Archive for January, 2021

Souss-Maldonado Newsletter 2020

January 2021 – Miami, FL

W.T.F. (what the fuck)

Dear Family and Friends:

In previous newsletters I would always start with the following sentence, “I hope that this newsletter finds you healthy and how we should all be thankful for a new year ahead and a new beginning.” I think Ernie’s cartoon to the left summarizes how we all felt about 2020. 2020 brought us a horrible pandemic, still raging rampant, and a national racial crisis that had us see live on TV the murder of an innocent man, George Floyd, followed by very much justified Black Lives Matter Peaceful protests all around the country and the world. In addition, who would have thought that the first week of January 2021 was going to bring to our nation’s capital such horrible violence, an attempted coup attempt, all incited by an egotistical, incompetent president and some of his corrupt and power hungry cabinet, not willing to accept election results certified by both the red and blue state officials. Peaceful transfer of power has always been a staple of our democracy. A quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

I look back at last year’s newsletter which I end it by saying how we live in strange and sad times and what a sad irony that 2020 would turn out the way it did. On our end we were so positive and happy towards the end of 2019 as Johann had made it through his horrible accident over Thanksgiving. He spent two months with us visiting every single imaginable doctor to make sure he was fine with no after effects after the accident. At the end of February Johann was discharged by all his doctors and went back to Tanzania to continue working. At the same time, Sahid moved to West Virginia for a short term contract and Pedro and I became empty nesters for a while.

The four of us were able to go to PR for a weekend in late January since we could not go in December. We saw the family briefly as the trip had been planned months in advance to attend the wedding of the son of dear friends and it was so special to have been able to spend this joyous moment with them. If we had known that a pandemic was going to stop us from returning home later in the year and over the holidays, we would have stayed longer.

Everything seemed normal at the beginning of 2020. The book club started off with a great brunch at the beautiful Tea Room in Homestead and like always, we had a blast. It was going to be a great year, lots of readings and outings…except that the pandemic and the horrible political climate we were living, consumed us all.

We managed to read as a group a couple of great books at the beginning of the year: Largo Petalo de Mar de Isabel Allende and Papel y Tinta from Maria Reig and in February we got together for the last time before we knew we were going to have to quarantine to discuss Largo Petalo de Mar with a delicious typical Colombian dinner courtesy of Maria Teresa.

After that, it was all zoom meetings with the book club, the family and a special one with my friends I met in Kazakhstan almost 20 years ago, who are now scattered all over the planet in Lebanon, Spain, Portugal and the US.

On March 16 we started working remote because of the pandemic. There were so many unknowns, there was panic, wash your hands thoroughly, use hand sanitizer (I had never used this), maintain social distance, wear masks, check the work website frequently for changes, we had entered a new world, and the most important one, ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM: “You’re on mute“, became one of the most popular sayings of 2020 :-)! I remember packing at work some of my things thinking we’d be home only for a couple of weeks. But of course, little did we know that an incompetent government would be hiding from us the magnitude and horror of this pandemic. The first email we received from work with an update on the pandemic was that there were only 2 cases in Broward County, back then, the first in South Florida, 2 cases!!! I also remember the CDC issuing a media statement around February that there were 15 cases in the US, imagine that!!! Then the government saying the virus would go away like a miracle, that the warm weather would make it disappear, all pitiful lies when they knew how contagious this virus was. Today we have in the US 24M+ cases and 400K+ deaths, absolutely horrifying how this administration handled this pandemic. We’re looking to the day when we can get vaccinated and eventually go back to a more normal lifestyle. Until that day, we still need to be very cautious and continue to wear our face masks and practice social distancing.

In June I turned the big 60….no big party like I would have liked, but my beautiful book club friends, in partnership with Pedro, organized a surprise social distance birthday party. Did we have fun…this was the first time we were ‘seeing’ each other after so many zoom book club meetings. I know that we will eventually celebrate all our our birthdays, of that I’m 100% sure!

In July we lost our two dear puppies, Lupe and Rocket. I have never cried so much in my life. Rocket got a horrible cancer and we had to put him to sleep, he was almost 12 years old. Lupe, at almost 14 years old and who had always had Rocket by her side, died one week later. She could not handle not having him around. She would cry at night and one day she woke up and decided she did not want to live any longer. It’s so amazing how these two puppies filled our lives with so much happiness and to this day we miss them so much.

Because of the pandemic, we didn’t go anywhere for months, practically only the grocery store, and our waists definitely show it ­čÖé In the summer, we decided we needed to get out of the house some and decided to do a few kayak trips to the Keys, always a great and peaceful time. Instead of going during the weekend, I took a couple of days off during the week so that there would not be to many people at the park. Even though we wore our masks when walking in the park and maintained social distance, it was great as there was hardly anybody kayaking. We went to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and to Long Key State Park, which we had never visited. Kayaking through the mangroves is amazing. We’re so lucky to have this natural treasure right in our back yards. We can’t wait to go back!

Some of the positive from 2020 were the election results. I’m so ecstatic that we’re going to have the first woman vice president, and not only the first woman, the first woman of color and of South Asian heritage, daughter of immigrants, so representative of the history of this great nation, a nation built by immigrants! I’m also so thankful to the late night shows for helping us get through 2020, in addition to all the memes that were created as a result of all the craziness this country was going through, one of my favorite, the one wtih the paper towel below :-).

After the year getting off to a horrible start, I was so excited to know that the U.S. will have the first African American Senator from Georgia and the first Jewish Senator from Georgia. History in the making on so many fronts. When I saw the picture below after all the horrific images on the media from January 6th, I just smiled thinking that there is hope after all. This is what the U.S. is all about, celebrating unity in diversity. I feel deep in my heart that finally this country will be bringing back civility and humanity which it had lost in the last years.

On a work note, as Co-Chair of the South Region University Professional Continuing and Online Education Association (UPCEA), I helped organize the region’s first virtual conference. I thought I was going to die…a virtual conference!?!?! Thanks to Sahid for all his help! It’s amazing how technical I’ve become during all these months working remote. The conference was a total success and we had around 300 participants!!! I’m proud to say that I was also recognized by the association as an emerging leader :-)!

Pedro’s birthday was in November and it was low key this year, but no complaints at all. The most important thing was that we were together celebrating.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were quiet, just Pedro, Sahid and I. Sahid got Covid mid December and thankfully the symptoms were mild. He quarantined in his room as we all wore masks around the house. After 14 days we all got tested and the results were negative.

Our wishes for you for 2021 is that you stay safe and that as soon as you have access to the vaccine you get vaccinated. Let’s continue to wear our face masks and practice our social distance, we do it to protect you and we hope you do it to protect us. We really do look forward to seeing you, traveling with you and getting together again with you to celebrate that we’re all healthy in 2021. ┬íPACHANGA!

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

~George Santayana~

January 17, 2021 at 3:22 pm


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