Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2017

January 30, 2018 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Dear family and friends:

I don’t know about you but I’m so happy 2017 is over.   What a discordant year this has been.  One of the most dismals I have ever lived, so much hate, prejudice, harassment.  Yet, I have tons of hope and I believe in justice, in karma, and pray that 2018 is a better year.   Alfred Lord Tennyson could not have said it best, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.”

We started the year with justice in mind.  L.I.F.E. sent three representatives to Washington, DC on January 21st, Vicky, Maria Teresa and I, to the First Women’s March, one of the biggest in history and for sure a bigger crowd that the inauguration day crowd, we were there on both days.  What a great time to share with other women and men, and at the same time convey a clear message that all women’s rights are human rights, that we’re all equal regardless of race, religious beliefs and sexual orientation, that no human is illegal and that we must protect the climate and the environment for future generations.  It was a great weekend of sharing and bonding, an unforgettable one.



In February we reunited with dear friends we met while living in Bulgaria and now they live in Florida.  What a fun party this was and as always what a great get together.  Even though it has been almost 18 years since we met in Bulgaria, it seems that not one day has gone by since we met each other.  We’re looking forward to another get together to celebrate another milestone with them in February.


In March Charo, Christoph and Charo’s sister came to visit us in Miami.  Another beautiful friendship that started when we lived in Kazakhstan almost 20 years ago.  Charo is from Peru and Christoph from Switzerland. We look forward to seeing you back in Miami in the spring.


Pedro continued traveling the world with his projects and this year he visited Colombia, Seychelles, Peru, Jordania, Kyrgyzstan, and Costa Rica.  New great projects and adventures await for him in 2018.  We’re so proud of all his accomplishments.

I am as happy as ever working at FIU and continue to study Portuguese, and getting good grades too :-)! I have a GPA of 3.84 :-)!!!  In the fall I volunteered to be part of the Mentor program at FIU.  I’m mentoring a wonderful young woman, a journalism freshman – she’s sharp, intelligent and I’m learning so much from her.  I know she’ll get far. This summer I was asked by the University Professional Education Association (UPCEA) to be the Membership Coordinator for the South Region. I enjoy so much being part of UPCEA, so much learning and exposure to all the education trends.  I also participated at their regional conference in Richmond in October.  I haven’t done much running as unfortunately my back has not been too kind to me this year…age sure is catching up.  Then, the moment I started to feel better and start running some, I came down with bronchitis which I had never had in my life.  Now I’m getting i’m getting back to running little by little and have made it up to 5 miles.  Would love to be able to do another half marathon at some point….we’ll see.

Johann is still in Tanzania and enjoying his job, and of course, living in the capital, Dar es Salaam, makes a big difference.  He came to visit us in July and the four of us travelled to PR. He spent the Christmas holidays in Zanzibar with other current and former Peace Corp Volunteers and had a blast.  His contract will end in late spring and he will start looking for a job soon.  He would love to continue doing international work as it has become his passion, which started when he was a little boy with our world travels.

Sahid is still studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Aerospace and Occupational Safety, and should finish his BS in summer 2018.  In the spring he scared us with a broken wrist that he did not attend to due to a fall from his skateboard and ended up having to have surgery as it did not heal properly.  I drove up to Daytona Beach to be with him.  The surgery was a success, nevertheless painful for “el nene”.



The Book Club has been having too much fun!  We only read three books in 2017:  Persepolis by Marjane Satrape, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  There were lots of happy hours and spending quality time with the most wonderful women in the world and sisters.  To L.I.F.E. (Living Intensely, Freely, Enlightened)!


The Handmaid’s Tale



In July Johann came to visit us for a month – we were in heaven.  We travelled to PR for the wedding of Nicole and Arthur, a most beautiful wedding indeed.  Nicole is the daughter of Pedro’s dear childhood friend, Colberg-our extended family.  What a fun weekend that was.  They boys stayed a week longer in PR so that they could visit with family.



Taking advantage of Johann’s visit, we celebrated in August Pedro’s 60th birthday, our 25 years of being legally married (not counting the ones we lived in sin) and my 57th birthday.  Pedro’s sister and husband, our other sister in law and our grandnephew came from PR as well as so many other dear friends.  The theme, Super Man and Wonder Woman!!! What an unbelievable weekend that was – great memories to last a lifetime.



