Sportsmanlike conduct!

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A great weekend for all parents. Watching their kids replicate home-learned manners! Broadly, conducting oneself with sportsmanship! Besides the great behavior presented by the school team during a recent inter-clubs tournament, our boys won! 😮

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Sunsetting a work day in Atlanta…

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At least some good has o come out of work trips, right?

Catching the last sun colors before they vain out between buildings – a glimpse of ‘urban beauty’, one could say..

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Sightseeing in Brasilia: Esplanada dos Ministérios

Well, it only took me pretty good 9 months after arriving in Brasilia, to finally come up with a quais-decent post. It does feel like I’ve reached the end of a long gestation. Work, kids, trips to Buenos Aires (Argentina), back to the USA, Rio, São Paulo, Curitiba (Paraná), Recife (Pernambuco, where we lived from 2010-2012, and the birthplace of our youngest child), Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) and the common lifestyle have taken much time away from blogging. Now, back on track, with the plan to do a much better job on “sharing” beautiful images. That said, here are the images of our current home, from our first “tour” as a family!


[From the Go Brazil site:]
A quintessential symbol of work by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the creation of Brasília, the Esplanade of Ministries (Esplanada dos Ministérios) is situated on Eixo Monumental, one of the avenues forming the core shape of Costa’s design for Brazil’s capital, commonly compared to an airplane.Costa’s project for the creation of Brazil’s new capital is still a source of wonder. It beat 62 other entries in a contest launched by President Juscelino Kubitschek and was implemented by Novacap, the company created to build the city, as Plano Piloto.Costa said of his plan for the city, “Nasceu do gesto primário de quem assinala um lugar ou dele toma posse: dois eixos cruzando-se em ângulo reto, ou seja, o próprio sinal da cruz. (“It sprang from the primary gesture of one who marks or takes possession of a place: two axes which cross at a square angle, in other words, the sign of the cross itself.”)Eixo Monumental and Eixo Rodoviário form that essential cross shape. The city’s ample scale, exemplified by the Esplanade of Ministries, was intended to express an idea of dignity, Lucio Costa said in an interview available on Casa de Lucio Costa.Those generous dimensions also guided Brasília’s residential “super blocks” (super quadras) which the architect designed with wide green belts.Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also listed by Brazil’s National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN). Lucio Costa’s original report for Plano Piloto is available as part of the Institute’s description of the city’s heritage. The 16-kilometer long Esplanade has 17 buildings which house ministries and other federal administration organs, placed on opposite sides of the Eixo (pronounced AYE-shoo) and separated by a lawn.

At the start of the long stretch is the Metropolitan Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece which reopened after a three-year renovation.At the far end, the towers and the convex and concave structures which house the National Congress as well as Praça dos Três Poderes, or Three Power Square.The best view of the Esplanade is from the lookout point on Brasília’s 230-meter tall TV Tower. Inaugurated in 1967, the tower was designed by Lucio Costa and inspired in the Eiffel Tower. Other landmarks you can see from this vantage point at a height of 75 meters – which is visited by about 1,000 people a day – are the Mané Garrincha Stadium, the Nelson Piquet Autodrome and Lake Paranoá.

A bit of self-promotion… just because I feel like doing it…!

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Le Salar d’Uyuni en 20 photos originales

Oh, well… why not? Work has kept me a bit too busy these days, and once home, we’re greeted by the fully-energetic kids, who happen to be at their [insert a joyful screaming here!] last week of school vacation.

So, because of that, just felt like doing a bit of ‘self-promotion’ and decided to share this link with you all. Vanessa Huet, from Voyage Perou, compiled 20 original photos of the Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia, our previous home. One of the photos display an interesting couple, supposedly balancing their weight on a not-less-interesting fruit [guess who?]! Things that one does when visiting the Salar!

PS: The text is fully in French, but the images are worth a thousand words, so… enjoy!

http://www.voyageperou.info/salar-uyuni-en-20-photos-originales/

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[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 3

Brasilia has no beaches, just a few waterfalls a couple hours out of the city.
Some people, though, tend to say that ‘Brasilia’s sky is their sea…’ Here are a few snapshots taken this week, before heading out to work:

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 2

The center of Brasília, capital of Brazil. The very own way I see [and feel!] it. With its constructions, architecture, the unique concrete jungle I’ve had the pleasure to grow up in… and now, back in time, 20 years later, have the opportunity to be part of its work force…

A few snapshots of Brasília’s commercial center – the ‘heart’ of the old city, the original buildings and their unique architectural displays… and besides all that, these images represent a little of my ‘work surroundings’… The so-called Setor Comercial Sul, de Brasilia. Brasilia seen as their creators had envisioned… Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 1

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Happy New Year to all of us!

Starting a new series of snapshots: 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil.

And maybe, here and there, due to [required] work or [fun] family trips, we could be sharing a snapshot from a location outside Brazil’s capital… who knows? For now, like many others, we’ll try to begin the year on a “healthy note”: finally got our bikes assembled [all 5 of them], and decided to take advantage of the beautiful ecological park, close by…

Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

#ZeroDiscrimination Campaign – Movie Festival in Brasilia

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Movie Festival in Brasilia – Campaign #ZeroDiscrimination

All content presented here below, extracted from:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

Hoje é o Dia Mundial de Luta Contra a Aids!

Se você é de Brasília, participe da Campanha #ZeroDiscriminação promovida pela Unaids Brasil junto com a comunidade internacional no Brasil. A Embaixada dos EUA - Brasil participa da I Mostra Internacional de Filmes essa semana, com o filme “Clube de Compras Dallas”, na Casa Thomas Jefferson da Asa Sul, amanhã (02/12). Você está convidado! Se achou a iniciativa relevante, convide seus amigos para o filme! #MostraZeroDiscriminação #WorldAidsDay

Countries around the world celebrate Zero Discrimination Day

UNAIDS is inspired by the incredible response to the first Zero Discrimination Day

GENEVA, 1 March 2014People from all walks of life and in every region of the world are commemorating Zero Discrimination Day with a wide range of activities. UNAIDS called for the annual event, which is being celebrated for the first time on 1 March.

“Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Discrimination is a violation of human rights. It is immoral, hurtful and dehumanizing. Yet too many people around the world continue to face unfair, harmful or violent treatment simply because of the circumstances of their birth or environment,” said Dr John Ashe, President of the General Assembly.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé has expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of support for the campaign. Working with Nobel Peace Prize winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UNAIDS launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013 on World AIDS Day.

“For all who seek a more just world, for all who strive for peace and prosperity—let us start by stopping the inequality and discrimination happening around us,” said Mr Sidibé.

Many government ministries, lawmakers, business leaders and international organizations are supporting the zero discrimination campaign.

“Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies,” said Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”

“Achieving zero discrimination is critical for the success of the AIDS response. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is fully committed through its Getting to Zero at Work campaign,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO.

“Eliminating discrimination is the one step that can enable the world to achieve the UN General Assembly’s 2011 target of a 50 per cent reduction of HIV infection among people who use drugs by 2015,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. “Take that step, say yes to #zerodiscrimination, commit, transform and let’s reach the target.”

The butterfly is widely recognized as a sign for transformation and the campaign has adopted it as the symbol for zero discrimination. People have supported the campaign by taking photographs holding up the butterfly symbol in places across the globe, including snowy mountain tops, office cubicles, amusement parks, fire stations and the world famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At a commercial shopping complex in Kandy, Sri Lanka, campaign supporters are organizing a mass photography shoot with the zero discrimination symbol.

The Asia-Pacific Transgender Network has used the occasion of Zero Discrimination Day to produce in partnership with UNAIDS a powerful video about the transgender experience. The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS is holding a series of country-level and regional dialogues with government, civil society, business and religious groups, as well as young people, on the importance of building solidarity for everyone. The Youth Taekwondo Association of Tajikistan is holding an event called “Sport against stigma and discrimination.”

Many celebrities have recorded video messages or taken photographs with the butterfly, including the global Indian icon and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the popular Russian science commentator and naturalist Nikolai Drozdov and the highly acclaimed musician from Mali and International Goodwill Ambassador Toumani Diabaté. The international television broadcaster CNN is supporting the campaign and many local and regional media outlets are featuring discussions on zero discrimination. In Pakistan, Radio Pakistan and PTV World, the country’s only English channel, hosted talk shows with people from key groups who often face discrimination.

