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  • The Uruguayan Riviera

    Enjoy another video produced by Paul with aerial shots, authentic Uruguayan music, our happy faces, carnival and more! Hover to see captions. Click to expand. Our second weekend side trip placed us in a beach town from a dreamy 20th century era. Uruguay really knows how to create atmosphere. We were ushered in on the first night with a glorious sunset. Saturday we were welcomed to the feeling of contemplation and rest by a dog, a cat and a group of seals. The red carpet was the Rambla (walking/biking boulevard) "The construction of the Piriápolis boulevard was born from the megalomaniac dream of Uruguayan businessman Francisco Piria" in the late 19th century. Piria had the dream to turn Piriapolis into a Mediterranean spa city beginning with the grand Argentino Hotel. It's a little run down but still has an impressive lobby. See the photos. This peaceful scenic beachtown day ended with a bang. First we watched, from a sidewalk cafe in front of our hotel, the carnival parade with visceral candombe drumming and dancing. We chatted with an English speaking Uruguayan couple. I ate a tasty garbanzo burger and Paul could not finish even half of an overwhelming hamburguesa. Although there are almost always vegano options, there is also a lot of enthusiasm about meat in this country. Midnight we were awakened by loud carnival fireworks directly across from our hotel on the beach. Paul's response was to go to the window and take photos and the video footage that you will see soon on this blog. Hover to see captions. Click to expand. By Sunday morning the fireworks and partying right outside our hotel window seemed like a dream. The early morning cleanup crew restored the picturesque Rambla for us to take a beautiful walk to San Francisco beach. Paul swam in the big waves. We watched surfers. I put my feet in and got a little water on my shorts that dried quickly when we sat on the rocks. After the beach we enjoyed a deliciosa lunch at the best restaurant, Puertito Don Anselmo, I have been to in Uruguay. The fish and vegetables in my poke bowl and Paul's wood fired covina fish dish were very fresh and perfectly prepared. The restaurant is built on the rocky shore with a breezy, attractively rustic, relaxed interior that is reflective of all that I love about a beautiful beach experience. They even had a whale tail sculpture similar to the one we often pass along Route 89 near our home in South Burlington, Vermont. Chau for now.

  • Workcation

    On our workcation, we are working remotely, taking lovely walks and bike rides, and going on a couple of weekend trips. Last weekend we hopped on a bus for three hours and went to Colonia del Sacramento, a small city that has maintained it's charm dating back to 1680 when the Portuguese settled there and built beautiful stone buildings and cobblestone streets. Maybe someday workcations could mean us contributing to wherever we go in the world. Cooperative dog ownership in Colonia: One of my favorite things about Colonia was seeing healthy looking happy dogs who roam the streets like first-class citizens with dignified off-leash facial expressions. Sitting in an outdoor cafe, I worried that the dog who had been following us was bothering the young couple at another table. No worries. The young couple joyfully patted the dog, unconcerned about mixing germs and bacteria with their lattes. After standing outside the door of another restaurant because we did not want to open the door for a dog who was waiting to enter, one of the owners opened the door and happily said that Coco is the name of the dog and the restaurant. I wanted Coco the dog to be in this photo, but the restaurant owner said he likes to walk around and have snacks from other restaurants. He particularly likes barbecue. Just in case you noticed jackets and long pants, the weather while in Colonia did go down to 60 with wind on Friday. Someone we met in a tea cafe said the sudden weather change was shocking to the system. Saturday was bright and sunny but still a little cool for me. Now we're back to high 70s, lower 80s during the day. Hover and click to see why these photos remind me of all of you: Chau for now.

