Mar 12, 2015


2005  ………. ….Elena Ten Years Apart……….. 2015 

This week I had to apply for a passport renewal, 10 years have passed since the last renewal in May 2005.  The process is fairly simple, you complete the form on line, print, and then mail to a PO BOX in Philadelphia.  I paid for the expedited service, otherwise the time to complete can be up to 8 weeks.  

Going to the US post office to mail was the most time consuming aspect of the renewal. One day I am going to share updates about my experiences at the Buford Hwy US Post Office. Always a story, always some conflict, always diversity at its best and worst, and always a "in-your face" reminder that the Post Office is a US government run institution, with inherent challenges and opportunities. 

My passport photo was taken at CVS Pharmacy, right next to the refrigerator section where they sell milk and orange juice. Prior to the CVS person cropping the photo, you could actually see a bottle of Tropicana Orange Juice behind my left shoulder.  

I looked at these photos side by side, some of the things that will never change about me, my head tilts ever so slightly most anytime I take a picture.  The pearl earnings, for sure an Elena staple. And little or no make-up. It's who I am.  

TEN YEARS, what was happening in my life in 2005.  My Father had been deceased for two years. I was in the midst of my time off from work when I left Cox to complete MFA with Queens University in Charlotte.  Morgan came into our lives that year. I lost my mind and fell in love with a puppy who was beautiful, stubborn, willful and so full of love.  May 2005, Morgan actually had heart surgery at GVS in Atlanta to correct a PDA Heart Murmur.  Basically her heart did not complete forming at birth, she had a tiny hole that overtime would have caused her heart to enlarge.  

Morgan Sofia 

The joys that this little girl has brought into my life along with her sister Maddie, amazing and incredible. Me who was extremely afraid of dogs, and with some dogs, the fear is still very real. 10 years of Maddie and Morgan have been a blessing.  

My travels in those ten years, Panama, Panama, Panama. Peru and Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. Ghana, six times since 2011.  And short trips to Florida, California, Texas, and New York. Laguna Beach, Austin, Miami, Los Angeles and Brooklyn. And the Arosemena family cruise on the Granduer of the Seas, sailing out of Panama. We visited the Western Caribbean. 

"Anne"  Tatto in Austin - 

I love to travel. And not the logistics, not the airports, or the airplanes, or the rental cars and hotels. What I love is the anticipation, the planning, the considerations of not knowing, of being sure and then unsure of what will happen, when ? I love the humanity of travel, of learning and being reminded over and over that we are all collectively citizens of the planet EARTH, that we all smile, that we all at some point get hungry, that we all want and need human connections.  

The little boy in Cuzco, Peru. I still remember him like it was yesterday. I am including the post from that day. Señora, Make time for Me ~

Mark / Marco 

The family cruise out of the port of Colon in Panama. That was my first cruise and it was fun, relaxing and a great way to spend time with family.  Everyone did what they wanted during the day, and then we all met at dinner and compared notes. During that particular cruise, since the trip started and ended in Panama, out of 1800 passengers, about 1720 were Latinos.  Let's just say the party got started before the ship left port and never stopped.  

The night of the Captain's Dinner ~ Elena, JoAnn, Cindy 

Buenos Aires, my 2nd trip back with Cindy and Charlotte.  Visiting Iguazu Falls was the closest I've even been to the gates of Heaven. The main water falls are magnificent, powerful, daunting, refreshing, you can't believe your eyes, the display of nature is so grand and engulfing it stays with you. I could see, feel, taste, and inhale beauty at the falls.  And the city of Buenos Aires, awesome ! I recommend BA for sure. Best Italian food I've ever had. I would like to go back and stay for a couple of months.  Need to check out the Airbnb lodgings. 

Daily "Decorated Coffee" at the Loi Suites in Recoletta 

Cool US cities that I enjoyed because of their art, their outdoor spaces, their non-cookie cutter personalities: Key West, Laguna Beach, Miami, Austin, Brooklyn, & Savannah. 

Key West 

San Blas is probably one of my favorite places in the world. Tiny islands, beautiful ocean and not very many people.  The Kuna Indians are staying true to their customs and way of living, well mostly.  I hope to visit this year. My cousin, Danny, offered to take me camping for 2 nights to one of the islands.  

San Blas in Panama 

And then there is Ghana. A country I never planned to visit. And certainly my experiences there since 2011, have changed my perspective on many many things in life. And for the better. I've learned so much about the human spirit, about children, about love and grace. My random Google search for recycled glass bead bracelets back in May of 2011, was not random at all. What a blessing, what a  multitude of blessings those children have been in my life. I think of them and miss them everyday. 

Sharing stories in Ayikumah, Ghana 

I'm appreciative for all the experiences I've had traveling. 

I have a few more places I'd like to go that I've not been to. If I don't get to these places, as I like to say, "there is always the National Geographic videos." 

I am looking forward to the next ten years, one day at a time.  

By Jo Jo La Rue