San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Sam Donaldson agrees: The ‘warm-up band’ (Alison Wright) stole the show

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Photographer Alison Wright and ABC newsman Sam Donaldson share a moment after delivering their talks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, on Feb.29.

While globe-trotting photographer Alison Wright billed herself as “the warm-up band for Sam Donaldson” and begged the audience not to boo her off stage with shouts of “Sam! Sam! Sam!,” the retired ABC newsman had a whole other take on the evening.

Wright and Donaldson were co-headliners before a packed Literary Society house in the HRM Ballroom in San Miguel de Allende on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

When Donaldson stood up to speak, he was clearly awed by the sometimes harrowing tales and stunning photographs presented by Wright, a featured National Geographic photographer.

“I’ve always believed that you don’t follow dogs or children onstage,” intoned Donaldson, “to which I’ll add, ‘Don’t follow Alison Wright!’ “ Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

I started the day by rescuing a hummingbird

IMG_8883I started the day by rescuing a hummingbird

That had been locked in the atrium all night

And was exhausted from beating

Its wings and head

Against the glass.

It rejected my offer of help last night.

Exhaustion and a cold night made it wiser today.

And freedom is its reward.

And then I walked Moppit, the philosopher dog

While counting the hot-air balloons in the sky.

And took a Pilates class.

And stopped at Buonforno’s for a latte

With Bastoncito de avellanas.

Delicious.

I wrote something funny/mean about Donald Trump

That I do not regret

And something important for a friend

Who is not happy with

The way this world is today

And wants to do something about it.

I gave another friend

Directions to the laundry.

A laundry.

There are so many.

All morning, I said

“Buenos Dias” and “Hola”

To everyone I met and didn’t care

If they returned my smile,

Though nearly everyone does.

And now it is nearly noon.

I could have stopped

At “I started the day by rescuing a hummingbird,”

But I’m glad I didn’t.

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, Uncategorized, Writings

Dream sequence: Walking the Length of the Erie Canal

map-erie canalI have been asked today to discuss the proper way to traverse the Erie Canal, the 363-mile waterway that links Albany, New York, to Buffalo and the Great Lakes. 

Before we go any further, it is important for you to know that I was asked to deliver this talk in a dream.

I know.

It shocked me too.

Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

In San Miguel’s Centro: Our Lady of the Steps

She sits on the cold stone stoop. She looks neither left nor right.

Her head is bowed, mostly, her left hand extends for alms.

The hand rests on her knee. It is rigid and curled into an unnatural cup. A shape carved over a lifetime. A boney cup meant to hold, pesos, centavos.

Give or don’t give. It is all the same. Continue reading

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende

Welcome to the Cobblestone Pocket Museum of Tiny Found Objects which might be magical

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The current contents of the Cobblestone Museum pouch.

Welcome to Cobblestone Pocket Museum, the traveling collection of tiny found objects which may or may not have magical properties.

The museum is housed in a gray felt pouch big enough to hold one pair of sunglasses. It does not because sunglasses even if found would never qualify as “tiny.”

The bag has a zipper at one end and the rubber tab on the zipper says “Jet Blue,” which I used to fly whenever possible when the airline first launched. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

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Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

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Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.

A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)

We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Walking the Camino with Whitman, seeking the poet’s path between reality and the soul

img_6927-1The land and sea, the animals, fishes, and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests, mountains, and rivers, are not small themes … but folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects … they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.

— From Walt Whitman’s original introduction to “Leaves of Grass” 

Today is the day I found the path between reality and the soul.

To say that the path we walked was simply the most beautiful in all of the Portuguese Camino is difficult. There have been many remarkable sights. None, however, affected me quite like this one. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Slow down, walk in mindfulness, and the Camino’s hidden beauty is revealed

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An element of a plaza water fountain in Pontevedra, in which the shape of the spouting water is constantly changing to some hidden rhythm. The statue of the little boy always seems to get his mouthful, however.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (22.2 kilometers, felt like 22.2 except for a very flat stretch of open and empty road after the sun came out)

We awake to a different Pontevedra this morning. Last night, we walked through gray granite and stone canyons, brightened only by the logos and signage of commerce and colorful storefront pitches for their wares, and the occasional art installation. And graffiti, ambitious graffiti murals in fluorescent colors.

But otherwise, a gray city fostering teeming waves of pedestrian life along traffic-free streets. 

Now, in the morning gloom, the rain and the streetlamps have washed everything with a shimmering amber sheen. A neon art project sings like an aria to the skies above. The pulsing cherry-sherbert lighting on a plaza fountain vibrates with a force unfelt in daytime. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Sometimes, the best moments on the Camino are not the views but the stories people tell

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This is Ponte Sampaio over the River Verdugo. This is yet another spot where Galacian fighters kicked the ass of Napoleon’s soldiers. This isn’t the first site we’ve encountered marked by the defeat of Napoleon’s army.

Redondela to Pontevedra (23 kilometers, felt just right)

Sometimes the best part of your day on the Camino isn’t the glorious autumn weather, or the cathedral-like walk through an ancient forest, or the breathtaking vistas that greet you at the crest of a difficult climb, or the journey back in time as you pass through a Medieval village along narrow cobblestone paths.

No, sometimes it is a simple story told by another pilgrim.

This happened on our walk between the mellifluously named cities of Redondela and Pontevedra. Continue reading

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