NAVIGATING THE KITCHEN – A Bilingual Guide to Kitchen Gear

One of the most surprisingly difficult places to navigate when you are traveling is the kitchen. I find nothing more frustrating than to be cooking away, then not be able to find some utensil that I need. What in the devil is a colander called? A grater?

These aren’t exactly words we are taught in Spanish class. Oh, yes, we learn the basics: plate, fork, spoon, knife, glass. But when we get out of the comedor (dining room) and into the cocina (kitchen), we are suddenly thrust into no-person’s land.

Today I present to you words to help you more easily navigate around the hostel or your host family’s kitchen.

¡Buen viaje! ¡Buen provecho!

Place setting. photo © Lorraine Caputo

above (left to right)

bread / dessert plate – plato dulcero

soup bowl – plato hondo  / plato para sopa / bol / cuenco

below (left to right)

napkin – servieta

fork – tenedor

plate – plato

knife – cuchillo

teaspoon – cucharita

soup spoon – cuchara


Kitchen utensils. photo © Lorraine Caputo

above (left to right)

pancake turner / spatula – paleta

mixing bowl – tazón

strainer / colander – cernedor / colador

ladel – cucharón


knife – cuchillo


To cook your food. photo © Lorraine Caputo

skillet – sartén

pot – olla

lid – tapa


Three sizes of pailas. These deep metal skillets are used for all manner of cooking, from fried eggs to dishes. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The paila is a unique cooking vessel in Latin American kitchens, perfect for preparing such dishes as Roasted Veggies.


To prepare beverages. photo © Lorraine Caputo

blender – licuadora

coffee pot – cafetera


To enjoy your beverages. photo © Lorraine Caputo

(left to right)

glass – vaso

wine goblet – copa

cup – taza

saucer – platillo / plato dulcero / plato para café



Other utensils you may need to prepare your dinner are:

cake pan / bread pan – molde

can opener – abrelatas

corkscrew – sacacorchos

cutting board – table (de cortar)

dish rag – trapo

grater – rallador

griddle (for making tortillas or roasting chilis) – comal (Mexico, Central America)

squeezer (for lemon, oranges, etc.) – exprimador

mixer – batidora

potato masher (for potatoes or other vegetables) – aplastador / majador  / pasapurés / chino

serrated knife – cuchillo de sierra

teapot – tetera

tongs – tenacillas / pinzas

towel – toalla

whetstone – piedra de afilar / afiladera

whisk – batidor


And how to describe the means of cooking:

burner – hornilla / hornalla (Argentina, Uruguay) / quemador

charcoal – carbón

firewood – leña

grill – parrilla

matches – fósforos / cerillos (Mexico)

oven – horno

stove – estufa / cocina

turn off – apagar

turn on – encender



Is there any word I may have missed? Please mention it below in the comments.


NEW PUBLICATIONS : Poetic and Travel

It is time for our bimonthly roundup of my poetry and travel writing which continue to appear in journals and on websites around the world. Today, we travel to various corners of Latin America, including Mexico, Chile and Ecuador’s enchanting Galápagos Islands.

Spend the afternoon browsing through the list (with links) below …. and stay tuned for more poetic and narrative journeys coming up later this month!

Until we next meet …..

Safe Journeys!


The Daphnes and other Galapagos Islands from on high. Capture the magic of flying from the Andes to coast, to the Enchanted Isles with my poem “Journey of Changes.” photo © Lorraine Caputo



“Isla Negra” in Blue Fifth Review (Spring Quarterly, June 2017)

“Trickster Songs” and “Canyon Winds” in Mojave River Review (May 2017)

“Journey of Changes” in Topology Magazine (May 2017), theme: Borders & Boundaries


Sunflower seastar (Pycnopodia) in a tidal pool. Playa Orgánica, Isla Isabela, Galápagos. photo © Lorraine Caputo



            Insider’s Galapagos / Galapagos Travel Planner

Galapagos Islands’ Best Snorkeling Sites – No Cruise Required

Galapagos Islands’ Best Snorkeling Sites – Western Islands

New Galapagos  Entry Requirements

Galapagos Islands’ Best Snorkeling Sites – Eastern and Central Islands

Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands

9 Galapagos Islands Day Cruises



A FEAST DAY IN THE COUNTRY – AND THE CITY : Fêting San Antonio in Latin America

San Antonio. La Recoleta Church (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo

On this rainy night, the eve of the feast day of San Antonio de Padúa, hundreds of kilometers from Los Crepúsculos, I imagine I hear the strains of his serenade.

