Women in El Salvador are Punished for Having Miscarriages

These are only some of the people seeking refuge in other countries.

Threats of being imprisoned for half of your life doesn’t exactly make you feel like you live in the best place in the world, doesn’t  make you feel free, or even human for that matter. This is just one of the reasons why people migrate.

I recently had the chance to work with Amnesty International for the Feminist and Women’s Cultural Festival on March 12th. We mobilized against the total ban on abortions to some members of the legislative assembly of the Commission of that country to tilt their vote in relation to the reform of the current law on abortion. Many people did not know that this was still happening. Here is a link to stories of women in El Salvador who are still imprisoned and waiting for help.

El Salvador: Scandalous proposal to increase jail terms for women accused of abortion

12 July 2016, 14:52 UTC

A new proposal by a group of parliamentarians from opposition party ARENA in El Salvador to increase jail terms for women accused of having an abortion to up to 50 years is scandalous, irresponsible and flies on the face of basic human rights standards, Amnesty International said.

“Parliamentarians in El Salvador are playing a very dangerous game with the lives of millions of women. Banning life-saving abortions in all circumstances is atrocious but seeking to raise jail terms for women who seek an abortion or those who provide support is simply despicable,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Parliamentarians in El Salvador are playing a very dangerous game with the lives of millions of women. Banning life-saving abortions in all circumstances is atrocious but seeking to raise jail terms for women who seek an abortion or those who provide support is simply despicable.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“Instead of continuing to criminalize women, authorities in El Salvador must repeal the outdated anti-abortion law once and for all.”

Following a change in the Penal Code in 1998, abortion in El Salvador has been banned in all circumstances – even when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is at risk. The current jail term in the Penal Code is from 2 to 8 years. The change in the law has led to wrongful prosecutions and misapplication of criminal law where women are immediately assumed guilty. Women with few economic resources are particularly affected by the ban.

 

Source: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/el-salvador-scandalous-proposal-to-increase-jail-terms-for-women-accused-of-abortion/

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An American Moves to Luxembourg

I have been in Luxembourg for about 4 weeks now. It is said that every girl must  experience living abroad at least once in her life, and now, here I am.

Why  Luxembourg? I will explain another time.

For now, here are a few things that I have learned since arriving:

      •A lot of people think that Luxembourg is in Germany. Poor Luxembourg lives in the shadows of its larger siblings.
            •I can’t even work at a grocery store here with a degree. Every cashier speaks almost five different languages including

Spanish, French, German, English, Portuguese, Dutch, and Luxembourgian. 

        • As an American, I feel so deprived of the language and cultural education I received in school growing up. On the other hand, Luxembourg natives are endowed with at least 3 different languages in school, but many feel deprived of other subjects once they reach college. The grass is always greener on the other side.
          •It is illegal for Luxembourg shops to be open on Sundays, except for grocery stores (which are open until 12). Shopping malls are closed and all offices are closed. Most restaurants and cafes are open. If you want to go shopping you have to go 20 minutes to France, Belgium or Germany. This means your choices are to rest and do nothing or travel, not bad choices.
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Sunday Stroll along a castle. Seriously, it makes you feel like a princess in a fairyland at times

Luxembourg is incredibly culturally diverse, almost more than any other country in the world. There are people from 15 different countries, not in the EU, in my French class and I am the only American. It’s refreshing.

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Matteo and I spotted at an expat meetup

• The cost of living is incredibly similar to California. This is because the city has a housing deficit, so it resembles San Francisco in some ways, making me feel like home. On the other hand, the minimum wage is 2.000 Euros per month.

• There are totally good places to have American food just as modern, happening and delicious as those I see in SF or New York City.

• The grocery stores and produce are amazingly luscious compared to the US. Think Whole Foods at Safeway prices, and even cheaper. I’m always in awe.

Unlimited choices of great Belgian beer and Rosé at very cheap prices.
Luxembourg also has their own brewed beer called Diekirch.

There are really fun and eclectic places to go out, it isn’t boring. Some of my favorites include a live theater restaurant, an American burger place called Brooklyn where a polish guy sings amazing folk Americana music, and café where you make your own spiked hot chocolate.  Not that bad for a country whose population is half of San Francisco.

