Sunday, January 21, 2018

2017: Ecuador (Highly Recommended!)

Today I revisited this blog to search for photos of our China experience.  A whole calendar year has again slipped by without comment in this space.  The international highlight was our trip to Ecuador.  Although it had been high on our desired destination list for some time, it moved to the top of the list when a family friend asked if we would take her there upon her high school graduation.  Yes! Si!  Ben had taught school there in the late 1990's and had visited again in 2006.  Before we knew it, there were 6 enthusiastic young folks joining this adventure.

The takeaway on Ecuador is simply this: if you have the opportunity to visit, GO!!!  The people are lovely, scenery and climate remarkable and variety impossible to describe.  Food is also delicious, and due to recent governmental stability and other improvements, the roads are superb and transit from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean is quite manageable.

Here is a sampling from July 2017...

Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
el Placer de Toache
River in el Placer de Toache
 Dairy Land in the Andes
 School where Ben taught in 1998
 Blue footed boobies on Isla de la Plata
 Beach in Puerto Lopez
 Crossing the border from Colombia at Ipiales
 Ben's new pan flute from Otovalo craftsman
 Shepherdess in early morning, Otovalo
 Mt. Chimburazo
 Fellow passenger on bus to Cuenca
Incan ruins in Cuenca 
 Hat factory in Cuenca
 Local artist friend in Cuenca
 With friends in Cuenca
 Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World)
 Standing room only bus in Quito
 Bread maker in Quito
 Hosteleria in Banos
 Artists in Otovalo market
 Bus station in Santo Domingo de los Colorados
 Amazing flowers in the tropical area
 Sea turtles in the Pacific near Isla de la Plata
 Bananas everywhere
Lunch of trout, plaintains, yam soup, fresh tree tomato juice, rice in Colombia

Impromptu Sign Language lesson for children in rural school

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2 years, 3 continents, 4 countries

I recently met with a former professor for lunch.  She mentioned that during the summer of 2013, she had followed our trip to Spain via this blog.  I purposed to revisit this temporarily abandoned site.  One reason for the long pause is that so much has happened and I felt that I needed to go back and fill in the blanks...and while I waited, new discoveries were made, new friends made, new languages explored...and yet no writing or reflection in this manner.  Perhaps one day I will upload photos of our special opportunities and unique privileges.  For the present, I will simply list the dates and locations of our journeys.  Remarkably, in each place we met members of the local Deaf communities!

Spring 2014: I graduated from EKU with a degree in Deaf Education and began working for Fayette County Public Schools with deaf and hard of hearing students.

Summer 2014:  This was our summer of American travel.  After visiting family in New York and New England, we toured Washington, D.C.  Highlights included campus tours of Rochester Institute of Technology and NTID as well as Gallaudet University where I gathered on site information to share with my students whom I hope will one day enter these institutions of higher learning.  We then traveled to Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma.  Although we really enjoy train travel when abroad, we agree that one outstanding feature of travel in the USA is our interstate highway system.

Summer 2015:  We had a family reunion in Branson, Missouri.  Then, we visited Ben's sister in Dominican Republic where we were fortunate to meet several new friends.

Winter 2015:  Over our school break, we visited Ben's former "home" in Argentina and spent a day in Chile during our return flight.

Summer 2016:  Ukraine was our destination to spend a month with some of our cousins.  Again, we met several Deaf folks who patiently communicated with us as we learned some Russian Sign Language.

This list represents time/location and perhaps some photos will be added later.  The primary purpose of this post is to give myself permission to move forward with my blog without the burden of catching up on everything!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Savannah, Georgia and Tybee Island

For winter break, Ben and I went to visit my family in Georgia.  We took a day trip to Savannah, a place I'd never visited, although I had grown up less than 3 hours away. 
We checked Lonely Planet and Yelp to locate a place for brunch and we decided on B. Matthews Eatery at the corner of Bay St. and Habersham.  You can check out their website: had shrimp & grits and fried green tomatoes benedict--both were delicious!!! 
Parking was very easy to find and from there we simply walked across the boulevard, down "historic steps" (with signs warning us not to slip) and strolled along River St.