¡Ay, mi padre San Antonio

Donde está que no lo veo

Que vine a cantar con él

Y me voy con los deseos!


Qué queréis con San Antonio

Que lo ‘tas  llamando tanto

San Antonio  está en el cielo

Junto con los otros santos


Señores los bailadores

No se vayan a pegar

Los remedios ‘tan  muy lejos

No hay quien los vaya a buscar


Adorar y adorar y adorar a mi padre San Antonio

Adorar y adorar y adorar a mi padre San Antonio


Ay, my father San Antonio

Where are you, I don’t see you

I’ve come to sing with him

And I’ll be leaving with my dreams!


What is it you want with San Antonio

That you’re calling upon him so much?

San Antonio is in heaven,

Along with the other Saints.


It is the eve of the feast day of San Antonio – Saint Anthony of Padua. In the middle of the street of a neighborhood of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, musicians are seated in front of a statue of San Antonio. As they sing their honoring song honoring to this saint, bottles of cocuy (homebrew liquor) are being passed.

This serenade will continue until the wee hours of the morn, when then the all-day procession commences with a mass, and ends with an evening of seven dances…

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guápulo (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo


Even many years after that night in Los Crepúsculos, the serenade sounds through my mind. Every time I encounter a statue of San Antonio – no matter the season – I mouth the words and sway, dancing to this great saint.


Iglesia de Sn Antonio (M’burucuyá, Argentina). photo © Lorraine Caputo

The feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua is celebrated on 13 June. San Antonio was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões, in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He was contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi (San Francisco de Asís), founder of the Franciscan order. Saint Anthony became a monk of this order, and was famous for his knowledge of scripture, being able to teach them through simple words and deeds. Thus he holds the title of Doctor of the Church. He died 13 June 1231.

San Antonio is represented by the infant Jesus cradled in one arm. Sometimes he also holds a book or a lily blossom. He is the patron saint of lost causes, lost (or stolen) items, lost people and of the poor. In France, Italy, Spain and his native Portugal, Saint Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. In other countries, he is the patron of travelers. On his saint’s day, small loaves of bread are passed out after the mass. This symbolizes San Antonio’s devotion to the marginalized peoples of these lands.

San Antonio is fêted throughout the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina. Today, we shall witness the traditions in two distinct parts of this region: in the deep countryside of Nicaragua, and in the barrios of the city of Barquisimeto, in Venezuela.


Iglesia San Francisco (Quito, Ecuador). photo © Lorraine Caputo


Many moons ago, when I stayed a mighty spell in Estelí, I was invited to accompany Padre Juan and some of the Rugama family to Terrero, a small settlement in the mountains of northern Nicaragua.




Campesinos climb the rocky road

up to the brick chapel

With four guitars & two basses

their song fills the  valley

of these greened hills

Rockets fire into the air


In his glass case carried

in two men’s work-worn hands

San Antonio sways

Mothers & children enter the church

Fathers gather outside

smoking cigarettes

talking about crops & cattle

The Saint rests to one side of the altar

in front of the moss-covered apse

studded with plastic-petalled carnations

made by women of this parish

A large cloth-covered basket

of fresh-baked bread

is placed atop him


On horseback       on foot

the late arrive

One tethers his mare

to a guanacaste tree

Tattered curtains of Spanish moss

floating the blue-white sun breeze

In the distance two women

comedown the camino

They hold the hands of their children´

a baby in arms


Outside Padre Juan confers

with the mass assistants

&the musicians


More & more ascend the slope

to the sanctuary

Another rocket rises into the sky

where light clouds move & form swiftly

The white line of its smoke

the pop of its explosion


The priest & the choir enter the chapel

Men put their discussions aside

&pack into the back


Faces of those unable to fit inside

peer into the open doors & windows


Some compadres remain perched

on the scattered lava boulders

cowboy hats, baseball caps on knees

One holds his daughter on his thigh

The bow of her yellow voile dress

flutters in the soft wind


As the mass unfolds

with the reading of the scripture

the music

with the sermon

& the testimonies of the community

with the celebration of the Eucharist

More families near the temple

children in hand tottering along

children in arms

Men hastily remove their hats


The wafers are placed on tongues

Outside a man lights the fuse

of the rockets with his cigarette

The swooshes       the cracks

of each fill the late morning


The last song is being sung

Two women carry the basket of bread

All within & outside this crowded

church are fed


Amid cries bounding from one another

¡Viva San Antonio!


