2018 Colombia – Day 11

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Somehow it had gotten to be our last day. sad trombone. How had that happened?! We must have been having fun! (After all, they say time flies when one is doing such.)

We had a bit of time before having to be to the airport for our flight, so walked around the neighborhood. Some of the other folks had gone on official graffiti – oh or maybe they called them street art or mural – tours earlier in the trip, but we saw what seemed like a good selection, in several different styles, just on our own.

There was a neat looking bookstore, which unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – was not open yet. Ditto for a Chocolateria. We passed by what looked like a farmers’ market, and many other shops and restaurants. The Museo Nacional was also steps from our hotel. I could have spent another day or two checking all these things out, but not to be this trip.

For breakfast we decided to try the restaurant across the street, rather than just doing the hotel buffet. It was a little more overhead with having to look at a menu and choose and all that, but it was good to try something different, and turned out to be super tasty.

Then it was the travel shuffle – got to the airport, went through security, waited for then got on flight one to El Salvador. Which was late, so the connection was a tad hectic, since we had to go through a screening and Eric got stopped for some reason, but we did both make it to the second plane. Whew. Not quite as they were closing the door, but pretty close. Anyway, we were on, and made it back to San Francisco safely.

As I mentioned before, Colombia hadn’t been on my radar as a place to go, but I’m super glad I got the opportunity to visit, especially with a local connection. Although she hasn’t lived there in many years, Angela has an obvious affection for the country, and Jon has developed one as well. They were super generous in sharing this and their travel knowledge with their family and friends. It was a wonderful experience that I am immensely grateful for.

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June 18, 2018

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Calgary Central Library

The hotel we were staying at was right next door to the stunning new (opened November, 2018) Calgary Public Library Central Branch. It is an amazingly beautiful building, with sleek curves softened with the generous use of wood. Although super modern and open floor plan, it is not completely unwelcoming (as modern buildings sometimes are.) Or maybe just the fact that it is a home for books gives it a touch of homey feel to me.

There were actually a number of nooks and crannies, and more secluded areas for quiet study scattered throughout the library. And two cafes! Which – food and drink in a library still weirds me out, but whatever, they definitely seemed to be a draw. Ohand!!! and indoor play area in the Children’s Library section!!!

The building also seems well integrated into the site, with the light rail passing underneath it, and a public plaza area with some fun sculpture. The main entrance can be accessed from either side, and is nestled under a swooping wooden curve that suggests a boat.

Besides the beauty of the building, there were a variety of art works on display, and I found a small gallery with an exhibit of artist’s books, which was very cool. The reading room had shelves with book selections on various themes, which was also neat. Perhaps my favorite thing was that there were spaces for an Author in Residence, an Artist in Residence and a Historian in Residence. None of them were in when I visited (in the evenings), and I’m not sure what I might have talked with them about anyway, but it seems like a great thing for a library to have this sort of program. I also got a chuckle from the “Vintage Media Lab,” which included such historical equipment as a typewriter, and film and slide projectors.

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2018 Colombia – Day 10

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So I meant to get through all the posts about our Colombia trip before heading off on the next International Adventure – you would think fourteen months would be enough time for that – but, yeah. Think again. Anyhoo, I guess before I get too far into those write-ups I’ll wrap this up. Although I thought I’d jotted (in electronic form – would that still be jotting?) down some notes about the last couple days of the trip, but again, not so much.

Regardless, I do remember that I made it through a full night in a hammock for the first time ever! Achievement Unlocked! Although I can’t say it was a full night’s sleep, at least I didn’t fall out. And, while the idea of sleeping in a hammock sounded pretty cool, let’s just say I haven’t rushed out to do it again. It certainly me realize that I do not keep perfectly still all night. Changing – well, trying to change – positions in a hammock is very different than when you are in a bed. Also, you are more affected by the ambient temperature, since you are surrounded by air. Surprisingly, it actually got a bit chilly! I was glad for long sleeve top and pants and a kikoi to wrap myself in. In fact, the whole time we were in the Amazon it was cooler than I had expected – not that I am complaining. But it did seem a little odd to be wearing long sleeves and pants in the rain forest!

Speaking of rain forest, that was our activity for the day – a walk in the jungle. Hmn… are those terms interchangeable? Whatever, we went out walking in the trees and vines and plants and mud and bugs and exuberant life surrounding Habitat Sur. So. Much. Green. I’m glad there was a path and people to follow, it seemed like it would have been very easy to have gotten lost and never be seen again.

