Atlanta: do you need a reason?

Atlanta isn’t on everybody’s bucket-list. There are far to many places around the world tempting us, even inside USA there are many more iconic cities on the top of our lists.

This wonderful city is mostly visited for business – Atlanta’s airport is the busiest world wide– after all it’s the third city, behind NY and Houston, to be home for more Fortune 500 companies. Among them: Delta Airlines, Southwestern Airlines, CNN, Coca Cola. This is the reason for the  huge variety of retail stores and restaurants, enough to please the most demanding travelers.

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I have visited it many times, for various reasons, nonetheless never ceases to amaze me. Atlanta’s allure for me, is that is REAL. A real city. The streets exude a history full of contradictions and differences, war and suffering, tradition and change, rebirth and generosity, dignity and peace. The people you encounter are mostly residents, many of them students that bring to the city a good amount of needed  heterodoxy. Nothing is staged for tourists, the energy is authentic.

 

During the Civil War, Atlanta was a strategic location for the Confederate Troops… it was constantly attacked. Numerous battles took place nearby, before falling definitely on 1864. It’s siege and evacuation were later (1936)  immortalized by Margaret Mitchell on her famous novel “Gone with the Wind”

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During the 60’s, this city was the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, leaded by Martin Luther King (born in Atlanta 1929). Later the city was the first one in America to have an African-American as an elected mayor. Today  is a city of great importance for the GLBT community. The opennes of the city and its habitants  was recently materialized in the new Museum dedicated to Civil an Political Rights, a place that I would recommend everyone to visit for an eye opening experience.

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The architecture of the city is different than other Southern cities, they decided to change the classical structures and buildings by more modern ones. Renzo Piano, John Portman and Richard Meier are some of the famous architects that have contribute to this new skyline.

Cinema and literature are also interesting in Atlanta, after the approval of a tax incentive’s program designed to promote the production of  films and television   – and with the undenniable benefit of the weather– has become a mayor destination for the industry, the most famous and recent TV series is probably “The Walking Dead” that isn’t only filmed there, but has Atlanta as setting for the story. The beauty of this city has also been the backdrop of great films like Driving Miss Daisy (1989); Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and American Beauty (1999).

Every year on April,  the city hosts the “Atlanta Film Festival” which offers a wide array of independent films to the public, as well as conferences and events.  The city also hosts the biggest Independent Book Festival in USA, besides being the city where authors like Natasha Trethewey and Chandler Harris were born.

Last but not least, the southern hospitality is real, you feel it everywhere you go, and that makes your visit a very pleasant one.

As you see, there are many reasons to visit Atlanta, on my next post I will recommend you the places I treasure the most.

 

 

 

 

About Heroes and Cheesecake.

According to the dictionary a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievement or nobel qualities. To my mind come, firemen, soldiers, Batman, martyrs, Ghandi.

I don’t entirely agree with that definition. I mean, I recognize those are heroes, but feel that many others are excluded, I call them “everyday heroes”. Semantics and editorial dictatorship is one of the perks of owning a blog.

These everyday heroes will never have streets named after them, nor statues. Legends won’t surround them. They probably don’t recognize themselves as heroic either. But for me they are. Neither perfect, nor saints. I haven’t romanticized their existences ( I do that sometimes) they are flesh and bone, but in my dictionary they do hazardous and extraordinary things every day; they follow their dreams. Even if those dreams sound wild or absurd to others. Most of the time they triumph – even though that isn’t a requirement to be considered heroic by me– they go the extra mile and sacrifice, but mostly they perform ordinary activities with extraordinary love, as Mother Theresa said.

Foolish dreams deserve so much respect.  “I dream about been a professional diver” “Ice Cream Salesman” “Ride my bike around the world” “Give a rock concert”. People apologyze about having them, breaks my heart. Even I have apologyzed about mine. So many unnecessary explanations…

When your dream is becoming famous or a millionaire everybody agrees. But saying out loud: “I want to be a Yoga Teacher; ride a hot air balloon around the world, bake the BEST cheesecake ever” takes a lot of courage. Sometimes the wildest dream is just to look yourself in the mirror with acceptance and compassion.

