wrong tactic

10/11/17 08:13

Headline in today's Herald reads: "Keys tries [sic] to lure tourists with an unusual approach: showing damage." I was hoping it would say: "Keys try to lure tourists with an unusual approach: reasonable prices."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

fire and rain

10/10/17 09:21

One month ago I received a number of emails from friend expressing concern about Irma. One woman, who lives outside the town of Sonoma, urged us to evacuate. Yesterday I sent her an email asking if she and her husband had evacuated. She said they were staying put, for now, but had been told to leave at the first sign of fire. There are not many things that make a hurricane seem the preferable option, but a wildfire is one of them.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Miami Cuba

10/09/17 10:11

Saturday afternoon we drove our friends Don and Joanne down to Little Havana. We walked past Domino Park to the Tower Theater, where we watched the Czech-Slovak film The Teacher. Afterwards, we visited Ball & Chain and then went for dinner - ropa vieja and vaca frita - in a restaurant whose wall was covered with old Cuban advertisements and magazine covers. 

"This is like going to Cuba," Don said, "without the pain."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to a writer who is relatively well-known (at least his work that has been made into movies is) and writes in English. So the English-speaking world, which views itself as the center of the universe, should be pleased. Though I suspect that there are many worthy writers working in less popular languages who missed out on a chance to gain wider audiences.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: writers

air nonsickness

10/05/17 09:45

No one has ever commented on my remarkable body, yet consider this:

Our last day in Portugal, driving from Sagres to Lisbon, I experienced stomach cramps. During lunch in Santiago Do Cacem – bacalhao a bras (salted cod with onions, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs) – I excused myself to use the men’s room. I used it again at the pastelaria down the street.

I was so fatigued by the time we reached the autoroute I had trouble keeping my eyes open. We pulled into a rest stop shortly before the Vasco da Gama Bridge so I could go to the bathroom again.

At our airport hotel I went straight to bed – it was 6:30 in the evening – and pulled the blanket up to my chin to fight off chills. Early the next morning I woke up in a sweat but felt quite good, as if whatever had been ailing me had escaped through perspiration.

I walked briskly through the airport. My appetite returned, and on the plane I ate cheese ravioli in tomato sauce without any repercussions. Our friends who picked us up in Miami had no idea that I had been sick because I looked the picture of health (or as much as one can after a trans-Atlantic flight).

Yet the next day I woke up with chills, fever, and more diarrhea. I spent the day in bed, eating almost nothing and drinking large amounts of Gatorade. I was surprised, of course, having thought myself cured, yet grateful that the virus – for my flight home – had kindly if mysteriously decided to take the day off.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Yesterday, driving down SW 7th Street at about 5:15 in the afternoon, I saw something I had never seen before: A passenger train on the FEC tracks. It was the Brightline train, on what I assumed was a test run. And I wondered if all the people who have been complaining about the return of passenger trains to the downtown tracks will nevertheless be relieved, when stopped at a crossing, to discover it's not another endless freight train.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans