Friday, January 8, 2010

Braving the Cold

Blue Moon while driving to work January 1, 2010
So far, 2010 has been very cold.  Here in Texas they say it is the coldest weather we have had since 1977.  I moved to Texas in 1982, so I quess this is the coldest winter on record for me.  I have gotten out some and it doesn't seem too bad because I don't have to stay outside.  I am not envious of the people who must make their living while working outside.  I can only send them warm vibes.

Flying slows down this time of year and I have only flown one trip so far.  I went to Santa Cruz, Bolivia on New Years Day.  It was my first time in Bolivia, and I really didn't get to check out all the things that I wanted to see because it rained heavily most of the day.  The temperature was in the mid 80's and it was very humid.  I walked through the neighborhoods around my hotel, which I think is a very wealthy area, and went to a local grocery market to purchase and sample some of the foods.

I think the most exciting thing I saw was my room service tray.  The fresh fruit and the local yogurt is always a favorite meal, as well as the breakfast bread varieties.  You can always count on the coffee in South America being excellent; a pot of very strong coffee and a pot of warm milk and fluffy sugar packets.  I drink my coffee black at home, but I would never miss out on this treat in other countries that I visit.

I learned that there is a biocenter a short taxi ride away from our hotel.  It was too late and raining much too hard to go outside by the time I discovered this.  I was told that it is the largest butterfly resort in South America.   I hate when I miss opportunities like this because I never know if they will come again.  It is definitely the first thing I will do if I get the chance to return. Here is a beautiful link to their website, translated into English.  I recommend taking the video tour.

After breakfast, I lay back on my bed and was startled to see a bat hanging from my ceiling! After a brief moment, I realized that it was a huge butterfly! This photo doesn't show the proportion, but he was as large as my hand with the fingers spread.  He kept me company the rest of the day.  I guess it was too wet outside for him as well.

The other thing that I totally enjoyed on this trip was the decorations at our hotel.  There was a lovely manger scene and large lighted trees throughout the lobby and hallways.

I have been off for the last 5 days so I took down Christmas decorations this week.  I try not to be sad about it, but my condo seems plain and boring with all the lights gone.  I sort of make it a celebration like when I put them up.  I play Christmas music for the last time this season, and drink brandied cocoa (not for the last time this winter).

They have also begun the huge task of taking down the lights on the trees in Lee Park.  A few lighted trees remain, and it is still lovely to walk amongst them, shivering and watching myself breathe.

I have managed to pick up a trip to Paris and I leave tomorrow.  It is colder there than it is here, and looks like it will be lightly snowing.  Sunday is the big market day in Paris, and I plan on getting out and visiting some of my favorite neighborhood markets in the 13th arrondissement around the Place d'Italie.   This is one of my favorite districts in Paris, although not one of the most fashionable.  I stayed near here in the Place Jean d'Arc in the  Gobelins area on January 1, 2002.  I came to Paris alone that day to start my year right after all the horrible events of 2001.  That is a different story, but I found a warm community there which comforts me today.  If you want to check out some of this area, I give you these links.

I am looking forward to buying some artisan honey and some great cheese.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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