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Monday, March 31, 2008


On This Day In History
Eiffel Tower, Paris.
Eiffel Tower, Paris.
© Corbis
1889: Eiffel Tower opened to public
To "celebrate" I made asparagus soufflés for dinner ... easy recipe, good results.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rainy Sunday

After an incredibly "lazy" day we are just now leaving to join up with Alain for dinner at Le Piment d'Or in the Choisy area of Paris. News upon our return late tonight.

UPDATE: OK, it's almost 3am and I have vague memories of what we (Alain showed up with a friend, Violaine - quite charming) did after the Vietnamese restaurant above thanks to the double shots of Viet hooch ... I think it was drinks post-dinner nearby then home via the #62 bus and nightcaps with music by Kany Garcia (of course) and Caribe Gitano. Signing off for now -please leave comments or drop me an e-line on your doing, amigos!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Finally, after a full night's sleep we are really feeling back home in Paris and starting to get "back in the swim" with our friends, projects and plans.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 12 -San Juan

Odile and I leave late morning with my brother René from Guaynabo for a day "out and about" as our time here is drawing to a close. So much more we want to experience and so little time!

First stop the Salvation Army shop in Puerta de Tierra. Incredibly well organized and neat (no slam on the clothes shop we frequent when visiting our friend Jean-Yves in Uzès) ... Odile's innate sense for quality bargains netted me three very nice shirts and a Lands End jacket.

Next we headed over to beachfront of Piñones, stopping for some kiosk cooking at Lucy's for the BEST yuca-based alcapurrias (meat or crab). By some incredible coincidence we ran into my cousin Manuel (whose "office" is at the next-door bar called El Pulpo Loco - The Crazy Octopus) - always up to various and diverse activities we learned from him that he now has a rice plantation in Santo Domingo.

Not content with having ingested these very tasty apéros we next headed over to La Casita Blanca for lunch. While waiting for a free table (very popular place) I stopped next door at a local barber shop (called "El Renovado"!) to get a full shave (yep, the goatee is gone!) ... we had a SUPER lunch and were joined by our artist friend, Aixa Requena, for coffee (everyone seems tight on time - all very active) . We were able to get a bit caught up on our respective lives however - even if quickly.

After lunch we drove over to the Universidad de Puerto Rico's graduate business school to drop off Renè, who has classes tonight - we took advantage of being with him to visit the facilities (new and top-notch ... I'd hope to come back and do some workshops here).

Being so close we went shopping in the pedestrian area of Río Piedras then over to las Residencias de la Facultad to visit my uncle Toño and aunt Ginin and also see (finally) my aunt Coco and her daughter/my cousin Glorimar (they missed the Centenary celebration in Ciales). Glori is now teaching interior design (short courses) at Bayamón and still runs her business, tibidabo, and in addition continues painting (see "informaciones" here).

Having had a call from Aixa we then drove from UPR to Isla Verde to see her and meet her husband, Edwin, at their ocean-front apartment. She made us cups of incredibly delicious home-roasted coffee. We all hope to meet before long again in Paris.

We then decided to drive over to Viejo San Juan (for an interesting approach to the "old city" click here) to drop in on our friend at his bar (one of our favorite watering holes) - el Batey. Sadly Davey was not in but we met the new bartender, Cristobal, and I spun La Bohème on the jukebox (my tradition). This place is always a kick and hasn't changed (except for ever more graffiti on the graffiti-covered walls) since I first started coming here in the '70s.

Afterwards we rolled on down calle del Cristo to drop in on Maria , our French friend, (luckily she was there) at her Mexican restaurant.

Then a very nice dinner, just us two, at Cafe Puerto Rico on Plaza Colón - where we ran into the owner, the ever-affable Héctor, who stood Odile to a glass of his personal red wine.

Finally made it back to Guaynabo - tired but fulfilled with a wonderful day on our sunny, vibrant and loving island!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 11 - Hato Rey

I'm leading the second EIS simulation Change Management workshop, all day today, at the Hato Rey campus of EDP College with a group of about 30 professors and administrators.

UPDATE: The day was intense and very positive. The participants really put their "hearts and minds" fully into the simulation role-play and we all feel this innovation has been a very positive first step for improved change readiness and competence for all.

Afterwards some relaxing moments at nearby El Hipopótamo with Odile and Margarita Mergal - who leads the Programa de Estudios de la Mujer y el Género at UPR in Rio Piedras - joined later by Marilyn, the Chancellor of EDP, and her colleague Juan - just back from a 10 day educational trip to Cuba. We had various interesting conversations about educational issues in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

After a light dinner (tasty black-bean soup) we headed over to the Sagrado Corazón area of Santurce (Benecio del Toro is from here) to see Brigitte. Her daughter Carol was there with her husband Arnaldo and their two children (the grand-daughter heads to France with Brigitte in the next few days). Nice neighborhood close to Condado (but without the tourists) and also near Hato Rey (but without the office towers).

