Being Launched in the USA
"Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker
Portrait of A Sexual Revolutionary"
Multiple award-winning documentary
directed by Robert Dunlap
produced by John Patti
While I am enjoying the gentle music of George Winston (Forest) wafting down the entrance foyer of a dream-like family hotel (nine gorgeous rooms) named Posada San Sebastian ... Philip is out and about with our American friend, the travel writer (one time powerhouse businessman), Michael Sherer, transplanted from San Francisco and now living in Antiqua, Guatemala… I decide this is the perfect time to begin my newsletter.
Antigua, Guatemala Xaviera & Michael Sherer
Rather than start at the beginning of our trip, I first want to describe this dreamy place. Each room smells of different fruits, nuts and wood. The entire house, which includes a spacious patio full of exotic birds, tables and chairs, trees and hammocks, is filled with great wooden statues, masks, adorable handmade dolls, as well as the most precious of musical boxes…complete with moving figurines. Many of these statues are handmade by the ever-charming owner of the hotel, though most are collected treasures. Various instruments are a showcase feature in all sorts of unexpected nooks and crannies throughout the house: an old piano, a big marimba, assorted old and precious violins hanging against the walls or positioned in majestic chandeliers.
In the entry that leads to the street there is a permanent display of Luis’s collection of tiny wooden children’s chairs. Inside he reveals his fascination with odd figurines of the baby Jesus Christ in a glass curio cabinet.
More often than not, the furniture is hand carved wood covered with the authentic colorful artisan materials of this area. Original Guatemalan art, collected over the last 25 years, permeates the hotel
with authenticity. Mood lights that maintain a semi -darkness create an eerily spooky ambiance. It would not surprise me to find out that this incredible place is haunted, but elegantly so.
The man behind the artistic quality is the delightful Guatemalan owner, Luis Mendez Rodriguez, a lean man in his mid forties; the handsome father of a daughter and son who, together, manage this astonishing hotel. Our majestic room cost only $50 USD per night. The guests, sometimes assisted by his sweet helpers, prepare their own breakfast. This gives the feeling that one is “at home”.
Luis: always smiling Luis with daughter and son
Tonight, in my quiet solitude, the soft sound of music lures me out of my room. There he is… Luis, seated on his couch, in joyful reverence of the light tones of George Winston playing the piano. We seem to share the same taste in music and exchange some titles of our favorite musicians. I suggest he find the music of Simeon ten Holt and Laurie Anderson while he inspires me to acquire some of his favorite music. I, in my younger days, would instantly fall in love with Luis and his kind, creative spirit…not to mention his velvet melodious voice… a rare one indeed.
The Posada San Sebastian is THE perfect place to unwind, de-haste and make time stand still… certainly, for us, a fabulous end to our five weeks of escape from the rain, cold and snow in Europe.
A step back in time… back to the beginning of this year in Spain. Months and months of rain… rain, rain and more rain. I can actually say, “Never in all the thirty seven years of living in Marbella were there such torrential downpours (from typically very sunny skies) as what we encountered at the start of 2010.” In spring, no doubt, it will be sunny skies as usual.
After our first theater show, Tallulah and the Boy, performed by local talent, I thought it time to bring in a TOP professional actor from England, Saul Reichlin, winner of many awards at the Edinburgh Theater Festival. No doubt, an excellent tried and tested, one-man play titled Now You're Talking, by Sholom Aleichem See www.xavierahollander.com/now-youre-talking .
Saul Reichlin and , a South African Jewish man, formerly a divorce lawyer in Johannesburg (he hated this job,) became an actor in his mid thirties. The roles that suited Saul best were some of the Jewish characters from plays written by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Sholom Aleichim. About ten years ago, he came to Holland where he did a similar play for a wildly enthusiastic crowd. When I asked the audience of expats in Spain if they knew who Sholom Aleichem was, the majority had no idea... however, mostly all the Jews in the audience knew of this writer. When I said, “Have you heard of the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’?” They all knew. In short, stories written by Sholom Aleichem were the basis for Fiddler. Need I say more? We enjoyed an hour of fun and laughter and yet, some sad moments regarding the lives of the poor Jews who inhabited the shtetel of Kashrilikiev.
