My husband and I will be traveling internationally until mid May 2019. During that time our internet access will be limited and SLOW. I’ll try to post periodically, but new posts will probably be few and far between.
However, I will try to catch up by publishing back-dated posts after we get home in late May. I hope you’ll check for new posts periodically but won’t give up if you don’t see anything new for a while.
After several days at sea, today we made land at Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil. (Bahia is a state.) This city was founded in 1549 as the first capital of Brazil and remained the capital until 1763. The city was originally established on a high escarpment overlooking the Bay of All Saints, the largest bay in Brazil. The lower part of the city was built up later. The upper and lower parts of the city are connected by the levador Lacerda, first built as a cargo elevator in 1873.
(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)
At the top of the elevator we got a good view of the Bay of All Saints.
Our tour focused on the Upper Town, the colonial area that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1985. The area continues to undergo restoration and preservation. Many of the buildings now sport pastel facades reminiscent of their colonial origin.
Salvador was the first slave port in the Americas, and it is estimated that over the years about five million Africans were brought over to work in the sugarcane fields and in the diamond and gold mines. As a result, Salvador has developed a religion and a culture that combines elements of native indigenous people, African slaves, and Portuguese traditions. The colorful local incorporates many African images.
Today the city contains more than 300 churches, but it also annually celebrates a religious festival in which many people, some dressed in African-inspired costumes, march four miles in procession to one of the churches. We visited on the day before the festival, so we got to see some of the costumes without having to experience the huge festival crowd.
The city still felt crowded to a lot of us. When someone asked our guide if the crowd was normal for Salvador, he said that the city was more crowded than usual for two reasons: (1) three cruise ships were in port that day, with a total of about 9,000 tourists; and (2) many people from outlying areas had traveled to the city for the annual festival.
The chief resources of Bahia are fruits, vegetables, cocoa, beef (there are more cows than people in Brazil), and oil.
Our guide emphasized that Salvador is a city that loves music. He told us that their Carnival lasts a full week—five official days plus two extra days. We saw a lot of evidence of the love of music in the number of bands and dancers we saw. One form of local dance is an amalgamation of dance and an African defensive form of what we would now call martial arts.
After a day at sea yesterday, this morning we arrived at St. George’s, capital of the island nation of Grenada. Early in its history Grenada was occupied for a while by the French but was later taken over by the British. The nation gained its independence from Britain in 1974.
Grenada comprises about 121 square miles and has a population of about 120,000. About 65% of the population is of African descent. The main sources of the nation’s revenue are, in this order, tourism, agriculture, and fishing.
Bus tours are nice because we don’t have to walk everywhere, but they lessen photo opportunities. I only got a few shots worth posting. (Click on a photo to see a larger version.)
In 2004 Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada hard. Here’s a church that was damaged beyond repair:
The island used to grow a lot of sugar cane, but because people no longer want to work in the sugar cane fields, that industry has died out. Now Grenada produces a lot of rum from imported molasses. Our tour groups were treated to a complimentary beverage, and the most popular choice was the rum punch. Let me tell you, they take their rum punch VERY seriously, with emphasis on the rum.
At the resort where we stopped for drinks, we also saw this traveler’s palm:
I’d never seen this kind of palm before.
Here’s a view of the port taken from our verandah just before the ship left Grenada:
Today’s interesting fact:
It’s illegal in Grenada to wear camouflage clothing or carry camo accessories. Local authorities have a zero-tolerance policy on this issue.
We arrived in Miami and boarded our ship on Wednesday, January 3. The ship departed from Miami at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After spending Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at sea, today we docked at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Originally settled by the Spanish, the area is heavily Catholic. It was named San Juan in honor of St. John the Baptist. Today, January 6, in the Christian calendar is Epiphany, the day when the birth of Christ was revealed to the three kings. In San Juan, the day is a holiday known as Three Kings Day. Our guide said, “Here in Puerto Rico, we celebrate Christmas longer than just about anyone else in the world.” He said that their celebration would end in a couple of weeks. Sure enough, later we were in a store and heard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” playing.
