The Friday Fiesta: An Odyssey, An Artist, Manners, and the Radio

dog and globeAs a fiction author I love to weave  unique cultural gems into the plot. Most of the time I draw on my own world travels and experiences living in Mexico and Central America.

In these Friday Fiesta posts I highlight cultural stories worth celebrating. The unique, the odd, the thought-provoking. Enjoy and share to make the world a little smaller today.

His Odyssey Expedition

Daily Telegraph reporter Graham Hughes started 1 January 2009 on a trip that would take him around the world without any airplane travel. After 1,426 days on the road and more than 200 countries across six continents, Hughes wrote this fabulous wrap-up in which he said: “I undertook this challenge for many reasons: to set a Guinness World Record, to raise money for the charity WaterAid, to have great stories to tell the grandchildren. But the main reason was that I wanted to prove it was possible: to show that all the great travel adventures have not already been done; to show that the world isn’t the terrible scary place so often portrayed in the media; to show that, yes, with a British passport, a fistful of dollars and the right amount of tenacity, grit and patience you can – if you really want to – go anywhere.” Hughes’ determination, accomplishment and the resulting article are all terrific.

 In the Tradition of Art Saving Wildlife

Following in the tradition of the Audobon Society and the World Wildlife Fund, both rooted in work by noted wildlife artists, California artist David Tomb has started a conservation effort called Jeepney Projects Worldwide to save endangered birds including the great Philippine eagle. A Huffpost article quoted him as saying: “Making artwork of the birds is a way to connect and personalize my experience of seeing the birds . . . The ultimate goal is to have people think: ‘That animal is incredible.'” Tomb’s artwork, included in the article, is also incredible and worth a look, if for no other reason that the Philippine eagle, weighing in around 18 lbs., is an arresting and unique creature.

 Asian Etiquette

Did you know that religious views play a role in good manners in Asia? The website backyardtravel.com, devoted to Asian travel, writes “The sole of the foot is considered such a dirty thing that it is even seen as an aggressive, rude gesture in Thailand to show someone the sole of the foot – similar to ‘flipping the bird’ in the USA, or ‘putting two fingers up’ in the UK. Continuing the theme on feet, shoes must also be removed when entering someone’s house in Asia, and in Thailand never, ever stand on anything with an image of the King on, like money or postage stamps for example.” This short and useful article gives other good tips for showing good manners when travelling in Asia. Related to this is my Rude in Any Culture post, with a similar foot warning.

Salaryless Radio Host in Peru Still Going Strong

Peruvian radio host Maruja Venegas has been on the air for 68 years, making her the longest-running radio host ever, according to Guinness World Records. Venegas is 97 and her fans are still listening to her show “Radio Club Infantil” which airs Sundays at 6-6:30 pm on Santa Rosa, a religion-oriented station. The show, which started in 1944 as a broadcast for sick children, has expanded and contracted over the years—impacted by Peru’s political and economic circumstances. Venegas, who has never been paid for the show, is her own producer and has got her formula down; the show now always includes a story, music, advice and commentary. The story is a salute to tenacity and for doing something you love and think is important enough to do, regardless of the reward.

The Friday Fiesta: Turkish Delight, Brit Food, Art and Drink

As a fiction author I love to weave  unique cultural gems into the plot. Most of the time I draw on my own world travels and experiences living in Mexico and Central America.

In these Friday Fiesta posts I highlight cultural stories worth celebrating. The unique, the odd, the thought-provoking. Enjoy and share to make the world a little smaller today.

Not Everybody’s Eating This Turkish Delight

Muhtesem Yuzyil, or Magnificent Century, is either a blasphemous mess or a cultural revolution, depending which side of the television the viewer is on. Magnificent Century is a primetime soap opera about Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem, the slave who became his powerful wife, set in the mid 1500’s with the same production values and historical punch of the BBC’s Henry VII series The Tudors. The show debuted in January 2011 and immediately elicited 70,000 (!!) complaints, including from Turkey’s prime minister, according to the online edition of The Guardian newspaper.