After 2 hours in Savannah, we headed to Tybee Island, about 20 minutes away by car.  Our family went here one time shortly after we moved to Georgia in the late 1980's.  Since that time the local historical societies have done a great job in their restoration efforts.  The lighthouse keeper's cottage is nicely furnished with many original pieces and the 15 minute film gives a good summary of the historical significance of the site.  The 178 steps to the top of the lighthouse are worth climbing.  (caution: take time to stretch or you might end up sore for days like I did!)  Happily, we found the staff at the lighthouse were very friendly and informative.
Included in the $9 admission fee for the lighthouse and surrounding buildings, is admission to Fort Screven.  This has some interesting historical notes and displays.  The docent informed us that they are continuing to work toward restoration of this defense structure that dates back to 1855.

Before heading back to Jefferson County, we walked over to the beach.  It was 75 degrees...quite nice for December 21st!
Back home in Lexington, Kentucky for New Year's Eve with family & friends...Ben introduced some of our friends to the Argentine custom of drinking mate. :)  Happy New Year to all!!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Priego de Cordoba, Spain

View of gardens and olive groves from the city wall of Priego de Cordoba. 
From Grenada we traveled by bus (Alsa is the main bus service) to Priego de Cordoba, a small, walled city tucked into miles and miles of rolling, olive tree covered terrain.  Our primary reason for visiting this town was to see some friends whom Ben and his sister, Angela, had met in 1996-97.  We had a wonderful visit in their home and I appreciated their great patience with my Spanish.  In the evening we took a walk around Priego and ate a typical Spanish meal: tortilla espanola, olives, bread, salmorejo, watermelon and grapes. 
Paqui in her kitchen making dinner.
She let me help with the salad: tomatoes, garlic, onions and olive oil.
In Priego, it is quite easy to believe that nearly 50% of the world's olive oil is produced in Spain.  The view from the city wall consists of thousands of neatly ordered olive trees. 
In the plaza there are many fountains. Manolo & Paqui included this on the walking tour of their city. It is one of the nicest parks I'd been to in Spain.  Ben remembers this plaza from his first visit to Priego. 
The following morning, Paqui insisted on sending a bottle of local olive oil with us.  We left Priego with oil in our backpacks and happy memories in our hearts.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Granada, Spain: Alhambra, Pension Austria, etc...

We took the bus from Murcia to Granada.  The most famous site in Granada, and perhaps one of the most famous sites in the world is the Alhambra. It was originally built as a fortress in the late 800's and in the 1300's became a royal palace. It has gone through many conquests and reconquests and what remains is a fascinating mixture of architecture.  We had tickets to visit the Nasrid Palace, which only allows a certain number of visitors in each hour.  Our tickets were for 7:00 in the evening and we were able to visit the other parts of the Alhambra the two hours prior to going into Nasrid Palace.  Ben had been there before and after seeing it myself I could see why he (and clearly many others :) are impressed.  Pictures really don't do it justice, but of course, we make an effort. 
View from the balcony of the inner court gardens.  Lots of citrus trees.
If you are like me, you recall the name Alhambra from the card game, "Authors" (which Shane, Kate and I played with both our Myers and Teixeira cousins :).  Yes, Washington Irving really did live here in the Alhambra back in 1829 when he wrote that book.
If you are like Ben, then you knew that the Alhambra was a really neat place and you spent your free time constructing an award winning replica of the Court of Lions (see photo below of the actual court) for high school Spanish festival competitions.
The interior décor has unbelievable detail.
The Alhambra is not the only thing interesting about Granada.  The photo above was taken in the ancient "water treatment plant" (I'm sure Ben's dad, Ron, will appreciate this :) in Granada.  We happened upon the historic site and noticed that they gave free tours.  The guide spent an hour and a half telling us about the history of the area, explaining the scale models of the water systems and giving an overview of various cultural perspectives. 
We ate a nice lunch in this restaurant somewhere in the narrow streets of the Albayzin section of Granada.  There are several Turkish, Iraqi and other Middle Eastern-type restaurants in Granada.  The "menu del dia" specials are pretty good--a "3 course" offerta for about 8 euros.
Ben in front of Pension Austria, Granada
We spent 2 nights here in Pension Austria, a hosteleria we read about in Rick Steve's Travel Guide.  It was very clean, comfortable, convenient and the cost was extremely reasonable. We could walk up the hill to the Alhambra (caution, it is not an easy climb!). (By the way, we don't automatically recommend every place we visit.  One in Seville won't get a bad review from us, but neither will it get a recommendation.)  Here's the link for Pension Austria.  The photos on the website very accurate and this site is quite user-friendly.;label=pension-austria-QYeaBEPDLvlEWoiTF1PRCwS19528251553:pl:ta:p1:p2:ac:ap1t1:neg;ws=&gclid=CNvwq8ijsrgCFTMRtAodWEYAFQ