Since my arrival to Barcelona, I’ve been exploring the surrounding area with my boyfriend. I’ve immensely enjoyed going to see all the charming pueblos, discovering all the incredible views Catalunya offers, and smelling the wet earth during hikes.
Growing up in the United States I wasn’t taught much about Spain in school besides the Spanish war. I had no idea about its natural beauty. To a Mexican American like me, the more and more I discover the region of Catalunya, its culture, and its landscape, it leads me to a feel as if I’m getting closer to something I knew before. As promised, I intend to express more next time about my particular relationship with this land and the people here, but for now let’s admire its beauty!
In this gallery blog post you will see landscapes from Cardona, Congost de Mont-Rebei, Rupit, Aiguestortes, Castellfollit de la Roca, Cardona, and La Garrotxa National Park. All located in rich Catalunya.
Una catrina en Catalunya…
While being here in Barcelona, there’s things I notice everyday that trigger nostalgia and make me miss the familiar. Experiences such as going to grocery stores and finding that the only “Mexican” products available are yellow looking tortillas, guacamole, and some of El Paso’s “very authentic” line of TEX-MEX products. Or perhaps times where people pick up my accent and talk to me about their trips to Mexico and after a few comments about their great times there, I start to miss my family. There’s even times where I’ve met very nice Catalan or Spanish people, but have noticed where I as a Mexican-American am not yet able to enter in terms of intimacy. I’m no expert or anthropologist, but after meeting and observing so many cultures in Latin America and also spending time here in Spain on multiple occasions, I can’t help but to feel like there’s nothing like the welcome of a Latino friend. I become reminded of the warmth of my Mexican roots on a regular basis.
So as soon as I got word of a Dia de los Muertos celebration here in Barcelona I signed up immediately to participate in a catrina parade and contest. If anyone was going to be in a catrina contest in the country that colonized my ancestors it was going to be me! Someone that knew exactly what this special time meant and was going to do this catrina thing the way I knew how. Not someone that fell in love with the “Halloween costume” and wanted to show off their makeup skills, and if anyone wanted to show up and do that…fine, but I was going to be the one happy to share what it means to me and the rest of the people that have celebrated it for generations and generations.
So I arrived to the parade in my catrina face and outfit, excited to finally see and meet the Mexican community in Barna.
What turned out to be a small crowd at the starting point of the catrina parade gradually formed into a pretty large group upon finally getting to the end. The parade made a huge finale at Creu Coberta Meeting Point, an empty, mural decorated lot right by the popular tourist attraction Plaça Espanya and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. The parade ended at the meeting point celebration where there were bites to eat, ofrendas, artesanias, and performances. I was amazed at how packed the space was. I overheard someone close to the organizers comment that not even the organization in charge of the event anticipated that large of a turn out. Another person replied to this comment very simply with “Coco”, to which everyone else exclaimed a very long “oh yeah”.
I suspected the Mexican community in Barcelona to be quite small, but I was a little disappointed to find that mostly the organizers, vendors, and a few people sprinkled in the huge Spaniard crowd were the only Mexicans there. Most of the catrinas and catrins were actually Spaniard.
Despite the bigger Mexican turnout I wished for, something else was especially caught my eye.
I noticed throughout the day the huge amount of photographers surrounding the parade and celebration. After speculating about them being tourists, I found out that most of them belonged to a sort of photo walk for photographers or photography groups. I’ve been to a few of them in Chicago, they typically are events where photographers meet up to take pictures of a model. In this case they met up to take photographs of the event. While I didn’t mind having my photo taken, and many of them asked or took them anyway, I started to wonder about what this whole catrina fascination business is doing to commodify a pretty sacred holiday. I was moreso wondering how much Western influence has stepped in to even make this Dia de los Muertos character more attractive and more importantly on a global scale. Before the interest in Mexican culture and traditions through the whopping increase of Frida fans, Disney movies like Coco, and The Book of Life, I knew Dia de los Muertos as is normally known in Mexico and I certainly don’t remember it being this globally popular in my childhood in the United States. Given the spread of media through smartphones and the increasing number of Latino immigrants in the States, I felt like there are questions worth asking surrounding the recent hype of Dia de los Muertos.
With more awareness of Day of the Dead through media, I wondered if can culture be respected while being more and more commodified? How do others see the catrina and is her meaning being lost with all the admiration? Will Dia de los Muertos one day be washed out like Christmas and other commercialized holidays?
It would even be incredible to know what my family in Mexico truly thinks, given their view looking from the inside out, rather than me perhaps who has had one foot on the outside and one foot on the inside.
