Category Archives: humor

Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Random Thoughts on Home Leave

Well, we’re back in Washington, DC – the last part of our ‘transitional’ Home Leave, surviving thru the perks of living out of our suitcases since May 19… but you know, not bad at all! :o No complaints on hauling our three children around, departing La Paz, Bolivia, heading to California for some family catch up… taking the kiddos to Disneyland and Legoland, surviving the long lines, the screaming, the cries for attention and for over-priced popcorn… picking up a few family members along the way, driving all of us to witness in loco the magnificent views offered by the Grand Canyon… and flying back to the East Coast… much has happened, and definitely, no time to spare… not even for blogging!

Need to do a better job trying to catch up with our lives… Haven’t had much free time, I must admit – the little ones keep me on my toes, and as any parent around here must know, Summer Break has all of us [parents] pulling our hair trying to find educational, recreational, interesting and fun activities for our lovies, during this time… it’s work, people… and we’ve been doing this for some 5 weeks already.. again… living out of suitcases, staying with family, long car rides… a few car sicknesses along the way… always fun! :o

Now, it’s home stretch – a few days in the DC area, and we head out to our newest work and life adventure – Brasília, the capital of Brazil [yeap, the beautiful country that just put out the most unbelievable performance during the recent World Soccer Cup - don't even get me started on that... as a Brazilian-born soccer-passionate soccer-mom-wife, I'm still recovering from the 'bad dream' many of us witnessed these past weeks...] Our family will be in Brasília for the next 3 years. Husband’s duty, as many wives/spouses here would relate and sympathize... :o

Presently writing from a government-per-diem-acceptpleasant hotel room, packed with my noisy and restless adorable and very understanding little children, enjoying some quite time while I gather my blogging thoughts together [who am I kidding?? And why do we need to have both TVs on, and so loud??] But, all in all, I guess we’re ready for what’s in store for us… let’s wait and see! :o

Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 - not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!

Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 – not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!



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Photography: [Big] Kids, Salt & Fun, where the sky and ground merge!



Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers. It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters above mean sea level.



The flats, located in Southern Bolivia near the country’s Tunupa volcano, and our recent family vacation destiny, make up the world’s largest salt desert.



The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness.



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Photography: Train Cemetery in Uyuni, Bolivia.


It’s said to be gateway for tourists visiting the world’s largest salt flats, the nearby Uyuni salt flat.



Founded in 1890 as a trading post, the town has a population of 10,460 (2012). The town has an extensive street-market. It lies at the edge of an extensive plain at an elevation of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) above sea level, with more mountainous country to the east.




The city also acts as a gateway for commerce and traffic crossing into and out of Bolivia from and to Chile. One of the main attraction, and in our case, for 2 visiting families, with 7 kids, ages ranging from 3 to 12 years old, is the Train Cemetery. :o



The so-called ‘train graveyard’ is located 3 km outside Uyuni and is connected to it by the old train tracks. The town served in the past as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports.



The train lines were built by British engineers who arrived near the end of the 19th century and formed a sizable community in Uyuni.



The rail construction started in 1888 and ended in 1892. It was encouraged by the then Bolivian President Aniceto Arce, who believed Bolivia would flourish with a good transport system, but it was also constantly sabotaged by the local indigenous people who saw it as an intrusion into their lives. The trains were mostly used by the mining companies. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned thereby producing the train cemetery.




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{Weekly Writing Challenge} Ghosts of Christmas Past…

Like many around here, I’m working right now.

Yeap. It’s December 24th, I live in a South American country – Bolivia, to be more specific, and yet, I’m at work – but not for much longer, I dream… We’re all hopefully waiting for some good news from above, letting us know we may go home. and get ready for Christmas eve. At end, in a latino country, it’s more than expected. Large family meals, moms will be cooking all afternoon for the well-deserved supper.

Oh, forgot to mention: I’m also the mom, right… the one who should be at home, cooking a feast, at this very moment! :o

But it’ll get done. Sent my dear husband on a ‘shopping mission’ (did I mention he is not working today?). I’m sure he’ll find everything I’ve asked him to search for. And once I’m home, there’ll be some cooking!

Now, talking about Christmas ghosts. My ghosts of December 24th are all sweet little creatures. All my past Christmas memories seem to be filled with happy moments, even the ones who were somewhat challenging, due to family difficulties… The ghosts in my life are lively and loving.

December 24, 2012, last year. Our first family Christmas at our new Bolivian home. Our household effects [aka stuff being held hostage by the moving company] had arrived. We decorated the house. We had a lit Christmas tree and our bundle of joy had their first Navidad Paceno.

December 24, 2011, we’re in Fortaleza, Brazil. Got to spend Christmas eve with my parents, my brothers, their wives and my niece. Chaotic as any Brazilian holiday should be. Every one talks over each other, and nobody can really hold on a conversation. But life’s still good. Kids running around, screaming… some crying here and there. My parents giving us unsolicited advice on how to raise our children [cause, you know.. we really don't know how to keep 3 children alive, move around every so often, adjust to different countries/languages/cultures...]. And we listened to the advices, while mentally preparing our grocery list for the next day… :o

December 24, 2010, we’d arrived in Recife, Brazil, a couple of months prior. We’d also welcomed into our lives our youngest baby girl, our only child born in Brazil, like her mama. Not much of a shut-eye, restful holiday, especially with a new born, but the ghosts of Christmas were merciful, and allowed our family of 5 to enjoy the season… At the end, after being gone from Brazil for almost 10 years, I was back…

December 24, 2009, welcome to the Foreign Service Family! The Washingtonian ghosts of Christmas were applauding, secretly smiling while setting out their plans for our soon-to-be a full-time nomadic troupe! And we got trapped home, thanks to the East Coast Snowmagedon! :o

December 24, 2008, family, now with 4 members, came back to DC, after our tour in Africa. Christmas with the in-laws, and plans for the future.

December 24, 2006-2007, our family of 3 celebrated the holidays with the the colorful Mozambican ghosts of Christmas, our first overseas post as a family, as it’s dearly called ‘a hard-to-fill assignment’.

December 24,  2005, the Lima-Miranda couple enjoyed the lovely sleepless nights, while rocking our first-born. The cold DC weather brought us the ghosts of Christmas as a family. Between bottle feedings, changings and lullaby singing, the ghosts held our hands and kept us on our toes!

December 24, 2004, husband and wife are reunited, after the man-of-the-house came back from a temporary-duty at a far land… Does this sound familiar to anyone? :o The ghosts of Christmas past made sure he’d come home safe and sound, with a nice gift to his dear wife!

December 24, 2003, we just got married [a couple of months back, but still!]. Plans for the future, naive minds, ideas of how good we’d be as parents… :o The ghosts of Christmas made sure our newly joint bank account would have enough for a decent holiday season… And we were grateful to them…

As I started this post by saying, the ghosts of Christmas past have been nothing but nice to us. As a couple, as a beginner family, as a traveling serial expatriate bunch. We’re working well together – the ghosts and us…

Merry Christmas to you all! May your December 24, 2013 be merry and bright. I’m sure mine is!

And for the ones who are still at work… the time is coming! The clock keeps ticking, and soon, we’ll be back home… enjoying our Christmas Eve feast! :o

my 3 little ghosts

Thanks for the inspiration!

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 24, 2013 in children, foreign service, humor, TRAVEL


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This Blog won Top Tweets on ExpatsBlog! “Twenty reasons for adding Bolivia to your expat visiting list – and maybe sticking around for a while!”

Expat blogs in BoliviaExpat blogs in BoliviaThank you for all the comments, and shared tweets! Not only this blog is bringing home a sweet shopping voucher from Amazon, but the Silver Badge on the side – great way to begin this Christmas Week! :o

[Could not repeat the same feat as last year, when this blog was awarded Gold. Congratulations Jessica for representing so well this year the beautiful country of Bolivia with her 'Bohemian Diaries'! Keep on blogging!]

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Top List Contest Winners is pleased to announced to the winners of this year’s Expat Blog Awards! The standard was simply breathtaking, with such a diverse range of talented bloggers quite clearly pulling out all the stops to bring you the best they can! Without further ado, here are the Expat Blog Awards 2013 prize and award winners…

Our Top 3 Prize Winners

Overall Winner: Kathleen Siddell
Contest Entry: The Top 8 Ideas Worth Adopting From the Chinese

1st Runner Up: Becky the Great
Contest Entry: N is for Nomads

2nd runner Up: Emily Calle
Contest Entry: Top 50 Ways You Know You’re an Expat Living in Vienna

Our Fave Reader Comment: Mrs Partly Cloudy
Contest Entry: Welcome to Singapore:don’t look down
Blog Listing: Partly Cloudy

Top FB Likes: Paul Giles
Contest Entry: The Top Six Dangers You Face When Travelling to Colombia
Blog Listing: Colombia Travel Blog

Top Tweets: 3rd Culture Children
Contest Entry: Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List
Blog Listing: 3rd Culture Children

Random Winner: Christie Montague
Contest Entry: 6 Things You Should Know About the South of France if You Want to Blend in
Blog Listing: You can go your own way

Now, here is the Top Tweets Winner Post – with all its colorful images! Thanks again for all who read, commented, shared the link, and learned a bit about Bolivia – and maybe, the ones who are now considering adding the country to their Expat Visiting List! :o


From the ExpatsBlog team of editors: “After our hugely successful Expat Blog Awards 2012 last year, we thought we’d take a different spin on this year’s awards! Realising that last year’s scenario would be unfair to recently-joined newer bloggers, we’ve decided to combine the Expat Blog Awards 2013 with a big expat writing contest!
Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry That said, here’s my pitch… If this blogpost here makes you a bit curious… hop over to ExpatBlogs and check out a list especially prepared for this year’s writing contest: Suggestions on why expats should add Bolivia to their visiting list… they’ll be so in love that may want to stick around for a while! And remember: your great comment will help this blog go for Gold… two years in a row… why not? :o

Bolivia is a culturally diverse, geographically unique and strange in so many other ways that it’s hard to find another place/country quite like it. And this statement is coming from a ‘serial expat’, a traveling mother of third-culture children, a trailing spouse married into the US Foreign Service, and a Latina-born woman.

Hummm… need more examples of the colors and textures? Take a look:

The worldly recognized, the Andean rugs…


Also, here one may enjoy the  typical “salteñas“, recipes borrowed long ago from neighboring Argentina


Craving for more? Let’s go on a quick trip towards this unique place on earth!

What you may find in Bolivia? Take a look at these images, and don’t forget: go visit the Expat Blogs and share your wonderful comment about this travel blog! [Thank you!!!]

dressed in patterns

dressed in patterns

Madre Luna, from the Moon Valley

What looks like a carpet of stalagmites canvassing a desert, Valle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon” is what is left of a mountain composed of clay and sandstone that has been battered by strong winds and time.

Here are more images of this unique country… looking for a bit more explanation? Check the full text prepared for this year’s contest


death road bikers...

