Dodger Stadium

I was soooooooooooo excited because I won 4 tickets to a Dodger’s games from the local radio station. They asked for the 104th caller, so I called in but I was the 41st caller. The DJ said to hang up and call back, so I did. I kept getting a busy signal, but I kept calling and calling until finally it rang. The DJ answered “You are the 104th caller. What’s your name.” I screamed Janet into the phone he told me to hold on so they could get my information. I was elated! Until. . . I realized there were eight of us and only four tickets. Patricia suggested that we all split the cost of the other four tickets so everyone could go. Fair enough, so that’s what we decided to do.

Mack went with me to pick up the tickets from the radio station, then we went back to the hotel to get ready. We already knew we were going to have the time of our lives, so we got dressed in a hurry and met in the lobby at 5pm. The guy at the front desk said that traffic was going to be horrible, so he suggested we take the metro. I hate driving in traffic, so we took the Metro to Union Station and got on the Dodger Stadium Express straight to the park.

Aerial View of Dodger Stadium

When we walked in, I couldn’t believe we’re actually at the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.  The older are Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, but it’s the largest ballpark by seating capacity.  We have a great view from our seats on the baseline. As soon as I got comfy in my seat I heard the first (CRACK). Oh great, the first hit of the game…GO DODGERS!!!!! The crowd was really into the game. They were yelling and cheering, and of course, heckling the umpires. We ate the ballpark food, paid for the overpriced sodas, and who could go home without a foam finger? Tim asked the guy walking around selling hotdogs for some peanuts and crackerjacks while the rest of us cracked up. The look on the guy’s face was hilarious! We had a ball!!!!!

I was hoping we could get Ronald Belisario, Octavio Dotel, or even Manny Ramirez’s attention. They are just a few of our favorite players.  I bet they are all members of Viva Azul. Viva Azul is a fan club that celebrates the legacy of Dodgers of Latin American descent. Every year the Viva Azul club puts on Hispanic Heritage celebrations with live music, games, and food and fun.

Today was a great day. I wish we could do more stuff like this but in other countries. I wonder if the experience would be the same in a ballpark in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. I hope we find out. It would be awesome to have something to compare.

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Fiesta DC

It just so happens to be Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, and what better way to celebrate than to attend the Fiesta DC festival in our nation’s capital? This festival is called the Latino Festival of Washington, but is lovingly referred to as Fiesta DC. One day a year, usually in September, Hispanic organizations organize a parade, food vendors, arts and crafts, and much more. I was so happy to go this year.

Street view of Fiestas DC

We got up a little late this morning. We were up all night talking and joking, and we had to drag ourselves to our rooms to sleep. At about 11 a.m. we were fighting the alarm clock, but it was time to get up. The lady at the front desk told us that if we didn’t get out to the parade area by noon, then we might as well not go because we’d never find a spot. The day’s events started at 11 a.m., and by the time we got there, I felt like we had missed so much already! We had to take the metro to get there, but it was cool. The DC Metro is easy to follow, and before we knew it, we were getting off in Columbia Heights.

We maneuvered through the crowd and managed to find a spot big enough for the group. There was space on the sidewalk edge and some standing room behind it. We decided to alternate sitting and standing so no one would get tired, so by 1:30, when the parade started, no one was tired from standing or sitting for a long time.

This parade was called the Parade of Nations. All the Spanish-speaking countries from Argentina to Venezuela were represented. The people from each country that passed had on colors from their country’s flag. Some groups had people who were actually waving their flag, others had dancers, and everyone had a convertible with people waving from inside. There was plenty of Latin music, so of course we were dancing the whole time. The one country that stood out to me the most was Mexico. They had these women dressed in carnival costumes with huge green feather headdresses and a red feather tail that went all the way to the ground. Across their stomachs was the word “Veracruz.” I’d heard that Carnaval in Veracruz was amazing.

Bolivian Dancer at Fiestas DC

After all 19 groups that represent the Spanish-speaking countries had passed we were still on a music and entertainment high. The festival was still going on, so I went to get my face painted and to eat my weight in speared meat and churros. Before we knew it, it was 7pm and the police were trying to clear the area. The festival was over, but we still wanted to stay and enjoy the atmosphere. There were still thousands of people around, the music was still blaring, children were still getting balloon animals from the clowns, and the food vendors were just starting to pack up. It was sooooooo fun! I want to make sure I come back next year to do it all over again.