After a tasty meal we were back on the bus, and to the airport, and then on the plane to Bogota. And just like that, back in the city. We were in the same hotel, and what could have been the same room, except it was a different number, and the mirror image of what we’d had previously.

There were some rumblings of getting a group together for dinner, but Eric and I struck out on our own. It turned out there were a lot of possibilities within walking distance of the hotel – of course you find allthethings on the last night – we went to the Sandwich Workshop Angela had recommended. Super duper yummy. But no alcohol because the Presidential Election.

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June 17, 2018

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Resistance at Tule Lake

The WWII incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans is not a universally known chapter of our country’s history. Perhaps still not even well known. And even to many of those who have some knowledge of it, the storyline runs that the incarcerees were cooperative, and went peacefully and willingly. Often invoked is the Japanese phrase “shikata ga nai” – “it can’t be helped” or “nothing can be done about it” – that one must accept circumstances beyond one’s control, along with “gaman” – that one must endure with patience and dignity.

Although I had some basic knowledge of the incarceration (also/formerly known as internment), until I went on the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in 2014 I did not know that Tule Lake had been designated as the segregation center for those who had answered the United States government’s loyalty questionnaire “incorrectly” and so were considered “dis-loyal”. As the movie Resistance at Tule Lake documents, there were incarcerees who did not go along with, and in fact pushed back against being illegally imprisoned.

The incarceration is a complex and multi-faceted story, and this film is an important testament to more of the experiences that were had during that time. The film is now available on iTunes and DVD, but I got to see it as part of a Day of Remembrance event put on by the Sonoma County Chapter of the JACL. After the film, there was a panel discussion moderated by Gaye LeBaron, with Henry Kaku and James Okamura generously sharing the experiences of their families who were incarcerated at Tule Lake. The hall at Enmanji Temple was filled to capacity, and, especially in these times when some history seems to be repeating itself, it was encouraging to see the interest in hearing and keeping the stories of resistance alive.

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2019 France – Day 1

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I had fallen right asleep and slept through the night. Well, until 4:30 (local time) – and then was actually pretty awake. But… I didn’t get up. Eventually I fell back asleep and then was pretty fast asleep when the alarm went off at 7:30. Oof.

We went downstairs for the breakfast buffet at hotel. Croissants and pain au chocolate! And whoa! All the spreads. And a coffee jukebox. That is, a machine with a half dozen or so options, put your cup under the nozzle and press the button.

After that I was ready for a nap but we had to return the rental car and put together our bikes. (Apparently I missed the bike assembly fairy option.) We peeked in the bike room. There were a few more than when we had put our bags in last night, and it seemed like quite a lot of bikes to me, but Eric said that compared to last time it was not very full. In 2015 the start had been just down the street at the velodrome.

At the rental car place there was a worker in the yard but we had to wait for a “responsible person” to get there to check in the car. There were some people there before us, and they took a while, but once it was our turn it went pretty quickly. We walked back to the hotel. Along the way we foraged some blackberries, plums, and apples!

The next order of business was putting the bikes together. All the parts were still there, and nothing was bunged up. It took me a while, but it went well. The only little thing was that I thought I had marked where the handlebars sat angle wise, but it must have rubbed off. Or maybe I was remembering incorrectly. Either way, I got it to what seemed to be the right place.

For a shake down ride we tootled over to Versailles. We being Eric, me, and GregM. Greg had found a labyrinth, which we rode around in after I took some pictures of yellowbike with a neat sculpture. Once we got more underway I had a big WOOHOO I’M RIDING MY BIKE IN FRAAANCE! rush. On the way over there were some nice bike paths, and nice roads, and a few places where I was not so sure if bikes were OK but whatever. We made it to the town OK.

Direction of travel is the same as in the US, so that wasn’t anything that needed adjustment. One thing that was a little different was that the traffic lights are located before the intersection, so if you are at the front of the line of traffic you had to remember to not go too far forward, otherwise you couldn’t tell when the light changed.

Once in town we were feeling a bit peckish, and found a pleasant looking crepe place. Greg and Eric actually had waffles, with sweet toppings, and I had a more savory crepe. It was fun to see/hear Greg speaking French, and the proprietress tried some English. And omigosh the crepe was délicieux!!!

