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Me Llamo Mariana Cañedo

Me Llamo Mariana Cañedo

“Did you know that Mayan Indians have crooked fingers?” my grandmother asks as she rubs my oddly shaped adolescent pinky. “It’s true,” she says as I wince and look at her quizzically. “Your grandfather was born in Mexico, so you never know. You could be an Indian princess.” She gives a quick laugh that ends in her characteristic snort. My Midwestern grandmother has a penchant for coming up with all sorts of interesting, random, tidbits of information. “Don’t cha know,” she says, “one day you’ll go to Mexico and find out for yourself.”

***

Going to San Miguel de Allende is a calling. The city has been tucked away in a cobblestoned corner of my imagination for twenty-five years. Mary Morris’s courageous chronicle, Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, put it there. Her soul-baring tale of living in San Miguel, 6,400 feet high in the Sierra Madre of central Mexico, captured my heart and gave me even more courage than I already had to travel alone. And now, I’m finally here, lucky girl that I am, on my own for a weeklong writer’s conference.

The place is everything I’d pictured, painted in vivid, brilliant color: greens, and golds; mango, mustard, and lemon; and of course, every shade of red imaginable — burgundy, cayenne, paprika and raspberry. Ceramic pots filled white, purple, and blue blossoms set off the pueblo colors. Brimming with boisterous gardens and with a temperate, year-round climate of brisk mornings, warm afternoons, and cool evenings, San Miguel is eternally spring. With more than 140,000 residents, it can certainly be labeled a city, but deeper down, at its heart, it’s a delightful, lively, village.

There are many places in the world others consider lovely, but leave me feeling cold. San Miguel, on the other hand, embraced me the moment I arrived. I feel I belong here, with these people of my tribes. During the day, I commune with writers of every ilk — novelists, poets, essayists, playwrights, memoirists, and screenwriters. And when I escape into the long shadows and crystalline light of the late afternoon to wander narrow lanes between high, painted stucco walls and monumental wooden doorways, I’m at home among the locals. They look like my father and my grandfather before him. The men are short and the women shorter. Just like my Dad and just like me. I recognize my siblings’ body types in those of the flower vendors and musicians on the square in front of the Parroquia church. The features set in their silky brown complexions — heavy-lidded eyes and full lips — are the very same features that look back at me and my easily tanned white skin in the mirror. These people are my ancestors, those in the sepia picture of my grandfather’s 1906 First Communion, his mother and his sister beside him, multiple aunts and cousins in the background. Yes, indeed, I feel at home here.

I stop for breakfast one morning on San Miguel’s central square. I choose a table in the shade, the breeze already warm. My mouth waters as a beautifully arranged platter of fresh fruit is set in front of me – mango, melon, banana, pineapple, and papaya, with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of granola. The waiter could be my brother with his sturdy Cañedo silhouette. My years of Spanish classes serve me well as he and I chat, even though I admit: “Comprendo mucho, pero hablo solamente un poquito (I understand a lot but I speak only a little).” Fruit juice drips from my chin and my thoughts drift to a what-if of my family tree. What if my Mexican grandfather and my American father after him, hadn’t both married Irish women, Mae Duffy and Mary Darby? I would likely look just like her, this woman who passes by in a hot pink dress and turquoise apron — traditional dress worn to help sell the handmade dolls and woven flowers spilling from baskets looped over her arms. My long, dirty blond hair, while still long and straight, would be lustrous and dark, just like hers. Mi hermana mexicana.

My new friend clears my empty plate and asks if I’d like more coffee. “No, gracias,” I answer and smile. It’s time to get back to my second tribe – my writing tribe — but I’m reluctant to leave this comfortable spot where it’s so easy to watch the world of San Miguel pass by. I pay la cuenta and leave a tip worthy of family.

“Hasta mañana?” he asks as I swing my bag over my shoulder. Will I see you tomorrow?

¡Claro que sí, señor, hasta mañana!” I step from behind my table, my crooked pinkie waving goodbye in the sunshine.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Seasons

sunflowers 2The calendar and the heat say it’s summer but the end is unmistakably near. Autumn is set to step in. It’s the vendange in the south of France – grape harvest time. Vines droop with the weight of fat, taut, juicy fruit, ready to be picked. The lavender is gone, the spiky, gray past-their-purple-luster plants trimmed to rows of tidy dull mounds in the dirt. Sunflowers – the few that remain – are brown and dry, bending with exhaustion to the ground; their round faces no longer speak their names. Orange nets are poised beneath wizened trees to catch olives ready to drop. Nature’s progression surrounds us as I walk among the vineyards, fields and sturdy stone farmhouses.