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Maximo Gomez Domino Park

Maximo Gomez Park walkway

Today we went to Maximo Gomez Domino Park on the famous Calle Ocho in Miami, FL. I don’t know why this street is so famous (it looks just like any street in my city, but hey, who am I to judge.) When I was about to walk into the park I accidentally bumped into a guy. Good thing I did because I felt a little lost and he was super nice, which made me very comfortable. His name was Michael Sanchez and he’s a 16-year-old high school student. He was there with his father, Eric Sanchez, a lieutenant in the navy. He told me that his family had to move around a lot, but his dad was going to retire from the military soon and they moved to Miami where his grandparents live. I thought it was cool that the family moved to Miami to be so close to the grandparents. I’m close to my grandpa Mack, so I understand how the family felt.

After about 20 minutes of chatting, we finally went into the park. This is a cool place to live near because there is so much to do. It was not at all the type of park I thought it was going to be.  When we got there all I saw were table after table of people playing dominos.     Ninety-nine percent of the people there were older Cuban men, some women but not that many.  It was intense play, and from what I heard, they can be sitting there for hours!  I also saw some of the men get pretty feisty during several passionate games. It was to the point where they were yelling at it other. It was crazy! I also noticed a lot of tourists were there watching and taking pictures.  This was something most people haven’t seen before including me.

People playing dominoes at Maximo Gomez park

There was an empty table so Michael and I friends grabbed it.  We started playing and stayed there for hours.  It was interesting to watch Michael play. He didn’t just lay down pieces and go. There was some skill involved as he kept track of what pieces were already on the table and what pieces everyone else was playing. Michael won 3 out of 5 games. I was proud to have won two, so no complaints here. He was really good.  During one of our games a security guard had to go over to another table and calm things down. Also, there is no smoking at the park.  A big fight almost started when one guy sat down at a table smoking a cigar.  This lady started yelling at him about smoking and almost everyone else backed her up pointing to the signs and fusing in English and Spanish about how wrong he was.

When the sun was going down, it was time to go home.  We had been out there all day and I was tired but I had a good time. I made sure to get Michael’s number, so if grandpa Mack and I are ever in Miami again we can challenge Michael and his grandpa to a game of dominoes.

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The Alamo

Tess and Patricia insisted that we go to the Alamo and take a tour. Of course we wanted to go to somewhere more modern, like the River Walk in San Antonio, but they insisted. So, at about 10 a.m., we all took a van over to the Alamo.

The Alamo front entrance

Davy Crockett’s statue

We walked through the front door of the Alamo and we were just in time to see the reenactment of Davy Crockett’s last fight. The Battle at the Alamo lasted 13 days, so we don’t really know at what point Davy Crockett died, but they were showing him going down in a sword fight after killing 16-20 raiders. The little man was wearing a raccoon-skin cap and hunting clothes. I say little man because the guy playing Davy was about 5’6”. It was completely unrealistic that this little guy was overtaking these 6’ tall guys, but again, it was acting, so I just halfway watched and waited for it to be over.

I didn’t want to take the tour with everyone else, so I went walking and exploring on my own. I still had the pamphlet, so I kept reading as I entered each room. They pamphlet said that there are only two confirmed survivors of this battle, but they were civilians. Everyone from the Texan army died, as well as even more Mexican soldiers. How creepy! I was walking around in a place where around 750 people died in battle.

The Alamo inside walkway

Just when I was starting to feel a little sad about being in a place where so many people died, I heard the tour guide say that the Battle of the Alamo was the launching point for the Battle of San Jacinto where Mexican leader Santa Ana and his army were either killed or captured. After that, I kept walking around and exploring the different rooms/sections. This place was really cool, and by the end of our time there, I started to warm up to being there.

Ten years after the battle at the Alamo, the Mexican-American war began and, as a result, the United States acquired Texas, New Mexico, and California. I’d like to believe that the battle that took place in the hall in which I was roaming was the tipping point to making the United States the territory it is today, and thus the sacrifices of the Texan army were not in vain. The missionaries knew this when they gave up their building almost 200 years ago, and now I know, too.

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