                  ¡Viva San Antonio!


The Saint is carried away

in his glass case

the handles held by those

two sets of work-worn hands

Down the hill

down the winding road

up the next rise

into the distance

Rocket blasts reverberate

throughout the valley


published in: Baobab (2000)


Iglesia San Francisco (Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos). photo © Lorraine Caputo


In further south climes, this popular Saint is also being fêted. One of his largest strong hold is in Venezuela’s state of Lara, where he is the patron saint. The tamunangue music and dances of these celebrations have their roots deep in Africa. It is said to have originated with San Antonio himself, during his missionary work in northern Africa.

My first visit to Venezuela coincided with the fiestas of San Antonio. Friends around the country urged me to get to Barquisimeto, capital of Lara. Yakarí offered to be my guide through the two days of celebrations in the Los Crepúsculos neighborhood. This is home of one of the most traditional troupes, Grupo de Tamunangue Uyama.

The evening of June 12 is the velorio (vigil) to San Antonio, a serenade on the eve of his saint’s day. The next day, mass is said at the parish church in La Unión. The procession then wends through the streets, with dancing and drumming until dusk. At night, the round of dances is performed.




  1. El Velorio / Los Crepúsculos


The warning rockets are fired

one two three & four

with the butt of a cigarette


San Antonio stands in his case

near the door of a house

His wooden capilla

is backdropped by fan-

shaped palm leaves

Two vases of flowers

perch at the front corners

Their carnations scent the evening

a single candle flickers


People gather in the cul-de-sac

awaiting this velorio to begin

Many come & touch his head

his back       & then cross themselves


The strumming of cuatros

& guitarra marruna

                  begins before this saint

Of a septet standing before him

the strains of Ave María Purísima

A rocket fired

&a second

rocket tras rocket


After the song

one troubadour

prays aloud

The standing people repeat

¡Viva San Antonio!

                  ¡Viva San Antonio!


Everyone sits in silver

wrought-iron seats set

in a semi-circle before the Saint

Two troubadours in the front row

sing to San Antonio


Playing kids roam

young teen women gossip—

their mothers & grandmothers, too


Two floodlights brighten

the street, the scenario


A brindis of cocuy

is left for San Antonio

& after a coffee break

the serenade continues

More men join with

cuatros, voice and cincos

Between songs more

cocuy is poured


A grey-rooted, red haired woman

in a bright green shirt

claps with the music

swaying in rhythm

Her palms redden

song after song


These men, their eyes reddening

sing leaning into a compañero

or closes his eyes

They praise San Antonio

la-la-ing with heart & smile

or eyes wide, brows twisted with feeling


As the evening grows older

people move the chairs

into tight circles around the music


And when the velorio

ends at midnight

The musicians suit their instruments

until the next morn,

San Antonio’s feast



poem © Lorraine Caputo


On San Antonio’s feast day, the biggest celebration is in Barrio La Unión. After the morning mass at the parish church, tamunangueros dance through the streets, carrying the beloved saint from house to house. This procession with its accompanying drumming (and copious amounts of cocuy) continues until dusk. After the sun sets, the seven sones (rhythms) of tamunangue are danced by couples armed with garrotes (sticks).

Yakarí and I spent the day being one with the procession. That night, we returned to Los Crepúsculos. For hours we sat on the blacktop street while he explained the intricacies of each dance.

The tamunangue not only honors San Antonio on his feast day, but it is also performed to fulfill a promise (promesa) to him for granting a good harvest, a family request (for wishes of healing, a new home, studies, etc.) or for love conquered.

The tamunangue consists of the Dedicatorio or Serenade to San Antonio, which includes the Batalla (Battle), performed by two men. This is to ask the Saint for permission to present the dances promised to him.

