27 November 2006

Happy Feet

le pidgeon
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
There's something that comes with getting older -- you learn how to take better care of yourself. Truly, you understand that simple things can bring great pleasure, and that greater or grander or brighter and bigger are sometimes just subtle subterfuge.

So when I determined how I wanted to mark the passing of another year (yes, my birthday), my mind swiftly turned to a day in Portland. Portland has long been one of my favorite cities: a tangle of one-way streets, hills, bridges, quirky neighborhoods, and colorful people. It is large enough I can easily think of a dozen things to do, see, explore…and yet small enough to navigate in an afternoon. It is a muse for my creative mind.

I did a little window shopping, splurged on a pair of Acorn slippers with memory foam, ate at little French-inspired bistro on East Burnside, admired artwork by Rachel Austin, explored the endless light fixtures, glass globes, and doorknobs at Hippo Hardware, and enjoyed the best ginger- molasses-cocoa cookie with a hot cup of steamed soy milk flavored with almond at my favorite corner café, Crema.

The next day, when someone asked who I went to Portland with, I replied, “With me!” I’m content with my own company. Which is not to say that I don’t welcome the companionship of others -- simply that it can be a treat to enjoy a little solitude and contemplation.

And now I have very happy, toasty feet as I pad around my house.

* I will return to the Brasil travel narrative soon.

19 November 2006

Let's Start in South Beach

30 October 2006

I can think of no better way to start a vacation than to stroll along South Beach and wait and hour and a half in an airport security line due to an unidentified threat.

My first experience with Miami was six years ago, when I attended a national Harm Reduction conference. It was also my first official business trip, surely an indication that I was a part of the professional workforce. I had, on that occasion, prided myself on my thrifty ways. I determined the bus to take from the airport which deposited me at the metro station that would transport me to within walking distance of my hotel – all while hauling my Samsonite valet bag. Needless to say, I had the not-for-profit business model firmly entrenched in my psyche along with a healthy dose of naiveté. I soon learned, however, and cabbed it back to the airport for my return trip.

So to commemorate my return to the city where I first tasted ropa vieja and platanos maduros, I retraced my earlier steps to the South Beach district in search of the Lincoln Road Café. After satiating my appetite for Cuban cuisine, I admired the muted pastels, rounded corners, and art deco lines of the buildings occupying Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue. A stroll along the Miami Beach Walk almost convinced me that the waters of the Atlantic in Rio de Janeiro couldn’t possibly be much different than this lovely location…

I decided it would be best to test that theory in person, however, and climbed aboard the bus to return to the airport. After claiming my luggage at baggage check, I headed to the international terminal in search of my parents and to meet the rest of the group headed to São Paulo.