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The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at for permission.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cultural Exchange Rotarian Style

I'm a Rotarian.  Not too many folks know that. Rotary International is a world wide organization of service oriented individuals.  Being a Rotarian means above all sharing time, talents, and vocational experiences for the good of the community. There is no secret handshake or mysterious rituals only the 4 Way Test which asks 4 basic questions: Of the Things we Think, Say or Do: 1) Is it the Truth?, 2) Is It Fair to All Concerned?, 3) Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships? and 4) Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned?  Our club has an unofficial 5th question: Is it Fun? that gives you an idea of the mindset of own group of Rotarians.

One of the many interesting functions that we participate in as Rotarians is something called the Group Study Exchange (GSE) where visiting Rotarians from around the world can spend up to 4 weeks visiting other countries in a cultural and vocational exchange experience.

This past week our club hosted a group of folks, 3 men and 2 women, from India as part of the GSE experience. My wife and I hosted the 2 ladies. They stayed at our guest house and got to experience a little of Dignowity Hill.

It was a whirlwind event as the team did some sight seeing, visited with other Rotarians in SA and did some Fiesta time as well.  For Barb and I it was a unique experience to get to meet and know Kohlia and Nevedita and exchange ideas of our cultures, work and lifestyles. Kohila is a history teacher was very interested in our educational system. We spent time with her as she visited and toured Bowden Elementary School in Dignowity for a couple of hours. Nevi is a psychologist and was interested in learning about the delivery of mental health services.

The team left San Antonio this afternoon and moved on to San Marcos where they will continue their visit in Texas. Their time with us was way too short to really get to know them but we are richer for having them come into our lives even for a micro span of time.

Kohila and Nevi

Kohila, Barb and Nevi

Fellow Rotarian Kyle Contreras with our guests and Barb

Rotarian Byron Miller with our Indian guests, Murall, Muthu and Madhavan

Rotarians enjoying Brunch at Caroline's House

Presentation by our Indian Guests


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fiesta from Dignowity

This past week San Antonio celebrated Fiesta Week, our annual homage to party, food, drink and general indulgence. There's a carnival, parades, a party called NIOSA(Night in Old San Antonio) and all sorts of debauchery. Officially, Fiesta commemorates the defeat of Santa Anna's Mexican army at the battle of San Jacinto but that historic fact is generally lost as most San Antonians concentrate on the fun, food, and drinking part of Fiesta.

We're not big Fiesta goers. We tend to steer away from the big crowds associated with Fiesta. Having been born and raised in SA I've been to enough Fiesta events over the years to get it.  The events I make an except to my rule of avoiding crowds are the parades....not the River parade but the day and the night parades. We usually try to make it to at least one of the Fiesta parades and since we moved to Dignowity 5 years ago we've developed our own approach to watching the parades, actually we sort of become part of the parades.

Three years ago we decided that instead of sitting down to watch the parades we would get to the parade route early to walk up the route to the staging area where the parades begin. This is easy enough for us because the parade route is literally 7 blocks from our front porch so we save the headache of trying to find parking by taking a stroll down the hill from our house.

This year we got to the parade route shortly after the vanguard of the parade had started down Broadway but no matter we were able to wind our way along the sidewalks toward the staging area on Grayson Street. The staging area is near the Pearl complex and it is literally located underneath the overpasses of US 28. This creates a great collection point of sound and organized chaos as the bands warm up, the floats are lined up, people milling around and you get to see all the local politicians, Fiesta Royalty and assorted characters.  The highlight of this year's venture into Fiesta land was almost getting arrested by one of SA's finest for being being in the wrong place at the right time.  Actually, I don't think he was going to arrest us but the cop certainly got annoyed with us!

In end we covered over 3 miles of walking along the parade route, we met some really cool folks and enjoyed our little piece Fiesta!

Scenes from our stroll along the Battle of Flowers Parade route and staging area: