city at night

city at night

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

At the Art Museum

On Sunday, Katie and Olivier took me to the Cleveland Museum of Art where we saw a special exhibition called "Africa and Byzantium".

The exhibit shows the artistic connection between the Byzantine Empire and northern and eastern Africa, including the black, Christian kingdoms of Nubia and Ethiopia.

Here are a few of the items on display...

Diptych of the 12 Apostles and St. Paul
Empire of Ethiopia, late 1600's

Mosaic portrait known as "Lady of Carthage"
Tunisia, 4th or 5th century

Gold coin necklace
Egypt, 6th century

Terra cotta pottery
Tunisia, 4th century

Funerary sculpture
Egypt, 4th century

Mosaic of a lion attacking a wild ass
Tunisia, 3rd century

Gospel illustration of the journey of the Magi
Empire of Ethiopia, 16th century

Tapestry of the Virgin and Child
Egypt, 4th century

Wood and ivory bridal chest
Kingdom of Nubia, 300s - 500s

Empire of Ethiopia, 15th century

Mosaic palm tree
Tunisia, 6th century

Wall painting of a Nubian bishop protected by St. Peter
Kingdom of Nubia, 10th century

Triptych with the Virgin and Child
Empire of Ethiopia, 17th century

Miniature diptych used as a pendant
Empire of Ethiopia, 18th century

Monday, April 15, 2024

More International Dining

As I mentioned previously, I am now staying with Katie, a former teaching colleague, her husband Olivier, and their son Christian.

On Saturday night, after our visit to the zoo, they took me out to a Japanese hibachi grill.  It was my first experience at that sort of restaurant.  We were seated around a large metal grill, and we watched the chef prepare the food... the grilled vegetables, the fried rice, and our selections of meat.  It was quite a show, and the meal was very good.


Last night I treated them to dinner at a Spanish tapas restaurant not far from their house.  It was an excellent choice.  The food was superb.  My gazpacho was very authentic, and all the tapas that I ordered were very good.  In fact, the ham croquettes were the best I have ever had... even better than what I have had in Spain.

Later today, I will leave their home and spend the last few nights at the Red Roof Inn.  I will definitely need to go on a diet when I return home to Mexico City!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

In the Rainforest

On Friday, I went to the home of my good friends Katie and Olivier to spend a few days.  Katie was my colleague in the Foreign Language Department where she taught French.  Her husband is originally from France.  Their daughter Nina is currently working in France, but their son Christian is still at home and will be graduating from high school this spring.

On Saturday they took me to the RainForest pavilion at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  I have been to the RainForest numerous times, but it is always enjoyable to visit again.

Katie, Christian and Olivier inside the entrance to the RainForest.

The RainForest was completed in 1992.  The two-story building is one of the largest indoor tropical exhibits in the world, and contains more than 10,000 plants and 600 animals, including birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles from the rainforests of the world.

It was a fun afternoon at one of Cleveland's most popular attractions.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

International Dining

This trip to Ohio was not only an opportunity to see the eclipse, but also to visit friends up here.  It has definitely not been a trip conducive to dieting because practically every day I have been going out to eat.  The restaurants have represented a variety of international cuisines.

After spending several days with Duffy and Carlos, I went on to visit my friends Cliff and Jeramie.  During the time that I spent with them, we went out to "Das Schnitzel Haus"... obviously a restaurant that specializes in German food.  It is one of their favorite places, and I like it also.  The food is good, and the portions are very generous.  I always leave the restaurant with a full tummy.

Cliff (left) and his husband Jeramie

I joined my cousin Gail and her husband Wes for dinner at "Barroco", a restaurant which specializes in "arepas", a typical food of Colombia and Venezuela.  An "arepa" is a patty made of corn flour with a stuffing.  I had an "arepa" filled with "ropa vieja", a shredded beef dish. It was very tasty, especially with the sauces that they have on the table.  I like the spicy peanut sauce best of all.

Yesterday, I got together with my friends Nancy and Fred.  We usually go to a Mexican restaurant called "Dos Coronas" which is not far from their house.  Most Mexican restaurants up here are not that authentic... more Tex-Mex than genuine Mexican.  However, "Dos Coronas" has an excellent Aztec soup, and their "carnitas" (pieces of braised pork) have an authentic flavor.  Their portions are enormous. I made the mistake of ordering a bowl of soup instead of a cup (the soup is thick with chicken and avocados) in addition to "carnitas".  I was not able to finish everything, which is unusual for me.

I am now staying at the home of my friend and former colleague, Katie.  The international tour of food will continue because we are going to a Japanese steak house tonight.

