NYE lessons from Ecuador

Australian New Year’s Eve traditions mostly involve drinking hard, watching fireworks and calling it a party. This is followed by spending 1 January sleeping it off. Where Christmas Day is family time, NYE Down Under means time with friends. In Ecuador, I was introduced to the tradition of making and breaking monigotes (mon-ee-GO-tez): life-sized replicas of yourself and people you know. These effigies are also known as muñecos … Continue reading NYE lessons from Ecuador

Love and ashes

Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Ash Wednesday! Not since 1945 have both occasions fallen on the same day. And not since ever have I cared much for either. Guess I’m just a little jaded. Today, couples make very visible shows of their affection for each other. And florists and restaurants make a killing. Today, the faithful step out of Mass with a dusty cross brushed onto their … Continue reading Love and ashes

A Big Deal? Melbourne Cup memories, millennials and Michelle Payne

I first discovered that the Melbourne Cup was a Big Deal when my kindergarten class ran our own sweepstakes. There was no money involved, of course, and I don’t recall watching the race, but every 5 and 6 year old in the class drew a small piece of paper from a Danish cookie tin. Thus were we each assigned a horse. Being a very rational … Continue reading A Big Deal? Melbourne Cup memories, millennials and Michelle Payne

Easter in the Amazon

As we emerge sleepy-eyed from our mosquito net tents, Lauren murmurs to me, “Happy Easter …” For a few split seconds, I’m a little befuddled, head lost in a haze of drizzling rain and a chorus of birds and insects. Today is … Sunday. Easter Sunday. Oh, right. It was probably one of the least Eastery Easters I’ve had so far. We were a good couple of hours up … Continue reading Easter in the Amazon