Mountain biking trip

Mountain biking trip



Cotapata Park, Bolivia

Cotapata Park, Bolivia




bolivian unusual







Laguna Verde ['Green Lagoon']


Singani in Tarija



Pre-Inca Ruins

Pre-Inca Ruins

The Table of Sacrifices

The Table of Sacrifices

Pre-Inca Ruins


Immerse into the local culture and traditions







Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

[Photo credit:]


The famous “trufi”!

Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !


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From the ExpatsBlog: What are people talking about our take on Bolivia?

This is the second part of the ‘contest post’ – the article published on ExpatsBlog about our ‘list on why expats should add Bolivia to their bucket list… and maybe sticking around for a while!’ is getting some feedback! See below what others are talking about the article, and don’t forget to hop on over to Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List!, leaving your comment about our take on Bolivia for expats.

Thank you! :o

Contest Comments »  

Reader 1 wrote 20 hours ago:
 I’m intrigued: I thought Lhasa was the highest capital in the world. I’ve been there, and the mountains and the light in your pictures, and the way the people look remind me of it a lot. I hope you have a wonderful two years.
Reader 2 wrote 18 hours ago:
 I love your writing style and your suggestions make me want to visit Bolivia now! Enjoy your tour
Reader 3 wrote 8 hours ago:
 Wow! What a delight to find out about your blog from this contest. Too bad your entry as posted here doesn’t show your wonderful photography. Best to you and your family as you travel across Bolivia and the world with you open loving hearts.
Reader 4 wrote 2 hours ago:
 ADOREI SEU BLOG!! Meu Deus…you made me cry, I MISS Bolivia like crazy, everything you posted is SO TRUE…I am glad that you guys are having a great time. Being in EUR its so different from Bolivia, 180 degree change for me…the culture, the people, the weather and the community- there are no comparison, I enjoyed my time there. I miss the warmth and kindness of the people, and that I was called “señorita” by everyone made me feel very special. Great photos, keep it up, GRACIAS! for sharing. Good luck to you! Beijos!

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !


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Twenty reasons for adding Bolivia to your expat visiting list – and maybe sticking around for a while!


From the ExpatsBlog team of editors: “After our hugely successful Expat Blog Awards 2012 last year, we thought we’d take a different spin on this year’s awards! Realising that last year’s scenario would be unfair to recently-joined newer bloggers, we’ve decided to combine the Expat Blog Awards 2013 with a big expat writing contest!

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry That said, here’s my pitch… If this blogpost here makes you a bit curious… hop over to ExpatBlogs and check out a list especially prepared for this year’s writing contest: Suggestions on why expats should add Bolivia to their visiting list… they’ll be so in love that may want to stick around for a while! And remember: your great comment will help this blog go for Gold… two years in a row… why not? :o

Bolivia is a culturally diverse, geographically unique and strange in so many other ways that it’s hard to find another place/country quite like it. And this statement is coming from a ‘serial expat’, a traveling mother of third-culture children, a trailing spouse married into the US Foreign Service, and a Latina-born woman.

Hummm… need more examples of the colors and textures? Take a look:

The worldly recognized, the Andean rugs…


Also, here one may enjoy the  typical “salteñas“, recipes borrowed long ago from neighboring Argentina


Craving for more? Let’s go on a quick trip towards this unique place on earth!

What you may find in Bolivia? Take a look at these images, and don’t forget: go visit the Expat Blogs and share your wonderful comment about this travel blog! [Thank you!!!]

dressed in patterns

dressed in patterns

Madre Luna, from the Moon Valley

What looks like a carpet of stalagmites canvassing a desert, Valle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon” is what is left of a mountain composed of clay and sandstone that has been battered by strong winds and time.

Here are more images of this unique country… looking for a bit more explanation? Check the full text prepared for this year’s contest [shameless, right? :o]


death road bikers...

Mountain biking trip

Mountain biking trip



Cotapata Park, Bolivia

Cotapata Park, Bolivia




bolivian unusual







Laguna Verde ['Green Lagoon']


Singani in Tarija



Pre-Inca Ruins

Pre-Inca Ruins

The Table of Sacrifices

The Table of Sacrifices

Pre-Inca Ruins


Immerse into the local culture and traditions







Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

[Photo credit:]



The famous “trufi”!


Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !


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I’m a Mix Tape Masterpiece!


Click here for image source – gotta be true to the sources, right? :o

You may think it’s because I’m different… I know I’m not from here… but who is? We’re all from somewhere else…



Born in the sunny city of Rio de Janeiro… likely born to be wild… a restless, yet love-searching, soul…


Because of my parents line of work, moved from place to place quite often, growing up in the capital of the country… an intriguing city, sharing love-and-hate relationships with its citizens…


I’m a nomad, a traveler. A verb, rather than a noun…


But one day, met my better half… the day had come for love… and again, a foreigner to me, but one who changed my life completely…


And the rest… is pretty much history! A story we’ve been writing together… :o


Making a mix tape [remember that?!]: (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

Acknolegdment: original inspiration coming from


Posted by on October 6, 2013 in ART, expat, FAMILY, humor, music


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Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis

Clearly a writing challenge inspired by a topic titled ‘DNA analysis’ had to catch my attention. Not only I’m a born-again geek, I’m a ‘recovering scientist’, and up for grabbing any opportunity to jump right back into my past!

Funny how reading through this week’s suggestion from the Daily Post put me into a time machine, sending me back and forth in time: remembering my days as a researcher, scientist, professor; and yet, imagining how it would be when my [now little] children grow and decide on their own careers, taking up on different life paths…

Who knows what the future will have for them? What I’ve got is my past, followed by a great present bringing my off-spring up…

Talking about offspring, let me take you back to this post’s original idea, before my reminiscent past [and the uncertainties of our nomad future], take me completely off-track! My family is a melting pot: I seem to bring to the table a mix of Portuguese and Northern African backgrounds, surprisingly revealed by a recent DNA analysis. Our 3 children are a mix of Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, German ingredients, bubbling up from inside a hot deep cooking pot.

[Quick note: one of my husband’s passions, besides me, obviously, is Genealogy. He maintains a website on his parental families, and we’ve done together the DNA analysis, to learn more about our ‘ancestry’. The triggering idea for immersing into the research was actually the moment our first child was born: leave a knowledge legacy for our children].

Off-track… again? Not really! Back to my Portuguese/Northern African heritage…

From my mother I’ve inherited the quick temper and the sharp tongue – aww, those Portuguese Senoritas! I’ve also learned from her how to appreciate food and cooking, especially seafood dishes; all well-accompanied with good wine. She is the Teacher in my life, in more ways than one. My mother has taught me to understand and develop a passion for artistic expressions: music, dance and painting. Later in life, they all morphed into a healthy taste for fashion, dining out, event hosting, social outings and the passion for traveling to new places…

From my long-lost past...

From my long-lost past…

My father’s legacy is deeply imprinted in my body and mind. I became a person of Science because of him. Like my mother, he grew up orphan, lacking a present father-figure at home; nevertheless, made a life for himself as a chemical engineer, and teaching me how to love and appreciate all expressions of science and investigation and discipline. From my father I’ve inherited a ‘not-so-healthy’ taste for questioning, inquiring, and looking for answers and justifications. I’ve learned I’m capable of challenging facts of life, seeking solutions to daily problems.

I consider myself a product of hybrid environments, a product of mixed cultures, nicely blending together. I consider myself not a noun, but a verb… I’ve learned to accept and embrace new cultures and traditions as my own, since a very early age.

Life went on, and as it should be, the day I had to overlap my nucleic acid sequence with someone else’s came around. Considering that recombination is a common method of DNA repair, it was definitely the way the ‘future Mr. Right’ and I decided to pursue. Structural repair? What a great suggestion for a lucky start! Genetic recombination with breaking and rejoining of DNA strands is accelerated by many different enzymes. In our case, those enzymes were an endless curiosity, the unpaired desire to travel and visit new places and the recognition that neither one of us could survive withought the other’s genetic material… And so we merged; two genomes fusing into one happily married sequence… trust me, PCR results can prove it! :o

The results of this apparently odd combination can be checked [through a quite simple molecular biology experiment]: the three children that fill our house with joy and love. They have dark, brown and blond hairs. They’ve got dark and light eye colors. They dance and play like Brazilians, eat like Mexican and Portuguese; cry like Spaniards and French. They’re emotional and they’re grounded. They like art, and they like science. They’re growing up knowing the world is much bigger than what’s stated by their birth certificates, or stamped on their 9 passports…

Our children understand they come from mixed backgrounds, and know in their hearts they need to honor their heritage. And one day, they’ll be telling stories about their parents and grandparents to their own offspring: tales about how recombinant DNA, Portuguese cuisine, Mariachis, and American football traditions are all related:o



Posted by on October 1, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, humor


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How much clutter is… too much clutter?

Not sure if I was fortunate or not, to marry a typical ‘type-A’ person, almost obsessive when it comes to organization…

On the other hand, I’m not as organized, but I love seeing things “in boxes”, or at least, stowed away (out of my sight!)

That said, and considering that we’re constantly moving because of work, one can image how difficult it become when it’s mandatory to deal with “excessive clutter and paperwork”.

Inspired by Becky - from Small Bits – for one of the long-lost weekly State Dept Foreign Service Blogs Round up, and also trying to answer the question I’d initially proposed; I guess for my husband and I, the answer is: “any clutter is way too much clutter”…. junk is junk, and a clean house [leading to a clean soul!] is always welcome in our lives! :o

At times, the definition of “excessive” has created some tension in our household, due to the fact that the “duo of managers” end up disagreeing on what should/could/would be discarded/trashed/shredded!

And the common result is: “darling, do you have any idea where the envelope, I left here last week, is?”

If it takes more than 10 seconds for the answer to come out, it’s a bad sign… If the answer contains anything like “you know… I was just organizing these drawers… and…” it’s even worse! At that very moment, the very “diplomatic answer” is a clear sign that your print outs/documents/personal notes are gone!! So, in order to avoid conflicts, the best solution is simply reduce the amount of clutter, or, if possible, store it away before your mate has a chance to find and “re-organize” it!

Currently, our lives are filled with useful and not-so-much paperwork, which we MUST care with our hearts, whenever we travel or move. Here’s a brief idea:

5 members of the household;

14 active passports (a couple of those in deep need of renovation.. oh, boy!);

5 medical folders, med-evac reports, consultation reports, requests for exams, and corresponding international vaccination cards;

5 birth certificates, a couple of CRIBA reports, with official/notaries translations, personal academic info, diplomas – again, translated;

Ν school reports (so far only 2 kids in school), sports progress evaluations for each kid; report cards, teacher’s notes, selected school artwork, love letters and cards (when we began with our ‘across-the-hemisphere’ dating scene, there was only the msn messenger, and of course, the good old Post Office!) printed photographs, tax files, software update CDs, performance evaluations, receipts from clients, contacts for future 360s, house rental paperwork, mortgage docs, health insurance papers, receipts for storage, bank statements… oh, my!

