Passage Note #73A - Visit to the States
Our annual Thanksgiving sojourn to see Linda’s family in the States was extended this year on both ends to stretch into a 2 month visit - from coast to coast with a stop in between. Thanksgiving was spent with her family on the snowy, chilly east coast in Philadelphia, with Christmas (with Chuck’s family) and New Years in sunny and warm San Diego, Ca. It was great to see loved ones and friends!! Boy! the new crop of widely distributed babies these days is staggering (all of them someone else’s grandkids).
We arrived in New York early to see Linda’s sister Louise in a local performance of “NINE”. Louise was in the original Broadway cast twenty years ago and, no longer playing the ingenue but the matriarch now, it was exciting to see her on stage again and listen to her golden voice; she is a star.
We rented a comfortable “shotgun” apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone for a week to hang out in the adjacent neighborhoods of son Joe and niece Erin. It was right on the border of Crown Heights and Park Slope and we enjoyed the ambience and local color of the multi-cultural restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, museums, and the Brooklyn Flea Market. Unfortunately a warm spell of weather the week before turned into an icy cold snap that had us running for the warmth of our cozy flat each day.
A highlight was going to the 911 Museum and Memorial in Manhattan which was very well done and extremely moving emotionally. The immensity of this national tragedy is portrayed through artifacts and the remains of the site itself and was brought into an intimate focus through the voices of those who both perished and survived. Highly recommend a visit.
Thanksgiving at the Farm (Linda's Aunt’s home in Malvern, Pa - NW of Philadelphia) is a family institution and always lives up to the excited anticipation of gathering together for a 4 day extravaganza of hugs, catching up, fun events, and great food....for all 40 of us. We stayed an additional week and enjoyed some extracurricular activities with our cousins, Aunt, and old college friends. We enjoyed a fantastic Philadelphia Orchestra performance at the Kimmel Center with charismatic conductor extraordinaire, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and were particularly impressed with his informal and “intimate” post-concert discussion with any of the audience who wished to stay afterwards. One day we were treated to a VIP tour of master wood worker Wharton Esherick’s home and studio in the rural Phila. suburbs near The Farm thanks to docent cousin Roz. Esherick‘s (1887-1970) name is well known to anyone familiar with this craft in America; an extra bonus was the serendipitous appearance of Eshrick’s peer/friend and respected wood sculptor in his own right who gave us some personal insight into the man and his work.
After a brief stopover in Houston to see some cousins and a new baby in the family, we were on to warm San Diego where we stayed with good friend Trish in Pacific Beach, our home away from home. Our house in La Jolla is rented out and we were also there to meet the new tenants. Spending time with son David who lives in Bay Park, his girlfriend Giselle and his wonderful group of friends is something we always anticipate with great joy.
Christmas at the Houlihans was fun but sure has changed since the last Christmas we had with them ten years ago with the addition of kids kids kids (Kerry’s two and Brendan’s twins). A surprise was a visit with Linda’s cousin Adam and wife Stephanie and their 2 boys who came to San Diego for a week’s holiday. A beautiful drive to Palm Desert enabled us to have a day with Lou and Gerry (Lou was in my father's wedding party). We stayed to spend New Years with son Joe who flew in for a music gig and we departed the first week in January.
Back to Ecuador
By the time we left San Diego to return to Jacaranda in Ecuador, we were loaded down with 200 pounds of boat stuff, including an oversized roll of fabric to recover our boat cushions. We flew to Quito instead of our usual Guayaquil destination in order to submit Linda’s one-year long-stay visa application for French Polynesia with the French Embassy. Luckily for us, customs turned out to be a breeze. Chuck was prepared with extensive invoices and paperwork but the officials weren’t really interested and waved us through with a cursory inspection. Whew!! We anticipate we will be back in Quito in 3 months to pick up the visa for Linda (Chuck is using his EU passport so he doesn’t need to apply for one).
We stayed in Quito’s La Mariscal district to be within walking distance of the French Embassy and enjoyed exploring some new upscale restaurants and a French bakery called Cyril which was straight out of Paris. Highly recommended is a visit to Oswaldo Guayasamin’s Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) and his home/studio (now a musuem). Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-99) is perhaps Ecuador’s most famous artist of international fame. In the hills of Bellavista with a stunning view to the valley, he amassed a fine collection of antiques, art, and archeological artifacts and entertained many dignitaries (including throwing a 70th birthday party for Fidel Castro). Capilla del Hombre is considered to be one of the most important art sites in South America and dramatically showcases his oversized murals and sculptures.
Everything was fine with Jacaranda at Puerto Amistad and it felt a bit like “coming home” to our friends and familiar neighborhood. The first real supermarket in Bahia had opened while we were away in the States and we couldn’t believe the upgrade in food availability now!! It was in a mall, the first of its kind in town, appropriately called “Shopping” within a short walk of the boat. Besides the Mi Comisariato supermarket, It had a food court, cosmetic and pharmacy store, clothing stores, game room for the kids and a movie theater yet to come. Bahia is moving into the big time!!!
We had budgeted a timeframe of three months to remain here with a plan to: visit Chile, complete boat projects in preparation for the Puddle Jump to French Polynesia, make new covers for our inside and outside cushions, do some routine medical check-ups, get our liferaft inspected in Manta, do a food provisioning run in Portoviejo, and return to Quito to get Linda’s French Polynesia visa (which would hopefully include a visit to Pacha Quindi, our friends’ Hummingbird Reserve in Mindo)
As we began our boat projects we found our momentum for major land travel waning so we never got to Chile, and instead put all our energy into our priority list of getting Jacaranda and ourselves ready for the Puddle Jump, a major multiweek 3,000 mile passage across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia. When the call came from the French Embassy on Feb. 20 - “only” 2 months after submitting Linda’s application, we were ready to pick it up and be seriously close to departing for the Galapagos Islands.....which was on the way to the Marquesas Islands, our landfall destination in French Polynesia.
MORE PHOTOS: In the "Photo Gallery" for Passage Note #73A