Vineyard Lessons.

up·skill (ˈəpˌskil/)
verb
1. to further one’s knowledge of a previously acquired skill.

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This weekend was one of upskill-ment. My dad, Alex, hasn’t celebrated his birthday for a few years, so he asked me to drive down to Miami – which I was already planning on doing anyways – to join him in celebrating another trip around the sun at a place that embraces one of his many passions – wine.

I knew that joining him in his celebration would be a fun experience, but I never knew I’d walk out knowing a lot more about wine than I previously did – my upskill-ment.

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A total of about 25 of my dad’s closest friends joined at Total Wine – the liquor store where we would upskill.

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A very nice and cultivated lady – extremely tolerant too – named Rebecca, put on a lovely presentation about the name, the origin, the denomination, and taste of about 15 different wines.

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All the while, she would serve all of us a taste of each wine, and ask our opinions about them. She taught us about swirling and aeration, and made it a point to tell us that “chianti” is actually pronounced “kianti”.

Being that my dad is extremely well-educated in the wine category, – and he was the birthday boy – I decided to sit next to him. He taught me that in wine tasting, you start with sparkling white, then move on to still white, and work your way up to reds – apparently the combination of both can be quite a tragedy.

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My dad planned that everyone take a quiz after the presentation in order to keep his friends in check. Most of the questions were based off Rebecca’s presentation, but he also included some personal ones about what his favorite wine was and whether or not his birthday was actually on the 16th, or if they were just celebrating that day because it was Friday – some failed that question, sadly. The prize was a bottle of wine, which was won by one of his front-row friends.

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As the night went on, my grandmother Ligia, and my stepmother, Eglita, both said a few words and made a toast in honor of my dad’s excellence, to which not only did everyone cheer to, but also agreed with.

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We then proceeded to sing happy birthday, and slice the carrot cake that was home-made by one of Eglita’s friends. By that point, my brother Alexito, had joined in the fun and therefore proceeded to help my dad blow out his candles.

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The experience was not only original, but also very memorable. My dad had the time of his life surrounded by his friendships and family (although my sister Alessandra was missing, she was there at heart). He cherished that many of the most important people in his life were there to celebrate him.

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You are a wonderful man, Papa! You inspire me every day, and I feel lucky to be your daughter. I hope you are granted a million more trips around the sun, and that you live a life of plenitude. Te amo and cheers to you…

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Much love, 

-A.

Adventures in River Rafting.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset(From left to right: Eric, Zoe, Me, Brittany, and Mitch)

Since I was born and raised in a country where outdoor activities were very limited — due to high crime rates — I feel like I’ve missed out on things that many Americans tend to take for granted; things like picnics, biking, walks on the park, and RIVER RAFTING!

Eric (my power couple half) and I, had been talking about going ourselves, but we figured that “the more the merrier”! So we invited a few co-workers from the restaurant to join us.

We all got up early in the morning and met at Eric’s house, where we all packed up into Mitch’s car and drove for about two hours towards Dunnellon, FL.

photo-4Our stop was at K P Hole Park where we put on sunblock, filled our tubes with air and a cooler of sangria, and started our 4-hour journey down Rainbow River.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWe started out pretty laid back; simply sunbathing, and listening to music out of Brittany’s awesome waterproof speakers — the experience would NOT have been the same without the music. 

And as the water got deeper, we decided to jump out of our six-tube raft and do some snorkeling!

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I recently bought a GoPro, so I was able to take it on our trip and take some awesome underwater shots.. 

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetPlease take a moment to appreciate our underwater snorkel selfie…

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetSnorkeling can be quite a bit of a workout, so we would jump in and out of our tubes, depending on the scenery surrounding us, or the underwater events. 

There came a point where we were surrounded by houses that were located next to the river, and we noticed that many of them had rope swings! So we stopped at one and did some swingin’!

Mitch almost landed on Brittany..

Processed with MoldivThe whole trip, Eric was set on catching a turtle, — which he would then let go– so when Zoe called out seeing a floating tree branch full of them, he jumped in the water and went on his turtle hunt. He describes his experience as sneaking up on a group of turtles, which suddenly bursted out into a million directions when they saw him. He took it upon himself to follow one of them through the bushes underwater, sneak up on it, and finally catch it! 

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs the afternoon rolled by, we all began to get tired, and mostly let the river float us down while taking in the sun, the music, the scenery and the friendship. 

Our end stop was at 484 Bridge in Dunnellon, where we got off the tubes, — and apparently left half our snorkel equipment– and waited for a shuttle to take us back to our starting point at K P Hole. 

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetWe then got back into the car, and Mitch drove us back to St. Pete while the rest of us slept our way through. (Thanks Mitch!)

If you’ve never gone river rafting, I highly recommend you scribble it on your bucket list, and make sure you bring good company with you, as they will be the most essential part of your trip.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetMuch love,

-A.