Saturday, September 27, 2014

Overheard at the Ballet

Last night, together with our neighbors and friends, the girls and I went to a performance of Giselle at the Narodno Pozorište (National Theater).

The performance was part of the Sarajevo Ballet Fest, performed by a troupe from Croatia (the troupe from Croatia?). It was a first for the girls, and man were they impressed by the fanciness of the evening. We had fun getting dressed up before hand (even though we haven't fully unpacked our winter clothes - and needed them), while N picked out cool t-shirts for the boys.

Yes, the girls  (Mom, Birdie and Deevie) were headed to the ballet, and the boys (Dad and Cubby) were headed to a Hip Hop performance sponsored by the Embassy. (Hopefully N can post something about that later. N: "Cubby must've danced for a good hour.")

Anyway, here is our evening in quotes, in no particular order:


Birdie: "What if someone falls off the stage?!"

Deevie: "I don't understand what they're doing. I don't understand what is going on at all! This is making no sense!"

Birdie (about the theater smoke creeping across the stage floor, pouring into the orchestra pit):
"I love that stuff!"

Me (after the audience broke into applause at a repetitive sequence of moves that made the ballerinas look like ducks hopping across the stage): "I don't think you realize how difficult some of this stuff is to do until you try to do it yourself."

Birdie: "You can tell ballet is from France. It is just so Frenchy."

Our neighbor S as curtains closed and lights came up: "Well, that must be the end...because she died. I mean, she can't really be part of the story anymore if she's dead."
Me: "Are you kidding? Death doesn't mean anything in art! I have a feeling we're going to be seeing some Ghost Ballerina in act II." 
(I was right. :))

Birdie, who had gone to Ford's Theater with Dad and Deevie while we were in Virginia: I feel like Abraham Lincoln in the box!

Deevie: Is that guy wearing pants? I don't think he's wearing pants!
Me, after a particular revealing dance, and after several attempts to assure her the guy was in fact wearing pants: I admit, sometimes it looks like he's not wearing pants.

Birdie: When are they going to change the scene? I'm tired of this one.

Birdie when the music made an obvious change: Is that the bridge?

Deevie: Well, that was an unpredictable ending!


Overall it was a fantastic experience. Sure, the ballet went on a little too long and a little to late in the evening for our little group, and some of us may have fallen asleep at points, but for a performance that first hit the scene in 1841, not to shabby. Culture!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The World's Cutest Garbage Truck

I got a better picture! THIS is the kind of truck you need on these narrow Sarajevan streets. I wonder if they are available for public purchase.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shopping In Sarajevo

I love a walkable city, and that's what we have in Sarajevo -- which works out, since, although I am gaining confidence, I'm still pretty much a whimpering, nervous sweat ball when I drive around here. Or at least I am when maneuvering out of our garage.

Anyway, here is how I go about procuring sustenance for our family.

Produce: Markale, a public outdoor market.

Before anything else, I should mention that Markale is the place where many people were killed by mortar attacks during the Bosnian War in the 90s. There are wall plaques with names of the murdered, and an overall sense of reverence about the place. Given that I am a twice a week shopper here, I find myself in complete disbelief that this place would be bombed. These are normal, every day folks - literally just like me.

I have been to the Ciglane outdoor market as well, which is wonderful and has even more stuff than Markale, but Markale is only about 10 minutes on foot from our apartment. So for that reason, this is where I shop. I am terrible at bartering and often feel like I am given double the price for what locals get, but I feel sort of powerless to change things. Unless I become super natural Bosnian speaker! (I.e., not happening.) All the produce sold at the outdoor markets comes from the surrounding organic farms. You get the feeling these are just families growing stuff in their villages, or even in their backyard, as often there is only a little bit of something for sale. (Side story: One woman started shouting to me to come over. Me? I thought. Then she said in Bosnian, "You want this!" She held up what is the first bunch of fresh cilantro I've seen here. How did she know?! I bought all she had, which was the bunch in her hand in its entirety.) The produce is truly amazing and delicious. Everything is weighed on old school scales, with little weights used to balance and measure the produce on the other side. It's like going back in time.

