Holographic City by Krobopl

12 01 2018


Il Sarto e Mick Jagger

16 03 2016

Una vetrina mi attrae magneticamente, vado avanti facendo il vago poi torno indietro e scatto una foto. Piove di Sabato pomeriggio a Castagneto Carducci. E’ la vetrina di un’antica sart…

Source: Il Sarto e Mick Jagger

My life because of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

18 04 2014

Living abroad from the time I was 20 years old, anyone that I meet, were curious about my country of origin. I would tell them I am Colombian, which usually would open two windows of discussion.  One was the negative image of the 80’s, due to a corrupted system. Which of course, I would fry them with my sarcasm.

The other one, everyone would tell me,  “ I read One hundred Years of Solitude”.  And of course, everyone wanted to know if we Colombians were as depicted on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books. I would smile, because I knew that what I was going to tell them, it was going to take a while. It was not a conversation of five minutes. It was a conversation about a nation built by so many cultures that set deep roots in a fertile land. And I was ready to entrance them with the magic of our beautiful culture.  

Living in New York at that time, I could do many parallels between NYC and Barranquilla, which I would often described in my letters to my grandfather Heli.  Except I would tell him, here happiness is not found in the streets, as we often do in Barranquilla while going for a walk.  And from this moment of sweet happiness is from where I start.  

That’s because happiness in Barranquilla is for sale. Does any other place in the world sells happiness? Well, we do. But I was not allowed to buy it. It is not like I was going to loose my self in a bite. But my mother being from the interior of the country, and coming from a Conservative family just as Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes in books of these differences, coastal people vs. the interior of the Country people, Liberals vs. Conservatives, she would tell me of all the things that would go wrong if I had a bite of it.  So yeah, I grew up knowing of these differences because “they”, meaning my family, made me aware of it.  

I was born in the coast. My family came from Medellin,Honda, Bogota, Ibague, and Cali.  And let me remind you again, I was born in the coast, in the city of Barranquilla. So in this big minestrone of cultural, religious, and behavioral contrasts is how we Colombian are. 

But before I move to current times, I will explain of the differences that were created in Colonial times when the Spaniards bringing African men, dominated the Indigenous habitants by stealing their land,controlling them with the fear of a vengeful God that would only love you and forgive you, if you give all the gold to the church, meaning Queen Isabel La Catolica. Okay, I am being sarcastic here. Then to make it even worse, the Spaniards said that any child from Spaniard parents born in the New Continent (for them was a New Continent),would not have the same rights, they called them Criollos.  And this is how the many Social classes and race distinctions were created.  Here there are: Mulato, the union between an African and European. The union between an Indigenous and European were called Mestizo. And the union between an African, and an Indigenous were called Zambo.  The African men were considered the lowest class.   Liberation came with Simon Bolivar, and so on.

But this part in our history is so important because in a beautiful and, a found paradise, where many conquistadors try to find the forbidden fruit of eternal life, new customs were born. Myth, Magic, and Religious customs created unique stories that were told by the ladies that worked in my house. They spoke of spirits, animals that spoke, whales that announced death.  I loved them all.  My mother would get upset with me because what they said was non-sense. But I loved it. My grandmother spoke of the political conflicts that were between Liberals and Conservatives while correcting my vocabulary with words such as grifo vs. pluma, enchufe vs.  enchufle, capul vs. china, and many other words that we Colombians know about it.

Our dances and music such as Cumbia, Vallenatos, Mapale, Bambuco, Joropo; were influenced by our colorful heritage.  Cumbia was a dance of seduction between an African man and an Indigenous woman. Vallenatos was a way to carry the news from one town to another one. Mapale, well, we tried to dance it only to see the eyes of disapproval of our grandmother. Our cuisine is influenced by all of this. A fried fish is not a fried fish unless you eat it with patacon, and coconut rice. An ajiaco must have that herb named guasca and papas criollas.  And we drink avocado shake!

Traveling through our country when I was a kid, I got to meet indigenous people from La Sierra Nevada, La Guajira, and other tribes that I can’t remember their name. But each of them a jewel as to whom we are as a nation.  

Our mannerisms are particular. I can recognize any Colombian as to how they talk, move and dance. Even our accent is particularly Colombian, not Spanish but Colombian.

