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In memory of Martin Luther King

On the left (MLK's right) is the late Rev. Ira Blalock, on the right is Rev. Gordon Gibson. They were in jail together with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama in 1965. I went to a UU church in Wellesley, MA for a while - mostly because my roomate's friend was the organist there and several other friends where in the choir. (This was the only church or synagogue going experience in my life.) Ira Blalock was the minister; his services were very interesting and always dealt with current reality. Gordon Gibson was the minister in another Boston area church and when I got married. In 1966 he conducted the ceremony because Ira had moved away.


Seen while wandering around

Wandering around Paris is always interesting - day or evening. Churches, people, shopping... And the bridge with locks.

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Père Lachaise Cemetary

On our first day in Paris in May we went to visit the Père Lachaise Cemetary, a huge cemetary in Paris with over a million people buried there. There is a Crematorium and Columbarium with even more people's remains. It is still an active cemetary; you have to live in Paris or die in Paris in order to be buried there. Graves are often opened and additional family member's remains are placed in the same tomb.

It's a beautiful place with gardens, trees, and a wide variety of tombs and monuments; it is very interesting to walk around in.

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with camera

Our trip to France last May

Last May we went to France for 2 weeks but I never posted any journal entries so here we go. The official reason was to go on a Ken MacFarland English Country Dancing trip where we stayed in Château des Briottières in the Loire valley near Angers, touring every day and dancing at night. We went to some amazing places some of which we've been to before - it is such a beuatiful area - of course France is full of beautiful places.

And before this part of the trip we stayed for 5 days in Paris, my favorite city to visit. I love walking around the streets in Paris, we stayed at Hotel Eugenie on rue Saint Andre des Arts in the 6th, a busy street and the area I always choose to stay in. The Louvre, the Salvatore Dali museum, the chocolate museum, Ste Chapelle, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, a boat on the Seine, the Eiffel tower were all places we visited.

Ste Chappelle:

Our room in Château des Briottières:

And the field/pond behind the chateau:

And there was an American Contra Dance in Paris that we went to one night while in Paris.


Our Columbia / Ecuador trip - Recap

It's been fun looking at a few pictures every day since we came back and making a post. Get to relive parts of the trip over time. The trip was from Nov 11 to Nov 26. It was an extremely enjoyable trip.

Very interesting history of these two countries - indigenous people, the Spanish conquest (always amazing that they traversed around the bottom of South America to settle/conquer the west coast of South America), liberation, modernization and population increase - recent high crime now under pretty good control in Colombia. It looks like the indigenous people are treated pretty well these days.

We flew to Cartagena via Panama City where we had a canal tour. Glad we had the opportunity to see that. Building that had such a huge effect on the world; and they have recently expanded it to accomodate larger ships.

Cartagena's walled city is really neat; it was hot and humid but still really nice walking around looking at people, houses, and street scenes. A good way to start the trip.

Then we went to Bogota. The altitude (8,662 ft) kept the weather cool. Bogota is a huge city - really nice museums, not as pretty - very impressive bus transportation system. And we definitely felt the altitude. Spectacular churches in all the cities we visited.

Then we went to Quito. From Quito we took a short trip to Otavalo, the site of a huge market. I really liked walking around the streets of the old town of Quito - it is surrounded by slightly higher mountains with houses on the hillside. so lots of scenic views. There were a couple of side trips up hills that we could have taken, but the weather wasn't quite clear enough to merit doing it.

Then we took the four day Tren Crucero trip from Quito to Guayquil. It was a nice refubished train - with very nice and well-informed guides (English and Spanish speaking) and we made various tourist stops. We were at the end of the rainy season and this part of the trip had clear skies most of the time. Saw lots of high mountains and volcanoes on the way. A highlight was the visit to the Rose factory/plantation. There were various forms of entertainment with visitors on the train. I highly recommend it.

Rail South America runs various other trips - some are one day and then there is the three week Buenos Aires trip to Peru including Machu Picchu. And I've been tempted by the Lima to Huancayo trip where I read once that conductors carry oxygen in case you need it because of the highest point which is 15,686 feet.