One issue with depending on the markets for produce is this…they are purely seasonal. How crazy to only be able to get certain things at certain times! It's taken some getting used to. When we arrived, the raspberries were plump and sweet and perfect. Now they are small, and slightly shriveled. Soon they will be completely gone. We apparently missed the best strawberries as it was. Now pomegranates are in full season and oh so incredible. (Deevie in particular is extremely happy about this.) I am loving the markets, but feel like I am like Grasshopper in that fable, watching the ants prepare for winter and I just enjoy what's at hand. Should I be freezing stuff? Canning? Making jellies? I've been told the markets are open year round - but of course their usefulness is relative to what is available. Someone tried to appease my fears by telling me: "Don't worry! In the winter, they have plenty of cabbage, potatoes, and onions!" I need to learn to cook like a local.

Meat and dairy: I buy beef, pork, cheese, eggs and milk at this indoor market just across from Markale. The smell of smoked meat and cheese is wonderful. Everything is so fresh, with lots of homemade cheeses. Deevie has fallen in love with the smoked cheese, and Cubby loves the smoked beef. A friend told me that they don't use nitrates in their deli meats - which is why they look like stuff my grandpa used to smoke.

Lots of hubbub in the indoor market. I do get a little overwhelmed at the shouts for business as I walk through. I've now solidified my preferred vendors and just head straight for them, with smiles for everyone else.
The dried beef that Kai loves. It is so smokey and delicious. Put this on a piece of crusty bread with some smoked cheese? Heaven.

My preferred meat vendor - meet 19 year old Eldal. His family has been smoking beef for over 100 years. "I started working with my father here when I was 14, before and after school." Such a nice guy. He also teaches me stuff, like the fact that you don't ask for "half half kilo" if you want 1/4 of a kilo. (Hey, I do what I can.) "It is better to say 250 grams," he told me. And yes, I need to review the Metric System.

If I need to get just chicken, I'll often go to this joint, which is about 5 minutes from our apartment on foot. It is basically a butcher for only chicken. I started to take a picture of the cases of chicken and chicken products, but the woman got mad and stopped me. Because of this I am a little hesitant to go there now, feeling a little stupid. Ah, cultural weirdness.
We finally found fresh milk as well, which the kids think tastes just like the milk we got in the States. It's a brand called 'Z BREGOV, imported from Croatia, comes in 1 liter jugs, and is delivered to certain stores with no guaranteed availability (seriously) every two weeks. So the batches of milk are either due on the 15th or the 30th of every month, regardless of when you find them in the stores. Cubby was the only one who didn't mind the boxed, long-life milk readily available everywhere, so it is nice to have found this.

Bread: Pekara = Bakery, and they are everywhere.

You just can't get soft, sliced sandwich bread here - which is what we bought all the time back home, so we've had to adapt. So far the family favorite is a flat bread called somun. We buy it from a place that is literally 3 minutes from our apt on foot, and so far seems to be open at all times. Bosnians love their fresh bread!
The largest somun costs 80 fenning (dollar is to convertible mark as cent is to fenning).
So one 250 gram somun (if that means anything to you!) is about 50 cents.

There is one big modern supermarket here called Konzum, and it does act as a catch-all like a Target, but it just isn't the same. It feels weird and wrong even comparing it to Target! I have to drive there, so only go there when I have to, likely with N.  The parking lot is insanely tight, and I am sure some people think I am filming a getaway scene for a movie what with the way I go over curbs and nearly hit everything in sight. 

Konzum is where we buy all the other stuff - like bath and cleaning products, butter (we've had a problem with buying rancid butter since even though it is sold everywhere, it often is generally barely refrigerated on the shelves), and small bags of rice in the small Asian food section. (Side note: Soy sauce is not supposed to be sweet. Good thing my Japanese friend told me where to get Philippine-made soy sauce in a boutique store! I need my soy sauce.) There are smaller versions of Konzum around town (in the basement of three shopping centers), and apparently they will continue to have a limited variety of less fresh produce during the winter. I am very thankful for that option.  

If you do buy produce at these stores, you have to weigh and stick the price tag on yourself using a nearby machine. Of course I didn't know this the first time I did it, and often forget anyway. I find it challenging to go about shopping, putting stuff in your cart, and having to remember the numbers that correspond to your produce - wanting of course to wait in line at the machine once, labeling in one fell swoop. There is only one weighing machine that people line up for, and often you have to remember the number for apples, bananas, etc. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but surely it can't be this hard.