We’re back in the Luberon after six weeks of traveling south to Corsica, Sardinia and Italy’s Ligurian coastline. Physically, the landscape is transformed and emotionally, my world will no longer be the same. I lost my Dad while we were away. New days dawn. Seasons change. The world goes on without him. Life continued after my Mom died nine years ago and will continue now as then. But I no longer have my parents in my material world. Their love gave life to eleven children and twenty-nine grandchildren — the masterpieces of their lives.

 

grapes 2As the vines and flowers wither only to bear new fruit and blossoms in spring, so will my parents’ legacy go on. My siblings, our children, and our love for each other are testaments to my parents’ love. Summer, fall. Their lives will go on in ours. Winter, spring. We will share their love; we will make them proud.

Buy my book here: http://amzn.to/2iFti8H

 

 

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Posted by on September 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Healthcare à la Mode

Bonifacio

My worst travel nightmare has materialized: a throbbing toothache in a foreign country. From experience, I’m sure it’s a dead nerve and I need antibiotics tout de suite. After two days of downing pain relievers miles from a town of any size on Corsica, I know I must deal with this immediately. Certainly before boarding a ferry from France to Sardinia, Italy so the doctor and I can communicate. We arrive in Bonafacio, a striking city with a stout hilltop fortress and stunning white chalk cliffs on the southern tip of the island. France is famous for its red tape and I’m ready to tackle it with respect to healthcare.

We reserve the day until our late afternoon ferry for my emergency, knowing it could take some time. Close to tears from the ache, I tell our hotel desk clerk what’s wrong and ask if she can get me a medical appointment. She picks up the phone and dials the local doctor whose office is down at the port. “Yes, he is seeing walk-in patients this morning. Here’s his address and our shuttle will take you.”

We enter his bare bones, second-story walk-up office in a pastel 18th century building overlooking the sparkling harbor. I wait ten minutes until his current patient comes out and then in I go. All he asks is my name. No ID, no insurance paperwork, nothing else. I’m in need and he’s treating me. A couple questions, a quick look in my mouth, a few taps on my teeth, and he writes two prescriptions: one for an antibiotic and one for pain (a drug not available back home). Total damage: $33. We head to the pharmacy next door, shell out a whopping $16 for the meds, and we’re on our way. Less than an hour after my plaint at the hotel and just shy of $50 for an impromptu doctor’s consult and the cure for my pain. I pop the pills and by the time we board the ferry hours later, my jaw is no longer on fire.

I can only imagine how long visitors to the US would wait, what documents they would be required to provide, and how much they would pay for the same treatment. Red tape and unconscionable fees in France? Not when it comes to healthcare.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Boomer Cafe Essay

Baby boomer celebrates turning 60 with adventure

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Interviewed by the Boom Sex Doctors

This might be my most unusual interview venue. It was fun!
Ep. 115: Marianne Bohr on the power of travel – The Boom Doctors
http://theboomdoctors.com/2016/04/23/ep-115-marianne-bohr-on-the-power-of-travel-the-boom-doctors/

AIRDATE: 5/9

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Travelers’ Tales Awards

I’m so, so excited! Just heard from Travelers’ Tales that my writing won 3 awards — each was an essay adapted from my book. So rewarding to get some validation that I should continue to write…
Here’s the beginning of the press release my publicist sent out:
 
BETHESDA, MD, March 5, 2016 — Marianne C. Bohr has won honors in three categories of the Tenth Annual Solas Awards. Awards were just announced by the contest sponsor and travel writing publisher, Travelers’ Tales. More than 200 entries in 21 categories competed to win in this year’s contest, honoring excellence in travel writing. Bohr won awards for three travel stories.
 
“A Wide-Eyed Schoolgirl” won a Silver Award in the Travel and Transformation category for the best story about the inner journey or pilgrimage.
 
“The Tour du Mont Blanc” won a Silver Award in the Travel and Sports category for her account of a seven-day, 105-mile hike on the famous trek along Mont Blanc Massif.
 
“The Marrakesh Express” won Honorable Mention for a story about traveling Morocco by train.
 
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Posted by on March 5, 2016 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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One More Page Event

To all my friends in Northern Virginia:  I’d love to see you at my book talk at One More Page Bookstore in Arlington on Thursday, January 28 at 7pm! Please see the link below for details…

http://fcnp.com/2016/01/19/marianne-bohr-speaks-at-one-more-page-books/

 

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in book event, Uncategorized

 

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