Netflix Review: Morocco – Love in Times of War

Netflix’s “Morocco – Love in Times of War,” is a must see! Binge worthy and so much more. If you love historical romance, then this is the show for you. The story is set in the 1920’s during the Rif War between Morocco and Spain. The film is in Spanish w/English subtitles. There are so many characters, but the show makes it possible to transition with each individual story so well.

The first notable personalities you’ll find in the series are that of Julia and Fidel. Julia volunteers as a nurse in Morocco to find her brother and fiancé, both soldiers of Spain in the war. While attending the wounded in a converted hospital she meets Fidel, an army doctor. The story’s drama unravels as she tries to come to terms with her feelings.

Then you have Magdalena and Larbi. Magdalena is also a volunteer nurse from upper society Madrid. She leaves her fiancé with a promise to marry upon her return. While in Morocco though, she meets a Moroccan named Larbi who works for the hospital. Like Julia, she must decipher if she should return to her fiancé, or if she should pursue a controversial relationship with Larbi.

Next are Pilar and Luis. Pilar was left at the altar 5 years prior by Luis. Working as a nurse she finds he is working at the hospital as a doctor too. What’s more, he is married and expecting a child. A concoction of lies from her family abroad kept them apart – could they be together again?

Finally, you have Carmen, the duchess who agrees to train all of the nurses as part of a PR move by the queen of Spain. She is a tough, spunky, and intimidating character. Not even the commander in charge of the doctors in the army can control her.

There are many more noteworthy characters throughout the series, but you’ll find that these personages embark the majority of the plot-line. The series makes a good job at combining light humor, during conflict.

The first season ends on a cliffhanger. I don’t want to spoil the finale, so let’s just say, with the way things concluded, there better be a season 2.


Modern Day Dating

Online dating can be very overwhelming and perplexing. There are the often-convoluted messages that one tries to decipher. Mixed signals that put you on edge. Sure, messaging and texting is most convenient, however, the inability to figure a tone because you’re not hearing a voice or seeing a face, can often be confounding. But alas, one must deal with all these nuances of modern day online dating.

I am by no means a dating expert. So, I hate to break it to you, this is not an advice column. More than anything this is a venting blog. After a few dates, you start seeing certain patterns that become annoying. So, from a lady’s perspective, I am offering an angle on some of the things that irritate me.

If you’re like me, you’ve opened more than one account for online dating. Be it Tinder, Bumble, etc. Most of these apps have similar functionalities. The most common – swiping left and right. Now, I’ll be honest, swiping has become such a habit, that I no longer read descriptions. I figure, first rule of dating someone, is attraction. I only read a description, once I’ve matched with a guy.

While I’m swiping though, I often find profiles whose picture is of the guy I’m supposed to be focusing on, and his friends or family. This exasperates me. Honestly, you have a few seconds to make an impression with a picture. Don’t make me have to play the guessing game. The same goes for profiles of guys who use masks – I’ve seen the horse head mask way too many times – like seriously, what’s the point?

Once you match, a brief description gives you a glimpse into what that guy is about. I actually appreciate when a guy says if he’s looking for friendship, a hookup, or a long-term relationship. Time is valuable. I think at my age you have a clear understanding of what you seek in a relationship. I like to be straight-forward from the very beginning. It’s unfair to lead a person on if your intentions do not line up with those of a person who likes you.

Along those lines, I’ve found two types of guys whose behavior is disheartening. The first type of guy is the one who becomes a pen-pal. At the beginning, it’s only natural to have a back and forth of questions because you want to have a general picture of who this guy is. Is he a fake profile? A serial killer? Etc.

Personally, I think one to two weeks is a good time frame to do this. If after this, a guy has not tried to set up a date though, he becomes a pen-pal. A guy who truly wants to get to know you, will make an effort to do so. This type of guy bugs me because you’re obviously interested in him, and it is like a bucket of cold water thrown at you when you find that there is no mutual interest. A part of you wants to say – just ask me out already! And another part – you’re dead to me – please, just stop reaching out to me.

