Archive for January, 2020

Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2019

December 2019 – Miami, FL

Dear Family and Friends:

We hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2020.  As I look back on 2019, in a way, and not to be ungrateful, I’m thankful the year ended.   A lot of many wonderful things happened in our lives, and at the same time, we had the challenge of Johann’s accident.  We’re blessed to have him with us, healthy, and that is the greatest gift we received.

Our jobs continued to keep us very busy this year, as always, working long hours and weekends.  That is what happens when there are no little ones around anymore and when you’re passionate about what you and believe in what you do.   I continued by work at the university in the area of continuing education and was able to take another Portuguese class, my 5th one!  Pedro continued his work in international development at IOSSoft  .  At IOSSoft Pedro now is the General Manager.  Johann continued working at SANKU in Tanzania and we’re proud to say that TIME magazine recognized their dosifier as one of the best inventions of 2019 . Sahid continued his work as an auto technician. He completed is Project Management certification as well as other mechanic licenses.  At his job he has been able to develop his welding skills, which is a great asset to his professional growth. His passion for auto and aviation mechanics is still strong.  Sahid and I embarked on a transformation journey in the fall and took together a “Finding True-self Workshop” at Body & Brain which is the center where we do yoga and tai-ichi, simply amazing.

My sisters from L.I.F.E. and I socialized quite a little this year even though we managed several books: We participated in a book reading at Books & Books by Andrea di Robilant with the launch of his book “Autumn in Venice”.  Of course, being the fan that I am of Ernest Hemingway, I just loved this book.  We also read “Las Hijas del Capitan” de Maria Duenas, “Paris” by Edward Rutherford, “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante (I ended up reading the 4 books-absolutely excellent) and discussed the Netflix Series, Bolivar, fascinating story!  I read other great books on my own, one which I absolutely loved as it brought me memories of my beautiful Puerto Rico, “Cuando me movieron de la loza” de Brenda Diaz.


Viscaya Museum & Gardens


Viscaya Museum & Gardens


Mili’s & Mercy’s June Birthday Girls @ La Trova


La Trova, Calle 8


Books & Books with Andrea di Robilant author of “Autumn in Venice”.


“Paris” by Edward Rutherford


Nous sommes Paris


Special Treat by Rosario from Italy with Love


“My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante

In March I went to a national conference in Seattle on the topic of continuing education.  These are always an amazing learning experience.  I love to exchange ideas with other colleagues in higher ed and learn from their experiences.  I had never been to Seattle so was able to walk around downtown and near the pier – beautiful.  The highlight of my trip was being able to see our grandniece Isabel and her mom Jenny.  We spent several hours together catching up and I loved every minute of it.


We were so happy to be part of Isabel’s and Colberg’s wedding, and more so, because I officiated the wedding.  What a special treat that was for me.  We were blessed to be part of this beautiful occasion celebrating not only their marriage, but a friendship of so many years-we love them tons.  We wish them a lifetime of love and happiness.

El nene turned 24 in March and we celebrated at home and took him out to eat good Puerto Rican food in North Miami Beach at La Placita.  Strongly recommended it.

In May we went to Puerto Rico for a couple of days, always heaven on earth, especially those morning walks on the beach when the sun is rising.  Spending time with family is always precious and unforgettable and I’m glad that even though we were not for long, the time we spent with them was quality time.

We were also lucky to have my sister come down to visit in May, November and December.

In July Pedro and Sahid went to NY to celebrate our nephew’s 40th birthday.  They had a wonderful time.  The best combination, being with family and NY.  While there, they took a trip to CT to visit Pedro’s cousin Raymond and his family.  They had not seen each other in many years and what a wonderful time they had together catching up.


In August we said goodbye to one of our adopted sons, Johann Guzman. Johann was accepted to go study Orchestra Conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, the Mecca for Orchestra Conducting studies. Very few students are selected for this program and we’re so proud he was one of the few accepted! The sky is the limit for him and we know he will succeed in everything he does. We love him and his family tons!

