Travel


Off to good ol’London…to go see Portis…be back on Monday…probably extremely jet lagged…I’ll try to write soon…Peace!!!

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So today is FAT TUESDAY!!! I wish I was in Rio de Janeiro right now partying my little booty away. But I am not. I am working on a rainy and not so cold but still cold enough for a Miami girl day. But in the spirit of Carnival…here is a quick recap.

Carnival started most probably around Medieval Times and it is suggested that it was adapted from the ancient Roman festival of the Saturnalia (Italian Carnival). You see, lent starts tomorrow. For the ones who do know what that is, lent is a period of 40 days in the Christian church where you are doing penance and are preparing for the Passion of Jesus. It is a period of sacrifice, prayer and technically (or in years past no partying). Since Christians are some of the biggest partiers I know, in order to get the party bug out of their system, they started Carnival so they could party their hearts away, and Wednesday they stroll into church to get their ashes and start the penance period. So Fat Tuesday is the culmination of days of partying, so you can sin as much as you can before you need to start acting like a good little boy or girl.

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Rio de Janeiro

The world largest party today will be held in Rio de Janeiro…the twelve samba schools dance their way through the Sambadrome and compete for the grand prize. This year it has been quite interesting, there have traditional themes played out, as well as a representation of the 100 years of Japanese immigration in Brazil and much more…

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New Orleans

Craziest party in the US today. Girls are notorious for showing off their boobs in exchange of colorful beads. But after all the recent events, Fat Tuesday is more of representation of the resiliency of the spirit of the city.

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Barranquilla

Well, my own country has its own carnival. Not as world renown but still very fun. My brother was born in the middle of this carnival. Yes, yes, his mother was dancing one moment and the next she had a baby…lots of folklore, lots of dancing and lots of drinking….

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Venice

Ohhh…the original carnival. It is known for the illustrious masks they wear. I haven’t been to it…but I do promise one day, I should be there.

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Trinidad and Tobago

Some of my Trini friends tell me this carnival is amazingggggggggg….beautiful customs, great Caribbean music…and it is showcased in one of JayZ’s videos…

There are many more around the world…but these are just a few for you to know about…

Yesterday, I came back from Miami. I woke up at 5am, since my flight was bright and early and I got ready and went to the airport. What a difference from a week ago. Everyone seemed to know where they were going, there weren’t any crazy lines anywhere, and everyone seemed civilized for the most part. I got to my gate on time. I boarded the plane and to my surprise…YES!!! My plane was a 777. I love this plane. I have flown on this plane several times, but I wasn’t aware that American Airlines redid the layout of all the seats. They made Coach Class have similar seats as the ones in First and Business Class. Each seat has their own area and they have three different reclining positions, including one where you lay flat as a bed. Each seat has their own area, so you are never in the way of anybody else. You also have your own TV that allows you to select what you want to watch or listen to on the radio.

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My Super Amazing and a Little Messy Seat

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A view of beautiful Miami from the plane

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Beautiful puffy Florida clouds

It was early, and truly I was not in the mood to watch TV. As soon as we were up in the air, I reclined that baby, laid flat as if I was on my own bed and went to sleep. Truly, truly, I have never seen such a happy flight in my life. I don’t think anybody expected this plane and people were just smiling the whole time. Even the kids were happy because they had ample room to play without bothering their neighbors. It was truly a great experience.

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Thick New England clouds

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White Boston

Once I woke up and we landed in powdery white Boston, I quickly got off the plane and went over to my car. To find it buried in snow. My car is black, but at that given point it was white. Thankfully, I carry a scraper, took the snow of my windows, turned it on and let it warm up and started on my way.

Driving to Providence was funny. As I was driving, chunks of ice were flying off and hitting other cars. In response to the flying chunks there was a car free zone around my car. Truly they were evading me. I can’t blame them a lot of ice flew off. Then when I arrived at my work’s parking lot, the ice was almost all gone, and I had to brace the cold one more time…ahhhh…New England…thank you for the cold homecoming…hahahahaha

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Driving to Providence

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Ice on the hood of my car flying off

When I went to Los Angeles this past November my dear friend J and I took the big city by surprise. We decided to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Ghetty Museum—all in one weekend.

First off—MOCA (Grand Avenue)

I am not a big fan of contemporary art. I will admit that. So this probably is not a fair review of this museum. The museum is just a few blocks away from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As we walked in, we veered to the right and began our experience.

Given that J is also a cynic about modern art, we made a lot of jokes. The first exhibit we saw was by Cosima Von Bonin. Quoting MOCA, they describe Von Bonin as:

“One of the most influential and compelling artists working in Germany today, Cologne-based artist Cosima von Bonin (b. 1962, Mombasa, Kenya) has, over the last 15 years, worked in a wide range of media—including sculpture, photography, textile “paintings,” installation, performance, film, video, and music—often combined together in large-scale installations. Drawing freely from a broad range of sources—such as the work of other artists, popular and vernacular culture, television, fashion, and Hip-Hop and Techno music—her art explores these different forms of cultural expression in an open, fluid approach that embraces both relationships and contradictions.”

We also saw the works of Gordon Matta-Clark. MOCA describes him as “Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure is a full-scale retrospective of one of the key figures to emerge in the generation of artists that followed minimalism. During the brief but highly productive ten years that he worked as an artist, and even more so since his death at the age of 35, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–78) has exerted a powerful fascination on artists and architects who know his work.”

Honestly, the one piece J and I liked the most were these photos taken of the electric plug at the museum. Let me describe it to you—there was this hallway with nothing on the walls. The floor was made of this plastic resembling a Lego. And in one of the walls there was an electric plug. So they took a picture of that, and then they took another picture of the same thing and they made an effect like you were looking into one of those mirrors were the image was shown repeatedly over and over, but here they only did it twice. Anyways, it was interesting to look at.

Like I said, I am not a big fan of modern art, but the one thing that I realized at MOCA is that beauty is everywhere. Even in the things that we don’t think are beautiful, there is a mysterious beauty in that. So it is up to us to really discover that beauty in our surroundings.

MOCA Museum
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
http://www.moca.org

Second stop: The Getty…

Now, the Getty Museum is located up on a hill next to the 405 highway that overlooks pretty much the whole city. On a clear day, the views are spectacular. On foggy day, like the day that we went, well, I was lucky to see J next to me. The fog was so thick…but I loved it regardless. The outside of the museum is just stunning to look at. Parking is at the bottom of the hill and you take a train that takes you to the entrance. Surrounding all the different buildings of the museum are a gorgeous array of gardens. This place is truly romantic. Perfect date place…

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A view of the gardens and the Pacific Ocean covered by the thick Marine Layer fog

We saw two travelling exhibits at the Getty. The first one was “Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art”. The first thing that surprised me was that the Cleveland Museum of Art had such an extensive medieval collection, the second thing that surprised me was how comprehensive the collection actually was. This collection is actually renowned for its early Christian, Byzantine and medieval European art. It includes rare examples of decorative works of gold and silver, armor carved ivories, enamels, sculpture, paintings, and illuminated manuscripts from the third through the sixteenth centuries. The collection is organized by time periods and it is well explained. So even if you don’t purchase the audio tour headphones, you can still follow it. J and I were truly surprised and taken aback by this collection. It was impressive!!!

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The second exhibit was a photography exhibit. I have this love for photography that it is all bottled up inside of me, and I’m sure one day it will come out. For now, I like to go see photo exhibits. Two photographers were showing their work. Edward Weston and Luc Delahaye.

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Pretty pond at the Getty

Edward Weston was born in outside of Chicago in 1886. He lived a significant portion of his life Glendale (outside of LA). He embarked on an independent career in photography and became a very influential photographer to some of the greats like Ansel Adams. Many of his pictures were exhibited and he had a unique approach to angles.

The other photographer (and the one J and I really wanted to see) was Luc Delahaye. He is a photojournalist working for magazines such as Newsweek. Delahaye has photographed some of the most important events in recent history. I must say his exhibit was too small, but still delightful. All the prints were large and just told the story without even having to know the situation. My favorite piece was the “Registration of Internally Displaced People in Eastern Chad”. The image was taken in 2007 and it is 281.9 x 137 cm. The contrast between the dresses of the ladies and their skins and the facial expressions of pain in their faces it is just mind bottling. You can see their story without them talking to you. Truly inspirational. Loved it completely!!!

For a look at the exhibit please follow this link.

The Getty
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049
http://www.getty.edu

And so, in a city of Angels that so many like to judge as superficial in nature, there are many non superficial things to do. That is the thing about LA, in all its grandeur and monstrosity, there is something for everyone. And I mean everyone.

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Bogotá at sunset

So in the past few days I have been sort of uninspired to write anything meaningful. I mean I could have written about plenty of negative things, but I want to write about positive ones instead.

So today, while drinking my morning coffee I stumbled upon an article from the New York Times appropriately titled “The 53 Places to Go in 2008.”

Oh, how I like to dream about the places where I will go next year. The experiences, the good times, just the mere discovery of a new place excites me.

I included just the names below. A surprise was my own native city of Bogotá (#21).

Some places that I am interested in going to next year, Tunisia (#3), Maldives (#7), Puerto Vallarta (#12), Prague (#14), Quito (#15), Tuscany (#19) and Mozambique (#31) among others…

Who knows what this New Year will bring…but at least some interesting prospects are panning out…

