With Annika finally getting over a cold/ear infection, and the rest of us slowly getting over a nagging cough, we headed out to Parque El Virrey for a food festival. Annika's appetite has definitely returned as she sampled everything we threw at her.
When we decided that it was time for a vacation sans la puchy, we figured California would be the perfect destination. The Grand-MiMi watched Annika in Bogota while we enjoyed some of our favorite things in San Francisco: oysters, sushi, a walk across Golden Gate. A good portion of our paychecks was left behind in the one corner of Union Square that has both an Apple Store and Cole Haan. We warmed up with 2 days in Yountville and visits to Pine Ridge, Regusci, and Clos du Val, where we made a wise investment in a piece of luggage that carries one full case of wine. We finished up with a weekend in Gilroy, visiting family and hanging out. The Grand-MiMi was a trooper through all of it, caring for a a sick (yet again) and cranky Puchy. It's nice to be home, but we'll be back...it's the vacation we can take over, and over, and over...
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When living in another country, sometimes you have to find things that remind you of home. Bacon egg and cheese on a cinnamon bagel, almond croissants, and having some fantastic friends are just some of the things we found here in Quito that remind us of home.
Countdown to our next post begins and we will surely miss this place and our great friends.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with dear friends Graciela, Marco, and Pepe, who kindly invited us into their home and hosted a beautiful dinner. Our new Embassy friends--who happen to be from Brownsville--are a reminder of just how small the world can be. It was Annika's first Thanksgiving, and, while she did not get to try the Turkey and famous green spaghetti, she did get to sit at the grown-ups' table. We have a lot to be thankful for this year--our health, our family, and our friends old and new. We appreciate our relatives who keep us in their thoughts even while we are on another continent, and Embassy friends who form our foreign service family. To view the entire album click here.
After being on the road for nearly two weeks, we found refuge in the warm and welcoming Scanlon home in Killingworth, CT. And thus began a week filled with lobster. And family. And more lobster. And more family. Again we were treated to incredible hospitality, and Annika was in heaven with all the toys! Annika also had the opportunity to meet her Great-great Aunt Sil, Great-great Aunty Jean and Great-great Uncle Hop, lots of Wiltse cousins, Kristen, Matthew, Meghan...the list goes on! Even her Great-Aunt Linda drove down from Maine. Annika met future husband Sebastien (and his parents) at Mystic. We are blessed with great family and would like to thank everyone for making the effort to spend time with us. We are deeply appreciative of all of the hospitality offered to us throughout the trip...from meals to places to stay. We enjoyed your company tremendously and are so happy we could share a little time with you. To view the entire album click here
From the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO to the High Line and Ground Zero...Annika got a nice taste of New York, and her dad got more than a few photos. Nate, Gigi, Dave, and Seth made cameo appearances. We picked up the Grand-MiMi, who had just flown in from Africa after hanging out with adorable baby elephants. We were fortunate to spend time in the city with "new" New Yorkers Sandy and Dan, and seasoned New Yorker the Gotham Girl herself (now known as Auntie GG). After leaving the city, we made a quick stop in Old Greenwich to catch up with Jordan and meet Harrison and Bennett (so photogenic!). To view the entire album click here.
We kicked off our 2.5-week R&R in DC with good friends and food. Our hosts, Nate and Gigi, treated us like royalty. Annika visited Virginia vineyards with Uncle Jon and Aunt Nancy, and we enjoyed oysters and steak with Uncle Sergio. We then drove south to Roanoke. Annika loved meeting her Grandma Betty and Auntie Diana, and we were treated to another wonderful home-made meal at the Bright Tower. We had a beautiful taste of fall in West Virginia, where cousins Amos and Daisy kindly shared their birthday with us! We loved seeing Aunt Patty, Uncle Bill, Anne, and Darren, too. We made a quick stop in Thomas, WV to see Johnny and the Purple Fiddle before heading back to DC to catch up with lots of friends--Annika attended her second happy hour at Lyon Hall (luckily bringing a baby to a bar seems to be well-accepted in Arlington). And then we were off to New York...whew! And we're not even half-way there... To view the entire album click here.
After a wonderful time in Austin, it was time to head to McAllen, Texas to prepare for our trip back to Quito. We needed to wait on Annika's passport and the layette shipment so we could box up some of Annika's heavier items without having to lug them on the airplane. But while we waited, Annika was able to enjoy some quality time with Abuelo and Abuela. Julia and I got to enjoy some fantastic home cooked meals from my mother, who made Paella and Ropa Vieja (of course), from my dad who frequently BBQ'd, from the Arias family, and from the Forina family. I also got to enjoy some quality time with my sister, brother in law, and nieces who for the first time invited us for a home cooked meal! I got to enjoy talking politics with my parents while drinking scotch and smoking cigars (of course). And I got to enjoy family time with the Perez/Martinez family while watching World Cup. All in all it was a great trip and we are looking forward to returning hopefully for Christmas.
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It has been raining a lot over the last couple of days but thankfully we got a break today. We decided to take a little road trip to a farm south of Quito named Hacienda La Alegria. This charming farm is free of car alarms and other city noise, and instead has only sounds of the wind blowing against the leaves. Juan Luis was kind enough to give us a tour of the place, showing us the rooms in their western motif with spectacular views of the country side. He showed us the horses, cows, and more importantly the llamas. They were comedic in appearance with their hair and teeth and always weary of Jessica the German Shepard who was nearby and known to chase them.
They provided us with a fantastic lunch -- a traditional Ecuadorian soup (forgot the name), chicken with rice and green beans, and a lemon mousse for dessert. All were delicious!
Given that it only took us 45 minutes to get there, we definitely will be returning.
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Our first "San Giving" in Quito and it was a great one! Lots of great food made by Suzan and Julia like homemade green bean onion casserole, apple and cranberry turkey roulade, and hickory smoked turkey drumsticks. Desserts were excellent as well. This year, like years before, we have a lot to be thankful for -- we are in good health and have a great family and friends. I'm getting hungry creating this blog...time for leftovers!
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Suzan found a fantastic Italian restaurant called L'Arcadia that not only has delicious items on their menu but also makes and individually sells their own fresh pasta. She also found some tasty parmesan and little tomatoes which turned into a delicious dinner. Bit by bit we are finding little jewels in this city.
We purchased a new used 2010 Honda CR-V and decided to take her out on a little road trip to Thomas, West Virginia. Roughly an hour in, we veered somewhat off route to hit one of our favorite sandwich shops, Forlano's Market in Plains, VA where they have a delicious BLT sandwich. It's really a bacon sandwich. With satisfied bellies, we took the scenic route to Thomas, a drive filled with beautiful views of the West Virginia farmlands and mountains to include Seneca Rocks. We just love spending weekends in Thomas - we saw a great band,The Spring Standards, at the Purple Fiddle, hiked Douglas Falls, swam in a local swimming hole along the Dry Fork river, and more importantly spent time catching up with John, Julia's brother. All in all it was a great trip one where we could enjoy one of America's beautiful outdoors before heading to Quito.
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We took a spontaneous trip to the Shenandoah thanks to an invite from our good friend from Mexico City, Ben. We spent a day hiking, tubing, and chillin' at Flaquis Farm, (aka "Green Meadow Farm"), complete with bonfire by the river and s'mores. Loved spending time in beautiful Virginia and were grateful for the opportunity to make new friends. To view the entire album click here.
Julia and I spent a long weekend at South Padre Island with my family. The current at the beach was strong but the waves were fun for boogie boarding. The days many activities included a day trip to South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center where we saw a lovely Crocodile (or Aligator) feast on a raccoon, a Saturday with the Brownsville family, and a drive to the dunes to photograph the landscape and beautiful sunset. Links to our videos: Sal Boogie boardingJulia and Sal boogie boardingCubanos en las olasCrocodile feasting on a raccoon
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After two years of great memories, great friends, and great times, our tour in Mexico has come to an end. We said good-bye to our boxing instructor Changa and other boxing amigos at a great last class. Our Mexi-friends treated us to a delicious despedida barbecue at the Moose, complete with grilled fruit sangria and empanadas, and came to say good-bye during happy hour at the St. Regis. Our little family--including Ceniza and Compay--crossed the border to spend home leave in Texas, where we've spoken more Spanish and eaten more tortillas than when we were in Mexico. We're already missing the Mexi-crew dearly but enjoying a summer packed with family time before the next adventure. Click here to view the entire album.
We took advantage of the long Superbowl weekend by grabbing a number of friends from Mexico City and heading to the slopes in Park City, Utah. The Mexi-crew enjoyed some good American cooking, slope-time, hot-tub time, shopping, a sleigh ride, and cigars. And then it was back to the tacos... Videos can be seen at: ParkCity Video #1ParkCity Video #2 (Viejo Tiene Tumbao)
Julia and I were fortunate to travel back to the East Coast for the Thanksgiving holiday with stops in D.C., Roanoke, Virginia, Summersville, WV, and Thomas, WV. Many thanks to those who hosted us and met us along the way. Below are some pics from our trip. Click here to view the entire album.
Uncle Bill carving the turkey
Silas and Julia
Daisy and Silas playing hide and seek
Sunset over Thomas, WV
Greg, Maggie, Julia, and Sal
Our second stop in Italy was Positano on the Amalfi coast. We spent 3 days climbing up and down the stairs of the town (sweaty!), swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and watching helicopters and planes drop water on the forest fires raging above the town. We closed this portion of the trip with a memorable sunset dinner at Le Sirenuse restaurant.
Volare oh oh Cantare oh oh oh oh Nel blu dipinto di blu felice di stare lassu
To view the Positano photo album, click here!