After the parade, while looking for places to go eat and still wearing my full catrina face, I noticed Spaniards react in fear (yes, fear) upon seeing me as a catrina, or some would get excited (expats too) and say “oh look Halloween!” To which I quickly responded “no, not Halloween, just a catrina celebrating Dia de los Muertos”. This is where I start to feel nostalgia for a culture that understands death like mine does and knows the embodiment of the catrina as more than a costume. The catrina figure is meant to remind others of the beauty of death, proving to all that no matter how beautiful, elegant, and well to do you are, we will all still end up in the same place. Printmaker Juan Guadalupe Posada created her to poke fun at garbanzo bean sellers that would dress elegantly and sought to live out a European lifestyle despite their poor indigenous background. Unfortunately she somehow spilled over to Halloween in these recent years, attracting all with her elegance, and her story seems to be getting lost. Enough for people now to assume that it’s a Halloween costume in my case. A few curious folks I spoke with didn’t even know she was related to Dia de los Muertos. This is how I’ve observed firsthand at how commercialized the holiday became as it started to creep more and more into Halloween culture with catrinas being used as costumes. I have even been guilty of doing the same before becoming aware of cultural appropriation and respecting those lines, especially when the culture is mine.
What this experience taught me was that there’s a large opportunity to educate others on culture and origin, no matter how huge of a success it is to Disney, and what they’ve managed to show others about Mexican traditions. There’s even opportunities in countries like Spain, who have had a direct connection to us through colonization. Even here there are still things left to learn and fears to get over. Awareness yet to be touched or encountered.
I don’t have answers but perhaps I can continue to uphold my culture and educate others through representing it the best and most respectful way I can, no matter where I go. Being heedful of others who have yet to discover or fully understand the scope of idiosyncrasies that make it so incredible to admire.
One day I will be great at titles.
Anyways thanks for coming back! I’ll get back to my story.
Earlier this year I spent countless hours wallowing in self pity. Tormenting myself over the millions of things that are wrong with me, blaming myself for being “useless”. After months of this combined with the search for jobs in Chicago and New York City all of it resulting to no leads, my mind wandered again to the city I have grown to love so much over the past years.
Since I first came in 2015, Barcelona has always had a special place in my heart. I have long admired the lifestyle here, the many things Catalunya has to offer, the ideal location and I have always wanted to live in a Spanish speaking country. Not to mention that I do sense an ancestral affinity to these Catalonian lands (coming back to this later).
I never get over how much there is left to discover and learn in any destination I go to, but if you have read previous posts or followed me for some time you will notice that something else keeps drawing me back.
I was interested in looking for opportunities in Barcelona for some time and I found one with a local English language magazine here in the city. I discovered them years ago while I was looking for things to do in the city and articles to educate myself more on Barcelona. I had been considering stepping into editorial for some time now, especially since I’ve contributed to online platforms and local publications. Barcelona Metropolitan magazine focuses on all things related to living in Barcelona as an English speaker or expat. I felt it fitting for me because of my English and Spanish abilities and my desire to express more of my love and interest for the Catalonian city and region.
I was so unsure about leaving because of the endless guilt trip I take whenever I have to make a big decision. Most of the guilt was caused by the thought of leaving my family again. Despite my guilt, I have a really great and understanding family that has made my dreams abroad a little easier to accomplish.
These days I contribute to the magazine with writing, inputting information to the website, photography, and more! I’ve always loved photojournalism and have been interested in working in an editorial environment, so it’s been great for me to really gain experience and understanding into what it takes to be a part of this field. I really doubted this decision in the beginning for many reasons but I’m so glad I did it anyway. I am being challenged and am growing so much in a variety of ways. I think the most important being how to improve my workflow, organization and writing skills.
Through getting to know more and more people at events I attend and through contacts I make with the magazine, I have learned a lot about what life is over here for expats and Americans specifically. Every encounter I have has taught me something more about myself then the other person oddly enough. It wasn’t always like that in the past. I guess that’s what ends up happening when you start living away from your hometown.
It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago I was a little exhausted and fed up at the library and now I’m here. Enjoying the life abroad, even with its challenges too. It feels like I’m growing at an accelerated rate. As with many travelers and expats, I’m coming to find that the more uncomfortable I am, the better I become. Being out of your normal circle, adapting, and feeling out of place in another country asks you to face challenges differently, well because you have no other choice! The way you operated in the past is probably not going to serve you for the next phase of your life. Although I have been faced with similar situations in the past as I have experienced here, there’s a maturity that’s seems like it’s been waiting for me to catch up. There’s something asking me to approach it all differently. Part of that feeling was being more honest with myself and others. This whole push to really evolve has motivated me to want to stay here and I hope to.
I’m not where I want to be yet, but the wheels are picking up some speed to get me there. I got Barcelona to thank for that.
Here’s a link to the November issue of Barcelona Metropolitan and some articles I wrote as well. Some of those photos and text by yours truly.
I’m sitting in front of my laptop in my roommate’s apartment in El Born.
I’ve gone in and out of this draft so many times.
This is perhaps my third attempt at trying to keep up with a blog.
In the past I’ve shared bits from my travels with stories I thought were worth telling and then left things just at that. Lately, I’ve felt the desire to come back here but secretly dreaded it. It’s not getting to the keyboard that’s difficult, it’s having the courage to keep everything you write and not delete it.
