Washington DC – May 2019 – People of the World at the Embassy Open House Day

Once a year many of the embassies located in Washington have an open house, officially known as The Around the World Embassy Tour.




This was the event we went to Washington for, and it didn’t disappoint. On this busy Saturday the embassies were open from 10-4. We had selected 14 from over 50 that were open. In the end we visited 17, but only 6 that were on our original list – regardless it was a great time.

Easily the best part was meeting the people from around the world. Each embassy had a variety of people – artists, musicians, delegates, and just regular folks from their home country. In the Peru embassy we met the artist Mario Arcevedo Torero.





Our morning continued down the street at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, A recurring theme soon began that the smaller countries had the most lively groups.





At the Iraqi embassy we met this artist and his traditional (yet electrified) guitar.





India’s was so popular they took over the nearby street and had a concert, with the traditional dancers, as well as a drum circle.











The visit to Albania was great as well – really tasty free food, traditionally costumed people, and a free shot of alcohol at the end!





There were numerous people in their traditional dress.






Despite tasting our way through 7 countries we had lunch in Costa Rica. As with the others it was nice to taste the local foods.

While many had small tastes of food and drink, some had food lines set up for a nominal fee – it was well worth it.





The Dominican Republic was a lively place as well.





In addition to the dancers there were a number of craftsmen, including this chain saw artist who makes amazingly small items using a chain saw (and seemingly still has all his fingers).




The Korean Cultural Center featured dancers as well.




The second act we saw was a drum line. It is interesting that the cultures from around the world tend to use similar items for their entertainment – dance and drums.




The Haitian embassy featured an artist doing paintings on site.





Meanwhile over at Cote d’Ivoire the greeters wore traditional headdresses.





They also had a display of costumes.



This artist was proudly displaying her work – it was beautiful.





Ah Belize…. What a party….




Before you even entered the grounds you couldn’t help but feel the energy of the party.





People were dancing in front – people were dancing in back.




People from very different cultures were jamming out to the Belize party. Ironically they were next door to the Muslim Center, which we visited in what I would expect should be quiet respect, but you could still hear the party next door – hopefully they get along ok.




We went through a very quiet and strangely austere Brazilian embassy, then headed on up the street to see these two colorful ladies….





Coming from Bolivia! They had a number of dancers performing their traditional dances.





And posed for a group photo at the end of their act.




This older guy was very active in his dance.




And with that we ended our amazing day at the Embassy Open House. This is one you need to put on your list!

Detroit – April 2019 – Cultural Center

The Cultural Center of Detroit is located in the Midtown section, just north of downtown. We had the opportunity to visit two of the centerpieces of the neighborhood, the Main Library and Institute of Art.

We started at the Library where one of Detroit’s newest features, a streetcar called the Q Line’ was passing as we arrived.





We made our way around the building to the Cass Avenue entrance, which is much newer than the Woodward Avenue side.





The original building is in an Italian Renaissance style, with it’s impressive stairways and ceilings.





This look is carried over to one of the exhibition halls.





While one of the hallways on the second floor resemble a cathedral.





Reliefs celebrating the classics adorn this level.





A look at the main entrance ceiling.





We are still in the library, not the Institute of Art…





Directly across Woodward Avenue is the Institute of Art, with a statue of the Thinker greeting you.





The exterior had a significant amount of sculptures.





It is immediately apparently that the library and art museum were designed in similar style and completed at the same time.





Coincidentally there was a celebration of India going on the day we were there.





We came for the Rivera murals and ended up celebrating India as well!





The artists were happy to tell you about their culture.





A Rangoli demonstration.





This henna artist was very skilled, with a steady hand.





The east lobby had this great display.





Another exhibition hall featured pop art.





Some great chairs.





Ruben & Iabel Toledo had an exhibit called Labor of Love.








They also paid homage to the River murals. The DIA is a destination just for the murals, but the rest of the exhibitions are world class as well.





Chicago – December 2018 – The Field Museum

Our major museum visit this trip was to the Field Museum of Natural History. It is known as one of the premier natural history museums in the world, and attracts millions of visitors per year.





We were here to learn about natural history.





As we entered the lobby we stopped by a small kiosk with a display of bugs.