As I could not make it to NY in the summer, Pedro had to go to Jamaica in August on business where he is advising several government agencies including the Cannabis Licensing Authority . I flew to Montego Bay for a long weekend where he met me.  I had never been to Jamaica.  It was the perfect vacation for a workaholic, 5 days of beach, eat, read, and drink.  Talk about relaxing!  We stayed at the S Hotel in Montego Bay and loved it.  Everyone there was so nice and the beaches are absolutely gorgeous!!!!  Ya mon, I could definitely go back in an instant.  And the best part is that it’s such a short plane ride :-)!

In September we got a very tempting offer to go to Cartagena by our dear friends Regina and David.  We could stay with them at an apartment they had rented, could not let that go!  Cartagena has been on my bucket list for ever and this was too irresistible, so off we went for 5 days. Pedro had been there on business many years ago, and David and Regina knew the city by heart, so they were the perfect tour guides. Cartagena is absolutely magical, it reminded me so much of Old San Juan.  The people are so nice, the city is absolutely beautiful, so much history, and the food, wow, talk about gaining weight!

While in Cartagena, Pedro and I went to Baru Island for two days and stayed at the Baru Playa Eco Beach Resort, heaven on earth!  If you want to get away from EVERYTHING, this is the place to go!  We were treated like royalty, just loved it! In the morning when I’d go running, Bongo would accompany me, but he got tired quite easily :-)!

In October I went to the regional continuing education conference in Orlando and Pedro came with me.  Great conference, but more special was being able to spend time with our dear friends Ambrosio and Maria Elena, and lucky enough to have been able to see their daughter Isabel also  Wow!  This is a friendship from our days in Bulgaria, over 20 years now.  We just love these ‘chamos’ tons and forever.

El gordo had his birthday in November and invited his friends to celebrate!  What a blast we all had, especially because the chamos were here for the great occasion, “62”.

Life brings us many challenges and we thank God for his many blessings.  I received a call from the US embassy on Monday, November 25, while I was at work, that Johann had had an accident in Tanzania, and the world collapsed for us.  He is fine now, but the ordeal and agony we went through as parents, we don’t wish to anyone.  We’re so grateful to all the people that helped us get through this, from the travel agency finding plane tickets to travel that same afternoon, to Johann’s team in Tanzania accompanying him in the hospital for the first two surgeries while we got there, to my sister for coming to stay with Sahid and spend Thanksgiving with him, to Robert Hans for following-up with Johann’s boss while we were traveling for around 35 hours to get there, to the amazing guardian angels Johann came across, the young man that saved his life, Hatibu-a radiology technologist,  Dr. Mugisha-neurosurgeon and his team at the private Aga Khan Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, to the US Embassy staff.  The staff at the Mariott Protea in Dar es Salaam were so amazing and accommodating to us, truly empathetic to our needs.

The morning of the accident Johann decided to ride his bicycle to work, something he never does, and was riding extremely fast without a helmet.  In trying to avoid a speed bump, he swerved, came into a puddle full of rocks, flew over and fell on his head.  Please wear a helmet if you’re riding a bicycle, tell everyone you know that has a bicycle the importance of wearing one!  Johann is alive because Hatibu was there at a bus stop when he saw him fall and immediately brought him to the nearest clinic.  He was checked at the clinic and the doctor’s there realized he was bleeding internally and they didn’t have the necessary equipment and transferred him to the Aga Kahn Hospital where Dr. Mugisha immediately operated on him.  These were the two initial surgeries that were done while we were traveling and for which his boss had to give consent for.  The first surgery was for an emergency craniotomy and elimination of an epidural hematoma and the second immediately after was for a re-bleed in an artery.

When we arrived the next day almost at midnight, we went straight to the hospital.  He was in ICU with so many tubes and oxygen, that we wanted to die, we thought only the worse.  The next morning, on Wednesday, when we went to see him, he was awake and recognized us, spoke to us in Spanish, would speak to the staff in Swahili and to his visitors in English, so that was a great sign.  He was incoherent for a long period of time and to this day he doesn’t remember the accident, and we’re told by various neurologists that he never will remember.