  • MonteVIDEOSyncracies

    There are two Paul produced videos in this blog post for your viewing pleasure further down this list. Our tour guide, Juan, told us many stories about the history of Montevideo including that, at one time, people gathered to collect water from this beautiful cherub decorated fountain. Click any photo to expand. Below is another short video produced by Paul. Highlights include dreamy street music and bus music, biking on the Rambla, strikingly monumental tombstones, Atlantida beach and more. Leo was so nice to drive us to Atlantida beach about an hour away from Montevideo. Now I'm starting to want to explore more of the coast. This coming weekend we are going to Colonia. In this culture, people take long relaxing lunches or siestas after work during the hot afternoons. By evening many are out by the water enjoying the beaches and dramatic sunset. Carnival is the entire month of February. We went to the Palco Desfile Llamadas (Parade of Calls) where we heard a lot of drumming. I could really feel the life enhancing vibration of the drums reverberating on the narrow streets. After the four hour parade people might be dining out until 2:00 a.m. Restaurants start to get busy around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. when restaurants are closing in Vermont. Paul and I still like to eat early then wander out in the evening for the sunset. Paul spotted this flyer on a tree: Pasamos Tus Videos for video transfer or digitizing. Some of you have noticed that we are in Montevideo easily changed to MonteVIDEOSyncracies. After Paul's employee left, friends have stepped up to the plate to help out with the non-remote part of VIDEOSyncracies. He's been been teaching video transfer via zoom from our Airbnb in MonteVIDEOSyncracies. Thank you friends. It takes a village for us to experience the drama of world exploration and run a business at the same time. Frequently we have been biking to Playa Ramirez. Paul has increased his backstrokes from 100 to 180 so far. He likes to relax on the beach for a minute of air drying before biking back to our Airbnb. I like to relax on the beach the entire time he is backstroking Tuesday morning we decided it was time for a little variation and went to the Rodo Park and garden across from Playa Ramirez. We're planning some bus adventures to explore more neighborhoods, parks, and beaches. Stay tuned. In the meantime we will appreciate stumbling upon many interesting sights that sometimes remind us of our family and friends. The beautiful sunset is wherever you are in the world. Yitz's song and poem.

  • Look Alikes

    After days of steamed vegetables and rice for our tummies, Paul wanted to take a break and go to a new neighborhood with a DJI Drone store and interesting non-steamed lunch possibilities. As you may have noticed, he owns a drone video camera. I was a little resistant because this might upset my prescribed balance of working remotely with being on vacation. The Sushi Restaurant: The interesting thing about the Uruguayan sushi restaurant is that most of the sushi contained queso (cheese). Although I ordered vegetarian sushi sin queso (without cheese), I noticed some pieces that were very creamy with (wishful thinking) perhaps cashew cheese that they also had on the menu. The seasonings made it delicious. Do I want to go out for Uruguayan sushi again? Yes! Especially because the young man serving us was very friendly and happy to use his little bit of English. When we find an English speaker (usually a young person) I use as many spanish words and phrases as I know. They just smile and keep speaking English. A few have helped me with my Spanish and even taught me the Uruguayan way of speaking Italian influenced Spanish. The waiter told us about the digital nomad cooperative apartment building across the street. Perhaps home is now all over the world. Why is Paul on the phone in the above photo: As Paul eats his eggplant tempura appetizer, the person he is depending on to take care of the non-remote VIDEOSyncracies tasks is informing Paul that he is quitting. Could this be a blessing in disguise, as was the cashew cheese, allowing important seasonings to rise unexpectedly? At the DJI Drone Store where they have cameras that look like birds, we met younger versions of ourselves. Matilda is 27 and Alex is 33. They commented, and I agree, that Matilda looks like me (or my younger self). She's from a small town in Northern Vermont, oops I mean France, where they are good at making cheese. She dreams of owning a cafe with different kinds of small farm sourced artisan coffee paired with organic food. This may happen once she finds the ideal place to live in the world. Alex wants to be a videographer. They both speak several languages, something I dream about as I struggle to learn Spanish. Perhaps the blessings in disguise, such as an employee quitting, lead towards a type of renewal that will help us appreciate our inner young adult. The mama dove flew away. The young adults hang around the nest and occasionally fly off away from their comfort zone. Last Sunday Leo, our one friend who lives here in Uruguay near Montevideo, picked us up and drove us to a beautiful beach. Atlantida is about an hour from Montevideo. We saw large waves, large jellyfish and a large amount of sea barnacles on a sandel. The jellyfish are not as appealing as the morning doves but they are strange and interesting creatures to avoid while walking on the beach.

  • Contrast

    The chicks are growing away from their mama. I'm happy for them and my heart is breaking. All I could do was observe and pose in front of a bird statue. Paul preferred posing with the piano statue. Now that we are both feeling better, we are biking to Playa Ramirez (beach), practicing more Spanish and dreaming about the possibilities for exploration, entertainment and a little travel. Playa Ramirez is a lovely local beach about 2.5 miles from our apartment. The third photo shows a gentle beach exercise class geared for middle aged to senior folk. Further down the beach we saw a young person's vigorous exercise class. Because this morning was not sunny, we rode our bikes the other way on the Rambla (waterfront bike/walking path) that took us into an industrial warehouse environment. We didn't realize the Rambla ends before the warehouses. There is a lot more contrast with the urban environment if you ride toward the beach. We saved the morning by walking up onto one of the appealing cobblestone walking streets with outdoor restaurants and cafes, then went back down to the nice part of the Rambla.