Philip had the brilliant idea of a “Dinner Theater” to enhance the theater shows at our villa in Marbella. On select nights, Philip and our friend, Theo, prepare a delicious meal included in the ticket price for that night. For example, one night they served a scrumptious spicy Indonesian rice table, earning rave reviews. They are also the friendliest bartenders in town, serving up delicious cocktails.
To our amazement and delight, we have enjoyed a full house many nights. I believe our instant success with our Villa Dinner Theater is the combination of the ambiance of our outside bar and terraces (heated in colder weather), our comfortable dinner chairs and like-minded people sharing the love of theater.
In May, our next show will be… sexy. I already asked a few of my female visitors if they were ready for a naughty play… they all exuberantly nodded a “YES”. So… Peter Searles it is, in house, at the end of May.
Our location is easy to find with ample parking upon arrival. Our theater guests are from all parts of the world with diverse lifestyles and occupations- we have soooo much fun! Come enjoy wonderful cultural evenings at our villa in Spain. See you there!
Back to tales of our travels: ZIHUATENEJO, Mexico … my favorite spot in the world for the last thirty-five years…lost its appeal. The faithful personnel at our bungalowpark las Uraccas no longer employed; fridges, beds, beach chairs and palapas needed replacing. Furthermore, we could not tolerate the increase of crime in and around my beloved fishing village. We decided to expand our horizons. Preferring South America to the Far East, we contacted our friend and former Amsterdam bed and breakfast guest, Michael Sherer. He promised to arrange several book signing parties in Antiqua, Guatemala where he has resided for the last two years. We packed our things, added one suitcase full of books and my latest CD with eighteen naughty songs that I wrote and performed in the seventies.
Before our stay in Guatemala, we visited a darling friend named Margie Geddes, of the Red Stripe Beer family (her husband, the Honorable Paul H. Geddes, was the founder of that great Jamaican beer RedStripeBeer.com ). Margie and I met 5 years earlier in Dubrovnik during le petit festival de theatre, www.lepetitfestival.com organized by our mutual friend, Vinko Prizmic. We became instant friends and stayed in contact by email.
As it happens, she lives in south central Florida, which is only about a 3-hour flight from Guatemala. Margie welcomed us at the Orlando airport. Her giant four-wheel drive Ford Excursion handled our load of luggage with ease. She hosted us for a few days at the fancy Floridays Resort in Orlando. This is a place usually booked by time- share guests; however, they also book like a regular hotel. They offer huge, fabulous three bedroom suites for a very reasonable price.
Margie is a longtime vegetarian with very healthy eating habit and has a to-die-for curvy body. Her blonde haired face reminds me a bit of myself a few years back. As it happens, we both have German blood. My mother is German and both of Margie’s parents are German. At the beginning of our stay, we spent time relaxing and lounging around the hotel. We chatted much and ate HEALTHY food in great restaurants.
The German Gals
The highlight of our visit to Orlando was an en famille visit with Margie and her daughter, Lisa, husband Gregor and their two children to the incredible EPCOT Center at Disneyworld. EPCOT is virtually a world tour. Our first stop in the park was the giant sphere at the entrance. Once inside in a car of sorts, we traveled from the Stone Age to the computerized future. Philip then tried his luck on a Segway, a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle.
There is a huge, amazing greenhouse at The Land where Philip enjoyed a garden tour, for two hours, to admire the advanced agriculture, including hydroponics. We also saw breathtakingly beautiful 3-D films.
As it was pissing down with rain most of the day, we were all real fashion statements wearing flimsy rain ponchos. Since I have trouble walking for hours, Margie treated me to a super little scoot mobile. I could go in the same slow tempo of the pedestrians or swirl ahead in high speed and turn around to pick up our group. It was actually quite fun.
