Showing posts from October, 2011


Michael's days off always fall mid-week, and we're still getting used to have a Monday be a "Friday" and not getting perturbed over a real Friday being the middle of the week for him.  I'm a very flexible person and I like to believe I'm raising flexible children, but I have to say that sending Michael off to work on Saturday and Sunday gets increasingly difficult each week for my boys.

Today was Michael's day off, so we took the boys for Linner (late lunch/early dinner) at a place called Gourmet Geezer. I can't even type that with a straight face. To me, a geezer is a little old man who keeps his teeth in a jar by the bedside. So I generally say something like, Hey guys, let's go eat at the old folk's home when I'm talking about it. But the owner is no geezer as I know it. He's a hip, young Brit who likes to race motorcycles and lines the shelves in the restaurant with trophies and photos of his wins. The food is cheap, decent, and wes…

In the Barra

Whenever I see or hear the word barra, I think barrio, which is the Spanish word for a specific neighborhood. People in Los Angeles hear the word barrio and might think "gang turf" but generally it just means a collection of streets with similar people who have a similar culture and background.

After spending an afternoon in Macau's Barra, I still thought of a barrio, since it's definitely a cohesive neighborhood, filled with people who make their living from the sea. However, the word Barra actually has a different meaning in Portuguese: sandbank or port entrance. And a port entrance is exactly what it is.

The Barra is the waterfront area that runs along the east side of the Macau Peninsula. All the buildings on the east side of the Barra back right up to the water, with giant roll-up doors used to access the boats which pull up laden with sea creatures and imported goods.

The four of us wandered up and down the tiny streets, peering into shopfronts and giving cheerf…

The Praia

Today I had lunch at a friend's house on the Macau Peninsula. She lives in a fairly new building called The Praia (Beach in Portuguese). She's up in the penthouse which takes up the top two floors, 55 and 56. At 607 feet above ground, it claims the title of current tallest residential building in Macau. My friend's view faces east, on a clear day you can see Hong Kong, 30 miles in the distance. Today wasn't a clear day, so you can barely see the water of the Pearl River Delta (where there is no "beach" to speak of) in the distance.

To give you some perspective on how very small Macau actually is, the building where I took this photo is on the western shore of Macau. The photo shows you the eastern shore. The distance between the two? Less than two miles.

It's nice to be head and shoulders above the rest of Macau. But I could do without having my ears pop from simply riding up and down the elevator. Ouch!

Michael Jackson in Macau

True story: On June 25, 2009 I was in Los Angeles, on my way to take the boys to a hip-hop dance class across town. I was flipping radio stations at a red light when a DJ interrupted a song to say there was an unconfirmed rumour that Michael Jackson had passed away. My heart stopped and my stomach lurched. But not because I was a major Michael Jackson fan. The reaction came from the bottom of my wallet rather than the bottom of my heart. At that very moment my husband's scenic shop was loading in set pieces at the Staples Center in Los Angeles where Michael Jackson would be in rehearsals for his concert series which would take place in London. All we'd been talking about for months was the shop's creation of the elaborate and amazing pieces that would play a backdrop to his performance. And if he was indeed dead, then what would that mean for the scene shop? What would that mean for all the people working on this project? Would everyone get paid? All other projects had bee…

Double Rainbow

No, I didn't fall on my knees and ask about its meaning, but I did have to grab my camera and take a quick pic. It rains a lot here, but this is the first (and second) rainbow I've seen since arriving. Glad I was able to tear my gaze away from my iPhone and all the wonders of the new iOS 5 for a moment to catch it! Stunning!

Three Months

It's a melancholy sort of day. Low clouds block out any memory of blue sky. Every now and then a cloud gets a bit too full and spills the goods, dousing whatever happens to be below. Sunlight is diffused, leaving everything in shadow, washed in gray. I'm perched in my window seat with a book on Macau history, watching partially loaded container ships and tiny fishing sampans cross the harbour.

Today marks three months since I boarded a plane and left America. I only know this because I happened to check the calender. The first nine weeks in Macau, I could tell you exactly how long we'd been here. Week ten was an invisible boundary line clouding my precise memory. People would ask how long I'd been here, and I could only give a vague answer... around two months... maybe?

With each previous international relocation, we had a definite end date. We had plane reservations already booked and ready to take us away from our temporary home. This time? Totally different. There i…

American Food

Today I picked up the kids from acrobatics class at Michael's theater (they're training up a new generation of performers for the show!) and grabbed lunch with them at an Asian cafeteria-style food court nearby. As we sat there eating delicious teppanyaki beef noodles, barbecue eel udon, and chicken fried rice, a cloud of melancholy descended upon the table. My children started sighing. "I sure miss America," said my oldest. My youngest quickly added a "me too."

I take these statements very seriously and try to never make light of their longings for our most recent home. I never say, "You'll get over it" or "We'll be home soon."  After all, we're going to be here a long time. I want them to make this place home, for however long it lasts. And if they have to grieve the loss of their last home before claiming this one, then I will give them space to do so, without judgement.

I casually asked what it was about America they misse…

Portas do Cerco

The historic Border Gate that we visited on Saturday was built in 1870 by the colonial Portuguese to bar access to the people from Mainland China. I found a photo from the 1930's showing what it looked like then.

Here is another photo I found, not sure if it was taken before or after.

Though it was constructed in 1870, it has four dates boldly marked on the gate that are not 1870. I've been digging to find out what the dates meant in relation to the gate itself, and came up dry. So I started researching Macau history and found some great information.
The earliest date is August 22, 1849.
On April 21, 1846, João Maria Ferreira do Amaral was appointed the 79th Governor of Macau. He was born in Portugal and served in the Portugeuse Royal Fleet. He had an amazing milliatary career, and lost his right arm in a battle with Brazil defending Portuguese rights. As governor, he made some big waves by demanding that all Chinese residents in Macau pay rent and taxes. The Chinese authoriti…

National Day

On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong stood before a huge crowd gathered in Tienanmen Square in Beijing and declared it the National Day of the newly established People's Republic of China. It is a public holiday throughout China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Every city throughout the entire nation celebrates with fireworks, and many have parades as well. Chairman Mao is either revered or vilified depending on who you are speaking to, how old you are, and where you are from- which of course determines what your history books said about him.

On Friday I was walking around town after the rain died down. I noticed people putting up the red flag of China on street corners, poles, and in public squares. I come from the U.S.A. where patriotic citizens put up the American flag for just about any reason, or simply as a matter of pride. In Japan, I was there six months before I ever saw a Japanese flag flying. In Hong Kong, the flag could be found in a few places, but it wasn't overwhelming. In Maca…