Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NEWS FLASH! - Granddaughter Kaiya Gets First Haircut!

 Our granddaughter Kaiya (daughter Tracey's 2 1/2 year old) looks a bit apprehensive during her first haircut....

But I think she likes the results, don't you?

In fact, she seems rather proud!

Traveling History Museum in San Miguel

While riding home from the gym one day, I saw a semi trailer parked in front of a small strip mall.
Loads of school kids were milling around.

Curious, I had to check it out. Turns out it is a free traveling Mexican history museum, part of the Mexican Bicentennial celebration.

No one objected when I climbed the stairs, entered and listened to the tour guide.

I thought it was a pretty nice thing for a small Mexican town.


I finally figured it out. Rather than write long blogs with lots of photos, I need to frequently write short blogs with just a photo or two.

I'm going to try it out.

Cross your fingers!

Also, I will include more photos of our grandchildren! Above is Lilah demonstrating her early artistic talent. This photo was taken 2 years ago, when she was just 3+. This is what she is doing now! Not bad for a 5 year old!

Museo de las Momias

Our town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is located in the state of Guanajuato. About 50 miles away is the capital of Guanajuato, also called Guanajuato. It is a charming college town, colorful and fun to visit.

Its most famous attraction is the Mummy Museum, or Museo de las Momias. It is famous throughout Mexico, mostly due to a low budget cult horror film as well as a TV series.

In the last few years, the museum has been renovated and updated. It is no longer as macabre as in years past, although vendors outside still sell the same skeleton adorned candies.

A recent article in the Atlantic described the writer's visit to the museum. 

Definitely worth a visit on your next trip to San Miguel!http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0208306/

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cuba - Part 2

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Imagine wearing tinted glasses. Like when Dorothy went over the rainbow and everything changed from black and white to Technicolor. That’s Cuba.
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Put on those tinted glasses and join me in looking at a billboard size photograph of Havana.

Start at the top. The sky is an electric blue. A blue so clear and vibrant that it feels like an artist on drugs painted it.
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Move your eyes to the bay, the harbor of Havana. Celadon in color, clear as glass, the white caps of waves crash against the wall of the Malecon. History has unfolded here. The Spanish built a 5-kilometer wall and fortress in the 17th century to defend the city from pirates and foreign attackers. Still defending the city four centuries later. In the evenings, hundreds of Cubans sit along the wall or walk its narrow boardwalk, taking in the scent and warm air.


Look now at the cityscape of Havana. Studded with architectural jewels, there are hundreds of buildings of historical importance. 
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The architecture, from Baroque to Art Deco, is grand but its glory has faded, due to neglect and poverty. 

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Think South Beach, Florida, with its delicious palate of colorful buildings, wide boulevards lined with mansions. 
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Think major European cities with monumental squares, each with fountains and statues of historical figures. 
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Think of decaying edifices, empty structures with broken windows, laundry hanging next to Doric columns. See ruins of magnificence, many now a memory of a glorious era. That’s Cuba.
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Turn around and look at the streets filled with people of every skin color imaginable, all in jeans and t-shirts, except for those dressed in authentic Cuban costumes, hoping that you will give them a few pesos for a photo. Tourists from England, Canada, Spain, Poland, Germany, Asia and a few Americans congregate in groups in the four main plazas in Havana Viejo (Old Havana), all listening intently as their guides lecture about the importance of this and that. Young men yell, “What country are you from? Do you want to buy cigars (mostly counterfeit, we are warned)?
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A 1950s time warp, an American Dream Cruise moved to a Caribbean island.

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We watch the cars of our youth
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Sleek, streamlined
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wood grained dash with AM radio
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All colors of the rainbow
IMG_3571 by Caslin123Memories of sliding over to the middle to be next to him
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Paul Anka singing “Tears on my Pillow”
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Strains of “Rock Around the Clock”

Bobby Darrin and Johnny Mathis crooning my favorite songs.

Chevy Impalas, Ford Fairlanes, Pontiac Bonnevilles, convertibles with white interiors and red or turquoise exteriors.

I sigh.

Surprise Trip to Cuba - Part 1

A Surprise Trip

Monday, February 28, 2011 - I announced to Carlos as he left to meet the breakfast group at 7:00 am, “Be home by noon. We are going on a surprise adventure with Alice and Max for his 70th birthday.”

His response:

I can’t go on a trip.
I’m too busy.
I have plans.
I have a training session at the gym.
I have a meeting at the Presidencia (city hall).

Blah, Blah, Blah

My response:

Deal with it.

His response:

6 Days? That’s impossible.
I can’t go.
Change the trip.

My response: (with teeth clenched)

We are going.
We can’t change the plans.
Cancel your appointments.
Pack your suitcase.