It is not all of it. Some documents were photocopied before the initial move, and originals are safely kept, while the photocopies travel the world.

Safeguarding your personal belongings is a must for the traveling-pants family: preparing “video inventories” is a great, paperless strategy. So far, it’s been working for us, and the best of all – it is clutter-free!

Phew! It makes me tired just thinking about boxing it all out for the next move…

Luckily, there are ways to make sure our most important folders are safe and well-taken care: pay close attention to them. All times. Anywhere.

Right now, I’m not organizing anything. Just trying to keep our documents drawer “bug”- & “fungi“- free. That’s right! One of the “bonuses” of living in a tropical setting… I’m an environmentalist, but not as much!!

Hey, I feel like I’ve already done a lot of “mental organization” and planning. I believe I deserve a break from this hard work!

Since we’re talking about paper”(work), let me “wrap” this post up by reminding myself it’s ‘bidding season’. For the ones not too familiar with the term, let me just say it takes the ‘stress levels’ up a couple of notches, and it pretty much tends to define our family’s future for the next couple of years! :o It’s also ‘promotion season’… Luckily, hubby did well on that front, which is a relief, at last… 

Now, just sit tight and wait for the [hopefully positive!] results of bidding!


Posted by on September 29, 2013 in humor, TRAVEL


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The little voices in my head and I, discussing an article on ‘Working Mothers’…

As I usually do, I try to [jump]start my [work] day catching up with the news. My routine begins with a brief read through the Washington Post and a couple of coffee. Since it was Monday, I was a bit delayed with my start. After going over the unsettling headlines on the very sad events in DC [a metro stop from our house, now rented] and, as a parent, could not stop thinking about the 12 year old Florida girl, victim of cyber-bullying

Two stories that hit really close to home, and make us reconsider the world we’re raising our children into…

I decided to move on, and hopped over to the paper’s Parenting section, another favorite of mine. That’s when my ‘internal conversation‘ decided to take place. An article from Mary-Jane Williams had me nodding my head in agreement, asking the author/interviewee questions and answering them before any of them [the article's author and the interviewee] had an opportunity to do so.

Katrina Alcorn, a writer-editor and mom of three in Oakland recently had a book published about ‘struggles, juggling work and home responsibilities’ and yes, it’s about many of us, working moms out there, trying our best to survive as professional, spouses and state-of-the-art moms.

Here’s how the ‘little voices in my head‘ began reading through the article:

[voices in my head speaking up] “I bet you she [book author, previously 'maxed-out' mom] will tell us it’s virtually impossible to juggle, perform and excel at all tasks we [working moms] are expected to display”…

[article] “The expectation is that there’s an adult at home, but that’s not how we live anymore. We’re trying to make something work that doesn’t work…”

[voices in my head to the conscious me] “I could have told you that. Don’t you know that already? Do I have to remind you how hard some mornings can be when, while fighting a splitting headache and trying to get a couple of coffee out of the microwave, you find yourself mopping the floor because one of the kids has already spilled orange juice from his/her breakfast? And remember, it has to be done carefully, so you don’t get your work clothes dirty before you’ve got a chance to leave the house!?”

[the conscious me]  “I guess you’re right. Maybe I don’t need a book to tell me that, it’s fairly common sense. We all know how hard it is nowadays to be a working mother…” And then, I resume back to reading the article: “but… let’s keep on reading it… she [book author, previously exhausted mom] seems to be pretty grounded. Maybe she’ll bring something up that I don’t know yet… let me keep reading…”

[article] “We need to change the conversation. We need to get out of this obsession with individual choices… We need to change the conversation so it’s not about what women are doing, but what society is doing. Do you want a bunch of bulletproof women to have this, what we think of as a normal life?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “WOW, she just nailed it on the head! See how simple the problem is: we [women, mothers] are not the problem; the society is, and the way the society ‘perceive’ the participation of working mothers is the big issue – and I loved her metaphorical comparison using the ‘bulletproof’ women! I totally feel like, every morning, before we all go out [of our bedroom] and face the real world [aka, our demanding kids, our needy spouses, our challenging jobs], we need to put on some sort of invisible, but yet, effective shield, and carry on with our daily chores. And don’t even consider the possibility of failing! Failure for a working mother, whose goal is nothing less than perfect, is completely out of question!”

[little voices in my head] “You’re overreacting. Do you believe you’re the only mother that works outside the house? You actually got it pretty easy… and don’t get me started on the whole ‘you’ve got household help’ speech… Remember: it was one of the reasons you guys decided to keep going with this foreign service gig… be honest, what would life be like if you were back in DC? Would you be working?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head]  “But that’s the whole point! You’re right, very likely, I wouldn’t be working. How could I? And a nanny? There’ll be no way on earth we’d be able to afford one! And if I’d decided to work, even part-time, I had to find a reliable day-care for the baby girl, juggle with a flexible work schedule, and be prepared for the ‘not-so-friendly looks’ my co-workers would give me every time I had to leave early, due to some unforeseen cause! But this lady here [the book author] is so right, let me read out loud her statement:

[the article] “The women in my life are really capable, smart, hardworking and dedicated to their families. They don’t really need advice.Their employers need advice, their co-workers need advice, the policymakers need advice.”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “See? Do you get the main issue? It’s all about this endless conflict women have to deal with; the conflict between working [outside the house] and raising kids. Here’s another excerpt:”

[the article] “For better or worse, women are raised to be nurturers and to say yes. But I think there’s more to it. Research shows that when employers know a woman has children or is going to have children, her performance is scrutinized more. . . . If a woman is worried that she’s being scrutinized at work because she’s a mother, she’s going to be really circumspect about setting boundaries at work because she doesn’t want to be seen as someone who is not pulling her weight… Those things came at a price. They were not free. We may put in extra time at night after the kids go to bed, early in the morning or on weekends, but that time isn’t seen the same way as the time in the office. . . . I think we need to challenge the idea that to be effective at work or be a leader you need to work long hours.”

[little voices in my head to the now, caffeine-deprived me] “Did you notice that when you began ‘psycho-analyzing the article, your completely forgot about your coffee? It’s probably ice-cold by now! We need to fix this, asap!”

[the not-so-sure about being conscious me, to the little voices in my head] “I guess you’re right. Totally forgot about it. And now, I have to go find a microwave at somebody else’s office and warm it up… it won’t be the same, but hey, the article really got me engaged, which is a good sign…. I hope more working moms out there come out with similar ‘poking discussions’… some good food for thought… And talking about food, let me get that coffee warmed up!”

[little voices, now fading] “Good chatting with you. Hope you have a nice day at work… Talk to you soon!” :o

Written in response to this week’s writing inspiration, “Dialogue”


Posted by on September 27, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, humor


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Photo Project ’52 Bolivian Sundays’ [week 31, 'Foreshadow'].

"Llamas Crossing"

“Llamas Crossing”

Warning drivers for what’s about to come… and cross… :o

Enjoy as you please, and thanks for stopping by! ♥


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Day 360 in Bolivia: Suggestions for entertaining the little ones.

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan...

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan Lake, Tuichi River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miranda Family arrived in La Paz in the beginning of August, 2012.  assignment. Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 kids (7 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 2 1/2 year-old toddler. Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:
Take weekend trips with other families with kids -it's a life-saver!

Take weekend trips with other families with kids – it’s a life-saver!

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Host a kids Halloween Blast!

Host a kids’ Halloween Blast!

Join the traditional 'water balloon fights' during Carnaval!

Join the traditional ‘water balloon fights’ during Carnaval!

Go bowling!

Go bowling!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Throw impromptu 'theme lunches'

Throw impromptu ‘themed lunches’

Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go out! Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Join a 'greening initiative' for a weekend of activities

Join a ‘greening initiative’ for a weekend of activities

Throw impromptu costume parties!

Come up with impromptu costume parties!

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Get out of your comfort zone! Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Escape to the neighboring Santiago...

Escape to the neighboring Santiago…

Visit to Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Visit Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Mountain biking trip

Take a mountain biking trip

Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Unplug! Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Out again! Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region


Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around La Paz:

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallardo “Nayra Inti” interpretando con sus tarkas una tarkeada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children’s Activities

Bolivia does not boast an extensive selection of activities for children, but what it does offer is stunning national parks and the chance to get close to nature and see scenes that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

La Paz Zoo
La Paz Zoo has recently relocated from a tiny plot of land in the south of the city to a much bigger area in Mallasa, which can be found just outside of the city. The bigger space has allowed new enclosures to be built as well as a children’s petting area and an information block. Children will not fail to be impressed by the menagerie living in natural surroundings. You will find many animals in a park-like setting, living life as they would in the wild. After a morning’s excitement with the animals, try out the on-site café for some lunch and treat the kids to a souvenir from the gift shop.

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Madidi National Park, Bolivia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Parks
Bolivia is home to some of the most unspoilt national parks in the world. These parks boast a tremendous variety of wildlife, although you have to be lucky to see a lot of animals as most of them hide deep in the densest of forests. Madidi National Park is recorded by National Geographic as being one of the world’s largest biologically diverse reserves. One of Bolivia’s richest forests can be found here as well as over 988 species of animals. It stretches from the Andes to the western Amazon Basin and allows people to watch animals, trek through woodland and explore the many nature trails. The children will love this unique chance to get back to nature.

Toro Park fountain

Toro Park fountain (Photo credit: Rob Michalski)

Toro Toro National Park is located close to Potosi and is ideal for dinosaur lovers. You will find giant dinosaur footprints and fossils as well as the caves of Umajalanta. Carrasco National Park is an enormous rainforest park located in the Andes’ foothills. It is a great park for children as there is so much space to run around in.

Witches’ Market
This market is also known as Mercado de Brujas and is full of magic and mystery. Goods sold here include herbs and remedies as well as other components used in ancient Aymara traditions. It is La Paz’s most colourful site, with many sights to amaze and excite children.

Witches Market

Witches’ Market (Photo credit: callumscott2)


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{Weekly Writing Challenge} How to prepare a ‘serial traveler': Recipe, cooking times and serving suggestions.

 How to serve a ‘serial traveler’, inspired by ‘A Pinch of You’:


Preparation Steps:

Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients handy. Ensure their good quality and origin. When raising a child, remember to offer him/her a healthy dose of ‘worldly experiences‘: take them on field trips, sightseeing tours, museums, photo exhibits. Share videos and tales from your own childhood. Share with them your curiosity, your concerns, your dreams. Listen to their plans, their ambitions, their fears of the unknown…

[Note from the Chef] These are just suggestions for this dish. Alter as you please, adding or subtracting ingredients. Come up with your own unique recipe and most important of all, have fun cooking! :o

Get the oven going: Take advantage of each and every opportunity to show your growing child that the world is much more than what they’re gathering from social media tools.

Cooking and Serving:

  • Travel, go to places, move. By car, by bus, by train, by boat, on the back of a horse or camel. Try flying, but also, try different transportation methods – the stranger, the better! Dealing with travel difficulties is part of the learning process, and overcoming challenges brings the experience to a whole new level.

where's home?