We would walk to the hospital 3 times a day for the visiting hours allowed at ICU.  Thursday morning when we went to see him, he did not look well at all and we panicked.  Dr. Mugisha met with us and showed us a new CT scan that showed a recurrent epidural hematoma and he strongly recommended an immediate surgery.  When they were taking Johann to surgery, we honestly believed his body could not take another surgery, but we had no other choice.  We told him how much we loved him and that this was for the best, all along remembering Dr. Mugisha’s words that Johann was strong and young, and this was all in his favor.  We said good-bye to Johann, we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know if we were going to see him alive again.  The hours in surgery were the longest hours of our lives.  Four hours later, Dr. Mugisha asked us to come into the recovery room and there was Johann, wide awake and asking us in Spanish, what was he doing there.  We were crying tears of joy; we were so happy to see him alive!  Johann stayed in ICU for 10 days recovering and was then transferred 2 days to regular ward.  We stayed 3 more days in Tanzania so that he could do follow-up visits with Dr. Mugisha who then released him and authorized his travel back home with us.


With Hatibu, our new son in Tanzania.

Johann has been home with us since our return on December 10th recuperating.  He is seeing a neurologist and a generalist here in Miami, and in addition to friends of ours who are doctors, they have all confirmed that the treatment he received in Tanzania was the best and that procedures followed were the correct ones.  We never doubted this as we’re not the type of people that underestimate healthcare in other countries, but in a situation like this, we must confess we were scared.  In addition, there was not enough time, given Johann’s trauma, to evacuate him out of the country.  Our dear friend Robert provided us with so much support trying to find all the ways we could evacuate Johann out of Tanzania, and we will forever be grateful to him.  Sahid was born in Nicaragua, and many people I know freaked out when we made this decision and in addition, Pedro left his appendix in Nicaragua, so we knew the care Johann was receiving was the best in Tanzania, and it was, he’s with us today.  Johann has been swimming, walking and going to yoga and Tai ichi.  His recuperation has been amazing.  He plan to return to Tanzania by mid-February.

And so, our year ended, on a beautiful and special note, all of us spending Christmas together, a unique and very special blessing.  My sister came down for several days and we had a wonderful time with her, we also celebrated her birthday with a rum cake, ’tis the season for that :-).  We had our “Nochebuena” dinner and a great Christmas day.  Of course, we also celebrated Three Kings Day, bringing back all the memories from when the boys were little with the shoe boxes they decorated back then for the camel’s grass :-), no cannabis :-).



Our other son, Tyler, came to visit us in Miami over the holidays.  The original plan was for him to meet us in PR, but due to Johann’s accident, those plans were cancelled.  We were so happy to see him.  He continues working with Delta Airlines and has been able to travel to so many places as that is one of the greatest perks of working for an airline.  He has been to the UK, Mexico, Roatan, and Japan, among other exciting places.  He  learned from us how to be a globetrotter!  He continues to grow professional at Delta and is always taking advantage of all the training opportunities offered to him…he also knows the sky is the limit…so in the wise words of Buzz Lightyear, “To Infinity & Beyond”!

We’re living in very strange and sad times, so many natural disasters, especially our little island of PR suffering so much.  In addition, we see so much hate, genocide, wars, shootings…and people seem to be just looking the other way and some even find a way to justify it.  How hard is to accept that we’re all the same, that there is no need for any  hate or judgement.  Maya Angelou said, “We’re here to love each other.  That’s why you are alive. That is what life is for.”  If we all were to believe in the power of love, this would be a much better world.

Before I say until next year, I want to share with you a poem I came across many, many years ago when I was only 21 and my mom passed away.  It came back to my mind when we were at the hospital with Johann.  We have to remember how important it is to  “always hold your loved ones close today”.

If I Knew 

by Dawn Marie Huddleston

If I knew it would be the last time
That I’d see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be  the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would ! give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say “I love you,”
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I’m sure you’ll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there’s always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything just right.

There will always be another day
to say “I love you,”
And certainly there’s another chance
to say our “Anything I can do?”

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I’d like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you’re waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you’ll surely regret the day,

That you didn’t take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you’ll always hold them dear

Take time to say “! I’m sorry,”
“Please forgive me,” “Thank you,” or “It’s okay!”
And if tomorrow never comes,
you’ll have no regrets about today.

We want to wish all of you a wonderful 2020.  As Disney said, “The most fantastic magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish.” To a magical 2020!

With much love & peace, Pedro, Mili, Johann & Sahid

Image result for love and peace


January 23, 2020 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment


Recent Posts