  • Staying Put in Montevideo

    Enjoy the above short video created by Paul with background music by Uruguayan musician Eduardo Mateo. Although we are in a city, we are constantly reminded of the magnificence of nature by the waterfront and glorious parks such as the botanical garden. Notice the siesta shot of the botanical garden taken while we were still being silly Americans walking around in the hot sun. Enjoy! Paul likes swimming at the local beach and using his drone camera. We tried a few of the many wonderful looking restaurants before our tummies went haywire. Our Airbnb host told us how to buy organic vegetables. You can order from a farm collective that delivers a basket to your home between 8:00 and 11:00 pm. I think we are the last stop. Fortunately Paul is able to stay awake until 11:00 pm. I dozed on and off in my pajamas with my phone next to me. At 10:58 pm I received the delivery text and Paul went down the four flights of stairs with 700 pesos (or $18.00) and came back with what seemed like an overwhelming amount of food for two. I've been busy stewing and steaming the organic vegetables that are so flavorful they don't even need the potentially tummy irritating spices, garlic and onion. We were also recently advised to avoid stomach bugs by washing produce in vinegar and water. Yitzi's latest song ties in with the morning dove family I have been observing from my bedroom window. The mommy morning dove stretched her body like a roof of love over the two chicks for days. I didn't even see her fly away to get food. Now that the chick has the certainty of great and stable love, it has moved from full underneath mommy to poking it's head out from the apron. From Yitzi: Coming off of a meditation retreat tonight to news of another attack in Jerusalem. Thankfully my classmates and I are safe. This song is a reflection on a moment during the retreat and receiving the news directly after. Listen Forest of Peace Lyrics: There was such a large tree Blowing in the breeze Staring right at me Through the window For eternity I have never felt so seen Like it knew the depths of me Somehow there was intimacy Through the glass Into me you see That tree was so wide Like the empty beach at low tide Like the arms of mother around child Through the tears Come here, feel the love That is what this world needs Many more of these trees Loving unconditionally Through the wars Rooted amidst it all If I can be like this tree For even one heartbeat And touch someone who looks at me Through their window We can start a forest of peace Through this window We can start a forest of peace

  • Revealed

    This morning dove living outside our Montevideo bedroom window was out exploring the world until life brought her to nest and hatch the new life of two little chicks. We were privileged enough to see the eggs then the chicks that couldn't hold up their heads. When I told Paul that the Mommy dove was sitting on top of the chicks, he commented that she had millions of years of experience in her genetic memory so probably knows what she is doing. She flew away briefly, maybe to find food, and the chicks were holding up their heads! The baby doves are getting stronger and so are we. After our initial flurry of activity of getting settled and pushing ourselves to see as much as possible right away on foot and on hot exhausting bike rides, Paul and I both got big tummy aches that brought us to our Montevideo nest. Now we are a bit better with a new attitude of pacing ourselves and remembering to balance our VIDEOSyncracies work with our curiosity about our new surroundings. Like emerging chicks we are now going for gentle walks and taking in our surroundings in our neighborhood of Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo. I'm excited to go to my new favorite health food store, La Molienda, on the beautiful and interesting walking street right near our apartment and say Como estas hoy to the cashier I've been seeing regularly. We've been practicing a combination of using the Spanish we have learned and getting quick with the Google translate app at home. Venturing out as an English speaker seems like enough of a challenge and an exploration. For lunch, we thought it would be safe for our tummies to go to the highly recommended and cozy vegan restaurant, Soul, about 400 feet from our apartment. Paul had a house made seiten burger and I had a seiten bowl with dips. Two very yummy meals for about $20.00. The restaurant is owned by a very sweet young couple. The atmospheric music seemed to be a fusion of modern jazz, Spanish, traditional. I really enjoyed the food and ambience. Soul has live music on Thursday nights for us to try. Although Uruguay has a strong tradition of meat consumption, we are finding some of the best vegan food. The young people are hatching new ideas.

