The pond Hyde Park, London, UK

Wandering the streets

She walked the streets unknowing that fate… awaited her that day

The bridge River Thames, London, UK
The bridge
River Thames, London, UK

The hotel was placed in the western side of London, in the Kensington District, one of the fashionable neighbourhoods of the British Capital City. As she walked the beautiful gardens of Hyde Park, enjoying the lake and its ducks passing by on their morning swim, she got distracted. Without paying attention, she walked on to the nearby streets, following them on their way to the river. Oddly enough, the day was delightful and the sun was shining brightly overhead in all its splendor.

The clearing Kensington, London, UK,
The clearing
Kensington, London, UK,

Profoundly enjoying the atypical weather that prevailed that sunny morning, she walked on wandering the streets, and she finally stopped as she encountered a small antiquarian’s shop. The façade was typical of the times under Queen Victoria’s rule, and the house, though not large, had its own distinctive charm that did not pass unnoticed.

The lake's edge Hyde Park, London, UK
The lake’s edge
Hyde Park, London, UK

Window shopping at this fine, distinguished establishment could be easily compared to visiting a rare exhibition in a first-class museum. The showcases were filled to the brim with exquisite antiques, carefully selected and presented, creating an impressive display that absolutely captured one’s attention immediately. Engrossed, she spent a long while, carefully studying the window case exhibits. Enormously satisfied, she entered the shop. In her mind, she had formulated the imminent possibility of purchasing something of interest for her daughter.

The pond Hyde Park, London, UK
The pond
Hyde Park, London, UK


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Two weddings for the price of one

Chapter 2… The García girls’ wedding

Historical Centre Granada City, Nicaragua
Imagine          Historical Centre Granada City, Nicaragua

The two bishops said, but mostly sung, the double wedding ceremony. Previously, they carefully tuned their voices at a small and intimate toast, while the eighteen altar boys, took turns to dress them in their solemn clothes before the service. When they officiated, they were accompanied by the chamber quartet brought in from Managua, and by the angelic voices, of the sisters from the choir, of the Convent de la Merced, who came from nearby León. They still say, that there were so many personalities attending the wedding, that there was almost no space left over, not even for the Holy Spirit.

When the religious ceremony was over, they then relocated by horse-drawn carriages, parading down the streets to the banquet. To begin with, they served the delicious plates of the famous Honduran mondongo, a spicy stew, very rich, made with the cow’s stomach, which was brought from Choluteca City, in the neighboring country of Honduras. They served the mondongo, along with salty donuts, called rosquillas, that are a bit crispy and at the same time quite crunchy, typical of the Municipality of El Viejo, where the banquet was being held. Their freshly baked aroma had invaded the banquet hall, filling the air everywhere you turned.

To the tune of the industrial quantities of Centennial and Solera rum imported from Guatemala, and by the way, the musicians, exclusively brought in from the capital city of Managua, and afterwards followed by an incredible folkloric group from León, the gathering was to say the least, enthusiastic and at its utmost, so much so, that absolutely everyone danced nonstop until the sunset.

Versión en español            In the land of volcanoes’ Chapters           Purchase the book

A day for resting and shopping

Some days the best thing to do… is to do nothing at all

Decorating the streets
Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Peru

“Cheer up, my dearest Prince Valiant. You can cope with these misfortunes and more. After all that wandering around through so many countries, I believe a lazy day, just relaxed and resting, will actually be good for you, don´t you agree?” she commented, hoping to lift her sad and sick husband’s spirits.

“But, it’s one of the few days that we have left for London, my dear, and I can’t say I want to spend it cooped up in here, and I am also spoiling this day for you too” he sadly answered.

Futbol callejero Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
Street foot ball
Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Peru

 “My love, I’m so sorry for your sake, but… at the moment, there’s nothing I can do for you here in the hotel. Your present chores are of a very personal nature. So, you will have to excuse me, for I’m off to explore a few shops in search of something for our future daughter.”

“You’re at it again? How do I get through to you, so you understand that we will have a boy? He shall be big, strong, and healthy. Those dolls and all that little girl stuff you’ve been buying, won’t do him any good at all. They shall have to wait until it’s their turn. The next child will be a girl and she will look just like you. Surely, she shall be utterly beautiful, and yes, she will gladly receive all your presents.”

Fachada y parque Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
Facade and park
Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Peru

“We shall see, my love, we shall most certainly see. Life is full of surprises, and you have a surprise in store for your down the road a bit. And that surprise will indeed play with dolls. It seems to me, that it’s you who shall have to put away all those boy’s toys and await the next one, not myself.”

“Anyway, as you so bluntly put it, so few days, and so much London to see… Just make sure that you drink lots of tea and please try and rest well. I shall be back for lunch; perhaps by then you’ll have an appetite and we can share some light food” That being said, she rapidly left the room, before her husband had time to object.

Once on the main floor of the luxurious hotel, his wife smiled patronizingly and walked out to the street, but not before she talked to the receptionist and made sure he would be perfectly taken care of.

