sábado, mayo 26, 2007


One of the great benefits of my academic life has been the great travel opportunities I have enjoyed. This summer, I will return to Sucre, Bolivia a place that has become almost a second home in Latin America. In 2003, during my last sabbatical from the School of Architecture, I taught for a semester at the Universidad Mayor Real y Pontificia de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca, the second oldest university in South America, founded in 1624. In my 4 months in Sucre, I fell in love with the city and formed many important friendships. Sucre is the Constitutional Capital of Bolivia and though most government functions take place in La Paz, it is the location of the National Archives and a possible location for my dissertation research.

So, before taking off on my journey, I wanted to officially say farewell to my New Orleans. Hence the photographs of my happy house and my very companionable cats - in clockwise order starting at the lower right - Grisgris, Rocco and Felix. Two weeks ago, when I took the picture of my house, the Star Jasmine was in intoxicating bloom and the Bougainivillea was exhuberant. If I were to take the same photograph today, the Jasmine is well past its prime but the Crepe Myrtle has begun to blossum.

Actually, right now, sitting at my dining table and listening to Jussi Bjoerling on my stereo, it's difficult to think about leaving my house, my cats and my New Orleans friends and set out on another journey. This has been an excellent year. I found my work at Tulane so very gratifying. My future scholarly work has found its focus with many delights promised along the way. I formed a number of wonderful new friendships. And finally, my ankle, which was still painfully recuperating through the fall semester, is now fully recovered. (Last summer, the pleasures of being a "flanneur" in Paris were seriously compromised by pain.)

I'm about to go to the Reily Center for my first independent workout since I concluded a year's training with Ed Smith. I'll try to go back to the gym one more time before I leave for Bolivia on Wednesday. It will take me at least a week before I get my high-altitude lungs back (Sucre is at 9,200 feet) but plan to join a gym there. Linda and Kelly Wagner will be joining me from Denver. They are quite accustomed to high altitudes - the Wagner home is at 8,000 feet. They will arrive at the end of June and when they arrive we will be on tour and moving around at a comfortably fast clip. Prior to their arrival, I have not made any specific plans. Really, spending the month seeing friends, visiting the architecture school, familiarizing myself with colonial documents in the National Archives and reading will be more than enough to keep me happy and productive. On the other hand, if I can find an organized tour to the Jesuit Missions in the Chiquitania (in the Amazon lowlands between Santa Cruz and the Brazilian border) I might be tempted to budge from beautiful Sucre.

Michael Ball, the former student who will be in charge of entertaining my trio of personable pets is a responsible and, I'm afraid, meticulous fellow. This means that I will have to do a more than reasonable job of pre-departure housecleaning. He was one of the speakers at graduation and did several devastating impressions of members of the architecture faculty. I've heard that he also impersonates me - so perhaps my ferocious felines will not miss me all that much.

OK - it's time to get on my bike and head over to the gym.