So yes, this is what I tell people when they would ask me about his book. I had to make them to understand that a song is not a song unless it tells a story. That a dance is not a dance unless it is felt in the heart beat by beat harmonizing with the drums or in our hips carried by the sea.  That a Colombian family not only will welcome you into their home but will share all the drama and secrets.  That the word “secret” from the lips of a Colombian, can only mean a colorful story embellished, and exaggerated by everyone that have told it. And that if you really want it to be a secret, then you must say, I will take it with me to my grave, and that’s because, we love to exaggerate, and dramatize everything.  That it is important to wake up with the smell of well- brewed coffee! And that our breakfasts are famous!


Gabriel Garcia Marquez has always been my favorite writer then and now. I have read, and re-read his books many times, both in Spanish and English (because I was really curious about the translation).  As I read his stories I fell into his spell. It was a spell that I knew somewhat, but not intensely as he described in his books.  His books were open secrets. He wrote about a magical land where the impossible is possible. He wrote about eternal idealistic love and finally being consumed at old age.   He wrote about  all the demons that possess us. He wrote about what he knew well, our beautiful country and its people.

When he won the Noble prize in literature, I remember coming home from school and my mom so excited telling me all about it.  Colombians were and are proud of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He walked the city where I grew up. He unwrapped Colombia for the world to see.

We will miss you… Too bad I never had a chance to meet you,but I know all your books by heart.


And because of you, Gabo, as people that knew you called you, and only this time I will permit myself to do so, when I think about my hidden happiness that I eat with delight without my mother telling me of all the things I was going to die, I think of the beautiful African/Colombian women, the queen of happiness seducing everyone with her joyful cry: “alegria, alegria de coco y anis”.

And when someone asks me where that color came from, I said to him or her, have you ever eaten a mamon? And this is because of you. RIP – Ethel Bustamante


The Moonlight Effect – Like it or not!

6 02 2013

Stretched all out in bed, from one pole to another, I am thinking, do I have to get up just now? I say this not because I want to sleep more, but because I want to linger to the warmth of my bed, the feeling of my socks, or rather Marco’s socks in my feet. Maybe you know what I mean, toes are dancing cozy under layers upon layers of soft textures that provide a heavenly sensation. I would say, probably the same feeling a worm has underneath the earth.

I ask to myself, do I have to be harsh to my body, as to confront the accumulated coldness of a winter night that sneaked through old cracks we missed to fix? I am going on like this for a few more minutes, hugging the sheets, when I feel a presence, I have not even opened my eyes and, there he is, looking at me with the same smile that glued us for an eternity.  I look at the clock resting in Marco’s side of the bed, oh well it is 7:30 am. Before I even mention coffee, Marco is already heading to the kitchen, as he tells me “coffee time” in high note. I am happy of my Juan Valdez moment because with coffee I can space out into nothingness while going through my spiritual rituals.  

By now I am sitting on my bed. I turn on the pc; open FB to see if any of my kids are still up. Yes I know I am the overseas stalker mom! If they are up, I ask to them, no beauty sleep tonight? Thou the other day, Brad says to me, well mom, I actually woke up earlier than you! I have to admit that was a good one. After snooping in my children’s life and thanking FB for allowing me to do so, now I am ready to welcome it all. I put on my flurry sleepers that make me feel like a wild morning person ready to take the world.  I already have lost my Pink Panther hat during the night and my hair has the look of a rock star from the 70’s. I now proceed to do what mostly all of us do in the morning, brush teeth, wash face, look at face, which at my age, to see myself well, I need my glasses. I see blurry me in the big mirror, I get closer to it, then a bit more closer, I still see blurry me. Thou, It does not matter! I always give myself a huge smile for another morning of limitless dreams.  

