My husband and I can spend many an hour watching the birds come to our backyard and perch on the branches of a dead tree located thirty feet from our veranda. It provides them with views over a vast area of shrub land that abuts our property.
One day we noticed that a couple of house finches decided to build a nest in the top of our propane patio heater. Much as we love birds, this was a little too close for comfort. So we cleared out the nest and stuffed the top part with newspaper.
The next time Mr. Finch flew over to the heater, his beak loaded with a twig, he was astounded to find some one had foiled all of his hard work and blocked his access. It wasn’t long before he discovered the culprit: the master of the house. Was he annoyed? What do you think? And what was he going to tell his spouse?
I literally could not put it down until I’d read the whole thing. This novel has everything that makes a great story: an exciting storyline (that draws you in and holds you there), compelling/ likable characters, unexpected plot twists, accurate historical details, rich local flavor, and a comfortable, fluid style that is as equally adept at describing suspenseful action as it is at conveying deep, romantic emotion.
So here, instead, are some borrowed words that I think fit this excellent tale: engrossing, exciting, absorbing. All apply well to a book with the ingredients of this thriller: interesting protagonists, well-captured locations like Arizona and Honduras, drug cartels, corrupt politicians, mystery (involving an international cover-up), and a nice touch of romance.
Now available on Amazon Kindle.
Meg Goodwin’s best friend Alex disappeared when they were reporting the unrest in Honduras. But Meg thinks her dangerous life is behind her when she settles back in Arizona. Then a mysterious bleeding man turns up in her barn, and her life will never be the same again.
In this absorbing thriller Meg must face not only drug cartels and corrupt politicians, but also an international cover-up. And if she survives, and solves the mystery of her lost friend, can she also find love?
Thanksgiving morning in Guatemala. I woke up and had a cup of coffee and did a mental list of things I needed to do to prepare Thanksgiving dinner: stuff the turkey and put it in the oven, make the turkey stock for the gravy. Later comes the potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the green beans. This year instead of canned cranberries I will be making my own from fresh cranberries that I found at the supermarket.
The challenge of Thanksgiving outside the United States is gathering all the ingredients. Turkeys are surprisingly easy to find. In Uganda, the commissary brought them in from Kenya, in Malawi from South Africa. But there are always some ingredients that are hard to come by: canned pumpkin, cranberries, sage, sweet potatoes. One year, for my grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe, I needed allspice.
The hoarding starts immediately following Thanksgiving for the next year. Throw some canned pumpkin into your suitcase while on home leave in July. Be sure to throw some sage in there as well. If you come across shortening at the store, buy it and tuck it into your cupboard.
Improvising is always fun. One year I used ripe plantains in my grandmother’s sweet potato recipe. It was delicious. Squash can be used to make a lovely pumpkin pie.
Ask your friends if they know where you can find certain ingredients. If you’ve been overseas for long, you will have a stockpile of those essential items and will give your surplus to your friend in need. Thanks, friend.
The Infinity Tattoo
A Novel of International Suspense
A tale of three Americans who get caught up in the most recent Central American drama where the ruling elite, still living in the cold war era, fearing communism and dictatorship more than the villains in their midst, become their own worst enemy.
I never in a million years thought I would have a driver. But after too many years fighting traffic in developing countries like the Dominican Republic and Honduras, I reached a point where I wouldn’t go anywhere, rather than hassle with driving the insane roads. So one day, my husband encouraged me to hire a driver one day a week. But not just any driver. Bernard is not only an excellent driver, but trained in security, well versed in mechanics and speaks both Spanish and English.
What a difference in my life this has made. Now I go wherever I feel like going. I don’t worry about how I am going to squeeze my Rav4 into a crowded parking lot, how to get to places, or even what the man is saying at the cash register, because Bernard also translates.
Now in Vientiane, he reports:
I arrived around noon yesterday, and my legs are feeling a tad bit heavier than from before my journey began.
Yesterday, I hit the 1000 kilometer mark, so I was cheering by myself up until I hit the 1001 kilmeter mark. A small kid in a village heard me yelling and saw me gesticulating, so he followed suite and did the same, not really knowing why I was cheering in the first place, but giving just as much enthusiasm to the occasion as I was. It was great fun for the both of us.
I biked from my village to Mukdahan, crossed over to Savanakhet, biked to Tha Khaek and then did the “Tha Khaek Loop,” which was mind numbingly beautiful, but excruciatingly tough. Going straight up mountains for an hour straight, with super steep gradients can really poop you out, but I think the rewards (and endorphins pumping through the body!) make the experience worthwhile. Now, I m in Vientiane to let my legs recover, before Northern Laos. Its should be VERY tough going…
Barrilete (Kite) Festival last year on All Saints Day (Nov 1st) in Sumpango, Guatemala.
Sumpango is located a half hour drive from Guatemala City. The festival, a mix of Catholic and Mayan religions has been taking place for over eighty years. It was a grand affair with bright colorful kites, some well over 15 feet high. As we ambled towards the main event, we passed the graveyard, a miniature city in pastels, where people were honoring the dead with fresh flowers. Then we arrived at the festival where there was a huge assortment of kites in bright colors.
Beyond the collection of kites, was a crowd of merry makers and a food area where ladies were making blue corn tortillas and men were roasting whole pigs on a barbeque spit.
Then we found a place to sit and watch the kids’ kite flying competition. It was quite a challenge getting those kites in the air as there was very little wind. They tell me that later they would have the adult competition. I wondered if they really planned to fly the giant kites.