A Stroll Among the Cherry Trees

Last week for my birthday, I treated myself to an experience I had never had before.

Waking up several hours before the sun, I drove to Washington, DC, surprisingly tons of people already moving at that hour and even more surprisingly found FREE parking near the Tidal Basin. Following the growing crowd, I found myself on a bridge facing the Jefferson Memorial, just as the sky began to turn from navy blue, to purple, to red.

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It turned out that my vantage point was perfect to capture the beauty of the sunrise and in fact it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever experienced.

Pink clouds were strategically placed at the water’s edge, their pale color appearing with the increasing light. The Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument stood proudly and majestically across the way, welcoming the awe and wonder of the already thousand some tourists gazing upon them at first light.

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The colors in the sky became brighter, richer, until finally the sun appeared from beyond the horizon and the magic dissipated.

At least in the sky, it did, but it continued among the trees.

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As I skirted along the rim of the Tidal Basin, I would watch as the wind gently played with the soft, fragile branches arrayed in a distinct hue with which the entire capital has donned for the next few weeks. Every so often I would pull away from their allure and be drawn to what was just on the other side of their lattice-like appearance.

I discovered, for the first time, the FDR and George Mason Memorials. I strolled up to the foot of the Washington Monument, touched its base that had stood strong despite the unexpected earthquake of the recent past.

 

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Back in the pink forest, I saw all sorts of people taken advantage of the most attractive time of the year in the District. Photographers and models were everywhere – there were engagement shoots, wedding shoots, maternity shoots, family shoots, artistic shoots, and even pet shoots.

This is an event I have been blessed enough to have grown up by and enjoy for several years. But as I enjoyed my morning under the blushing boughs, I began to think about all those who would have loved to come and see what I am seeing, experience what I am experiencing. So, I decided to take a stroll among the cherry trees and share it with you around the world that you might, vicariously, be able to enjoy a moment of the wonder of spring in the nation’s capital.

Please click here to see my video on YouTube.

Happy travels!

-Wandering Minstrelette

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El Monumento a la Revolución

My time in Mexico City was short and sweet, with the obvious highlight of the wedding for which I came. I was, however, able to get a little bit of sightseeing in the morning following the ceremony.

With only a few hours to spare, a distance restriction due to afternoon plans, and all the museums being closed on Mondays,  Paulo (who had, at this point, been designated my tour guide for the day) decided to take me to a important landmark of Mexico City.

The Monumento a la Revolución is located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of the nation’s capital and is a significant icon of Mexico’s cultural and social history. A French architect named Émile Bernard was selected to design the building, which was originally conceived to be a parliament building. Construction was interrupted in 1912 by a lack of funds, due in part to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, and was not resumed until 1936 when Mexican architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia decided to build over the existing frame in a Art Deco and Mexican socialist realism style and re-purposed the structure as a monument to the Mexican Revolution.

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Sculptor Oliverio Martínez was selected to create sculptures that would embody and symbolize the work of the Revolution and also what Mexico as a new nation held dear. His four sculptures are found at each corner of the monument, each dedicated to a different set of laws that would make Mexico great: “The Independence,” “Reform Laws,” “Agrarian Laws,” and “Labour Laws.” All the figures were completed in 1938 and fit in perfectly with Santacilia’s style for the monument.

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The pillars of the monument also serve as a mausoleum for the heroes of the Mexican Revolution, including Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Lázaro Cárdenas.

As a whole, the monument is striking and impressive, towering over the Plaza de la República – indeed, it is considered the tallest triumphal arch in the world at 67 meters (220 ft). It’s height is one of its main attractions, because visitors can take an elevator to an observation deck that provides a 360 degree view of Mexico City and a close up look at the statues of Martínez. There is the possibility of going higher, up into the dome, and also underneath to a recently added art gallery, but that costs a little more money.

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A view of Mexico City from the Monument, facing north.

The plaza itself is also beautiful, decorated with colorful trees blooming in spring and a fountain that at night is lit with different colors. Sadly, when I was there the fountain had been turned off due to some event taking place at the base of the monument, but it was still a pleasure to be able to enjoy this slice of history for a few hours.