NOTE: For an interesting article by Margarita (in Spanish) click here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Day 10 - San Juan Metro area

A fairly lackadaisical morning at my brother's home then off in the MWN (Mighty White Nissan) to see our friend, Johnny Betancourt at his photo studio. Short, but heartwarming, visit getting caught up with our lives.

Afterwards off to the nearby Museo Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC) where Haydee works weekends. TIP: According to her the museum is free on Wednesday afternoons so, if you are in San Juan, stop by this wonderful facility.

Headed back to Guynabo early (after trying to navigate through Condado and Viejo San Juan but just too much traffic!) to prepare for tomorrow's workshop.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 9 - Guavate, barrio Beatriz, Guaynabo

Awoke to sunshine and bird song at Marilyn's wonderfuol country home here in Guavate. After breakfast we walked up the road, stopping as we went in artisan shops and scrupulously avoiding going into any of the many, many lechoneras that line this "Roast Pig Road".

In the afternoon, back at Marilyn's, we were joined by my brother Rene and family (including 95 year old Pepita, his mother-in-law, as usual in excellent fettle). We also met the artist, Antonio Carrión Torruellas and his friend Naty. We were all treated to incredibly tasty servings of alcapurias, tostones, pasteles and other traditional dishes prepared by Cecila and Maria, the two sisters of "powerhouse Puerto Rican cooking" - and all that outdoors over an open fire as in days gone by. Fabulous! It has been a day of continued feasting and wonderful conviviality here.

Our lawyer friend Paco also came over and we left in the early evening to visit his home in the nearby mountians - but even higher up. It was absolutely beautiful - the view to the East towards el Yunque (and had it been earlier one can see as far as the sea) and surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. It was even slightly cold (really!) so Paco made a fire outside and we heated up some lechon we gotten at El Mojito on our way to his place. Mighty fine!

We drove back to Rene's in Guaynabo (a short 40 minute trip) and will be in the metropolitan area until we leave on Thursday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day 8 - Guavate

We're driving up to Guavate (near Cayey - known for its lechoneras) from Rincón to spend a couple of days up in the mountains.

Here's a photo of a well-known local area landmark, las Tetas de Cayey (The Tits of Cayey) ... enjoy! More later from up there.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 7 - Rincón

We're at my cousin Ruth's at Rincón since late yesterday (last night we were out on a deck overlooking the beach with some furious waves coming in - usually the sea is quite calm here).

By the way, the shield shown here (actually a bumper sticker) was designed by Ruth's boyfriend, Hector, and really expresses the feeling here in this wonderful town ... happiness.

We went down the above mentioned "happiness road" (413) to the Calypso Bar on Maria's beach for pre-lunch drinks (and I don't mean tea).

Afterwards we headed to the Tamboo Bar and Seaside Grill for lunch (it's Ruth and Hector's "Comedia") - very nice location, as you can see in the photo here ... and the waves were just incredible!

In fact the high waves (and the Easter weekend) have brought in many, many people to the area (much more than usual according to Hector) - the San Juan Star's headline today was "Monster Surf Closes Beaches Around P.R." - seems these conditions occur only every 20 years or so. Another local newspaper, El Nuevo Día, has a slideshow you can see here.

At Tamboo Hector introduced us to his lawyer's wife, Inés Quiles, who has a radio show called "Si no lo digo reviento" ("If I don't say it, I'll bust" -WSKN 1320 AM) which was broadcast today from here to cover the breaking news ... and waves.

Afterwards we drove over to The Rum Shack (within the Lazy Parrot inn) for coffee, but seems that 5pm is too early for them to serve non-alcoholic drinks! So we walked over to the nearby bananadang - me for a Vietnamese (Iced) Coffee with a cinnamon bun ...and a side serving of a couple issues of the New Yorker. Odile and the others just had espresso. Nice.

Now we're sitting down to an Odile-created dinner of apio, bacalao, arroz, carne (costillas), and more! Buen provecho and come back for more news soon.

PS: To our friends in Paris - sorry to hear about "Les giboulées de mars" ... hope the rain and cold stop soon. Terribly nice weather here - we all must come to Puerto Rico together someday (soon)!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 6 - EIS @ San Sebastián

This city of 38,799 inhabitants was founded in 1752. The town is known for the heroic deeds of September 24, 1868, when it was the place where blood was shed during the events originating in the Revolutionary Movement of Lares.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 5 - San Sebastián

We drove up from Guaynabo arriving mid-morning in San Sebastián where I spent a few hours reviewing final preparations for tomorrow's workshop.

