Days #3-#4-The Less Thought of Acclimatizing and No Mas Pizza

We all stood at the passport check. The control clerk asked, together?”

“Yes, family.” I say.

He looks politely confused and asks “What kind of family” waiting for me to explain the role of my husband and two adult daughters I think quickly and respond, “dysfunctional but happy.”

Bop, bop, bop, bop on all four passports. We are in Cusco!


I digress here to talk about acclimatizing. It is the top subject everyone brings up as they prepare for adapting to Cusco flying from sea level to over 12,000 feet in the Andes. Air gets thin. Expect faster heartbeats, labored breathing and cramps. We will be at the highest at the end of the week as we hike up to almost 14,000 feet. This is why staying in Cusco for a few days is critical to a good trip. Not dissimilar from another kind of acclimatizing. Family acclimatizing.

This pertains to any number of people coming off of an individual year of stresses, strenuous travel from different places for three days, anxiety about preparation, packing and to and from airports and layover hotels and finally bop, bop, bop, bop…welcome to Cusco, we are all together for the next 12 days. So are our eating timeframes, boiling points, personalities, sleep patterns, openness to feedback, discomforts, and four way permutations of relationships. Acclimatize that!!! There are all sorts of medication for altitude acclimatizing. You just have to adapt differently for family.

The memories recalled later life are the ones sifted out from the real time experience. “Remember whens” probably will not include dad’s meltdown trying to figure out timing, Jess as the first to fall victim to “sorojchi” (altitude sickness), the lights that wouldn’t go out resulting in someone coming to our room to fix it at 2AM, sleepless patterns from exaggerated heartbeats.

Two things I recommend in family acclimatizing. First, not everything has to be done together. Second, meal choices and times should have rotating volunteers. Additionally, your kids are really are adults!

So we put this into effect on our first full day in Cusco following a volatile first evening. Everyone tired. Jess feeling really crappy and wrapped under covers. Lindsey doing her thing but sensitive to others. Billy in neutral state. Me watching over the dynamic and seeing how I can make it all Pollyanna. Dinner was a decision of bringing in from different places and having a community snack table. Thank you concierge for the connecting room with a middle common area. The preliminary discussion and plan for the next day. Not the best timing.

So, with a fresh look on Day #2. Jess waking up better. A late sleep in for some to 10:30 and Lindsey takes morning stroll in hotel followed by a good find for breakfast.  I suggest the meal management program as we design the day. Jess and Lindsey ready to roll. We all agree on any combination of group to do their thing. Meet in room at 5:30. Dinner at 6.   Lindsey and Jess decide on spa treatment to rest and relax. Billy and me to explore local craft markets and a walk through Cusco.

It was an easy day. Still mindful of the “after getting” or “not getting” soljchia we drink our coca leaf tea before and after meals, take it a bit slow and drink a shitload of water.


The craft market was a short walk. Cusco is clean and quiet. It is also very colorful. Locals approaching with baby llamas or adult llamas for photo opportunities. The soul and friendliness of the people an instant reminder to me of why I love South America. Everyone here is basically here for one reason, acclimatizing for Machu Picchu. It is not difficult to tell how people are getting to their destinations. Backpacks and shoes worn by everyone you pass are tell ale signs that indicate bus, train or multi day hike. Designer handbags vs., worn in backpacks. Sockless loafers vs. Gore-Tex.

MP2cocoa museum
the sacred cocoa leaf and it’s history and gift shop


me and my llama


weaving process from yarn
okay. some bakeries interpret baby cakes oddly
welcome to artisan centrale market
special spot to buy blankets for friends early arrival twins back home
MP2courtyard view
view from “no mas pizza” restaurant

Rendezvous at hotel at 5 was met with happy moods, review of our different few hours since lunch and some snack local snack.

maize grande

We head out to “the pizza place” advance decision on schedule and in agreement.Walk is short. Seating is easy. Menu okay for different palettes.

We order. Perfect.

Twenty five minutes later the server return and in mix of Spanish and English not unlike mine over the past few days she says “No Mas Pizza.”

“You mean you’re out of some of the ingredients we asked for (we have one semi-vegan, one vegetarian, one mindful eater and one eating light after a not so feeling great night).

“No mas pizza.” What she meant was there was no pizza left and this is a pizzeria at 6 PM on a Monday.

There we sat with three half finished Coca-Cola’s and a decision. It was clear we wanted pizza. A clear moment of our flexible acclimatizing system now at risk of relapse.  Jess quick to fill in the silence recalled another pizza place down the block. Easy transition we thought.

Pachumama’s (the mother of the earth) was just fine and they also had a pizza menu but we were skeptical until we ordered and it was confirmed.

MP2pachumama2 MP2pachumama1

After a fine dinner and good interaction and everyone feeling good we came back and light our next to last night Chanukah menorah candles. Discussions for tomorrow plan follow the same adaptability. Billy walks to get water and chocolate for all. Lindsey sewing a hole in my pants. Billy had the sewing kit. Two sisters in one bed playing cards which I remembered to bring.