Blogging has been intimidating to me for several reasons. Besides promising commitment, there’s endless issues with self-deprecation. I sincerely admit I am critical, but most importantly I am critical toward me. I am constantly doubting and questioning all of my actions and thoughts and wondering if anyone else has caught on to the idea that I’m really not as great as I am. That maybe my writing, photography, personality, or work is not like-able, interesting, or worth spending time with. Placing myself in the spotlight with these issues seems like the opposite of what I should be doing sometimes.
In addition to having a “judgey” and sad shadow self, I am a late twenty-something-year-old who is still figuring her life out. There is an immense, real fear of admitting this because it doesn’t look so sexy at this stage of my life where the amount of marriages, home purchases, and babyshowers increase with every passing year. It’s anxiety inducing to share. Especially on the internet where any member of my family is free to see. There is an expectation that each generation in the family must do better than the previous. As a daughter of an immigrant pediatrician, it’s a pressure I feel tremendously. Whether it is discreetly or blatantly said by someone or not.
It’s a doom I feel on my own. Every. Day.
I arrived to this point in a somewhat casual way. My career has gone in unexpected directions. I worked in nonprofits in the art community for years after coming out of art school in Chicago with a BFA. Unfortunately, even with a degree and many years of interning I was not as prepared as I could have been to take on the professional world. Luckily, I found the library and remained there since my senior year of college. I grew very fond of the patrons at the many libraries I got to know. I learned invaluable lessons about compassion and kindness. I had the privilege to even be seen as a leader to most there. I worked with mostly older adults, seniors, and teens. Each of them adding to my development in becoming a good human being. I will never forget those things. However, over the years, after so many incredible interactions and experiences, I couldn’t put away the dream of traveling for an extended period of time and looking for opportunities elsewhere, outside of the U.S. I felt I was living in a rut even with having a fun job. There was no ladder in these job positions I tried at the library and I had to be honest with myself. The library was not where I imagined I would be when I wrote down my future at seven-years-old on a paper layout of my farm.
I saved money over the years and quit my job to travel for over six months. It was incredible and to this day I can’t believe I did it.
After my trip and after a devastating event, I found myself in Chicago again trying to get back on my feet. Not knowing really what to do, I went back to where I swore I wouldn’t. The library.
It was a temporary thing because I was trying to find an opportunity that would fit my new stage in life, my interests, and align with my ambitions for my future. I applied to over 50 jobs. Never got one single interview.
I felt helpless every day. It has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years of my life.
To this day there is uncertainty, even where I am now and doing what I am doing. I will explain more of the present next time.
I say all of this to say that this is my journey. These are my insecurities, and I present them because they are my reality. You will not find the blogger/creative with the perfect life to be envious of, although I am extremely fortunate to have the life I have.
I am not a perfect person and this is where I am in life. I won’t pretend that I’m somewhere or something I’m not. I honor these insecurities because they have protected me in their own way and have taught me what I needed to find out about myself. Nonetheless, they expired their stay a long time ago. They don’t serve my highest good and my purpose. It’s time to let them go and rest.
Here is where I will let them lay.
I thought extensively about the many ways I could start off this blog post. This seemed the truest to me because I’ve grown tired of trying to prove myself to me and to prove myself to others. Instead I just want to focus on living a truthful life and what I share has to reflect what it really is for me.
With this introduction, I say to you reader, that the following posts you will see are my perspective. My perspective on life, inner work, stories I find, important topics of the diaspora, projects I work on, photography (of course), day to day occurrences, travel, freelancing, women’s issues, spirituality, life as a minority, career paths, collaborations, musings on art, bits of helpful information, people I find interesting and I’m sure much more. Phew, thanks for reading that.
All the while coming from a twenty-something-year-old U.S. born Latina who is just sitting impatiently and jotting down notes in what Oprah often calls the “school of life”.
Without further ado. Here’s Diana Andrea Delgado Pineda.
See you soon . . .
I arrived in Santiago's gloomy winter from Buenos Aires in August 2017. It rained constantly in the first few days and I braved the cold, wet outdoors to capture a glimpse of the Chilean capital in the Plaza de Armas. I was sure in this bustling center I would be able to piece together a face to the city. In the Plaza de Armas I listened to an outdoor comedy skit, photographed a protest, and watched friendly matches of chess underneath the plaza gazebo.
While people watching, I was lead to continue building my collection of immigrant stories in Latin America. After trying a Chilean hot dog, I went to a street juice vendor to pick up some kiwi-orange juice. As the vendor prepared my drink I noticed her speaking to a coworker in Creole.
When I continued to explore the city I saw that there was a significant amount of Haitians living in Santiago. I spoke to my Chilean friends I was staying with and they confirmed that within the last few years Haitian immigrants have created a bigger community in Santiago, Chile.
With this tip, I started looking into where I could find the story I was looking for.
Just like in Buenos Aires, I discovered an immigrant population but I wanted to press further and connect with someone that might be able to tell me more about their experience in Latin America but even more so the Chilean capital.