Xaviera & Philip Epcot Philip at EPCOT Segway School
Xaviera & Margie… ready for rain Lisa & Xaviera
We enjoyed visiting an enormous aquarium with dolphins, stingrays, turtles, many, many fish and small sharks. A week later we heard that nearby at SeaWorld, Orlando… a massive orca killed one of the female trainers during an underwater show. Animal rights group Peta said on TV that it has long been asking SeaWorld to stop taking wild, ocean-going mammals and confining them to an area that, to them, is "the size of a bathtub".
Most charming were the many replicas of important countries in the world. This World Showcase is a collective of Pavilions that wrap around a large lagoon. Inside the Pavilions are shops, restaurants and attractions that represent the culture and cuisine of these eleven countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
Local artifacts and fashion merchandise, as well as terrific food, of the various countries were drawing our attention. In each pavilion, the personnel spoke the language of that country. The French food display made me instantly forget all of Margie’s wise advice. I indulged in baguettes with supreme pate, crepes Suzettes and some boeuf bourguignon and, of course, ended our bacchanalia of food with a delicious desert.
Grandma Margie (GiGi) spoilt her grandkids silly and everyone had a great time. (She spoilt us too by treating all of us to the Epcot event as well as the days at the Floridian hotel.) The fireworks towards the end of our EPCOT day were spectacular. Of course… we shopped at the enormous Walt Disney type shops full of souvenirs.
The following day we drove to the Lake Okeechobee area where Margie has a wonderful house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which looks like a miniature French castle full of most original gadgets and most impressive mannequin, life-size dolls she has posed in various positions all over the house. She occasionally changes their outfits, hair, hats or finds them new locations. They are her silent housemates, except for the animated cat that purrs and meows with sound and light and the Butler that actually talks, saying the things one expects a butler to say.
It is a cozy house with an enormous playground for her two grandchildren in her magnificent garden. Clearly, this dream house emanates her magic and artistic touch. The mannequin that fascinated me most was the talking, handsome but a wee bit scary, longhaired English butler, officially dressed, including a black top hat. His large, ghostly eyes haunted me for days especially since they would follow me around the room. His place is at the front door of her house, immediately behind the glass door panes. His chest heaved as he spoke to us in a very British accent, “Good evening, the master is expecting you, what would you like to drink?”
French Normandy Architecture on Lake Okeechobee Xie Philip and the butler
One day Margie took us to her best friend, Art Smith, who was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for ten years and cooked for Obama in Chicago, where he now owns one of the most popular restaurants, Table Fifty-Two: . and Art also has a restaurant named “Art & Soul” on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C..
We spent the night in St. Augustine at a lovely beach house of a friend of his, joining his sweet mother and his partner, Jesus. Art’s father passed away prior to our arrival so we came just in time to bring some smiles. Art cooked us a wonderful dinner. We also assisted in the deseeding of kumquats with which he made a wonderful kumquat preserve. We were recipients of a large jar of this wonderful citrus spread for toast.
Art has recently shed 95#! Cooking up a storm Jesus, Addie Mae and Margie smiling for the camera
Addie Mae, Philip and Chef Art
St. Augustine is a picturesque old Spanish settlement. All along the Atlantic coast, we saw beautiful homes and endless pristine beaches with great views of the coastline. We discovered that venomous snakes and loads of alligators inhabit Florida. Apparently the ocean is home to its own its own predators.
Philip, Art, Margie and Art’s mother took a long beach walk in the evening. Margie and Addie Mae walked a distance behind the men. It got dark…pitch black… the girls actually lost them for a long time. Two helicopters buzzed the beach over the women with searchlights, they laughed and said, “Oh look, they sent out a search party.” The following day it was all over the news that a bull shark fatally attacked a young surfer very near that same beach… hence the helicopters.
As a farewell gift, he handed me his famous cookbook Back to the Table.