  • Spend some time planning your trips. Imagine how it would be, what you’d do, who you’d encounter… Dream about it. Enjoy the preparations and be ready to appreciate the reality, when the time comes.
  • Find someone who shares your passions, and share your life with him/her. I did that, and have no regrets: married another serial expat, and he’s helped me raise our 3 little ‘nomads’…


  • Try meeting new people. Chat with them. Exchange stories. Build new relationships. Be yourself, be silly, and yet, be smart – care and attention are never excessive when moving out of one’s comfort zone…
  • Try out new foods – it’s an easy and fun way to immerse into the culture. Remember the smells and the tastes. Take a heart picture of the dishes you’re enjoying. Reserve for future use.
  • Check out city maps, newspapers, street posters. Don’t know/don’t speak the language? Go for the pictures, the colors, the textures, the funny images and signs. Remember: your friends or family back home are living vicariously through your travel experiences! IMG_5686
  • When traveling, visiting new places or renewing memories from old ones, take as many photos as possible. Keep them handy for future use. Store in a tight container [but please, not in the fridge!]. You will surely need them for future recipes…


[Note from the Chef] When checking out of hotels/hostals/B&Bs remember to always check under the beds for misplaced pieces of clothing, photo gear, baby toys, lost socks… and maybe… a kid or two! :o

  • Recipe preparation and cooking times may vary. Season it to taste. For some, it may take years and many mistakes/missteps before reaching the ‘optimum point’. Be careful: Try not to burn yourself, but if it happens, make sure you’re surrounded by good friends and good memories to help you through the tough times…

my branching tree...

Use your best judgment when traveling, but once you begin improving this recipe, there’s no way back – you’ve certainly become a ‘serial traveler’ like myself, my husband and these three little ones pictured above. We can’t really stay put for long

That said, guess how we’ve been raising these ‘tree branches’ over here?

Thanks for the inspiration!


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Game of Thrones: NFL Style


Very clever, nice comparisons, funny way to approach our [husband's & mine] two current passions: Game of Thrones & NFL! ♥


Originally posted on The Chris Brockman Website:

LOS ANGELES — With apologies to Don Draper and Walter White, an argument could be made the two most popular television programs in the country right now are anything involving the National Football League and “Game of Thrones.” So, logically, we here at The Chris Brockman Website decided to combine the two, matching our favorite backstabbers, schemers, and philanderers of Westeros with their respective NFL counterparts. You don’t need to be a loyal book reader of the George R.R. Martin series to appreciate these footballers are who we say they are. (some spoilers ahead)



TYWIN LANNISTER — Bill Belichick, Patriots: Leader of a dynasty and the self-proclaimed “smartest guy in the room,” the similarities between Belichick and the eldest Lannister are endless. Watching Tywin talk down to his Small Council, you can almost hear his Belichikian tone. All that’s missing is cutoff armor and hooded chainmail. There’s no question…

View original 2,620 more words


Posted by on May 18, 2013 in humor, sports


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Weekly Writing Challenge: “Yo Falo Portuñol [and Spanglish!]“

In green, the areas where "Portunol"  is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from

In green, the areas where “Portunol” is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from

Oh, well, this one should be interesting!

The inspiration for this week’s writing challenge is ‘a manner of speaking’.

Recently, I just shared my very personal point of view on why do I write‘, really meaning ‘why do I blog‘ – and the answers are quite simple: I write, blog, share, because it’s the easiest, fastest, simplest way to reach out to other [bloggers], get feedback [from within the traveling, expat community], vent out [my difficulties, challenges] and exchange [experiences, lessons learned and why not, 'things that one should not do while trying to raise kids around the world!'] :o

I also try to blog in different languages – although my posts tend to be mostly in English, my mother tongue is Continental Portuguese [born and raised in the beautiful & multicultural country of Brazil!], and to top it all off, we’re living and working in Bolivia, whose national language is Spanish. That said, my work days are spent in 2 languages that aren’t really, ‘mine’… Despite the obvious exhaustion at the end of the day, I’m surviving…

At work: I talk to people in English and in ‘Portuñol’. My staff is kind enough to ‘pretend’ they’re fully understanding what I’m struggling to tell them! Conversations with local nationals are often established in ‘Spanglish’ and in Portuñol.

At home: it’s a mix. Met my husband several years back, while still in Brazil, and the two of us would have long conversations in Portuguese. Years went by, and now we created a mixed language that tends to gravitate towards the ‘one who’s the most tired': if it’s me, than, we talk in Portuguese. If it’s him, the conversation will move toward English. But we’re not done, there are the 3 kids, adding to this lingual melting pot: the older ones, due to the international school, show some preference to English, while the toddler showcases her abilities in Spanish Paceño [typical of La Paz], with a few words in Aymara [indigenous dialect], here and there… :o

Somehow, all of us, who are continuously swinging between two or more languages, find our way to adjust, to adapt to new scenarios, and keep on moving. We keep on talking [and boy, I'm a chatty cat, if allowed to be!] – communication is one of the most powerful tools our society’s got, and when well used, it’s not only a diplomatic tool, but it also enhances our chances to improve social relationships at home, at the work level, and emotionally. ♥

" Amanhana, yo hablo!"
” Amanhana, yo hablo!”

“Amanhãna eu hablo. Si queden tranquilis!”

[this is a classic example of Portuñol - very likely, the intention was to say: 'I'll talk about it tomorrow, stay calm".]  Photo credit here.

For the Spanish-speaking readers here, this sentence probably sounds like a joke… and guess what, was produced by one of Brazil’s former President, while addressing the Mercosul community!]. Jokes aside, I’m proud to have a mixed background, and even more proud to have the ability to share that with my growing children. I speak Spanglish. I speak Portuñol. Yo hablo whatever mix between these three languages is required to have the conversation going… The goal is to communicate. Hopefully, I’m on the right track… and if not, I’ll graciously find my way out: ‘yo no comprendo…’ :oI’ve got no idea what you’re talking about...’ And, if I’m lucky enough, I won’t find myself lost in translation through life! ♥

In order to wrap it all up, a poem, written in the “most pure Portunol“, by a Brazilian GauchoMario Quintana:

Don Ramón se tomo um pifón:
bebia demasiado, don Ramón!

Y al volver cambaleante a su casa,
avistó em el camino:
um árbol
y um toro…

Pero como veia duplo, don Ramón
vio um árbol que era
y um árbol que no era,
um toro que era
y um toro que no era.
Y don Ramón se subió al árbol que no era:
Y lo atropelo el toro que era.
Triste fim de don Ramón!



Posted by on May 3, 2013 in humor, LANGUAGE


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UPDATED: “Moving is the 3rd most stressful life event”…

A long time has gone by since I prepared this blogpost… And yet, it remains so current! Even celebrated my birthday surrounded by bubble wrap & moving boxes – it was pack out season! :o The original post was “Inspired by the FS Blog Round Up, I decided to do some research and put together a pack of interesting information about moving and packing, including my personal comments. Some of the “facts” were actually quite new to me.

Others, made me laugh. What about a bit of my life as a ‘rolling stone’? :o That’s exactly how I feel, moving every so often!

Also found some “advice” on moving with small children – supposedly, “moving with kids could be a breeze, if you plan ahead”. This is probably my favorite, and I ask: “how much ahead to you need to plan? maybe before you were joined by your kids??” :o

Anyway, here are some of the ‘facts’ about moving and packing:

Comment: Really?! Would have never guessed! :o Moving is trauma, ranked right up there with getting a divorce, losing a job or burying a loved one. But chances are you already know that. So here comes the question:

So.. Why we do it???

** just a rhetorical question! We all look forward to those intense

finding-sorting-wrapping-packing-storing days!

  • One-sixth of all Americans, an estimated 43 million people, move each year. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: And 50% of all moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day – that’s just weird – no idea why the preference! [** And recently I learned it was because of the U.S. school year/calendar (thanks, Carla!)... now it does make sense - another hint that I'm a foreign-born spouse!] :o

  • Individuals move 11.7 times in their lifetime. (from: U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: Already crossed that mark, even before meeting the husband and joining the FS…

  • The typical moving customer is a married couple between the ages 25 and 44, with one or two children between the ages of 2 and 11.

Comment: Good to know we’re not alone. It comforts me to know there are several other parents out somewhere, screaming and kicking … 

And here are some of the “advices”:

  • Get back to normal: For the sake of the entire family’s happiness, try not to take too long to resume doing what your family enjoys.

Comment: I’d really appreciate knowing how to get back to normal after a move, not taking long to resume to your ‘normal’ routine. Maybe I’m always too busy trying to prevent the kids from killing each other, that I may loose focus…

  • Pack late (late?) – The actual process of packing up and putting things away in boxes may be emotionally trying for preschoolers, as they see familiar and favorite objects disappear into boxes. Try to pack your preschoolers’ belongings as late in the moving schedule as possible, and reassure them that their belongings will be going to the new house.

Comment: You don’t realize how much stuff your kids have until you start packing.  BTW, where are the kids? Make sure the answer to your question is on the top of your to-do list! 

  • Pace Yourself: Your already busy schedule keeps you on your feet at all times, and moving adds a whole new list of things to do.  Plan ahead. Give yourself several weeks to pack for your move, that way you are only packing a few boxes a day. This will decrease the amount of time you need away from your everyday responsibilities, including your kids. In other words, it’s not only about keeping your kids busy, but it’s about making yourself more available during your move.

Comment: Would love to know how to pace myself. One day I’ll learn. Not next year. Not in this decade. Also, how could I “buy” several weeks ahead, for packing before a move? If I’m able to manage a semi-smooth “packing & moving” event, ensuring that our car keys and travel documents won’t be packed away with our HHE, I’ll be pretty lucky!:o  Here is some good advice (at least for me!) about keeping it real for the traveling children (thanks to “Family-Travel-Scoop”): Do talk frankly with your children about the move Do let your child express his/her feelings Do acknowledge their frustrations/anger Do research the country you are moving to with your child Do let your child say goodbye properly to the place you are leaving Do expect an adjustment period when your child has mixed emotions Do keep traditions from home alive in your new home Do maintain regular ties with family back “home” Do bring items (e.g. framed pictures) and put them in each home you live in a similar place Do involve your child with any decisions that may affect him/her if possible

Good luck to all the ones moving out this season! I’m glad we don’t have to think about packing for at least, another year…


Posted by on April 8, 2013 in FAMILY, humor, TRAVEL


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Got chips?!


Apparently, she’s got them… all of them! :o

She ‘knows when to hold them’… ‘when to walk away’… and knows when to run! ♥


Posted by on March 24, 2013 in BOLIVIA, children, FOOD, humor, photography


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Just another regular day in my life… Can you relate to it?