Through many failed attempts at conversing and connecting with passerbys, I knew I had to be a little more committed and determined to get a story. My time in Chile was almost up, so I decided to go on facebook and place a call out in Haitian facebook groups and prayed my friendly, urgent tone wouldn't make anyone think this was some sort of scam.
To my surprise, a few responded. I couldn't get together with many because I was going to be leaving soon but I managed to come across Vanessa. She was unsure of agreeing to meet with someone she had only communicated with on the internet a day before but was still very willing to help me in my quest to learn more.
With no wifi, two train transfers and two buses, I somehow managed to meet up with her outside her family's apartment in the outskirts of Santiago. My brash call out made us both nervous upon meeting but after a few minutes we felt comfortable.
We sat outside in the building courtyard and talked while her niece ran around. On such short notice and with her friendly personality, I was grateful that she allowed me to learn about her experience as a Haitian immigrant in Chile.
Vanessa came to Chile on vacation with her mom only three years ago. They already had family in Santiago so they decided to stay. Vanessa and her family are only a few of the hundreds of thousands of Haitian immigrants that have found a home in Chile in recently. In the past three years alone around Vanessa's arrival, the amount of Haitians immigrating to Chile rose from around 13,000 to up around 100,000. As someone from the outside and being a first time tourist in Chile, I wondered why there were certain countries in Latin America that appealed to certain immigrants and why the surge in immigration to Chile. I brought this up with Vanessa and explained my curiosity as to what Chile would offer specifically to Haitians.
"I think in these past few years, Haitians have spoken positively about Chile, and it's encouraged more to migrate, not to mention the easy opportunities to find work. It's not only encouraged people to visit Chile, but to stay, and find a plethora of opportunities to grow and move forward in life", she explained.
While there are many Haitians that flocked to Chile for a better life, I wondered if there has been any controversy over the new demographic. Chileans mostly consider themselves as a "white" population. When asked about this Vanessa shook her head, "In my experience, I haven't really seen anything that felt uncomfortable", she said.
Vanessa's experience may have been different from other Haitian immigrants that have reported labor abuse, unsafe housing conditions, and discrimination. When I asked about any negative reactions that exist in Chile towards the bigger visibility of Haitian immigrants she shrugged, "it's like in any other country, there are some bad moments or people that are not used to seeing new faces in their country, it happens. But I personally haven't experienced that".
As I reflect on it now, she was right. The fear of immigrants coming in and changing things up could be a story told from almost any country. A recent survey done by the Chile's National Institute for human rights revealed that while Chileans believe that Haitians are good workers, 47% think they are taking jobs away from other Chileans and 68% of those surveyed said they want stricter controls on immigration. Kinda reminds me of a rhetoric I know.
"Although I haven't experienced any negative things, what I do see that is disappointing and challenging for Haitians migrating here is that their credentials or degrees they received in Haiti have no value here", she explained. "If I were a doctor in Haiti, I can't be a doctor in Chile. That I think is what makes life here difficult for Haitian immigrants, but I do believe this is changing now. The government is putting a plan in motion to facilitate life for Haitian professionals here."
With Haitians arriving in Chile in larger numbers in these past years and an increase in awareness of racial tensions and a outdated immigration system, it has been reported that at times assimilating to Chilean society can be hard for them (The Guardian & Miami Herald). Some Haitian immigrants have expressed disappointment after living here for some time. Others have expressed that they still don't find it worse than living in the Dominican Republic, where they were stripped of citizenship and even attacked. Some have claimed Chileans won't work with Haitians, and others say that there are Chileans that are interested to know about Haitian culture.
I wondered how assimilation had been for Vanessa.
As Vanessa's life developed in Chile, she established a relationship with churchgoers and got involved with a Christian church. "Chile has been a chapter of my life where I have been able to get to know myself as a woman. I have learned the value of work, being independent, being a business owner, and being part of acts of social work. Thanks to Chile, I have been able to integrate myself into communities and through this I have learned a lot [...]"
"I mean the only thing that has been particularly hard to get used to is the cold. There were also certain words or slang that I wasn't familiar with at first but you get to learn them and use them", she states. "I love that people are so simple and solitary." she expressed to me when asked about Chileans.
Before I left I had to ask her one last thing. "What do you like most about Chile?" I asked.
"I really like pastel de choclo", she smiled and we laughed together.
Assimilation and appreciation of a culture by way of corn cakes.
Hola, glad you stuck around! As I am writing this I feel I might be nearing the end of my journey and I am only now getting to the images, stories, and writing I have been wanting to share. All due to some incredibly frustrating laptop issues (thanks Apple). Even so, I am still more determined to continue what I started and will see to it.
Since the last blog post and after my road trip in Europe, I headed south of the Equator to Buenos Aires to start my South American aventura. Apart from sharing photos of the sights and culture that are unique to each city, immediately in Buenos Aires I realized another perspective I was interested in sharing. The idea surprisingly came to me while shopping.