More information is available at:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

https://www.facebook.com/zerodiscrimination

http://zerodiscrimination.tumblr.com/

#zerodiscrimination

Living & working in Brazil as foreign service family: Our fifth month.

After being in La Paz, Bolivia for the past 2 years, we followed our hearts [and our assignment!] to Brasilia, capital of Brazil. Before I go any further, my blogsphere apologies for the hiatus – being a full-time mom of 3 children, one not yet at school age, who have decided to [re] join the wonderful PEPFAR team, working 40+ hours outside the house, life’s still good.

We’ve adjusted quite well, I’d say. Kids are pretty satisfied with the school; weekend have been crowned with social events, ranging from previously arranged and impromptu play dates, to barbecues at friends’ homes, to endless trips to the grocery store.

 

For the average ‘ trailing family’, we seem to be doing well. With all that said, I believe I can get back into blogging, updating family and friends on our whereabouts….

Work has me traveling quite a bit, which could be seen as exciting, but nevertheless, requiring excelling logistics skills, and a state-of-the-art household managing plan! 🙂 One of my work trips brought the whole family to Rio… and how? Well, October is Children’s Month in Brazil. And because of that, one of the airline companies was flying kids for free. Taking advantage of the Columbus Day holiday, we packed our bags, and went to the Cidade Maravilhosa. This post showcases a few images from our visit.

 

*. Parque Lage

“Parque Enrique Lage” is a public park in the city of Rio De Janeiro, located in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood at the foot of the Corcovado.

The atrium of the mansion, has a lovely café, enjoyed by families and tourists.

The land was formerly the residence of industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife. During the 1920s Lage had the mansion remodeled by Italian architect Mario Vodrel, with interior paintings by Salvador Payols Sabaté.

 

In the 1960s the land became a public park, with walking trails through subtropical forest. The Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (Visual Arts School of Parque Lage) and a café open to the public operate from the former mansion.

 

*. Meeting up with friends in Leblon…. nothing like taking a pic at a bus stop in Rio… so classy!!! 🙂

 

*. A quick stop at the Girl from Ipanema Bar… the so famous corner where Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim complosed the long-loved poem to the eternal beach-tanned beauty…

 

*. …on our way to the beach!

 

*. Moving on…. Looking at the city from the shoulders of Christ the Redeemer – Nothing like enjoying the view from the “Cristo”!

 

*. And finally… The Ipanema Hippie Fair… got get there to understand it’s size, dimension and unique flavors & colors!

Living in a ‘limbo’: Raising Third Culture Kids.

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What do I mean by ‘trouble with third-culture kids‘?

Right now I’m simply trying to collect my thoughts into one piece, because attempting to answer this question has become my life task. I joke with my three children that I was only a woman before they were brought into my life. they made me turned into something completely different, the somehow scary concept of a parent… Not easy to be a parent, and even harder the ongoing duty of raising (well) kids that are wholeheartedly part of a hybrid scenario.

The so-called hybrid culture, a moving creature, a living chimera who’s not only part of their lives, but also defines who they (the children) are, the way they behave, how they interact with the (current) society, how they understand and express their feelings…

This past week the children went to visit their new school, and participated in a short orientation activity with same-age/same grade kids. They were asked to introduce themselves, and mention where they were coming from, their previous school/country,  stating their nationality.

My oldest was born in the US, and seems to have strong ties to the country thru sports, aligning himself with the ‘American’ culture. He’d also tell you he’s Brazilian – got a Brazilian-American mom and embraces the culture here. My surprise that day at school, came from my 1st-grader: when students originally from Brazil where called to stand up, she remained sited. The same happened when US kids were called to introduced themselves. Finally, when she heard, ‘now, children from Africa’, she jumped out of her seat, displaying a big and proud smile… Yes, she was born in South Africa, while our family was leaving/working in Mozambique. She left the country before she turned 2. But her allegiances to her ‘African past’ are remarkably strong – the culture, the music, the dances – she lives thru the stories we tell her from the time our family spent there. Who knows why? and, as long as she’s happy, we’re happy, despite our utterly lack of understanding. Maybe, for now, the answers will just confuse us…

As a parent, I’ve become aware of this ‘chimera’ my children represent. Sometimes I feel I don’t know them, and it’s not their fault – I simply don’t find the correct way to address their growing needs; how to respond to their sadness and anger; how to deal with their mood swings during the transitions, the constant moves, the new places, the losses of old friends…

I recently read a guest post written by Nina Sichel, introducing on one of publications, which referred to third-culture children living in a ‘limbo‘. Throughout the text, there was the comment on the ‘layers of loss’ a TCK experiences – according to Nina Sichel, those layers run deep – friends, schools, favorite places, pets… and again, now I’m wearing my ‘concerned parent hat’, seeking ways to address these losses with my kids, already knowing they will happen over and over…

Our family has relocated to our new post assignment – today marks the end of our second week in Brasília. My children are comfortable with Portuguese, and have been able to make a feel new friends during Summer Camp here. They seem happy, they’d adjusting, and yet, they’re struggling… I can tell from their little faces they’re trying hard, they’re no quitters, but sometimes the lack of (self) understanding  turns into and default. They look up to us (the parents) for answers we do not carry… We knew it would be like this, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, no transition is, but we’re here for them, even though, my husband and I are still trying to figure things out: socially, emotionally… I have no evidence, our family dynamics feels a tad disjoint, but time and patience will hopefully be good allies throughout the process… Time, patience, acceptance, and love – our travel companions 😮

(Note: Thanks again to Nina Sichel’s article, and for her book, the inspiration for this ‘parental op-piece’).

Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Life at the New Post.

Greetings from Brasilia!

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After several weeks of ‘transitional homes’ we safely made it to our permanent housing assignment. And why is it important to mention it is a ‘permanent house’? Maybe for the curious ones, with friends cruising thru the joys of the Foreign Service life, there’ll be a long explanation out there waiting to be spelled out. 😮 For now, it’s enough saying we’re glad we don’t have to move to a difference residence. We’re comfortable and settled down. At least, as comfortable as possible – kids have enrolled into a Summer camp program, and we’re getting to know new families, learning the ropes for the city…

What and where to find our immediate needs for the house (forgot to mention that, although we like our ‘new place’, it’s pretty bare, hence the need to go out and buy not only groceries, but trash cans, cleaning products… You name it!).

The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

Despite all the usual initial difficulties, inherent to the nature of the move, we believe we’ll have a nice time here. That’s the ultimate hope. We now have cable TV and internet – a great milestone! Kids have already made friends with some other children who would likely be attending the same school. We’re trying to build our own niche, despite the smell of fresh coat of paint that greets us every time we come back to the house… 🙂

I believe we’ll be happy here – at least we’ll try… Right now, wearing my most-hopeful-foreign service-spouse hat… The only one I was able to fit on our suitcase… Yeap, the same suitcase I’ve been living out of, for the past 8 weeks… But, who’s counting, right? 🙂

Now, let me get back to checking on my 3 little ones – just heard some clapping, so, I’m assuming the movie outside-and-popcorn event just ended – will go hug my kids with the most thankful smile to the Summer Camp supervisors and organizers: they enabled this very busy mom to enjoy some quiet time (and a coffee!), while getting back on the blogosphere horse!

Ate mais!

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! 😮 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! 😮

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... 😮

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! 😮

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!

 

 

14 Days to Depart Post…

I believe we’re ready to begin saying goodbye to Bolivia – our home for the past two years – with a big THANK YOU! 😮

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Photography: Day Colors of the Desert in Uyuni, Bolivia.

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Intriguing Rock Formation… not a Plant, Though!

 

A few days back, I’ve shared images here of the sun setting along the desert in Uyuni, during our trip through the largest Salt Flats in the world- the “Salar de Uyuni”. Now, sharing some images from the desert under it’s daylight colors…

 


Inspirational post:

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View from the Salt Hotel Luna Salada, in Uyuni. Images are the result of my dear husband’s endless patience and search for natural beauty. Photos are unaltered.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

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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. 😮

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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.