Shopping is an adventure, but I really enjoy it. I love going out with my bags and exploring what is available. The thing is, just cause you found it once doesn't mean you'll find it again! I hope this doesn't cause pack rat mentality, which I already battle to some degree anyway. It's hard to stock up on things - especially produce, because it rots so quickly. Quicker than anything I've bought in the States at least. I guess that is a sign of it being fresh and preservative free, which I am happy about, it just means changing my ways. All good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Out and About

The kids have their second day (and first full day) of school today, making it my first official day out in Sarajevo in a very different way! I met up with another new spouse - she got here one week ago so is just getting over jet lag and excited about paying attention to her surroundings.

What a wonderful thing, to just head out and take time looking at shops and sites, not worrying about the next meal or potty breaks. Of course I love our kids, but it has been a little trying exploring anything with them - and that's IF I can get them to leave the apartment. But now they are happily at school, and I get to figure things out as a curious, baggage-free adult. 

First of all, Sarajevo is just so freaking cool. 

Don't get me wrong - there have been hard parts about living here (or, more accurately, living somewhere so new), and those can get me down in my own selfish, insular ways. But when I get to pause and think about the here and now, and go out like today and really relish in my vibrant new surroundings, I love it.

I wasn't fast enough to get a closeup, but seeing that tiny garbage truck made me laugh! It zipped past me and up a "tiny Europe" small street, just going about its day of picking up trash. 

The Merkale market. This is very close to where we live. I've walked here twice now and am always amazed at the heaping piles of fresh, organic vegetables. You hear a lot of "from this morning", which I assume means they were picked a few hours before and trucked in from surrounding family farms. Every vendor I've interacted with has been warm and kind, always ready with a piece of fruit or vegetable to try before purchase. Since my grandmother passed away, I wasn't sure I'd ever again taste tomatoes or cucumbers like the ones from her garden. Every tomato and cucumber I've tried here could be one of Grandma's! I mean, to have a tomato that actually tastes like….a tomato. The cucumbers are even slightly prickly and fuzzy - like they've just been on the vine. You know that waxy mess on thick peeling you often have in the States? Ugh. Not here, baby!

On a side note, one thing that I just don't know what to do with yet is how locals have a way of mentioning the horrific recent war in casual conversation. For example, on the ride from the airport, I noted how beautiful the surrounding mountains and hills are. Our Bosnian driver said something like, "Yes. That is where the Serbian snipers stayed while they shot at the people in Sarajevo trying to buy bread." So far my response has been a quiet, "Oh…" Do they want to talk about the war? What sorts of taboo territory will I find myself in if I even open that conversation? I'm too new, too uninformed, and too nervous to find out just yet. Another example was someone explaining where the Merkale market was to me. "It's the outdoor market where all those people were savagely murdered. They have the freshest produce - it's really delicious."


In the Baščaršija district we came across a group of locals playing what looked like a community game of chess. I looked it up afterwards and apparently this board has been in use since 1998, and a game is going on during any and all day light hours. 

Baščaršija, by the way, came about in the 15th century. We like to walk to buy bread at a local "Pekara" (bakery). While we were out one time, N was telling the kids that the marketplace filled with so many streets of nooks and crannies of shops has been around since the mid 1400s. When he said that, visions of America's history flashed in my mind. To think that these little shops with their copper wares and fabric and woven shoes, had been going about daily life for centuries prior to the founding of the United States! I don't know. Being here really makes you realize how young the US is, relatively speaking. 

So much of the green space in the city is filled with grave markers. If you look at the death dates on them, a majority are in the early to mid 90s. I can't even fathom what it must've been like, but there is something palpable still in the air - an emotional undercurrent directly linked to the war. It is hard to put my finger on it, but I am aware of it. 

Today I bought fresh figs, which are simply delicious. I also got fresh raspberries and plums. Plums are hugely popular here. My friend bought some homemade plum jam which was made without sugar. We ate it with homemade cheese on crusty bread for lunch. Wow.

Eggs are sold here room temperature, just like in Mexico. And so far I've only ever seen brown eggs. Now I know that the process eggs go through from chicken to market is what determines their need of refrigeration. Some eggs in the market still have slight chicken gunk on them, which makes me feel more aware of where my food comes from. It's a good thing! These I bought today had tiny feathers stuck to them, which I tried to capture in my picture. The yolks are the brightest yellow imaginable. Deevie and Cubby really enjoy boiled eggs for breakfast.

Captain Consumer

When I was 12, I sent Goody hair products a hand written note along with two hair ties that were mistakenly linked together. I said something like, "I just wanted to alert you of this mistake so you can look into any machines that may be malfunctioning." A few weeks later I got a huge box from Goody with a ton of new products - brushes, hair accessories, etc. Can you just imagine how psyched 12 year old me was?? I learned a powerful message back then. It pays to be an involved consumer.