Marco asks me, who was up late this time? I tell him which of the three, and then I ask him to treat me for a second cup of coffee.  While I wait for my coffee, I put on my glasses, then I walk towards the mirror to brush my hair, when all of the sudden, I can’t see! I place my hand atop my eyebrows to protect me from the strong rays dancing on my mirror. I look again asking to myself, is that the moon gleaming its reflection on the mirror? Am I still dreaming? or am I still in orbit two? I look again, I take off my glasses, I clean them again and I place them atop my nose slowly. I look again and, there it is again the moon shining upon my face… Or is it the moon? Can I have my coffee??? Please amore! Coffee arrives. I sip it one, two, three, I look again and, wait, my hair has grown half and inch in less than two weeks! Oh noooo!!! Snow white hair!!!! Or gray hair, in which I do not get it why it is called gray rather than white or silvery white. I have pulled it off, looked at it, and it is white. In any case, I brush it trying to camouflage it but it is noticeable! If I can see it everyone can! But I just colored it. Well I just have to deal with it. I might look like a skunk for another two weeks, but I can’t just do my color again after two weeks.

I dislike it. The hassle of doing it at home, read instructions, which I know them pretty much by heart, but you never know, it is better to read them. Get preparation going, which it goes like this, take A item and mix with B item, add additional vitamin oil or whatever other ingredient formulated to give you the look you want. Then comes the painful part, putting the mix in your hair by doing roots first, then waiting, then the rest of hair, then waiting. Finally fifty minutes has passed, and then it comes the rinsing it out, the conditioner, and after an hour of this finally out of the shower. Oh yes, I did it for only 12 Euros! I smile triumphantly while looking blurry me in the big mirror trying to forget the painful ritual of holding to parts of us that are gracefully kissing us goodbye!

So I look at the white line where I part my hair, one day I would let it be all white… But I am not ready now.  Amore this morning I am coming with you, I say to Marco. Once in Pisa, I go to my favorite pharmacy that is a few blocks from Marco’s job. As I arrive, I salute them, and tell them it is time again to cover my white hair. The wife says, oh I understand. The husband says, you women are more aware of it, people really does not notice it. I say well maybe in the USA? But in Italy everyone notices everything. In any case as a kid I remember seeing the roots proudly reaching out for the moon while the rest of the hair humbly headed south. I am just not ready for the moonlight effect.



The gift

10 01 2013

The wondering me transparent to the observing analytical eye, fly into the imaginary scenery of images learnt from the moment the umbilical cord was cut. I plunge into the blueness of my wound searching for the essence of the first word spoken. The encounter is just a second of a second that vaguely leaves me with the hunger of holding it once more. It is my gift from me to the I that knows it, but has to battle the many battles to be the I that is with it all. Ethel

Grateful for another year!

6 01 2013

Before I say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013, I want to thank you because I welcomed you with the company of my children Thomas, Bradley, and Emma; my husband, and my friends. I got to see friends that I have not seen in a long time. It was beautiful to see them all. I started you with fantasy, love and faith. 
It was a year of new happenings, sometime frustrating, sometimes funny, sometimes, peaceful. 
We were able to survive our moving from Switzerland to Pisa after many miss-happenings that were to cry for but thanks to gift of optimism and being able to laugh out loud we made it. 
In the process of a new life in a new city, I was lucky to be welcomed warmly by Marco’s colleagues, and become friends. Thank you!!! 
I embraced the Italian bureaucracy with a stapled smile while grinding my teeth! I got to meet the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Family and friends came to visit us making our home warm and happy. How I love to have my home filled with life! 
Many of my young friends had babies. It has been a baby boom year considering that according to the Mayas was the last year!
The news showed us from great things that makes our spirit roar like a lion to others is which invade our soul with infinite sadness. I prayed for both.
Obama became our President once more. HORAY! 
Even thou Monty was sworn in November 2011, he was part of 2012 politics in Italy making radical changes. 
Nature as usual was just as its best! Unpredictable but beautiful! 
Family and friends inspired me, made me laughed but overall they are part of my life. 
I have given many permissions to Facebook but its program to review my life in 2012. Thou you are great, Thank you but not thank you! I can review my life in 2012 with my words expressing the love and warmth I feel for my family, friends and the whole planet.
And so I say to you my dear 2012 friend, thank you, thank you. So grateful for every experience I have encountered this year. I am a year older, hoping that with my natural facials I look younger. I thank you that created me, and giving me all this time to be here. I thank you for the gift of hoping for I had hoped for my mom and kids to be this past summer here with me. However, now I have 2013 to hope for many dreams.
In a few hours I say bye to you and welcome 2013 with all my rituals, from inviting Angels into my home, as well as the Three Kings, to my twelve grapes in midnight, and having a packed suitcase outside the house. I already started cooking for tonights dinner. We will be awaiting you in Gello with my friends. 
And so for 2013, I wish to everyone that is part of my life, which are all of you, and the planet, a year of constant renewal, a year of kind words and thoughts, a year filled with blessings and magic. 
In 2013 be part of your own change. Be aware of your growth in spirit. Be as we were meant to be. A loving soul.
We choose the life we live with our own words. I love to repeat this over and over because it is true. It is in the bible, your words will give you life or death. So choose life!
Love you all! Happy 2013!!!! Ethel