The second type of guy is the one who ghosts you. So, you are texting back and forth with this guy for a whole week. You find that both of you never run out of topics to talk about. Then one day all of a sudden, he stops messaging you. Ghosting.

No explanation whatsoever as to why. You start wondering if you said something offensive. But no, that guy just dropped you abruptly. To make matters worse, he decides weeks later to text you with a “Merry Christmas” – oh the audacity! And continues to look at your Instagram pics and stories. Why!?

Modern day dating. I’m telling ya’ – it’s something else. This is not to say that every guy out there exhibits this type of rapport. For the most part, I’ve run across respectful guys. We ladies (and I say, “WE,” including myself), do this as well. And it is a cycle that must stop because it is hurtful to both parties.

I’m sure that I am not the only lady out there who runs across these dating frustrations. Despite this, I think online dating continues to be a good search engine to meet new people. I will continue to be a hopeless romantic.  And one day (or maybe never – I have learned to be OK with that), I may find the perfect guy God has designed for me. In the meantime, happy dating to all those singles out there haha.

Lifelong Impact

Educators don’t get paid enough for what they do. People think that they only work 8 to 3 – and wala! They pack their bags, go home, relax, and follow the same routine the next day. They fail to recognize the time they invest outside of school to create lesson plans, grade assignments, and even buy materials out of their own pocket. The dedication that teachers have for their students is incredible. They don’t get the credit they are due.

For this reason, I’d like to highlight some teachers that have made an impact on my life. I’ll begin with Dr. Hyman. She was this short, middle aged woman with Cuban roots. Most students were scared of her. She had a deep loud voice, and a demeanor that could intimidate the tallest of folks. So, when I found out she was going to be my teacher, let me tell you – I was anxious.

I had barely transitioned into an English immersion program, and I was struggling. But this educator saw something in me, that I didn’t see in myself. Instead of starting at the level I was supposed to (which would have been far behind everyone else), she put me with the accelerated kids. I worked my butt off during 4th grade. And she was there with me – every step of the way – providing help during recess, lunch, and after school. I was able to catch up to everyone and even exceeded expectations. She made me part of the GATE program.

ME! A girl who just months prior was having difficulty learning English, and understanding math. To most, Dr. Hyman was this tough, strict educator. I however, saw a patient and loving teacher. Her expectations of me were that of greatness. She shifted the way I saw myself – no longer a failure – but a student capable of beating the odds.

Next, is my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Lang. This lady made us read! Oh, the humanity! Hehe. Because of her I was able to have a deep appreciation for Shakespeare. I mean, she not only made us discuss what the old English language was all about, but we acted, created our own scripts, and aside from that, we were made to visit theater houses to see these performances live. It brought everything we read to life. And from thereon, I was hooked on reading. A teacher who is able to inspire you to read is truly a jewel. It is a tool that fuels your imagination and creativity.

My physical education teachers were amazing as well. Mr. Franco was an approachable educator that could motivate you, even when you were one of the last ones running laps. He held the comic book club aside from his teaching duties. Mr. Rodman was the type of teacher who often made me laugh. And he also made us sweat! Like all great teachers, he too was encouraging in each stage. I wish I would have had more PE teachers like them later in my life because I sadly, stopped exercising once middle school was over. They made exercising fun and promoted positive self-image.

My most recent memories, of course, would be that of high school, undergrad and grad school years. The list could go on! But in general, I just want to thank all of my teachers and professors because I would not be who I am today without their guidance. They are underpaid, undervalued in our system, and deserve to be recognized. I just mentioned a few, and I wish I could mention all by name, but alas, my memory fails me. I’m sure they have heard this before, but teachers truly transform lives. They changed mine.