Kids driving me up the wall is actually, a source of inspiration
Who’d have thought of that?
Just decided to express [using a simple comic strip]  the way I usually feel – do you really believe I sometimes try to hide from my own kids???
That wouldn’t be something a Real Mom would do, right? :o
More of my random thoughts’ on parenting here… recently revisited… :o



Posted by on February 21, 2013 in ART, children, FAMILY, humor


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Snapshots of Artistic Expressions in La Paz. Part II: The Fighting Cholitas!

Like many others, I need colorful and fun experiences in my life. A good way to cope with the intense life of the foreign service [moving every so often, and raising kids along the way]: find ways to ‘dive into the local culture, learning about their traditions and what moves their hearts! :o

We’ve already been posted in Bolivia for exactly 6 months, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting stories, traditional eventss, unique ways that represent the Bolivian Culture. The first post was about Art in La Paz through paintings. This time, a group of friends was taken to El Alto, just outside La Paz, for a Sunday afternoon experience with the Fighting Cholitas‘! A unique experience for many foreigners visiting Bolivia, and a great fit for this week’s photo challenge!

In order to ‘educate myself’ a bit, I did a brief research on these famous women, and the easiest explanation comes from Wikipedia:

The Fighting Cholitas are a group of female lucha librewrestlers who perform in El Alto, Bolivia. The Cholitas are part of a group called the Titans of the Ring, which includes both male and female wrestlers. The Titans perform each Sunday for an audience of hundreds at El Alto’s Multifunctional Center.

Like the general population of El Alto, which consists almost entirely of Aymara and Quechua residents, the Cholitas are indigenous. They wear braided hair, bowler hats and multilayered skirts in the ring.

Now, less talk and more images. Starting with our short trip leaving the city of La Paz, towards El Alto, the ‘grand stage’ for the Cholitas Performance!

The ‘way to travel': our Cholita Wrestling Bus, personalized tickets, snacks and souvenirs!

The ‘performers’… or should I say… ‘the fearless fighters’ and their loyal fans? :o

These women aren’t like the men in their spandex outfits and masks. They’re Cholitas,  indigenous Bolivian women in their traditional Aymara Indian clothes. The outfit includes a layered skirt buoyed by petticoats, a shawl with long swinging fringe and a bowler hat adorned with gold pins. It’s what the women wear in, and out, of the wrestling ring.

Cholitas wrestling is an ever-growing business. Hundreds of tourists, and Bolivians, line up every week to watch the cholitas beat on each other. But why the fascination? “It’s something spectacular, something never seen before to have a cholita in the ring,” a common opinion shared among us, astonished and somehow, confused (?), members of the Sunday audience…. :o


Posted by on February 4, 2013 in ART, BOLIVIA, humor, photography, sports


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2013 arrived in style… 80s Style!

So, 2013 is here… and we got to celebrate it’s first hours surrounded by great music, yummy food, good friends, all of our kids, who joined us for the midnight celebration (yeap, kids were too excited to fall asleep, or even, take a short nap!); while we all watched the fireworks happening throughout the city of La Paz…♥

Earlier, I’d shared that a couple of our expat friends here had decided to put together an 80s party to welcome the New Year! Everyone had a blast, and here are some of the images from the last day of 2012, and the very first hours of 2013.

That’s what the New Year’s Celebration brought out! The best? Definitely the 80s hair styles… look at what people came up with! :o
Someone else who wrote about ‘Style’ for the New Year? Here!


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Saying ‘Goodbye 2012′ in style. 80s Style!

Celebrating the arrival of 2013, and bidding farewell to a dear 2012… All with style – 80s style! Could there be a more fun way to do it?

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 10.45.17 AM

[A confession, thank you very much, Robert Smith, for not only making my high school/early College years bearable, but also for helping me endure my recent parenting years, as a mother of 3 little ones…

Only another tired mom would understand the calming and motivational power of an 80s song…



:o Especially if, that same mom is ready to give up on her first-grader’s homework on a Saturday morning!

Somehow, the 80s music finds a way to ‘reach out to me’, and bring me back to reality… Not in high school anymore… the sleepless nights are not due to some term paper or exam…

now, the short nights usually come from a crying kid with fever, or, another one having a nightmare; or simply, missing my well-deserved beauty rest by having a couple of extra ‘bodies’ in our bed… every single night, since 2005! ♥

But well, that’s the path we chose, and the 80s music have always helped me thru ‘tough times’… ♥ My favorite, without question, The Cure

80s Party 06

Wonders that only a blond wig can do! 5 years later, 3 kids, 2 more countries under the belt… the forties have arrived… let’s see what type of hairstyle this mom will bring out! :o

80s Party, 2007Let’s see what the New Year’s Celebration brings!

Now, not only I’ll go to a party with ‘my guy’, but a handful of other ‘accessories’, which will include a 7-year-old boy, who loves 70s & 80s music; an almost 5 year old girl who loves to dress up [like her mother!] and is ‘addicted’ to dance… and a 2-year-old girl, which’s still a bit young to define her style… time will tell…

80shairThat said, getting these bad boys out of the closet [I mean, the leg warmers! mine are pink with white stripes], making sure the hair will be ‘par’ for the celebration, check the clothing colors [lots of them, and they better be bright!], accessories, make-up… and head to the party humming my favorite tunes!

NOW: on my way out to the local market, trying to find some ‘miracle hair products’ for tomorrow night’s bash! :o

 Happy New Year to all of us! 


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A bit of healthy humor, post-Christmas…


Why not a bit of humor, right after Christmas Day? The ‘post-holiday blues’ kicked in, now, it’s all about cleaning the house, washing whatever leftover dishes are pilling up on my sink… make sure the kids don’t kill each other over their new toys… :o That said, during one of my blog-hopping ventures, found this funny piece on Santa Claus, discussing the pros and cons of ‘it’ being a man or a woman! As a mother, the one in charge of pretty much everything related to Christmas for our family, ranging from grocery shopping, gift-wrapping, meal-planning, cooking, and the aftermath cleaning – I’m a little bias… maybe, the original author [Wyrd Smithe, from Logs con Carne] has a good point with the ‘pros’ on Santa being a woman… who knows? If you’ve got more to add to this intriguing discussion, hop over to his site, and share it! I’m sure it’d be appreciated!  Below is an excerpt from the original text, where I [freely] highlighted my FAVORITE parts, for both genders, so, I may not be ‘accused’ of being… errrr… a bit…bias! Enjoy!

“Santa is a man!

Santa making toys…It is precisely because Christmas is an“organized, warm, fuzzy, nurturing social deal”that Santa has to be a man. Delegation… that’s the key. Just imagine if a woman was trying to delegate all of those tasks and obligations to her underlings. Christmas would be as ambiguous as the spring equinox. Nobody would know what day of the year we were going to celebrate it on.

It takes a man to organize a commercial event as huge as Christmas… We’d have to plan football schedules around lunch instead of the other way around. Or worse yet… there might not be any football at all.  [shudder] That’s a scary thought.

Santa has a secret!If Santa was a female, the toys might never be delivered. It would take a she Santa until New Year’s Eve to get dressed (for the third time) and out of the bathroom. And just try harnessing those reindeer with freshly painted nails. Never happen. Once she got underway, she’d be too busy talking on the cell phone to her girl friends to get all the way around the world to every girl and boy’s house in a single year, let alone a single night.

Santa is a Woman!

Ms Santa 1

For starters, the vast majority of men don’t even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. On this count alone, I’m convinced Santa is a woman…

Ms Santa 2…Even if the male Santa did have reindeer, he’d still have transportation problems because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions.

Other reasons why Santa can’t possibly be a man:

  • Men can’t pack a bag.
  • Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red
  • Men would feel their masculinity is threatened having to be seen with all those elves.
  • Men don’t answer their mail.
  • Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a “bowlful of jelly.”
  • Men aren’t interested in stockings unless somebody’s wearing them.
  • Having to do the Ho Ho Ho thing would seriously inhibit their ability to pick up women.
  • Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment.

Thank you for letting me share this piece… funny, and a great way to jump back into reality… nothing wrong with a bit of healthy humor, post-Christmas, right?! :o

Originally posted on Logos con carne:

Santas bothHaving previously established that Santa has to be magical (because the laws of physics prohibit a real Santa accomplishing successful toy delivery), we can turn to the question of Santa’s gender. One might question this on the grounds of Santa’s apparent historic maleness, but in counter I offer George Sand, Mulan and any number of Shakespeare plays.

One might also question this on the grounds of gender perhaps not applying to magical creatures, to which I reply that Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves seem pretty clear on the matter (although one can never really tell with Dwarves—all that hair and battle armor are quite concealing, and it’s poor form to actually ask).

In any event, like all “news” programs these days, I give you now, two opposing views on the matter of Santa’s gender. You decide.

View original 787 more words


Posted by on December 26, 2012 in FAMILY, humor


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise.

Caught by Surprise!

Surprised when we were asked by the Cooking Chef to come up and show our ‘cooking skills’, while he was preparing our Japanese dinner… Not a very positive result, as the pictures may tell! Couldn’t even break an egg, correctly! :o But works well for this week’s photo inspiration. Happy Holidays!

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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in ART, children, FOOD, humor, photography


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4 days away! And according to our 3 Mayan Calendars… it’ll be a Happy Solstice!

Image #16: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Mayan Calendar

Backstory: Our family’s got Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Mexican, Native American [and who knows what else!] heritage. All into the very same pot… and due to work, we’re bound to the foreign service life(style). That said, we like to ‘collect things along the way’, as we travel, as we move from country to country. And funny enough, we do not not have ONE Mayan Calendar. We have THREE… We like the pieces, and I don’t think they’re any indication of the ‘end of an Era‘- let alone, the end of this world we call home…

And right now, since we were able to get our stuff/household effects from our last post, the calendars are mounted to the wall…. Next to an Elf Stocking (!) and a ‘twinkling plant’, surrounded by tiny colorful Xmas lights. As you may see, we’re a pretty eclectic family… We believe in Christmas Morning Magic, Santa, Elves… and everyone gets along just fine, around the Mayan predictions!

Now, go over for the quick explanation from NASA… Happy Solstice! :o



Posted by on December 21, 2012 in BOLIVIA, humor, I SPY, photography, science


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10 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’. Colors from The Bolivian Folkloric Ballet of Potosi.

Image #10: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: The Ballet Folklorico de Potosi, Bolivia.

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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11 days to Christmas: It’s Friday! The Hormone Guide…

Friday is here… holidays are just around the corner… Husband’s gone on a work trip. This mom is left home with 3 little ones and a pet hamster [come on, what you mean 'you won't be able to clean his house today? how is it any different from all the other days?'] Oh, well, gotta find something to cheer me up, and sure enough, rescued an old post, especially prepared for Fridays like today.

Read and learn – great tip for this holiday season, where, we, women, tend to eat shop talk indulge a little bit too much! :o

It’s coming from another woman, to all other women, and probably, all men with a good sense of humor…

Source: another fellow blogger, with great sense of humor! :o


Posted by on December 14, 2012 in ART, humor, LANGUAGE


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12 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… not quite your regular ‘Elf on the shelf’!

