Belvedere Colors

Posted in Trips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Awesome Québec: La Fête de la Nouvelle-France

After living several years in Paris, I was in the believe that the opinion that the French had about Quebec was exaggerated.

I thought that their pride that a part of Canada continues to maintain the French language and culture was only due to their characteristic feeling of “grandeur”. But I must admit that they are right. In Québec we had the opportunity to talk with the charming “québécois” and realize that actually the use of French (with their own accent) predominates over English. His passion for France and its French origins is striking. You can experience aromas and memories of France in its restaurants, shops, streets, … Nothing to do with the feelings of Americans toward Britain or Hispanic-Americans to Spain, where in many cases, of course not all, there is more criticism that identity.

[Youtube =

We arrived in Quebec on August 4. We found the Festival of New France that would last until Sunday 8. Suddenly we were immersed in the local life of the seventeenth century. For four days Quebecers celebrate the arrival of the first French to North America and the creation of the city in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

The historic district of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage, is full of people dressed in costumes of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, walking with pride for their wonderful Ville: on the rue du Petit Champlain, the rue du Trésor, Place Royale, he Vieux Port …

Vive la Nouvelle France!

Posted in Society, Trips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Same-gender marriage: a good defense

In December 2009, Diane J. Savino, Senator District 23 in the State of New York made a brilliant speech in defense of same-gender marriage. Unfortunately, the law was not approved. But it is really a pleasure listening to the Senator because his speech is not based on political party ideas or just slogans, but on true believes. She has good communications skills.

To see the contrast, in the second video, you can see the defense of the same law in the Spanish parlament by another young woman, Carmen Bunch of PSOE. There is a clear difference: We have a long way to go in communication skills … and content.

[Youtube =

And now in Spain:

[Youtube =

Posted in Society | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wampanoag: People of the First Light

Wampanoag means “People of the Lands of the East” or “People of the first light.” The Wampanoag are part of the land, and the land part of them for more than 12,000 years. They are one of several indigenous peoples and nations of the south coast of today’s  New England.

They are part of the “First people” or “Native”. They reject the term “American Indians” as the Indian name was given by European explorers in search of the Indies. This country was already populated by natives long before it was called America.

As the Maori of New Zealand, the Arctic Inuit, aboriginal people of Australia, and many others, they are struggling to preserve their identity, their language, their culture and traditions.

Before 1616 these natives were about 50,000 spread over 67 villages in the Wampanoag territory. Devastating plagues brought by the Europeans, murder, slavery and warfare killed thousands. Today, about 5,000 live mainly in Massachusetts.

Plimoth Plantation, 3 miles south of Plymounth, Wampanoag natives, dressed in traditional costumes of 1600, break with all our preconceptions about the misnamed “American Indians” created by Hollywood and literature. Responding to our questions, they share their habits, show to us their homes or “wetu”, their relationship and respect for the land. Their culture has been transmitted orally from generation to generation. They tell the story of Hobbamock, an important warrior who was sent by the chief Massasoit to live near the English colonists in Patuxet (now Plymouth) to act as an ambassador, guide and interpreter. From the perspective of the XXI century, the Wampanoag today talk about their past and their present, how to have rescued its original language that was nearly extinct in the nineteenth century.

Since 1620, the relationship with the English colonists is relatively good; of respect in business relationships, agreements on military and social interactions. They are not friends but they know how to live together, something that will break later with the arrival of new English settlers.

The writings of the 1620 report that the settlers celebrated their first harvest in a special way and that the Wampanoag joined them. This event has been misinterpreted as the source and the first celebration of the American national holiday “Thanksgiving Day.” In fact, both cultures had separate traditions of thanksgiving that they had held previously. Therefore, in Plimoth Plantation, simply call this event “The harvest celebration of 1621.”