WeBlogtheWorld.com picked up the story this week, noting that the show sparks both controversy and huge audiences (a recent episode was watched by 85 million viewers in 45 countries including half of all Muslim women over the age of 15)  because “the show presents women as equal to men. There are scenes of kissing, drinking and sex that are formerly unheard of on Middle Eastern television, and, in the case of Magnificent Century, a Muslim leader famous for his religious tolerance and ability to work with people of other faiths.” Popularity and controversy = cultural change? Yikes. Stay tuned.

Surprising British Food

I’ve spent a lot of time in London and generally avoided restaurants with traditional Brit fare (except for Fortnum and Mason, of course) because Brit food is doughy, tasteless, and unchanged since the Battle of Trafalgar.

But matadornights.com is convincing me I’m wrong with a great story entitled “Why British food isn’t as bad as you think.” The post lists the best Brit food, including fish and chips, bangers and mash, chicken tikka masala, Yorkshire pudding AND tells you where the best can be found. With pictures! That actually look good!

The Middle Eastern Art Scene

Abu Dhabi leads the arts and cultural preservation scene in the Middle East and thenational.com does a great job of tracking developments. The website recently ran journalist Jessica Holland’s guide to buying Middle Eastern art. Holland advises collectors to look for a story related to the artwork and understand how the value will be impacted by the country the artist is from. Trending now: art by Syrian and Egyptian artists. Nice to know there’s more going on in the region besides what’s on CNN.

Drinking Advent

I love advent calendars. Remember the bit from the BBC show The Vicar of Dibley with Dawn French?

Geraldine: How many chocolate advent calendars should a greedy person have?

Alice: I don’t know. I should think about 30.

But societeperrier.com’s Cocktail Culture has something even better than chocolate. The ultimate in advent calendars is the Whiskey Advent Calendar! A dram of single malt for each day. One season, two religious experiences.

© 2016 Carmen Amato.

Hello

I’m author Carmen Amato. I write romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Expect risk, power, corruption. And relationships with heat.  More

The Hidden Lovers of San Miguel

The Hidden Lovers of San Miguel

In the political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY, Luz and Eddo briefly escape a political scheme to buy the Mexican presidency with drug money, and spend time away from the world in the lovely Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende.  A 4-hour drive northwest of Mexico City, San Miguel is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its creative atmosphere.  The historic streets are lined with shops full of Mexico’s best handicrafts and artwork, the architecture is a wonderful mix of European inspiration and Mexican flare, and it is home to the annual San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival.

Related: Read HIDDEN LIGHT’S First 2 Chapters

Creative mecca

The conference website says it all: The cradle of Mexican Independence, San Miguel de Allende has long been a mecca for social creatives – writers, painters, musicians, poets, philosophers, liberation theology clergy. Maybe it’s the crisp mountain air. Maybe it’s the thermal pools infused with natural lithium. Maybe it’s the Dalai Lama’s blessing. Maybe it’s you.

Several years ago our family joined two others for a wonderful and memorable trip to the city.

We stayed at a “villa,” which was really a long, low house near a hotel. Perfect for a group as big as ours, the location was secluded yet within walking distance of the hotel where we went for breakfast. There was a big field in front where the kids ran around with toys we bought in the square called El Jardin: balls on a string outfitted with long flashing streamers.

The villa and the field would create a pivotal setting for the novel. Two people from opposite ends of the social spectrum in Mexico–and it is an unforgiving fact of life there–in a place where no one knows them.

No one knows who they are or what they have been through.

No one to approve or disapprove of what they want.

Photo journal

I was experimenting with art and photography at the time, and the resulting pictures inspired the trip that Luz and Eddo take in the book.

Antique lanterns in San Miguel de Allende

 

View of La Parroquia from the villa

 

El Jardin

El Jardin bustling with people and energy

 

The cathedral of La Parroquia

 

The front entrance of San Miguel’s famous cathedral, thought to be designed by a local stoneworker after seeing pictures of European cathedrals

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CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Carmen Amato at Spring Hill

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