Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Yikes! I've been meaning to write about this for a while but I forgot. On July 7th, we had a an earthquake!

At first, I didn't know what to do. There was a big bump, and all the Cali-Girls dove for cover--some hid under the desk, another under a chair. Tinker was already standing in the doorway. The lamps started to sway and Jackie grabbed me and pulled me in to the door way. It was over as soon as I realized, "earthquake!"

After the shaking died down, the girls all started calling out numbers. Then they ran to get on to the computer and logged on to this website:
U.S. Geological Survey. They said the real news always exaggerates, but the USGS will tell you when the quake hit, where it was, and how big it was. The earthquake I'm talking about shows up as a big yellow square on the map, between San Diego and Palm Springs. If you hold your mouse over it, it tells you the magnitude of the quake.

It turns out the numbers the girls were shouting were different quake magnitudes--they were betting! The quake was a 5.4 in magnitude, which is big enough to notice but not to cause damage. Jackie won and they all had to give her a quarter. It makes sense, though, since Jackie loves swimming and sailing, and so knows a little bit about how waves work. Because that's what an earthquake is like--a wave in the earth, instead of the ocean!

There are lots of earthquakes in California and all up the west coast because this is where two continental plates, the Pacific Plate and the North American plate meet here, causing earthquakes as they move past each other. Earthquakes usually happen along fault lines, and a huge fault line, called the San Andreas Fault, is really close to the Valley!

Jackie says I'm really truly a Californian now that I've been through an earthquake bigger than 5.0. This quake was a 5.4, but the epicenter was between Palm Springs and San Diego so we didn't get too much shaking. It was still strange. Eddie (she may have been bragging) said that they don't get scary until they are bigger than 6.0 in magnitude. Because of the way earthquakes are measured, a 6.0 is actually ten times bigger than a 5.0. So, yes, I think something ten times as big as I experienced would be scary!

Apparently, though, they always come as a surprise as there is no way to predict when and where the next one will hit.

Which makes it strange, because, come to think of it, I remember Tinker looking at her watch and then going to stand in the doorway. Almost like she knew the earthquake was about to come. But then again, Tinker's strange, she could have been standing there for another reason. I mean, she can't have known the earthquake was about to hit--right?

Anyways, Jackie, Eddie, and Tinker all want to go get Slurpees, so I've gotta run!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Catching up....Mexico

Shhhh.....I am so tired after my day at the beach, but I'm secretly writing this without Eddie knowing. She's a super friend but sometimes she can be one of those supercalifragilistic-extra-extra-bossy dolls, and for sure she'd tell me to turn off my flashlight and get to bed. But I can't -- I have to get caught up with my blog!

See, I've been so busy that I didn't even have a chance to blog about my last few days in Mexico. We went back to downtown Querétaro and got to see that incredibly awesome aqueduct I wrote about in a previous blog entry. Here is its history, which Prisclla copied for me from a tourist brochure:

Queretaro is a beautiful colonial city that can be appreciated for many of its enchanting sites and buildings but the one building of Querétaro that inspires more than a sigh or two is the Aqueduct.

In the 1720s, the city of Querétaro was suffering from the lack of clean drinking water. With the river contaminated and the people dying, it was a very bleak place that seemed to have little hope in survival. The bleakness, however, did not touch the heart of one man by the name of Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana, Knight of the Order of Alcantara and a hydraulic engineer, also known as the Marquis de la Villa del Villar del Aguila).

Legend has it that Urrutia y Arana fell in love with a nun by the name of Sor Marcela, who was said to be beautiful and from a well-to-do family. Because of the vows she took on becoming a Capuchina nun, she could not have any sort of amorous relation with the love struck engineer, who, incidentally, was also married. Instead, she asked him for a show of his love by bringing clean drinking water to the city. In this manner, the construction of the Aqueduct began.

From 1726 to 1735, the Aqueduct construction went underway. It has 74 arches, made of rock, reaching a maximum height of over 75 feet and a length of nearly 4200 feet. The first part of the Aqueduct was constructed underground. The subsequent parts rise through the valley and the city for about 3 miles, ending in a cistern near the Convent of the Santa Cruz in a place called La Caja de Agua. It is said that the final arch of this Aqueduct brought water to the very convent where Sor Marcela lived and engraving a very romantic story into the history of Querétaro.
A married engineer building an aqueduct to impress the nun he was in love with? Well, whatever works right? He did a great job, and the aqueduct is still an amazing, impressive sight. You can see the aqueduct behind me and Knut, stretching across the background of the city.

Next we went to Panteon de los Queretanos Ilustres, where there were graves and monuments for famous natives of Querétaro.

We even saw the final resting place of Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, La Corregidora, and got to pay our respects!