I was on a search for a book in the wet winter of Buenos Aires when I actually realized what my next photographic endeavor would be. I had searched online for a bookstore that carried a particular book and I found a few stores that were a couple of blocks away from each other. I grabbed my wallet, scarf, wool socks and headed outside to explore. While dodging the regular groups of canine feces on the streets of Buenos Aires, I came upon an area that stood out to me.
It was a square block that was filled with dime shops that had everything from cell phone chargers, kitchenware, slippers, to children's toys, and other knick knacks. I stopped by to see if there was anything I might be missing for the rest of my travels. After looking through several manicure sets in various stores throughout the block, I realized that almost all the employees manning the stores were Asian immigrants. Whether they were store associates, cashiers, or owners. Later on, I would visit Chinatown and I would also learn that there are more Chinese supermarkets than I could count spread all over city and that some immigrants mostly spoke only their mother language and could only communicate basic Spanish. While others even carried the natural, thick Argentinean accent, putting in "che" appropriately here and there.
Perhaps if I was still in Chicago something like this wouldn't surprise me as much. As a Latina in the United States, immigration has always been in dialogue within my community, within North America, and especially the United States. However, immigration within this hemisphere of the world so frequently points at Latin Americans migrating to the United States. In Buenos Aires, the topic of immigration to Latin America became one I wasn't familiar with but was intrigued by. Of course this is not a new subject matter nor unknown fact. Immigration from other countries to Latin America has been occurring for centuries. I was pretty familiar with the waves of immigration in most Latin American countries, but what about the waves occurring now? What opportunities lie in Latin America for others and why? Who were the immigrants interested in setting roots there? Are Latino America's doors/puertas open for these immigrants?
With this in mind, I decided I would start a mini photo essay on the immigrants I meet in Latin America and share their stories. At the very least my hope is that this project might even develop into a more expanded, well resourced photo essay. A project I would love to one day complete.
To open my mini photo essay I started with Linda Wong from Taiwan..
I met Linda while going back to that same square block area of dime shops one Sunday morning. I realized that investigating the details I was after would be no easy task. The goal was to at least get a small interview if they didn't want to be photographed but I was turned down by many immigrants. I knew it would be hard to try to trust a first time amateur journalist like me, but I was unprepared for how difficult it could be to record at least one perspective. Later I realized that apart from a cultural custom to protect one's personal life, Argentina has experienced a considerable amount of human smuggling. There are even mafia clans that are involved with bringing in immigrants illegally. Protecting their immigration story could be their way of playing it safe.
I walked into Linda's sunglass store a little discouraged and at the point of giving up when she pleasantly agreed to talk to me for a while about her experience in Argentina. Linda is a grandmother, Taiwanese immigrant, and her and her husband own a store that sells sunglasses in bulk. Her shop is filled with boxes of sunglasses and their samples taped on the front of their box. Some shelves hold pictures of her family, bonsai trees, and little buddha figurines.
She asked if I need help, I replied "no, thank you" and asked her how long she's had the shop. From there we conversed a little bit more and she agreed to tell me her story.
Linda had been the store owner for about seventeen years now. After completing her studies in a university in Taiwan, she and her husband heard rumors of China becoming a Communist country. In order to avoid this government, the couple considered going to Argentina. They had heard about how easy it was to find work and build a business. Unlike most predominately continental Chinese immigrants that rode the wave to Buenos Aires as well, Linda and her husband arrived with capital to have their own store. They raised their sons in their new country and their children are natural born Argentine citizens. When speaking about them Linda laughingly remarks that they are more Argentine than Taiwanese, they are both married to Argentine women. She lovingly points to the pictures of her grandchildren on the shelves behind her counter. Despite working hard and for many hours in Argentina for years, she appreciates the opportunity she had to open and own a business.
As I remembered the many immigrant stories in the United States I have heard before, I became curious if there was a dream within immigrants in Latin America about going back to their mother country with their hard earned savings. Linda smiled peacefully to this inquiry and replied "no", there was no turning back. Her developing family was now in Argentina, but she still visits Taiwan every year to see her ninety-six year old mother.
Still, Linda didn't always feel her future was in Argentina, she recounted how hard it was in the beginning to be a part of the country. She and her husband arrived without knowing any Spanish, without having any friends or family members in the country. "It was a lonely time", she remembered, "and you have to work very hard and work very much". It wasn't in her or her husband's plan to sell sunglasses in bulk, but due to the other popular markets of products manned by Asian immigrants like cell phone accessory, toy, and food produce stores, her husband and her thought sunglasses was a safe and rewarding bet. "You can count on your hand how many stores do what we do", she laughed.
Life in Argentina has been a challenge and full of ups and downs Linda described. Discrimination, inflation, and assimilation are all topics she included in her tales of struggle. The growing numbers of Asian immigrants in Argentina developed some xenophobia and discrimination from some Argentines. Harder to figure in numbers, but present nonetheless through experiences, Linda believed that one of the most important reasons why other Asian immigrants wouldn't grant me an interview is because the discrimination they have experienced from Argentines that sometimes leads to lack of trust. "They might have thought you were going to twist their words or report them somehow" she said when I told her my frustration. "Most mistrust Argentines, they have been told nasty things to their faces, and have felt threatened at some points, I've seen restaurant owners even being asked aggressively if they are selling dog meat or not ". As she told me this I felt extremely lucky to capture her perspective. Later on her son would enter Linda's store and disapprovingly question her in Mandarin on why she was allowing me to interview her.