Following in this vein, I just wrote our bank to tell them how shocked I was about the over $40 in ATM transaction fees that have hit our account since arriving in Bosnia, and nicely requested advice on how to avoid this in the future. I never want to complain just to complain or to try to milk the system, but I know there are other options for us out there. Anyway, I'm happy to say our bank has refunded that amount, and gave us guidance on how to avoid fees from now on.

Don't forget your power as a consumer!

(Also, I am a huge nerd and proud of it.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

First Impressions of Sarajevo

We are here! We've had a wonderful and pretty surreal weekend walking around the new neighborhood. It rains a lot in the summer so it's green and gorgeous everywhere:

Restaurant "Inat Kuca," one of the first things we talked about in language class, suddenly a real thing:

Below on the left is Vijećnica, former city hall, now national library. It was destroyed during war in the 90s, later rebuilt, and recently reopened.

A church:

Site of the assassination of Archduke of Austria in 1914, which led directly to WWI:

A mosque:

Narra's favorite thing so far is sarma (cabbage rolls, bottom of pic):

On your right is the fountain of Sebilj, which is in Baščaršija, which is not the easiest thing to pronounce. Baščaršija is the market/bazaar section of the city, built in the 15th century.

Sarajevans drinks a lot of coffee and this is how they do it. In the cup are two sugar cubes. I think I was supposed to take the other thing out before I poured. Whoops!

Most of what we've eaten so far came from this shop:

Lots of steep roads:

Sarajevo brewery -- planning to eat lunch at the restaurant there today.

Our apartment is nice and sunny and already beginning to feel like home. Given everything, this has been an amazingly smooth transition so far.  Thanks to the efforts of our sponsor we even had internet from the first moment--hence this post!

The 12-hr time change has been rough, of course--we were up at 4am today and we've all been cranky at times--but hopefully everyone can power through until around 7pm today and get on the same schedule.

First day of work is tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One Year Later

I finally changed our heading picture from this:

To this:

...which was taken just last weekend in Union Station by my talented photographer sister.
I also made the words say we are now in Virginia. Well, we've actually been here since LAST SEPTEMBER. And so goes our blogging existence.


The last of Wonderful Mexico

My parents came to visit 

We also took a road trip for the ages to Mexico City and the wonderful Guanajuato - during Semana Santa (Holy Week) nonetheless, so it was crowded, electric, and fantastic. 
The Teotihuacán Pyramids: Racing to the Pyramid of the Moon 
View from the Moon: The Pyramid of the Sun
Cubby appreciated Diego Rivera's murals at the Palacio Nacional.
(If "appreciated" = "was scared of the scary faces and wanted to go home.")
Yes, there was a Bob Dylan citing in DF as well

Universidad de Guanajuato. White against blazing blue.
N took this on a solo trip up the hillside, while I was back at our place with sick Deevie. 

But even from inside our perfect little rental, the vistas were amazing.
Overall, the visit was one for the ages. I could never put into adequate enough words to explain how nice it is to share our experiences with family and friends. I am so thankful that my parents and N's parents could - and wanted to - visit us in Mexico! I do not take that for granted. Financially, health-wise, adventurous-spirit, having preconceived ideas about Mexico based on Breaking Bad, etc. I know those words don't line up grammatically, but you get my drift. There was a lot to consider before trekking it to GDL, and I for one appreciate it very much.

It was sort of funny taking my dad to the Costco near our house though. "We are never sending you anything from the States again! You have EVERYTHING here!" 

We said a sad good-bye to my dear, amazing grandmother 

flying back to the States to celebrate her extraordinary life. The kids even got to paint in her garden, which she worked in until the day she passed away. Grandma truly remains with us everywhere and in everything. As my father put it once we returned back to Mexico, "Now Grandma knows what your life is like there."

We visited our favorite places one more time 

Chacala with the Gs

Our place was on the hillside, with infinity pool. Kids would wake up and swim in pool. Then we'd go to the beach. Then come back and we'd all swim again. 
Cubby actually enjoyed the sand, and really enjoyed the fresh mango we ate -
inadvertently sprinkled with a little sand
A tradition I've done for as long as I can remember - place/date marker in the sand,
feet optional. In this case, Birdie joined me.
N and I ran the complete shore length back and forth twice each day.
Totally attainable for us as we checked off one instance of our 4x a year exercise routine. 

    Tapalpa with the Zs

Horseback riding near the famous rocks of Tapalpa. S and I opted out - mainly due to lack of sports bras.

 N thinks he can make it, silently pointing like Babe Ruth.
Thankfully he realizes he is not spring-foot man. (Name inspired by Cubby.)

 S brings ingredients to make sugar cookies!
One problem: the house has nothing that even resembles a cookie sheet.

 Church in Tapalpa Square. I remember when Cubby was an infant and could say one word - a form of "tick-tock."
On our first trip to Tapalpa shortly after we arrived in Mexico, he loved pointing at that clock tower and shouting "tick-tock!"

I love Mexican popsicles. This one is "tuna" flavored, with a perfect touch of chile

A last trip to our beach: Chacala once again, this time with the Zs

 Perfect snack: tortillas with some chopped up aguacate, jitomate, cilantro, limón i sal.

Birdie and Deevie

 As I mentioned, tradition.

And I have an apprentice!

Our amazing hillside rental again had an infinity pool.

Do we have to leave?

We said good-bye to school 
(a.k.a. the American School Foundation of Guadalajara)

We'll miss a lot about school, and are very thankful for our overall positive experience there. The girls both spoke Spanish after two years, having had none before we arrived. Birdie even joined the regular Spanish program after one year with her teacher's recommendation. It was a struggle for her though, so we opted for Special Spanish one day a week and that seemed to go ok. We loved our teachers and our wonderful driver Chema. We will also miss the school itself - open air halls surrounding the main field.

One of my favorite things: eating in the open-air cafeteria. The options were fantastic, and so fresh.
The kids loved getting cut up fruit or vegetables (cucumber and jicama) after school. With lime and salt, of course.

One last celebratory cactus fruit cup. Me gusta la tuna!

On the last day of school, I'm pretty sure we were the last people on campus - just me, Birdie, Deevie and Cub. No one wanted to leave. Cubby and the girls played until the janitor asked us to move so he could clean. We wandered around and said good bye to each part - the gym, the classrooms, the pool, even the water garafons. We said good-bye to the "gran arból" (giant tree) just outside the gates. 
Me: "Remember this tree? On the very first day of school two years ago, I pointed it out and said 'tree is arból'." The girls couldn't believe they didn't know even that when we arrived. 
Before we left for good, Deevie kissed the rock wall surrounding the school.

I love how in the end, they took all their good memories of school with them. All the struggles with language, hatred of swimming days, hardships with new culture and making new friends was left behind - or at least was a faint memory they could laugh about and reflect upon thoughtfully. 
Birdie even asked if there's any possibility we could be in Guadalajara again so she could graduate from ASFG. 

We had our home summer school - 
mainly in an attempt to fill up those loooong, hot days

Each morning began with singing the Star Spangled Banner, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and Work Book pages (the girls each had summer bridge activity books for corresponding grades and Cubby had a big Pre-K book filled with age-appropriate activities). After that we'd either go on a quick walk or do exercise around the house, then have a specific craft (per above: that day we did Corn Husk doll making).

Note: Laying it out like this with photos makes it seem like summer school was a utter, complete success. NOT. There were many complaints, whining, and a few straying students who got bored - and complained of not wanting to do what was on the agenda. It's amazing to me that I have this many good pictures of our home school because when I think about it, it seems like we did this strongly for like 2.5 days. Birdie in particular was generally very excited about school and woke up with her usual bing! wanting to know what the day's plan was. Deevie wanted to sleep in - which I let her since it's summer. And Cubby just wanted to cub around - but with Mommy, which was limiting since I was usually the sole instructor. I did have the bright idea to ask Eva and Esme to help out though, telling them that any day they taught they wouldn't have to do any housework but they'd still get paid. Time is money people, and I've never cared too much about housekeeping anyway. Score. 

 Paper weaving. This was a perfect activity for the girls.

 Curtain/wall decor craft, lead by guest-teachers Eva and her daughter

 Cooking! Eva taught the girls to make guacamole. Birdie has made this or salsa several times by herself.

Some days we'd have "student choice" activities. Deevie decided to do a unit on drawing faces.

Then she made Toothpick People. We ended up using these in a point-system for class.
If someone got a question right, they'd get a Toothpick Person. Eventually Deevie was giving these out to everyone that came by the house.

Canvas painting: landscape by Deevie, self-portrait by Birdie. I especially loved this activity.

