…la boda cuernavaca…

Let’s escape to the City of Eternal Spring. La ciudad de la eterna primivera.

Let’s escape this unrelenting frigid snowy situation in Chicago for the warm air and blue skies of the Sierra de Chichinautzin mountains.

Let’s go. Let’s go on a quick three and a half hour plane ride that takes us far away from the February weather we are suffering through. It’s basically a whole different world, for more reasons than one.

Who’s in?

As we embark on our journey to Cuernavaca, we touch down at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. We go to pick up our checked bag. Oh wait.. where is it? I’m seeing dozens of large black suitcases on that conveyor belt but not ours. At least I have some basic toiletries and other things to keep me somewhat presentable. Worse things could happen. Worse things do happen…

After getting the runaround about our suitcase, we end up with an extra $100 dollars in our pocket and told our bag will arrive at our hotel the next day. I’ll take it.

Enter Senor Johnnie Walker, Lu’s awesome cousin. He lives in Mexico City and kindly agrees to pick us up from the airport. The drive from Mexico City to Cuernavaca (a drive that I’ve done only one other time) takes us through the bustling metropolis of Mexico and onto a curvy mountainside road that deposits us in this beautiful City of Eternal Spring. I’m sure everybody is well aware of the negative publicity Mexico gets for its crime. Having been to Mexico three times in the past two years, I have always felt far removed from any sort of violence. Although it is somewhat alarming that each policeman carries a machine gun strapped to his chest. Hashtag Yikes. Hashtag Scary.

Now we’ve only just begun our ride through the city. Mexico City has just shy of 9 million people and a surrounding urban population of 21 million. It’s dense, and it’s traffic is horrendous. Of course we leave the airport in the evening so getting stuck in that traffic is inevitable. At least I’m in good company. Remember when I mentioned that worse things do happen? This is the part where the worst happens. We’re stopped at a stoplight probably talking about something silly. Laughing. Windows cracked for a fresh evening breeze. The sun has already set. THUNK. Two men on a motorcycle accost the driver’s side, stick a gun in the window, and say in fast Spanish “Dame tu telefono! Tu telefono! Tu cartera!” Yep. That happened. We were robbed at gunpoint, and it was officially the scariest moment of my life. Johnnie handled the situation. He handed over his iPhone, which was already on display so there was no getting out of that one. He handed over some sunglasses. I sat in the backseat absolutely frozen scared. You never know how you’re going to act in these situations, and my act was inaction. If you had a snapshot of my face, I was probably holding my breath with my jaw dropped and eyes wide open. It didn’t even really occur to me to reach into my purse and handover my goods, which was quite dumb. I was too busy thinking “is this real life? Is this actually happening?” They told Johnnie to turn off the car. They told us to give them more. While I remained paralyzed, Johnnie and Lu were acting their hearts out. They were doing the universal “I don’t have anything else” sign where they pat their pockets and shrug. Johnnie told them we were visiting and didn’t have anything. Then by the grace of God, the light turned green and they sped off leaving us dumbfounded. We were all so shaken up but also very relieved that they left us alone without taking everything and most importantly without hurting us. Are you still in for our trip to Cuernavaca? I calmed my nerves with some simple math. The probability of that happening to us again had to be very low. Besides, having lived in Mexico his whole life that sort of situation has never happened to Johnnie before so it is a rare occurrence. Let’s not forget that the beans live in one of the most violent cities in America. Chicago is known for its gang-related violence and unfortunately large number of murders. It’s a sad truth that violence is everywhere but you have to keep on living. Onward, we go.

We arrive in Cuernavaca. It’s late, and we’re hungry. The answer to our hunger in Mexico is always street tacos. We love us some tacos. Two things that always taste better in Mexico are tacos and fruit. Always. We meet up with the bride-to-be (Lu’s cousin, Johnnie’s sister) and her handsome groom to bask in the taco goodness. Vacation has begun.

Let’s fast forward. Wedding day has arrived. Estefania and her mom planned one of the most stunning weddings. As expected, the weather was nothing short of perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky. Flowers blooming in a lovely garden. Pink and white were the predominant colors. Let’s let some pictures do the talking.