Lots of good food, but even more importantly, the good company of dear friends! 


Friday, April 12, 2024

A Bunch of Retired Teachers

I wrote a long time ago that there is a group of retired teachers from the school district where I taught that get together for lunch every month.  For many years, I did not attend because I thought that it was a ladies-only get together.  I was told that I should join them, and the last couple of years I have attended when I was in Ohio.

Before I made this trip back to Ohio, I emailed a couple of my former colleagues and wrote that I could come to this month's lunch if they scheduled it while I was up here.  April's lunch was yesterday, and I was in attendance.  The number of former teachers always varies, and sometimes I would not know all of them.  However, yesterday the eight retired teachers were all people with whom I had worked sometime during my teaching career.

Long-time readers of this blog have already met a couple in the group.  Carol (far left) was a colleague in the foreign language department, and years ago she traveled with me to Mérida, Yucatán.  Next to Carol is Nancy, who, along with her husband Fred, has traveled to Mérida and Mexico City.  Lucy (second from the right) says that she is planning to come to Mexico City in the fall, and I am looking forward to playing tour guide when she visits.

It was a wonderful get together, and I enjoyed seeing everyone.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

More on the Eclipse

 Here are a couple more photographs related to the solar eclipse...

Alejandro found this historic picture and sent it to me.  In 1932 a total eclipse of the sun was visible in Detroit, Michigan.  At that time, Diego Rivera was painting a series of murals in the Detroit Institute of Art.  He, his wife Frida Kahlo, and several other people, climbed to the roof of the Art Institute to view the spectacle.

My cousin Gail found this fantastic photo on Facebook and sent it to me.  We see the total eclipse above Cleveland's iconic skyscraper, the Terminal Tower, which was illuminated for a few minutes as if it were night.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

So Long, Farewell

On Tuesday morning, the day after the eclipse, our little group of high school classmates got together for long, leisurely breakfast at Bob Evans, a popular chain of restaurants that originated here in Ohio.

Heather, who came in from Virginia to see the eclipse, hit the road after breakfast, so we all said farewell to her.  Even though I am going to be in Ohio for another week, my social calendar is very tight, and I will most likely not have a chance to see Gayle again before I leave.  

So, our breakfast get together ended in hugs and kisses and farewells.

Our mini-reunion of Berea High School grads.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Total Eclipse of the Sun!

The event had been hyped by the media for months as a once in a lifetime experience.  For once, the experience lived up to the hype.  Yesterday's total eclipse of the sun was incredible!  Given the fact that April in Ohio is often cloudy, rainy or even snowy, we were concerned that we would not have clear skies to fully appreciate the event.  But the weather was splendid... only some thin wispy clouds and a high temperature of 72 F.

We had a small gathering at Duffy's house, and we were able to see it all from his patio.

Our friend Gayle used to work at the NASA research center here in Cleveland, and she brought approved glasses for everyone to use.  When the eclipse began, we all donned our glasses.

My friend Frank (who used to housesit for me when I would travel to Mexico), Gayle and me

Carlos and Duffy gaze upward as the moon begins to cover the face of the sun.

Gayle also brought filters for photographing the eclipse with the cameras of our cellphones.  However, only one of us had any luck at all capturing pictures of the event.

At two o'clock the eclipse began.

At 3:14 the eclipse reached totality, and it lasted about 4 minutes.

At that point we could look at it without glasses.

The temperature went down noticeably, and it grew dark.  However, it was not pitch dark because the skies beyond the path of totality were still bright.

Then the eclipse started to recede, and we put our glasses on once again.

It was a truly amazing event, and I am so glad that I came to Ohio to see it.
My thanks to Duffy and Carlos for hosting a spectacular get together! 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Pre-Eclipse Festivities

For the first several days of my Ohio visit, I am staying with my high school friend Duffy and his husband Carlos.

 If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably remember them from earlier posts.  Although they divide their time between their apartments in San Juan, Puerto Rice, and Miami, they often come back to Ohio.  Since Duffy's mom passed away, Duffy has been spending a lot of time in Ohio at the house that he inherited from his mom.  They both came to Ohio to view the eclipse, and they invited me to stay with them.

Yesterday, they planned a small pre-eclipse party.  Before the guests arrived, I presented them with a couple of gifts that I had brought from Mexico.  Since they both enjoy wine, I brought a bottle from the Mexican state of Querétaro, an area that is becoming well known for its vineyards.  I know nothing about wine, and I chose the bottle because of the picture of a masked Mexican wrestler on the label.  I also brought a pair of wine glasses that I had bought at a handicraft bazaar last Christmas.  They are made of blown glass and come from the city of Guadalajara.