  • Siesta

    Last week we spent a lot of time adjusting to using google translate, figuring out phones and bikes. Our very helpful Uruguayan contact, Leo, lent Paul his bike for the entire two months we are here. He explained that the bike almost forgot it's purpose. I purchased a good used bike that I can sell back to the bike shop before we leave. Saturday we decided to go to the local beach called Playa Ramirez. It was lovely including a peninsula with a cute lighthouse, however we did not fully comprehend that there is a reason to take a Siesta rather than ride your bike back against the wind in the hot sun. We were the only ones on the Rambla (13 mile bike path that goes along the water) struggling against the wind and getting sun burns. The cool beginning of the day and the end of the day is when the Rambla has lots of people. We discovered that many people are out in the evening enjoying the sunset (magnifica puesta de sol) and a late meal. Leo took us to a lovely fish restaurant next to the water. Sunday we discovered just how difficult it is to shake our American way of life when we took the bus to the botanical garden. The botanical garden seemed to be designed for afternoon siestas because it is mostly shade offering trees. Many people were there with blankets, chairs, and picnics including the ubiquitous mate thermos and special mate drinking cup. Paul and I walked around in the hot sun until we came upon a nice air conditioned museum with 100% art by Uruguayan artists. I was feeling very lethargic by this point. We both had the realization that we should slow down, embrace our new way of life for two months and even give in to what seemed like a 24 hour virus but may have been a reaction to the strength of the sun. Last night I felt a little flu-y while watching Wayne's World II to relax and have a laugh. This morning I'm recovering, while Paul is conked out on the couch. If I can find the Covid test I know I packed, I will test just to be on the safe side. However, this does seem like life is offering us a day to slow down. As a bonus, we discovered a morning dove sitting on eggs outside our bedroom window. Another morning dove, who may have been the Daddy, was a little more skittish when I got close with my camera but I did catch him flying away.

  • Getting Settled

    Last night I had the experience of looking at an event happening in Vermont in February and thinking, why is someone posting this winter event in the summer. It's too far away. Then I remembered that I'm spending two months in this place where everything is opposite. February is around the corner even though I am experiencing summer. An extra summer season makes me happy. Paul and I are spending a bit too much urban time getting our lives settled. Things that are still a little fuzzy are phones, technology, work, food and communication. The trick is to establish a new routine while keeping a slow relaxed pace with enough time to explore. I think we almost have the bicycles figured out. Yitzi spent this past week in Galicia, Poland. We discovered that is where my Great Grandma Bertha Einhorn is from. A young widow because her husband died in WWI, she immigrated to the United States with nine or ten children, not knowing English. She moved to Elizabeth, NJ near two cousins. My Dad grew up in Elizabeth.