Mediodía en el parque Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
Noon at the park
Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Peru


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The ill effects of a British breakfast

He was born a Friday morning, also on a Friday and during the afternoon, he graduated with honours, he celebrated his wedding one Friday evening… he considered that he preferred to die a Sunday at midnight, in his bed if at all possible

El condor Plaza de Armas, Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
The condor
City Park, Andahuaylas, Apurimac, Peru

In London, they ran into this gift store with a collection of tiny horse drawn carriages and a jewel chest that when was opened, would play an exquisite waltz melody… gradually, travelling from one country to another one became more like more like moving to a new house. Since the UK was the last county to visit on their itinerary, the number of suitcases and baggage had multiplied to reach an unthinkable amount of stuff to carry around.

La iglesia Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
The church
Andahuaylas, Apurimac, Peru

It was precisely in London, where the future father of a descendant yet to be born (and whose gender was like a tossed coin… going ‘round and around describing circles in the air), fell ill due to a British breakfast that did not completely agree with his digestion.

Protesting, moaning, and mainly because of his wife’s persistence… he agreed to a medic visit. Totally in character with the detached and phlegmatic manner of the doctors in that faraway country, without more ado, the doctor informed him in a dry tone that he needed to rest, preferably close to the toilet, and to drink plenty of chamomile tea during the day.

El triciclo Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
The tricycle 
Andahuaylas, Apurimac, Peru

“I am afraid that’s about all that I can do for you, sir. These afflictions require a certain amount of rest and a bit of patience.” Having said that, he nimbly pocketed the bills paid for his services and retired.

“That miserable crook, dressed in black with his top hat! For the amount of pounds, he charged, the least he could have done is give me some pills to help end this matter and not waste a whole day inside a bathroom,” he remarked dejectedly as he saw the impeccably correct man leave, after taking his leave.

Frente a la iglesia Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
In front of the church
Andahuaylas, Apurimac, Peru


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Talking about wines and weddings

Chapter 2… The García girls’ wedding

Commemorative mural Historical Centre Lon City. Leon, Nicaragua
Commemorative mural
Historical Centre Lon City. Leon, Nicaragua

The beautiful colonial church, which dated back to the 17th century, was decked with hundreds upon hundreds of orchid flowers. These had been brought in from Montenegro, in the neighboring mountains in Costa Rica. There were so many flowers! I’ve heard it said that as their fragrance reached out, all the way, to the nearby city of Chinandega, everyone rejoiced and felt young once more. The people flocked outside of the buildings, filling the empty streets, as they relished the delicate aroma in the air. There, they basked in the warm sun, delighted as they felt young for one last time, and they relived, if only for a fleeting moment, that lost spring-time of their life.

The Godparents: don Jairo Díaz, the eldest of the Díaz Alvarez brothers, known and renowned by all in the community; as well as his wife, the graceful and sweet doña Joanna García y Hernández. They had been married a few years before, in the church of Chinandega, when it was still in good conditions.

His Excellency, the Bishop of Managua celebrated the ceremony. He was perhaps a distant relative, nevertheless a very close friend of the Díaz Alvarez family. The priest of Chinandega and the parish priest from the Basilica El Viejo assisted him. He officiated together with His Grace, the Bishop of the Diocese of León (who never missed the famous lunch gatherings at the García y Hernández family’s house, and always collaborated in good spirits, when it was time to taste the wines and approve the choice of the day).

Versión en español            In the land of volcanoes’ Chapters           Purchase the book

A doll called Helga

And where are my faithful and inseparable childhood friends. Nostalgic are the memories of my cherished toys…

La plaza Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
The plaza           Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

As they travelled through Germany, they bargained and acquired a lovely ceramic doll with golden hair. Curiously its hair would almost identically match Felicia’s own and become one of her favourites. Later on, the doll was named Helga.

Los tapetes Andahuaylas, Región de Apurímac, Perú
The mats
Andahuaylas,  Apurímac Region, Peru

The dolls name was taken from a young girl in a swiss story, part of a storybook with more than three hundred and some, beautifully illustrated pages. The book was one her gifts when she turned six-years old. The little girl read and re-read this book on so many occasions, as it turned into one of what she called: my treasures.

Fiestas del pueblo Andahuaylas, Region de Apurimac, Perú
The fiestas
Andahuaylas, Apurimac Region, Peru

Wooden shoes from Holland, the size to fit a young girl and a set of wooden blocks, carefully carved with delicate designs of animals, the alphabet and the numbers from zero to nine. All them painted in lively colours and by hand…

A many bladed Swiss knife and a tea set from Bruges… a cuckoo clock from Bavaria and a dress with smart colours from Munich…

El jardín Andahuaylas, Región de Apurímac, Perú
The garden
Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Region Peru


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Between soldiers and dolls

Through the centuries, it has been said many times that during the nights, the toys awake to play…

Galería Centro histórico de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
 Cusco’s Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

They had time to spare, and so also kept their discussion, about the first child’s gender alive and spent long hours speculating about this important issue. When they finally reached the European coasts. each one of them was utterly convinced that they were right, and knew the sex of their future boy or girl and perfectly well.

