Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Back in Beautiful Galicia

I certainly meant to post before now, but soon after arrival and opening the house, etc., I came down with a cold. Here we are arriving in Santiago: True to recent trips, I took pictures of surroundings, etc. but got so engrossed in conversations with friends I forgot to take THEIR pictures. Still, here is a picture of my husband's feet, camera bag, and carry-on, as we left the airport.

Our friends, Terri & David, picked us up, and since they were leaving on a trip of their own the very next day, we all stayed over at a charming casa rural, "Casa de Amancio" not far from the airport, so that we could drop them off and then drive home. "Casa de Amancio" was delightful, reasonably priced, and tucked away down a winding road so that you felt far removed from the heavily trafficked highway to the airport.

See the fresh flowers?
Fresh flowers were everywhere.
There was no fire that night,
but you can see how lovely one
would be in winte
Rajan and I stayed in the room on the left (behind the outdoor table & chair set). For those staying longer, the room is equipped with a tiny kitchenette: microwave, sink, and fridge (where I was able to keep my glaucoma drops that need to be refrigerated.) We showered after our long flight and then met up with Terri & David in the little lounge above.

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Later, we went in into one of the dining rooms (they had three tucked in different areas.) This one was hard to show because of the lights and mirrors, but it was charming. And we had one of the best and most reasonably priced fish dinners we've had in Galicia. The place also offers a nice breakfast. It also seems to be a popular stop-off for peregrinos (pilgrims) walking El Camino, since it is right on the way to the Cathedral, the pilgrimage destination. The speckles you see on the dining room wall are coins people have left.

Then there was the drive home and we were at our beloved village of Trasulfe at last. We love this place. I write poetry to Trasulfe and the surrounding villages and countryside. It all just fills one with such serenity:

Our patio and a glimpse of our
little field across the sheep path. 
A good view of the potatoes our
neighbor Miguel plants each year. 
This is what it looked like when we arrived twelve days ago. We immediately walked over to our neighbors, Eva, Manolo, & Raquel to say hello. Then Eva walked down to our new Dutch neighbors, and then Elías, who frequently comes from Barcelona, came out and joined us. I was too tired to take pictures, but we all had a fine chat.

The time has really flown by: We had already set up dinner dates to have friend over last Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Before and after, Rajan and I took turns with head colds (nothing serious, but a little vexing when you want to be out and about visiting!) Still, we sit at our window in the galería, gazing out over coffee in the mornings, and that, too, is nice. Meanwhile, Miguel harvested his potatoes (and gave us a huge bag of them). He had spent the week before helping friends and relatives with their harvest, and then last Saturday morning, four men and a woman came with two tractors and an interesting wagon with metal wheels (along with baskets and small and larger buckets) and made short work of it in about two hours. Here is how the same scene looks now:

The little tree on the left is a
volunteer peach tree that, sadly,
hasn't borne any fruit in 13 years.
Sadly, in our area, while the vegetables have done well, the grapes haven't, due to a too-wet spring, mildew, and recent scorching heat. Other fruits are  delayed, if they fruit at all. The fig tree beyond our wall is usually loaded with figs this time of year. This year they are the size and texture of hard, unripe cherries.

In my next post I'd like to take you on a nice river walk we took in Monforte on one of our "revived" days last week. And after that, I'd like to take you on a little tour of Trasulfe itself.For now I'll leave you gazing on our harvested field, imagining all the things one can cook with potatoes.

Which leads me to ask: What is your favorite potato dish, and do you share your recipe?

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Happy Life Story, by Sharon Emecz


I came across this gem of a book written by the wife of one of my publishers. For anyone who wonders what one person or family can do to make a difference in a troubled world, this little book opens a door to possibilities. Happy Life, a children’s home in the suburb of Kasarani in Kenya, Nairobi, rescues abandoned children and finds adoptive homes for them. 

Happy Life started as the brain child of two couples: Sharon and Jim Powell in Delaware, USA, and Peter and Faith Kamau in Nairobi. Both Jim and Peter were pastors, and met through Peter’s brother who had attended a retreat in the U.S., where he met Peter. The program has a three-pronged approach: rescuing children and finding adoptive homes for them; providing a Christian based education that meets their needs according to age; and a hospital, since many of the children come to Happy Life with medical problems related to their abandonment.

The beginnings of Happy Life were small: five children in the Kamau home, 2001, but now it has expanded to two sites in Kenya – Kasarani and, close by, Juja Farm. In 2017, the combined total of children at the two sites was 101. In between those years, as children have been found, cared for and adopted out, 300 had been adopted. Since not every child gets adopted right away (some can take years), Happy Life commits to care for these children until they become adults. School now goes through high school and includes training for life skills, and at Juja Farm, the church and schools are open to the local community. They also have a garden and a bakery.

Funding depends on donations from churches, individuals, businesses, some foundations, but there is no government funding. They have a paid staff, but volunteers also come from all over the world with teaching and nursing skills, or a simple willingness to spend quality time with the children. Sponsors for individual children are also appreciated. The author discovered Happy Life on a short trip and loved the experience so much, she and her husband now spend a few weeks there each December. In his words, “These are some of the happiest children I’ve ever seen.”

The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs of the children, the schools and hospital and living accommodations, and the various neighborhoods, as well as wild life preserves in visiting distance. 

You can learn more about the program and opportunities at the Happy Life website.  
You can buy the book HERE

How about you? Do you do any volunteering anywhere? Do you ever get discouraged by today's news of bad happenings and wonder if there's something you can do to help?