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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keeping Busy & Healthy

Aloha Everyone,

We are halfway through of our 14-days self quarantine. But with the Los Angeles County residents urge to stay home, this virtual lock down could remain in place without any foreseeable deadline.

My daily routines has been modified. I prepare healthy breakfast for the two of us.

My walking route is confined to our residence hotel’s parking lot to avoid meeting other walkers or runners. Blue sky, the sunshine and colorful plants all contributes to uplifting my spirit.

My outdoor time is when I do walking meditation and practice mindfulness.

Hope your days are going well.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Motecuhzoma II Opera

Aloha Everyone,

Motecuhzoma II is a three acts opera  composed by Antonio Vivaldi. The first performance was in Venice at the Teatro Sant’Angelo in November 14, 1733. Then until 2002, the music was thought to be lost.

To mark the 500th anniversary of the first historical encounter of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés snd Aztec emperor Montezuma, the opera was performed in the Zocalo in Mexico City on November 8, 2019.

This masterpiece performance consisted of the Philharmonic Orchestra of México City, with the participation of Yodoquinsi group, 15 dancers and 6 soloists.

It was an impressive presentation, from the performers to choreographers, costumes and set designers, their talents collectively culminating in a memorable production. While there was Spanish subtitles, the acts sang in Mayan in Classical Nahuatl lost me completely. The subtitles were too small for me to read on my iPhone and vocalists and dancers movements on stage dominated my focus and concentration.

However to summarize, I LOVED it!!! I would like to thank Vita, who sent me the YouTube link below. Her son-in-law was involved in the photographic visuals to complement the performers on stage.
Please allocate two hours to watch:

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Upside of Social Distancing

Aloha Everyone,

I was in a quandary whether to title today’s blog as Upside or Lockdown of Social Distancing. I settled on the former as it is kinder and gentler. After all we don’t need to add more stress.

Cleaner air: Gordon, in Hawaii wrote and asked if the photo I sent of J.J. moving into our residential hotel was taken in Orange County or San Diego.  Gordon thought the sky is too blue to be LA.  All over the world, major cities are reporting dramatic improvement of air quality.  

Cleaning and simplifying:  Niké in Italy is cleaning her Atelier which she admits has been long overdue. She is also able to spend more time with her granddaughter and enjoy her daughter, Flavia’s professional cooking. Joy in the Philippines says she is simplifying her life starting with getting rid of some of her Knick-knacks. Joy is also allocating her time to write journals. Other friends are also spending their time wisely.

Our son and granddaughter included me in their music practice via FaceTime audio. My walking steps are lighter especially listening to their duet. Jeff, our younger son and I walk together, he in his neighborhood in Hawaii and me in the parking lot of our hotel, as we each encourage each other to keep it up!

Thank goodness to the internet age, J.J. and I have access to vast information including classic books, operas, Broadway musicals, world class ballet and symphony to keep us educated and entertained.

We are connecting with our friends scattered around the world, definitely more frequent than ordinary times. Cousin Cory forwarded to us below.  Enjoy Social Distancing!

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Excellent Articles on Past Pandemics

Aloha Everyone,

Our telephone conversations with family and friends center around the COVID-19 pandemic. Most seems to be following the news with fascinated attention. Microbiologist, virologist, immunologist, biotechnologist, we are inundated with highly trained medical professionals giving their view points on television.

So as a non-medical individual how does one sort out so much data and information? Does one really care who among the basketball players or entertainers have positive COVID-19 test?

What we’ve learned from past pandemics, March 17, 2020 by Tim McDonell, Climate Reporter. He gives interesting anecdotes on Shakespeare (1590) and Sir Issac Newton (1665) during pandemics.

Quarantine comes from the Italian “quarantina” translated as 40 days.

Tom Mockaitis’ article is titled, What we can learn from past pandemics. He is a professor of History at DePaul University and teaches World Civilizations.

These articles, I believe, are based on historical facts and may alleviate fear, misinformation and exaggerations dispersed by some in the media.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 23, 2020

14-Days Self Quarantine

Aloha Everyone,

Honu’s engine responded promptly to J.J.’s ignition start. We are happy being united with Honu. To give us semi independence during our 14-days CDC required self quarantine, we transferred to a hotel residence facility with kitchenette.

We stopped at two supermarkets to purchase fresh produce and non-perishable which should last us for about a week. I must say that shopping today was far different from the one we made prior to our trip to Greece. Ralph’s Supermarket had about 20 people standing close to each other waiting to get inside. We decided to bypass. Smart&Final Supermarket had no line. We walked into the store whose shelves were bare or had notices posted with limitations on how many items customers can purchase. The third supermarket, Nijiya specializes in Japanese food items. There customers lined in orderly fashion giving 6 feet space and we joined the line. Overall, it was a successful shopping trip wearing our face masks and me with gloved hands while J.J. liberally using hand sanitizer.