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After the beautiful ceremony came cocktail hour. Sunshine + family + margaritas = happiness.

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After cocktail hour came a delicious seated dinner followed by hours of dancing. You want to know a good way to make this American gal feel dumb? Throw me into a pool of beautiful Latinos salsa dancing in their gorgeous dresses with 4 inch heels on like it ain’t no thang. Um, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I still got out there to bust my best moves but folks probably thought I had two left feet. At least my primary dancing partner (hi, big frijol) has a set of those Latin hips himself so my guess is everybody was looking at him and not me anyway. Seriously, if you don’t know then now you know. The big frijol is an amazing dancer. Swoon.

Now let’s talk more about how gorgeous the people were. Mexicans sure do look pretty. The ladies, and I’m talking both the bridal party and guests included, were dressed in beautiful, bright colors with hair and make-up to the nines. It was an exceptionally good looking wedding.

One of the cool things about the wedding was that the food kept on coming. After dinner, we indulged in esquites. Followed by chilaquiles, pozole, and of course there were some tacos shortly after midnight to round out the party. It was an awesome celebration in honor of the lovely couple who appeared so happy and so in love. The whole event was heartwarming and magical. Who doesn’t love love?

Now I’m back in the windy city. It’s calm before yet another winter storm moves in tonight.  Make today a good day. xo, lw.

PS: how beautiful is our abuelita?

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the beanstalk lives

Did you think I fell off the face of the earth or something? I’m not going to lie,  I even thought myself that perhaps the beanstalk had seen its final days. I mean I love my little space of the internet… The little beanstalk space where I can ramble on about basically nothing… But there are times when my creative juices run dry and this time that dry spell lasted for months. Yes, I was still reading my favorite blogs daily but I was feeling uninspired when it came to my own writing.

Last week I found some inspiration in an odd place. I came across a fabulous photography series called “Follow Me To…”. Murad Osmann, a Russian photographer/videographer travels the world with his gorgeous Russian girlfriend, and they snap pictures at iconic and exotic locations across the globe. Each picture is of the lady’s backside with her arm extended behind, tugging Osman forward. These pictures are just so darn cute. Osmann captures these tender moments beautifully. You can find the pictures on his Instagram account, here. I’m anxiously awaiting the next post, which will come from the French Alps (there was a lil foreshadow on the muse’s instagram). These pics make me want to live, love, travel and be present. They also reminded me one of the purposes of my blog; to record my journey. While my journey may not be as international as theirs, I do some fun things every now & then. I also do a lot of boring things. Oh well.

Take the inspiration I got from those pictures, throw on a hefty dose of resolution (the new year variety) and here we are. I’m back.

There is way too much that has happened since my last post to do a thorough update but I’d like to hit a few highlights.

Thanksgiving in Boston with one of our favorite couples.

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An anniversary weekend at a bed & breakfast in Wisconsin.

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A new apartment and some new furniture.

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Christmas and New Years in Chicago with both my family and Lu’s family. (Unfortunately I didn’t take pics of my fam. What?)

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My Chicago bestie moved back from NYC!

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And here there was a lowlight over the past couple of months: the Polar Vortex. Chicago set a record low of -16 with a windchill in the -30s.
That happened.

I hope this post finds all of you happy and enjoying these days. 2014 is a good year for you to choose happiness and to make yourself better.
Life is too short to do otherwise. Adios for now…

xo,lw

atx

What up, ATX!! My college bestie, Haylie, and I were reunited for a long weekend and unleashed on Austin, TX to cause a ruckus. Before this trip, Haylie and I hadn’t seen each other since my wedding, and we were partaking in the world’s longest game of phone-tag. One of the greatest things about good friends is no matter how long you go without talking or visiting, once you’re together again it’s like nothing has even changed. I felt like I had traveled back in time to our college days in Boulder, as roommates. Except this time we weren’t renting an apartment from our Indian landlord who walked around with a bluetooth in his ear whether he was on his cell or not. This time, Rudy owned the house and a dog to go with it. I’m impressed by twenty-somethings who own their own homes. I feel like I’m about a decade away from owning a home… I digress. Back to Austin.

