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Mimi Pollack

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Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.

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Inglés como Segunda Lengua

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Artículos Publicados

Bob Gannon’s Odyssey: Harrowing Flight and South America

Turtle Galapagos

The area between Africa and South America is known as a dangerous place to fly. Imagine doing it in a Cessna 182. Robert [Bob] Gannon did just that. He flew from the Cape Verde islands off the coast of Africa to Natal, Brazil. When he came to present to my students at Grossmont College in the spring of 2011, they found this part of the presentation to be most interesting.

Gannon had planned on a 15 ½ hour flight. However, he encountered seven storms on the first half of the trip with heavy head winds. He tried to fly above, under, and around the storms, but finally gave up, and ended up flying directly into the last four. He was 70 miles from the halfway point, but had used up half of his fuel. Pilots call this the point of no return. He decided to proceed ahead, and he had better winds. He was 4 hours from an island off the coast of Brazil called Fernando de Noronha. He radioed ahead and let the female air traffic controller know what was going on. He did not have permission to land on this island, but because it was an emergency, they let him do it. As the traffic controller guided him, she asked him what color his plane was. Bob thought that she did this, so he could invite her out to dinner later that night. The truth turned out to be much more sinister. She was worried they might have to look for a floating coffin later. He landed there in one piece, and then flew on to Natal, Brazil. He had 35 minutes of fuel left over.

Gannon not only traveled all over Brazil, he went to every country in South America, including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, the Falkland Islands, the Galapagos, and even Antarctica where he had to fly at 500 ft to avoid icing conditions. He loved and found beauty wherever he went. One thing that impressed him, especially in Brazil, was how South America was truly a melting pot, and that race was less of a problem than in other places.

He was also impressed by the magnificent wildlife and beauty he saw everywhere. He got kissed by a baby vicuna in Bolivia. He stood amongst hundreds of Adelie penguins in Antarctica. He greeted the giant turtles and blue footed boobies in the Galapagos. He went to the Iguascu waterfalls in the corner of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. He went all the way down the Amazon and across the Andes. He went to Machu Picchu in Peru and helped to fly medical supplies into Pisco. He got permission to fly around Christ the Redeemer, the famous statue in Rio.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He had nothing but good experiences, except for one place, Isla Margarita in Venezuela. He does not have a high opinion of president Hugo Chavez. When he flew into Isla Margarita, a lovely island off the coast of Venezuela, a general who worked with Chavez tried to confiscate his plane on some technicality, saying he did not have a ferry permit. He did not want a bribe. He wanted the plane. Gannon assumes it was to run drugs. Gannon was able to avoid the clutches of the general and got out right away. The irony is he says that he felt very safe in Colombia, and that it had changed a lot from the bad reputation it had before. He liked Colombia very much, as well as all the countries he visited there. He believes everyone should come and see the splendors South America has to offer.

Kiss of a Vacuna, Bolivia.

Blue footed boobie, Galapogos.

Base Marambio, Antarctica.

Bob Gannon’s Odyssey: Around the World and Trip to Israel

Everyone dreams of having a grand adventure in life. However, Robert [Bob] Gannon has had many adventures since he learned how to fly in 1992. That same year, he bought a Cherokee 6 airplane [Lucky Lady] after getting a pilot’s instrument license, and flew to Paris, France for a Harvard Business class reunion. He had 165 hours in his log book. He traveled for 4 months through Europe and Africa, but crashed in Nairobi, Kenya, when he was attempting to land. The plane was totaled, but he walked away unharmed. He had flown 295 hours and half way around the world.

He spent the next eight years talking about finishing the trip until September 2000, right before his 50th birthday, he decided the time was right to fulfill the dream. He bought a Cessna 182 and named her Lucky Lady Too. She proved to be lucky, indeed, and he spent the next ten years flying around the world.

Gannon would fly around for one or two months, leave LLT in whatever country he was in and then fly back to the United States. He did this not only to take care of business, and to plan the next part of his trip, but also for back surgery as he developed Sciatica from sitting in one position for so long. Fortunately, Gannon is independently wealthy. He made his money by working for himself. He started and owned a construction company. He is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade [commodity exchange], and a Name of Lloyds of London insurance exchange in England. Finally, he is also a partner in a small manufacturing business in San Diego, California.

Since1992, he has flown to 155 countries. He has flown east and west in both the northern and southern hemispheres, including Antarctica and the North Pole. It took him almost 20 years, but by January 2011, he documented that he had flown 14 times around the world.

Along the way, he had numerous adventures. The Middle East was of particular interest to him. Gannon said that of all the areas he flew to, he found the Middle East to be the safest one. The exception was Iraq. He flew there on a humanitarian/medical mission to deliver toys and supplies to a children’s hospital in Basra. He saved Israel as the last part of his Middle Eastern swing, so as to avoid passport problems with Arab countries.

To get permission to fly his plane from Cyprus into Israel, Gannon had to do an extensive interview by phone. After, he had to go online to a website and answer many detailed and personal questions. Then, he had to do another interview by phone, and file a flight plan. He wanted to fly into northern Israel, but ended up flying from Cyprus to Tel Aviv. While in the air, he was contacted by air, and asked more specific questions that only he would know the answers to. After a wonderful week in Israel, before he was allowed to leave, he went through an even more intensive interview. They had researched him and knew all his history. Gannon said that Israel proved to be the most difficult place he had ever flown into or out of.

However, he had a good time there. He rented a car and drove around for a week. As a global citizen, and someone who is interested in studying religions and major belief systems in the world, he found Jerusalem to be the most interesting place. He visited the Kotel, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Golden Mosque. Finally, having grown up on a farm in the Midwest, he mused that “one would be hard pressed to find a Jewish farmer in the US, yet in Israel, through inventive and creative ways, they turned sand into productive soil”.

After he left Israel, Gannon went for a second time back to Jordan. The Royal Jordanian Falcons, a flying acrobatic team wanted him to lead them in formation. They had heard about his medical mission into Basra, and extended an invitation. The irony is this is one of the many things the Israelis knew about Gannon when they did the final and most extensive interview with him.

A bright, vivid remembrance of Mexico

OCEANSIDE, California. Mi casa es mi casa. That is what caught my eye when I walked into the Oceanside Museum of Art this past weekend for the opening and reception of Becky Guttin’s exhibit called “We Can Work It Out”.

Guttin’s play on the famous saying is on a large red rug on the floor near the entrance. Behind it, there is a wall painted with colorful stripes that represent the colors of Mexico. You also see the lovely and colorful mythic Mexican animals that are on the windows like huge decals that can be seen and admired from both the outside and inside. Those windows invite you to stop and look. They invite you into the museum. Becky told me that the animals on the window were having a conversation with the stripes of colors on the wall.

Then, there is the mobile of empty houses hanging waiting to be filled. All these things, the wall, the rug, the windows, the empty houses invite you to think about the symbolisms of life in Mexico.

Mobile Homes

Becky Guttin, a talented artist and sculptress, grew up in Mexico City, but moved to San Diego many years ago. She has had her work exhibited in San Diego [Mesa College, for example], La Jolla, and Tijuana, locally. She has also shown her work elsewhere in Mexico, Israel, and Korea, to name a few. She wanted the exhibit to be a playful installation inspired by her memories of her childhood in Mexico City, using Mexican cultural symbols. For her, it is an exploration of the meaning of home, family and identity, along with the contradictions in life, and the cultural conflicts she struggles with every day.

I especially liked the mythic animals on the windows. Having also grown up in Mexico, for me they were a sentimental reminder of the rich traditions in art Mexico has.

The exhibit will continue at the museum until January 2.

*Pollack is a freelance writer and instructor in English as a second language.

To read more about Becky Guttin in Spanish, click here.

Una brillante, vívida remembranza de México

OCEANSIDE, California — Mi casa es mi casa. Eso es lo que atrapó a mi ojo cuando entré al Museo de Arte de Oceanside el pasado fin de semana para la inauguración y recepción de la exhibición de Becky Guttin titulada “We Can Work It Out” (Podemos Manejarlo).

El famoso dicho está sobre una gran alfombra roja sobre el piso, cerca de la entrada. Detrás de él, hay una pared pintada con franjas coloridas que representan los colores de México. También se ven los adorables, coloridos y míticos animales que están sobre la ventana como grandes calcomanias que pueden ser admirados tanto desde el exterior como desde el interior. Esas ventanas te invitan a parar y mirar; te invitan a entrar al museo. Becky me contó que los animales en la ventana “sostenían un diálogo” con las franjas de color sobre la pared.


Entonces, allí aparece el móvil de casa vacías colgando esperando a ser llenadas. Todas estas cosas, la pared, la alfombra, las ventanas, las casa vacías invitan a pensar acerca de los simbolismos de la vida en México.


Casas Móviles

Becky Guttin, una talentosa pintora y escultora, creció en la Ciudad de México, pero se mudó a San Diego hace ya muchos años. Su trabajo ha sido exhibido en San Diego, La Jolla y Tijuana, localmente. También ha exhibido su trabajo por todo México, Israel y Korea, para nombrar unos cuantos países. Ella deseaba que la exhibición fuera una instalación “juguetona”, inspirada por los recuerdos de su niñez en la Ciudad de México, usando los símbolos culturales de México. Para ella, es una exploración del significado del hogar, la familia y la identidad, junto con las contradicciones de la vida y los conflictos culturales con los que ella misma lucha cada día.

A mi, en especial, me encantaron los animales míticos en las ventanas. Habiendo crecido también en México, fueron para mi un recuerdo emotivo de las ricas tradiciones que tiene México en el arte.

La exhibición continuará presentándose en el museo hasta el 2 de Enero de 2012.

* Mimi Pollack es una escritora “freelance” e instructora de Inglés como Segundo Idioma..

* Para leer más acerca de Becky Guttin, oprima aquí .

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