There are some more pictures of my last day in Querétaro IN THIS ALBUM. I had a lovely Mexican dinner that night and had to pack up to journey north to California. I was feeling kind of sorry for myself, but I had a nice surprise from Kelly, one of the dolls here.

You can see the whole story in my

You know, I just realized something. Kelly and Eddie kind of look alike, don't they? Interesting!

Anyway, I'm really so excited to be here in California and am having an INCREDIBLE time. But I have to admit that I'm feeling a guilty about being here. You see, my best friend Kailey was pretty upset when she learned that I'd be visiting her native California. See what I mean IN THIS ALBUM? And now I've gone and, gulp, VISITED THE TIDE POOLS! I don't know what will happen when I get back.

Kailey, if you're reading this and are still speaking to me, I promise you I will take a hiatus from the Polar Bears Are Cool club and fighting global warming and will get on board with you about saving the tide pools!

What can I say...these are the challenges a traveling doll faces. Not everyone is cut out for this life. Ooooh, wait, I think I hear Eddie coming. These high maintenance brown-eyed, blonde dolls will be the death of me, I swear! Gotta run!!

Laguna Beach, California

Yesterday, Eddie and I woke up bright and early to hit the beach. It was a long drive--Eddie said that instead of going to the beaches up near where they live, Malibu and Santa Monica, we were going down south a little further to a town in Orange County called Laguna Beach.

Sadie and Eddie go to Laguna Beach

Laguna, I learned, is the Spanish word for "Lagoon." Easy, right?! There are several lagoons in this town, which is the second oldest town in Orange County. It started out as a farming community, but then the farmers realized that the farming wasn't so great, but their beaches were. They started renting out beach houses to other farmers who lived further inland and wanted to escape the summer heat. Thus Laguna Beach, one of the first tourist towns in California, was born. Apparently, Laguna Beach has some of the prettiest beaches in California. Now Laguna Beach is a popular tourist spot, and also a popular artist community. The beach we are going to is called Corona del Mar.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, it was still overcast! It was warm but overcast, and Eddie says this is pretty typical at this time of year. Many areas experience "June Gloom," with warm fog in the morning, and overcast skies until afternoon. When the sun has been out a while the clouds burn off, but there is no telling how long it will take each day, so Eddie says there's no point in letting a little gray skies ruin our trip.

First we went to Look Out Point, where we took, well a look, out at the ocean.

It was beautiful! We could see the faint curvature of the earth! To the north we could see Balboa Island and a breakwater, and many people were taking their sailing ships and yachts out. To the south stretched the beach, which even early in the morning was pretty busy. There were tons of people playing beach volley ball, surfing, and just enjoying the water. Eddie said that we would go to the beach, but not the obvious one. We went down a long flight of stairs and then climbed up a huge set of rocks. On the other side, we found a beautiful cove that looked out over the harbor. The waves here weren't as big as on the other side, because the breakwater protected the beach.

We had lots of fun exploring. First, we looked at some tidal pools. I found some neat sea creatures, including some sea anemones. I took a picture and when I got home I looked it up. It turns out that they are called green starburst sea anemones. They use their tentacles to catch food. I found this website about them, and I think they are really neat!

In this picture there are at least four starburst anemones. Can you find them all? Here's a hint: Some of them are eating, eek! Genevieve told Eddie and I that when she was little, the tide pools had a lot more animals. She said they had more fish, grabs, and star fish. Unfortunately, since the beaches are so popular, a lot of tourists and hobbyists will "hunt" the tide pools, taking interesting creatures home for their fish tanks. This leaves the real tide pools barren. This isn't good, since it means that the ecosystem of the tide pools is unbalanced and also because a lot of the sea creatures die once they are removed from their native habitat.

After that, we went looking for seashells. I found a few really pretty ones, and also a crab. Remembering what Genevieve told me, I decided to leave him alone and instead just took a picture.

Playing in the ocean is so much fun! Eddie taught me how to body surf. That's when you go out about waist deep in the water. You wait for a wave to come along and when it does you JUMP at just the right moment and let it take you in to shore and you go sailing in, really fast, to glide in to the beach. But if you don't time it just right, watch out! The wave can knock you down and send you tumbling, over and over so that you have sand and saltwater going up your nose. It's so cool! I can see why Kailey loves to surf so much!

Body surfing is hard work and a lot of exercise. Finally we decided to take a break. We refreshed our sunscreen and had a snack and mellowed out by the water. Just sitting on the beach, listening to the ocean waves is so relaxing.