This is then followed by a round of seven dances performed by couples:

  • El Yiyevamos – The opening dance, with the singer directing the dancers with his calls
  • La Bella – An honoring of women
  • La Juruminga – Based rhythms and forgotten African words
  • La Perrendenga – A dance between woman and man, with garrotes
  • El Poco a PocoThree humorous passes compose this dance
  • El Galerón – The couples dance holding hands
  • El Seis Figurado (Seis Corrido) – Three men and three women dance a total of 32 movements, acting out the picaresque calls of the singer


These are just two of the ways San Antonio is fêted in Latin America, in the countryside and in the city, by campesinos and by African descendants. The pueblos of this region wear many other faces, including indigenous. Many roads, there are, yet to wend to continue honoring this saint.

A VOYAGE INTO THE PAST : The Old Patagonian Express

Juan, our engineer on this day. © Lorraine Caputo


As the 1922 Henschel steam engine leaves its shed, people gather along the long platform to watch its dance as it couples the eight cars for the journey to Nahuel Pan. For some it will be a many-year dream fulfilled, to ride the famed Old Patagonia Express. For others, like that petite, white-haired woman there, this is a step back to childhood when she first came to Esquel. She had been relieved to step out of her carriage after the almost-day-long journey from Ingeniero Jacobacci on La Trochita, as this train is loving called by locals.


The white-haired lady is ready to step back into her childhood. © Lorraine Caputo


El Viejo Expreso Patagónico – also called El Viejo Expreso Patagónico and La Trochita – has been the subject of many books, like Paul Theroux’ epic journey through the Americas, The Old Patagonia Express, and documentaries. It was a challenge to build this 400-kilometer (244-mile) narrow gauge line through the desolate Patagonian landscape. When completed, it was the southern-most regular passenger service in the world. It yet holds that distinction, being the main transport for the Mapuche inhabitants of Nahuel Pan.

All aboard! © Lorraine Caputo


Those villagers slip into the rear car with the workers while the tourists board the five 1922 Belgian-made passenger cars. In the two dining cars, one at either end of the train, doña Jovita will serve coffee and tortaletas, beer and sandwiches during the trip. As our journey begins, guides tell the historical trek of La Trochita.


Inside the Belgian-made cars, built in 1922. In front of the seated woman is a salamandra stove. © Lorraine Caputo


Early 20th Century Patagonian villages were isolated. To get their goods to city markets as a three-month or more travail. Under the 1908 Ley Ramos Majía, these communities petitioned for a connection to the outside world.

Water sources where a steam engine could fill up every 40 kilometers (24 miles) had to be pinpointed in the dry Patagonia plain. In 1923 construction began southward from Ingeniero Jacobacci on the San Antonio Oeste-Bariloche line. Narrow gauge or troche angosta (75 centimeters / 29.5 inch) was chosen because of the land’s mountainous lay. Midway down the line, a workshop was established at El Maitén which still maintains these steam engines and makes any parts needed.

Despite icy winters, the global economic crisis of the 1930s and the high cost of laying the line, cargo service finally reached Esquel in 1945. Five years later the first passenger train arrived, with trains running several times per day. Each journey took 14 to 16 hours, longer in winters. These days, the usual speed of the Old Patagonia Express is 45 kph / 27 mph, with a maximum speed of 60 kph / 36 mph, due the winding nature of the tracks.

In 1993, then-President Carlos Menem turned administration of the railroads over to the provinces. Because many could not afford the maintenance, dozens of lines closed nation-wide, including the Ingeniero Jacobacci-El Maitén leg of the Express in Río Negro Province. With determination, Chubut Province has kept La Trochita alive.


Over the years of taking trains throughout the Americas, I have learned that three things are always true when a train passes:
• Traffic must stop.
• People – especially kids – wave.
• Dogs bark.
© Lorraine Caputo


Between Esquel and the first north-bound station, Nahuel Pan, we cross several modern-day roads. The cars must stop for our passage. We exchange waves as this little train clatters along. A truck on Ruta 40 salutes the Express with a blare of its horn.

La Trochita twisting across the mountainous terrain. © Lorraine Caputo

Watching the terrain of the Old Patagonian Express. © Lorraine Caputo










The Old Patagonian Express on the longest curve of the line. © Lorraine Caputo


Nahuel Pan Mountain rises beige and faded-green on the east horizon. Across the narrow valley are small farms. Birds wing from our approach. The longest curve of the line is just south of Nahuel Pan hamlet. From the last cars, the engine comes into view. Its steam pumps across the blue sky.