Don’t Undermine Em’ Cause’ They Are Young

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has been in the news for a few days now, after a deranged 19-year-old male, went into the high school and killed 17 people. We all grieve for the loss of these individuals. We all mourn for all of the students and staff whose lives were cut way too soon.

In the wake of this, Marco Rubio was once more asked about gun control. His response – this is not the time to discuss gun control laws. When will it be a good time to discuss this though? Often, we hear messages of “thoughts and prayers” from politicians. And though we do pray for peace and comfort for the family and friends of those who have lost a loved one, I believe Americans know now is the time for policy and change.

How many more Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook incidents do there have to be so that our government works towards tougher gun control laws? Improved mental health services? It is ridiculous that the notion of teachers being trained to use guns is even an idea, when it is so clear that regulations are the way to go.

There has to be a capped age limit to own guns, there have to be better background checks, there has to be control over which type of weapons people are carrying. These weapons are designed to kill and destroy. I often hear that gun control laws are an attempt to revoke the second amendment. That is so far from the truth. It is about safety. It shouldn’t be so easy to access guns.

With that said, I wanted to shine a greater light on the youth of today. I am so impressed by how these students are revolutionizing this topic. I’ve read some really nasty comments about their efforts, claiming they are pawns of liberals too. These kids are not asserting affiliation with any party. In fact, their message is to forget party allegiances, and to come together to create policies that will deter this from ever happening again.

They speak with such eloquence and grace that leaves anyone in awe. Here we have a group of youngsters who are acting more like adults, than most politicians in congress. They have used tools and resources to organize a state-wide march in Washington DC on March 24 – one which is harnessing support from states all over the nation as well. I am proud that they are fighting for their future.

Politicians should be concerned, and lend a closer ear to what these students have to say. In a few years, these are the juveniles that will be voting, and they will be electing those who are not working for the greater good of the nation, out. Don’t underestimate the adolescents of today because they are young. Motivate them to continue being active participants, like they are being now.

San Francisco Weekend Getaway

For years, my family and I have enjoyed going to north-cal to visit San Francisco. It is one of those cities that is always on the move, buzzing with life. We love it!

Today, I will be sharing with you a few ideas of what to do with your family during a one night stay.

For starters, how do you get there? The fastest mode of transportation is a plane ride, which takes about an hour and a half. It can be expensive depending on the number of travelers accompanying you; however, look out for domestic airlines that sometimes have cheap flight deals. Then, you have Amtrak – for those who prefer not driving themselves. And lastly, there’s the driving option. It’s close to a 6-hr. commute. We went for the latter.

Truth be told, driving can be quite exhausting. Still, we feel we had an advantage since it was three of us driving. We were able to divide driving time more equally, making it more tolerable. There are two notable routes to get to San Francisco. Consider the 101 freeway for scenic views of the ocean as well as some inland. Then you have the interstate highway 5. It is not the most aesthetically pleasing path; however, it is the most direct route.  Again, we opted for the latter option.

To get into San Francisco, we passed through a bridge. The toll fee is $5. There are several lines drivers can opt for; some are designated for individuals who have a transponder (FastTrack) so you can drive in without being stopped, and others, are selected for individuals that have to pay with cash or credit card. Once you are on the bridge, you’ll find yourself surrounded by water, and in the distance, the tall buildings beckoning your name.

Before you drive right in to the city though, we suggest you make a quick detour. Exit on Treasure Island. From here, you will get a beautiful vantage view of the bridge and city. This a great scenic picture spot.

Treasure Island

After that quick stop, we drove straight to our hotel. This time, we stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel. It is located close to the South of Market district. It’s just a few blocks away from Union Square. Keep in mind, parking is limited in Frisco, so, valet parking is the way to go. But because it is limited, the overnight pricing for keeping your car in hotel garage’s is high.

We left very early on a Sunday morning, and arrived at around noon (we made a stop along the way for breakfast). After resting, we got an Uber ride to Pier 39. Pier 39 is a popular shops and restaurants area at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. There are video arcades, street performances, boat rides and other goodies you can enjoy with the family.