Apart from racial tensions, Argentina's inflation issues has shifted lifestyles and consumer trends and Linda had seen that first hand. She admitted that purchasing power dropped due to the rise in prices over all Buenos Aires. Although the more recent inflation phenomena could have been a tougher patch in her life in Buenos Aires, she's making it through and she claimed that assimilating to life in the city is no problem now.
In the midst of attending a customer Linda informed me, "now we have Taiwanese friends, and people hold cultural events in some parts of the city.. Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinatown". On another day while walking through the tiny, but lively Belgrano strip dubbed "Chinatown" in Buenos Aires, I saw what she meant. I came across a Taiwanese Community center, a Budhist temple, and Chinese airline offices. Linda's assimilation to life in Buenos Aires was eased with developing celebrations of her culture in the city. To understand how important the growing Chinese community has been to the Porteño culture, you could consider that arch in Chinatown was only recently donated by the Chinese government in 2009. Despite not being formally authorized by the Argentine government. This arch and what is represents for Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants could even remind them about their former concerns over government that have followed them even to their new home in Buenos Aires. Proof that with more growth in community, their culture and what's important to them, can't be so easily lost or forgotten.
Almost serendipitously when closing the interview, I asked her why they named her store SAN SONG. She "aha"s and replies with a smile, "SAN SONG refers to a mountain pine tree that withstands wind, snow, rain, and a little bit of everything". "Durable", I said, like her and her family. "Exactly", she replied.
First off... so keeping up with a blog is harder than I thought. I did not forget about this endeavor. In fact the guilt about editing and writing has tormented me every day! At least the time I have taken to develop a new post has served to get wheels really turning on what direction this blog will take.
With a lot of thought in my mind as to where this blog will go, I will start.
Here is my 8 day Summer journey through the incredible Costa Brava of Spain to the beautiful French Riviera.
The city that has my heart. It's one of the few places I feel comfortable enough to really love, which is saying a lot from a nomadic heart like mine. My boyfriend and I started our epic journey here. He's lucky enough to live there and we did a similar trip last year to down the Costa Dorada, the South Western coast. This year we decided to go the other route and explore the South Eastern coast, additionally, another border and country as well.
The goal was to reach Nice, France and to make pit stops along the way. Our first stop was Tossa De Mar.
Tossa De Mar
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon to Tossa De Mar and with only one night to spend in the seaside destination, we had to take advantage of it.
Right upon arriving to Tossa we quickly changed into swim gear and headed to the small cove Platja d'es Codolar which lies right next to the famously walled off Castell de Tossa. After enjoying the cove, we sat down for some great pizza at Piccola Nostra. The downtown area of Tossa are mostly defined by gelaterias, restaurants souvenir and beach apparel shops restaurants.
If you ever get a chance to reach this Catalonian vacation spot, you cannot afford to miss a sunset on top of the castle, where you are surprisingly free to roam the Gothic ruins and enjoy the scenic view. The castle sits high right above the beach and walls off the original small, stone town. Here you can explore it's picturesque restaurants, streets and gardens. At the top of the fortified center is the gothic church of St. Vincent. History joins leisure in Tossa de Mar. With this backdrop you can imagine golden era vixen Ava Gardner and bull fighter Mario Cabré getting closer than Frank Sinatra would like on their set of "Pandora and the Flying Dutchmen". It's just too beautiful to pass.
A gelato after a day of sun here is a heavenly ending.
Girona's medieval, coastal town is just a short hour and a half ride from Barcelona. There are buses and trains that depart to Barcelona and head to the Tossa. If you happen to be around during the summer, or centered in Barcelona, it's definitely worth stopping by.
Pit stop at Cala de Pi
Spain's small, hidden cove beaches are not something one can simply get over. Cala de Pi could be a perfect example. For a traveler that prefers something more exclusive and away from too many tourists, Cala de Pi is a gem of a choice. Just a thirty minute drive away from Tossa De Mar
This Girona beach is actually a part of the Salles de Pi hotel and spa and is restrictively occupied by it. However, it is not necessarily closed to the public and one might even have trouble finding it at first. Right next to the Salles de Pi hotel on its right side there is a small alley or path that leads to stairs that head down to the beach. It's sparkly, clear blue waters are astounding, as well it's cute petite beach size. Despite what the picture might appear, most of Spain's beaches are rocky and not sandy so a good towel and an umbrella are highly suggested for a comfortable beach day. You can't go wrong with snorkel goggles to view the Mediterranean marine life.
Girona was definitely one of the best choices in stops to make along the way. Apart from being a location close to Besalu and Cala de Pi, the Catalonian city offers great dining choices and sight seeing.