The Mapuche-Tehuelche village of Nahuel Pan. Here many passengers will visit the Museo de Culturas Originarias Patagónicas. © Lorraine Caputo


The Old Patagonian Express preparing for the homeward journey. © Lorraine Caputo


The Henschel refills its water hopper at Nahuel Pan and pirouettes to the front of the cars. Further on are several abandoned engines. Meanwhile, passengers visit the Museo de Culturas Originarias Patagónicas and buy crafts from these artisan villagers. With a toot of the locomotive whistle, we board the wooden cars for our homeward journey.


Homeward bound. © Lorraine Caputo


The end of our excursion is nearing. Across the vestibule, I see that petite, white-haired woman looking wistfully out her window of the next car. What memories has this trip brought her? Perhaps the smell of sausages cooking on the salamandra stove each passenger car has. Perhaps the bustle of others gathering baggage and bundles as La Trochita approaches its final stop.


The summer fields of Patagonia. © Lorraine Caputo


All year long, through winter snows and summer fields of thistle, Esquel visitors hop the Old Patagonia Express, once or twice weekly in the off season, daily at holiday times. Once monthly, the ride goes as far as El Maitén, where the maintenance workshops can be visited. In the high season, nighttime rides are offered from Esquel to Nahuel Pan. Another regular run of La Trochita is from El Maitén to Desvío Thomae. About once a year, foreigners charter La Trochita to do the entire line, from Esquel to Ingeniero Jacobacci, a four to five-day excursion. Schedules are posted on the website.

The second weekend of February is the Fiesta Nacional del Tren a Vapor (National Steam Train Festival) in Maitén.


Gazing into the mighty Henschel’s innards. © Lorraine Caputo

Guiding the Henschel to bed. © Lorraine Caputo

At the end of the day’s run, La Trochita mounts the roundtable to be turned around before entering the locomotive shed. © Lorraine Caputo


Roasted vegies, served with pasta and grilled chicken breast fillet. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Every week in the home where I was staying, we’d get together to have Sunday dinner together. To the songs on the radio, the señora and I would begin cooking about 6 p.m., creating a fine repast for all present.

When consulting with a young Venezuelan, he said he didn’t care what we prepared – as long as my vegetales a la paila was on the menu. This young man who had  never liked eating vegetables before – shocked his mom with the photos of him sitting down to a heaping helping of my dish. She wanted the recipe.

I love oven-roasted vegies – but two things bother me about the recipe: the amount of time (and therefore fuel) it takes to make them, and the amount of fats used. Atop all that, I often don’t have an oven.

So, how can I get the same delicious flavor without an oven, without all the fat – while all the while saving a lot of energy?

Three sizes of pailas. These deep metal skillets are used for all manner of cooking, from fried eggs to dishes like the one we are preparing today. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The trick is in a heavy skillet. In Latin America, the paila is a perfect pan to use. It is a deep skillet, somewhat like a wok. If you’re in the northern world, a wok or a cast iron skillet will work just as well. Any of these will reach a temperature high enough to sear the vegetables to a toasty brown on the outside, yet perfectly cooked inside.

(Yes, you could use a regular skillet – but the results will be different.)


A Dish with a Million Variations

This recipe is one where you can allow your imagine to run wild, and adjust to whatever you might find in the local market. The day I prepared this version, I cleaned out the fridge of whatever needed to be used up: carrots, green beans, sweet peppers and mushrooms.

Some other great combos for Roasted Vegies are:

  • Broccoli, cauliflower and carrot
  • Green beans (cut on the bias or julienned / French cut), carrots and mushrooms
  • Brussel sprouts (the smaller, the less bitter), carrots

What I scrounged from the fridge: carrots, green beans, sweet peppers and mushrooms, plus onion. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Another great combination is broccoli, cauliflower and carrot. photo © Lorraine Caputo











As for what herbs to use – well, I like to let the vegetables “speak” for themselves. The combination of butter and onion in this manner of preparation brings out the natural sweetness in each vegetable. Though sometimes, I’ll toss in a bit of thyme and / or rosemary to complement the flavors of the vegetables.