Vista dela ciudad Centro histórico de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
View of the city
Cusco’s Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

So, it happened that, on the next day after disembarking, they went out to do some intense shopping, searching for all manner of small gifts for their firstborn to be. During that long first day, her father bought a few regiments of beautiful tin soldiers, which were fairly fashionable at the time. At the same time, her mother was picking up the dolls which her future daughter would play with in the future.

Balcones Centro histórico, Cusco, PerúBalcones Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
Cusco’s HIstorical Centre, Cusco, Peru

A grand drum was picked up in Rome and added up to the hope-chest for the firstborn, of unknown gender. In Napoli a Pierrot and a Pierrette, fashionably dressed in lively coloured silks also were incorporated into the collection. Both these dolls had exotically painted faces that distinguished them.

From Paris, they brought back a lovely doll with a ceramic head and face, a body filled with goose feathers that turned out to be a gracious ballet dancer. Also, they added a large brass cannon that actually fired littler lead pellets.

El patio Centro histórico de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
El patio
Centro histórico de Cusco, Cusco, Perú


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Talking about my great-grandparents and how they married

Chapter 2… The García girls’ wedding

City streets Leon City. Leon, Nicaragua
City streets
Leon City. Leon, Nicaragua

He was the third of five brothers, and she was the third of five sisters. At the time, the main church of Chinandega, the beautiful parish of Our Lady of Santa Ana was going through repairs. Sadly, the church had sustained heavy damage during the main earthquake of 1925. For that reason, they married at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, in El Viejo, a small town near Chinandega. They were my grandfather Jairo’s parents. That was my great-grandparent’s wedding (though some of the cynics called it an alliance).

My great-grandfather’s name was Leobardo Salvador Díaz Alvarez. His family was originally from Chinandega, where he was better known as don Leobardo. Together with his brothers, they owned sugar cane and peanut plantations, and two small sugar mills in the small town of Chichigalpa. My great-grandmother was doña Eduviges Leónora Garcia y Hernandez. Her family was from the port of Corinto (the main port on the Nicaraguan Pacific), a half hour drive from Chinandega. There everybody simply knew her as doña Leónor. Even though the Garcia family was originally from Corinto, at the time, they were living in León. Their father owned huge cotton plantations close by and was successfully exporting the cotton to the markets in the United States. At the time, Nicaragua was considered as the cotton capital of Central America. People say the American dollars were so plentiful, that in the mornings, the women swept them off the streets with the rest of the rubbish. There are those who still think of these times as “the good old days”. When both families joined in matrimony, their fortunes were also tied together.

Versión en español            In the land of volcanoes’ Chapters           Purchase the book

Crossing the Atlantic

In the sea, life is so much sweeter…, in the sea, I love you so much more!

Song by Carlos Argentino

Vista desde la Plaza de Armas ciudad de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
View from the Plaza de Armas Square
 Cusco City, Cusco, Perú

During their fortunate transatlantic crossing, the future parents were engrossed in all the details of their ship. As it happened, the liner in which they were travelling was a recent acquisition of her family. Comfortably settled in the best cabin aboard, they dedicated themselves to investigating all the novelties with which the new and modern vessel was equipped.

La esquina centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
The corner
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

These were the exciting times in which the huge sailing ships, powered by the wind caught in their enormous sails, were slowly substituted by modern vessels equipped with steam engines and propellers.

El portón Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
The front door
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

These new ships managed to reduce the navigation time between both continents, as well as, on all the routes into which they were introduced. Felicia’s future parents were happily caught up in highly technical discussions with the Captain and with his officers, concerning this thrilling new propulsion system that had spread so rapidly among the most powerful war fleets and the huge commercial liners.

Balcones Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru


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Sailing the Atlantic waters

To understand some of the things in life, sometimes its best to leave them behind for a spell

La Catedral Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The Cathedral
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

Happy and satisfied with her little jaunt, the little Felicia, carefully closed the door soundlessly. Her room was very big and it was filled to the brim with all sorts of toys, the same that their parents had bought, when travelling through Europe, years before she was born.

Calles de Cusco Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
Cusco’s streets
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

Felicia’s parents were in complete agreement as to one basic fact: they would have numerous children, quite common in the times they lived in. They also shared one fundamental disagreement, that disagreement stemmed on how many children in all, and if the first born would be a girl or a boy. Her father was totally convinced that the first child would be a boy. At the same time, her mother argued that her maternal instincts had already informed her that she would be a little girl.

El Gato Negro Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The black cat
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

As they made their way through the different countries, of the so called old continent, they bought the toys that, at the same time, would later turn into the souvenirs of such a memorable journey, the occasion when they left the Colombian coast behind to cross the Atlantic waters.

Arco del acueducto Centro Histórico. Cusco, Perú
Aqueduct’s arch
Historical Centre. Cusco, Peru


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