Friday, March 31, 2017

It is Forbidden, a poem

IT IS FORBIDDEN Translated from  Spanish

What is truly important?
To look inside me for an answer,
is so difficult to find.

Misconceptions invade my mind,
being used to mask what it doesn't understand,
dazed in a world of delusions,
where  vanity, fear, wealth,
violence, hatred, indifference,
become the beloved heroes.

You ask me how to be happy,
How to live  among so many lies,
Everyone must give his answer,
Although for me, here, now and forever:

It is forbidden to mourn without learning,
To get up a day without knowing what to do,
To be afraid of my memories,
To feel alone once in a while.

It is prohibited not to face problems with a smile,
not to fight for what I want,
to abandon everything because of fear,
Not to turn my dreams into reality.

It is prohibited not to show you my love,
that you pay for my doubts and my bad mood,
to invent things that never happened,
or to remember you only when you are gone.

It is forbidden to leave my friends behind,
not to try to understand what we live by,
to call them only when I need them,
and not see that we are also different.

It is prohibited to not be myself to people,
pretend that they don't matter,
be funny as long as I be remembered,
to forget all the people who love me.

It is forbidden not to do things for myself,
to not believe in my God and make my destiny,
to be afraid to life and its punishments,
to not live each day as if it were a last breath.

It is forbidden to miss you and rejoice,
to forget the times that made me to love you
all because our roads  no longer cross,
forgetting  our present because of the past.

It is prohibited to not try and understand people,
thinking that their lives are worth more than mine,
not knowing that each person has his way and his happiness,
thinking that the world ends with his loss.

It is prohibited to not create my story,
stop to thank my family for my life,
not have a moment for people who need me,
not to  understand that what life gives us, it also takes away.

Alfredo Crow Barrero, 22 yrs old from Portugalete

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bonding in Santos de la Humosa, Madrid

While looking for an armchair high enough where I can sit and get up more comfortably, we took the opportunity to visit a nearby place called Santos de la Humosa located in the community of Madrid.

It was mostly a sunny day with mild temperature, although a little bit windy,  it was a pleasant walk to the top, where the church of Apostle St. Peter stands tallest  and provides a panoramic view of the whole town.

On the way, we found some curiosities:

Of course, Ron and Mel, had  me take their jumping shots.  And as usual, Mel jumped higher and with a lot of pep.

And then they stood still...

Then we passed by the Garden Center of Verdecora to buy a few plants.  And of course, bonding will not be complete without having gathered around the table.  We chose to go to a Japanese buffet in Alcala de Henares, called Oishii.  It is not the typical cheap buffet that we are used to serve us ourselves.  The restaurant offers a menu consisting of about 80 different plates and you can ask the waiter to serve your chosen dishes and you can order as much as you can. The result is a great quality food at a very affordable price (about 14 Euros per person plus drinks on a weekend), for the type of cooking that is.

Ron took us home at about 10:30 pm safe and sound. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bonding with Edith & family

Family they say, are like branches of a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. A visit from family members specially when we live at great distances apart is worth every second.  It is about the happy balance and quality of the bonding time.

It was a pleasant surprise when in early December of last year, I received an email from Edith that together with Rody, Susan and Benjie they were going to spend a day in Madrid with me and my family and on a special date in Spain, Father's day, March 19!

It was a long wait until they came and luckily, Mel was in Madrid to be able to celebrate a meaningful gathering.  And we were gifted with a beautiful, sunny, warm day!

We patterned the activities around the hotel Hotel Melia Galgos, where they stayed  in the heart of Madrid.

We met the group early morning to bring them to a nearby church, about 5 mins away from the hotel, where we attended the Sunday mass.  Although, the mass was held in Spanish, it was no problem for them since they had their Missal.

Then we chose to take them to a nearby Basque restaurant where we invited them for several choices of some typical Spanish tapas, and others not too typical.  Although food would have not been very familiar to their tastes, they seemed to have liked everything that we were served such as the Spanish omelette, fish croquettes, Serrano ham, cured cheese, squids, duck fillets, etc...  Although Rody, missed the rice and would have gladly had it instead of the bread.

Retiro was next on our schedule and we got to the park in a short while. Susan had a special interest to see the park as one of her sons visited it and recommended it to her.  Ron, made them try the horchata, a typical refreshing drink in Spain during summer.  Horchata de chufa is  made from a unique tuber chufa (tiger nut).

Shopping came next, and Edith and Susan opted for leather bags.  Luckily, they found what they like in Mayorpiel, a traditional family business selling high quality leather articles and is situated in Sol. Sales were still going on, and both Edith and Susan got a generous discount.  Susan got an additional 10% discount from the intervention of Mel, who claimed an extra discount for being a tour guide, 

In the meantime, Benjie had a cup of coffee in a nearby bakery shop in business since 1894 and famous for their pastries specially for their Napolitanas, a sweet roll. (Mary Ann and Armin love these Napolitanas when they tried them in Madrid!).

We took them later to the central plaza, Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel.  San Miguel Market is a gourmet market with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods and other foods.  Beer, wine and champagne are also available.

Mel and I decided to stay around while Ron, took the rest of the group to visit the monument of Jose Rizal, after which they went back to the hotel for a short rest, while Ron went to pick up Beatriz. 

Mel and I went earlier to the restaurant, called La Catedral, which we chose for its brilliant decors, lovely ambience and great paellas.  We also had grilled meat, big shrimps and fish.

Since the night was young, we took the family for a walk to the Principal Hotel, where there is an elegant rooftop with a view of the city. 

Ron took us by car, while the rest decided to take a taxi.  Thinking that was already our farewell, yet we had to see them again, because Ron forgot to give them the Jamon Serrano, that he bought for Edith's family.  And also knowing that Susan was having a collectible of the Hard Rock magnet, and we forgot to take them to the Hard Rock café, we decided to buy a magnet for Susan and get back to their hotel.  

Fortunately, we saw Benjie at the reception and though we could not see Rody anymore since he was ready to go to bed, Edith and Susan were still available and went to see us at the reception, where we had a short laugh, trying on some of the gifts that they handed us but they did not have time to tell us previously what is for whom.

Togetherness, even when short is a very important ingredient to family life.  As a Spanish proverb says:  "An ounce of blood is worth a pound of friendship".  So long, Edith, Rody, Susan and Benjie, till we meet again, stay safe and take care...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Only a whiff of life

Last night on my way to the grocery store, I met with an acquaintance who told me that her mother Ana of 80 years has lost the illusion for living.  Nothing seems to give her mother a good reason to keep on living but would rather die.  But who defines the moment when we come and go?

For myself, with my 70 years approaching, I can say that I have lived happy, I laughed, I cried, I've loved, I've suffered... but  love has never disappeared, on the contrary, it has made me stronger in every weakness.  I have been clear that love is a gift that I have to take care of every day. Not for God's sake,  but for myself; and because the relationship with Christ is the only engine that supports all other relationships.

And there is where Ana's problem lies: in whom to put her heart. It is true that the Lord tells us that we should love our neighbor, but this is the second commandment. Jesus said that the first commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart. Only by putting Him in your hearts is when you can experience that love never ends, that it is renewed every day, because He heals what is sick, He can rekindle the light that  has turned off, He gives us back our sight so that we can see each other with new eyes...

"Everything comes apart at some point. We all will. It's the law. It's what we're designed to do. We have to face it, and accept it, and try to hold it together for as long as we can".

Live, go by
Love is your consistence
We need to break a taboo
Speak it out clearly
(We) won't draw the curtain over
Release is all we can do

....We're only a whiff of life!  Edenbridge

Monday, March 13, 2017

Palace of Aldovea, Torrejón de Ardoz

About 5 kms from the town of San Fernando de Henares, located in the community of Madrid, is a Spanish rural Palace named Palacio de Aldovea.  Unlike most palaces,  this one in Aldovea, which is privately owned by the heirs of Rodrigo Figueroa y Torresduque de Tovar, does not have luxuries but present a harmonious architecture and  functional furniture, where you are allowed to sit down and touch and have pictures taken.

We went through a town excursion for 3.50 Euros each, with round trip transport and guide included. Although we had to wait for an hour for a bus delay, it was certainly worth visiting the Palace of Aldovea on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

Here are some of our pictures:

It has a spacious ladies' room but with squeezy toilets.

The huge silver tray is used to chill drinks.


There are ruins inside the garden.

I am sure the Palace of Aldovea had its glorious days although now being used to hold banquets and special private events.

But for Mel and me, it was a day to remember and shared with the town folks.