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

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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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Photography: Pink Flamingos add color to the ‘Laguna Colorada’, Bolivia.

Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) is a shallow salt lake in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia, within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, close to the Chilean border.

The lake contains borax islands, whose white color contrasts nicely with the reddish color of its waters, which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae. James’s Flamingos abound in the area.

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Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) is a shallow salt lake in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia, within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, close to the Chilean border.

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Exploring the amazing beauty of Laguna Colorada is a sheer delight for any traveler. Laguna Colorada is a breeding ground for the famous flamingos. The algae of Laguna Colorada are the source of food for the rare James flamingos and also for the Chilean and Andean flamingos.

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There are also over 50 species of other birds which have made this lake their home. It is an unforgettable scene to watch the flocks of flamingos on the lake as they collect their food and fly over the red water.

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The so-called Laguna Colorada covers about 60 sq. kilometers (37 sq. miles), with a depth of about 50 cm (20 inches).

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With a high salt content, the fiery red color of Laguna Colorado is derived from algae and plankton that thrive in the mineral-rich water of sodium, magnesium, borax and gypsum; as well as red sediments and pigmentation of some algae.

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James’s Flamingos abound in the area.

Photography: Sunset Over the Desert in Uyuni, Bolivia.

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View from the Salt Hotel Luna Salada, in Uyuni. Images are the result of my dear husband’s endless patience and search for natural beauty. Photos are unaltered.

Photography: Surreal snapshot of the ‘Laguna Colorada’, Bolivia.

Red Lagoon - the 'Laguna Colorada' in Uyuni, with its characteristic surrounding flora and fauna...
Red Lagoon – the ‘Laguna Colorada’ in Uyuni, with its characteristic surrounding flora and fauna…

Photography: Árbol de Piedra [The Rock Tree]

Árbol de Piedra (“rock tree”) is an isolated rock formation in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve of Sur Lípez Province, Bolivia. Much photographed, it projects out of the altiplano sand dunes of Siloli in the Potosí Department, about 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Laguna Colorada. Also known as the “Stone Tree,” it is shaped like a stunted tree, and is formed into a thin rock because of strong winds and the material is sand stone.

[Photography] Watching the sun rise over La Paz, at 30,000 ft.

Heading to our recent vacation destiny: flying out of La Paz, and being greeted by the sunrise!

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“Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time” Book Review by Brigid Schulte

A couple of weeks back, during my ‘usual morning routine at work’,  I stumbled upon a book review published on the Washington Post, under the ‘Parenting’ section, and found it so clear, so engaging, that I felt like ordering the book right then!

The review was written by Jennifer Howard, and today I received the ‘okay’ from the Washington Post editors to have it shared here – for the ones who didn’t have the same opportunity read it over there 😮 here is the link, and below, the full review. Enjoy as much as I did!

 


‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time’ by Brigid Schulte

By Jennifer Howard, Published: March 21
When did we get so busy? For many of us, life unspools as a never-ending to-do list. Wake up, pack lunches, get the kids to school, get ourselves to our jobs, work all day, collect the kids, make dinner, supervise homework, do the laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, answer e-mail, crawl into bed for a few fitful hours of sleep, wake up already exhausted, then do it all over again. Weekends, which ought to be oases of leisure, have their own hectic rhythms: errands, chores, sports events, grocery shopping, exercise. Dispatch one task and six more take its place, a regenerating zombie army of obligations.

This brain-eating assault of to-dos leaves its victims wrung out, joyless, too tired to stop and smell the roses (which probably need pruning and mulching anyway — add that to the list). But “this is how it feels to live my life: scattered, fragmented, and exhausting,” Brigid Schulte writes early in “Overwhelmed,” her unexpectedly liberating investigation into the plague of busyness that afflicts us. “I am always doing more than one thing at a time and feel I never do any one particularly well. I am always behind and always late, with one more thing and one more thing and one more thing to do before rushing out the door.

She could be describing my days and probably yours, especially if you’re a working parent in the overcommitted middle part of life. Schulte, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post and the mother of two school-age kids, has a word for this shared unpleasantness: the Overwhelm. She takes her own harried-working-mom life as the jumping-off point for her research on where the Overwhelm comes from and what we can do about it.

Busyness has become so much the assumed default of many lives that it feels as elemental and uncontrollable as weather. So Schulte’s shocked when John Robinson, a University of Maryland sociologist known as Father Time, tells her that women have at least 30 hours of leisure a week, according to his time-use studies. She can’t reconcile that statistic with how her hours seem shredded into “time confetti — one big, chaotic burst of exploding slivers, bits, and scraps.” Nor does she believe it when Robinson tells her that we feel busy in part because we decide to feel busy.

Schulte quickly moves on to other researchers’ explorations of workplace culture, gender roles and time management, finding both reassurance and confirmation that she’s not making up the Overwhelm. She learns that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that “acts like a patient yet controlling kindergarten teacher,” shrinks under the neurochemical onslaught of constant stress. That lets the amygdala, “the seat of negative emotions like fear, aggression, and anxiety,” take over. Anyone who has ever yelled at her kids while searching frantically for the car keys 10 minutes after the family should have left the house understands this.

If the neuroscience Schulte reports is right, feeling busy all the time shrinks the better part of our brains. But busyness also delivers cultural rewards. We feel important when we’re always booked, according to researchers such as Ann Burnett, who has studied thousands of the holiday letters people send to trumpet the year’s accomplishments.

Burnett’s collection of letters, which date back to the 1960s, make up “an archive of the rise of busyness” as something to aspire to. As Burnett tells Schulte: “People are competing about being busy. It’s about showing status. That if you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life.” The more you do, the more you matter, or so the reigning cultural script goes.

That script dictates how many offices and homes run. At work, the cult of the always-available “ideal worker” still “holds immense power,” Schulte writes, even as more people telecommute and work flexible hours. The technology that untethers workers from cubicles also makes it very hard to not be on call at all times. (I’d have liked to see Shulte spend more time on how technology fuels the cult of busyness.)

Those who escape the “time cages” of traditional workplaces confront what Schulte calls “a stalled gender revolution” at home, with consequences especially burdensome for women. She cites work by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on how women’s time is “contaminated” by “keeping in mind at all times all the moving parts of kids, house, work, errands, and family calendar.”

Only in Denmark does Schulte find a culture that appears to balance work, home and play in a truly egalitarian way. Because “Overwhelmed” sticks closest to the experience of working American parents, she goes after the shameful lack of affordable child care in this country. She even interviews Pat Buchanan, who in the 1970s helped sabotage a bill that would have created universal child care.

While that’s a useful bit of policy history to contemplate, and one that still affects us today, the most engaging sections of “Overwhelmed” stick to the here and now and how we let the cult of busyness lay waste to our hours. “Contaminated” time eats away at leisure, according to researcher Ben Hunnicutt, and by “leisure” he does not mean hours spent parked on the sofa in front of the telly. Leisure, to Hunnicutt, means experiencing “the miracle of now” or “simply being open to the wonder and marvel of the present” — the sense of being alive, which no to-do list will ever capture.

Although it illuminates a painfully familiar experience, “Overwhelmed” doesn’t speak for or about everyone. It lingers most on the conditions under which middle-class mothers and fathers labor, but the Overwhelm afflicts the child-free, too. The working poor are stretched even thinner. And how workers in China or Indonesia or India or South Africa feel about the balance of their lives is understandably beyond Schulte’s scope, although Europeans make a few appearances.

The question raised by “Father Time” John Robinson nags at this book like a forgotten homework assignment. The further I read, the more I began to wonder how much of the Overwhelm is at least partly self-inflicted and to see opportunities to reclaim time. Like Jacob Marley’s ghost, we’ve forged chains of obligation that we drag around with us. But if we made those chains, we can loosen them too, as Schulte has tried to do, with some success. In an appendix, “Do One Thing,” she offers useful starting points, such as learning not to give your time away and setting clear expectations about what really needs to be accomplished. Not every to-do item is created equal.