Joseph Higgs  is one of this dreamers.  After graduating in USA he went back to Providenciales and announced his family he wanted to bake the best cheesecake of the world… Not exactly, but almost.  He came back to the island and got a job at the Power Plant, but started dedicating his free time to his passion: baking.

He tells me how much he wanted to try and bake a good cheesecake. After doing lots of research he baked his first one around one year and a half ago, the reaction of families and friends was extraordinary. “My family would go straight to my fridge to try new cheesecake flavors after that.” It was them who convinced him to offer the cheesecakes for sale for Valentines day (2015). The orders never stopped.

When I ask him to give advice to other dreamers he says: “HARD WORK, be willing to sacrifice a lot” In his case the sacrifice has involved time and money, but he doesn’t want to stop until his dessert are famous worldwide.  He continues with advice: “Keep setting goals even after accomplishing one.
There will be many people who will not understand what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, but that’s okay, what’s in your heart and mind to do, can’t be hindered by anything.”

Among the succes he has had this past year are many things like being  featured on Turks and Caicos Mag and offered to sell his cheesecakes on the biggest supermarket chain on the island. But certainly the most important is being a wonderful example for his two years old son Nathan– he is the reason behind the name of the bakery-.

If you go to Turks and Caicos please try  Nathan’s Cheesecakes at any of the following locations: KayJos Restaurant, The Caravel Restaurant- Grace Bay, Danny Buoys- Grace Bay, Chopsticks- Grace Bay, Tongue & Groove Cafe’ (located at the do it center) Leeward Highway. In the meanwhile enjoy his pictures at @nathanscheesecakes

Turks and Caicos Bound

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I could start by telling you how Turks and Caicos is actually conformed by 40 islands and keys, located close to Cuba and Bahamas and just an hour and a half flight from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

I could also tell you that the official language is english – they form part of the United Kingdom, so a picture of the Queen of England is the first thing you see when you step off the plane –.  They also drive on the left side of the road and many of their vehicles have the stirring wheel in the wrong side – only God knows why the English insist on doing that–.  At the same time their currency is the US dollar, and most of their tourism comes from Canada.  But if you check Wikipedia, probably find out all of this and many more interesting facts. So I rather give you the feeling I got from visiting this white sand paradise last week, and how beyond their natural beauty their biggest treasure is their people.

I have been dreaming about Aman Hotels for a while know, even though that is not my usual motivation for traveling this hotels spoke to me. They seemed like an experience. So zen, quiet, health oriented, located usually in remote places and surrounded by nature. The perfect place to enjoy a real vacation with my husband –something that we rarely do on our trips. So I must confess what first got me looking in to Turks was the Amanyara hotel. But I was in for a double surprise: the resort was even better than I expected and the island vibes were wonderful.

Who should go?

 Nature lovers, yoga lovers, spa lovers, divers, beach lovers, tennis lovers, sea lovers, golf lovers, boat lovers, lovers in general.

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Where should you go?

Providenciales and Big Turks. The airport is at Providenciales and if you wish to go island hopping there is a wide offer of ferry boats and private tours. Chartering a boat for the day is the ideal way to island hop, arrange a secluded beach picnic or practice scuba, snorkeling or fishing.

Contact any of these operators and they will be happy to arrange everything for you:

After 5 Concierge (649-946-4585)

Atabeyra Sailing Charters (649-231-0624)

Big Blue Unlimited (649-946-5034)

Caicos Dream Tours (649-243-3460)

Caicu Naniki Sports Adventures (649-432-5000)

Caribbean Cruisin 649-946-5406 or Cell: 649-231-4191)

Catch The Wave (649-941-3047)

Kenard Cruises (649-242-3866)

Ocean Vibes (649-231-6636)

Reef Peepers (649-941-8605)

Sail Provo (649-946-4783)

Silver Deep (649-946-5612)

 

Where should you stay?

 I am bias with Amanyara.  The people that work there are beyond amazing, they go out of their way to please you. The food is delicious. The location and the architecture of the place is priviledge, but has been built with such respect for the enviroment that surrounds it, that you feel really immerse in nature, with the obvious benefits of civilization –like wi-fi all over the place–. But I reckon is not budget friendly.

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There are other beautiful hotels closer to the downtown for every budget, and also great offers for families traveling with children like the famous Beaches Resort.

