fifty

FIFTY years. Holy smokes, my parents have been married for 50 years. Marriage isn't easy, but I feel fortunate that my parents stuck together all those years and provided a home for my brother and I full of love, support, adventure and endless laughter. They have set the bar high for my own marriage and I'm constantly in awe of everything they've accomplished together. We all traveled to Hawaii where they honeymooned FIFTY years ago, only this time the kids and grand-kids were there to celebrate as well. The kids collected fallen plumeria blooms so I could string them together with dental floss to make lei's for everyone, we decorated the cottage, Uncle Nate manned the BBQ, and the kids ran around and climbed tree stumps with their Grandma Bon Bon and Grandpa Dino masks while we sipped champagne and watched the sun set. Happy anniversary mom and dad.

 

 

women's march on washington

"Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."
-Coretta Scott King

Last week I traveled from Seattle to Washington DC for the Women's March on Washington. I had heard amazing stories about airplanes filled with women donning their pink hats, but since the first leg of my trip ended in Charlotte, I only saw a handful of pink hats on my plane. Wearing my own hat however (knit entirely of pieces of pink scrap yarn from the 15 hats I made), got me a seat upgrade and a free glass of wine. I rolled into DC in the midnight darkness on the eve of the inauguration, my taxi driver taking side streets to avoid road closures. The day of the inauguration I was careful to avoid all activity and protests, opting instead to explore the neighborhood and enjoy a long lunch with friends. The morning of the march we spent a laughably long time deciding what to wear, adding layers only to change our minds and remove layers, and change our minds yet again. I know all about music festival attire but protest attire? Not so much. Ready or not, armed with our pink hats, good walking shoes, metro cards, and packs of granola, we set out to the nearest metro station. After letting a few full trains go by, we squeezed our way into a packed subway car, only to welcomed by a woman from NYC who greeted us with "All aboard the pussy train!". After a very crowded and very slow trip, and about the time our collective claustrophobia had reached a tipping point, we were let out of the metro and eventually found our way above ground to overcast skies and cool air. We could hear the voice of Michael Moore over the loudspeaker and slowly made our way to the nearest jumbo screen where we could finally see some of the speakers even though we were 7 blocks from the stage. I got goose bumps listening to Ashley Judd recite “I’m a Nasty Woman”, a spoken word piece written by 19-year old Nina Donovan. I strained to hear Gloria Steinem talk about our collective strength and the importance of working together. We heard Alicia Keys and Scarlett Johansson and the voices of the amazing, diverse women who organized the march. But the one who stood out, the one who brought down the house of hundreds of thousands of people, was 6-year old Sophie Cruz, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, who in the clearest, most confident voice, wise beyond her years, gave us this message: “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid because we are not alone”. The speeches ended and we soon learned that there were so many people in attendance that the march route was completely packed and no one could even move. We ccelebrated the fact that there were far more people in attendance than planned and considered it a victory despite not being able to move and getting restless. Finally, the crowds were starting to move so we jumped into the current and marched. I met people from all over the country, from Florida and Texas, to Portland and Ohio, and Saskatchewan, Canada. At the time I had no idea just how many people were present, but I knew I was in the midst of history being made and it was spectacular. We were on our feet standing and walking for close to 8 hours, and at dusk as the march headed to the White House, we crossed the street holding hands, zig-zagging through the crowds one last time before starting the long walk home.  Exhausted, sore and hungry, I felt like I could have marched forever. Back home, I’m still basking in all that we accomplished from DC to the sister marches across the globe, from Seattle and everywhere in between, knowing that this is just the start.

forty in antigua

The big 4-0 was approaching and even as we boarded our plane in Seattle, I had no idea where we were off to. And trust me, it’s hard to keep a secret from me. It was only while changing planes in LA that I discovered we were returning to one of our favorite places - Guatemala. We first experienced Guatemala in 2006 when we travelled around the country with my family and our trusty guide and new best friend Eduardo. We went everywhere that everyone should visit at least once, from Tikal and the lesser known Quirigua ruins where we stayed in little bungalows deep in the jungle surrounded by Howler monkeys, to Panajachel and Lake Atitlán where we traveled by boat to the little town of Santiago de Atitlán and offered up cigarettes and “fire water” to the evil saint Maximón, to mountain town of Chichicastenango to witness the famous Sunday market.  

We also visited the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, and after spending only 1 day there, we vowed to return. We stayed at our favorite Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, a retired 16th-century monastery, with views of the surrounding volcanos from the pool, and where hundreds of candles lit the hotel every night. For a smaller, more intimate experience, I recommend the Posada Del Angel on the edge of town. We are creatures of habit so we found a few favorite restaurants and bars and kept returning for more. The meals we had at Izakaya were some of the best I’ve had all year in Seattle.  The chef and owner got his start working at Nobu, and it’s amazing what they were able to do in that tiny, poorly lit kitchen. I’m still dreaming of the beef and fish tiradito. Guatemala is known for its coffee, and we enjoyed our daily coffee from Cafe Condesa, an institution on the west side of the Parque Central. We quickly discovered the best place to watch the sun set over Antigua and her volcanos, was the rooftop bar Café Sky. Almost nightly we would grab a seat, order a mojito, and on several occasions witnessed the Volcan de Agua spew lava. And legend has it, every year around New Year’s, a priest and hundreds of people hike up Volcan de Agua for an annual soccer game inside the volcano’s crater. As night descended we would make our way over to Café No Sé to hang with locals and young backpackers in this dark, candlelit bar serving cheap Gallo beer, illegal Mezcal, and our favorite Ron Zacapa Centenario rum. There’s live music most nights and a secret bar in the back where you can visit and make your offering to Maximón.

During the day we wandered the streets of Antigua, taking in the famous sites like the convent and ruins of Las Capuchinas, the church of La Merced, the ruins of San Jerónimo and La Recolección, and the iconic Santa Catalina Arch built so that the nuns of the 17th century could walk across the 2 sides of the convent without being exposed to the outside world. We saw a procession for La Quema del Diablo (burning the devil), a tradition held on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, where families build bonfires outside their homes and burn all the bad from the previous year and start anew from the ashes. We travelled to neighboring villages where we witnessed a funeral procession, saw women doing the wash in the public wash pool in Santa María de Jesús, and we were lucky enough to meet up again with Carolina and her fellow weavers at her workshop co-op in the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, where the women make and wear the most exquisite huipils.

Mostly I’m drawn back to Guatemala for the warmth. The warmth of the people and the colors that flood my dreams like a painting. I am in awe of the craftsmanship by local weavers and the intricate, vibrant huipils, each one unique, representing different villages. I love walking along cobblestone streets past low buildings drenched in bright pinks, yellows and blues, past smiling, curious girls selling their handiwork. I love getting lost in the rush of energy, language, colors and smells coming from the market, seeing cowboys hanging out of pickup trucks on their way into town and the ornately painted chicken buses blowing by.  I can’t wait to return.