In September Pedro had to travel to Seychelles for work and this time I jumped on the opportunity to help him carry his suitcases, I could not let it go by.  The perfect vacation for me, beach, read, walk, sleep – the most gorgeous beaches in the world for sure. The people are so nice here.  We were in the capital Victoria, in the island of Mahe as Pedro was working.  On the weekend we then took a small plane to Praslin island and then a ferry to La Digue, where you can find one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Anse Source D’Argent.  Talk about absolute paradise. We stayed at the most beautiful hotel in the island, La Digue Island Lodge, and beach front.  We would open the door in the morning and there was the beach.  All the restaurants we went to, the food was absolutely spectacular.  We also rented a bike as this is the only means of transportation, and literally went all around the island, what was paved :-)!




While in Seychelles, we learned of Hurricane Irma’s trajectory towards Florida and the last couple of days there were filled with lots of worry.  Sahid travelled to Miami from Daytona Beach to get the house ready for the hurricane and our return was delayed as the airport was closed.  Sahid was a champion in getting everything organized at the house.  We were fortunate the hurricane took a westward route as it approached Miami and it did not hit us directly, it would have been chaos.  As it is, our yard was destroyed and there was Sahid when we returned, cleaning up all the debris and mess Irma left.  We were without electricity for almost a week, but we’re not going to complain.  Hurricane Irma and Maria, one after the other, and the total destruction it left on our beautiful Puerto Rico, was abominable.  To make matters worse, the politicians made it a bigger mess.  Thank God the restoration funds were taken away from the politicians, this gives us a lot of hope that the island will get back on its feet soon and that the people that really need the help will receive it.  The love and outpouring of help from everyone in the US and around the world towards Puerto Rico was amazing.  We participated in various fund raisers and concerts in order to raise money for Puerto Rico, one of them at the Greenpeace ship that was docked in Miami.


In October I went to Homecoming for my 35th year reunion at Catawba College in NC.  It is always so much fun to see old friends who went to school with you, who lived in your dorm – reminiscing about how we were young once and how sadly, there are dear friends that are not with us anymore.



Thanksgiving was quiet for us. as I was recuperating from bronchitis.  Sahid, Pedro and I  had a nice cozy Thanksgiving dinner.  It was nice to relax, lay back and spend quality time just the three of us.

And so came December and our anxiousness to go home for Christmas and spend time with our families and friends after the two hurricane’s devastation.  Home is home, not matter how you put it, and Puerto Ricans suffered a lot during the storm.  Such strong storms in PR one after the other, simply were brutal, a sad reminder that climate change is real. There was still family and friends without electricity 4 months after the hurricane and some that did have electricity, it was erratic all the time, uncalled for and unnecessary.  We saw many areas where destruction was still vivid, but what is always amazing is the resilience and spirit of our people.  We’re not lazy people waiting to have everything be done for us, or handed to use, totally uncalled for by the dotard we have in power, we’re fighters and hard workers, wanting anxiously to get our island back again on its feed and open for business.  We saw crews working 24-7, people cleaning everywhere and helping each other, sights that made you feel that PR was going to get out of this mess.



Two of our “other sons”, Tyler and Johann Guzman, came to visit us in PR in December and it was so much fun visiting around our beautiful island:  Arecibo-Cueva La Ventana and Observatory; La Parguera kayaking at day and at night and also seeing the gorgeous bioluminescent bay, horseback riding, Old San Juan, visiting with family and dear friends from our youth, and especially my father’s dear friends Oscar and  Maria for a night of talk about poetry, opera, and solving the world’s problems.  It’s always hard to leave but we always return to Miami already planning our next trip home.

With my cousins and aunt – Bellas!





Another year has gone by, and now 2018!  It has been a great ride and the journey has still not ended.  We are so thankful and count our blessings every day for all that we have, we’re very lucky.  We’re so very proud of our boys’ accomplishments and as I said at the party, we know that they will contribute to make the positive difference that is needed in this peculiar world we currently live in.  We pray that 2018 is a year of reflection, of understanding of all peoples, of love and peace.  The world is our home, and we only have one, we need to take care of it for our future generations.   And so in the words of Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. 

Wishing your 2018 is filled with love & peace, The Souss-Maldonado Gang



Entry filed under: Newsletter.

Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2016 Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2018

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