Souss-Maldonado 2015 Newsletter

January 31, 2016 at 7:23 pm 6 comments

January 2016.

Dear All:

2015 what a year!  Starting with the craze of “50 Shades of Grey” and L.I.F.E. being first at the line for opening night at the movie theaters.  So, what better way to practice my portuguese than to read the 3 “Grey” books in portuguese :-)!   IMG_1472

In February Johann left for Tanzania to start his 2 year assignment with the Peace Corps.  He is thrilled with all the projects he has been working on related to agriculture and health as the volunteers in his region are cross training in both areas.   He has learned Swahili fluently, in addition to his Spanish, English and French, with some Russian too.  He was also finally able to get electricity in his house with a couple solar panels and several light bulbs and buy a small solar energy refrigerator – I still remember the first time he was able to make ice, the things we take for granted! With the solar panel he has enough energy for his computer and he can also charge his cell phone.  Even though he can get ‘some’ vegetables and fruits in his little town – most of the time he has to travel by bus for two hours each way to a bigger town, to get other things so that he can vary his diet.  Meat is a challenge.  If the town butcher decides to kill a pig one day – there is pork to buy.  Of course, Pedro had a heart attack when he found out Johann had eaten pork – he told us that he had over cooked it to make sure it was safe.  The poor guy was really hungry for meat and the choices aren’t much.  When the Peace Corps does regional meetings of the volunteers – it’s a special treat as they go to a bigger town where the choices of food are more, where they can drink and most important, have a real toilet that flushes and a shower with warm water.  There was a group of volunteers that got together to spend the new year in Zanzibar – a well-deserved brake for them for all the hard work they do.  We have already made plans to go visit him this summer.  We will go on a safari to Tanzania, visit the Serengeti and see the Great Migration and then meet Johann in Zanzibar, not at his village.  Our dear friends Colberg & Isabel will be coming with us.  Pedro is ecstatic about this trip as it had been on his ‘bucket list’ since he was a child and used to watch Daktari, which is Swahili for “doctor”.  Sahid will stay longer and travel with Johann to his little village – almost 2-3 days by bus from Dar es Salaam.  For sure it will be a good experience for Sahid – no Nintendo or Netflix :-).


Johann’s kitchen-gast stove with one burner on the right.


The inside patio where Johann washes his dishes and does his laundry.


Johann’s oven – have to be creative!! He was able to make banana bread – quite a curiosity for the locals as it now gives them another option of what to do with the tons of bananas they grow.

Sahid continued studying at Miami Dade in order to complete his basic courses and get ready for his FAA exams.  He passed both FAA exams, power plant and airframe!!!!!  His dream of going to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study Aeronautical and Occupational Safety became a reality this month.   He loves the school and all his subjects!  We will be going to visit him next weekend for parent’s weekend.  IMG_2422

Pedro continued to travel because of work, mostly to Mali and Kyrgyzstan and a new contract sent him all the way to the Seychelles Islands.  In May, he had to travel to Grenada – and of course, I had to help him with his luggage :-).  What a spectacular island, awesome people, what beautiful beaches – my kind of vacation, sleep, eat, drink and relax on the beach.  I’ll take one of those any day…and hope that 2017 gives me the opportunity to travel to the Seychelles with him.


Life is tough in Grenada!


Peaceful Grand Anse beach in Grenada – absolutely spectacular.

We had very special visitors from our Bulgaria days – what a special treat it was for us to see Susan & Dr. Fred, the Pereira’s and 100% Bulgarian made, Adela, Vesko & George.  Pedro also caught up with childhood friends from PR that are living in Miami – and that was a fun St. Patrick’s dinner party at home.


Dr. Fred, Susan and their friends Ruth & Larry.


The Venezuelan crowd from Bulgaria-eating vegetarian and a little chicken at my house :-)!  Diana – to think you were in diapers when we met you in Sofia & Isa in elementary school!!!


Adela was Johann & Sahid’s teacher at the International School in Sofia – and after that, a friend forever.


Verito & Pastor…after all these years, they’re still the same!

L.I.F.E. was more about having fun in 2015 than about reading, it’s ok, we took quite a number of breaks to have the bestest fun ever – that is what L.I.F.E. is all about.  After all, girls just want to have fun, right?  We did manage to discuss great books like: La Catedral del Mar – Idelfonso Falcones, The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins & The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri, and of course can’t leave out 50 Shades of Grey, 2015’s highlight :-).  We partied at the Biltmore Hotel, Cubaocho, went to see Wicked & Luis Miguel, and celebrated our birthdays, the milestone birthday being Mercy’s, OH WHAT A NIGHT @ TOUCHE, she really was the life of the party.  Alicia also hosted for us a very special and unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner.