I love the beach. Time stands still while you are there. The sun and the waves and the sand just sort of seep in to you, leaving you happy and tired. After we went home last night, as I lay in bed I could still feel the movement of the ocean as I drifted off to sleep.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Studio City, California

Today I arrived in California, where I met the Cali-Girls. One of them, Eddie (she's a girl but she has a boy's name! How Californian!) was pretty bossy seeming at first but once you get to know her she's only a little bossy.

This is where I am staying:

Jackie says it is a pretty typical house for the area--most of the houses around here were built in the forties and fifties, when people began to move out to the suburbs.

Eddie told me that we are in Studio City. It's called Studio City because it's close to movie studios where many movies are made. She says that right now we are about ten minutes from NBC/Universal, CBS and Warner Brothers' Studios, and fifteen minutes from Paramount Studios - wow! Maybe I can sneak in to a movie production while I'm here!


Hey! This is my blog, Eddie, give it back!

Anyways, Studio City is just north of the Hollywood Hills, in the San Fernando Valley. San Fernando Valley is where the original Valley Girls came from in the 1980s. Jackie and Libby, two other Cali-Girls here, wanted me to know that they are not "Valley Girls" as they are not shallow and interested in shopping. Eddie wanted to know what's so wrong with shopping--she just saw Britney Spears shopping on Ventura Boulevard last week. "Exactly!" said Jackie.

Ventura Boulevard is a major road in Studio City and the valley. It started out as a trail between Spanish missions called El Camino Real. Now it has a lot of great shops and restaurants on it, and has been written about in songs by Tom Petty and the Everly Brothers. The Tom Petty song is all about growing up in the San Fernando Valley, actually.

I found this music-video. It's pretty eighties, but according to the Cali-Girls a lot of this area still looks the same! Eddie says we can drive to that Cadillac dealership and the mall if we want to.

I was really hoping to see a palm tree but, unfortunately, this house does not have one. Eddie promises me I will get to see one tomorrow when we go to the beach. Because I didn't bring a swimsuit, the Cali-Girls let me borrow one of theirs, so that's neat. For now, I'm tired, so I'm going to log-off. Good night!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Downtown Querataro

Last week, I visited downtown Santiago de Querétaro with Priscilla.

Querétaro is a very old city that is about 135 miles north of Mexico City. It is the capital of the State of Querétaro. The area was originally settled by native tribes, until Spanish colonists took over in the 1500s. Querétaro still has great examples of the Spanish colonial period in the form of churches, an amazing aqueduct, and some beautiful mansions. One interesting thing I read is that the Querétaro aqueduct was built back in 1726 to supply drinking water to the city from the springs of the ancient settlement of La Cañada, which is about 5 miles away. Now how weird is that: I come all the way to Mexico to find a city called La Cañada? It's a small world after all! Anyway, the aqueduct looks like the classic Roman ones. It has 74 arches, and some are 98 feet tall! It doesn't carry water any longer but it amazing to see in the middle of the city. Here's a picture from online:

We didn't get to see the aqueduct this evening although I hope we can visit it before I leave. We did see lots of interesting buildings, though.

Here is the spire of the Templo de San Francisco and the Regional Museum next door. During the Mexican War of independence in 1810, the church was actually used by the Spanish as a prison for revolutionaries!

The Church of Saint Francis (as we'd call it in English) has served as Querétaro's cathedral for two hundred years.

Since 1936, the Regional Museum is housed in what used to be the church's convent and has lots of exhibits covering prehistoric, colonial, independence, imperial, revolution and post-revolution periods of Mexican history. Wow! That's a lot of history!

Here is a hundred year old bronze statue of Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, known as "La Corregidora".

La Corregidora was a very inspiring character! She was married to a magistrate or Corregidor in the city of Querétaro when it was still under the Spanish rule, and they had 14 children. Yes, fourteen! But Josefa had a rebellious spirit and her home became the official center of the revolutionary conspiracy for independent Mexican rule. She was eventually discovered and imprisoned for many years. Even after her release, she stayed involved with radical political groups. She was such a brave and principled woman. I found an online biography with more details HERE.

The digitial countdown clock beside her statue marks how many days are left until the big celebration of Mexico's independence. During the year 2010, Mexico celebrates both the 200th anniversary of its Independence and 100th anniversary of its Revolution. The entire year has been proclaimed by President Felipe Calderón as "Año de la Patria," or "Year of the Nation. Querétaro is considered to be the cradle of Mexican Independence because the rebellion was planned here by La Corregidora, so the celebrations this September will be HUGE! Too bad I can't stay until then!

Fortunately there was a cultural festival going on in the Jardin Guerrero when we visited. That is a city park with a big central fountain surrounded by trees and benches. One tourist website I read described it as follows: "The trees are close together with their foliage touching, and they trim the top and bottom branches in a straight line. The effect is like looking at a big solid hedge that is 8 or 9 feet off the ground." It was very pretty! We saw part of a play and a presentation of the Canadian Walkirias. It was fun!

