Archive | November, 2016

Go Directly To Jail – Do Not Pass Go – Do Not Collect $200

27 Nov

This week The Tortas traveled from Mexico to Florida to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with  family. Passing through US customs should be a snap right? It can be, unless you forget to eat the apple.

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“Where’s the woman with the apple?”

The sign at the Miami airport said to be sure to declare any food in our bags. They made it sound so friendly that we told the agent, rather than act surprised if our wayward apple got discovered during inspection. We were surprised alright, just not in the way we expected.

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Stock photo but it looks just like this.

What followed taught us a huge lesson. NEVER leave food in your bag while crossing into the US from anywhere. Stay calm, do not get angry or indignant. Insert “yes sir or yes ma’m” into the conversation at every opportunity. Oh, and stay calm.

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The issue was resolved thanks to the “Washington” agricultural sticker on the apple and a bit of groveling on Lisa’s part. There were many people who weren’t so lucky.

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The TORTAS hanging out with our son.

The rest of our vacation has gone without incident. Key Largo looks a lot like Bacalar. The weather was perfect. It’s always a joy to visit with family. We’ll be home tomorrow. Gratitude, blessings and happy holidays to all.

DOS TORTAS 

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A Chance Encounter

20 Nov

In the months before our 2013 retirement to Mexico, I met a man who got on my commuter bus in Austin, Texas. He was over six feet tall, African American with striking white hair. Ben greeted the bus driver by name and many of the passengers. My job had just changed locations and this was a new route for me. Little did I know what an interesting fellow he was with escape plans similar to our own. A lovely friendship ensued.

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Stock photo from the Cap Metro website.

I looked forward to our daily chats on the ride home from our respective government jobs. He was a number cruncher for the State Insurance Commission and I worked for the Department of State Health Services.

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The roof going on our house.

Ben retired a few months before I did and set off for Peru. He had done his homework and found a furnished room that would serve as home-base for his many travels. Lisa and I got busy with our own adventures and communication all but ceased.

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One of the many pictures we received from Ben.

Last year I received news and photos from his epic around-the-world-trip. May to October 2015. Lima, Peru to Miami, New York, Helsinki, St.Petersberg, Moscow, Japan, Beijing, Houston, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, Miami and back to Lima. Whew! We were up to our eyeballs building our dream home, and a bit jealous of his freedom.

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My friend Ben with a native fisherman on a Japanese island.

This week I was very pleased to receive an email from Ben asking how we were and how life was treating us. What a pleasant surprise! After a year in Peru, he is leaving soon for East Africa and a forty-county tour that, as he put it, “may take the rest of my life to complete”.

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What an amazing man. I am so grateful for our chance meeting three years ago. Hopefully his world travels will bring him to Mexico. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for that visit?!

DOS TORTAS

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The Taco Truck In The Room

13 Nov

Watergate, the scandal that brought down the 37th US president, Richard M. Nixon was at its peak during my junior year abroad in Mexico. All the news I received was filtered through an expatriate viewpoint. I saw almost no US television.

I arrived in Mexico City in September 1973 with the plan to return home by Christmas. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

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Teotihuacan near Mexico City 1973

I fell head over heals living with a Mexican family, traveling by bus and train to pyramids, markets and museums. I decided to stay, study intensive Spanish and continue my travels. I was in heaven.

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Making tamales for my 22nd birthday with my Mexican family and housemate Brian.

It must have been difficult for my parents to understand my youthful enthusiasm. One day I was relating a phone conversation I’d had with my father to one of my teachers. Dad had asked me why I was hiding out in Mexico. My teacher’s response was, “tell him it’s one of the better places to hide out.”

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My parents Bernice and Ken Hoeft. My mother starved herself to fit into this dress.

I cannot blog this week without addressing the taco truck in the room, the US presidential election.The outcome has resulted in a difficult week with many people looking for a place to hide out. I wish I had something pithy or inspirational to say. I believe that difficult times can result in immense personal growth. One way that I contribute to this mess is to refuse to listen to people with different views from my own. I am dismissive and tend to gravitate to like minded souls. It’s time to stand in the flames and really listen to each other. There’s a lot of pain in our country and we will not learn to love each other and heal if we avert our eyes.

DOS TORTAS

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A Blast From the Past

6 Nov

Inspiration for a weekly blog can show up in the most unexpected places. Yesterday I found a 2014 Facebook message from a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in fifty-five years. What followed surprised even me!

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Carolyn and I were best friends, attached at the hip so to speak. We had sleepovers and ate at each other’s houses. Her family gave me perspective on life. They were different from us, more relaxed. We were a large Catholic family with lots of rules, restrictions and guilt. They were not.

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The day I received Holy Communion.

I remember Carolyn’s family had an in-ground swimming pool. There was a sign that said, Don’t Pee in the Pool. I felt very uncomfortable looking at that sign. We did not say the word pee in our house.

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Two of my siblings and myself in front of our childhood home.

Just this past week I had told a story that included a memory of Carolyn’s home. When the original version of King Kong (Fay Wray 1933) came on television, my father decreed it too scary and not for young children, at least not his children.

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Anything forbidden is all the more desirable. I remember surreptitiously watching King Kong in Carolyn’s living room, sure that I would go to hell and willing to take the risk.

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I had to do some digging to find these old photos. None of Carolyn.

Last night, we messaged each other, back and forth, fingers flying, updates on our lives, pictures of the grandchildren, and forgotten memories. It truly was a blast from the past.

I love how life can surprise. It makes us get out of bed in anticipation of what is in store today. A lovely way to live. DOS TORTAS

“Life has had its share of ups and downs, some BIG, some small, but I can say I have never even been happier than I am now.” Carolyn

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