Image #9: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Not quite your regular ‘Elf on the shelf’… more like ‘a non-stop climbing pre-toddler’! Climbing on the half-desk… going up the stairs… just got caught, while, quietly, trying to move on… Oh, the perks of being a mother of 3 little ones! Who needs adult supervision, anyway? :o

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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13 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’…making my wish for 12.12.12: to witness their shared passion!

my two boys

my two boys after the match

Image #8: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: My two boys on a regular Saturday morning…

While many are still sleeping in, my boys head to the soccer field at the kids’ school… The ‘older one’ is the player, but my ‘youngest boy’ has to be there to support his dad… I couldn’t be any happier when looking at their faces… That’s a good wish for this 12.12.12: I’ve got 2 girls and 2 boys, and being able to witness their happiness is priceless… Today, I’m sharing the joy these boys bring to my life, through their shared passion: sports! :o

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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14 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’. An evergreen centerpiece as a keepsake…


Image #7: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Evergreen centerpiece.

There’s a bit of backstory to this branch of evergreen. It used to belong to a much larger tree, in front of the  Radiation Treatment Facility here in La Paz. The tree has been trimmed to offer space for a canopy, where patients and patients-to-be would benefit from some much deserved shade, while waiting to be called into the facility. Several branches were cut down, and a few of the volunteers decided to take them home, using them as part of a unique Christmas decoration

Two weeks later, one of the branches still exists as my dining table centerpiece… beautiful… a keepsake of a day of work, but most importantly, reminding us about how blessed we’ve been… There’ll be no holidays at a hospital facility for our family… we’ll spend these holidays together, as a family.. we’re all healthy and grateful…

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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15 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… Driving among the clouds…


Image #6: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Literally driving among the clouds, outside the city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz… And we DID GO through this ride [or at least, the fab hubby did... all the driving!]. Here is the link for the complete Photo Essay!

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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16 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… Joy after the hail showers!


Image #5: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Joy after the Hail Showers… 

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.


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17 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… Making fun Science with… Snow!!!

Image #4: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Let it snow in school… if [natural] snow doesn’t fall down from the sky, the solution is… let’s make it! [nothing wrong with having fun with school-made artificial snow!]

Makes Fluffy Artificial Snow in Seconds!

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.


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18 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… each day, an image of joy! You know you’re in Bolivia when…


Image #3: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Getting ready to enjoy the holiday season dinners, nights-out, get-togethers… That’s when you know you’re IN BOLIVIA… it’s possible to find PEPTO BISMOL [or any similar!] in a LADY’S PURSE… hummm, wonder why! :o

Let’s enjoy the holidays!

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.


Posted by on December 7, 2012 in BOLIVIA, expat, humor, I SPY, photography


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19 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… each day, an image of joy!


Image #2: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Hang on… we’re almost there… The family is ready!

In order to celebrate our “non-tropical season of joy”, we’ll continue to share images that showcase how we’re seeing and enjoying this time of the year. Today, a ‘snapshot of our family’… aren’t we the best looking family in town?! :o

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.


Posted by on December 6, 2012 in BOLIVIA, expat, humor, I SPY, photography


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Is it really about Thanksgiving? or “Why I’m boycotting ‘Black Friday’…”


Well, the Season to be thankful has began, and its greatest day is already here. Thanksgiving day is all about family, friends, cooking, sharing, enjoying each other’s company and football! Be Thankful. It’s the word for the Season.

“Thanks. And a whole lot more.”

That said, I think I just got tired of being bombarded by the commercialism associated with the upcoming holidays… somehow, even though we’re living overseas, the commercial holidays and their unique products, find a way to come to us….Thanks to our Direct TV routed signal from Puerto Rico (which I’m deeply thankful for!). It’s great being able to watch our favorite shows, movies… but it comes with a price: you also get all the commercial, car & medicare adds, sales specials… the whole nine yards that make this end of the year period Merry & Bright!!! :o

Please, don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, need the holiday spirit around my house, love to cook for my family, trying new and improved recipes… But, come on! Witnessing Christmas trump over Thanksgiving, having suggested ‘Thanksgiving gifts’ for our children… seems a bit too much… But again, maybe, it’s just me…

I’m a bit overwhelmed by what the holiday season (and all the commercial adds around it!) has turned into!

If you like to shop, go for it. Enjoy your time. I myself like shopping as much as the next person, but this year, I’ll be passing on the ‘early Black Friday‘. Not only there’s the option to shop online for pretty much, the same products, but one could also begin his/her shopping ventures as early as [Thanksgiving] Thursday, at 8 pm! Go, have your dinner with family, grab your purses, and head to the mall, walking off all that turkey, trading the very-much-needed nap for long walks through the stores! If one likes it, go ahead, have a great time window shopping, talking to other customers at the stores, finding the latest, coolest, brightest, piece of clothing! Forget about doing the dishes – they can happily wait in the crowded sink – call your friends, get into your car, pack an extra dose of patience and kindness for the parking lots, and… Go shopping!

Once more, not for me.

And I’m fully aware that by now, I may have gotten several readers errr, upset with my take on the whole thing… Apologies. If you dearly love the madness that comes with the strongly suggested shopping” the day after Thanksgiving Day, good for you. Just don’t keep reading. I respect people’s opinion and they’re unexplainable desire to shop, but, it’s not for me. And why all this?

The explanation is actually, quite simple, and it involves no previous frustrations with this time of the year, nor any bad memories from any childhood. Holidays are fun, and mine are always filled with great moments of joy. The reason I began to boycott the Black Friday madness comes from answering a few simple questions:

“Do I really need this?”

“Do I have money for this, or I’d need to dive into our Christmas budget?”

“Do I have space in our house for that?”

If it’s a decorative piece, “what am I gonna do with this after the season is over?”

“Do I have storage space?” 

Don’t know about y’all, but because we’re a ‘nomad’ family, moving every so often, due to work and lifestyle, my answers were all ‘No’… Besides, this year, husband and I spent a good hour explaining to our [7 years old and younger] children the meaning behind the celebrations, why we need to be thankful, the meaning of gratitude… Why it’s necessary to share what we have  with others, and why give not because you have to, but because it truly makes you feel good about yourself and about life… Not sure if the kids grasped all the information that was thrown upon them, but at least, got them understanding what Toys for Tots is, and the importance of volunteering when yo have a skill and time to share…

Image Credit:

After our ‘quasi-family meeting’, I realized that the post-Thanksgiving shopping idea runs completely opposite to these ‘freshly-developed’ concepts! How could I explain to my children that, despite all the ‘teachings’, I needed to go out and guess… go shop for more stuff! :o

I’d be contradicting myself, and jeopardizing the ideas I’d just planted into my children’s minds and hearts… So, I decided: we’ll be passing on the Black Friday madness shopping. Right now, don’t really need any new sweaters, decorative pieces, nor the newest-coolest talking toy…

Today, it’ll be about cooking, family and friends. We’ll enjoy our Thanksgiving Day. And a restful evening with our kids.

Tomorrow, we’ll be enjoying the day off. Far away from the malls, stores, or even, clicks away from any dot com attractive store website… Maybe, we could even take a short road trip? Since we’re not in the US, roads shouldn’t be packed with cars coming and going from who knows where… We’ll enjoy our ‘Black Friday’, hopefully, keeping our wallets safeguarded from any ‘shopping madness’! :o

Wait!! Just remembered something: I forgot to mention “Cyber Monday” is also coming… be aware… be careful… together, those two ‘shopping days’ will find a way to get ya! :o

What about you? Looking forward to Black Friday shopping or… just relaxing and staying as far away as possible?  

You already know my answer! :o Happy Thanksgiving to us all!


Posted by on November 22, 2012 in expat, humor


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Why are you looking for “41”?

Ok, let me explain this question. I’m a curious cat, by nature. That said, recently, I discovered that since I began blogging, people come searching for ’41’… Is that just a number? An age? [coincidently it's my current age, but I really don't think people would be interested in that! Also, be kind: one should never ask/try to guess a lady's age... especially when it's past 35! :o] Is there any cabalistic meaning for the number? Since I had no idea, I went out on searching about the intriguing number, in order to find some sort of explanation why, almost 200 people/visitors would be looking for that!

What did I found? Nothing conclusive… it’s an odd, prime number, with no real numerological, biblical or historical meaning… What a disappointment!

So, again, I come back to the question: “why would people be interested in this number?” After exhausting the ‘fancy searching tools/engines’, I resumed to the old-fashioned Wikipedia, the ‘mother of all lost cyber-information‘, for some non-scientific, unlikely reliable shed of light on this problem.

[By now many are probably thinking that I've got a lot of free time in my life, pretty much doing nothing, and with tons of 'unassigned' minutes to spare... definitely, not the case. I'm also a serious procrastinator, and, sometimes I allow my endless curiosity prevent me from carrying on with real chores - good explanation for escaping from my real duties, right? o]

Anyway, getting back to Wikipedia’s cyber explanation, get this:

“41 (forty-one) is the natural number following 40 and preceding 42, as well as two numbers preceding 43.”

Pretty fantastic, right? Maybe that’s why people have been searching throughout this blog: seeking the number that sits between 40 & 42, which, by the way, are much fancier, even numbers, with several numerological attributions! Got my answer at last, I suppose! :o Of course, if one [with time to spare] is heading to check the number on that site, will find references ranging from religion to TV, from big screen movies to politics, and obviously, some math & science references – but again, nothing that could make almost 200 people come blog-hopping over here… :o

But now, that I’ve got some attention to this ‘matter’, I had to, obviously, tag this post with “41” – at the end, it was the original reason people begin coming over… Oh, the intricate ways the human mind works… one can only wonder! Well… Got you reading, right? 

Thanks for reading! :o


Posted by on November 20, 2012 in humor


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It’s Monday: beginning the day laughing (or at least, trying to!)

Just because it’s Monday, and on Mondays we all tend to be a bit sour, I’m sharing this “good morning greeting”, suggested by a friend… At the end, it’s all about work performance, right? :o


Posted by on November 12, 2012 in humor


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Tip for enjoying Halloween: “Don’t text and fly!”

Love it! Happy Halloween! :o


Posted by on November 1, 2012 in humor, photography


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If “moving is the third most stressful life event”, let me turn it into a fun inspiration for Halloween!

The  “packed out”  couple.

Memories from last June…

A year’s gone by since I prepared the original blogpost about packing and moving, focusing on the FS events… More than four months have past since we packed out from our last post assignment, Recife, Brazil.

This year, I even celebrated my birthday surrounded by bubble wrap & moving boxesJune was our pack out season – but husband and kids found a way to bring joy to my special day, despite the craziness we’re all familiar with, when it comes to have your house taken down by movers, packers, filling endless forms and making sure you don’t lose track of your life during the process! :o

[UAB to HHE] “why are you taking so long to come home?”  [HHE]Sorry, dear… you know how it is at the port… you meet a couple of cool young boxes… begin chatting, talking about the midlife shipping crisis… and you lose track of time!”