Here I am outside the convent of Santa Clara:

The church that you can see in the background is Templo de Santa Clara, which was built in 1606 by the son of the founder of Querétaro, Don Diego de Tapia. It was the first church and convent in Mexico to be dedicated exclusively for the use of the order of Clarisian nuns, and at one point the complex stretched for four city blocks! That's three times bigger than American Girl Place!

Afterwards we went to have a very late dinner at a restaurant decorated with papel picado, a Mexican folk art of papercutting. Look who is on this one!

Can you guess what I had? Churros sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and a bowl of cajeta (dulce de leche) to dip them in.


It was around 10 PM by the time we got to the restaurant and much past that when we finally got back to Priscilla's house, so I was up waaay past my bedtime. (Sorry Mom!) I was tired, but had a great time.

Here are some more photos in the album. Enjoy! ALBUM LINK

Thursday, April 22, 2010

La Pirámide de El Cerrito, and me!!!!!

Just five miles from downtown Queretaro you can find the main ancient ceremonial center of the region known as "La Pirámide de El Cerrito" (The Pyramid of El Cerrito), which is attributed to the Tolteca culture. We visited there today!

The Toltecs were an ancient civilization of Mexico. The name means "master builders" and wow, did they build something amazing here! The early history of the Toltecs isn't known but some things I read said they smelted metals and their stonework was highly developed. They worshipped many gods (that means they were polytheistic), including Quetzalcoatl, a plumed serpent god. Their ceremonies did seem to include human sacrifice (which is kind of scary to me) but also sun worship and a sacred ball game called tlatchli. They are said to have discovered pulque (that's a milk-colored alcohol made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant) and were very, very knowledgable about astronomy. This city we are visting was built around 800 A.D. The city peaked between 900 and 1200 A.D. Their culture fell sometime in the 13th century A.D. and that opened the way for the rise of the Aztec peoples.

Here we go to get a closer look!

The platform of the pyramid measures around 360 ft per side, and is around 90 ft tall. Even though the Toltecs later worshipped Quetzalcoatl, the name of the deity that was honored here is unknown because around 1880 the place was sold/taken by Spanish people who wanted to build an estate house on top (you can see it on the top in this next picture).

Can you believe it, they built a house on top of this wonderful pyramid!?!?!

Lots of ceramic objects have been found, but the house structure would need to be destroyed to dig under it and find more clues. I kind of wish they would destroy it so we could learn more about the Toltecs. There is a lot left to discover here, but more money is needed to keep digging and studying everything. This archaelogical site was opened very recently in 1997. You can't climb the pyramid because it's still being restored. That's okay; I liked wandering around with Priscilla!

The tourist guide said that under the surrounding modern city there should be more structures that are now impossible to recover. How sad! It's funny how all over the world, we just build on top of our past. If I wasn't going to be an environmentalist, I think I'd like to be an archaeologist so I could uncover our past.

I really enjoyed my visit to Pirámide de El Cerrito. I kind of think I might have been the first American Girl doll to ever visit there, what do you think?

There are some more photos of my visit IN THIS ALBUM!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I am visiting Mexico!!!

I arrived in the beautiful city of Queretaro, Mexico this last Tuesday April 12, and I'm so excited to be here!!
Priscilla is hosting me and I have seven new friends! When I arrived there were actually five girls living here (Chrissa, Claudette, Sammie, Mabel & Kelly) but then on Thursday two more girls arrived, their names are Hannah and Hattie.

Everybody gave me a very warm welcome and I'm getting along well with all the girls. We have a Schnauzer dog named Peggy (mom, don't worry it's a dog like Coconut, not a fleshie!) and we play with her a lot. Knut is not lonely having another pet around. I will take a pic of Peggy later.

On Thursday Priscilla took me to the park where she goes exercising... or so she says LOL... it's so pretty. It's not big but the trees are very tall and it's nice to see other people enjoying nature too.

I walked around the park for a bit. Some people stared at me with curiosity and others in disbelief... of course I'm so pretty they must've thought they were dreaming! Priscilla took this pretty pic of me.

After we exercised Priscilla showed me around and we went where the nearest Walmart and McDonald's are.

Then across the street from McDonalds you can see the bullring. It's called "Plaza Santa Maria", it opened in 1963 and has room for 13000 people. Priscilla told me she's never been there because she doesn't like bullfighting. You can see some cars in the pic because there's a nice bridge there that was built around 3 years ago. The bad thing is the name of the plaza is hidden by the bridge!.
I am very happy that today is Saturday and we're going downtown this weekend! I'll post more pics soon.
Mom I send you BIG BIG hugs! I miss you!