Rossana’s Birthday!


Salsa night @ the Biltmore!


Motown night @ the Biltmore!


Mercy’s 60th @ Touche’s!


To L.I.F.E.!


Josefina’s Birthday!


What a great Halloween!


My first communion buddy – hippies at heart for ever!


Luis Miguel – come check us out, walk the other way!!!!


@ Cubaocho – our holiday celebration!

I kept studying Portuguese and French, and running some.  This January I decided to run a half marathon and signed up for on in February in Daytona.  It will be a challenge as I haven’t trained as I wanted – then again, my goal is to finish it and not break any laws of gravity 🙂 – I look very much forward to having that “runner’s high” again.  This year I mostly concentrated on studying for my PHR (Professional Human Resources) exam which I passed in June!!!!  I so admire people that work and go to school – that was indeed a great challenge for me, and I DID IT!  If it hadn’t been for a great former boss that believed in me, I would not have gone for this certification.  There are very few bosses like John around – he is a true leader and I will forever be thankful for all the opportunities that he gave me, for all I learned under his leadership, and most of all, for always believing in me.  Now I can use the initials PHR after my name!


It was great to have John, Julio & Edgar, and their wonderful spouses over for dinner in December. Great boss and colleagues at Stanley Security, now friends for ever.

We traveled several times to PR – Pedro’s best friend’s 60th birthday party, the wedding anniversary of his cousin and then to the wedding of the son of a dear childhood friend.  While in one of the trips to PR, another great childhood friend of Pedro who lives in Boston, Jose,  was visiting his family in PR and we were able to spend one night at the apartment drinking and reminiscing.  What a special night that was for all of us.  Of these 3 short trips to PR during the year and before Christmas, I had a most special date, meeting with one of my cousins after almost 25 years of having lost touch.  What a special day that was!


Happy 60th Colberg! I guess you guys quite different now than when you were in high school! How exciting for all of you to get together again!


Very classy at the wedding. Colberg & Isabel – now…we have to get our outfits for our safari in June!!!!!


WOW Jose & Ani – how much fun to see you guys!!!!


My little cousin – gorgeous as ever!


The Souss-Saleme brothers!

In September we cancelled our home telephone – OMG, what a dramatic change that was. It really was a decoration – the boys did not use it or ever answered it because it was “not their phone”.  Only marketing companies and politicians called – so we decided to get rid of it.  I still remember as a teen how much the phone meant to me, to have a friend call, and of course, for my mother to screen the call first, and then to time the call as others wanted to use it – to hear a busy signal would be such an aggravating sound, and when the call waiting feature first appeared – WOW, what an advancement.  Even though it took a while to rely 100% on the cell phone – I’m proud to say I’ve managed quite well, that is, unless I put it somewhere where I don’t remember it :-(!

Another big change that came about this year, was leaving Stanley Black & Decker in September after almost 3 years of working there.  That chapter closed, yet the exposure I got to the corporate world thanks to a great leader and boss was like getting an MBA.  I know that I know have great friends from my Stanley days-a very special team indeed!  Having lunch with them a couple weeks back was such a special treat!!!  Que se repita!!!  They will always remember that, “el arroz con habichuela, Puerto Rico me lo regalo :-)!”


The SBD group that would always get together for lunch after the closing after closing :-)-great, fun crowd!

A great opportunity opened up at FIU (Florida International University) were I had worked before and I took it. I’m back in the area of Continuing Education where I support the team in the development and implementation of non-credit continuing educational programs for the community and the university. Please keep FIU in mind should your company require non-credit professional development programs :-)!  It really is great to be back at FIU!  The university atmosphere is wonderful, it’s intellectual, it’s happy, and it’s all about learning and succeeding- I just love it!!

The highlight trips of the year were the trip to France in November and the trip to PR in December.

