOVE! In these hectic times, with so much going on, that will do. We have put an offer, need to apply to the condo association, have to be approved, pay a ransom in fees and, if lucky, we will be moving....sometime. Let me explain all this. Since moving to Miami, we have been in the same place. It was a rental building, very well managed and perfect for our needs. Enter condo conversion!!!!

About four years into our lease, the building was sold to developers. A group of people that were more interested in making money than in getting this place in any semblance of efficiency. That was the way, when the housing market was at its peak and everyone was out to make money. Many actually did. Prices were outrageous, but we out in an offer. After all, we did love the place and I dreaded moving! Bad idea, we realized the place was not going to be managed as we would have liked, so we decided against it. Fortunately, the person that bought the apartment wanted it for investment and we could stay!!! I was so relieved!

Changes were not exactly what we expected, but we had nothing to do with that so we ignored them. Not so good idea.....anything that happened next was a disaster. The overinflated housing market bubble burst and property values plunged. Everyone and its brother (or wife!!!) scrambled for cover. Mortgages went into default and places went into foreclosure. Still, our apartment was alright...we didn't hear anything. Life was good in this corner of Miami and we were enjoying it! We were glad we have not bought a place in the area.

Enter papers of foreclosure for this unit! Where was that coming from? and how long did we have to make up our minds about moving? Retained a lawyer who advised us to wait for more specific news and expect to be moving in a couple of months. Sigh of relief! We went to London for the Holidays, then went to visit my mother in Panamá...ignoring the inevitable!!! Of course we looked at places and started to pack some things. Still, we were hoping for a resolution without too much hassle. Something along the lines of staying in the same building, for example. Definitely on Brickell Key.

Well, we didn't know the market in Miami. Finding a new place in the area we just love proved to be very hard. Some of these owners have not been reading the papers: prices were just insane. The more we looked, the less possible it seemed that we would find what we where looking for. On the other hand, this gave me a more complete idea of life on the island. It's still the best place to reside in Miami!!!

At the same time we were looking, the owner was showing our apartment. Or I was.....very annoying, but necessary. This gave me more incentives to look......but not for finding. I hate moving! We stayed seven years here and I was not going to move in a rush to a place that I might not like. I did not want a place that was a compromise and then have to move in a year. No way, I thought.....when I move, I want to be happy in my new place. And this is only renting, I hate to think what would happen if I was buying!

We looked in our building and looked everywhere, but were running out of time. Then things in our building turned a bit rocky.......I don't want to know details. A move to another building was now the only answer. I was a bit disappointed, because I do like the views here, the building is laid-back and it would be easier to move to just another floor! I know, that was compromise, but I was getting tired.....

This past week, we saw a lot of places. I took notes of everything I like and dislike on every visit. What we liked, we saw again and took more notes. Frankie went as an observer. Moves have always been something he avoids: he'll pay for them, but has no interest in how it's done. I do details......harder and more tiring. This was not going to be different, so why have arguments....go with the flow, Mercedes!!!

Anyway, we saw a place again yesterday. It is the closest we would get to what we want, without buying. We like the floor plan and the fact that is larger than our current place. The kitchen is an issue, but I'm not crazy about cooking, so I'll live with it. The views are alright, but we don't look into the bay directly, we face the city and just a sliver of the port. We face north this time. Some sun in the afternoon might be an issue in the Summer....I'll live with that too because it means I might see the sunsets!!! Absolutely trying to be positive here.....

So a compromise it is and we seem to be happy about it. Now we have to wait to be approved. Let me tell you, applying to the CIA should be a breeze after this. When I said I was not moving alone, I was asked who with: boyfriend or husband? Husband, I assured the lady at the office. Oh, she said, we need your marriage certificate! Really?, I have no clue where it is and can't make it to Boston to get a new one, would my passport do? It's in my married name, yes, but we'd need both, she said. I am still to sit down and answer the questionnaire. This is definitely NOT Life in the Tropics! Will keep you posted.......

Friday, February 19, 2010


Not long ago, my good friend Prati (in Mumbai!!) moved into a new place. She has vowed to put all her belongings in two suitcases and rebuild her life after separating from her husband. I find that resolution very brave.....She is smart, young and attractive, has a job she loves, a family and a group of friends that are 100% behind her. I have no doubts that she'll succeed. She's blogging about it and I am so proud of her! I know, you are wondering what does this has to do with blogging about the Tropics.....well, as it happens... A LOT!!!