Our first hall major exhibit we toured was the Hall of Ancient Americas. This wing covered both North and South America.

Each region featured pottery, sculptures, jewelry and more, and started with South and Central America cultures such as the Aztec and Inca (and many more)

The final section included the Northern Cultures. While similar to the southern cultures, these featured more large scale sculptures like the totem poles.

The second level featured Griffin Hall – a large dinosaur exhibit.

The most famous is Sue – the most complete T Rex ever discovered. For some reason there was unusual lighting on Sue when we were there.

One the main display the head is a cast of the original, which is in the next room in a display so you can inspect it closer.

We paid a brief visit to the cultures of the Pacific

Our final stop was an Egyptian display, including mummies.

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 4 First Look at the Big Island

The Hawaiian Road Trip continued with an early flight to Kona. As with many things in travel, even getting there can be amusing.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:45 AM. About 6:15 they announced a gate change, so we moved down 1 gate only to look out and see the mechanics working on the front wheels of the plane. They changed the front wheels – 4 times!

Finally satisfied we were ok to leave the first passenger boarded – a shackled prisoner with a goofy smile being lead down the jetway by a policeman.

Thankfully the flight itself was short and uneventful, and after about 25 minutes we found ourselves on the Big Island.

About an hour south of the Kona Airport we arrived at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, a National Historic Park.

This park preserves a site where Hawaiians who broke a law could avoid death sentences by fleeing here as a place of refuge. By serving their penance, they could be absolved by a priest and set free.

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The site is considered sacred to native Hawaiians. Out of respect to the native Hawaiians, no activities occur within the park. It is a place for reflection and inner thoughts and peace.

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After leaving the park, we continued south along the coast. This area has for centuries been impacted by volcanic activity. Amazingly many of the houses are built on the lava flows.

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Our next destination was the South Point of the island. As we made the turn onto South Point Road, we stopped at a farm called Paradise Valley, where we met Raccine.

Paradise Valley is a small working farm where they have an assortment of Hawaiian specialties including Macadamia nuts, coffee trees, and banana trees (among many others), Raccine was more than happy to share with us an assortment of flavored nuts, and their specialty coffees. Later she took us on a tour of the farm.

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I was particularly amused with the banana trees.

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Finally we left (chowing down on the local chocolate and macadamia nuts), we made our was to the South Point of the Big Island. For those who have been to Key West and seen the ‘Southernmost Point in the United States’ marker, they are way off.

This part of Hawaii is on the same latitude as Guatemala. The point, as with much of the coast here, is from lava flow.

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While nearby the sea cliffs make an impressive view.

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People jump off he cliffs into the ocean!

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Many native Hawaiians feel their land and culture was stolen from them by the U.S. (very similar to the natives across the entire continents). We saw a number of signs stating – This is not the U.S., this is the Kingdom of Hawaii.

It should be noted that almost all of the people we met were very pleasant, receptive and welcoming, they just feel their land and culture has been hijacked.

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Nearby is the famed ‘Green Sand Beach’. I had read about this place before we arrived, so we made our way over to the parking lot at the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean.

As we walked across the parking lot there were old 4 wheel drive pickups that said ‘shuttle’. One of them asked us if we wanted a ride – nah I can see the ocean just down the hill.

With a total lack of preparedness we set off – only to figure out much too late it was a 3 mile hike across lava fields and dusty trails to get to the beach. To top it off I forgot water as I thought I was just heading down the hill.

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It was a long dusty hike to reach the beach. As we arrived one of the pickup shuttles was parked there. I told the driver I had 2 questions – first, do you do 1 way trips. Absolutely (whew)

Two – do you have any water for sale. Nope, but I can help you out. With that he opened his cooler in the back and handed me a cold beer! My new best friend.

With that cold beer I could finally enjoy the view of the famed green sand beach.

The ride back was insanely bumpy (almost so much I spilled my second beer).

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Safely back at the car we continued our journey, with our next stop being the Honu’apo Black Sand Beach. Thankfully it was only about 100 yard walk to the beach, and the sand was indeed black.

It was beautiful, and had an interesting somewhat coarse texture that felt good on the feet.

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It is also a turtle habitat.

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Our first day on the Big Island complete, we headed to our hotel at Volcano National Park in preparation for tomorrow.