Do our employers really expect us to be on call 24/7, tethered to our smartphones as if they were oxygen tanks? Just because we can check e-mail at all hours, should we? Do our offspring really need to be hauled around to every soccer game and music lesson? Does every last piece of laundry have to be folded and put away before we can sit down with a cup of coffee, stare out the window and daydream? As a neighbor said to me not long ago, your work e-mail can wait. Your life can’t.

Jennifer Howard , a fiction writer and journalist, is a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Hot off the Press! Featured Expat: Interviewed by the ExpatsBlog.

The mastermind behind 3rdCultureChildren Blog is a Foreign Service spouse, mother of 3 third-culture children aged 8 and under, with an endless passion for discovering and learning new languages, cultures, traveling and photography. Before joining the foreign service lifestyle, her background in Science and research took her to understand that world is much more than the geographic and physical boundaries may display it. Se enjoys teaching, talking, and, as an avid blogger, sharing hers and her family’s stories and lessons learned with other expat families. She’s contributed her experiences to the Foreign Service Journal, online publications and to a recent book on expat resilience. She initially began blogging to share impressions, observations and along-the-road experiences with families and friends, and later other expats experiencing similar challenges/adventures. So the blog morphed into more than just a quasi-travel and photo journal.

Expat InterviewsAfter reading, if you have any comments about the interview, or any questions to ask, hop over to the ExpatsBlog and share your thoughts there! Thank you!

American Expat Living in Bolivia – Interview with Raquel

The mastermind behind 3rdCultureChildren Blog is a Foreign Service spouse, mother of 3 third-culture children aged 8 and under, with an endless passion for discovering and learning new languages, cultures, traveling and photography. Before joining the foreign service lifestyle, her background in Science and research took her to understand that world is much more than the geographic and physical boundaries may display it. Se enjoys teaching, talking, and, as an avid blogger, sharing hers and her family’s stories and lessons learned with other expat families. She’s contributed her experiences to the Foreign Service Journal, online publications and to a recent book on expat resilience. She initially began blogging to share impressions, observations and along-the-road experiences with families and friends, and later other expats experiencing similar challenges/adventures. So the blog morphed into more than just a quasi-travel and photo journal. Raquel’s expat blog is called 3rd Culture Children (see listing here)
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Here’s the interview with Raquel…

Where are you originally from?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In which country and city are you living now?
La Paz, Bolivia

How long have you lived in Bolivia and how long are you planning to stay?
Since August 2012. Planning to stay until June 2014.

Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil
Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil

Why did you move to Bolivia and what do you do?
Because of my husband’s assignment with the US Foreign Service. I also have a full-time job with the US Embassy La Paz, and have been working since March 2013.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes. The two of us and our three children, aged 8, 6 and 3.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Extremely easy, as a matter of fact. I grew up in Brazil, where my parents also worked for the Brazilian government. Our original family of 5 [my parents and my 2 brothers] were often requested to move to different cities, changing schools every couple of years. As an adult, working as a laboratory researcher, moving was also part of my normal routine. After marrying my husband, and due to his assignments with the State Department foreign service, the cycle ‘moving/adjusting/changing/re-inventing’ has become a regular task on our lives [smiles!].

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It’s never as easy as one expects. There are always challenges, being those related to language [although in our household we commonly switch between Portuguese-English-Spanish], culture, new schools, new jobs [for me, especially!]. Leaving old friends behind, and aiming to make new ones is never easy. I try to think of myself as a ‘serial-social being’. I’m always on-the-go, and throughout the years, I found myself displaying social skills I didn’t really know I had. I’m social because it’s a necessity. But I also enjoy the change, which tends to make the moves a bit easier. Especially on the family – it’s less difficult to face challenges when one has an idea what could be ahead of them, and has the time and the emotional support to deal with them…

Kruger Park, South Africa
Kruger Park, South Africa

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Bolivia is a country with beautiful landscapes. Any outdoors activities are highly recommended, if the basic precautions [with the high altitude, especially] are taken. The Bolivian people tend to be warm and welcoming. Shopping for arts and crafts should be included in any expats visiting list, as well as, reserving some time to enjoy the typical food, and the dancing and musical expressions, only found around the Andean region.

What do you enjoy most about living in Bolivia?
The climate is great – it feels like a nice Fall day all year around. We live surrounded by mountains, which offers us a very soothing scenario – if one likes to lounge around, reading a good book, or enjoying a glass of wine by the fireplace, that’s definitely a place to be. The crime rate [a crucial point for any expat list!] is very low, and La Paz is a friendly city for families – lots of parks and activities to do with/bring little kids along. Again: safety is key.

How does the cost of living in Bolivia compare to home?
Much less than in the USA, or even in Brazil.

Reed Dance in Swaziland
Reed Dance in Swaziland

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Bolivia?
It’s a landlocked territory – we’re far from the water. Also, the high altitude can play not-so-funny games with one’s health. Our family, so far, hasn’t suffered much from those effects, but we’ve heard others complain about getting sick all the time… Each one is different, and again, the regular, recommended medical/health advices should be taken very seriously.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Bolivia, what would it be?
Bring your best adventurous spirit – you’ll need it! Also, keep your expectations low: it’s the bet advice to a prospective expat or visiting fellow – expecting less, one may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The difficulties to fly out of Bolivia to other countries, presently. From previous posts, the physical distance between our family nucleus and our parents.

When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
Communicating with others, we hope! We have a very good group of friends and former colleagues at home [it’s Washington DC, and we all work for the government, so, it’s pretty common to have people coming and going, all the time!] It’s all part of work: the moving, the paking-out…

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Dream away. And dream big. Dream of traveling to unknown places, learning from new people, immersing into new cultures.
  2. Keep your expectations low. Many surprises should come your way if you’re not waiting for anything!
  3. Be social. Be friendly. Be smart. Street Smart! Be conscious and be aware of your surroundings, as well. Teaching lessons come in different envelopes, sometimes, in a not-so-nice ones!
  4. Try to learn a new language, try to communicate with the locals and understand their stories and their culture. Communicate. Listen and be heard.
  5. Attempt to comprehend the new country’s traditions, faith, and fears… The harmonious relationship between the local community and Mother Nature. Learn from their experiences and build your own story. It’s worthy every second in invest in!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
As a traveling family, we’ve lived in Mozambique, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, and during our work assignments, we traveled to England, Chile, USA and Swaziland. I liked the idea of organizing not only our travel notes, but also providing resources for other parents, and encouraging an exchange of ideas through comments, questions and suggestions from viewers. The name for the blog came from the term itself: “Third Culture Children” are children whose parents come from distinct cultures, and grow up under a hybrid environment, experiencing diverse cultural growth. “The result of this transcontinental growth can never be taught or learned or fully understood by anyone who hasn’t actually experienced it. The developing child takes the culture of their parent’s passport country, or their first culture, to a foreign land. The result is that the child (and later on, the adult) adopts the qualities of the Second Culture into their preexisting First Culture, creating a unique cultural perspective known as the Third Culture”. As an expat who is now raising three children, all aged 8 and under, the titled seemed a natural fit! I’m so pleased to share with other expatriates, parents, and traveling families, not only the beauty and excitement of traveling, but also resources regarding languages, social and cultural adjustments, and our not-so-professional advice as “parents-on-the-go“.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to send me a note thru Twitter, or visit our expat blog, http://3rdculturechildren.com, sharing your comments on any recent post or pages – I’d love to hear from you!

 

http://www.expatsblog.com/articles/1722/american-expat-living-in-bolivia-interview-with-raquel

What Drives Me Crazy?

Oh, boy!

If you asked my husband, he’ll clearly tell anyone, I don’t need any triggering reason to go insane… ❤ He'd state that in a very loving way, and yet, he'd say it! 😮

The 'little voices in my head' would likely echo his statement. But I firmly disagree: it's hard for me to lose my cool, although, a few things would definitely make it to the list of 'strong reasoning facts' that drive me crazy… This morning I was cruising thru the WP 'inspirational' suggestions, and found Krista's topic, on 'She drives me crazy'. In my case, "She" has morphed into a list of well-balanced reasons, which I should name 'boiling point checklist' 😮

Oh, boy!

If you asked my husband, he’ll clearly tell anyone, I don’t need any triggering reason to go insane… ❤ He’d state that in a very loving way, and yet, he’d say it!