Since moving to Miami, my husband and I have debated about buying a condo here. First, it was the ridiculous prices for what was offered, the fact that we didn't know how long we would stay in the area, our children live far from here and are not fond of living in Miami. Later it was the fact that Frankie knows he could do his job anywhere, so why tie yourself to a place. Then we realized retirement is no longer something light years away: we are not getting any younger!! So we stayed in our beautiful apartment with gorgeous views to Biscayne Bay and hope for the best; after all Miami was booming...... then the bubble just burst!!! Oops, things were no longer sunny in the Sunshine State.

The apartment went to foreclosure and we are looking into moving out of yesterday!! I am going berserk looking at places, taking notes, looking for spacious dwellings with great views in the secluded and peaceful area we know lived in: Brickell Key. I refuse to move anywhere else!!! Not easy, I tell you. Life in the Tropics was never so hectic....I miss it! Some of my friends are suggesting moving back....I'm considering it, or not.

All the places I have seen are great, ones larger than others, but nothing perfect yet. We need a place with enough room for all my things, the ones I have in use and the ones I still have in storage. When I moved to Miami, I sold, gave away and threw out so much. I thought I was done downsizing. Unfortunately, it seems I still have too much, but this time I have no clue what I would get rid of...and this is where Prati's idea comes into place!

You would tell me that it's not the same. Prati has not yet accumulated anything close to what I have...and you might be right. In 36 years of really can accumulate, trust me. Still, that is not the point. I once read the you should have in your home only: what's useful, beautiful or loved. I am able to decide on the first two: useful and beautiful.....but have a hard time trying to get rid of things I love. There are so many! Especially things belonging to my children, maybe because they have been living away from home for so long and have yet to settle in their own homes......if that makes any sense.

So back to Prati's idea. I have decided for now that I can start with baby steps: no more buying unless I am replacing, going through boxes and selecting certain things instead of keeping everything I brought from Curaçao, giving things away to people that will appreciate them and selecting some of them to give to charity. Easier said than done, I'm sure, but I will look to Prati for inspiration and will keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday....

This morning, as I switching through channels, President Obama appeared talking about another stimulus package (he called last year's: Stimulus # 1) I was ready to switch channels......when the camera focused on VP Bidden. There he was, proudly wearing a small cross of ashes in his forehead. Yes, the VP is Catholic. Reminded me, right away, of all those years when we finished partying at dawn and went directly to church to get our ashes before crashing in bed! I am sure thousands did that this morning too.

Carnaval in Las Tablas is serious business. We all take part and we all have danced the nights away, sang a bit too loud, seen too many fireworks.....and YES, drunk a bit too much. You are only young once, they say, but when it comes to this celebration, age is not important. Since it is not a national holiday, people are back to work, barely (except in small towns where things don't get back to normal until next weekend!). There is a sense of emptiness and the place is strung with red paper from the firecrackers, remnants of material used in the floats, customs, empty bottles. The picking up job is monumental! All will be done in time and in preparation for the second round of festivities: first weekend in Lent!

In Curaçao people are getting back to normal too. Since the festivities did not last until dawn, Momo only takes a couple of hours to burn, many went to work today. Most stores and business are open and life has resumed its rhythm. There is an emptiness there too, but it will soon be filled with preparations for next year's Carnival or another event. The island is never idle when it comes to celebrations.

Here in Miami, we Catholics went to church for mass and to get our ashes. We then went about our business and then home. No sense of emptiness from something we have not had...what a waste! What is the purpose of asking forgiveness, for being told we are ash and to ash we shall return IF we didn't get to celebrate BIG, just one more time before Lent? For everyone else, this was just another Wednesday. There is no real fun here, I tell you.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!!!!

Today is Mardi Gras, literally Fat Tuesday, the last day of revelry before Lent. Exhausted celebrants around the globe, from New Orleans to Venice, from Curaçao to Rio, from Panama to Nice are going to take to the streets one more time. Not here, Miami is not included in these places.......sorry!

Curaçao is preparing for the Night Marcha, that will culminate in the burning of Rei Momo, who has reigned over the festivities since the start of the Tumba Festival a few weeks back! The parade will wind through the streets of the city in the coolness of the night, with thousand of fairy lights attached to floats and customs. A sight to behold! The music will play and the people will dance until Momo is burned.....He will be back again next year to start the celebrations all over again. In the Tropics life is a party, at least some of the time.