But no matter what combination of vegies or herbs and spices you use, the basic recipe is the same: butter and olive (or other) oil and onions, plus salt and perhaps garlic.



Estimated cooking time: 15-20 minutes

For: Vegans, Vegetarians, Carnivores (as a side dish)


2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive or other oil

1 large carrot, cut into chunks

1 handful of green beans, cut into 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pieces

1 large onion, cut into chunks

1 green pepper, cut into chunks

1 cup sliced mushrooms

salt  (to taste)

Leaves of 1 short sprig of fresh rosemary, or a large pinch of dried leaves – optional


Cut all the vegetables and place on a large plate or other dish.

Heat a large paila or skillet until hot. Add the butter and oil; melt.

Add the carrots and stir. Cover the paila with a large enough lid. Uncover and stir occasionally.

When the carrots are just beginning to be tender, add the green beans. Cover and cook. After about five minutes, add the onion and green pepper. When these are tender, Add the mushrooms amd salt. Keep the paila covered, occasionally stirring, until vegetables are tender.

Serve hot.

Carrots take the longest to cook. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Continuing with the next vegetables. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The rest of the vegetables go in, as well as the herbs like rosemary (optional) and salt to taste. photo © Lorraine Caputo

And we are almost there! photo © Lorraine Caputo



  • Have all the vegetables cut before beginning to cook. You can add each ingredient at just the right time, and not accidently burn the food.
  • Butter can be difficult to find in tropical climates. In my opinion, margarine just doesn’t have the same flavor. I would rather use all oil than a margarine-oil combination.
  • Covering the paila or skillet with a lid helps to cook the vegetables faster, and preserve flavors and nutrients.
  • Add the vegetables according to how long each will take to cook: Carrots take the longest, then green beans, onions, green peppers, etc. Mushrooms take little time to cook.
  • Green beans have a brighter flavor and cook quicker if they are julienned (French cut), as opposed to being cut on the bias (slant-cut).
  • Use smashed garlic as opposed to minced garlic, as the flavor preserves better. You can keep the husk (skin) on, if you like.
  • You may need to add a little bit of water from time to time to keep the vegetables from sticking and burning. Add just a little though, so the vegetables do not turn mushy!
NEW PUBLICATIONS : Poetic and Travel

NEW PUBLICATIONS : Poetic and Travel

It is time for our bimonthly roundup of my poetry and travel writing continuing to appear in journals and on websites around the world. Today, we travel to various corners of Latin America, including Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

Spend the afternoon browsing through the list (with links) below …. and stay tuned for more poetic and narrative journeys coming up later this month!

Until we next meet …..

Safe Journeys!

The latest edition of DoveTales – focused on Refugees and the Displaced – includes three of my poems.


“Quake,” “Salto Bosetti” and “Two Petals” in River Poets Journal (April 2017)

“A Thousand Miles,” “Dance for a New Year” and “In Exile” in DoveTales (2017), theme: Refugees and the Displaced


Sunset. Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela, Galápagos photo © Lorraine Caputo



Andes Transit

Tips for Safe and Comfortable Bus Journeys


Insider’s Galapagos / Galapagos Travel Planner

3 Tips for Multi-Generational Galapagos Islands Vacations

Going Solo in the Galapagos Islands

The Best Time to Take a Galapagos Vacation

5 Reasons to Visit Galapagos in 2017

Galapagos Islands: What Happens in April

Welcome Home, Lonesome George!


Many Saturdays, I pack my journal and my camera into my shoulder bag, and go off a-wandering. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Off in another corner of cyberspace, I photograph the dawning of a new Saturday and write a meditation on the day to come.

On weekends, I tend to wake up several hours before the dawn. I find that in the silence of those dark hours, I can more easily sink into words, into creativity (and often the internet connection is much better). The streets may echo with an occasional vehicle, with an all-night party echoing down from a barrio high up on the hills, a procession wending down narrow streets.

Then the dawn comes … perhaps with birdsong, perhaps with the steps of someone out on the calle below. And then the slow revealing of a new day.


Saturday is the time of the week to dedicate to household tasks: cleaning, laundry and market.  No matter for how long I stay in a place, I keep this practice, this discipline. It helps me to keep a routine even when I am traveling, and also helps me to keep on budget.