Around 5:00 the small group of guests arrived.  The weather was pleasant enough that we were able to sit out on the patio (wearing jackets) until dark and enjoy wine and a spread of snacks.

Our congenial group consisted of Carlos, Duffy, Gayle (another classmate who still lives in her childhood home in Berea, Ohio), Heather (another member of our graduating class who traveled from Virginia for the eclipse), me, and Duffy's niece Jasmine.

It was a very enjoyable prelude to today's eclipse party!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Spring? Winter?

They say in Ohio that if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute.  In April, all things are possible... there can be showers, thunderstorms, tornados, sunny days, and the last stubborn attempts by winter to regain control. When I arrived in Ohio on Thursday night, the temperature in the 40s F were a bit of a shock, especially after the long string of warmer than normal days in the 80s in Mexico City.  

I am staying at the home of my high school friend Duffy for several days.  Yesterday, I looked out the window. The forsythia and daffodils were in bloom, but it was also snowing!

Perhaps you can make out the pellets of snow on the ground in this photo.  There is a meteorological term for those pellets.  They are called graupel, and they form when water droplets freeze on falling snowflakes.

This morning began cloudy and dreary, but now the sun is shining brightly.  Of course there is no sign of yesterday's graupel.  Typical, changeable Ohio weather.

The weather forecast for Monday afternoon when the total eclipse occurs is for mostly sunny skies and a temperature of 66 F.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the weatherman is correct.


Friday, April 5, 2024

Flying North

Yesterday I flew from Mexico City to Cleveland, Ohio, via Houston, to see the total eclipse of the sun and to visit friends.

I splurged on the airline reservation since the cost of first class was not that much more expensive than economy plus.  So, the flights were very comfortable, and I was entitled to use the United Club lounges in Mexico City and Houston.  Instead of having breakfast at one of the restaurants at Mexico City International Airport, I took advantage of the free food at the United Club.  There was a variety of Mexican dishes such as "chilaquiles".   The food was certainly not gourmet quality, but it was tasty and filling. 

I then headed down the concourse to the gate from which my first flight would depart.  We were only a few minutes behind schedule in departing, but we arrived in Houston slightly ahead of schedule.

Taking off from Mexico City...


As usual, we passed over a testament to government waste... Mexico City's uncompleted new airport.

Construction on the airport began under the administration of former President Peña NIeto, but was ceased when President López Obrador took office.  While it is probably true that the project was rife with corruption, the cancelled contracts cost the government billions of dollars.

In less than two hours we were flying over the outskirts of Houston.

There was a time when I enjoyed flying through Houston International Airport.  I boasted a number of times on this blog that I was able to pass through immigration, pick up my luggage, pass through customs, recheck my suitcase to Cleveland, and pass through security for my next flight in about a half hour.  It was a breeze. However, my last few times in Houston have definitely been a different story.  I don't know if it is because I have been arriving at a different time or because of renovations being made in the terminals, but Houston is no longer a stress-free experience.

There was a long line to pass through immigration.  Then the line to pass through security was so long that we were herded through the terminal to another security checkpoint.  Even though that line was short, progress was slow because for some reason there was backlog of bins to pass through the x-ray machine.  Fortunately, my layover was more than three hours, so I was never in any danger of missing my connecting flight to Cleveland.  This is why I always schedule at LEAST a two-hour layover on my trips.

In spite of everything, I was still able spend about an hour in the United Club.  I had more free food there.  

My flight to Cleveland departed right on time.  In the past, I have worn a mask on the plane at all times, and I have declined beverages or meals, so I would not have to take off my mask.  This time I decided to go maskless.  The flight to Cleveland from Houston is longer, so a meal service was offered.  People complain that airline food is terrible, but I thought that my dinner was not bad at all.

The flight arrived in Cleveland at 10:00 P.M.  Usually at that time of night, the Cleveland airport is dead.  But last night it was relatively busy, probably because of people coming to see the eclipse as well as the NCAA Women's Basketball Finals being held in Cleveland this weekend.

I had reserved a car for my two weeks in Ohio.  I took the shuttle to the car rental center a short distance from the airport.  I had requested a mid-sized car, but I ended up with a small SUV.  It was a bigger vehicle than I am used to.  That, plus the fact that I have not driven in the five months since I moved to Mexico City, made me a bit nervous to get behind the steering wheel.  However, other than trying to figure out the weird automatic transmission shift lever, I have had no problems, knock on wood.