  • Family Travels Times Three

    On January 15, 2023 Claire left to administer UVM's travel abroad program in Costa Rica, Yitzi left for a five day Jewish heritage tour of Poland, Paul and I left for a two month stay in Montevideo, Uruguay where we are working remotely and slowing down our pace enough to enjoy this beautiful country. We did not plan to all leave on January 15 but there it is, an unexplainable coincidence. Claire is enjoying time to relax in San Jose, Costa Rica before heading off to co-run a program for over 25 students in the Osa Peninsula. Paul and I are getting settled in our apartment and surroundings in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our first time touching town in South America was the airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, then we flew to Montevideo, Uruguay. So far we've enjoyed our walks in the old city. The number of art deco buildings is second only to New York City. We tried one folding bike here at our apartment and hoping to purchase another one for covering greater distances along the waterfront bike path called the Rambla. Yitzi sent me a poem after visiting the Treblinka concentration camp. Coincidentally we stumbled upon he Hebraica-Macabi in Montevideo: Day 2 - Rocks of Treblinka By Yitzi Gittelsohn Yitzi, currently in the Pardes Year Program, is a singer-songwriter, poet, and budding spiritual leader from Vermont. Day 2 - Rocks of Treblinka The rocks were really heavy: They must have been really heavy to move, All those rocks, Together, For the monument. The lives must have been even heavier, They must have been really heavy to move, All those lives, Together, To kill. I don’t think that they didn’t care About us: I think that they cared so much, I think we were really heavy for them, Too heavy, And they wanted to cut us out Like a tumor. They didn’t hate us: They loved us, And they couldn’t handle the heaviness of their own love, They couldn’t handle the heaviness of their own life, Of the world, So they tried to lighten it, lighten it, lighten it By burning the heaviness away. But they were wrong: They made the world so much heavier, Because the lives that were lost too soon, The millions of lives, Sit on the ground like heavy rocks, Boulders, And now the world has to hold them, Forever, So the world is heavier, And so are their hearts, And so are our hearts. But standing amidst the heavy rocks, In the center of them, With a friend, And my people, I felt the lives that had been lost there All sitting around me, Deeply rooted in the earth, And I felt a lightness Ascending upward, For coming together In our heaviness, We somehow become light. When we cut away the heaviness, And try to burn it to the heavens, We only become heavier. When we come together in our heaviness, We become lighter, And rise naturally, with those who came before and after us To our rightful place In the world to come. Now every moment is a gift, Every moment they don’t take from us, In the fear that it will make their lives intolerable, And we get to live now, A heavy life. No need to cut things out of it, No need to cut it down, No need to kill, The earth that holds so many boulders Can hold so many lives. And we can just let go, A little bit in each moment, With each exhale, Each connection, We become Just a little Lighter. All those people killed, All our ancestors, Should not just be remembered for being killed, They should be remembered For the moments they didn’t take life Or each other For granted, For the moments when they recognized How heavy this life was, For it could be snatched away, Crudely, At any moment. The moments When they didn’t wait to hug a loved one, The moments when they didn’t hesitate to sing a song, Or jump in a pond, Or smile at a dragonfly. The moments When they really felt How delicious fresh bread was, How beautiful the sunset was, How beautiful your face was When you felt something deeply. The moments That are special because they are light, Strung together become a heavy life. Those lives that are special because they are heavy, Brought together become a light, Shining out, Illuminating Our lives now: How heavy they are, How light.

  • Meeting Paul

    "I want to be loved," I said to an ex boyfriend who followed me up to my cozy little apartment one night with expectations. He looked taken aback, as if he didn't quite know what to do with that statement, and left soon afterwards. One week later I went to my friend's wedding. She was marrying a tall, nice looking man with dark curly hair and glasses. "Maybe I could meet someone like that," said my mind in a casual way. Then, what may have been the following week, I went to the Burlington waterfront hotel where there was a jazz festival related big band playing. I was there as a volunteer for anyone with mobility issues. My friend Catherine, who was supposed to be my volunteer partner, saw me in the parking lot and explained that she would not be going inside because she was having menstrual cramps. I went in alone wearing a Burlington Discover Jazz Festival t-shirt and bright orange fest so anyone needing assistance could easily find me. For awhile, I chatted with another jazz festival volunteer who was taking tickets for the big band playing in the hotel ball room. Then I noticed a man, about my age / early thirties, who was tall with dark curly hair and glasses. My mind spoke up again in a casual way and said, as though continuing the commentary about the nice looking groom with dark curly hair and glasses, "Yeah, like that." The next thing I knew the wedding groom look alike was talking to the volunteer ballroom dance ticket taker. "Do you think there are any single women in there?" Because she had been chatting with me enough so we now had a connection, she turned to me and said "What do you think?" The curly haired man with glasses looked taken aback as though he recognized me after not seeing me for a long time. Referring to my neon orange volunteer vest, he asked me if I was directing air traffic. We stood near the ballroom doorway and talked long enough for me to hand him my business card and never went into the dance. Instead, he asked me if I wanted to walk over to another venue where his friend was performing. The same friend, Jamie Mayfield, performed at our wedding, three years later, with his jazz quintet Paul showed me his downtown VIDEOSyncracies Production & Duplication office, then, somewhat embarrassed because I had just met him, I told him I did not have a car to get back to my cozy little Winooski apartment. He said, "It would be like an honor to drive you home." He drove me home, walked me to my door, gave me a hug, said "oy" in a way that showed he was feeling something he was going to have to face and left. This was the beginning of three imperfect years that transformed into another casual thought floating into my mind. "I want to give love and receive love."

  • Thanksgiving 2022

    Sweet Georgia Brown anticipates turkey in her dish. It was a lovely cooperative dinner with our family and extended family. The cranberry sauce was a hit. If you are interested click delish Orange Maple Cranberry Sauce. Best to make more than you think you need because it disappeared quickly:)

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