“Many people think that history and the past are the same thing. But that is not true. The past is what actually happened, it never changes. We should have lived in the past to know exactly what happened. History is what we think and write about the past, is constantly changing. The events that occurred in 1621 (the past) will never change, but what we think about that event (History) has been changing over time. “

Kathleen Curtis (Food Historian Plimoth Plantation)

Posted in Trips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The emotional blink

My husband was reading a book on sales techniques, “Question Based Selling” by Thomas Freese, where he found a reference to an emotional reflex unique to humans. In the book the author stresses the importance for marketers to understand and avoid it in order not to damage the relationship with their customers.

This made us think that this emotional reflection occurs not only in trade relations but can be found in any social relationship. Thomas Freese calls this reflection “mismatching”.

Everyone knows that if the hand is fast approaching someone’s face, the brain generates the blink reflex. It’s automatic, natural and inevitable. The reflex of mismatching is emotional, or rather, social, but almost as automatic as blinking.

There are different forms of disparity and not everybody is done with the same frequency and intensity. However, we can be found them in many familiar situations:

– If we say: “It’s too hot in Madrid!”. The chance that someone will correct us are high: “Oops! That’s not so hot! For heat … Seville” or “last year was much worse” or “I find the temperature very pleasant as there is moisture,” …

– In another statement like “I’m tired of traveling. I have four trips this month!” Someone could respond with “that’s nothing, I’ve had seven this month” or “do not complain, traveling is fine, the worst is to be locked in the office “or” … because this person, or the other, travel a lot too. “

– “I’m bad, I am realy cold …”, the answer: “My last flu was much worse “or” Somebody’s niece is even worse .. “

– If you call someone (usually professionally) and ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” Possibly the answer would be: “I am very busy now, call me later … I have only 30 seconds.” However, if we ask the question in the negative form, it is more likely that we get a positive response: “Is this a bad time?” and the likely response: “Do not worry, tell me …” or “I have little time but go ahead, what is it? ….”

There are hundreds of situations where we can find “mismatching”.

The mismatching is a way of showing disagreement. It is an instinctive and emotional behavior that provokes a response opposite to that expressed by the speaker. Although it may seem malicious, it is not. It is a reflex caused by the need we all have to provide value, to contribute to the conversation, to show intelligence, to participate no matter what. When someone asks us a statement or comment, if our response is just a “yes”, it does not show anything, we do not show that we also know the subject, that we have an opinion. Herein lies the problem: we all need to feel valued, to respond, to give the missing information to our interlocutor.We feel compelled, even to slightly change our opinion to avoid the zero value of our involvement. If you say: “Yes I agree” and nothing more, what have you added?: Zero.

People are natural mismatchers, but not out of disrespect towards others. Rather, it is because we are naturally insecure. But unfortunately, in many everyday situations, this reflects a feeling of confrontation, or at least lack of tact.

There are 4 main types of mismatching:

The Contradiction: It is simply expressing the opposite opinion. For example: “What a good whether “…. answer: “It is cold for me”; or “this restaurant is very good”…. answer: “to me, it is noisy and expensive”

The Unnecessary Clarification : It’s to debate a part (irrelevant) of the speaker’s statements. For example: “We cannot go to this hotel because they have only 10 beds and we will be 25” … answer: “We will not be 25, we will be only 23.” Unnecessary contributions to the problem addressed.

One-Upsmanship: You see this with kids playing in the school yard, trying to outdo each other. One person makes a statement and someone else jumps in trying to make an even bigger impact by saying, “The same thing happened to me, only worse”. You say: “During this holiday I have driven 2000 km.” Answer: “Well, I drove 2 years ago 3500. That was really terrible.”

The dreaded “I know”: This type of gap is caused by the inferiority people feels because not knowing something. Examples: “You do not have to use this form to enter the USA”, response: “I know” (although not the case). “Have you seen the new Facebook feature that allows you to …”,”I know it “, etc, etc, …

In conclusion, we should stop mismatching in our daily conversations. Although psychologists tell us that there is no intention to attack or offend, this creates a gap in our relationships.