The ‘little voices in my head’ would likely echo his statement. But I firmly disagree: it’s hard for me to lose my cool, although, a few things would definitely make it to the list of ‘strong reasoning facts’ that drive me crazy… This morning I was cruising thru the WP ‘inspirational’ suggestions, and found Krista’s topic, on ‘She drives me crazy’. In my case, “She” has morphed into a  list of well-balanced reasons, which I should name ‘boiling point checklist’ :

  •  Somebody over here, another ‘inspired blogger’, came up with a masterpiece on how useless the so-called “inspirational images” from FB [and why not, from other social media channels?] are – I could not agree more with him. That said, thank you very much RichyDispatch for getting me all fired-up for this writing prompt! You’ve become my instant Monday Hero! 😮

  • Still on the “social media” subject, another boiling point disclosure seems to be the way people describe themselves/their achievements/their fantastic lives on the ‘social scene’…. is it me, or, pretty much everyone else out there seems to have the smartest children, their overachiever spouses, the greatest and best paid jobs? Maybe it’s just me, but this constant display of ‘my grass is greener than yours’ gets old very quickly…

  • Leaving the social media aside, now let’s move to another common boiling point-trigger: The School Moms. Oh, my! This is for the many parents out there, especially the ones who try to get involved with their kiddo’s school activities. I’ve got a question for y’all: have you ever had any issues with [not of them, but they’ve got representatives all over the world] the PTA mafia? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s no need to worry, and it also means you haven’t had any bad experiences with the before-mentioned group – for the ones who understand my pain, that’s enough said!

  • Different scenario, now: the work place/social gatherings:

I’m born and raised Latina, so I believe I’ve got a pass to share my two cents on this. In most of latino countries, people never miss an event; they’re also, never on time! I try my best to get all my household act together before heading out to work. I’m currently living and working at a latino country – the perception of regular/expected work hours seem to differ from one person to the other. And why? Latinos don’t believe in a set time, for anything! [again, I can speak out my thoughts ’cause I was born in Brazil, and when I last checked, it’s part of the colorful/wonderful Latino community!]. 

You wanna plan a dinner starting at 8, remember to tell your guests dinner is scheduled for 6. Most people will be there at/around 8:30. It’s a good technique, and you don’t stress out.

You’re throwing a birthday party for your toddler, and it should run from 2-4, don’t expect the lovely little ones [and their respective families] to depart before dinner time. That said, get your post-birthday-dinner ready for the tardy ones – they’ll likely overstay, and they’ll surely be hungry!

 

Do these type of issues make my blood boil inside my veins? 

 Just a little bit… 😮

The endless challenges of raising multilingual kids…

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… AS part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil
Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… As part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

I’ve already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil
KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father’s mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband’s mother’s tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 8; 6 and 3 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate. Soon, our family will be transitioning from our current Spanish-speaking setting, to a Brazilian Portuguese scenario… how would my kids [re]adapt? What would be the social, emotional, psychological impacts this imminent move may bring? Only time will tell us…

José Saramago
José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here before.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! 😮

Mothertongue, first language, native language or dominant language?

Expat Since Birth – A Life spent "abroad"

In the strictest sense, we all have a mothertongue as we all have only one (biological) mother. – But does this mean that the language our mother did talk to us is automatically our mother tongue? What about this friend I had in school, who was adopted when she was 2 and grew up in a Dutch family: would her mother tongue be Swahili because her mum was talking Swahili to her or would it be Dutch, because this was the language the mother who adopted her did talk to her?

Usually, mothertongue defines the first language we were exposed to, our L1, the first language we speak, the one we grew up with or that our parents (or caregivers) did speak with us. And usually people tend to speak this language for a long time.

It doesn’t have to be the language of our mother – or father –…

View original post 1,086 more words

[Weekly Writing Challenge] The power of its name…

Image Credit: http://blog.hubspot.com
Image Credit: http://blog.hubspot.com

It came to life on March 2011, almost exactly three years ago…

And it’s got a life of its own.

Some suspect it may have a mind of its own, as well… Its words are provoking, but never arrogant.

Its shared thoughts often tend to bring out stimulating conversations. But what is ‘it’?

What’s its name? Does it have any?

It’s got an individual identity, and yet, it’s got a social side. Quite a social face, some would state. It’s public and yet, it’s got its private features.

It’s an experiment, a challenge, a tale. It’s fed by others and it feeds itself. It’s lifeless and it’s dynamic.

Image Credit: http://www.seomoves.org
Image Credit: http://www.seomoves.org

What’s its name? It’s got one single title, which refers to the result of the modern transcontinental growth our society is witnessing; something spectacular, something that can never be taught or learned or fully understood by anyone who hasn’t actually experienced it…

Its name is powerful and profound.

The name was given before its birth, while the female mastermind behind its creation craved for a way to express the desire to share with the world her incomprehensible experiences living life as a nomad.

And while always a migrant, she raises worldly citizens under her wings… Citizens that will display hybrid cultures, being the product of mixed backgrounds, histories, cultures and languages.

This self-maintained creature, repeatedly mentioned here, is an escape mechanism, a tool, a voice to a parent’s cries for advice.

The voice given to this ‘quasi-mythical’ creation has a name, Third Culture Children, and through the lines of this blogging journey, the creature may have become as powerful as its creator; in an ironic and totally expected outcome.

Its name brings many meanings, and the notion of children as artefact of hybrid cultures goes beyond the physical explanations words may provide.

It’s the name given to this blog, representing the interface between the creator and the creation. It’s a living strategy to share thoughts, feelings and questions.

The name, although powerful as it should be, may never surpass the strength of the concept embedded on it – the definition of a child as a positive product of multiple influences, a TCK, a citizen of the world, ready for facing and overcoming life challenges… ❤

The Jesuit Mission of Santa Ana de Velasco, La Cenicienta Chiquitana…

Music played a special part in all aspects of life and in the evangelization of the natives. Realizing the musical capacities of the Indians, the Jesuits sent important composers, choir directors, and manufacturers of musical instruments to South America. The most famous was probably the Italian baroque composer Domenico Zipoli, who worked in the reductions in Paraguay. Fr. Johann Mesner and Fr. Martin Schmid, two Jesuit missionaries with musical talent, went to the Chiquitania. Martin Schmid built an organ with six stops in Potosí, disassembled it, transported it by mules over a distance of 1,000 km on a difficult road to the remote mission of Santa Ana de Velasco, and re-assembled it there from hand. It is still is use. The Jesuits used musical lessons as a first step to the Christianization of the natives.

now, we’re on 2014: Directly from the Mission in Santa Ana, although quaint, discreet, a favorite for our family, because of its humble beauty. A bonus added to our visit to the Mission Jesuitica de Santa Ana de Velasco? Listening to a real play on this simple, yet so magnificent organ. Enjoy as much as we did!

IMG_1340

An extraordinary discovery was made in 1972, at one of the old Jesuit missions of Bolivia. There were 3,000 sheets of Baroque music in a trunk kept in the priest’s lavatory and used as toilet paper. Most of it was by an almost forgotten Italian-born composer called Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726). “How on earth did Baroque composers end up in South America to produce this extraordinary fusion of classical and local traditions that is still being discovered?” Question asked by Simon Broughton – worth a read, for sure!

DSC_0095

Apart from its beautiful church (the most indigenous of the mission templos, as it was built entirely by natives without Jesuit assistance or direction), Santa Ana is famous for its music. The church’s organ and diatonic harp (the latter of which was built by native hands) are still functional, and during restoration, thousands of missionary-era musical scores were discovered.

Music played a special part in all aspects of life and in the evangelization of the natives. Realizing the musical capacities of the Indians, the Jesuits sent important composers, choir directors, and manufacturers of musical instruments to South America. The most famous was probably the Italian baroque composer Domenico Zipoli, who worked in the reductions in Paraguay. Fr. Johann Mesner and Fr. Martin Schmid, two Jesuit missionaries with musical talent, went to the Chiquitania. Martin Schmid built an organ with six stops in Potosí, disassembled it, transported it by mules over a distance of 1,000 km on a difficult road to the remote mission of Santa Ana de Velasco, and re-assembled it there from hand. It is still is use. The Jesuits used musical lessons as a first step to the Christianization of the natives.

Now, we’re on 2014: Directly from the Mission in Santa Ana, although quaint, discreet, a favorite for our family, because of its humble beauty. A bonus added to our visit to the Mission Jesuitica de Santa Ana de Velasco? Listening to a real play on this simple, yet so magnificent organ. Enjoy as much as we did!

 

And guess who just decided to sit down and play a bit for her [so-very-proud!] children – after the very-gracious young girl Antonia finished her piece? 😮 You guessed right! Thank you for joining us on this beautiful journey through art, music, history and emotions!

Photo Journal: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bolivia – The Jesuit Missions.

Clearly, I haven’t had a lot of time lately to devote the deserved attention to our family’s travel blog. Shame on me! 😮 But really: we’re getting ready for an upcoming pack-out/home leave in the US/next country assignment – Brazil. All that, while still working as a full-time professional, around-the-clock mom, wife and friend! Well, will do my best from this point on! Here’s a ‘photo jounal’ of our week-long trip to the Department of Santa Cruz, including several worldly recognized cultural and ecological sites:

[Placeholder] Visiting the Jesuit Missions in Bolivia.

Trying to offer a bit of ‘catch up’ with our travel posts [before many more begin pilling up !] Our family still has a big trip planned before we depart Bolivia – somewhere around the school Easter break, but for now, let me share a bit of our visits to some of the Bolivian UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first one refers to the Jesuit Missions [Misiones Jesuiticas] in Santa Cruz de La Sierra.
In a very near future, I’ll aim to tackle another heritage site: the wilderness and unique culture of Samaipata, also located in the Department of Santa Cruz.

The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos are located in Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia. Six of these former missions (all now secular municipalities) collectively were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Distinguished by a unique fusion of European and Amerindian cultural influences, the missions were founded as reductions or reducciones de indios by Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries to convert local tribes to Christianity.

Between 1696 and 1760, six ensembles of settlements of Christianized Indians, also called “reducciones” inspired by the 16th-century philosophers idea of an urban community, were founded by the Jesuits in a style that married Catholic architecture with local traditions.

 

The six that remain – San Francisco Javier, Concepción, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael and San José – make up a living heritage on the former territory of the Chiquitos [Source: WHC UNESCO].

 

The interior region bordering Spanish and Portuguese territories in South America was largely unexplored at the end of the 17th century. Dispatched by the Spanish government at the time [towards the New World], Jesuits explored and founded 11 settlements in 76 years in the remote Chiquitania – then known as Chiquitos – on the frontier of Spanish America. Our family flew from our home, La Paz to Santa Cruz de La Sierra. From there, we drove some 1,500 km in order to visit most of the Jesuitic Missions still standing – only one was left unseen, due to been too far from our planned route – close to the Northeastern boarder with Brazil – the Jesuit Mission of San Jose.

They built templos with unique and distinct styles, which combined elements of native and European architecture. The indigenous inhabitants of the missions were taught European music as a means of conversion. Obviously, when we remember learning about the Jesuitic times in school, there’s the controversy around the Jesuits original goals – some would believe in a not-so-positive influence; others still remain faithful to the good-hearted intentions praised by the Spanishmen… I, for one, admire the work and teaching left here – and invite to continue the journey with us!

The missions were self-sufficient, with thriving economies, and virtually autonomous from the Spanish crown.

After the expulsion of the Jesuit order from Spanish territories in 1767, most Jesuit reductions in South America were abandoned and fell into ruins. The former Jesuit missions of Chiquitos are unique because these settlements and their associated culture have survived largely intact.


A large restoration project of the missionary churches began with the arrival of the former Swiss Jesuit and architect Hans Roth in 1972. Since 1990, these former Jesuit missions have experienced some measure of popularity, and have become a tourist destination. A popular biennial international musical festival put on by the nonprofit organization Asociación Pro Arte y Cultura, to be held this coming April 2014, along with other cultural activities within the mission towns, contribute to the popularity of these settlements.

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Best Foreign Service Blogs, by Dave Seminara.

The World Wide Web is saturated with amateurish blogs created by people who’d be lucky to command the devoted readership of their immediate family members, let alone the wider public. There are scores of blogs managed by Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and while many of them are worth reading, some aredownright bizarre. This post will steer you toward some Foreign Service related blogs that are well worth your time.
I started this series nine months ago to help people get a better understanding of what life in the U.S. Foreign Service is like. Many of the posts have been about my experiences but I’ve also introduced readers to an intrepid, single female diplomat fresh off of tours in Syria and Pakistan, a diplomatic courier, a USAID Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Afghanistan and others. But spend some time at the sites listed below to get a flavor of what it’s like to represent the U.S. Government in The Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Pakistan and dozens of other exotic locales.

Guest Post by Dave Seminara

smoking huge joint womanThe World Wide Web is saturated with amateurish blogs created by people who’d be lucky to command the devoted readership of their immediate family members, let alone the wider public. There are scores of blogs managed by Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and while many of them are worth reading, some aredownright bizarre. This post will steer you toward some Foreign Service related blogs that are well worth your time.
I started this series nine months ago to help people get a better understanding of what life in the U.S. Foreign Service is like. Many of the posts have been about my experiences but I’ve also introduced readers to an intrepid, single female diplomat fresh off of tours in Syria and Pakistan, a diplomatic courier, a USAID Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Afghanistan and others. But spend some time at the sites listed below to get a flavor of what it’s like to represent the U.S. Government in The Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Pakistan and dozens of other exotic locales.

One major caveat here is that FSOs have to be careful what they write because free speech only takes you so far in the precarious, uber-cautious world of government service. Most FSOs have disclaimers on their sites warning that the views expressed are their own, but many still tend to steer clear of tackling political issues or anything controversial.Peter Van Buren, a now retired diplomat who wrote “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,” was effectively driven out of the Foreign Service partially because he posted a link to a cable on WikiLeaks and made some disparaging remarks, which he later apologized for, about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his website.There’s no doubt that his experience has had a chilling effect across the board, so visit the sites below to get the low-down on the Foreign Service lifestyle and the travel opportunities, not the dirty underbelly of how diplomacy plays out overseas.Some of the blogs below contain little, if any biographical info, and I wasn’t able to read each one in its entirety, so my apologies in advance if my impressions of these blogs below miss the mark. That said, I would invite the authors of these fine sites to tell us more about themselves, if they dare, in the comments section.DiplodunitDomani Spero has no U.S. government connection and thus has the freedom to write about the world of diplomacy without having to worry about his career. Diplodunit is as close as you’ll find to one-stop shopping for a candid look at what’s going on in the Foreign Service community.

Adventures in Good Countries- Getting Along In The Foreign Service

I love this blog. The author, apparently a single female public diplomacy officer who, “doesn’t date outside the visa waiver program,” blogs with style and passion about life in Japan, Pakistan, Jordan and elsewhere, coping with Multiple Sclerosis and whatever else pops into her head. How can you not like a writer who offers advice to protesters on how to construct a good effigy? (“Don’t just throw something together with the rationale that you’re only going to burn it anyway – take some pride in your work.”)

We Meant Well

You might not agree with Peter Van Buren but you will want to read his blog, which is sometimes offensive but never boring.

Third Culture Children

This blog, which details the lives of a family of five living in Recife, Brazil, La Paz, Bolivia and elsewhere, is one of the very best Foreign Service related sites out there. It’s a particularly good resource for parents who are wondering what the overseas experience will be like for their children.

amy gottlieb usaidAmy Gottlieb’s Photography & Blog

Gottlieb is a doctor and a USAID FSO currently serving in Vietnam. Her portraits from Jamaica, Nepal, Vietnam, South America, Africa and beyond are as good as any you’ll find anywhere.

Adventures Around the World- A Foreign Service Officer’s Tales of Life Abroad

The author of this refreshingly candid and well-written blog is currently in Kabul and has previously served in Iraq and Nepal. Here’s how she described the “honeymoon” period at a new post: “The honeymoon period is the time frame after moving to a foreign country where the excitement of being somewhere new overshadows certain harsh realities of living in a foreign country. People burning piles of trash in the street give the place ‘character’ and bargaining with a taxi driver is part of the ‘adventure.'”