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Soon, Paulo and I were back on the bus for home. It had been a interesting and educational morning and I wish we had had more time to explore other parts of the city but was glad to have been able to do this.

If you are ever in Mexico City and enjoy learning about history and culture – I definitely recommend the MRM, as the locals call it, be on your list. You won’t be disappointed.

DETAILS:

Elevator to Panoramic Observation Deck: 50 MEX, 30 MEX with student ID.

REvoluciónArte (art galleries, wax figures, summit, and observation deck access): 110 MEX, 90 MEX with student ID.

Information Brochure: 20 MEX

Gift Shop and Cafe on premises

 

Happy travels!

-Wandering Minstrelette

 

Continue reading El Monumento a la Revolución

Wedding Day Perfection

I really need to be better about punctual writing…

 

The March 13th could not have been more perfect.

I woke up rested and was able to take a nice, warm shower. A gift after the previous day’s dab-and-dash. There was little for me to do, so I took my good sweet time doing my hair and makeup and even after that I found myself twiddling my thumbs. Paulo, too, had nothing to occupy his time until his friends came to pick him up, so I was able to ask him to give me an impromptu violin lesson. I proudly showed my ability to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” but was quite lost after that. String instruments are pretty confusing to me, a flute player. Especially vibrato – how does one even make one’s hand move that way?

Anyways, Paulo’s friends soon came and picked him up to go to the wedding venue in the Mexico City suburb of Naucalpan, leaving me to once again twiddle my thumbs. Christina, her mother, and the bridesmaids had all spent the night in hotels closer to the venue to allow for early morning preparation. Paulo, who was one of the musicians, was to arrive later. I was to come with Christina’s father and grandparents, just before the ceremony started. When the time came, I quickly threw on my dress and shoes and together we were off to the event for which I and many others had come.

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The gate of Quinta Corregidor opened to welcome us into a beautifully manicured garden scene, complete with lawn umbrellas, comfy chairs, and Mexican style furniture. The “first look” had already happened, and we passed as Christina and Fernando were posing in an older, attractive looking car. A valet took the vehicle and I quickly found all the bridesmaids, whose dresses I nearly matched (honorary bridesmaid status – woo!). They were all GORGEOUS. Christina was GORGEOUS. The whole venue was, you guessed it, GORGEOUS.

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The ceremony would take place in a grove-like area – enclosed by trees and brush, covered by a white textured canopy, and lined in faux grass that looked and felt real.

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There was plenty of time to schmooze and take pictures before the actual ceremony began, when the guests had been requested to not attempt to photograph there ceremony with their phones in order to enable the professional photographers to do their job properly. I took what I could before the ceremony, admiring how simple and beautiful (and Pinteresty) everything looked. I’ll post some pictures here, but you can find some of my other favorites on my Instagram account: @wanderingminstrelette.

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Soon, the ceremony began – Christina has always been a punctual person – and as the bridal party filed in, the emotions started to well up inside me. I was so happy and blessed to be here for Christina, who had gone through so much with me and encouraged me throughout our college years. From seeing Fernando’s face as he awaited her turn down the aisle, I knew that she had found herself a man that truly loved and appreciated her, that together they would be so much more wonderful than apart and that theirs was a commitment that would last their whole lives.

The music began, not the traditional bridal march – we musicians are too picky to have overdone wedding music, and there she was, arm-in-arm with her father. Christina was glowing, radiant with joy. For that one moment, I disobeyed the photographers’ request and stealthily brought out my phone to snap a picture of this triumphant entry. I’m so glad I did.

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The whole ceremony, like the weather, was perfect. I snuck my phone out one more time and managed, without really trying, to get the much sought-after kiss shot.

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The beauty of the ceremony was challenged only by that of the reception hall. A covered area with a similar canopy, the open air “room” was daintily embellished with Mexican-style, yet sleek and modern, furniture and decorations.

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Then there was the food – oh my goodness, the food was amazing. The couple really outdid themselves in selecting the menu.

I have to admit that this was one of the first weddings, Adventist or otherwise, where I never felt bored. Perhaps it was because of the people I was seated with or the fact that the karaoke (instead of dancing) kept us all entertained or that the reception didn’t last until all hours of the night, allowing guests to leave wanting more rather than wishing for less.