A day of yin and yang

10 12 2012

Early this morning I went to get my ID at the City Hall of San Giuliano Terme. A cold and humid day, which it meant I was wearing all the usual items such as a hat, gloves, and a scarf. We got there, got our number, and waited for a short time. We were help by a very nice lady. She explained to us where to get everything I need it in order to go to the doctor, etc.  Once done with my ID, we leave, get in the car, drive off, and then I realized I forgot my gloves! Marco says to me, tomorrow when you go to get your health ID number, stop there, and ask about your gloves. We get to Pisa; I go to run the errands for the day. My first stop is at the pharmacy. Today I am searching for a homeopathic spray to clear my sinuses. I have not slept the whole night because of a banging headache that felt as if I had the  “Cossack dancers” performing inside my head.  Then I go to the toy store where I let my childish side of me go wild. I see the twister game; I think what a good game to play with Marco! I see the Lego White House, I think inside myself, I want it, I want it. In between the two stops, I go to a coffee bar to have two cappuccinos with two croissants. While there, I go to the bathroom to do my first inhalation of my medicine. I have my treat, and sketch some ideas for my new paintings. Marco calls me to ask me how is my morning going. I say I am breathing and the Russians are gone! He has no idea as to what I am referring to. I am done with my errands.  It is almost one in the afternoon. I return to the University to meet Marco for lunch.  He asks me what did I get for my sinusitis. I know that what I am about to tell him, he is not going to agree with me as his background screams chemistry in pharmacology. He says, when this stuff does not work, can you give a try to one of my suggestions.  We go for lunch close by the university. It is a simple place of homemade dishes. I order onion soup Tuscan style, a perfect choice for a day like this.  Marco’s choices are Italian cold cuts and cheese. While waiting for my soup, I notice the stand of Whittington teas. Wow, look at that goody, I say to Marco! I go directly to the stand, and dwell over the many flavors, and kinds of teas. I am not sure if I want a pepperoncino tea or winter tea.  I get number 61! Then I ask the lady how much does it cost by bag. She says 2.50, I think, wow expensive. I ask her if she sells the box. She says yes. I ask her the price for the box. She tells me, I have to see how many there are in the box to do the math. I know that usually in a box there are from 20 to 28 tea bags. Hello, like I am going to pay over 40. Euros for a box of tea? Does she think I am the queen of Colombland, or a foreigner with mad money, to go down the drain? Right away inside me the green, yellow, and red light starts blinking at once. She is pulling a fast one on you says the other me.  I say to the lady I am not interested to purchase the box. Then I say to Marco, wow she was tricky with the price of the tea. I do not want to have coffee here, lets go to this place that I always pass by to have coffee. We go there, and they also sell the same brand name of teas. I ask the lady for the price of each tea bag. She says 1 Euro or 1.50 if you have the tea here. My eyes are talking to Marco telling him, wow you see, the other place was tricky, and you were finding ways to excuse them. Not only here is cheaper but also she told me how to get it directly. While I am having my coffee with my huge marzipan apple, my phone, with its robotic tone says to me, una chiamata da Roberto Scarselli. I tried to answer but not fast enough. I call him back but his line is busy. At that moment Marco’s phone rings. It is Roberto. He has called me to tell me, that the lady that helped me this morning at the Comune or City Hall has called him to let him know that I forgot my gloves.  After I left, She saw that I have left my gloves in her counter. She looked for the name of my husband, and realizing that probably he was the brother of Roberto called him to let me know that she had my gloves. I was amazed that she took her time to find out whom I was to return them. I say to Marco, what a day of contrasts it has been today. Wow, beautiful!  Tomorrow I will stop by the Comune with one of my cakes!