We had not been to France since we had lived there in 1997, so it was absolutely spectacular to visit Paris again after so many years, and most of all, without children this time.  The week we were there we made sure we took advantage of every second and it all started with staying right in the center of the left bank at the Hotel du Levant.  The weather was spectacular for walking, of which we did tons, wanting to savor the city, Parisian life, and go down memory lane to when we were students there, many moons ago.  Impressionist paintings being my favorite – I had to make a stop at the Musee d’Orsay, where there was a great exhibition on the history of prostitution.  We walked to where I went to school, where I lived as an “au pair” near the Ave Victor Hugo, to the Eiffel Tower, Jardin de Tuilleries, along the Seine, managed to go to a church one evening to listen to a violin and cello group play the 4 seasons of Vivaldi and the Ave Maria, visited the Military Museum as well as the Sacre Coeur and the Conciergerie where hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from there to be executed on the guillotine, among them, Marie Antoinette.  And if you’re a fan of “The Doors”, you know that you have to make a stop at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery to visit Jim Morrison’s tomb, which by the way, is very different now from when I studied in Paris in 1983, no drinking or smoking pot, no graffitti at the tomb now and it’s sort of fenced in.  We managed to leave Paris for a day on a tour and visit the Normandy battlefields and landing beaches of World War II.  That trip was an amazing learning experience and at the same time, very emotional.  Paris is and always will be an amazing city and like Hemingway wrote, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”…and we were very lucky to have lived in Paris when young.  We were very fortunate to have left Paris the day before the unfortunate terrorist attack.  To make us more nervous, a week after this terrorist attack, there was one in Mali.  Thank God Pedro was on this side of the world.  He ended up saying that we don’t need to worry – if he’s going to die, that he will probably be hit by an older person driving in the parking lot of a Home Depot.


Musee Quai d’Orsay


Jim Morrison’s tomb


What a spectacular city. No wonder Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman in the movie Casablanca: “We will always have Paris!”


I’m the queen of Paris!!!!


Omaha beaches in Normandy.


German bunker in Normandy.


Santa Mili :-)!

The trip to PR in December was an unforgettable one for so many wonderful reasons.  My sister, who had not been in PR in around 20 years, came with us and we were able to spend unforgettable time with our cousins. Tyler, who had never visited PR also came with us-this was his graduation present from us.   Two years have passed so fast – and now Tyler will be completing in May his BS in Aviation Maintenance from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a wonderful achievement! The sky is the limit for him with the endless professional possibilities he has ahead of him.  While in PR we were able to spend time with my dad’s best friend, my mom’s best friend-a mother to me, and dear family, my family and Pedro’s family.  Besides all the partying, drinking and eating, we were able to enjoy the beauty of our ‘Isla del Encanto’.  We walked around Old San Juan, El Yunque Rainforest, went to the beach, kayaked at night in Fajardo, and visited the caves in Camuy and Arecibo.  The highlight of this trip was precious time spent with family, “Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”~Unknown~  It was an unforgettable vacation and we’re already planning to spend Christmas again in our home away from home.


El Morro fortress.


We really did have fun-an unforgettable vacation for sure!


My dad’s best friend and his wife with my sister and I.


My mom’s best friend – a mom to be for ever too!


Beautiful Old San Juan.


Here comes trouble – to many Agusty’s together!  Special time with cousins.


The Souss boys!


The Souss girls!


Tio Rey – we got to do it again next Christmas!!!! Oye, y esa viejita – esta cola!!! 🙂



The real way to spend the holidays!

2015 was a year of many wonderful happenings, with one minor deviation that in the end, turned out for the best.  As Martha Washington once said, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”  So as I always say, “Pa’lante!”  – don’t look back.

We have a lot to be thankful for. We have health, the boys are doing they love the most, we have work – what else can we ask for? We pray that 2016 brings you health and many wonderful things, and most important of all, that it brings you peace & love.

The Souss-Maldonado Family



Entry filed under: Newsletter.

Souss-MaldonadoNewsletter 2014 Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2016

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robert S. Landmann  |  February 1, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    I am so pleased that 2015 turned out so well for you all. Mazel tov.
    This year you need to include a visit to me here in Nantucket. Abrazos, Bob

  • 2. Karin  |  February 2, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Dear Mili,

    Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop for the Mili family newsletter! What a wonderful newsletter about you and your family. What a great way to share with friends! It sounds like you’ve had a very exciting and adventures year! And you were so close to us when you visited France- I wish we could have met up! We’re just across the channel😘

    Lots of love
    Karin and Nigel

  • 3. Norah  |  February 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Me encanto leer carta. Muchos saludos y recuerdos de Peter y míos. A ver si alguna vez coincidimos en PR. Un abrazo, Norah

  • 4. militzam  |  February 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Que no seria mala idea Robert un viajecito a Nantucket! Un super abrazo!

  • 5. militzam  |  February 13, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    OH NO!!! For sure we will keep it in mind for next time! There is a chance we might return next year – I SURE HOPE SO!!! Any chance of you coming to Miami :-)! Love you guys!

  • 6. militzam  |  February 13, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Claro que si mi querida Norah – me encantaria volver a verlos! Besotes mil!

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