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The weather was absolutely perfect. 90s and humid is exactly what I wanted and exactly what I got. Bear in mind, it was in the 50s the morning I flew out of Chicago. I was craving summer weather. What I wasn’t thrilled about were the dozen mosquito bites I got. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Rudy and I woke up each morning and jogged along Lake Austin. It’s wise to go running early before the heat hits in full force. We may or may not have gotten in bed at 10pm each night so 7am runs weren’t that brutal. After the run we would walk over to the cutest coffee shop, Jo’s for some java and light breakfast. I loved our morning routine. One of the days we invited Birdie, Haylie’s pup, along for the run. I had no idea how difficult it is to run with a dog. Birdie was a maniac during the first couple miles tugging on the leash and attempting to chase random things. She wore herself out for the last couple miles, and we practically had to drag her toward the end. I found myself shouting words of motivation… Come on, Birdie! Almost there, Birdie! Then I realized I was talking to a canine. Jogging with a dog is hard work. Or maybe it’s just Birdie.

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We hit up a local juice bar, Juiceland, a couple of times for a fresh made smoothie. They were dangerously good but they cost a pretty penny. It was worth it. I’d recommend Juiceland for anybody going to visit Austin.

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photo-57Haylie wined and dined me each night. Of course, Tex-Mex was on the menu because it is a requirement to get margaritas and queso when one goes to Tejas. We also got some Mexican street corn. It was grilled corn covered in cheese and pepper… Heaven on a stick.

photo-59We went to an amaaazing sushi place, Uchiko. It was an experience. Rudy and I were having difficulty deciding what to order because we wanted just about everything on the menu. Our server had a keen eye for a pair of indecisive women. He quickly said, with our permission, he’d like select our dishes so we can sit back, relax and enjoy the evening. I had an issue with that at first. Giving up control of our meal? Things could potentially go very wrong. What if they brought out flavors we didn’t like? Not that we’re picky but everybody has a certain taste they prefer. At the same time, it sounded like a cool idea and he seemed quite confident in his ability to satisfy us so we went along with it. And we definitely made the right decision. He brought out dish after amazing dish. It was some of the best sushi ever. There wasn’t one dish that I would have changed. It was a delightful meal with even more delightful company.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a single picture. Blog fail.

One night, we had a gathering at Haylie’s house with some other CU friends and Haylie’s family. We sat outside (got bug bites), played with the dogs, drank vino, and ate what turned out to be some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten from a local place called Home Slice. Austin knows good food.

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It wasn’t all running, eating, and socializing though. I did do quite a bit of shopping… more shopping than I expected. There were many cute boutiques near Haylie’s house and downtown that got the best of me. I loved my purchases, and I don’t go shopping very often. Or at least that’s what I tell myself… I warned Lu that I couldn’t stop spending money and his response was “just make sure you’re buying cool things.” Love that man. (Yes, of course I buy cool things.)

I had such a wonderful time in Austin that I’m going back in mid-July. But that time I won’t be going solo… I’m bringing along the mister for another fun weekend in Texas. Lu has never been to Austin so he’ll get to experience that great city and spend time with our friends. I can’t wait. Who has been to Texas? Anybody taking fun summer trips? Hope you guys are making this Monday a good one.

xo, lw

jet-setting

After a long three days at work, vacation commences.  I’m off to Austin, TX this afternoon to visit my best friend from college, Haylie. Several of my other college roomies also live in Austin so this will be like a little University of Colorado reunion. Here is a picture of Haylie and during one of her trips to Chicago. So excited to see this girl today!!

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For the next several days, you’ll find me poolside sipping on some margaritas, eating chips & queso and catching up with my girls. Ahh, bliss.

I had fun packing this morning and pulling out some summer clothes. It’s 90s and humid in Austin this week and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I usually hate packing but not today… I love me some summer fashion.

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After packing, I hit the lake front for an 8 mile run. It’s definitely not 90s & humid in Chicago today. It was about 60 degrees on the lake front with a nice breeze. It was crisp and refreshing. 8 miles in 01:06:57, which translates to an 8:22 min/mile average pace.

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Time to hit the shower and get ready to jet-set. Who has been to TX? This will be my third time to Austin. I hear everything is bigger there. Have a great day everybody!

xo, lw