Monday, July 24, 2017

South America Destinations: Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is often referred to as the "Paris of South America." It's easy to see why with its European-style architecture, cosmopolitan air, and cultural diversity. It's such a sophisticated city.

Obelisk at dusk
But Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a sparkling gem of its own that doesn't need comparisons with other great cities in the world—Paris is Paris, London is London, New York is New York, and Buenos Aires is Buenos Aires, each offering dynamics that make them wondrous destinations for travelers.  Let me say that I'm not even going be able to scratch the surface of things to see and do in Buenos Aires. I'd suggest visiting various websites to get a flavor of the city. Better yet, visit this eclectic city in person. My wife, Mary, and I were fortunate to spend four days in Buenos Aires in June; a trip we'll never forget.





Teatro Colon


The city has a vibrant theater district, world-class museums, statues and monuments to celebrate its storied history, spacious parks, beautiful architecture that reflects European influence, and an electric atmosphere on the busy streets. Most folks know that Argentina is world-class in sports, namely soccer. Let's not forget the Tango, that captivating sensuous dance.




 Mary at the Casa Rosada
Slicing through the center of the capital district is 9 Julio Avenue, the widest boulevard in the world. In the center is the Obelisk, erected in 1936 to commemorate the city's 400th anniversary. A block away is the Teatro Colon, the world-famous opera house. Within walking distance is the Casa Rosada (the pink house) that serves as the executive  mansion of the president, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

San Martin monument
There's no doubt that that Juan and Eva Peron are part of the history with museums and statues commemorating their presence in the mid 20th century. But the city also honors such notables as Gen. José de San Martín, a national hero who helped liberate Argentina and Peru in the 19th century. Pope Francis is from Buenos Aires as well as famous writer Jorge Luis Borges. Too many to mention but remember actors Linda Cristal, Fernando Lamas and Olivia Hussey, music composer Lalo Schifrin, tennis stars Gabriela Sabatini and Guillermo Vilas, and soccer legends Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona....? I also enjoyed the music of jazz saxophonist Gato Barbieri, who died in 2016.

Su and Al
We were fortunate to spend two days with Argentinean friends, Al and Su, who were most gracious with their time to show me many of the landmarks of this vibrant city. They made this trip special. I do hope to return someday for a longer period and take in more of the sites and experience the lifestyle of the locals.

Buenos Aires has suffered through some difficult economic times in the past 30 years (which travelers can benefit with the exchange rate). But I saw quite a lot of construction and renovation of buildings and infrastructure during my visit so better days are ahead for this city.

So much to see and do but so little time on this visit. I want to return.

Until the next time . . . .


P.S. I have other images of Buenos Aires on my Facebook photos page.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

South America Destinations: Iguassu Falls

One of nature's magical kingdoms to experience is Iguassu Falls, a J-shaped area comprised of about 250 waterfalls on the Brazilian and Argentinean borders.


A view of Iguassu Falls from Brazil
My wife and I spent two days trekking at Iguassu National Park—one day in Brazil and one in Argentina. In Brazil, it's spelled Iguacu, and in Argentina, it's Iguazu. For English speakers, it's Iguassu. The word means "big waters" in Guarani, the language of the indigenous people.

It was rainy both days but tolerable as we were covered, for the most part, by the canopy of subtropical trees as we walked to the falls. And when we arrived to the falls, we felt the mist from the powerful cascading waters from the Iguassu River. Suggestion: Pack a raincoat!


At Devil's Throat
We were there when the falls were probably at their mightiest as the river current was swift and wide from recent rains. The national park has walkways leading to overlooks, including the thunderous Devil's Throat, and to the mouths of lesser, but still impressive, waterfalls.  For those who are more adventurous, and don't mind getting drenched, there are boat rides to the bottom of several falls.





A coati
Prego monkey
The parks were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in the 1980s. Besides the falls, they are nature preserves with many species of animal and plant life. Especially "friendly" were the coatis and prego monkeys, who weren't bashful around places where people get a bite  to eat. The monkeys would strike, without warning, on those unsuspecting folks sitting at tables by grabbing their sandwiches and leaping back up into the trees. Another suggestion: Don't feed the animals, intentionally or unintentionally.






Iguassu Falls was named as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World," and I certainly wouldn't dispute that designation. It's an unforgettable and magical place to visit.

Until the next time. . . .






















Wednesday, June 28, 2017

South America Destinations: Rio de Janeiro

My wife and I spent 10 day in South America in early June, visiting Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, and Buenos Aires.

Copacabana Beach
Our first stop was lively and colorful Rio, a city with nearly 7 million inhabitants. We stayed at a hotel located at the world-famous Copacabana Beach. It's fall there so the beach wasn't too crowded.