My 3 personal favorites things to do:

 Try Nathan’s Cheesecakes @nathanscheesecakes :

Their cheesecakes are so delicious, people come from other islands just to try them. The story behind this bakery is a beautiful example of a dreamer pursuing his dreams – I will post the interview I did to him ASAP.

Eat and Dance barefoot at the Conch Shack:

I swear I felt inside a Sponge Bob cartoon here, the place is magical you will feel here all the island’s good vibes.

Conch is the national food, you will see it everywhere and other than eating I brought home a couple as a souvenir –it’s legal to do so. I suggest going there on a wednesdays or during weekends because there is a local band playing, the urge to dance is impossible to resist.

At sunset try a boat ride:

 It’s very a special experience and all the boat companies listed offer this service.

About their people:

Other than feeling their cheerful spirits and super warm welcoming, the thing that struck me the most was their pride to be part of the island progress.

Going back to the airport the driver said to me: “You must come back, I promess this is only getting better and better” I guess that was the heart felt statement that resumed the strength of their souls.

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Wabi – Sabi: Japanese for Unconventional Beauty

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Probably in your language there are a few words untranslatable to other languages, I know we have them in spanish, and in english the word “wanderlust” is one of them.

I don’t know exactly how or when I came across with this concept but became really curious about it’s meaning and started researching. It wasn’t that easy to my surprise, to find books or any written information about it. Eventually I understood the reason why…

If you ask a Japanese to translate or explain Wabi – Sabi, they will probably hesitate and give you an apology for not been able to do so. But they all recognize the feeling of it for sure, because it’s a core concept in Japanese culture.

The best definition I found, was this that follows:

“ Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional. “ ( “Wabi-Sabi” by Leonard Koren)

As you can infer this concept can be applied for visual arts, architecture, poetry, literature, philosophy and spiritual life.

The lack of written information contributes to the vagueness of the definition, but why does so much mysterie surrounds it? The origins of the word are related to the ceremony of tea, which was mostly performed by zen monks and zen tea masters. In their tradition, essential knowledge can only be transmitted from mind to mind and not through the written word.

My interest in this aesthetically and philosophical concept has me involved on a very particular mission:  to spread the word about it and  stop it from disappearing.

Since the mid 20th century the predominant aesthetic has been modernism – I am a big fan – but it has been so popular and preeminent that even in Japan now days Wabi-Sabi is fading away. In my opinion that would be a big loss for all of us. With that in mind I wanted to list here the differences between both, so that we can open our minds to perceive this other version of beauty that surrounds us. A beauty that is vulnerable, irregular, imperfect, intimate, unpretentious, simple and earthy. A bit like most of us uh?

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Modernism                                                                   Wabi-Sabi

 

Logical, rational.                                                           Intuitive.

 

Absolute.                                                                         Relative

 

Universal Solutions                                           Personal Solutions

 

Mass Produced                                                   One-of-a-kind.

 

Future Oriented                                                 Present Oriented

 

Pro Technology                                                   Pro Nature

 

Geometric forms                                                 Organic Forms

 

The Box as the metaphor                                The Bowl as the metaphor

 

Needs to be well mantained                         Accommodates to degradation

 

Intolerant of ambiguity.                                  Comfortable with ambiguity.

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As Hume suggested:   “Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”   Let’s make some room and accept as part of our lifes the imperfect, faded, broken and ambiguous beauty that exists everywhere and in everyone, even in ourselves.

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Traveling? Tips to Stay in Shape by @healthymomma.ec

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What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while

Your vacations are here, and it is likely that you have been waiting for them for quite a while. We women can often be very hard on ourselves, so the first thing to do is to relax and let the feelings of guilt for food stay at home.