7th night chanukah lighting on balcony
above the menorah

Billy reading.  Jess just won fantasy super bowl back home.  Lindsey cuddled  in quiet space with kindle. Cookies, chocolate and water on community table. Me just taking it all in as I write.

So keep in mind that while some family, friend or group vacations may need physical acclimatizing never forget that all need people acclimatizing. Understand the individuals and understand their contribution in making the group a blessed and downright lucky one that makes the memory of the time eternal.

Thank you, Lindsey, Jess and Billy for me the luckiest guy around.  xo




exhibitorINR-flagineverread sign

Each device I own had it’s own idea of what time it was. The best indicator, a dark plum purple colored quiet sky outside windows that could be used in swiss tourism posters.  For a moment I wondered if they were open or closed feeling the ghost of a subtle breeze waltz over me.

It was too late for pedestrians and too early for birds. Billy was sleeping.  He is always on artist time making it easier for me to assume ‘around-the-time’ it is during the midweek work nights but during my current not remembered jet-lagged catatonic dream paralysis I was oblivious to movement. His sleeping presence now was not an accurate indicator.

I fumbled for the mac.  A quick search for “current time in basel.”  2:59 AM.  I had already slept 8 hours. “Now what?”  I thought as I tossed and turned in a state of conflicting logic between the state of crossing times zones and countries not having slept in a horizontal position in two days with knowing I should get more sleep even if just to bank it for later.

Birds. Shadows of trees instead of darkness out the window. 5:05 AM. No conflict now.  I was up!  I assumed since Basel is a storybook looking town that a sunrise walk to find coffee would fit in with the whole Heidi and seeing Julie Andrews twirl in a valley thing. Following a short whisper to billy and slowly winding  down the massive  staircase wandering how they bent that thick wood on the railing, I was mindful of the  creaking floorboards that were more historic than scary.  A turn of a solid sounding lock. A push of Gulliver sized doors.

I was on a street dark and empty but not enough to be eerie.

(bnb sevorgelhof)

bnb sevgelhof

sevogelhof side

Although she was in Austria it’s close enough for me to wonder where Maria Von Trapp would get her husband coffee so early in the morning in 2013.  I became increasingly pessimistic as I walked past locked storefronts and folded chairs under closed cafe umbrellas squinting in through dew covered windows at spotlessly clean espresso machines.  While the sleep, the unpacked bags, the chill, the smells and newness around me gave me enough caffeine lift to keep walking I wanted the aroma and the routine first taste of my morning,

Then I heard the first unnatural beautiful sound.  It was the screech of a standup chalk board menu or a cafe chair being dragged out on the pavement outside a bakery.  I imagine it is the same thrilling sound that causes someone to yell out “This way, over here!” in anxious situations.   I felt captive of a too-early morning thinking this could be the future as I walked alone down the empty strasse, It seemed curious to me that there hadn’t been an ex-pat venture called Basel Bagels.

During the walk back my hand gently hugged the small cup of espresso gently swirling it knowing that after this trip I should just switch to tea.

Breakfast at 8 at the BnB was better than I imagined.  While the  breads, cakes,  jellies and fruit  had more care  in presentation than in baking, the setting put the beginning of the Basel stay in motion.


garden.bnb sevolgelhof

Along with the staircase, over-sized bedroom, stacked bookshelves in hallways. an intimate enough shared bathroom down the hallway and passing greetings in multiple languages the owners Richard and Anne could not make you feel more welcome.  More about bnb sevogelhof sprinkled through the entries.

Three things to do today with ideas in between and navigating how get around.

1. Find our space and set up  at I Never Read at Volkshaus Basel on Rebgasse 12-14.

2. Do a quick tour however possible that would be of  the main fair which I now call Art B’ah’sel.

3. Opening of I Never Read starts at 6 PM. We exhibit until 10.

Also,  figure out vegetarian food options on the  streets lined with signs touting schnitzel,  wurst and brust in their names.

In this piece, “austeller,” we focus in #1.

The story of the I Never Read Fair is  a product of a love story that may fit in perfectly to one’s fairy tale perception of Switzerland before the banking and the inflated prices.

The love story of Johannes and Evaline is an updated tale and relevant to the evolution of the “new art book artist.”  They are probably called the curators but these two also sweep the floors, walk around with duct tape and can be seen from the corner of every eye.  They  provide answers to questions that made me wonder if part time jobs included narration in audio travel language programs.

Look for  a side story on this coming soon.


As private cars, chaueffeurs and jets transported work, curators, gallerists, managers, PR people, artist support staff, builders and security folks throughout Basel to get to Art B’ah’sel ours was a simpler more organic process. Today, a more common term is DIY.  We had a map. A “mobility” pass from Anne and Richard which allowed us on the trams, a bungee cord and suitcases with wheels.  We also had each other.