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Chocolate House to the rescue

• It’s easy to feel sad, especially if you move here in the middle of winter and the sun hides 80% of the time.  I totally underestimated the emotions I would feel relocating my life and leaving so much behind to start new and fresh. The thing I have learned is not to be so hard on myself and to keep going out and meeting new people. Travel. Workout. Enjoy the opportunity that I have. I asked for it, I got what I wanted, now it is time to embrace my gift. Many people will never get the chance.

5 Places to Escape in San Francisco City Limits

 I like people, don’t get me wrong. I love running into new and interesting people and I will talk to strangers very willingly, especially if I want to pet their dog. On the other hand, I like to find nice little escapes that I don’t have to trek far to get to in the city that give me a slice of peace and perspective. These are my few. There are many places that are not listed here, but just like everything in life, it is much more exciting when there is something left to the imagination. Sure I could list Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks and Corona Heights but there is so much more to explore dear San Francisco newbie. In addition, let’s face it, it’s hard to keep secrets with the age of the internet.  I share with you some small treasures that I have come to know as a regular and have utilized numerous times  to spice things up and get my much-needed nature fix while living in SF.

1. Tank Hill Park- This unique picnic spot is slightly windy on most days but holds a magnificent view of the western part of the city that’ll make you feel like you are on top of the world. With a tree swing and plenty of space for frolicking, I think it’s a top pick for inspirational places. Tank Hill is located right off of  Clarendon Avenue, near the end of Twin Peaks drive. It’s a good idea to bring a  jacket even on a sunny day because places like this seem to have their own “micro” micro climate.

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Tank Hill

2. Billy Goat Hill- Just a short hike up from 30th street and Laidley or Beacon street, this tree swing has some of the best views to soak up the city. If you are 100 lbs or less, be a kid again or …if you are a kid, be a kid. enjoy the swing while viewing the dynamic colors and depth of the art work that is Noe Valley and the Mission area. This place gets windy too!  The great thing about wind is that it carries away noise, so it is quite peaceful.

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Magical Tree Swing on Billy Goat Hill

3. Glenn Canyon Trail- Nestled just below Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights, Glenn Park has a secret. My favorite refuge from the city life. This place has been a blessing to me when I have been without a car. This is a great place to slip into nature by the Muni or Bart (Glenn Park Station) for a picnic or a quick hike. Many people bring their dogs so to all of the dog stalkers, you know who you are, go for a jog and pet a dog. There are multiple trails that climb hills, roll through small forests with creeks and marshes or lead through grassy knolls with views of the canyon. There is even a small outdoor school hidden in the bottom that I stumbled upon one day, which explained the weird doll collection nailed to a tree on the trail leading to it.

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Glenn Park Upper Canyon Trail

4. Bernal Hill – Again, dog heaven, but isn’t the entire city of San Francisco dog heaven? I really wish that the rest of the world was dog friendly like this city. Regardless, Bernal Hill is just right across from the Mission and provides a really smooth hike with benches along the way to enjoy awesome views. The neighborhood around the hike provides an eclectic show of murals of giant sharks eating caviar and interesting coffee shops the size of a small shed (that open whenever they feel like it). It is never boring to walk around this neighborhood. When you come back down from the hike you can visit the Bernal Park Cafe for a Pizza, latte, beer or gelato..they have everything. If you have kids, there is a fenced in park across the street where you can let them loose after you feed them ice cream. Everyone wins!

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Bernal Hill Steps with a View

5. Mile Rock Beach- If you are not willing to go off the beaten path of Lands End, you would not know this beach is here, however, it i


s the most populated place I have been to on my list. I still think that it gets overshadowed by Baker Beach and China Beach, so I am counting it as the underdog and giving it a little attention. With such breathtaking views of the ocean, there is so much room for play here. A great place to enjoy an evening picnic cocktail while sitting on a rock and watching the sunset, you will see people running barefoot all and toying with the ocean tides. This is a place where you will get your feet wet, catch a glimpse of sea life, sit on rocks and receive salty wet hair from the ocean spray after hiking down a mountain on a dirt trail.

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Mile Rock Beach
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My surprise trip to Rome at 5am

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My visit to Rome was guided by a native Italian, my boyfriend, who had been to Rome many times before and knew that I had always wanted to see it ever since I told him I had reoccurring dreams of being in front of the Colosseum. One morning while I was visiting him in Torino, he rushed me on a train at 5 am and didn’t tell me where I was going. A few hours in he looked at me and said “Don’t you want to know where we are going? We are going to Rome.” My mind nor my imagination had nearly been prepared for what I would do if I went to Rome.I stared out the window grasping on to the idea. He had everything prepared for us. All I needed to do was get ready to walk and be mesmerized.