As we cruised over toward the Palace someone yelled at us in English from a sidewalk cafe table. “Hey hippies, get a car!” Turned out to be a woman (rando) from Seattle – she had seen Eric’s Swift and Greg’s Ruthworks bags and figured we were also from the Left Coast. There were introductions, her brother was there with her, and discussions of mutual friends and plans for The Ride.

We rode past some of the Compound. (the Versailles Palace that is) Ridiculous. No wonder they had a revolution. We didn’t go into paying part, but there was still plenty to see on the grounds.

The bike seemed to be working as usual, but there was a mildly annoying fender rattle. I did three different adjustments trying to make it go away, so it was not a very scientific approach, but the rattle stopped. Whew. 1200k of that would have gotten old.

After riding around the more park like part of the grounds, with a stop at some sorta unisex restrooms, we decided to head back to the hotel. Unfortunately our first attempts at exiting toward the direction we wanted to go in were thwarted by locked gates. Cue Escape from Versailles... from there Greg thought to go one way, we decided to try another (I know, I know, don’t split up… but, we did see him again back at the hotel!) and ended up exploring a bit more of the grounds, and seeing some other cyclists there for PBP.

Eventually we did make it back to the hotel, and then went out for dinner. We decided – why not, right? – to go to a French restaurant within walking distance. Or should I say a French food restaurant. On our way there we saw that the carousel was open, so went for a ride on that. Then dinner. Priorities. The gang from last night plus Keith and someone else whose name I didn’t catch ended up there as well.

Eric and I both had skewers – mine was some very tasty salmon, Eric had beef. Dunno that was particularly French, but it was super tasty. Ohand there were frites. I tried the cidre brut, which I enjoyed, although it seemed pretty sweetish. It made me wonder what the douce would have been like. After eating we walked around a bit, which then turned into a search for dessert. We ended up at the Carrefour, which is a store of ALLTHESTUFFS – both food and non-food items. In the grocery part we managed to find some ice cream, which we enjoyed back at our hotel room and then turned in.

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August 16, 2019

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Bart’s Books

Ice cream was checked off the list (of travel things to do in a new place), did not really get to the Ojai Library, although I did take a spin through the Friends of the Library (or whatever the fundraising/support group calls itself – oh, here we go, thank you intarwebs – Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation (OVLFF)) book sale – but, for sure satisfied the bookyness quotient with a visit to Bart’s Books. The World’s Greatest Outdoor Bookstore. Who knew?!

Indeed, there were shelves outside along the sidewalk! Filled with books that were marked with prices (the ones I looked at were all 50 cents) and a slot by the door with a sign that if the store was closed and you wanted to buy a book to put the money through the slot. I had to wonder how often that actually happens and whether they inventory the outside books – ok, really, how often to people just take books without paying. I’d like to think that book people are more honest than the average, or at least as much so, but … yeah, people. But I’m guessing only low value/multiple multiple copy books go outside, and maybe the shop is just as happy to be rid of some inventory. Some of the books did look like they’d been outside for a while.

Then much of inside was also outside – all around the yard/courtyard were shelves – aisles and nooks and crannies. bookhouse heaven… There were also inside spaces, I particularly enjoyed how they had cookbooks and food related in the kitchen. So much to look at! In addition to all the books, there were typewriters scattered around, and a book press! It was splendidly glorious!

I was just looking, but – surprise – did not leave empty handed. Since I wasn’t after anything specific I kept to my own devices, but I did hear some other customers with questions and the staff were super helpful and knowledgeable. Some of us were obviously tourists, but there also seemed to be a number of regulars as well. Definitely worth a visit if you are anywhere nearby!

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Ojai Ice Cream

For sisters’ weekend this year, we made it to Ojai! Our previous attempt had been stymied by wildfires, so it was nice to get there. And! they had a local ice cream store, coincidentally named Ojai Ice Cream, which also had fudge and an assortment of candy, but we just stuck with ice cream. My initial impulse was to get Rocky Road, but then I looked at the flavor list and saw Ojai Orange, so I decided to try that, figuring I wouldn’t be able to get that anywhere else but Ojai. It was a bit underwhelming, but it was cold and sweet, and I did eat it all. And it was nice to support a local business.

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