So, now it’s the end of October, and since we STILL DO NOT HAVE (not yet! I’m always hopeful!) our household effects, I thought about turning the frustration into something, at least, fun, for this year’s Halloween at our local Marine Detachment House. Husband and I went as ‘pack out couple’... Well, a bit of crafting skills, an open mind and a good sense of humorwere the perfect recipe for this year’s costume!

Did you have any last-minute, crazy idea for your adult costume? I’d love to know!


Posted by on October 28, 2012 in FAMILY, humor, TRAVEL


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{(young kids) + (sleep deprivation) + (long working hours) = (when exactly did we sign for this?!!)}

myself, a realistic impression, according to one of my kids!

I guess I’m bringing these memories back because my baby is now almost 2 years old… and the sleep deprivation days are becoming fewer and fewer… [at least, that's the hope!]

There was a time I used to love Math

Nowadays, I’m not so sure…

I’m still trying to figure out the Mathematics of life with children!

[Backstory] Once upon a time,  there was a young girl who loved children, had a great time playing with other people’s kids, and believed she’d make a great mom, when the time came…

Well, this young girl got older, found her prince charming, and once again, they (so naïve!) thought:

“We’re gonna be parents! We’re gonna be the best ones! We’ll love and cherish children! Our kids will be the best behaved ones, always clean, always loving and respectful”

And then, the family started growing: first we were, as some friends (already with 3 children) used to call us: “a couple with a child”. We had it easy! Once kid #1 was sound asleep, mommy and daddy could enjoy some quality time (and even some wine!) at the end of a long day of work. So, here was the formula:

f = [(a loving husband) + (a loving wife) + (a brand new baby) = (a happy family!)]

Life and Math seemed so easy and manageagle: we were living overseas, had support and household help. We then decided to increase our legacy. Here came kid #2, and with it, a way more challenging routine, accompained by several sleepless nights…

We had no idea that with two kids, the chances of having one of them sick, at some point in time, are extremely high!

We, the “once before-pretty smart” parents, learnt that our “Math skills” weren’t gonna cut…

Take a look at the “new & improved” formula:

f = [(still loving, but very tired parents) + (demanding toddler) + (a brand new baby)

= (a still happy, but somewhat confused family!)]

We managed life. We found our niche, learnt from other couples new strategies and ground rules to apply to our own routine, began training the kids on life skills (sleeping, eating, drinking, bathroom needs).

Regarding our Math knowledge, we sort of came back from a lousy D- to a pretty solid B-

We were back, baby!! We knew how to survive with kids, lead an enjoyable life, took short trips with the whole family, went grocery shopping… We had it down! And the excess of confidence and maybe some extra  excitement about our new FS assignment, responded for kid #3…


And then, the third one came into our lives. 

We’re a family full of life and joy. Today, we don’t sleep as many hours as we used to, let’s see, six years ago, when we were sure to be the best “parents-to-be”.

Today we may not have the face-time with our spouse, the way we wanted, but if the kids are healthy, fed, dry, and the most important of all – sleeping – we, as parents, are pretty satisfied.

Our definition of happiness may have changed a bit, and we’re taking a day at a time. A sleepless night might be followed by a great day, who knows?

At least now we’ve got an idea on what’s in-store for us. We know kids give us a hard time when it comes to sleeping, eating, getting dressed, getting ready for school, and pretty much anything else.

But at least now, we know we need to be prepared. And we’re learning. Also, we decided to give up on our Math skills – raising kids has no formula.

Life with kids is just a massive equation, with tons of variables… We’d be silly trying to map it out. And the worst and maybe the funniest of all is that, at the moment, we’re graded by a team, whose combined age doesn’t even reach 13 years! :o

In sum, I’m thankful to all the readers and parents out there, for the support during my parenting experience, and I guess, gotta thank my own children, for the ENDLESS INSPIRATION they provide to my blogging days! ♥

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in children, FAMILY, humor, TCKs


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Funny (and realistic!) facts about ‘Transport in La Paz’.

Sharing today a bit of feedback on what we´re calling, “our newest home”. And thanks to Ailsa, from Where is my Backpack? for the usual inspiration! After being in La Paz, Bolivia, for over 4 months, our overall experience is pretty positive, which is fantastic, considering we´re still waiting for our household effects to arrive, and kids don´t have a lot of toys to play with. All in all, positive vibes, and we`re enjoying every moment.

20120824-182537.jpgOne thing that I find very ´peculiar´ is the traffic/transportation/driving dynamics here. Although, I shouldn´t, I suppose, after living and driving in Mozambique/South Africa/Swaziland, on the “wrong side” :o of the road, for some 3 years, and in Recife (Brazil), for another 2 years, nothing should come as a real surprise.

But, in fact, there´s always something new at you. And, it actually makes me laugh on any regular day: not one single dull moment throughout this beautiful city here! I was quite happy to find a post that shared similar thoughts, and am adding it here, with a few comments. My appreciation to Strolling South America, another blogger with WordPress, for sharing actual/realistic and funny facts about the ´transportation´ in La Paz! I added my comments below each original statement. Have fun reading!

Obviously, cropped the bottom of the pic… respecting the driver’s privacy… :o


This is the quickest option. I know it’s hard to believe, but some taxi drivers overcharge foreigners, so make sure you negotiate the price before you leave. The driver can tell you’re a foreigner even if you aren’t wearing stripey hippie pants and standing by Sagarnaga street. Also, make sure it’s a licensed taxi if you don’t want to risk getting EXPRESS KIDNAPPED. If you’re lucky, the front seat will have a seat belt. The back seats will not, but take comfort in the fact that the driver isn’t wearing one either as he passes on the right and runs red lights.

Comment: Gotta love the taxis here. For a mom of 3 little ones, still waiting for our family car, I became quite dependent on taxis, know already a few companies/agencies, and even names of drivers. But the notion of strongly hugging/hauling your kids during any drive (especially the ones towards the downtown area, waving through the curves), is  let´s say, exciting, but in not a great way! Something else about the taxis here: for some reason, they don´t have a meter (!!), so, the driver has to inform the passenger about the cost. After a while, one gets to know how much a certain trip would cost, and we`re all good. But, going back to the ´lack of a meter situation´, according to one of my drivers (I´m becoming quite familiar with cab drivers here!), there´s a simple explanation: THE ALTITUDE. That´s right! The high altitude of the city would ´damage´ any meter they tried to have installed… :o Believe it or not, the important thing is that cab drivers and their companies swear by this quasi-fact. That said, one has to trust their driver.


You’re in the wrong city! Try Santiago, Buenos Aires, São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

Comment: Haven´t had a chance yet… Let´s wait and see what impressions come out of that!


Mini-bus in La Paz

Always wished you were a little bit taller? You won’t as your head hits the ceiling while the driver goes over a bump. More like a van than a bus, this is the most intimate of travel choices. Passengers often greet those seated with a “Buenas tardes” as they board. This is because they’re probably going to be cozily squeezed between a couple of them. Probably the safest of travel options as the driver has to frequently slow down to pick up passengers. No, there aren’t any seat belts, but if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll have to rent a car. Look at the sign in the front window to see where the bus is going. Failing that, listen for the fare collectors shouting the destinations out the open door.


Microbus in La Paz

Despite the name, microbuses are actually the largest type of intra-city transport. Usually blue or yellow, they are bigger than minibuses, but smaller than your average bus back home. When the seats fill up it’s standing room only. This is the slowest and cheapest of transport options. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re really broke, or if you’re in a hurry and the minibuses and trufis are all full.


The famous “trufi”!

This is really just a mini-bus disguised as a taxi. Trufis, which also advertise their destinations with a sign in the front window, run set routes like buses, the only difference is that they’re generally a bit faster as they don’t stop as often to let people on and off. They’re ever so slightly more expensive than mini-buses, but the difference is negligible unless you’re on a really tight budget. And if you are on a really tight budget, well you knew that this job only paid 30 bolivianos an hour when you signed up.

Comment: Right now, my position is just watch, listen and learn. what I´ve learned so far? I guess that there´s a very strong possibility I won´t be riding on a Minibus or using a Trufi, as intriguing and exciting they might look to foreigner eyes… I´m fine with my taxis, for the time being… Even though, I know there´ll be no seat belts on the back seat, and there´s a great chance they won´t be able to load their trunk with my groceries, due to the tank of gas (propane, I think!) – hey, I guess it´s a cheap way to beat the economic crisis, getting more driving than with regular oil… :o   


It was nice knowing you. It’s honestly safer to cycle on this road.

ok, ok… this is actually mountain biking… got a couple friends who’ve got a biking/sports business, so, biking is definitely part of my “TO DO” list while here!

Comment: Well… I´m actually looking forward to try that, despite a few warnings about biking in the city… Don´t have a bike yet, but it´s part of my plans… Kids need to get their bikes, as well, so, I´ll try to be a good role model, reminding myself from my biking-to-work days in Davis, CA.  Again, let´s wait to see what the future brings, but so far, I´m up for the challenge.



La Paz is a great city in which to take a stroll if you’re training for the Olympics. The altitude combined with the hills will put you in peak physical condition, which you’ll need to fight off food poisoning. The cobblestone streets can be slippery, so I wouldn’t recommend parkour. Keep in mind that crosswalks are merely for decoration.

Comment: Very true. The slippery streets and my knees have already met. Once… or twice, before. Not a fun experience, but a good lesson to learn when one goes out grocery shopping and decides to come back home (uphill) wearing boots and carrying groceries bags… Maybe, it wasn´t a smart decision from my part. From now on, I´ll stick with a cab ride on my way back from the market. Yes, those taxis, the fun ones, with no seat belts nor meters! :o


Posted by on September 10, 2012 in BOLIVIA, foreign service, humor


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Peace & Love, Fashion & Faces: ‘Goodbye Brazil’ in style!









And the series of “despedidas”(goodbyes) continues in Recife, Brazil, as our family gets ready to depart from post… Fashionable people and colorful memories celebrated this bittersweet moment!


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Lights, Color & Music: Saying ‘Goodbye Brazil’ in style!


Posted by on June 21, 2012 in ART, humor, photography, TRAVEL


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Saying ‘Goodbye Brazil’ in style!

♥ Getting ready to party… you don´t wanna miss this bus, do you? :o

♣ Stay tuned! More to come! :o


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Mother’s Day Sunday is for…… Soccer?!

the local teams. the local “passions”…


So, Mother’s Day is for family. It’s a family day, for decades making Hallmark’s top sales, because, people need to say how much they love and cherish their moms – in writing, if all possible! Give it up to the greeting cards’ industries – they’ve got it down. And they’re right: Mother’s Day is for fathers, and sons, and daughters, and… for soccer! Again, this year, Mother’s Day Sunday will be celebrated with… soccer??!