Las Tablas, the small city in Panamá where celebrations are famous all over the country, is in one more frenzy of activities. The women will wear the national custom: Pollera. Their heads covered with flowers made of shiny beads and silver thread, gold jewelery adorning their necks and the flowing customs swirling to the rhythm of the music. The dancing will go on and on until everyone is and fireworks in the background. Just before dawn, in the town plaza, one more barrage of fireworks will light the sky and the thunderous noise will wake up anyone who has retired to sleep......and then it's over. Ash Wednesday is here!

How much fun I have had in both places throughout the years. How much I miss this crazy celebration that ushers the more subdued and religious activities of Lent. That is the whole purpose: have fun till you drop before you give God some of your attention. What a wonderful tradition!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Carnaval Sunday/Grand Marcha

While we were celebrating Valentine's Day, people in Panama and Curacao where celebrating another day of Canival/Carnaval. In Curaçao, everyone was up early, never mind the late night celebrations. Those who were to participate in the Grand Marcha started getting ready with their customs, make up... The rest got ready to take their places along the parade route.

For several days, people built places from where to watch: some shade, high off the ground so you could see everything, enough room to rest, put drinks and food out.... Some space in front to go down and dance to the music, mingle with the participants and socialize with friends. So much fun! Whole families spend the day doing this. Hats were worn to keep the sun off faces, but still there would be many sunburned faces at the end of the day. I can hear the shouts, the laughter...can close my eyes and be there.

In Las Tablas, third day of celebrations and people are living on adrenaline.....can't stop now! Most everyone got up early: throwing water at each other, dancing in the streets, having a drink, (maybe...even if it's early!) and reveling. The streets are littered with red paper from the fireworks, and there are fireworks as well during the day forming a background of music and crackling that is the sound of Carnaval. In early evening the Queens would be out in their floats, dressed beautifully elaborate customs. Townspeople are hiding in their homes!

I feel elated and exhausted at the same time when I think of this, but truly miss it and wouldn't have minded being there either place, today!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Celebrations continue....

Not in Miami...with the end of the Super Bowl weekend, things are back to normal. People that celebrated are back to their routines, the ones that didn't...are doing the same! Nothing too much to talk about when it comes to Miami, at least for me. One bright spot, though, the weather has been great. My morning walks are just perfect and relaxing...which I need!

Now, back in the land of fun: last night was the Teener ( a sort of Dutch term for teenagers) Parade in Curaçao. Most of our friends were out celebrating along the route. In Las Tablas, the Queens were crowned, the music played all day and fireworks lighted the sky.

Today, people are out in the streets throwing water at each other and with faces covered with blueing (the one people used to put in clothes to whiting them, remember?). Añil is called back home....I am dating myself! In the late afternoon, everyone will get dressed, go out to the tuna, Panamanian for "dancing parade". After that, more dancing until the wee hours....In Curaçao, people are going about their business, getting ready for tonight big bash in Otrobanda. People will flock to Plaza Brion and party to the sounds of tumba until late. My friends will be there! Drinking, from moderate to heavy, is going on as well. Only New Orleans has anything similar to these celebrations.....should try that once too.

During all this fun, I will be sitting here blogging, then running errands......what a difference!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Carnival....or Carnaval!!!

It's that time of the year Curaçao and in Panamá. The island is just full of parties, jump-ups, song and dancing. Carnival is here! The small country with the canal will features parties and street parades in every town and city. In the days before the start of Lent, all anyone can think about is : FUN!!!

In Curaçao, the official song has been picked and is heard all over the island. The Queen has been crowned and the Prince and Pancho are ready....all the groups have their customs, have organized their drinks and food for the duration of the Grand Marcha and people have prepared their trailers from where they will watch and enjoy the festivities. These lined all the proposed route of the parade. Tomorrow the parade for the children or Carnaval di Mucha will take place.....the beginning of ten days of fun!!!

I do miss these things here in Miami, where the big celebration is this weekend's Super Bowl! Don't get me wrong, love American football and would be rooting for the New Orleans Saints! Still, a bit of a let down when my friends back home (both the island and the country!) are gearing up for a week long celebration to culminate with the burning of King Momo on Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday, ending the Carnival season that started as soon as the year began.

In Panamá, celebrations will kick into gear this coming Friday with Queens being crowned in every town and city in the country. In Las Tablas, where my mother lives, hoards of people will descent on the town and take over the place for about a week. Local residents either take to the streets and embrace the revelry or just hide in their homes, beach houses or country homes. The roar of the music and the display of amazing fireworks will be a constant background to anything that happens there these days. It is an experience to remember.....

So here it's to Carnival (as in Curaçao) or Carnaval (as in Panamá) may I have the pleasure to experience these celebrations soon!!!