Pier 39

By around two to three in the afternoon, we were starving. We started walking at the pier and most of the restaurants seemed packed or like there was a long waiting list. We managed to find a hidden gem. Swiss Louis Italian & Seafood Restaurant. What drew us first is that it was not as packed as the other restaurants.

However, once inside, we were pleasantly surprised with the table our waiter took us to. We were seated near windows that overlooked the sea lions below us, as well as the city to the south of us. The food is a bit on the pricy side – but this is San Francisco we are talking about; everything seems pricy to us. As far as food quality, I got fish and chips. So, I got what I expected. My plate was tasty, and my dad and brother seemed to enjoy their meals as well.

With our stomach’s appeased, we wandered back in the direction of our hotel. The streets of San Francisco are not flat. You’ll find that more than walking, you’re hiking up hills. We stopped by Telegraph Hill, and saw Lombard Street in the distance. It’s always interesting seeing cars drive that zig-zagged street.

Telegraph Hill

We passed through Little Italy. Gosh, the food smelled so good. If we had not eaten prior, I would have gone for those cannoli’s. Then we entered one of the areas we had not familiarized ourselves with though we have visited a few times. Chinatown.

Chi-town is one of those centers where everyone seems to be on the move. Sidewalks are packed with people buying goods, making lines to bakeries, and others checking out fruits and vegetable produce. You hear vendors shouting out their sales. It reminded me of markets we have seen in other parts of the world. You’ll be entranced by the bright colors, like the red hanging lanterns, and the sound of the drums from street artists. There’s also lots of street art, which if you are an Instagram lover, like myself, make for good backdrops.

After our exposure to Chinatown, we continued towards our hotel, passed through Starbucks and made it to Union Square. At the time (January), they had an ice-skating rink on the center. Good area to people watch and drink hot chocolate. Around this area, you’ll find many well recognized brand stores. We thoroughly enjoyed window shopping around the malls.

And that was the end of day one.

The following morning, we got up early because we wanted to beat the traffic rush. But we could not say good bye to San Francisco without visiting a new place and an old. First, we went to visit a location we had not seen before; The Palace of Fine Arts. This area is so beautiful. I think that pictures do not give it justice. When we arrived, it was isolated, except for the few morning runners. There is a structure with a dome that looks larger than life. A small lake surrounds the building. Pictures do not give this place justice.

Palace of Fine Arts

Lastly, we were able to see a sight that never gets old for us. The Golden Gate Bridge. We usually go to Fort Point. If you haven’t gone to this fortification, it is worth checking out.  Aside from that, you get really amazing shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. That morning that we went though, I was honestly terrified. The waves would hit the rocks in front of us with such force that it splashed water on top of cars. My brother and dad did venture outside, but I preferred to stay in the car. Did not want to risk the chance of getting wet. The guy who was next to us didn’t realize this and he got drenched. Twice. You’d think he would have moved after the first time. I’m going off on a tangent…

Golden Gate Bridge

We took another 6-hr drive back home. We were there before 6 pm. Made several stops along the way because we took a detour to see the Apple campus; which unfortunately, was closed. We marveled at the huge structure nonetheless. It is totally possible to have a weekend getaway at The City of the Bay. It is very fun but exhausting when you try to cram a lot in a day. Which is why we tried to focus on one area alone. There is so much more to see! I hope you check out some of these places next time you visit.

End of Year Reflections

As the end of the year draws to an end, I can’t help but reflect on what a year we’ve had. My mom has been gone for almost three years now, and the pain of her loss is one I have not been able to overcome. There are some good days and some awry ones. I’m taking it day by day.