That’s right. Our city, Recife, is completely immersed into the whole “soccer team passion”, and the two most important clubs are playing today, for the championship…

Last year, Mother’s Day was the first-legged game. This year, it’s the final match, so, here are my “motherly impressions” of this not-so-common way to express their love for their Mothers Soccer Teams!

:o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o

Impressions from last year’s Mother’s Day Weekend: the two teams facing each other… We stayed at home… safely watching the matches!

After a full week of ‘motherly celebrations‘, the weekend arrived. A dry weekend – the rains, which recently have scared and confused the population, seemed to have ceased. Good news. The city needed to get back into its routine. And with the arrival of weekend, came the excitement of enjoying quality time with the kids, watching them perform the little songs learnt in school, find the opportunity to have that long-lost face time with husband to chat and catch up… That’s right, here in Recife, Brazil, Mother’s Day Sunday just happened to be the first game of the “two-legged” championship final. Here is an idea on how exciting things may get when we’re talking about soccer in the Northeast of Brazil. The two competing teams arrest Sport Club Recife, the favorite, and the bearer of five previous championship victories. Its opponent: the Santa Cruz (“Holy Cross”) Soccer Club, the underdog, who today tried to pull out a miracle: win at the opponent’s ground.

Santa Cruz Futebol Clube, or simply Santa Cruz is a Brazilian football club in Recife, Pernambuco. On February 3, 1914, eleven young men aging from 14 to 16 years founded a football society. Because the boys used to play football on the streets by the yard of the Santa Cruz Church, the club was named after that church, which is situated on Santa Cruz Street in Recife. The first official meeting of the members was at 2 Mangueira St. In this meeting they decided the position of each member, the name of the club “Santa Cruz Football Club”, and society’s colors. Sport Club do Recife was founded on May 13th 1905, when Guilherme de Aquino Fonseca, from Pernambuco, returned after a season estudying in England. He got deeply interested in the British football, so, with some associates in Recife, he had the idea to create the club that would eventually become the greatest club in Brazilian’s North and Northeast Region. Sport Club Recife’s clubhouse is located in Praça da Bandeira, in the Ilha do Retiro, district in Recife. The club’s big structure has a number of areas, such as tennis courts, volleyball and hockey quarters. There is also a big aquatic complex, a training center and the house of all “rubro-negros” (red-and-blacks): the Adelmar da Costa Carvalho Stadium, commonly known as Ilha do Retiro.

Today’s match, the first one of the 2-legged final, happened at Sport Club’s home. It was a home game for Sport – who lost! This small victory tonight made the Santa Cruz’s gain new hope: hope that everything is possible, and miracles may happen – at least in Brazil. At least in Soccer.

And, if my Mother’s Day celebration had to include a couple of guest friends home for the game, so be it. If the price (if any!) for having a peaceful in-doors Mother’s Day Sunday was to rejoice my two boys during the match, I’ll take it. At the end, Mother’s Day is about family, and being together with the ones you love. Even if surrounded by loud screamers and over-excited kids.

Next week is the “final-final”. The second final game. And it’ll be on Santa Cruz’s grounds. I hope I have the same pleasant Sunday I had today: surrounded by my “amateur soccer fans”. Won’t care for the full house. Won’t care for the screaming at every wrong or crazy pass… Won’t really care for who wins or looses – just wanna hold on to this “Mother’s Day” feeling for another Sunday. Happy week to us all and good luck to both Santa Cruz and Sport Club!

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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in humor, sports


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Preparing for Easter Sunday! Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa (Portuguese Codfish)

Suggestion for a delicious Easter Sunday, or in good Portuguese: “Domingo de Páscoa”… Sharing my mother’s favorite recipe: Portuguese Codfish – Bacalhau a Gomes de Sá… Got a lot of positive feedback when I first published this recipe, that, I’m getting it out – again, now, as a great suggestion for Sunday’s luncheon! Showing the deepest appreciation to my Portuguese heritage… thanks, mom! :o


Originally published:

Although I may be able to take credit for the photo, the “execution” and recipe belong to my mother, and to her Portuguese heritage. For the past ten years, I’ve been promising my husband I’d make it one day. One day… not today… not yet! [smiles!]

 Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is essentially a casserole of codfish, potatoes, eggs, olives, olive oil and onion. It is a speciality from the northern city of Porto, being today popular throughout Portugal, and is considered one of Portugal’s greatest bacalhau recipes.

Origin of the name
Gomes de Sá was the son of a rich nineteenth century merchant, in Porto. The family fortune dwindled and the son had to find a job at the famous restaurant Restaurante Lisbonense in downtown Porto, where the well-known recipe was created.

 Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

“É um prato alourado no forno, formado por uma mistura de lascas de bacalhau amaciadas em leite, batatas cozidas e um refogado ligeiro. É enfeitado com ovo cozido, salsa e azeitonas”.

Alguns pratos tradicionais da culinária recebem o nome de seus criadores. Este é o caso do bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, tradicional receita portuguesa deste peixe, de autoria de José Luís Gomes de Sá, falecido em 1926, e na época cozinheiro do Restaurante Lisbonense, no Porto, lugar em que criou a receita. Sua receita tradicional propõe que o bacalhau seja cortado em pequenas lascas marinadas no leite por mais de uma hora. Assado no forno, com azeitealhocebola, acompanhando azeitonas pretas, salsa e ovos cozidos.

Este é um prato típico da região Norte de Portugal. É de preparação simples e relativamente rápida.

O bacalhau à Gomes de Sá foi um dos candidatos finalistas às 7 Maravilhas da Gastronomia portuguesa.

Gomes de Sá era um comerciante do Porto nos finais do Séc. XIX. A ele se deve esta receita de bacalhau que, segundo a lenda, terá sido criada com os mesmos ingredientes (à excepção do leite) com que semanalmente fazia os bolinhos de bacalhau que deliciavam os amigos. Com efeito, os ingredientes são os mesmos, mas a receita resulta de uma confecção cuidada e de grande requinte. A receita que se segue é retirada de um manuscrito atribuído ao próprio Gomes de Sá que terá dado a receita a um seu amigo, João, com a deliciosa nota: “João se alterar qualquer cousa já não fica capaz”

Receita em Portugues:

3 Porções

  • 400 g Bacalhau
  • 500 g Batata
  • 2 Ovos
  • 1 dente Alho
  • 3 Cebolas
  • 0.35 g folhas louro
  • 1 ramo salsa em rama
  • Q.B. Azeitonas Pretas
  • Q.B. Azeite
  • Q.B. Sal
  • Q.B. Pimenta

Cortar o bacalhau em postas e demolhar durante 48 horas. Colocar panela ao lume com água e deixar ferver. Juntar o bacalhau, deixar cozer, retirar e lascar.

Lavar bem as batatas com a pele. Cozer em água, temperada com sal, retirar e deixar arrefecer. Pelar as batatas e cortar em camponesa.
Cozer os ovos (duros), arrefecer e picar.

Descascar os dentes de alho e picar e descascar as cebolas e cortar em meia-lua. Colocar um tacho ao lume, adicionar o azeite. Juntar os dentes de alho, as cebolas e as folhas de louro; deixar refogar lentamente. Temperar com sal e pimenta. Retirar as folhas de louro e guardar.

Colocar uma frigideira ao lume. Adicionar a cebolada e o bacalhau lascado e saltear. Juntar a batata e temperar com sal e pimenta. Colocar dentro de um tabuleiro, regar com azeite aquecido com alho picado e levar ao forno. Retirar e empratar. Decorar com salsa picada, azeitonas pretas e os ovos picados e servir.

And in English: (from EMERIL)


Soak the cod in cold water to cover for 24 to 36 hours, changing the water occasionally, drain. Flake the cod into small pieces, removing any bones. Set aside. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until slightly golden, about 6 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease a medium ovenproof casserole dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Spread half of the potatoes over the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle half of the salt cod over the potatoes. Place half of the onion mixture over the salt cod. Top the onion mixture with more salt cod. Place another layer of potatoes over the top of the cod. Drizzle the entire pan with the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Place on a serving platter. Garnish with the sliced eggs, olives, and parsley.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


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The giant dolls parade

Venue & Date: streets of Olinda, Carnaval Monday, February 2012.

The wonderful thing about Brazil is that Rio and Salvador aren’t the only places to experience the Carnival. Smaller towns like Olinda and Recife are as imbibed with the effervescent spirit of the Carnival steeped in strong Afro-Brazilian and Indian traditions. Most tourists head to Rio, but Olinda and Recife are extremely popular among Brazilians, as well as, among tourists.

Visitors and families (like ours) headed this Carnaval Monday for an encounter with the so-called Giant Dolls, an old tradition featuring 9 feet tall wood and fabric dolls, throughout the historic cobblestone streets of Olinda. The most famous doll is the “midnight man” or “homem da meia-noite”‘ coming to life at midnight on carnival Sunday, and officially kicking off the giant dolls party.

Parading bands, under the sound of Frevo and samba, accompany the excited crowd, until it’s finishing line, where all the 50 giant dolls, resembling famous people, celebrities, politicians, meet and dance with the cheering public, for hours!

Heading to the Parade

Where it all begins: waiting for the giant dolls to come!

The Maracatu Dancers, a “former president”, a “current president”, more giant dolls and pure joy!

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in ART, CARNAVAL, Fashion, humor


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“Twenty Days to Carnaval”, says the beer can!

That’s right! And who says that is a beer can… What?! 

Wait… it’s a bit more than a gigantic beer can on the side of the road… it’s a traffic engineering device… hiding not one, but two traffic-monitoring camera… very clever! :o

A very “shy” pair of cameras silently watch and monitor the street traffic…


Posted by on January 31, 2012 in CARNAVAL, humor, I SPY, photography, post a day


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“Dia de Los Muertos, Halloween Weekend, Snapshots from Scary School and Last Minute Trick-or-Treating”

“Dia de Los Muertos, Halloween Weekend, Snapshots from Scary School and Last Minute Trick-or-Treating”

It’s still Thursday, and we’re already looking forward to the weekend. Our family’s been on a roll since last Friday, with the preparations for Halloween Weekend and all that came with it!

Halloween parties at two different schools, one “scary” birthday party, and a last minute trick-or-treating that caught us by surprise on a Tuesday night (it was Halloween night, so, neighboring kids were just doing their job!) :o

After spending the afternoon at School #1, getting ready for Halloween at School #2

presenting the contestants for best costume!

a happy witch!

The (scary) seniors…

An interesting costume for a teacher/mom…

Coming directly from the Movie to School!


And games for the “cyber-kids”:

Weekend event #3, Saturday: Classmate’s birthday party. The theme? Guess! :o

And wrapping it up, husband and I were caught by surprise on Tuesday evening (the 31st), by some neighboring kids, who asked to “borrow” our toddlers for some “last minute trick-or-treating”! We couldn’t say no to that! :o

gotta give them candy.. whatever you have!

Good bye, Joker!


Posted by on November 3, 2011 in children, Fashion, humor, photography, school


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