 Box diorama making with guest-teacher Esme, using recycled soda bottles.

 Folding unit. I have a wonderful memory of Grandma teaching me how to tri-fold a towel - and once she taught me that one way, I never went back. My mother taught me how to fold shirts in a similar way, and again, I have been programmed to that one way. Why not pass this on? I made the instruction sheet and cut out cardboard "guides" for each kid, even Cubby. Boy I am optimistic, huh?! That didn't go so well. I remember him throwing the cardboard back at me and asking me to play cars. Birdie LOVED this though. She spent a good hour refolding and organizing her drawers after we did a few practice pieces. Then she asked if she could do my drawer.

We got our hair braided for ol' times' sake

We ate our favorite neighborhood tacos from Taco Petón

Perfectly grilled arachera, guac, pico, soupy frijoles, warm corn tortillas, grilled onions….mouth watering

We ooh-ed and aah-ed at the very random Mexican hail storm - in JUNE

We hosted our last guests in our GDL home, 
the wonderful O family

who N and I last saw at their wedding before the addition of their four kids. I was a little worried about having guests so soon before our departure, but who am I kidding?! I am a last-minute person by nature, and any prep for moving would've happened after the O family departure, whether they had come or not. And a big plus to having guests that late in a tour -- we got to revisit so many key places that we love - and miss very much.

Every weird and not so weird flavored popsicle you can imagine - made with the freshest ingredients.
Cucumber! Coconut! Strawberry and cream! Jicama! Tuna! Coffee! Avocado!
(Usually with a "con chile" version as well.)

Michelada on the Ajijic pier, made to order: Mexican beer, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Maggi sauce, ground pepper, salt, fresh lime juice, ice, orange and cucumber slices for garnish, and plenty of Tajin on top.

 Wall art in Ajijic. I wonder if I could do this on a wall in my own home. Hmmm.

 Horse-back riding in Bosque Colomos. It was a little bumpy.
("A little bumpy" = "I think I'm going to hurl!")

 Jardines Japones. Who would've thought I'd find Japanese sereneness in the middle of Guadalajara?
We love feeding the fish and squirrels.

 Our Lady of Zapopan Basilica

 Hands down the best restaurant (of many) in GDL: iLatina
Here I am with one of our favorite appetizers: the sashimi infused with lime juice and sesame oil, served with tortillas. Our other favorite was the sashimi tacos. Good gracious I'm hungry.

iLatina decor. Love it.

 Taking a bus tour of Guadalajara -- otherwise paying to see all the sites we saw on the drive into the city!
We love seeing Minerva in all her glory though. N saw this every morning heading to the Consulate.

The last night we let the kids stay up as late as they wanted - past midnight. Birdie and Deevie got along so well with the O boys - they were thick as thieves. That last night the older kids made fresh tortillas, using their new tortilla presses they'd bought in Tónala. I got roped into pan cooking them. Fun Mommy.

We generally prepared to leave GDL

 Physically (how in the world did we amass so much crap after only two years?!),
 Mentally (is it possible to eat anything without lime, salt and chile?), 
and Emotionally (so hard to say goodbye to Eva, Esme and all our wonderful friends)… 

Stuff. This particular pile is the "van" pile - i.e., stuff that would go in the van to be driven by hired driver to the border where N would meet it to drive the rest of the way to Va. Yes, Buzz Lightyear was N's trusty co-pilot the whole way.

 Look at all that random "don't know where it goes" filing up the ledge!
It gives me hives just looking at it now!

Packing, against that wonderful yellow wall.


Good-byeing. We won't see that load of stuff until a year later in Sarajevo, summer 2014!

Last pedicure with Birdie and Deevie at Pedra Luna, walking distance from home.

Hugs for dear Esme.

 One last building of block city with dear Eva.

 The last glance I took: that streak on the floor was from the last humungous bag of apparently juicy trash that I dragged out.  Goodbye lovely purple wall!

 Trying to capture it all. Adios Z house, and our house!

Adios vigilantes! "Soy Roberto - como Roberto De Niro."

N had left before me by plane to meet the van across the border. I flew with the kids, each of us wearing our "Yo (heart) Guadalajara" shirts to N's parents'. I remember leaving the airport and taking a deep breath of hot and breezy summer air, with the hint of fresh-cut grass. Birdie was beside me, and I remember her smiling and saying, "That smells like America."

And with that, our time in Guadalajara, Mexico was done.

"All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, 
for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves."

~ Amelia Barr