All posts by Barbara Pisarro

China, Day 22 – June 17, 2018

Liang, the driver who had picked us up at the airport two weeks ago, would be driving us to the airport today. Julian and Eric woke up early to help us with our luggage, and to say good-bye. Liang took us out for breakfast. He ordered twelve dumplings, fried bread, chicken soup, and more. Even though we knew that if we didn’t eat everything, he would think we didn’t like it and order more, we were too excited to  eat too much. Continue reading China, Day 22 – June 17, 2018

China, Day 21 – June 16, 2018

On Saturday , we were going to the Forbidden City.  a palace complex in central Beijing.  Containing more than 900 buildings, it was the home of emperors and their households from 1420 to 1912. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having the largest collection of preserved wooden structures in the  world. It was given its name because ordinary people were forbidden to enter it.  Today there can be up to 80,000 entrants each day.
Continue reading China, Day 21 – June 16, 2018

China, Day 20 – June 15, 2018

Now my back was  completely normal.  As I mentioned, today was to be a special day at the preschool. This was the weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival, which  commemorates a Chinese poet who lived more than 2,000 years ago. It is a cultural festival as well as  a public holiday. It was also Fathers’ Day weekend. Today, the children’s fathers had been invited to visit the school. In some cases, mothers attended, and in other cases, both parents, but every child had a parent present. Continue reading China, Day 20 – June 15, 2018

China, Day 18 – June 13, 2018

Several years ago, while trying to lift a student, I felt a pain in my lower back. That was the beginning of a problem that  has popped up occasionally,  for years. I always travel with my medication and heat packs, and typically, I feel better within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. During the night I felt the familiar lower back twinge, so a I applied my heat pack and took my medication immediately, hoping for the best. Continue reading China, Day 18 – June 13, 2018

China, Day 17 – June 12, 2018

Today we were going to the other  Pleasant Preschool, which is in Langfang, about an hour from Gu’an. It is situated  in a city, among rows of restaurants and businesses. In the lobby, we were greeted by Candy, a teacher at the school and our contact person with whom we had been corresponding. This school had fewer students than the one in Gu’an, so of course the staff was smaller. Candy began to take us on a tour of the school. Continue reading China, Day 17 – June 12, 2018

China Day 10 – June 5, 2018

We were picked up at 8:10 AM and brought to our “office” at the kindergarten.  Arla has tried to find things we would enjoy eating and drinking. She  had asked if we would like coffee, but we aren’t coffee drinkers, so they ordered milk for us. I was touched by their efforts! It came in a plastic pouch, like Capri Sun juice drinks.  The rest of our breakfast consisted of vegetables, chicken and celery,  a bean paste filled bun,  something we could not identify but tried nonetheless, and rice porridge. We enjoyed our meal. Our main concern was that the temperature outside was predicted to be 106° F. Continue reading China Day 10 – June 5, 2018

China, Day 9 – June 4, 2018

This would be our first day at the preschool in Gu’an! We were picked up by Yaya, a teacher at the school and our local driver.  The school was a few miles from our residence,  and we were met there by Arla. The school’s entrance gate is majestic and imposing! The preschool is called a kindergarten, while at home,  children go to kindergarten after they finish preschool. Continue reading China, Day 9 – June 4, 2018

China, Day 7 – June 2, 2018

We awoke at 4 AM and were in the hotel lobby, ready for our cab to the airport by 4:30 AM. We weren’t tired; we were excited to think about the schools we would be visiting in China! All airport procedures went smoothly.  At our gate, we met a young  American woman who had taken time off from her job to backpack through Southeast  Asia. Our son has the same adventurous spirit, having done that a few years back. We conversed happily until boarding time. Continue reading China, Day 7 – June 2, 2018

Day 4 – May 30, 2018

I always wear two watches when we travel. One is my traditional Boccia watch. It is set to the time back home. I didn’t need to reset it, because Hong Kong and Connecticut are 12 hours apart. I also wear a Fitbit. In addition to telling me the time, it keeps a record of the steps I take each day, and also of how much sleep I get. When we crossed the International Dateline and “lost” a day, the Fitbit got confused. Nick was able to straighten it out. Continue reading Day 4 – May 30, 2018

China, Day 2 – May 28, 2018

We awoke to a sunny San Francisco morning. Soon we discovered that my Fitbit charging cable  had been left at home. We walked to two Walgreens stores, and  then to a Target. It was at Target that we found a charging cable that fit my Fitbit.