I had been familiar with the architecture in Italy already, but arriving in city limits, I hoped to catch a glimpse of any ancient ruins visible that would tell me I was there. As I stepped onto the streets, It felt like a lucid dream. I looked everywhere for the images I had seen in pictures, books and movies, but still, there was nothing familiar in sight.

Italians are very creative with parking spaces I know this, but the first thing I noticed in Rome was to them parking was a masterful skill in the creative art department. I saw cars parked in crosswalks, sidewalks and in intersections.Walking into Piazza del Popolo we would notice the people saying “Bella Ma!” or “Bella Zi!”  and use endearing terms such as “Caro” often instead of the regular “Ciao Bella!” we were used to hearing in the North. My boyfriend would nudge me and say, “Do you hear the Roman accent?”.

I had expected everyone we passed by to have a look of wonderment on their face like I did.  Of course, people were carrying on with their usual business just like they do in San Francisco, I admit that it surprised me still. As we began walking through the stone streets of Via Del Corso, I was surprised at how many beautiful and ancient dwellings along the street were stuffed with Armani and Burberry shops. The street performance artists in front were much more peculiar than those I had seen in LA or New York.  I had dreamed of a naked Rome, free of modern commercialism, but still, the street artists were quite amusing. We strolled at our own pace through the sprinkling rain to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. A kiss was made under our umbrellas at every corner. I had seen so many things already and still nothing yet. I caught myself looking around wherever we went to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Colosseum. I didn’t realize that Rome is far more vast than I prepared for and there was no way I would see the Colosseum unless I took a subway ride. 

On the next day the most unexpected view awaited me as I climbed the stairs to daylight out of the conventional looking subway tunnel. The Colosseum, low and behold, was just as I had pictured it. Massive in its white and silver outlines, it’s dark eye sockets peered around  in front of a dismal sky. Many people were standing in line just in front, waiting to get in and sharing the view with their friends and family with the aid of their selfie sticks. Everywhere brown men were waving them in the air for a quick sale. Hour after hour after strolling through Ancient Rome, sitting on the stairs built by Michelangelo, I used my imagination to picture what was going on where I stood during the days of Augustus. By this time, I had toured my way to exhaustion and was almost too heavy to take a peek into the Colosseum. I thought about some Gelato and a nap back at our apartment but Matteo wouldn’t let me miss out. I settled for a nap in the Colosseum on some worn steps overlooking the center of the stadium. Instantly I dreamed. I deemed it the most peculiar nap I have ever taken.IMG_2722

The sight of graffiti and tiny pieces of trash strewn about in places along here and there in some of these sacred spots reminded me that the eternal city that resides in todays time, also suffers the difficulties of today’s time. It is still a city very much alive that will be alive for the passing of many generations, withstanding momentous periods in world history to come.

 

At last we arrived at the Vatican. Here I began to humble myself with what I had known about the world of sculpture and renaissance art.  I touched and passed by many of the most famous works in the world from Van Gogh and Raphael, to Michelangelo and Salvador Dali.  I felt as though it would have taken me at least 3 days to know the Vatican properly. I found myself filtering through pieces and giving glance overs to some of the most ancient and beautiful paintings  I had the privilege of seeing in real life. I had reached my peak of art viewing in the Sistine Chapel, where I was grudgingly disheartened at the people who were taking pictures even though it was forbidden. I was a little tired and hungry at this point so I was less patient with the public world around me. When I reached St. Peters Basilica, the larger than life atmosphere made me forget my petty concern for human behavior. Our size was reduced to field mice in a mansion. I walked through the papal tombs in silence and wonder, under the massive dome in presence of Bernini and Michelangelo. My eyes attempted to burn to memory every last detail offered, accompanied by an eldritch atmosphere of historical figures that used to occupy these spaces. Half of the day had passed, and I sighed in relief as I discovered outside under the Columns, a line of eager humans at least a quarter of a mile long waiting for their turn to have the same magical experience. The trick was to get tickets in advance, I thought.

Leaving the Vatican, the attempt to go into another church seemed meager and unsatisfying. The only thing I needed now was food buon pranzo and my love sitting across from me. Without going further into food, that is how I remember my Rome.