Worldwide Availability

This is a stunning photo blog from an American diplomat who was born on a farm in China and is currently serving in South Korea. Visiting this site is the next best thing to booking a ticket to Seoul. Also, for those who are curious to know how long it takes to join the Foreign Service, take a look at his instructive personal timeline for some clues.

Wanderings of a Cheerful Stoic

Anyone who features a photo of themselves (I presume) with a Gambian poached rat on their homepage is all right by me. This is a blog from a FSO posted in Conakry, Guinea, a place where “you tend to find yourself without a really specific reason.”

The Slow Move East- Thoughts on Being an Expatriate

Hannah Draper, a FSO currently serving in Libya, might be a “Type-A bureaucrat who professionally pushes papers in the Middle East,” but her writing is compulsively readable.

Where in the World am I? Notes from the Streets of Hyderabad, India

A FSO in Hyderabad who previously served in Burundi blogs about food and life overseas with gusto.

Cross Words- A Blog About Writing and Anything Else That Comes to Mind

Ted Cross, a FSO currently living in Budapest who apparently just signed up for Facebook last week (Friend him!), tells us on his homepage that his “dream is to be a published author.” I like someone who isn’t afraid to tell the world what he wants. He’s into fantasy and science fiction, neither of which interests me, but his blog is unique and his writing is lucid.

Four Globetrotters- The (Most Likely) Incoherent Ramblings of a Sleep-Deprived Single Mother Living Overseas with her Trio of Kiddos

Anyone who can pull off being a single mom in the Foreign Service is someone I want to meet. This blog, written by a former Foreign Service brat, isn’t nearly as incoherent as advertised.

Beau Geste, Mon Ami- The Chronicle of my Journey to and through The Foreign Service

Even a quick breeze through this visually appealing blog will give you an idea of how varied and interesting life in the Foreign Service can be. If nothing else, do not miss the photos of the tribal warriors in Papua New Guinea.

Zvirdins at Large- Jamie and Andrew’s Excellent Adventures

If you want a slice of life from the Marshall Islands, this is the place to go. I love this blog but I couldn’t bring myself to click into the video entitled “Pig Shooting” in a post on “Pig Butchering.” Yikes.

Let me know in the comments section if you think I’ve missed any great FSO-related blogs and if you’re the author of ones of the sites mentioned above, tell us a bit about yourself.

Read more from “A Traveler in the Foreign Service” here.

(Photos courtesy of Amy Gottlieb)

Read more from “A Traveler in the Foreign Service” here.

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This year’s April issue of the Foreign Service Journal (FSJ, April 2012) discussed the Family Member Employment, and the search for meaningful work overseas. Reading through the whole edition, you’ll find great stories about living and working as a Foreign Service spouse. Several FS spouses shared their experiences and impressions regarding working overseas. It’s an honor to be one of the contributors to this edition. Congratulations to all who contributed to that month’s issue. Here’s the link to another FS blogger, also sharing her impressions about family member employment.

Giving expats a hand

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: A ‘Trailing Spouse’ Speaks Out (gadling.com)

Career options overseas (anagentswife.wordpress.com)

‘Saudade’, the untranslatable word for missing something or someone…

Hoje, eu sinto Saudade. I believe it’s related to our constant nomadic mode, moving every so often… I miss a place and a time that may not exist anymore… But please, don’t get me wrong! It’s not a ‘sad feeling’ – I live the happiest life I could’ve asked for: the dearest husband, my loving kids, pursuing our dreams…

It’s one of my favorite words in Portuguese – ‘saudade’. It’s an expression with a lot of emotion and deep sense of compassion. There’s no comparison to this word in English; and definitely, doesn’t carry the same degree of emotion involved… Few other languages have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

saudade

Hoje, eu sinto Saudade. I believe it’s related to our constant nomadic mode, moving every so often… I miss a place and a time that may not exist anymore… But please, don’t get me wrong! It’s not a ‘sad feeling’ – I live the happiest life I could’ve asked for: the dearest husband, my loving kids, pursuing our dreams…

We’re on the ‘home stretch’ right now: less than 3 months to depart post… again… pack-out… again… Today I realized I’m a bit tired of this, but I also know that, with a little time to adjust [again!], it’ll all be fine, at last. But right now, I’m feeling saudade… and we haven’t even left yet! What a crazy feeling,  crazy lifestyle… and right now I’m asking myself: ‘why did we decide to do this?’ And I know there are no answers for this rhetorical question – once you join or decide to move along with this Foreign Service life, you’ve signed off on all the perks, advantages and challenges that come along with it – and we did sign it… and we’ve read thru the fine print… and we’ve discussed the pros and cons… But, although we’re extremely satisfied with our life choices, today… I feel Saudade… Saudade of a stable lifestyle… saudade of a time we didn’t have to move, change, adapt and adjust… Saudade of not having to tell our children they’ll have to leave their school friends behind, and should be excited for making new ones… at the new school… speaking a new language…

Oh well, thanks to my dear Portuguese language, I’m able to express my current feelings using one single word – and not bother trying to clearly translate it – “Saudade” – my March 11, 2014 pure self!

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s one of my favorite words in Portuguese – ‘saudade‘. It’s an expression with a lot of emotion and deep sense of compassion. There’s no comparison to this word in English; and definitely, doesn’t carry the same degree of emotion involved… Few other languages have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

Olavo Bilac
Olavo Bilac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Considering I went deep into my thoughts, I went out looking for ‘ closer definitions’ of this unique feeling, which according to my father’s quote of Olavo Bilac, ‘represents the presence of the ones who are absent..‘. I simply love this quote, since I was a child. Back then, and still living in Brazil, I couldn’t really perceive the true meaning of his words – ‘how can somebody/something be present, and yet, absent?‘How could I miss something I’d never experienced before?’

Saudade
Saudade (Photo credit: Fábio Pinheiro)

Today, as a grown woman, I understand my dad’s words, and they’ve become a part of who I am, and how I carry myself through life. I need to feel ‘Saudade‘, it’s a requirement to keep living, we all need to be linked to our past, and we need to long for people, moments, places and emotions that were part of our development as humans. Saudade makes us more humane, more grounded, more prompt to learn through our emotions…

Saudade
Saudade (Photo credit: A Sheep in Man’s Clothing)

So now, going into the ‘formal definitions’: the Urban Dictionary describes the word as used to “explain the feeling of missing something or someone. It is used to tell about something that you used to have (and liked) but don’t have anymore”.

(Portuguese: “yearning“), Saudade was a characteristic of the earliest Portuguese folk poetry and has been cultivated by sophisticated writers of later generations. 

Missing Naples
Photo credit: Wikipedia

“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” (In Portugal, by AFG Bell, 1912).

Chega de Saudade (album)
Chega de Saudade (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Portuguese word ‘saudademeans, broadly, to miss someone or something. But the English miss doesn’t begin to convey the intensity of the Portuguese word. It can cover the sentiments understood in words such as “longing” and “yearning,” as well as “homesickness” and “nostalgia”; in fact, it is all of those, and many more. Although saudade first appeared in Portugal somewhere around the 15th century, there is something about it that is particularly suited to Portugal’s New World child, Brazil, where I come from. Everything there, including feelings, is intense. We [Brazilians] never say “I love you” casually.

In Brazil, when you say it, it means a lot.

And, then, you feel saudade… 😮

{Weekly Writing Challenge} The Sound of Silence.

The Sound of Silence: Welcome to the Jungle!

The Sound of Silence: Welcome to the Jungle.

Enjoy the silence, I ask you – and let it take over you…

I’m opening the doors to the silent voices in my head.

Welcome to the jungle, I’d say…

The jungle is quiet, and yet, it’s not. Its creatures keep moving, and talking, and chanting…

“Welcome to the jungle we’ve got fun and games”

Do we really? What’s fun about our chaotic minds? Unstoppable creation? Endless fiction?

We are the people who can find whatever you may need

But the people remain silent. How can they offer me what I need? Do they understand me?

You too, enjoy the silence, and its unique sound. The sound of things falling, the sound of lives turning, the sound of minds creating…

The sound of silence – the silence in the jungle in which we’re all trapped in – ourselves.