The 53 Places to Go in 2008

1 LAOS
2 LISBON
3 TUNISIA
4. MAURITIUS
5. MID-BEACH, MIAMI
6. SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI
7. MALDIVES
8. DEATH VALLEY
9. COURCHEVEL
10. LIBYA
11. HVAR
12. PUERTO VALLARTA
13. SYLT
14. PRAGUE
15. QUITO
16. LIVERPOOL
17. MUNICH
18. IRAN
19. TUSCANY
20. ANGUILLA
21. BOGOTÁ
22. PLAYA BLANCA, PANAMA
23. ALEXANDRIA
24. MAZATLÁN
25. ST. LUCIA
26. OSLO
27. BUENOS AIRES
28. RIMINI, ITALY
29. MALAWI
30. ROATÁN
31. MOZAMBIQUE
32. KUWAIT CITY
33. VERBIER
34. LOMBOK
35. NORTHWEST PASSAGE
36. EASTER ISLAND
37. VIRGIN GORDA
38. NAMIBIA
39. SAN FRANCISCO
40. DETROIT
41. ITACARÉ, BRAZIL
42. KILIMANJARO
43. ALGERIA
44. SAN DIEGO
45. MÁLAGA
46. PUERTO PLATA
47. LONDON
48. VIETNAM
49. ESSAOUIRA
50. LAS VEGAS
51. BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
52. TOKAJ, HUNGARY
53. NEW YORK

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Hall leading to the massage rooms of Pho-Siam Thai Spa

On Sunday after a wonderful breakfast, my two friends and I were supposed to go on a hike. But it was overcast (Marine Layer was definitely thick that day) and it was a bit cold. Mers had mentioned we should go get Thai Massages, so I mentioned it to the boys and well they both agreed. So we took a nice little drive to Echo Park.

I don’t know what I thought about Thai Massages before I got to this place, but I was seriously surprised. As we walked in, we were greeted in a very nice lobby by some lovely Thai ladies. The mood of this place was definitely relaxing. You felt as if you were transported to some magical Thai palace. The light was dimmer. Everyone was soft spoken. The walls were lined with intricate wood art work.

After we checked in, we were escorted to the waiting area. It was nice and comforting. We waited for about 2 minutes when we were called in for our massage. As you walked in to the “massage area” you saw a long hall with dark wooden floors. Shoes were a no-no here. The “rooms” were separated by very ornate curtains. Each room had some shelves to the side when you walked in, then a thin mattress and two pillows. The curtains separated and made each room completely private. And from the ceiling there were two wooden beams with two ropes hanging from the wooden beams. You are instructed to take your clothes off (I left only my panties) and you had to wear this weird robe that really does not cover much of anything, except maybe your upper thighs and buttocks.

Once you are ready, you lay down on the mattress, and your massage lady comes in. She asked me if I wanted the massage “soft, medium or hard?” I said medium. A sheet was placed over my body and she started rubbing it with the sheet on, as if she was trying to warm up the muscles. After 5 to 10 minutes of that, she proceeded to lather me in eucalyptus scented oil. She massaged my entire body. I felt as if I was in heaven. Now the difference between the Thai massage and a regular massage is that as she massages certain parts of the body, she also incorporated her whole body. Not only did she use her hands, but she used her arms, feet and knees. She balanced her weight on my body using the ropes that hung from the wooden beams. Additionally, there were times she used what you would describe as yoga positions to bend some of my muscles. I can honestly say, my muscles released all the pressure they were carrying around. I felt like cupid bouncing off the clouds after. I had just an eternal smile.

Once we were done, I dressed, and went back to the lobby. My massage lady greeted me again and gave me some much needed water (water bottle included in the massage).

The best part—massage is only $40 for a full hour. Yep!!!

Here is the info:

Pho-Siam Thai Spa
1525 Pizarro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
213-484-8484
http://www.PhoSiam.com

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I am in Los Angeles this week until Thursday, when I will fly to Miami so I can spend turkey day with the mother. I must confess I am happy to be here. I missed LA. I didn’t even realize how much I missed it until now. So I decided to compile a list of the top ten things that I missed about LA…here it goes…

1. I missed the radio stations—LA has some of the best radio stations in the country probably…KCRW, KROQ, 107.1…among others…even the Ryan Seacrest show is entertaining from time to time…

2. Breakfast places…hmmm….Miami, Providence, New York, Boston, all those cities have good breakfast places. But for some reason, LA has great breakfast places…there are tons of good places in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Venice Beach to name a few

3. Santa Monica…need I say more…I just love Santa Monica…its gorgeous, the beach, the mountains…ahhhhhhh….

4. The Marine Layer…I never thought I would say this, but I like it…the nice cool moist breeze it brings in…I just missed it…

5. The fog…today I was driving amidst the thick fog and I just loved it…never seen such thick fog like here

6. The traffic!!! Can you believe that I am saying this??? Yes, well, in Providence I am in the car for maybe 5 to 10 minutes…it’s frustrating!!! I like being in my car for long periods of time…and that stop and go…lets me think about whatever…I missed it…

7. Downtown LA—the skyline…ahhh…I don’t know why but I have this fascination with LA’s skyline…I just love it…

8. TACOS!!!—love the tacos…King Taco is amazing…even Del Taco is pretty good…you can’t get that anywhere else…

9. The shopping!!! I know…so superficial…but I think every store in the world is here…it’s great…so many options…

10. There is always something to do…just as an example…you can go to breakfast, go on a hike, then go get a Thai massage, go to a museum and go to an amazing dinner all in one day…it’s great…there is always something going on…

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