I’ve felt anxious all year long though. And I attribute my sentiment of worry to our current government condition. It’s hard to not talk about 2017 without mentioning President Trump, aka: 45. I try to avoid the day to day politics, because frankly, it becomes too overwhelming.  But this is a hard task to follow, especially when 45 makes ill-conceived moves often approved by a group of individuals who are not looking after the interests of the nation. It is a chaotic atmosphere where party comes first…far above common sense or compassion.

Aside from politics, entering a new stage in life – that of the 30s – has also taken its toll on me. I’ve had to critically give consideration to the direction my life should be going into. My mom was a visionary and a lady of action. I used to be that way. But somewhere along… I’ve lost my way. Sometimes it feels like everyone has found their purpose. And here I am in my 30s still testing the waters.

To say I’m unhappy though, is far-fetched. I can’t deny that I am one blessed lady. I don’t have the means to travel much, but God has blessed me with a loving and giving brother. Because of him, I’ve been able to travel much more in recent years. This year, he invited me to New York, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Aside from family trips, I was able to make a trip on my own to Colombia with a dear friend of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring new countries and fueling my mind with new cultures, food and experiences.

On the spiritual side, I became a bit more involved with our Spanish young adult’s ministry doing both worship and some social media work. I’m a work in process – trying to learn and grow. And though I go in waves with my faith and many times fail Him; He has always stuck by my side. In my toughest moments, I’ve felt His peace. So, I’m very grateful.

Health-wise, I neither gained or lost as much weight as my first year. My goal was to get to 140 lbs., and that did not happen. I maintained a weight in the 145ish realm. The last couple of months completely threw me off. I’ve cried. As funny as that may sound; regaining weight is heartbreaking. It takes such a long time to lose weight, but it’s so easy to gain it. I’m trying to not be too tough on myself and working on getting back on track.

On a positive note, I completed my first 5K! And it was with a great organization that supports research for ovarian cancer. My mom passed away due to ovarian cancer so it only felt right to run in honor of her. I needed this race because I was letting myself go, and this event reminded me to stay active. Also, during this year’s physical checkup, my doctor told me that all my blood-work results showed I’m healthy. I got a scare years prior that I was pre-diabetic; so, it feels pretty incredible that I’ve deviated from a route which could have put my health in jeopardy.

Every year going towards New Year’s Eve, my mom would make it a mission to have us create goals for the new year to come. She’d say, “make goals in life, because even if you don’t quite meet them, you’ve gotten a step closer to your dream – and you won’t have regrets.” So, despite the shortcomings of this year, I’m trying to focus on the good. Forming new purposes for 2018 and praying that it is a better year than the last.

Dia de los Muertos

In El Salvador, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is recognized as Día de los Difuntos as well. It is an occasion where families unite to remember loved ones that passed away.

There are several traditions that take place on this day. Usually, flowers, either natural or artificial, are brought to decorate the graves. Gravesites become a sheet of various pastel and bright colored tombs. The cemeteries in the US usually have a monotone aesthetic. Usually colors in the realm of grey. You will not expect the same in Latin American countries.

Visiting the grave sites gives families the opportunity to clean the area where a loved one was laid to rest. Unlike cemeteries in the US, some Salvadoran grave sites do not have a grounds crew that keeps maintenance. Therefore, families do this on this day.

The Day of the Dead sounds like a very grim event. But it’s far from it. Some, bring musicians to play live music at the cemetery. You can say that it becomes a celebration of sorts when families also bring traditional foods like pupusas, yuca frita and tamales during these reunions. It’s the celebration of who that person was while they were alive. An opportunity to recall all the good times shared.

Unfortunately, this tradition is not carried out in the same fashion at the cemetery where my mom now lies to rest. However, we still try to honor her memory as best as possible in our own way. What matters is that the memory of your loved one, carries on.

There are moments in history we all remember. September 11 for example, or the day we elected our first black president, Barack Obama.

Recently, I experienced such an instant. And it will forever be engraved in my mind.