Too soon, it seemed that this treasure of a day was over, months of planning gone in an instant, like the sparklers with which we sent off the couple into the warm, welcoming night. The present would now become cherished memories that all who attended will hold dear in their hearts.

Truly, it was a perfect day for this beautiful couple. I can only hope and pray for as perfect of a life for them ahead, where their relationship grows with each day and their commitment to each other delves deeper and stronger.

Christina and Fernando – ¡Felicidades! and many blessings. May God use you both for His glory, and may you always honor Him.

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-Wandering Minstrelette

 

 

 

Of Flights, Castles, and a Wedding Rehearsal

My flight to Mexico City was a little bumpy from turbulence, but such a blessing. I was placed by a young women named Edan who was traveling with her mother Ena to Mexico to celebrate her high school graduation. We started chatting soon after sitting next to each other and spoke for almost the entirety of the flight, although we did see The Incredibles at one point.

It was just amazing to me how much we had in common. We were both into the arts, both into travel, both vegetarians, and both lovers of Disney/Pixar, among other things. The whole flight was just so much fun because of our conversation – I even forgot about the book I had brought until just before we landed. I thank God for the chance to interact with wonderful people like Edan and Ena.


We arrived a few minutes early, which allowed me to get my bearings and exchange money before being picked up by Paulo, Christina’s brother, and Arturo, her father. All our faces cracked wide open in smiles as we greeted one another – it has been too long.

I was taken to an apartment where all the bridesmaids were staying, along with Christina, the bride. It was so amazing to see some of these people again. My heart was filled with happiness.

The joy continued in the morning. Well, first I had to fight with a freezing shower that had no water pressure in order to get ready for church, but after that I was able to have real happiness. A gorgeous mango was my breakfast. Church was nice and the fellowship after was even better.


 I don’t normally eat out on Sabbath, but today was an exception because plans changed last minute. Christina, Paulo, Sheila, Peter, and I went to an amazing restaurant named La Poblanita that serves traditional style dishes from the state of Pueblo and other authentic Mexican dishes. I was able to try a cactus taco and some extremely well done veggie fajitas – cooked unlike anything I had ever eaten in the states. Even the dessert was unique and amazing. What a meal… And it was enhanced with some live music – such a great.


 After lunch we changed clothes and went off, minus Paulo, to Chapultapec to explore the city and the castle. Sadly, the entrance to the castle was closed by the time we arrived… I had been up there before and would have liked to enjoy the beautiful view again, but poor Sheila had never visited. It was a shame, really, and we hope to catch it on Monday morning before she returns to the States.
After relaxing a bit, we made our way to the wedding rehearsal. Suddenly everything became very clear to me – Christina is getting married tomorrow. I’ve already had a couple of close friends get married and it’s still a little weird but I am always happy for them.


I took on the role of photographer during the rehearsal and hopefully got some good shots. I know Christina and her soon-to-be husband will appreciate having those pictures.

Early in the morning, Christina and the girls are leaving for the wedding venue to prepare for the main event. I’ll be arriving a little later than everyone else, but I’ll be sure to post picture later.

Look back tomorrow (or later today) for some great pictures.
– Wandering Minstrelette

México Amoroso

I’m traveling again! 

God has blessed me with the ability to travel to many parts of the world. Even more so, He has blessed me with friends wherever I go whom I cherish. 

Christina is one of those friends. We met in college and after she graduated, she returned to her hometown of Mexico City. We haven’t seen each other since, so when I found out she was getting married I knew I needed to attend to support and celebrate with her. What’s more, several other friends whom I haven’t seen is ages are making their way as well – it’ll be a reunion of the best kind!

Finances worked out and plans were made several months ago, bags were packed last night, which brings me to the present: sitting in the terminal, waiting to depart. 

   
 It’s been four years since I’ve seen Christina, six since I’ve been to Mexico – I’m ready and looking forward to an adventure. 

Next stop: Mexico City!
TRIP DETAILS

Destination: Mexico City

Airline: United

Duration: 3 full days, plus travel days 

Luggage: 28L day pack and carry on suitcase