Photos of Gijón, Spain & Konstanz, Germany

itinerary:

  • Oct. 5, fly Denver to Miami to Madrid to Gijón, Spain.
  • Oct. 14, fly Gijón to Madrid to Zurich, train to Konstanz, Germany.
  • Oct 18, Reverse that.
  • Oct 29, fly Gijón to Madrid to Chicago. Lose your day-pack with your laptop, razor, rain jacket, headlamp, and favorite hair brush (or have it stolen…dunno—it will have been a very long day). Chicago to Denver. Discover Lyft wants about $125 to go to Lafayette, so bus to Boulder and take Lyft from there.

Madrid

In the Madrid-Barajas airport, you cannot find out certain gate numbers until you get to Terminal 4 (T4, boasting “70 million passengers per year”). There you find T4S is set aside for countries, such as the US, that lie outside of the Schengen Area, the 26 EU countries that abolished their passport requirements. At T4S, you find, you hope, the H-J-K concourses, and only then can you learn the gate. Continue reading “Photos of Gijón, Spain & Konstanz, Germany”

Guest Entry – Balcony at Cliffs Club Kauai

This guest post is by Linda Grounds, née Burkhardt. It arose from her observations while on vacation in Hawaii. – Louis

The view was breathtaking.

From Balcony in Kauai #1
From Balcony in Kauai #1

From Balcony in Kauai #2
From Balcony in Kauai #2

A code of silence, unwritten yet understood, quieted the tongues of the vacationing balcony dwellers. Stilled, in reverence to the ancient emerald cliffs crowned with rainbows. Hushed, so that bird songs floated above a soft ocean roar. Whispered, to preserve rare moments. A whale spouting, a pod of dolphin playing, a turtle shadow beneath the sparkling foam.

For 12 days the code was unbroken.

From Balcony in Kauai #3
From Balcony in Kauai #3

His voice was deep, commanding, and loud. Coming from the balcony next to ours, he was on speakerphone, booming and brassy. A tourist acting like a tourist. I creased my mouth and shook my head. How gauche. Glued to my balcony chair, I sat with nothing else to hear but his blustery conversation.

“This is someone who does this all the time,” my husband, who sat across from me, whispered. “He’s non-stop. Can’t stop working on vacation.”

“No,” I said, “This is a personal deal. Listen.”

Our next-door neighbors had just closed on some beach-side property, a condo. But, where? I couldn’t tell. Booming voice, I’ll call him, was very excited and thanked the man on the phone for helping get it done. The wife exclaimed notes of gratitude, yelling toward the speaker phone. The conversation continued, reviewing how many months it has taken, how impossible it looked, how it never would have happened without the help of mystery man on the other end of the line. Mystery man closes by saying they will celebrate soon and overlook the beautiful water from the new condo.

I sat. To myself, I said: “Here’s a rich fat cat, who is on vacation in Hawaii, and buying beach-side property … somewhere. He probably sees beaches all the time, which might explain his disregard for the sacred code of silence followed by the rest of us.” I excused myself, quietly reveling in righteous indignation, and went inside.

Some time later, I came back out on the balcony. Booming voice was still talking, but to someone different. Great. As I sat down, my husband whispered: “He’s dying of cancer, he’s on a wait list for a new liver.” If jaws physically drop, mine did. Chastened for my former response to the man next door, I listened. Speaker phone again. This time he was talking to a friend or as he said, “my brother from a different mother.” Evidently, the two of them are suffering from a rare and deadly genetic condition.

“How long do you have?”
“About a month or who knows.”
“What’s Sally say about it?”
“Oh, she is acting as though I have forever.”
“Well, we don’t know, do we? I’m here in Hawaii for a month. I thought one ‘last hoorah’ before I go back for an endoscopy. I have a bunch of tests lined up the week I get back.”

The two discussed their doctors, the good ones, the bad ones, and the home nurse who is “just like a daughter.” Tender words were exchanged with soft chuckles and intimate rapport.

Silence. I had just witnessed something equally as beautiful as the view.

Walking down close to the shoreline
Walking down close to the shoreline of Kauai

 

“Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” – J.M. Barrie (Author of Peter Pan)

Los Zacatitos, Third Visit (!)

This post is about my third trip to Zacatitos; my second trip here and my first trip here.

That I am traveling at all is a testament to the decline of covid19 in some parts of the world.

Yes, I must like this place…as well as el yerno, Don, y la hija, Sarah, who invited me—el suegro—down! (¡And that is the last of my Spanish through which you must suffer!)

burros
Who doesn’t dream of spending a week with a couple nice burros on the ocean’s edge? {photo by Sarah}

One urban myth is the “midlife crisis”: the 45-year-old man finds himself as Dante did:

When half way through the journey of our life
I found that I was in a gloomy wood,
because the path which led aright was lost.

Or, as the Paul Simon put it, the man asks, “Why am I soft in the middle?” The man might consider having an affair but settles in the end for a red sports car, driving his way gracefully into old age. It’s a myth because it seldom happens that way. The plural of crisis is crises. The man in the gloomy wood makes momentary advances but as he looks down the road, he sees those who came before him falling off the end of the road into oblivion, while he personally feels shock waves periodically as time moves forward toward King Lear‘s “promised end” where

The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.


For me, what was it? Too many beers or too many blood clots? Moving upstream from all that, it was what my neighbor Ben said about the pandemic, particularly if one worked at home and was both at risk and living alone: it taught us to live as if we were depressed, cut off from others, locked up in our homes…shut-ins.

So it was I found myself in Zacatitos for a third time, graciously invited down by Don, who will read this and should have no doubts that he is among the most gracious hosts numbered among men.

Louis & Don with Don's compound in the background
Myself & Don with a neighbor’s large house on the left and Don’s house with a palapa (a palm roof that provides shade for the open air patio beneath) on the right. I used to sleep beneath the palapa (Papa Palapa), but now Don has built a guest house that… {photo by Sarah}

Guest house
… that is here, shown with myself and Don on the balcony, which, as it happened, had a sliding door that I closed at night to keep the sound of the surf from waking me (yes, when I told my housemate that fact, he said, rightly so, “That’s a first-world problem, for sure”) {photo by Sarah}

main house and guest house
The main house with the palapa and the new guest house where Papa Palapa found a new, temporary home.

In such an elegant setting, I alternately stayed in my room with my shock waves and strayed outside with the ocean waves.

Pacific
The Pacific, shining brightly with an aggressive surf

As for the shock waves, I took comfort with Isaiah, not a person, but an ancient text that tells me over and over again that the desert shall blossom as a garden and that rivers will flow freely; that the hills shall be leveled and the valleys raised to create a highway for the redeemed who will look for their enemies, but will find none; who, even if they are lame, will carry off plunder; that the blind will see and the captives shall be set free; that no one in the city of God will say “I am ill”; who, when they wait upon the Lord, shall mount up on wings of eagles, running and not getting weary, walking an not fainting; who will find a messiah who suffers for them only to bring them to a place of peace, quiet, and resting, close to his heart.

I also walked with the burros.

burros
I don’t think they particularly liked me but they liked the idea of a handout—later I found them eating tortilla chips from a large paper bag…so they did finally find a handout

Or looked at the variegated homes.

Zacatitos homes
Apart from the ocean, the place has charm

And gates.

And cacti.
cacti

Or Don and Sarah in their swimming hole.
beach

Which was accompanied by abandoned homes of salt water creatures.
shell

And, in the evening, I enjoyed the skyline.
skyline

Nice as it all was, it would have been much less without the people.

sarah
Sarah my temporary next door neighbor. We could talk to each other from our respective dwellings, and if I needed help (as I did to identify the Southern Cross), I could holler and she’d come over

It was these people that I one evening wanted to take out for dinner at a restaurant they liked, one that sat on the edge of Old Man’s Beach. They were surfing in front of the restaurant-hotel while I watched. If the restaurant started filling up, I was to get a table, which I did. I ordered a glass of “your house wine, red,” which I assumed to be the least expensive. It was truly the first Cabernet I actually enjoyed. So, thinking it’s cheaper by the bottle, I ordered our table a bottle, knowing that another couple would be joining the three of us later. Sarah & Don finally showed up, as did their friends. We enjoyed a fine meal, and when the check came, I discovered that “your house wine, red” was interpreted as “your best red.” Bottle: ~$100 USD. Funny, especially since on the drive over I said I’d never pay $10 for a glass of wine. The good news: I can appreciate a good wine! And so can Sarah, who also found it exceptional.

wine
Legado, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserva 2014

Getting on our flights wasn’t hard (for me) but was difficult (for Don): we all passed our covid19 tests (a deal: $25 with results in a half hour), but there were various forms to fill out in addition to the standard paperwork. While I was drinking a latte, waiting for my flight, Don was refused entry, no matter how he re-did the paperwork, so—and do not let this become public—he did something like this: he pointed to the ceiling, saying, “Well look at that!”—and slipped around the guard to get to his gate.
view from airplane

For a rough idea of geography (which, like most images, is clickable):

map san jose del cabo
San Jose del Cabo is on the left, the airport north of that (and off the map); the house and ocean are in the detail image

Finally, a 72-second motion picture:

Southern England: Revisited

One year after my previous trip, I repeated the opportunity to visit Chris, a friend from my undergraduate days, and Adrienne, his wife.

This time I came prepared with one request: that we visit the yellow cliffs popularized in the television series Broadchurch. Sometime in the intervening year I had watched and, really, become attached to that scenery. As one of the characters says,

Scene of Jurassic Coast from "Broadchurch"
Scene of Jurassic Coast from “Broadchurch”

It is gorgeous, and, I confess, once again life imitates art. Continue reading “Southern England: Revisited”

Southern England: ‘Tis new to thee’

One would think that someone who had both taught Shakespeare and written a dissertation on the Globe playhouse would have made an early visit to England to know what he was talking about. Not I. Instead I waited about 25 years to visit, and not for a professional reason, but for the opportunity to visit Chris, a friend from my undergraduate days, and Adrienne, his wife.

Continue reading “Southern England: ‘Tis new to thee’”

Guest Entry – Washington D.C. (mostly)

This is adapted from an email Mindy sent (8/14/2017) while on a trip from Missouri to Washington D.C. Between her (un)timely visit to Charlottesville and breakfast in Trump’s hotel, the content may interest more than the original audience (and she’s given me permission to post it). – Louis

Here are the highlights from our (Mindy, Josh, and friends’) time in Washington D.C.

Washington Monument

Preface: Charlottesville

Before we went to D.C. we were in Charlottesville—I don’t have any pictures from it, but it was a really nice town with more cars than I prefer. Josh and I had a great time at a running store where a guy named Turtle sold Josh a new pair of runners and I really enjoyed hanging out with Sarah and Kyle and walking around and looking at the campus and shops and things. 

Continue reading “Guest Entry – Washington D.C. (mostly)”

Los Zacatitos, MX

This post is about my first trip to Zacatitos; my second trip here and my third trip here.

Baja (lower) California is a peninsula comprised of two Mexican states, Baja California and the southern half, Baja California Sur. I spent a week at the southern end, a bit to the east of the Southern Cape, the beginning of East Cape. The nearest city with an international airport is San José del Cabo (Saint Joseph of the Cape).

Continue reading “Los Zacatitos, MX”

The Road to Veracruz

Why Taxis Were Invented

Flew to Mexico City for a week-long visit with only two goals: meet a friend and return home in one piece. Arriving in the evening, I discovered my cell phone failed to find a signal (guess I forgot to figure that out), but the airport internet service allowed me to email my friend, BR, who was waiting in a different terminal. For fifteen years I had known him, yet we never met in person. Over this time (over the Internet), he proved himself to be a thoughtful, honest man who worked hard, harder than I, translating a gigantic medical book. So it seemed fitting to meet him as a friend, now that I had ended the employment that brought us together.

BR is a medical doctor turned translator. He’s a smart man, often correcting problems in the English text, usually medical inaccuracies but also some grammar.

Continue reading “The Road to Veracruz”

What I Do When Not At Work (Mexico 2)

Puerto Vallarta & Spelling

Tomorrow, I leave Puerto Vallarta for a smaller town, Sayulita, to the north.

Yesterday, walking around, looking at menus, I saw this: “Pork ribs severed with baby potatoes.” The juxtaposition with “baby” made it worth pointing out to the host, who appreciated it, asking me to write “served” on his hand so he could update the sign, giving the sales for that entree a boost.

Continue reading “What I Do When Not At Work (Mexico 2)”