2022: My year in review

This has been a good year. Finally, there’s something fun to share!

Yet, sometimes I find it difficult to remember those events that gave me quiet happiness. Contentment, which is my preferred mood. In fact, such occurrences are so seemingly ordinary that, hard as I try, I can only remember a few: having coffee with my husband in the sitting room while Miss Fluffs begs for a tummy rub. A snow day in Hobbs. Eating a perfect éclair at the Lima airport while wearing warm wool socks. A student who struggled throughout the semester and comes up with a great presentation in the final exam…

In any case, I will try to summarize the most interesting and sandunga-filled moments of the year that is coming to a close.

First, something about books because, for me, literature is life: I finished and sold my fifth novel in the Havana Mystery series, Last Seen in Havana, to be published by Soho Crime, like the others. In this sequel to Death under the Perseids, Mercedes returns to Havana to look for her long-lost mother, an American who vanished when Mercedes was a child. The only person who could help is Mamina (Mercedes’s paternal grandmother, who raised her) but she is notoriously tight-lipped. Mamina is getting on in age, though, so Mercedes goes back to Cuba determined to find out as much as possible about her runway mom. As the search progresses, readers get to know, in alternate chapters, her mother’s years in Havana and get clues as to what happened to her.

My short story “Havana Caliente” appeared in the anthology Witnesses for the Dead, published by Soho Crime and edited by Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood. I am honored to be in the company of Alex Segura, Cara Black and SJ Rozan, among other wonderful writers. “Havana Caliente” is about a team of San Diego-based friends who attempt to shoot a movie in Havana.

July trip to Peru that included Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. It was perhaps the most memorable trip that Gary and I have taken. The food, the people, the imposing landscape… We want to go back and stay at least a week at the delightful Sonesta Posada del Inca in Urubamba. Talk about quiet happiness! That was it. I also want to spend more time in Lima and try more chifas!

Cathedral of Lima

A quick trip to Havana in August. I was there for just a few days to see my mother. At 87, she is doing so well! We haven’t always seen eye to eye (our personalities are polar opposites) but with time our relationship has become smoother and more solid. I love her very much.

With my mother in Havana

While visiting, I became friends with the amazing Zoilita, a neighbor whom I have known for most of my life, but this was the first time we sat down to talk and had a lovely time. Zoilita is a born entrepreneur. She manages several rentals and there will be a post about her soon.

She also has more energy than most people I know. Together we walked from La Manzana de Gomez to Malecon, all the way down Paseo del Prado. She was fresh as the proverbial daisy and I was con la lengua afuera, which literally means with my tongue hanging out, so tired I was. She introduced me to D’Next, a pizzeria where they serve the biggest pizzas in Havana. Yummy!

Zoilita and I at D’Next

My five-year anniversary at New Mexico Junior College. I can’t believe time has passed so fast. I have wonderful colleagues and students. It felt good to be recognized. Muchas gracias.

NMJC five-year medal

Last but not least: my students

I teach English as a Second Language at NMJC. I’ve always established good rapport with my students, but this class was particularly lovely and tight-knit. Here we are at the Western Heritage Museum during a NASA exhibit.

To them, and to all the friends with whom I have walked during this year, I wish a wonderful and happy 2023!


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