Because of our day trips to Besalu and Cala de Pi, we were only able to explore the city for a day. However, there were so many intimate moments to enjoy in the historic district that I wish we would have had just a little bit more time. I'm sure if you are a Game of Thrones junkie you might say the same as well.
Girona plays a pretty big role in Game of Thrones, it sets the scene for the HBO fantasy series and there are even tours to explore the filming locations. Not being huge GOT fans, we skipped out on this and decided to explore on our own. We were pleasantly surprised with all the small photographic moments we encountered and the stunning opportunity to see the city darken on the bridge of the Oynar River.
Girona's streets curve and twist as architecture changes along the way to the Barri Vell, or the Medieval quarter of the city, a mandatory bullet point on the Costa Brava checklist if you have one. As with many of Spain's cities, Girona's past extends as far as Roman times. Barri Vell offers many amazing sites which are most often free to visitors. The quarter has towering medieval, romanesque, and baroque architecture and sits close to the Jewish quarter. We explored the Jardin de Alemanys and Muralles de Girona. The Jardin de Alemanys is in ruins but it hosts local art, outdoor theater performances. You can enjoy these cultural activities under the cool shade from trees that have grown within chambers of the old residence which used to house German soldiers in the nineteenth century. The garden has magnificent views of the city from its balconies as well. The Muralles that protect the city's historic center are worth a stroll, where you can also capture the city panorama as well. I would say this is why this quarter would make brides, grooms, & wedding photographers come all the way from China for their wedding photography! It's true. We met such a couple. The interior of the Girona Cathedral or Sant Feliu Church and the Arab Baths were the only sites we didn't get to see. The Girona and Jewish History museum might have been other options for a longer stay.
When it comes to dining there are exceptional choices in Girona. With renowned chefs like the Roca brothers in town, having bad food there cannot be the norm. The city boasts two restaurants with Michelin stars, one being El Celler de Can Roca by the Roca Brothers and Massana. If you were looking for a more affordable, filling choice I would highly recommend L'Arcada Restaurant that's right on the Rambla de Libertat along with other enticing restaurants. You will never taste a more savory Salmon creme or Carbonara pasta. Walking through fauna and extraordinarily tall Plantus trees in La Devasa Park might lay those carbs to rest. It's one of the largest parks in the region and is very frequented by Gironians for outdoor activities.
Day trip to Besalú
Besalu is a site of historical importance and only a half hour away driving from Girona.
Crossing it's beautiful twelfth century bridge over the Fluvia River you could almost picture men in their respective garb letting up the gates to allow you inside. The bridge is an emblem and it's survived this long along with some of the original wall that fortified Besalú. Truly something out of a story book and an incredible example of a medieval town. The exterior is just as interesting as the interior where you can check out the medieval, romanesque, and Gothic architecture of the Plaça Major, the residences, the Churches of Sant Pere, and Sant Vincente. The history of the town is explained more in the plaques around town and in the small El Rebost de Besalú Museum, that has a permanent exhibition of the cured meats, products, utensils, and farming equipment of the Garrotxa region. Some even date back to Roman times. You can even learn more about the town's Jewish quarters through artifacts as well.
A history and architecture buff's heaven, Besalú can be pretty much seen within two hours so it's easy to enjoy if you're already in Girona.
Marseille was only supposed to be a pit stop but plans took a turn for the better in the end and we stayed in Marseille for a night after finally crossing into France. Upon arriving I knew that Middle Eastern food was the route to take and we filled up on kebabs from one of the many kebab hubs in Marseilles.
Marseille has a history of being a city of immigrants for centuries, lately the wave has been from Africa, Turkey, and Asia. It's many influences are seen in the variety of flavors of food and the street art that so famously gives the city its character.
Despite it's reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in Europe, Marseille is dynamic and sorely underestimated.
Le Panier was among one of the most eye catching areas we encountered. There were artisan shops and plenty of art both inside and outside of warm colored homes where African soca can be heard playing from windows with clothes hanging to dry. From wandering around Le Panier we made our way to the most popular attraction in Marseille, Vieux Port.
Leading up to the port you pass by Marseille Cathedral, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, and the Memorial des Camps de la Mort where you can get a good view of Notre-Dame de la Garde that looks down on the port.
In Vieux Port you watch the world go by. There are vast amounts of restaurants and bars surrounding the port filled with locals and tourists. A quick observation told me that the South side of the port had its more popular and local spots. Slow moving boats coming in and out the port along with people watching on the seaside ferris wheel made the sunset on the port entirely unforgettable.
And then there was Nice...
Without having visited, one cannot correctly interpret the vibrance of the Côte d'Azur of France. Countless books, films, art, music videos and even rap songs have been inspired by its unbelievable turquoise waters, its lavish lifestyle, and pastel luxury homes. It is truly meant to be experienced and not seen through a screen.
We spent Bastille Day in Nice which might have been why the crowds were especially large. It was also the anniversary of the terror attack that occurred one year ago. Access to the beach front was limited and it was pretty congested in the downtown area. Nonetheless, we enjoyed crepes and other confections on the Avenue Jean Medecin after a day at the beach.
