I am in rural Louisiana this week to get some inspiration for the finishing touches on my novel. I have gotten some inspiration alright, but not the kind I was expecting. Truth is truly stranger than fiction, but if I tell you why, somebody might have to kill me. Joking. But it occurs to me.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is one of my favorite places on earth. The city’s historic center is gorgeous and walk-able and friendly. On any day, you are likely to find parades and processions and music. But, partly because of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city’s historic center follows an elaborate set of rules…. how you can decorate your building, the colors you can paint your building, the kinds of signs you can hang, and the kind of noise you can make, among other things. It’s ordered and traditional.
But a few blocks from the historic center in barrio Guadalupe, the rules don’t apply….
Shortly after I began my nomadic life, I wrote about the difference between tourists and travelers. https://kimmie53.com/2014/09/06/lady-who-lunches-or-lunch-lady/ Four years later, my travels have taught me a little more about how to have a deeper experience, to feel a part of a place, and make connections with people. My strategies don’t all work in all situations or for all people, but you get the idea….
Today is my last day of almost 4 months in Asia. I am feeling sentimental about it….so many special moments, beauty, pathos, fun, learning, unbearable heat and food I didn’t like. Here are a few photos that I haven’t posted previously .
A week is not enough to understand anything in depth but, in travel, it’s usually enough to form some impressions. Taipei? The language and the style is Chinese but most Taiwanese don’t think of themselves as Chinese. They are Taiwanese. But what is Taiwanese?
On my first day in Taiwan, I asked a young Taiwanese woman in my hotel what she thinks about Taiwan’s relationship to China. She looked the other way and lowered her voice to a whisper. The next day, my taxi driver eagerly downloaded his decidedly progressive political views until I asked him about Taiwan’s future. Then he paused and lowered his voice.
Because sometimes in life, the best way to deal with disagreement is to just keep a low profile and do what you want.
Most Americans probably think of Japanese food as sushi, ramen, and chicken teriyaki. But of course, in actual Japan, there is a lot more to it. The small restaurants and street food stands serve various kinds of brothy noodle soups and mysterious pickled vegetables, breaded pork chops and barbecued meat skewers. Sweet and savory stuffed buns and dumplings, and bento boxes full of a dozen things most Americans, including me, probably could not identify.
History matters and the Japanese City of Kanazawa has been lucky that way. The city’s good fortune began before it was a city when a farmer found flecks of gold in Kanazawa’s water as he was digging for potatoes. Things went uphill from there. The powerful Maeda family moved in during the 17th century and, for 300 years, invested in the arts, infrastructure, and education, creating a thriving, beautiful city. Also lucky — in the 20th century, Kanazawa was spared the devastation of WW II.
The result of all that good history is a wealthy, modern city with a focus on the arts, parks, historic neighborhoods and local foods.