The Deadliest Parade in San Francisco

A part of what makes the historical Mission District of San Francisco is the rich culture, art and celebrations. The Day of the Dead brings a deeper meaning with it, along with beautiful costumes and handsomly morbid face paintings to roam the streets at night. The Day of the Dead is to remember those who are no longer here.Originating in Mexico, it is celebrated all around the world in most Catholic families. Such things as parades, visiting grave sites, creating alters and lighting candles are also ways El Dia De Los Muertos is celebrated. In San Francisco, and other places like L.A., it can be a large spectacle that residents and tourists come to see regardless of beliefs. For more information on the Day of the Dead go here.

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The dead

The painted

The haunted

Loved

Lost

Forgotten

Souls perched up on rooftops and window seals bellowing their lust for remembrance upon death

For those who forgot to live

For those who live a lie

Sickened by the living world which feeds them leftovers of life

Soak every inch of cloth and hair in paint and radiate the screams of which you hold within

Starve on life and only consume the richest of it, the most precious, so that every last taste is a golden memory

– Inspired on November 2nd, 2015 Mission and Bryant SF, CA

This is not Holloween. A part of what people love about the historical Mission District of San Francisco is the rich culture, art and celebrations. Pictured above, The Day of The Dead is one of them. El Dia De Los Muertos brings a deeper meaning with it than just beautiful costumes and handsomely morbid face paintings. The Day of the Dead is to remember those who are no longer here in ones family. People will dress up and display a picture and/or candles to parade through the streets during the evening. Originating in Mexico, such things as  visiting grave sites, creating alters for the lost ones, and lighting candles are also ways El Dia De Los Muertos is celebrated. In San Francisco, and other places like L.A., it can be a large spectacle that residents and tourists come to see regardless of beliefs. For more information on the Day of The Dead visit here

The California Bear has a name, it’s Monarch

http://www.monarchbear.org/monarch/
Monarch’s image is the image adopted by the California State Flag in 1911.

After the Spanish settlers came to San Francisco in the 1800’s,  they essentially wiped out most of the wild and more exotic animal population including the Grizzly Bear from the Bay Area. One of the ways humans managed to achieve this was by fighting Grizzly bears with wild pigs for entertainment.  William Hearst, who is the founder of the San Francisco Examiner, wanted to bring the Grizzly bear back to San Francisco for a publicity stunt, so he hired one of his Journalists to scout for one. The Journalist ended up with a successful catch in Northern California after months of searching. Hurst initially asked Golden Gate Park if they would be willing to house this massive bear, unsurprisingly they refused. Hurst ended up finding a home for it in a place called Woodward Gardens, a small park and petting zoo off of 14th and Mission Street in San Francisco. Some people may know this area today as The Armory. The bear was proudly named Monarch by the organization who housed it. Monarch went on display and spectators came to marvel at him for a small fare. Monarch eventually became so popular amongst the crowds that Golden Gate Park ended up receiving him after all. There, officials introduced a female bear and they created a family together of three cubs. In 1911 Monarch died. His image became the model in the new state flag that would be adopted that same year.  Monarch is now stuffed and on display at the California Academy of Sciences where spectators used to be able to walk by and rub his nose for good luck. Now, he is on display in a glass case to protect his nose and keep him intact from the ongoing spectators. The last Grizzly Bear in California was seen in 1929 in the Sierras. For more information on Monarch the Bear, visit http://www.monarchbear.org/monarch/.

A San Francisco Wordsearch

Get a visual of one of San Francisco's oldest most controversial neighborhoods. The Mission was the first place of settlement in the Discovery of San Francisco. Here, the Mission Dolores was built by Father Junípero Serra of the Catholic church. Junípero Serra, with much controversy later, attempted to convert the Native American Ohlone to Christianity. During this time many natives were killed and died due to the stresses of the change. Today, some people might compare the tech boom to one that is repeating history in pushing out the natives to make the mission a place for the people of money and status to reside, as the city gets more popular and crowded and the tech industry becomes the main source of employment for San Franciscans.
One of San Francisco’s oldest most controversial neighborhoods, the Mission was the first place of settlement in the discovery of San Francisco. Here, the Mission Dolores was built by Father Junípero Serra of the Catholic church. Junípero Serra, with much controversy later, attempted to convert the Native American Ohlone to Christianity. During this time many natives were killed and died due to the stresses of the change. Today, some people might compare the tech boom to one that is repeating history in pushing out the natives to make the mission a place for the people of money and status to reside, as the city gets more popular and crowded and the tech industry becomes the main source of employment for San Franciscans.