22 February 2011

from egypt to wisconsin

Good News Network

Pizza.  It's a simple way to show solidarity, but pizza donations to support the protesters in Wisconsin have been pouring in from all over the world.  Politico says these giving countries include Korea, Finland, New Zealand, Egypt, Denmark, Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, China, England, the Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland and Italy.

It always amazes me how very interconnected we all are.  "One World, One Pain" is a pretty apt motto to put on your poster.  Let's hope all the pain is worth it and that we can slowly move forward together.

10 February 2011

crossing into bolivia

Crossing into Bolivia by land is a memorable experience, even if nothing amiss befalls you. For example, maybe you took a bus from Tucumán to the northernmost point of Argentina and then walked to the river crossing, where vendors advertised their boats with sweet hand-painted stalls.

It seemed you just had to pick your favorite boat painting, and you would end up in Bolivia.

So, you examine the boats (and see what other people are getting), buy your ticket and then follow the people in front of you through some tree-covered paths into an opening, from which you discover a river that looks almost wade-able.

But, for just a few cents, you can keep yourself and your belongings dry.

So, you board one of these small boats and figure even if it doesn't quite make it all the way to the other side, the river doesn't look too dangerous.

You sit on a U-shaped bench with mostly female travelers, and without incident, you cross the Argentina-Bolivian border.  

The Welcome to Bolivia sign says Su ingreso es gratuito (your entrance is free), but that isn't entirely true.  You take a look back at the Argentinian side and then head into Bolivia, where, unlike most other countries, there are no immigration officers greeting you. 

Instead, you have been told you have to find someone to stamp your passport because if you are caught without the proper stamp, you will be forced to pay a hefty fine (about US$100, which goes a long way in Bolivia).

So, you ask around (in your excellent Spanish) until you finally find a taxi who will take you the nearest town, and he takes you to the bus terminal.

You are pointed to a small office, but it's still pretty early in the morning, and you are told they open at 8am.  So, you sit and wait, watching the occasional passerby, until the office finally opens.  After a while (and US$135 less for your Bolivian visa), you walk out with your passport stamped, hoping officials will ask to inspect your passport.  Often.

You hop into another taxi and tell him you'd like to go to Tarija.  You notice his modified car seat and think it would be great in the summer for air flow.

You like that you get a scenic tour of the area, and you find it more colorful and lush than you expected.

You hit a little rock avalanche, but are able to get by without too much delay.

You continue on, until your driver goes to a creek to fill his water bottle.  This tells you the water in Bolivia is really clean (or else he has a strong digestive/immune system).

You may not get your camera ready in time, but you pass some beautiful horses:

And lots of rocks with EVO on them in blue.  

You've heard a little about President Evo Morales, and the reviews sound pretty mixed.  Apparently, he is loved for being indigenous and passionate, but it is unclear whether he is really pushing the country in a positive direction.  You decide to enjoy the scenery instead of trying to figure out yet another complicated political drama.

You pass through another small town and marvel at how similar it looks to so many other small towns around the world.

The town wishes you feliz viaje (happy travels), and you continue on, past more beautiful scenery, more blue Evo signs and a young family, all in hats.

Finally, you start to approach Tarija and notice the buses and trucks are quite colorful.

And then you're entering a town that feels like it could be almost anywhere in the world.

Except for the statues...

And the local dress, which is 100% Bolivian.  

You'll find some overlap in other Andean countries, but because I saw the full skirts, long braids, bowler hats and colorful cloth shawls/baby wraparounds here first, they will always be Bolivian to me.

Up next, more of Bolivia.

03 February 2011

chinese new year, fruit valentines and pencil chimes

One great thing about being Chinese is the opportunity to feel that fresh "new year" feeling twice.  So, in the name of fresh beginnings (again), Happy Chinese New Year!  May the year of the rabbit be a great one for all of us, filled with love, laughter and great productivity.  (I have been traveling and bouncing about for what feels like months, and I am ready to buckle down and get lots of work done.)

In case you're curious about the Chinese Zodiac (or need a refresher), here are the basics:

Careful, creative, accumulative, lustful, hoarding and doubting
1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020…

Patient, preserving, receptive, obstinate, methodical, proud and aggressive
1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021…

Wise, compassionate, benevolent, short tempered, proud and aggressive
1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022…

Gentle, friendly, intelligent, discordant, fickle and furtive
1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023…

independent, strong-willed, aggressive, powerful, arrogant and prejudice
1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024…

Idealistic, Intuitive, insightful, financially secure, vain, jealous and egotistical
1905, 1917, 1929 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025…

hard-working, sociable, determined, keen sighted, high sensual, talkative, easy to anger
1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026…

warm-hearted, graceful, obedient, independent, creative, faithful, pessimistic and sensitive, timid
1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027…

Ingenious, resourceful, curious, susceptible, impulsive, scatterbrained
1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028…

Visionary, versatile, clever, selfish, poor concentration and ostentatious
1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029…

Honest, loyal, respectful, stubborn, assertive and demanding
1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030…

Serious, just, good disposition, reckless, impatient and inflexible
1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031…

Symbolic Meanings of Rabbit

Symbolic Meanings of Rabbit -China New Year 2011According to Chinese traditional legend, rabbits are associated with the Alioth in astronomy. They have a nimble, quick-witted and gentle disposition naturally and are the symbol of good luck. In some coastal areas of Shandong Province in old time, wives usually took a rabbit in their arms when their husbands went to sea to fish, believing that this propitious animal would bring them safeness and good luck. And there is an interesting tradition going that a rabbit’s hair would become absolutely snow-white if it can live for 500 years!
And rabbits have been given many characteristics in China, such as longevity, loveliness, vigilance, fertility, timidity and good hearing.
(Chinese zodiac information from here.)

Now, onto our next upcoming holiday: Valentine's Day!  I know this is a day often greeted with groans and rolled eyes, but here is a cheerful treat that isn't covered in pink and red lace or filled with cheap, overpriced chocolate: fruit valentines, and you'd have to be a real grump not to smile at least a little with these:

So, go ahead and download these DIY stickers for free (yay) at Twig & Thistle and give them to everyone who makes you happy.  (Hey, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be only for significant others-- I say let's celebrate love for everyone we appreciate.)

Here are a couple more for you:

And I came across these at Design*Sponge and loved them.  So simple yet so fun and cheerful:

You can go to Vanessa Boer's Etsy shop if you'd like to see more of her work.