Posted in Psycology | Tagged | Leave a comment


We left Kyoto and after making the train route, through small valleys and take a cable car in the final stretch, we reached a small plateau at the top of Mount Koya where the center of esoteric Buddhism is placed. This is where twelve centuries ago the priest Kukai (Kobo Daishi) founded the headquarters of the Shingon sect, a faith with numerous followers in Japan.

Kukai was born in the province of Sanuki (Kagawa). He was the third son of a Buddhist family. At 15 he went to Kyoto. Later, at the University where he studied the history and the Chinese classics. Discouraged by the formal education he was receiving, he decided to devote his time to prayer and study of esoteric Buddhism.

After 2 years in China, in 816, Kukai went to the mountain of Koya and began construction of a center of esoteric Buddhism.

Today Koyasan is a sacred area consists of numerous temples and pagodas that receive visitors and believers from around the world. In 2004 it was named UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of believers.

Koyasan is worth visiting and staying in one of his temples that offer Shukubo (accommodation).

Here time has stopped, we can enjoy the ancient traditions of Japanese religious life and forget the present. The monks invite you to participate in prayer and enjoy the food prepared vegetarian, shojin-ryori, served by the younger monks.

In most Shukubo only Japanese is spoken. However, Rengejo-in, in one of  is spoken. However, in Rengejo-in, one of the first templesyou can find when entering Koyasan, also English is spoken.

During dinner, the mother and widow of the former Master Monk and founder of the temple, sitting in Japanese way during the diner, narrates the fascinating history of Koyasan and Regenjo-in.Okuno-in is the cemetery-temple of Koyasan. Here Kobo Daishi is buried, people believe that he is not dead but merely resting in hisgrave until the arrival of Miroku (the future Buddha). From the eleventh century until today, the Japanese Buddhist lay hair or ashes 

of their deceased relatives near the tomb of Kobo Daishi to be near him when he wakes up in order to among the first when Kukai and Buddha return to the world.

After crossing the bridge Ichi-no-hashi you enter the cemeteryby a cobblestone road. Among the most interesting graves and monumentsthere is a monument to the White Ant built by a company of pesticides in repentance for the tiny insects killed. A spacecraft in honor of an astronaut, and of course the Toro-do that is the main building with the mausoleum of Kukai.

Posted in Trips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Summer Solstice in the Wachau Valley

Wachau Valley is in Lower Austria, about 100 km from Vienna, along the left bank of the Danube from Melk to Krems. UNESCO’s Heritage Site, we can find in Wachau many small towns with a clear vocation for wine, mostly white. Some weekends a year they organize days of tasting local wines, for a reasonable price. Is a great opportunity to visit the area and chat with the locals.

Around the summer solstice (always on Saturday night) they celebrate the arrival of summer with the endless light of torches decorating its hills of vineyards and dozens of bonfires on the shore River. They organized a series of cruises on the Danube in medium-sized vessels, which in the early hours of the night, still with some light, stretching back to the river for about 40 km while having dinner with typical food of the area.

When night falls, the descent begins and when the ships cross the villages, fireworks are organized in the major monuments (castles, churches). The vineyards overlooking the river are full of torches, what makes a very unique and bucolic image. In Durnstein, with the blue tower of the collegiate characteristic, we can see the old castle where  Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. A delicate line of torches lit the night, and the magic silhouette of the tower is covered by a cascade of fire and light.

In some ships, the local people dress in traditional costumes and celebrate the event.

In general the people of Wachau are friendly and eager to spend time with their neighbors and outsiders who come to know its nice villages and test their wines. It is not strange the general desire to organise parties after the long winters in these parts of central Europe. Normally by June, the summer has arrived in Austria, which is not the case in 2010, where that night rained hard and the temperature was closer to winter one.

Some more photos of the event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Society, Trips | Tagged , | Leave a comment