After those tasks, I then have the rest of the day to go off a-wandering and exploring, journal and camera tucked into my shoulder bag, ready to capture lives and landscapes in poetry and photographs.

But, indeed, some Saturdays I cannot escape to go off a-wandering. My desk may be piled too high with projects to complete, or the seasonal rains (downpour – aguaceros) may keep me inside. I take the time, then, to work on poetry or submissions.


Today, I share some of my Saturday dawn meditations with you, from 2014. In future weeks I shall share other years’ morning twilight musings with you.

And no matter where or how you live, take a day every week to go exploring where you are. Even if you are not traveling, be a tourist in your hometown. Go off and see the unknown barrios (neighborhoods), museums and markets – and write poetry and stories, take photographs or your day’s experiences.

Where shall I go off to? Where shall you? Until we next meet – SAFE JOURNEYS!

July 26, 2014 – A new day is dawning as I prepare for my usually walk-about, wandering and exploring, journal and camera tucked into my shoulder bag … photo © Lorraine Caputo

August 9, 2014 – This Saturday has dawned golden – hopes of much sunshine provoked. photo © Lorraine Caputo














photo © Lorraine Caputo

September 20, 2014

I sit awaiting the dawn to spill colors across a new day.

To have a spectacular sunrise (or sunset), you need to have just the right amount of clouds in the sky. Too little, and the sun’s rays have no place to snag, no folds in which to pool. Too many, and the sun is muted.

But this morning the sky is über-cloudy, with only a few spaces where blue is emerging.

Indeed, here the rainy season has arrived. At 3 in the afternoon (or perhaps at 5), the rumbles begin echoing through the valley and down the narrow cobblestone streets. Then the crisp thunder overhead, the sharp, ragged lightening. Torrential rain and hail. Within an hour – perhaps more – it passes, as to breathe deeply after such wrath. Perhaps it has not ended, perhaps it shall weep throughout the evening, throughout the night.

Perhaps come next morning, the sky will awaken sunny, clear. Perhaps the emotions spent the night before will continue to cloud another day.


photo © Lorraine Caputo

November 8, 2014

When I awoke several hours before the dawn, heavy quilted clouds blanketed the sky. A thick band wavered over the unseen river.

But as the first dawn colors began to touch the sky, the quilt began to fray. And once the sun crested the eastern hill of this holy jaguar valley, the day turned golden.

I bathe in that newly risen star, writing these words, tucking my journal and camera into my shoulder bag …


photo © Lorraine Caputo

November 15, 2014

I was awake before the dawn. Birds softly sang for a short spell before falling silent. A dog barked – just a few yaps – then quieted. No traffic, no people …

This should have been my clue that this dawn would be mute. Nay – nary a touch of faded pink, of washed gold tinted the sky.

Layer of clouds upon layer of clouds. A thin, white band backdropped by slate-blue. The distant volcano half-visible, its snow blending into the white clouds beyond.

If the rains don’t come too soon this day, perhaps I shall be off a-wandering and exploring, journal and camera tucked into my shoulder bag …

… ready to capture lives and landscapes in poetry and photographs …


photo © Lorraine Caputo

November 29, 2014

Morning twilight is just beginning to paint the sky.

At this hour, the bald-headed man in the apartment above the corner bar is still blaring his music – audible through his shuttered doors and windows. (At least the off-key karaoke singing stopped before 2 a.m.)

All night I have been gathering information about submissions – and have sent off two poetry manuscripts.

But now I think it is time to reflect upon this new day a-dawning … and get a few hours precious sleep before heading to the market.

photo © Lorraine Caputo

December 13, 2014

This Saturday had dawned golden …

I walked out to the terrace to bath in that light …

But the call of long-neglected tasks called me to finally be done …

The sky cleared to a deep robin-egg blue, and so I did the wash and hung it

And then a late trip to the market, slipping through crowded streets, protecting my eggs for many blocks from the multitudes of holiday vendors and buyers crowding the walks and streets.

Now at this noon, dark clouds have rolled in …

Usually on Saturday, I go off a-wandering and exploring, journal and camera tucked into my shoulder bag, to capture lives and landscapes in poetry and photographs …

But in this rainy season, perhaps I shall opt to journey within today …


Drop by next month to go a-wandering into Saturdays’ Dawns of 2015.

Until then – explore, delight your senses …. and Safe Journeys!