Nicholas was taking the train to meet us on Market Street. There was a mall there that we had never entered before, but we learned that it’s one of Nicholas’ favorites, Continue reading China, Day 2 – May 28, 2018

Portugal, Day 13 – October 2, 2017


Nick was disappointed with the breakfast choices because there were no cakes, pies, or other desserts. He satisfied himself with scrambled eggs with bacon and a croissant. My breakfast was scrambled eggs, banana yogurt, and a Portuguese roll.

Mutiny was beginning in the ranks. Some of our companions were saying that they were getting tired of cathedrals. Surprise! There were to be no cathedrals today! Instead we went to a ceramics studio, where we observed all stages of the making of ceramic tiles. Continue reading Portugal, Day 13 – October 2, 2017

Portugal, Day 11 – September 30, 2017

The breakfast choices at our hotel were too numerous to imagine. As for me, I chose yogurt and cold cereal. After breakfast,  our bus took us  to Alcobaça to  to see the Monastery of Santa Maria, described as being “Cistercian Baroque-Gothic.” The Cistercians were monks who  arrived in 1228 with the plan to create an abbey designed for hard work, prayer, and total silence. Inside are the tombs of Portugal’s most tragic romantic couple, Dom Pedro and Dona Inês, who met and experienced love at first sight at Dom Pedro’s wedding, which had been arranged by his father. After his wife died, Dom Pedro’s father refused to let his son marry Inês. Note that they already had four children by then. Continue reading Portugal, Day 11 – September 30, 2017

Portugal, Day 10 – September 29, 2017

After breakfast at the hotel buffet, we were off to a family owned  farm, called Rovisco Garcia. We rode through the farm’s various terrains in a specially constructed jeep, seeing  the trees that produce cork, and  learning how the cork is extracted. They also grow umbrella pines that produce pignoli nuts,  grapes for wine and olives for olive oil on their property. Continue reading Portugal, Day 10 – September 29, 2017

Portugal, Day 9 – September 28, 2017

We were leaving Lisbon right after breakfast. From the buffet, I chose yogurt, granola, and tea.  Nick, well into vacation mode, selected chocolate cake with chocolate sauce from  the fountain, and a chocolate filled croissant.

We boarded the bus for  the city of Évora. Being a walled city, it has a unique charm.  We met our local guide, who led us on a  walking tour of the city. Continue reading Portugal, Day 9 – September 28, 2017

Portugal, Day 8 – September 27, 2017

We started our day at the part of the city called Belém, which is at the waterfront. There in the early 1500s, King Manuel, who married a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain,  constructed the Monastery of Saint Jerónimos. We had a tour guide who specialized in this structure, and she pointed out many sea motifs that  we might have overlooked. Vasco da Gama, the first to sail around Africa and return  to Portugal with a cargo of spices,  is entombed here. Continue reading Portugal, Day 8 – September 27, 2017

Portugal, Day 7 – September 26, 2017

Our group met  with our tour guide after breakfast to start the day with a  walk  through the Alfama neighborhood,  which dates back to the Visigoths from the sixth to the 8th centuries AD. Near the sea, it became the home of Lisbon’s fishermen and mariners. We walked up to São Jorge Castle, the highest point in town. We were looking forward to going to the castle because our son had told us that he enjoyed doing just that. We were not disappointed. Typically, castles are fortifications while palaces are royal residences, but the Portuguese royal family lived there for several centuries. After the royal family relocated, the castle became a military garrison. It was declared a national monument in the 20th century. Continue reading Portugal, Day 7 – September 26, 2017