I am a promotor of balance, I do not like extremes however we women often find ourselves in them: we worry day and night about putting weight during vacations which at the long run does not allow us to enjoy them or on the other hand we throw our whole lifestyle overboard and overeat to the point that we suffer from indigestion. I do not recommend any of the two positions for I consider them unhealthy. With my clients I am always focusing on balance and emphasize the importance of what we do on a daily basis is more important than what is do once in a while. That is why I have prepared some recommendations for you, so you can enjoy your holiday and return home without feeling bad about yourself, desperate to start a strict diet or an extreme Détox.
1) Get ready

  • When you have chosen your holiday destination, spend some time researching what restaurants or cafés you would like to visit. If you have a certain type of nutrition tendency such as paleo, vegan, gluten free or if you love freshly harvested organic food, this is your chance to visit a specialized restaurant, try new recipes and be marveled by flavored ingredients not easily found at home.
  • When choosing an accommodation consider a place that fits your needs. If you are spending a long vacation in the same destination, I recommend you rent an apartment with a small kitchen where you can have breakfast or prepare yourself a homemade meal. Not only will you be kind to your health but it will also be of great help to your budget. If the trip is short, check the breakfast options offered by your hotel and whether it is worth hiring or you can go out for breakfast to a place that offers better options.
  • When packing, consider taking sportswear. If your trip is near a beach you could have time for walking or jogging in the morning. If you go to a big city, and if you are a yoga fan you could visit a highly recommended place and try out new styles and teachers.
  • At home, when preparing your handbag for the flight, you must consider packing some easy to transport healthy snacks so you can enjoy at the plane.  Here are some options: fresh or dried fruit, mix of nuts, seeds, black chocolate, energy bars or protein bites. There are some personal almond butter packages which I personally love (Justin’s almond butter Squeeze Packs).

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2) Take flight

 

  • Experts recommend fasting for 2 hours before your flight since digestion becomes inefficient with the pressure on the plane.
  • Before fasting, prepared yourself a super bowl of leafy greens. This type of food fights against radiation to which we are exposed during the flight and it also helps the blood in your body circulate better caused by air pressure. I recommend a large bowl of salad containing: kale, spinach, basil, arugula, broccoli or greens mix. Limit your portion of animal protein or change it with any plant base proteins, because this type of protein is better for our digestion. Avoid all foods that are high in sodium and trans fats.• Unfortunately the airplane food is not very nutritious, it is full of preservatives, artificial ingredients, it is high in sodium and refined carbohydrates; therefore I recommend that you take in your handbag healthy options that allow you to be comfortable during the flight.
  • Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol before and during the flight; drink plenty of water to counteract the effects of dehydration in the air.
  • During the flight, walk up and down the aisles, gently make stretching movements in your own seat to help your circulation.
  • Remember that planes can often be a source of diseases or viruses, particularly influenza. I recommend taking vitamin C or any dose of complex B some days before your trip. Take an anti-bacterial hand wash and cleanse your hands often.
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3) Practice Rule: 80% -20%

  • It consists of eating healthy 80% of the time and giving yourself a margin of 20% to eat out of the lines, remember you are on vacation. Every woman is unique and has a different metabolism, if you know you do not gain weight easily you feel free to play with the percentages and find the balance that feels right to you.
  • When you have reached your destination, I recommend you buy healthy snacks you can store in your hotel or in your accommodation; they can be very useful when there are no healthy options at hand.
  • Start your days by drinking a glass of water before doing anything else, it is important to get your digestion system moving because it is likely that the aircraft and food away from home could make you suffer from a bit of constipation. If you can put half a lemon in a glass of water to give your body alkalinity it would be great.  Take advantage of the hotel’s breakfast, it usually offers fresh fruit and eggs, tea or coffee. Many hotels offer to prepare you a fresh omelette, so choose plenty of vegetables like mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. Avoid refined pastries and carbohydrates for breakfast, leave croissants or waffles for an occasional meal.
  • Before leaving the hotel, place in your purse a healthy snack in case you feel hungry during the city tours and it is not lunch time yet.
  • Seek balance when organizing your meals, if you have booked dinner at a restaurant you’ve been long wanting to visit, then It will be better for you to have a light lunch: a salad with a variety of vegetables, your favorite animal or vegetable protein and some good quality carbohydrate energy will allow you to continue with your day. Remember the problem is not carbohydrates but the type and quality of carbohydrates. At dinner, simple enjoy!
  • Avoid eating refined sugar on a daily basis; this is where we women fall into temptation. Leave dessert and alcohol for special occasions on your trip.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, I personally have water bottles purchased in advanced and always have them at hand, thus no excuse of not having time to stop to buy water during the day. Remember, the holidays are not always there, what matters is what you do every at home every single day and what your routines consist of, so keep the balance and enjoy without losing your mind.

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