There are several cultural points to check out such as the Musée Marc Chagall, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, and Musée Matisse. It probably would be best to pass by Place Massena and take the stroll down Avenue Jean Medecin, a popular street to shop. When on the French Riveria however, it's hard to get your mind out of the rapture of the simple things, sun and beach. Of course your eyes can't miss the superficial either like admiring elegant Belle Epoque apartment homes and gardens.
While in Nice, it would be foolish not to take the twenty minute train from the Gare de Nice Ville station to Monte Carlo, Monaco. The ride to Monte Carlo was especially spectacular. The window on the train also acts like a window into the lives of French vacation goers. You'll blush passing by nude beaches and sigh at the sight of private, small beaches and sunbathers enjoying an sunny, lazy afternoon on a yacht. Once getting to Monaco you wind your way through to Port Hercule and walk up to the Prince's castle. Although it won't take longer than 3 hours to take pictures and breathe in the multimillion dollar vistas, you can make the walk to Monte Carlo to explore and dine in one of its many fine restaurants if your budget allows.
It has taken a while to adjust my eyes from the French Riviera. It is not something you can unsee. While I wish I had more images to truly represent the warm and scenic milieu of Nice and the Côte d'Azur, I have a fanciful hope that everyone that reads this and everyone I know has the opportunity to tour this magnificent coast someday. It's a destination that I wish I could share and enjoy with my loved ones as well, you will need an eye witness to remind you that your South of France reverie was real.
It's the fourth of July, I'm at Boston's Logan Airport, and I have a one way ticket out of the U.S.A.
Starting today I will travel through Latino America and for a short time, some of Europe. There is no return date. Just one suitcase, one carry on, a passport and myself.
At first I chose this date to travel because of the cheap flights. Now though, I can't help but to think about how much of a stunt that is. In a world that continues to be more and more polarized and more importantly, in a country that continues to become isolated and less responsible, I have to be aware. I have to know what role I play in this life, as a global citizen and as a human being. To this degree, I will address the timing of this trip that I am set to embark on.
Apart from widening my understanding, perspective, and world view as a U.S. born Latina. I am traveling through several countries in Latino America for multiple reasons I will reveal later, but the most influential ones I see is refocusing, self growth, and empowerment. While working for some incredible organizations over the last few years post art school, I learned and strengthened important skills, and gained valuable experiences. They all left a huge impact on me and have molded me into a better and more empathic person overall. Nonetheless, I wasn't feeling completely fulfilled. I didn't take the time to develop those parts and aspects of my life that needed to mature a little better. So here I am actually making the huge leap and SCARY decision to take some time off, accomplish this life goal of traveling alone through Latino America and working on myself and my creative projects while doing it.
Welcome to my blog page, where I hope to share all my experiences, stories, work in photography and film or video while traveling. My name is Diana, I'm an artist, photographer, and filmmaker. Myself and many other loved ones have pushed me to record what I hope will be an incredible, liberating trip through the "venas abiertas de Latino America". I won't be able to travel ALL of Latino America but I hope this year's journey will be a great start. This blog helps me be accountable to all of what I want to accomplish. Not to mention, it will also help to ease my parent's worry!
I don't know how personal, how political, or how focused this blog should be. I do know that I would just like to make this as true to me as I can. This means learning how to navigate the multiple interests and complexities of mine and reflecting them in the most accurate, appropriate way. As well as depicting each visit, place, or location in a true way. I hope that it will also help me get over the feeling of shame when sharing your life or your work publicly on social media or the web. We're gonna werq some things out here, let's see how I do. Tlazocamati to all the beautiful ones that wished me the best, made time for me, or helped me feel loved and comforted. Please keep up if you'd like, feel free to provide feedback or comment on anything posted and expect weekly posts from me. xo.
First stop, la madre patria. Barcelona, España. Nos vemos Chicago.
Photo: Chicago, 2016
I grab my bags.
Ahi nos vemos,
We'll be dancing ghosts.
Gel calloused to crisp,
Vacuumed carpets say drink more,
Curve imbues pander,
My name is Diana Delgado Pineda. Sometimes known as "Di". I don't know my real FIRST name but it's there, hidden below the roman goddess, small freckles and pale skin. Mestiza to core. Descendant of Talistaca .. was it Tarasco? Ya ni se sabe.. moon daughter of Nezahualcoyotl, the name was lost among marriages, abandonment, assimilation, forgetfulness and fear.
My light skin arrived from the forests of Catalunya and the rolling hills of Madrid. De gente que gracias a mi caracter, I know were triste souled people. The rest existed in valleys with smoke and dry air. Though disputed in Xicano Aztlan, both assuredness and curse was passed through the intruders.
My tongue stutters and twists in every which way because there is no definite language of mine. I am always in the middle. The middle of this country, the middle of two backgrounds, and the middle of two ancestors. I am here. I am listening. I am observing. An arrived spirit but I still journey and pick up pieces on the way, gathering histories. You'll see.