Then a day in Guayaquil including walking around an old section on a hill - nice small church of course and a pirate ship. We did spend a bit of time in Guayaquil in 2010 on the way to and from the Galapagos.

We stayed in several small boutique hotels that were quite nice: Casa Pombo in Cartagena, Casa El Éden in Quito, and two nice Hosterias on the train trip: Hosteria La Andaluza in Riobamba and Hosteria D'Franco in Bucay.

I recommend this trip and note that wasn't my first time: 51 years ago I went to these cities and took the then one-day train trip from Guayaquil to Quito. It was not a tourist train - at one point a woman got on carrying a bag of chickens (live). It is interesting to note that the population of Bogota then was under 1 million; now it is about 8 million.


A bit more of Guayaquil

A bit more of wandering around Guayaquil near the waterfront. Museum, Ferris Wheel (we didn't ride it, though should have), train car, small amusement park, changing colored lights... And Step number 1 going up the hill.

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Last day of our Colombia / Ecuador trip: Guayaquil

We had one more day before we returned home from Ecuador (this was the end of November). We stayed in the Windham hotel on the waterfront (Guayquil has lots of waterfront - river and sea - it is a huge port). There are some old portions of the town up a nearby little hill and we wandered around them - this was different than the big-city feel of Guayaquil. One set of steps was numbered - the top one was 443.

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Us May 09

Where I danced in 2017

We danced on 95 days in 16 different places:

16 nights at JP Gender Free Contra Dance in Jamaica Plain
20 nights at JP Gender Free English in Jamaica Plain
18 nights at BIDA Contra Dance in Cambridge
1 night at BIDA Spark in the Dark in Somerville
9 nights at the Scout House in Concord
5 nights at Harvard Square English in Cambridge
1 day/night at the Peterborough Snow Ball in Peterborough NH
3 days/nights at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs, New York
3 days/nights at Queer Dance Camp in Aptos, CA
3 days/nights at NEFFA in Mansfield, MA
3 days/nights at LCFD Dance Camp in Woodstock, CT
3 days/nights at LCFD Dance Camp in Becket, MA
1 night at the Paris Contra Dance in France
6 nights of English at Chateau des Briottieres in the Loire Valley, France
1 night at Village Contra in New York City
1 night at Rainbow Contra in Montague, MA
1 night at CapeAnn Contra in Gloucester, MA


Where I slept in 2017

- In our houses in Cambridge and Gloucester
- 2 nights in Courtyard Marriott in Sarasota Springs for the Dance Flurry
- 1 night in San Juan Airport hotel and 5 nights at Guana Island in the BVI
- 4 nights in Chelsea Pines Hotel in NYC
- 4 nights in Park55 Hotel in San Francisco, 2 nights in Monte Toyon - Aptos for Queer Dance Camp, 1 night in the Dylan near SFO
- 2 nights at YMCA Camp Woodstock in Woodstock, CT for LCFD Dance Camp
- 1 night in AA146 BOS->CDG, 5 nights in Hotel Eugenie in Paris, 2 nights in Chess Hotel in Paris, and 7 nights in Chateau des Briottieres near Angers for English Country dance trip
- 4 nights in Country Inn and Suites in Gettysburg, PA for the Motss Con
- 2 nights in Hampton Inn in St Louis, 3 nights in a hotel in Carbondale, IL for the eclipse
- 2 nights in YMCA Chimney Corners Camp in Becket, MA for LCFD Dance Camp
- 3 nights in Casa Pombo in Cartagena; 3 nights in Hotel BH Bicententario in Bogota; 4 nights in Case El Eden in Quito; 1 night in Swissotel in Quito, 1 night in Hosteria La Andaluza in Riobamba, 1 night in Hosteria D'Franco in Bucay, 2 nights in Windham Guayaquil for Tren Crucero trip from Quito to Guayaquil as part of our Colombia/Ecuador trip


Last Part of the Train trip

The last part of the train trip was from Yaguachi to Duran (the end of the line near Guayaqui). Again we had a steam engine for this part. They had been pulling the train backwards for a while which made the observation car not quite as nice because of no direct rear view. At the end of the trip we celebrated with a fancy drink and some musicians came on board to entertain us. And as usual a variety of things and people to see. No more mountains of course since we at sea level.

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