Christ the Redeemer

We made the usual tourist stops—riding cable cars to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for a breathtaking view of the city, taking a train to the summit of Corcovado Mountain to see the majestic Christ the Redeemer statue, and walking up the 215 tiled steps of the Selaron staircase in the Lapa district. I thought I saw the "Girl from Ipanema" walking on the sidewalk near the café where the song was composed, but I'm sure it was my imagination.  It was still a nice thought.

So much to see and so little time.


Cables leading to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
Our guided tour also took us past the multi-colored favelas (where many of the poor reside in shacks) and areas where the rich live in high-rise apartments overlooking the beaches. The tour even included an optional trip to a favela. We didn't go but several of our fellow travelers who did said they were amazed how clean and tidy the residents kept their homes.

Our local guide, Eduardo, told us that children only attend public schools four hours a day because of the economy. The rich send their children to private schools. There's not much of a middle class. Not surprising, crime is also a problem in the city. 


Municipal Theatre

We did try to venture out from the hotel during our free time but found it difficult to navigate the city. We're urban hikers and like to make our own discoveries. We didn't see as much as we wanted to, such as churches, government buildings, and parks.




Carlos Braguinha statue
We stopped in several downtown shops and found the merchants to be friendly and helpful despite the language barrier (Portuguese). We walked to the Riosul  mall, which compares to upscale shopping places you'd find in the U.S.

Rio, founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, has a rich history and shows promise for a bright future. Many may remember that it hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics.

But it's a shame that there is so much graffiti marring public buildings, walls, and other places (we've also seen that in Roma and Budapest).


A selfie on the Selaron Staircase
Regardless, it was an unforgettable two days in Rio. We'd like to return and really get to know and understand this dynamic and diverse city. We left knowing that it has much more to offer visitors. 




Until the next time. . . . 




















Thursday, June 22, 2017

EPIC Finalist Update

Last March I was notified by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition that my coming-of-old-age novel, "Old Ways and New Days," was a finalist in the contemporary fiction category.

EPIC recently announced the winners in the 17 categories in its annual competition for ebooks and my novel didn't make the list.

My congratulations to CJane Elliott for her coming-out novel, "Sex, Love, and Videogames," named the best in contemporary fiction. 

It was an honor for me to have my novel considered for the award. Simply being one of three finalists was gratifying.

Click here to see the list of all the winners, including Ariana Awards for best book covers.

EPIC is now accepting books through July 15 for its 2018 competition. Visit the website for more information. Best of luck to those who decide to enter their novel. 

You might also want to consider joining EPIC and be part of a network of authors, publishers, editors, and others in the industry.

Until the next time . . . .


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

South America Destinations -- Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, and Buenos Aires

My wife and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation to Brazil and Argentina.  We made stops in fabulous Rio de Janeiro, powerful Iguassu Falls, and beautiful Buenos Aires.

We've visited Europe in the past, and while we love the Old World, we decided to expand our horizons by traveling to our neighbors to the south. It was well worth it. Simply unforgettable.

We got to see and experience some things about each place, but more than anything, it whetted our appetite to return to South America to take in more that the diverse continent has to offer—natural wonders, historic sites, and the people.

Here are a few images from each of the places. I'll be writing more about each destination in upcoming posts.

From Rio:

Copacabana Beach

Cable cars to Sugar Loaf Mountain

From Iguassu Falls:

A view from Brazil



A view from Argentina
  From Buenos Aires:
Colon Opera House

Obelisk 
Until the next time. . . . 




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Progress Report-—Back to the Manuscript (Editing-Submitted)

I completed the edits, revisions, and rewrites to my upcoming novel. My editor will receive 190 pages this morning, and then forward it to the publisher, who will have someone proofread the 94k words.

And then it will come back to me in the galley proof for one last read. It will be the last time I can make any changes to the manuscript. 

But there's still more to do in the interim before the novel is released on Nov. 1. I'll have to work with the design artist on the cover, write a synopsis for marketing and promotion, and take care of dedication and acknowledgements.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a short break and then begin work on the third book in the Old Ways and New Days series. 

Until the next time. . . .



Monday, May 29, 2017

Progress Report—Back to the Manuscript (Editing Update-Part Two)

I've spent the past month going over edits on my next novel. I'll be returning it to my editor in two days, then await the galley proof for one more read. 

The past few weeks have been grueling at times, especially when seeing things I wish I had caught before sending it to the publisher. That's a big reason to have an editor. They fix things you think you see and take away things the readers shouldn't see.

She also made recommendations on dialogue, scenes, and body language—and a few other things—that she believed would strengthen the story. Some I accepted, prompting a few rewrites;  and some I rejected because I felt didn't reflect the characters' personalities (only the author truly knows the characters although editors can flesh out more information).

I also found a few other problems that I was able to correct while reading the manuscript two times.

Once I finish with the galley proof, I'll turn my attention to the third book in the Old Ways and New Days series. 

Until the next time. . . .