The folks at EDP College here are just great - they have taken care of everything: took us out to lunch at Don Pablo (for lobster monfongo) and put us up at the nearby agro-tourism resort Hacienda El Jibarito. In the photo, our room is in the background left (near the staircase that comes down towards the pool).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Day 4 - Hato Rey, Rincón

Working this morning at EDP then lunch (again!) at La Cornucopia ... we may head out to the western side of the island (Rincón) tonight, rather than tomorrow morning, so as to be ready for an early "inspection"visit tomorrow.

Finally have decided to drop in on my cousin Ruth in Rincón (the photo is from her apartment towards the beach) and then we''ll head up to our hotel, Hacienda El Jibarito, late tonight.

UPDATE: Finally, another "logistics" change and we'll stay overnight at my cousin's apartment and then head up early to the mountains tomorrow. Invited by Hector, Ruth's compañero, to a very nice dinner at the Royal Palm Cafe at his family's hotel, Rincón of the Seas (the next hotel down this beach towards the palm trees in the photo). Hector's brother runs this hotel while he manages the next-door Villa Antonio.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Day 3 - Viejo San Juan, Santurce

We're off to Café Puerto Rico (we were introduced to the owner last night at Ciales) overlooking Plaza Colón for lunch "en famille". (1, 2, 3)

Afterwards we went over to calle Quinones to see our dear friend Brigitte - the French ex-pat who is more Boricua than many!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 2 - Ciales

We had an excellent time this evening at the celebration of the 100th birthday of Corretjer, up at the mountain town of Ciales.

Odile took lots of photos (some fine ones of the many musicians, including Roy Brown, that we might be able to post later).

El Centenario de Juan Antonio Corretjer
Ciales, Puerto Rico

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day 1 - San Juan

First full day in Puerto Rico and we started with one of our great pleasures, lunch at La Cornucopia (with our "magic uncle", Tio Toño).

The late afternoon saw a visit to the new, impressive convention center for a quick look at the Gráfica del Caribe 2008 trade show (EDP College has a booth there) ... an amusing look at the musical, dancing water fountain in front and then off to an excellent dinner at El Hipopótamo (a former bakery dear to politicians, intellectuals and university students).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

¡ vamos pa’lla !

Off to Puerto Rico in a few hours (the taxi comes at 5 a.m.) ... what a kick!

Heartwarming event: three friends showed up tonight (separately but we've all together right now). Carole (who showed up loaded down with champagne, salmon, blinis and roe for us all), Anne - our courtyard neighbor, and Florence. So, girls, I gave you all my blog address, now it's up to you to leave comments (même en français) - and thanks so much for stopping by.

So, a hop over the "charco" to New York then south to San Juan where we arrive around 6pm local time.

Stop by regularly, dear Friends, as we plan to update the blog more often. Odile will handle the photography!
Bisous les amis !

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Invited, by Myriam, to see this interesting play, about the life of Romain Gary (writer, film director, WWII pilot, diplomat and "ladies' man" - at one-time married to Jean Seberg) directed and acted by Christophe Malavoy.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Soirée Jazz-Blues Piano et chant au KAZ BAR

Tonight Jacques's "fac" buddy Jo Fall singing with Marc Homps on piano. Jo has a fine voice and delivery (and a perfect American accent).

"Des mélodies comme les aimaient Johnny Hartman et Ella Fitzgerald. Chansons d'humour et d'amour, de spleen et de blues pour ce rendez-vous dînatoire très jazzy."

KAZ BAR - 86, avenue Parmentier

Friday, March 07, 2008

"Pas de Prison pour le Vent"

We're off to Théâtre du Lucernaire to see our friend, Alain, who's acting in this piece about Angela Davis and a hurricane (well, that's what I've understood).

UPDATE: Actually only four characters: Angela Davis, Gerty Archimède (first woman lawyer in Guadeloupe), her sister Sister Suzanne (not a mis-type ... her sister was a nun) and the gardener, handyman, guitarist (played by our buddy Alain).

A really excellent play in all respects. I recommend it to you all (they run until March 15) .

Afterwards a nice stop at the Café Vavin with Alain's aunts and then dinner in trio at Mouton.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happy Birthday JS

Birthday celebration tonight for our friend Jacqueline (and her 3 girlfriends) at Les Caves Saint Sabin. I've never been before, looks interesting, I'll give an update later.

UPDATE: Very nice light dinner at Cuba Compagnie Café near Bastille before heading down into the caves... where we ran into Elka (up from Marseille) and Héloise and their friends.
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