On our two-hour walking tour of Old San Juan we visited a fort that’s a San Juan National Historic Site maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)
This historic site flies three flags: the Burgundy cross (symbol of the Spanish empire when San Juan was settled, the flag of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. flag.
Many of the streets in Old San Juan are paved with blue stones that served as ballast in the Spanish galleons that brought goods and settlers to the region.
We all had to grab our hats to keep from losing them in the strong wind. When someone commented on the wind, our guide said, “Yes, it’s windy. These are the trade winds that powered ships across the Atlantic.”
Not far from our ship lay a replica of the Santa Maria, the largest of Columbus’s three ships.
Christopher Columbus holds a place of honor in Old San Juan’s center:
The beautiful Viking Sun docked in Old San Juan (please ignore the Carnival logo in the background):
At my previous job, I was fortunate enough to travel to international book fairs and visit bookstores. When I travel now for fun, the impulse sticks: find the best local bookstores, and buy at least one book. The list below is based partly on countries I’ve found myself in over the last few years and partly on my destination wish list. Join me in 2019 as I try to discover more foreign authors and beloved books, and hopefully get the opportunity to pack a few bags for some on-site explorations.
Don’t be fooled by scammers who claim to be calling from the Social Security Administration:
Crooks increasingly are impersonating an official from the Social Security Administration, making harassing calls similar to the annoying Internal Revenue Service calls.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network now has had more complaints to its helpline in the past few months from consumers targeted by Social Security impostors than the old IRS scam, according to Amy Nofziger, AARP fraud expert.
This article reports on how the scam works and offers this reassurance: “Social Security also isn’t going to call and threaten that your benefits will be terminated.”
Many of us are old enough to remember the existence of these places:
Wilson-Buterbaugh and Ellerby are among an estimated 1.5 million unwed mothers in the United States who were forced to have their babies and give them up for adoption in the two decades before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973, according to Ann Fessler’s book “The Girls Who Went Away.” Mostly white, middle-class teens and young women were systematically shamed, hidden in maternity homes and then coerced into handing over their children to adoption agencies without being informed of their legal rights.
I’ve worked with a lot of older adults whose retirement has given them the free time to do the writing they’ve always wanted to do, whether they’re interested in life writing (memoir), fiction, or poetry. Here Peter Krass, himself an older writer who has taught online workshops for over–50 writers, explains what he has learned from his students:
my students have shown me that while older writers do face unique challenges, they also possess special strengths. What’s more, these strengths are more than equal to the challenges.
Read here his lists of both common challenges and common strengths his students have taught him. And if you’re interested in writing, let this article encourage you to look for a writing program that fits your requirements.
A growing portion of the elderly look and act anything but.
Linda Marsa reports that, although it’s true the number of over–65 people is increasing, many of those people are still healthy enough to want to continue working.
Americans over age 60 are working longer and participating in the labor force at greater rates, according to a 2016 Brookings Institute report. And not just to beef up the bottom line. A study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that nearly 50 percent of retirees want to continue working in retirement. About a third say it’s because they need the money. Two-thirds, however, say they just want to stay mentally active.
What Books Were Bestsellers the Year You Were Born?
Are you interested in finding out what books were birthed the same year you were? Literary Hub has you covered with these two lists:
Novelist Heidi Sopinka writes, “older women in literature … arguably represent one of the most underwritten aspects of female experience. Even when they do manage to get into a book, they almost exclusively face sexism for being ‘unlikeable.’”
When “the image of a 92-year-old woman, vital, working, came into [her] head,” Sopinka wrote her début novel, The Dictionary of Animal Languages, around that character. While working on the novel, she “began seeking out an old-lady canon”:
It wasn’t female aging that fascinated me as much as I wanted to swing into the viewpoint of a woman who had lived a long complicated life, deeply occupied by her work. I began to think of my book as a coming-of-death novel… .
Weirdly, the closer I delved into the closed-in days of looming death, the more I learned about living. Still, there is such a fear of female power in our culture that older women are ignored or infantilized, as though they are somehow less complex than us even though they are us, plus time.
Here she offers a list of eight books that are “unafraid to take on the full measure of a woman’s life”:
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper