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I Love To Travel, Granted There Are Inconveniences

I LOVE TRAVEL, GRANTED THERE ARE INCONVENIENCES By Lu Sobredo I love to travel. And I love writing about our travels. The fact that I was able to travel at all in 2016, after the diagnosis in 2013 of a crippling illness called Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), was truly a miracle. However, I am practical. As a responsible travel writer, I like giving a balanced account of my experience when touring abroad. I see so much beauty and tasty treats in the nooks and crannies of Spain, Portugal and other European, and Asian regions of the globe we’ve visited. Spain is at the top of our travel destination by a mile. But I do my best to give a balanced perspective. Travel is as joyful as it is stressful. And anyone setting off to go on an adventure or a relaxing journey outside the comfort zone of home must face the reality that there are inconveniences that come with travel. First, there’s no denying the breathtaking scenery makes me quickly forget the snag we experience just purchasing a ticket for
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So, You Want to Visit Barcelona?

  SO, YOU WANT TO VISIT BARCELONA? by Lu Sobredo A very pleasant Barcelona experience awaited me in 2021. Sagrada Familia Cathedral 2021 It finally happened! I’m in Barcelona. My 5th time in 11 years. My husband has been coming here with family or by himself for research and to attend conferences many more times, I had lost count. This Fall 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much around. Many of the borders in various parts of Europe opened to Americans. And I am simply thrilled to be out of my American pandemic cocoon.  I remain practical and obsess over health protocols because of my autoimmune illness. Fortunately, mask-wearing is taken very seriously in Spain or one risks getting arrested and fined or worse. The fines could be quite steep. Taxi- drivers not wearing a mask can be fined €100. Anyone inside a public place not wearing a mask could have the same fate. The Spanish Government has indeed taken a strict stance on mask wearing and other health practices. Vaccination r

Life Must Be Lived: Traveling with RA to Spain and Portugal

  LIFE MUST BE LIVED: TRAVELING WITHE RA TO SPAIN AND PORTUGAL Flights From San Francisco to Lisbon and Madrid by Lu Sobredo Picture this! A woman suffering from an autoimmune disease with limited mobility travels across the Atlantic from the west coast of the United States of America in the midst albeit declining cases of COVID-19 pandemic. The picture I wish to show is one of hope! A rheumatologist officially delivered the diagnosis to me: Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for which there is no cure; the same individual told me that I would be crippled soon, all words uttered without taking a breath eight years ago in the afternoon of August 5, 2013. He offered to begin infusion of expensive drugs that very day, not knowing any more about my disease or stating goals for improving my condition. It felt as though the world was suddenly enshrouded in darkness, my heart sank and the voice inside my head was screaming in sheer helplessness. On the outside, I kept my composure as I listened

Heron on the Dock of the Bay

HERON ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY By Lu Sobredo At early morning twilight— that magical time before sunrise,  a white and gray silhouette sweeps gracefully across the waters  of Richardson Bay landing silently  on the dock not too far from me. Over the years, I’ve noticed  the beak at the end of his elongated neck had grown an orange tint. His stance, stately with eyes fixed at something in the water, I’d say, an unsuspecting prey. I’ve been witness to this ritual often for years, almost sixteen but who’s counting.  Perhaps, I count every now and then the number of steps it takes to reach as close to the beauty  not many human eyes have seen. Each time, it has become our game I wonder how close to his space on the dock he would allow my intrusion, and to what end? After more than a decade would I finally gain a feathered friend? Sixteen years is long for playing hard to get between woman and bird. Although, I must say the distance has been reduced, the physical distance between us before fl

Ten Essentials for Autumn Travel to Spain

TEN ESSENTIALS FOR AUTUMN TRAVEL TO SPAIN By Lu Sobredo The warm weather hasn’t completely waned, but there are signs of the new season including a little chill in the early morning air. As of September 22, 2021, North America is officially into autumn and I am thrilled! A year and half of waiting for COVID 19 infection cases to decline in the U.S. and other parts of the world has been challenging. But survived, I did! So did my circle of friends and family. I feel for those who did suffer much and lost loved ones or colleagues to the indiscriminatory virus. Diligent adherence to health protocols have helped and I wished many more would take the risks seriously by getting vaccinated, continuing to mask up and limit exposure by distancing or gathering responsibly in small crowds. I feel fortunate to qualify in the late summer for a third vaccine. Being someone diagnosed with an autoimmune illness renders me high risk to infection. On August 31, 2021 I walked into a pharmacy and took con

At a Cafe in the Morning

  AT A CAFÉ IN THE MORNING By Lu Sobredo Staring into space not from disinterest.  I am enthralled by the liveliness  of this place. Masked women gesturing with hands and fingers  pointed to their chests signaling  sincerity, I suppose—one to the other listening intently then reciprocating with cupped hands as though emphasizing a response. Now their heads bobbed front to back as if in a dance, their laughter seems to croon along with the music piped through the Café walls. The sun, victorious against the morning fog, shines through the expanse of the glass window, its brightness rested on my son’s dark brown hair accentuated by the sun-induced  reddish tint. The highlighted head of hair reminded me of my mother’s, my son’s maternal grandmother he has only met  through stories. Storytelling is central to my young years, ancestral stories heard and stored in a cup of tea  or a treasure box as told lovingly by aunties, their mothers, granduncles and my son hears them lovingly repeated fr

A Rare Summer Road Trip

A RARE SUMMER ROAD TRIP by Lu Sobredo  More than one year into the pandemic in one’s golden years counting  blessings, mourning regrets, tracing etchings from times past. Distant  memory blurred by life’s losses; soured by warming climate and ash  coated air from fires—forests and grasslands suffocated from lack of rain.  This is not the California of my youth.  This is not planet Earth of my innocence, but more a semblance  of an ailing heart scarred with ravages of human neglect, disrespect  and dishonor. A universe wails in agony at its inhabitants’ indifference. Driving the stretch of highway from north to south, breath held not  in awe but in sorrow at the stretches of desolate places far too wide  for comfort; once gleaming in lush trees, vines hugging the ground  brimming of  plump seasonal colors and juices of late summer harvest.  The familiar sight is gone and replaced by barren farms; cows huddled  for shelter from the sweltering sun under a lone tree of broken dreams,  lost

Before the End Draws Near: Poem By Lu Sobredo

Before the End Draws Near by Lu Sobredo Only four days ago on Sunday, June 20, 2021, my best friend and literary sidekick wrote this in a message: " Sis, one of the best ways to rest after completing a first novel is to write a poem--or two---or three---or so I've been told---besides restless spirits never listen to our entreaties for rest and calm. No matter how humble or earnest they may be . . . much love to you . . . " My friend and brother Ken Miller sometimes knows me better than I know myself. And here I am, on Thursday, June 24, 2021, having finished writing a poem that would not leave me alone, stunned about what else is left unsaid. It's only fitting that I dedicate this poem to him, and to the shared paths of our common journey. Before the End Draws Near “To be or not to be” was not a question I entertained upon waking. For years such question was comforting only when illuminated in a play by Shakespeare, from a soliloquy I could parrot since age ten ye