Back home, Margie only tolerated Philip in the kitchen to do some healthy cooking. She did not allow me to move a pink in her house. It is great to be spoilt but after a week, I started feeling the need to DO something again other than being the pampered guest. During our last night, we had some visitors join us for a meal.
What a Chef Philip is! Lookout Art Smith DJ and his Girlfriend
He brought his sweet wife, Barbara. When they arrived, they fell in love with Margie’s cat, River. As luck would have it, she was looking for a home for River, as he was a rescue of an older cat. She generously offered him for adoption, freeing her to travel. Margie is delighted with the cat parenting enthusiasm of this couple. She packed up his fancy travel cage and all the cat paraphernalia any cat desires.
Barbara, River, Matt and Xie
Our friends D.J. La Dez and significant other, Yvonne arrived for dinner and overnighted at Margie's house. The following morning D.J offered to make some omelets with bacon. He put the bacon in the broiler and chatted away with us until… the smoke alarm screamed with its shrillness, the house filled up with horrible smoke and soon after, big flames sprung up from the broiler. At that moment, Margie emerged, but kept her cool. Her only concern was to keep water off the burning oil in the pan. Poor woman… a vegetarian and her lovely house smelled like burnt pork for the rest of the day! Margie forgave D.J for his accident. She said, “It’s just a pan.”
We prepared ourselves for the next journey with D.J. and Yvonne via Labelle, to see Margie’s daughter and family at their home. Meanwhile, Margie generously gave me some lovely outfits she bought for me before I arrived.
Margie and I drove in her car and D.J, Yvonne and Philip followed. This was the first time Margie and I had a chance for a nice chat. She made me make several promises: to get my breasts reduced and lifted; next time I go to America, I am to go to her house where she will introduce me to the best plastic surgeon around; I also have to shed 30 kilos so that I start to look like an age appropriate but, younger, fit Xaviera again. I did give a …nod. I promised to think about the boob job but did not guarantee the weight loss.
Docked in the river that flows behind Lisa's house is Margie’s impressively seaworthy boat, built by Hakvoort… 8 kilometers from Amsterdam…small world! Margie gave us all an extensive tour of the boat, followed by a supper of freshly harvested produce from Lisa’s garden
Off to St. Petersburg just before the glorious sunset started. D.J rented a two-bedroom house for all of us for five days. We had a jolly good time together. Yvonne, his girlfriend from Germany, had just moved in with him. We witnessed two truly enamored people who only have eyes for each other… most of the time they were holding hands. While driving around Florida we noticed the huge billboards promote lawyers specializing in divorce cases (especially defending men) and health damage. We saw billboards endorsing lawyers for traffic accidents, slip and fall accidents, ambulance chasers and injury lawyers. There were dozens of signs on behalf of attorneys for DUI (driving under influence) cases. These guys can help you get your driver’s license back! Often uninsured Americans drive, are arrested and continue to drive around drunk. D.J. told us these lawyers for road or injury accidents are often gigantic rip off artists, though some do manage to get driver’s licenses back… even more than once. There are ads for shrinks, cardiologists, gynecologists, eye operations, adult entertainment, restaurants, surf shops, etc… etc. (road-trip entertainment.) We had a great time at the Dali museum and enjoyed the view of the ocean liner.
Of course, we went on a guided tour of D.J.’s factory, Lumedyne, in Port Richey where they produce handmade photographic flash equipment. This is a rarity these days as usually robots produce this equipment. We also met his youthful, charming and elegant mother. We dined at a restaurant with a lovely outside terrace on the riverside… at the Crab Shack where friendly pelicans welcomed us at our table.
A few things we found to be typically Florida: very low toilets, high beds with soft Egyptian cotton sheets and matching pillowcases, the finest two-ply toilet paper; at least, this we found in the house of Margie and en route through Florida. In the major superstores, like Wal-Mart, there are - like in Epcot - electric scoot-a-rounds available customer use.
.........to be continued