His response:

Where are we going?

My response:

I am not at liberty to discuss it.

At 2 pm a van drove the four of us to the Queretaro bus station. Our destination: Mexico City airport.
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Excitement was beginning to build. Questions and guesses were flying back and forth. Alice and I maintained our “no response” response.

5am - Wake up call.
6am - Board shuttle to airport.

They still have no idea where we are going.

“C-oo-ba”, ever so quietly slipped out of my mouth.

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Their response: “CUBA”! FANTASTIC!”
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A few hours later, we landed in Havana...

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and an hour later, checked in to the hotel Parque Central (Central Park)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Miracles do happen in our time! Milagros Ocurren en Nuestro Tiempo!

It's time for your lazy blogger to get to work, and a remarkable event this past week has inspired me to create this blog entry.

Many of you know that Linda and I are Jewish and are active in the San Miguel Jewish community, and especially at Shalom San Miguel, our synagogue. This group not only has weekly services, but also cultural events, classes and holiday services and meals. For some years, services have been led by Dr. Dan Lessner, a (young) retired doctor from New York.
Carole Stone and Dan Lessner, Co-Presidents of Shalom San Miguel, address the crowd
Several years ago, a small number of Mexicans began appearing at our Saturday services. Some claimed to be descendants of Spanish Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. Others felt a strong attraction to Judaism for some reason - emotional or intellectual. They came from nearby cities - sometimes taking a bus an hour and a half each way to attend weekly services. Dan Lessner, who speaks fluent Spanish, began teaching a weekly class for them. In addition, he and Carole Stone, Shalom San Miguel's President at the time, created a Spanish version of our Siddur (prayer book), including a transliteration and translation of all prayers - a monumental and remarkable task!

Eventually, some of the Mexicans decided to convert to Judaism, a decision not lightly taken. It required extensive study and commitment on their parts. Last week, after two years of study, seven of these men and women, whom we term B'nai Anousim, underwent the conversion.

Three Conservative rabbis (all members of the Rabbinical Assembly) from the United States - Rabbi Juan Mejia (born in Colombia, now working in Oklahoma City), Rabbi Daniel Mehlman (born in Buenos Aires, now working in Los Angeles), Rabbi Felipe Goodman (born in Mexico City, now Senior Rabbi at Cong. Beth Sholom in Las Vegas)  -  convened a Beit Din, essentially a Jewish court of law, to administer tests to these aspirants and to determine their commitment and sincerity.
Left to Right - Rabbis Goodman, Mehlman and Mejia

Each of the B'nai Anousim was required, among other things, to bathe in a mikveh, a Jewish ritual bath. Because no mikveh exists locally, they bathed in "living water" (natural spring). Shown belong are the converts and the rabbis, after the mikveh ceremony.
After the Mikvah. Left to right standing: Paola, Salomón, Josué, Elida, 
Graciela, Heriberto, Iván and Rabbi Felipe Goodman. 
In foreground: Rabbis Juan Mejía and Daniel Mehlman.

 Our B'nai Anousim passed "with flying colors", and on Monday, February 7, the entire Jewish community of San Miguel was invited to a party celebrating the event. Almost a hundred people attended the event. Prayers were recited, and each of the three rabbis spoke briefly in English and Spanish before the B'nai Anousim jointly read a statement indicating the commitment to Judaism and its beliefs. It was a  moving experience for all (an understatement, to say the least). Even the rabbis were unable to hold back their tears and strong emotions. Each rabbi said that this event was unique in the Jewish world.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Our B'nai Anousim are:
Josue Garcia Vasquez (Yehoshua Ilan) and his wife, Paola (Adina Tamar; born in Leon)) and son,     Salomon (Sh'lomo Yaakov)Ivan Gari Arredondo Nova (Yeshayahu Zecharia)
Elida Vega Munoz (Rivka Batsheva)
Heriberto Gutierrez (Eliyahu Aviel)
Graciela Alejandrina Ramirez Chavez (Chana Ruth)

After the speeches, a surprise awaited us. Two of the converts, Josue and  Paula, a young married couple with a one year old son Salomon and another child on the way, were married under Jewish law by the three rabbis present. A makeshift chuppah was erected using a tallit (prayer shawl) and four hockey sticks as posts.

Tears were flowing freely. I can safely say that there wasn't a dry eye in the house, including mine.

 Be sure to visit the Youtube video of the wedding!

After the wedding, a lovely comida (luncheon) was served.

We are looking forward to the participation of our newest San Miguel Jews, and to their continued learning and commitment. They are an inspiration to all of us.

In Spanish, the word "miracle" is translated as "milagro". We are justifiably proud of the milagro in our midst this year.