The sharing economy is increasing opportunities for travelers who want to explore what the world has to offer, with less damage to their pocketbook and the environment. A woman who works for a new car-sharing program called RelayRides has asked me to share one of my favorite “hidden gems” in Denver so she can give customers ideas about fun stuff to do in my city. The RelayRides concept is similar to Airbnb or other budget vacation rentals in which people briefly rent out their homes while they’re away. With RelayRides, when you travel to another city you can rent your car to someone who’s coming to your city, and then rent a car from someone in the city you’re going to.
I’m delighted to introduce a new guest blogger just in time to kick off my new blog. Anastasia Zhivotov is still in high school, but has already developed a delightful and distinctive creative voice that I believe will make you eager to visit her ancestral home in Ukraine. As you’ll also see from her post, I remain committed to a spirit of adventure, although I’m moving away from the Girls Trek Too name. Some days my posts will be shorter, in hopes that I can post more often while also devoting more time to my historical novel, Tortillas from the Chungking Cafe. And guest bloggers will continue to be welcome, in my ongoing quest to support fellow writers and share new voices with readers. In that spirit, please welcome Anastasia:
Coming Home To Someplace I’d Never Been
By Anastasia Zhivotov
After over ten years of shitty Skype calls and poorly translated emails, I was meeting my extended family. First were my great-great-uncle and his son – waiting outside baggage claim with flowers. I was barely learning to use my legs again when a hug, a kiss, and a bouquet of pink flowers came from men I’d only heard and not truly seen. I finally understood the phrase “a camera adds ten pounds” because what on Skype seemed to be a pudgy man and full-figured son were really a short well-fed uncle and a well-dressed cousin with predominant cheekbones.
Home, the place others might call Lviv, Ukraine.
Finally, after flying halfway across America and hopping along Europe, I was home. Home, where the air was thick with moisture and the clouds hung bloated with rain. Home, where women wore heels across cobble roads and men walked with their toes turned out. Home, where age was determined by width, but gender couldn’t be defined by color. Home, where the tongue was foreign but somehow I understood everything. Home, the place others might call Lviv, Ukraine.
Nov 1, 2012
By the time we arrive at the Sumpango cemetery at 9:00 a.m., it’s already packed. Food vendors gather at the entrance, selling delicious grilled elote, or corn-on-the-cob, and jocotes en miel, small round fruits soaked in syrup until they have a similar consistency to stewed prunes, only tastier. Our guide Cesar and his college-age daughter Rocio will spend much of the day explaining that the Día De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is all about feasting.
Food vendors gather at the cemetery entrance, selling delicious grilled elote, or corn-on-the-cob, and jocotes en miel, small round fruits soaked in syrup.
Inside the cemetery, an explosion of color and activity swarms over and around the graves and tombs of the dead. Hundreds of people gather in clutches of nuclear and extended families, attending to low humps of earth and tiny, brightly painted houses where the departed lie buried: patriarchs who passed away in old age, spouses taken in their prime, and children stolen before their time.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Stephanie has never cut out on her husband for two weeks before. My husband told me, “It’s okay, I’m getting used to it.” I recently returned from a three-week book-research trip to China, stayed home for two weeks, then split again today to start this road trip down Route 66. I already miss Dale, but this rare chance to hang with my longest-time girlfriend promises to be like crazy, man!
Stephanie and I met thirty years ago at Downey High.
Steph and I met thirty years ago at Downey High, in the sleepy Los Angeles suburbs, and we became tight friends. Though our lives have moved in different directions, it always feels comfortable to pick up our friendship again, like throwing on my favorite old leather jacket. It’s a relationship full of embarrassing confessions, unsolicited advice, and no-respect wisecracks, between two former non-joiners who joined each other. What better duo to share a time-machine trip down America’s Blast-from-the-Past Highway, Route 66, a.k.a. The Mother Road? I’ve dubbed this journey “Steph’s and Cara’s Mother F—ing Road Trip”:
What better duo to share a time-machine trip down America’s Blast-from-the-Past Highway, Route 66, a.k.a. The Mother Road?
Remember how I whined earlier this summer that my vegetable seeds weren’t sprouting? Be careful what you whine about. Now my zucchini plants are arm-wrestling with my tomato plant for square-foot-garden domination.
My zucchini plants are arm-wrestling with my tomato plant for square-foot-garden domination.
For me, life is an endless series of reminders of my favorite movies and books, and gardening is no exception. I’m a remedial gardener, as you can tell from the staking system I use for my tomato plant – adding one bamboo stake after another until it looks like a bundle of pickup sticks, and the whole thing still leans. But I do know stories…
I’m growing a box of dirt. This was not my intention. I was hoping for vegetables. A tomato plant is growing at the back of the box, but I can’t take credit for that. My friend Kelli gave it to me, informing me, “It’s called The Mortgage Lifter because it’s so easy to grow that the guy who created it sold enough plants to pay off his mortgage.”
I was hoping for vegetables.
For my birthday, I asked my husband to help me build a square foot garden. Dale’s a handy guy, and I think he enjoyed the idea almost as much as I did. He looked so cheerful walking amid the lumber, tools, and bags of soil at Home Depot.
I’ve taken two trips to China to do research for a historical novel. Tortillas from the Chungking Café will be loosely based on the family history of my Chinese-Mexican grandmother. Here are more of my journal notes on Hong Kong, as I continue “Tracing China’s Past”:
April 13, 2008
Hong Kong, China
We visited a place that retained some of the traditional beauty of old Hong Kong: Hoi Pa Village and Tak Wah Park.
Yesterday my translator ZhuZhu and I took the Metro to Tsuen Wan, one of Kowloon’s outlying housing estate districts. Don’t let the term “housing estate” fool you; in Tsuen Wan, as elsewhere in Kowloon, most people live in tiny apartments in dismal, repetitive high-rises. However, we visited a place that retained a vestige of the traditional beauty of old Hong Kong: Hoi Pa Village and Tak Wah Park.