After 29 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally got the opportunity to play in the World Series. The last time they won a World Series was in 1988. On October 31st, the Dodgers played against the Houston Astros. It was an intense game. There was no room for screw ups. The Dodgers could not afford to lose this game or the Astros would have declared themselves champions. In a neck and neck game that left many of us with accelerated heart rhythms, the Dodgers managed to win game 6.

The 2017 World Series broke many records and expectations. Game 5 broke the record for most home runs, and after the Dodgers won game 6, it’s the first time a game 7 will be played in Dodgers stadium.  On November 1st, both teams played their heart outs for the coveted MLB trophy. I hoped for a Dodgers win.

It did not happen.

Even though the Astros won, this moment was a special one. I can finally say that I saw the Dodgers play in the World Series during my lifetime.

I’ve been attending Dodgers games with friends and family since I was in middle school. As a teen, I did not understand the hype of the game. The games were too long, and I did not comprehend the play.

However, as time went by, the more games I attended the more appealing the sport became. I enjoyed watching the live games while I ate my Dodger-dog. I loved catching up with friends while we watched a batter hit a home-run. No matter the outcome of a game, good memories were created. And great recollections will continue to be formed. Til’ next season!

Panic Attacks

For a long time, I was hesitant to share with others that I suffer from panic attacks. My uncertainty stemmed from my apprehension that I’d be seen as a hypochondriac. I believe that I’ve had panic attacks since I was in high school. But, I wasn’t officially diagnosed with them until I was in college. Over the years, I’ve become a bit more knowledgeable of some activities that trigger my disorder. Of course, the episodes upset me, but with time, I’ve learned to cope a little better.

Panic attacks are often misconstrued to be solely anxiety or stress. Unfortunately, it is much more than that. It’s frustrating because it is often believed that a panic attack is a phenomenon that you can easily dissuade from your mind. Trust me, I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.

Let me begin by describing what a panic attack actually is. According to The Anxiety and Depression Society of America, a panic attack is defined as an abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least 4 of these symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizzyness/faint
  • Chills/heat sensations
  • Numbness
  • Derealization or depersonalization
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying

Though I have learned of some actions that trigger my panic attacks, for the most part, I can’t detect when they’ll resurface. However, when you’re experiencing a one, it is not oblivious to you, as many of the symptoms previously mentioned, ring true.

Some of my worst panic attacks have occurred while exercising. Weird, huh? Typically, exercise is what reduces stress or anxiety. However, in my case, working out can feel like a double-edged sword. I hate not being in control, and for a momentary lapse, panic attacks give me no control.

One day, I was running uphill during my usual afternoon hike. When I got to an even plane, I felt my heart palpitating at a very rapid rate. I took a few steps, thinking I could walk it off and my heart rate would slow down. A few footsteps in though, I felt short of breath or that I could pass out. My whole body started trembling, getting numb, and sweating. For a moment, I thought that my heart would pop out of my chest and I’d die right there and then on that mountain.

As much as I tell myself to calm down, a panic attack does not easily disappear. The only thing that brings me comfort is knowing that it will not last forever. Usually, my panic attacks dissipate in about 10 minutes or so. Those who are close to me know that when I have an episode, I just need to be alone or have some space to collect myself.

I wish I could say there is one easy way to handle this, but there isn’t. Sometimes breathing exercises help, other times, they don’t. I have been given medication in the past for my disorder, but I try to avoid it because it usually makes me sleepy. Besides, I know that my panic attacks are only for a brief period. A medication will not take instant effect. I can’t avoid exercising because it is important for my overall health. So, I have learned to walk on inclines and have worked on a bit of jogging lately. It has improved.

I felt like sharing my experience with you because I wanted others who also share this burden to know, that they are not alone. Many undergo panic attacks and suffer in silence distancing themselves from others who could be helpful. If you believe you may be suffering from panic attacks, I suggest reaching out to your primary physician. It is my hope that others become more educated about this subject so they can support others, like myself, who undergo this too.

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