Monthly Archives: September 2011

Roses are blooming

Rosa’s roses are in full bloom and so is Rosa.

I met Rosa and her friends three years ago. She had never worked outside the home or for pay. Her husband Abel encouraged her and her group in their quest to find employment. The women wanted to contribute to their family economy but no jobs were available near home. How could they make money without leaving the village?

The Santa Elena Sustainable Economic Development Project was born to meet that need. Rosa and her band of hard working women had talent and energy, but they had much to learn about operating a business. They received some assistance from various sources: the International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) donated an industrial sewing machine, and many other generous people contributed with funds and other items they needed.

Theresa Diaz and Beth Knepp helped Rosa and her friends learn about design, choosing fabric, combining colors and textures. The group discovered the importance of maintaining consistent quality. They learned that half of the money they made could not be touched; it had to be saved in order to have cash on hand for new fabrics and other supplies they would need to make future inventory.

Now the ladies no longer depend on Beth and Theresa to hold their hands through the purchasing, making and selling of  their products.  Rosa and her group keep their own books. Some of their children are getting involved. They have built a business and its growing.

You can purchase the handcrafts made in Santa Elena at the CULTUR Tienda de Artesanias on Calle 63 between 64 and 66. And you will also see them at various craft fairs throughout Merida at different times during the year. And, of course they’ll be at the ANNY show: Saturday 3rd and 4th of December.

I feel such admiration for Rosa and the other women in the project. When they began, some of them had never been to Merida before. They stepped out of the box, and learned a completely new skill set.

As well as congratulating them, I wish to thank Beth, Theresa and all the members of Merida’s international community who helped this project get off the ground.

It is hoped that other initiatives like the Santa Elena Sustainable Economic Project will start up in other villages in Yucatan, and that the artisan community will grow in scope and productivity. If you have an idea or wish to help out, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment on this post, and I’ll get back to you

Photos: All the pictures were taken by “Yours truly” in Santa Elena


Filed under Vida Latina

Old Friends

This past weekend, I saw an old friend… We met at our Lamaze class in fact…

When our children were young, we saw one another a lot, but as life’s daily comings and goings got more and more hectic, we got together less and less… until it had been years since we’d shared a day in one another’s company.

Out of the blue, she called me early on Sunday morning. “¿Como estas?” she asked. “Bien, bien…” I said. When would we get together again? “How about right now?” she impulsively suggested. “I need to do my shopping,” I began. “I’ll come with you and push the cart,” she replied. Our respective kids are grown and gone, and by chance, both our husbands were busy, so I picked her up and off we went to Mega.

Talking non-stop, as though no time at all had passed, we cruised the aisles. Then, cart full of bags, pesos gone from my wallet, we got back in the car. “Let’s go to my house and have breakfast,” I said.

We stowed the groceries, cut up some fruit, sliced some cheese, brewed coffee, and she borrowed a bathing suit… We caught up on our lives – we swam, we laughed… we had the best time! As midday approached, we both needed to get back to our regular lives.

But years won’t go by until I see my friend again… from now on, we’ll make time for each other.

Thinking back to Sunday, I was reminded of another old friend: my Simon & Garfunkle “Bookends” CD.  I’m listening to it now:

“Old friends, old friends sat on their parkbench like bookends…”

Do you have a friend who you have not had contact with for a while? You could call, email or visit each other TODAY… and you’ll be glad you did.


Filed under Family and Friends

A little fantasy today…


A little fantasy today… I’m pretending that all you nice readers who wrote and said how much you enjoyed the first page of my novel are in fact –  literary agents!

You say you can’t wait to read more, and this means you want me to send my manuscript. This in turn will quickly lead me to a publisher who wants to purchase “If Only You Knew” for immediate release. And of course, the popularity of the book (in print, on line, and so on) will take my creation straight to the New York Times Best Seller list.

Then the movie deal will happen. And won’t I just be rolling in clover! Who will write the screenplay? Who will star in the film adaptation? Who’ll direct? So much to decide…

One person fed my fantasy ever further by giving me something to fret about: He said that I would forget all my friends when I became famous. I told him there wasn’t much chance of that, because once I have a friend, I’m hard to get rid of.

Back to reality. I will soon email the fourth revision to my editor and she’ll no doubt have more suggestions… I’ll take it from there.

If any of you didn’t read page one of  If Only You Knew, find it at on Saturday’s post.

Now, make believe that you’re on Amazon’s book site, and there’s a link beside my book’s cover that that says:  look inside. You click and read Pages 2 & 3…

The door latched behind me and I headed towards the kitchen looking for a cup of hot tea. There, I spied the long-necked green bottle, and that seemed an even better idea. What the hell, why not? I tipped the tinto into a long stemmed glass and thought about cutting a piece of sharp cheese to go with it. Definitely a plan…

As I re-corked the wine, my ears picked up strange staggering sounds. I went to the living room, the noise got louder. I heard hard breathing, and a voice called out “Amalia! Help me!”

He knew my name! My shoulder muscles tensed like rubber bands, and I had the eerie feeling that my life would be radically altered by whoever lurked on the landing.

My palms turned clammy and anxiety sucked the air from my lungs. I placed both hands on the varnished mahogany door, stretched upward, and peered through the peep hole. I had a pretty good idea of who I’d find out there. Like a phantom from another time, there he stood – Alejandro Mendez.

I stumbled backwards. Sixteen years ago, when we were both way too young, we’d become one another’s first love. A decade had passed since we last spent time together; what could he possibly want from me? As I released the dead bolt, I forced my face to go blank and form a detached smile. I didn’t want him thinking that his unexpected appearance had unraveled my cool. 

What cool? My hand flew to my mouth to keep from screaming. Blood ran from an open cut on his right cheek. His white Mao-collared shirt looked ripped and soiled, and his dark curls matted like the fur on a stray dog’s back. He sure didn’t seem proud and confident like I remembered.

“¡Dios mio!” I felt paralyzed as I watched him slump further against the wall. “Amalia, you’ve got to help me!” “I will… of course I will,” I said. But what did he expect me to do? What could I do?

I remembered how he once told me that I’d forever changed his life. I completely fell for him, and I believed his promises of unending love. But his devotion had not lasted. After he left me, I vowed to stay far away from him forever. And now he had barged back into my life. 

Sorting out my conflicting emotions seemed impossible. Part of me wanted to slap him, and another wanted to wrap him in my arms. He looked like he’d pass out, and I heard the caretaker limping down the stairs. I may have been confused, but I knew that I could not allow Alejandro to be discovered in a heap right outside my door. If the old snoop found him like that, he’d have him arrested and I’d be in trouble too, just by association.

“Move!” I told him, “Someone’s coming… you’ve got to get out of sight.”

He could barely stand, so I jimmied my arms under his and hauled him along like a sack of rocks. I thought that his weight was a good indicator of the heaviness he’d surely bring to my life. I felt pushed into this. I didn’t want danger threatening my safe world. But I could do little about it. I couldn’t send Alejandro away.

When we got to my room, he flopped down hard on the neatly made bed.  As he tucked his legs and arms into a ball, his grimy shoes trampled my white coverlet. “Ay-ay-ay-ay!” The heirloom crochet would be ruined! Countless times I’d pictured him here, but not like this. My self-defensive instincts should have kicked in, but his abrupt arrival brought back memories of sweet nights and tenderness. I couldn’t think straight. His eyes seeped, his lips parted wide and I saw how raw they looked.  “Alejandro, what happened to your mouth? Who did this to you?”


Filed under Writing