This facility we are staying provides basic kitchenware as part of the service. WIFi works well and from our 2nd floor room, we have a street view shaded by large trees. While the rules permit outdoor walking exercise, I can also get 12 large steps one way across our room. This will permit me to maintain my daily exercise.

J.J. and I will be fine.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 22, 2020

First Day Back in the USA

Aloha Everyone,

We have an extra spacious room with an air purifier (extra charge) at the Embassy Suites LAX. Our breakfast was a takeaway lunch box and help yourself coffee from dispensers. One could conjure a scene from a movie where prisoners line up to pick up their meal. A stark difference from our last breakfast in Greece.

California is under lock down. We are permitted to go out to get food. Unfortunately, this area of LAX comprises of high rise national chain hotels and no grocery or convenience stores. J.J. and I walked to a nearby Starbucks to purchase bottled water. Next door was a sandwich shop for our lunch and dinner.

My sister offered us to stay at her home for the 14-days quarantine period. We truly appreciate her offer, but COVID-19 virus can be airborne and live also on wood, plastic and metal surfaces for several days. We don’t want to unknowingly transmit it to her, to my Mother and the rest of the family.

Our decision is to pick up Honu tomorrow then transfer to another hotel with a kitchenette where we will remain to complete our 14-days self quarantine.

Good news is that our 2nd luggage was delivered by Air France to our hotel.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Returned to California

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I mutually experienced an unspoken sadness before leaving Athens. During the 15 days of our stay,  Greece and the world changed forever. The COVID-19 pandemic emptied the streets. We couldn’t even find beggars to give our change. They too had fled the city.

Armed with masks and rubber gloves, the two of us left our hotel with air hugs to the staff who asked us to return when this is all over.

During the last 10 years, Greece had undergone economic hardships. The modern freeway, stadiums and the airport that were built for the 2004 Olympic using international loans have yet to be paid. They are sore reminders that the country has not yet recovered.

Paris, our driver, offered to take the coastline route to the airport. He said it’s more scenic. But our mind was to leave Athens with minimal disruptions.

Smooth processing at the airport. Our flight to París traversed over the Swiss Alps. After walking for about 2 miles at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, we boarded our plane to LAX. 

Entry procedures at LAX were handled efficiently. Health check, immigration and customs, we were all processed speedily and cordially. The only hitch was that one of our two bag was not loaded in Athens. It was past midnight when we arrived at our hotel. J.J. and I decided to try to get some sleep, grateful that we are back on American soil.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 20, 2020

Final Full Day in Athens

Aloha Everyone,

British Airways was non-responsive, but J.J. was successful in purchasing one way tickets to Los Angeles on Air France.

Usual congregation of taxi drivers seen from our hotel breakfast window were no longer there. Tables in the hotel dining room were empty except for three including ours.

Happiness is finding that the laundry service was open. They did an express service. We paid €22 or $25.30 for 12.5 lbs of clothes. Yes, we pay by the weight rather than by the piece.

For our final blog from Athens, I made a selection of historical  places including “Temple of Olympian Zeus”, “Athens War Museum,” “Hadrian’s Library” other scenes of ordinary and extraordinary places we were able to visit.

And finally, some of the outstanding dishes and Greek desserts the two of us delighted in.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Hotel Closures

Aloha Everyone,

The latest news is that the government is shutting down all hotels in Greece until end of April. Three of the hotels in Athens and in a couple of other major cities are supposed to remain open. Our hotel, Best Western Plus Amazon in Plaka will close effective Monday March 23. J.J. is looking for a flight out.  

Today we walked to the Acropolis and enjoyed the Ancient Agora where democracy was founded. Greece, the place for the birth of western civilization, gives us chills to see how this pandemic will alter the world we know. Greeks are generally happy people. We heard the sound of music coming from behind closed doors in the residential areas.

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, our situation reminds me of the 1942 American film classic, Casablanca. Those of us who can are making all efforts in trying to leave for home.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

χαρούμενα γενέθλια J.J.!

Aloha Everyone,
Happy Birthday J.J.!
We have moved to the Penthouse unit in our hotel. The room became available for 3 days after a cancellation. When J.J. and I saw the spectacular view of the Acropolis, with a huge discount at less than $100 a day, the two of us without hesitation said, “Yes, we’ll take it.”

Every birthday is special, but I think J.J. and I will always remember this year in Athens.

Restaurants and cafes are all closed. Only takeaway places are open. So our breakfast at the hotel for now is the most complete meal.

Lunch today was Greek pie — J.J. had a ham & cheese (round) and my triangle one is Feta cheese.

For dinner, we brought back BBQ meat plus Baklava in lieu of a cake!

With our boys, using Skype video, calling to wish J.J. a Happy Birthday, it was indeed an unforgettable and wonderful day!

Aloha -- Cathi