“Welcome to the jungle we take it day by day”

Enjoy the sound of silence – the silence of a day going by, without you even noticing… The sound of time passing, the sound of aging without living…

“Welcome to the jungle it gets worse here every day”

The silence is taken over by the voices in my head… the little voices chanting their fears through their lyrics… the silence is gone… the voices are all the jungle has now.

Welcome to my jungle, unveiled by the false silence and the powerful voices that only exist in my mind…

[Started my morning on a fantastic beat… from 1987, to be more precise… thank you very much for the inspiration – words and thoughts are based on Guns & Rose’s hit, creating the sound of silence in my head, broken only by the little voices that follow me around…]

Continue reading “{Weekly Writing Challenge} The Sound of Silence.”

The mysterious Calle Jaén in La Paz: a place for urban legends…

Calle Jaén

No ghosts were seen today at Calle Apolinar Jaén, in downtown La Paz… Despite the legends, myths, stories from long-time residents and local business owners… This morning, there were no wondering gnomes, nor widows, searching for lonely bachelors, too enebriated to find their own way… This morning, the bright and warm colors covering this street’s colonial houses offered nothing but a pleasant welcome to the two of us, on our last-minute decision on visiting one of the most famous streets in La Paz – la antigua Calle Kaura Kancha…

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Today, the street so used to host commercial exchanges, is now a hotspot for the bohemian crowd visiting La Paz – it’s a must-visit sight for expats in search of learning more about the Paceña culture, its stories, its fears…

We found Calle Jaén, just after a short walk from the city center and Plaza Murrllo, and we confirmed it’s one of most charming colonial streets in the city.Museo Murillo is on this street. This old mansion was once owned by Pedro Domingo Murillo, a hero of the Bolivian republic, and now houses furniture and items from colonial times. The buildings and cobblestoned street are preserved, without traffic, and attract visitors for the soothing atmosphere. This morning, husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy the peace and quietness from Calle Jaén – apparently, the ghostly tales do not come to life on Monday mornings… 😮

While walking along Jaén, we visited the Museum of Musical Instruments, and an art gallery, displaying several pieces from the Mamani collection – the warm, earthy colors and textures, as well as the unique musical instruments inventions made up for a delightful beginning before we headed out to our other sights: the San Francisco Church and Plaza, its informal market [for some well-deserved craft shopping!], and a peek at the Mercado de Brujas [Witch Market]…

Definitely, one of the best ways to spend a morning off-work: learning, experiencing, living the Bolivian culture – a tale at a time… 😮

And, little bit in Spanish:

El lugar más mágico de La Paz, la calle Jaén, ubicada en el casco antiguo de la capital, calle empedrada de misterios que se esconden detrás de las paredes de sus casas coloniales. Según cuenta la leyenda, en la calle, entonces llamada callejón Cabra – Cancha, se han venido produciendo fenómenos paranormales con los condenados desde tiempos coloniales.Los fantasmas, duendes, almas en pena, ruidos infernales de carruajes tirados por caballos y cadenas arrastradas por el suelo, sembraban el pánico en los habitantes.

Talent Show: “Thriller, by our Five-Year-Olds”.

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Showing Support: The Pachamama Documentary Film Initiative!

Pachamama — Documentary Film by Alice Rowsome and Eliza Upadhyaya Join us in producing a documentary film on climate change, that will look at an indigenous community, like no one has ever done before.

Just a brief introduction, for now. Recently contacted by one of the ‘masterminds’ behind the initiative, Alice Rowsome…

[Excerpt from PachamamaFilm Website]:

“Pachamama is a unique feature-length documentary, produced using primarily ultra-wide angles lenses, that will give you a rare insight into an indigenous population living in the Bolivian Andes, the Kallawayas.

Having been affected by climate change for nearly over a decade, the Kallawayas have found inspiring ways to deal with their changing environment”. 

But what is it really about? Go take a look here!

Photography] Visiting the Inca Ruins in Samaipata, Bolivia.

Too much to share… incomparable images from a recent trip to the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz: Th Jesuit Missions, and the Inca/Pre-Colombian ruins of Samaipata… Once we’ve got some more time, we promise a much better display! For now, just leaving a few ‘placeholders’…

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{Weekly Writing Challenge} Parenting as a Cliffhanger…

When being called “Incredibly Good” is really not good for children?

Great Wednesday, although it began with a not-so-welcoming weather in La Paz – the rainy season has arrived, and flooded streets displaying the hectic driving behavior are definitely not the best place to be!

Back to work, as expected, and having the opportunity to read the paper before the work day starts is key! The Washington Post column on ‘Parenting’ called my attention with an article on ‘Stop heaping praise on your kids’, by Amy Joyce, really brought some thoughts up, as well as, a few questions and concerns.

Source: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/
Image Source: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/

When being called “Incredibly Good” is really not good for children?

Great Wednesday, although it began with a not-so-welcoming weather in La Paz – the rainy season has arrived, and flooded streets displaying the hectic driving behavior are definitely not the best place to be! The inspiration for this ‘quasi-op-piece’ comes from the idea of leaving the readers ‘hanging’ [thanks, Michelle W., btw!]’, while I freely start a discussion on possible strategies on parenting well-rounded children [or lack of thereof!].

Back to work, as expected, and having the opportunity to read the paper before the work day starts is key! The Washington Post column on ‘Parenting’ called my attention with an article on ‘Stop heaping praise on your kids’, by Amy Joyce, really brought some thoughts up, as well as, a few questions and concerns.

STOP PRAISING YOUR KIDS??

Not really, but let’s keep on moving on. Also, nobody should be telling us what to do regarding the way we bring our kids up, correct? 😮

We’ve all done it, stated Amy Joyce. But I’m sure not all of us knew we might be hurting our kids by doing it… At least, I did not know. How could I? Simply trying to work my best magic tricks when it comes to parenting…

Why would we, parents, knowingly harm our children?

Let’s start thinking! Continue reading

Blog Milestone: WP Follower #4,000. Thank You!

This travel/family blog just reached the mark of 4,000 Wordpress followers… Thank you for helping us keep on growing! Great way to begin 2014!
And a special thank you goes to ‘follower # 4,000’: MeralKathwari – hope you enjoy the journey with us!

 

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This travel/family blog just reached the mark of 4,000 WordPress followers…

Thank you for helping us keep on growing! Great way to begin 2014!

And a special thank you goes to ‘follower # 4,000’: MeralKathwari – hope you enjoy the journey with us!

 

[Photography] Back to the Past: The world’s largest site of dinosaur tracks!

This is the second post on the historical Bolivian city of Sucre – now, stepping a little deeper into the past… some 65 million years ago, to be more exact! 😮

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This is the second post on the historical Bolivian city of Sucre – now, stepping a little deeper into the past… some 65 million years ago, to be more exact! 😮

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Another opportunity for our traveling family to enjoy some kid-friendly activity during our end-of-the year holidays.

After spending a full day in Sucre, we decided to venture out. A quick bus trip took the 5 of us to the Parque Cretacico – and I understand if you’re not able to replicate our day, so, feel free to take the park’s virtual tour here!

It seems that 65 million years ago the site of, 5km north of the center, was the place to be for large, scaly types. When the construction grounds were being cleared in 1994 for Sucre’s Fancesa (Fabrica Nacional de Cemento SA) cement quarry, some 40 minutes out of town, plant employees uncovered a nearly vertical mudstone face with some 5000 tracks of, at least eight different species of dinosaurs – the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world.

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Take a look at this, and imagine these images been turned inwards some 90 degrees – now it looks vertical, but this area used to be flat, horizontal, the perfect path for some, let’s say… dinosaur strolling! 😮

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Though you can see some of the prints from outside, entering the family-friendly Cretaceous Park gives a better panorama, and that’s exactly what we did, after paying a very ‘family-friendly fee’- gotta love the expatriate life down here in Bolivia!

From downtown Sucre, right across from the Cathedral, we took the 2:30 bus – we’d been told the best light for photographs is during the afternoon. Enjoy the images!

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A general view of the surroundings, just outside of the park [the past looking into the present!]

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