I am not an art critic.  I am way too impressionable, fickle and moved by visual than technique.  I’m also very affected by the people who sell to me, try to sell to me, assume what I am or am not.  Sometimes, I feel a similarity to the real estate business when the profiling makes me wonder if neighbors are looking from their windows behind slightly creased lace curtains or there is just one extra lock on too many front doors  on a block as agents suggest them as “finds.”  .  The irony is now when the gays and artists move into “questionable” hoods it’s called gentrification.

So, my story is not so much about “the art” review but the cultures and their differences I experience.  This is the story or actually in some way the “performance” art that strikes me this week.  The passions.  The determinations.  The drive. The experience and the inexperience.  The decisions. The spectrum of attitudes. The buyers. The sellers. The collectors. The artists. The art.

Hopefully, contrasting photos from time to time will illustrate better than multiple late night struggles with edits on narrative.

Take a moment with the images.  Sense them and while you may be far away from Switzerland, I hope these images bring you along with us.

(Getting to I Never Read Art Book Fair)

tram to inr


inr main entry

inr setup3


(Getting to Art B’ah’sel)

bmw service

art basel entry

So, that’s enough to give you a sense  of B’ah’sel  for this moment.  Now, come along and set up with us at I Never Read just a few blocks away although maybe out of the boundaries of the “dahlings at B’ah’sel.

.setup tables earlyset-up funiture 1art unpack

INR b earlysetupart setup.clean tableinr art setup restock

Ready…..set……and “go” at 6PM.


And remember what I said about the artist as creator, publisher, shlepper and seller?  Meet some of these special folks and catch the passion.

inr art set up 6 inr setup teamworkinr art setup restock   artist prep inr 1inr artist setup3 inr setup2  inr setup4girl transaction   lucas and zinethomas keller

And we take the energy from here and go to the second part of our day.  Coming soon, basil #3.

Oh, image of he day: A jewelry store in center city, Basil. Not art!

christ uhren schmuck

I’m Not Talking About the Herb

art travel

While the smells and aroma of basil are commonplace in my home I’m writing this week about the town in Switzerland.

Once a year  this Basel plays host to the largest international art fair in the world. I think it is pronounced “B’ah’sel” in the same way people say “dahling”  or maybe because of all the “ahhing” that goes on.  It has been said that over 100 private jets land in Zurich the Sunday before the fair opens to “the public.”

We start our physical journey to the land of chocolate, cheese and art.  Billy’s journey has been longer.  Switching his detour from the rush hour freeway and conference rooms to the back -of-an-apartment studio he has spent the past few years thinking, creating and making his art magic happen.

This is not the art for going over a plastic slip- covered sofa.   His work is a collection of personal and well thought out  self produced artist books ranging in size and presentation from pocket zines of hued variations of rainbows that one can flip, fold, stretch or even “slinky”  to  larger format zines researched  created with self crafted images and collaged pages.  These works inspire readers to think through subjects through parody and presentation from extinct birds (Birds of America, 2010) to the gifts of plants (Owed to Plants, 2012) and even, yes “queer mythological gods” (The Gods Sure Are Queer, 2011)

Including exhibiting on small fold up tables in back rooms of exhibit halls to artbook fairs at PS1 in NY and MOCA in LA we head to Billy’s first international exhibit at, a satellite fair in a venue devoted to artists books during Art Basel week.

While I expect the core demo at the main fair to be well groomed in attitude and expression with double-cheek kissing gallerists and consultants in well curated slots profiling each passerby I anticipate the spaces at our fair to be manned, sold and built by the artist who created their work, produced their work, shlepped their work in suitcases and will demonstrate and sell by themselves.  Maybe they don’t have the best selling skills but they have passion and hunger.  Often they are a team of one from conception to creation to selling.  Maybe a plus 1 comes along and  helps carry an extra box or tape a sign to the wall.   Support. Love. Pride.  Maybe they get the hotel reservations or make sure there’s change for transactions.  Iced-tea.  Knowing how to make suggestions without trespassing.

So, the journey begins and like any other travel which I do too often well thought out time saving preparations still come down to the last minute.  Anyone who travels need not be reminded of those joys.

We did a dress rehearsal of the “shlep.”  I would take two suitcases, a parcel and a carry-on backpack. Navigating comfortably through questions at customs is just like a sales call for me.  Plus, I had a morning head-start.  For not the most important reasons we were traveling separately.

If every experience through the airport was like the one in the morning, travel would be something to actually look forward to.  Delta welcomed me with smiles and a surprises.  Three bags checked no charge all the way through (Detroit connection) and a “tease” upgrade. Only on the domestic leg.  Moving on after a quick stop to the Sky Club lounge where I realized I should eat much more Cheerios than I do now my new TSA PRE card gets me quickly through security.

After I figured out the series of icons on my seat I was in a reclining position with coffee and desk space all set up.    Typically stressed when a no wifi alert would come up at other times today it was a pleasant welcome. Despite the furrowed brow on the flight attendants face I sent my last notes.  One to the office, “signing off…on vacation” and one to Billy, “no wifi, c u in frankfurt, outside of United customs. proud of you. xo.”

The switch to a cramped window seat from Detroit to Frankfurt reminded me how fortunate it was to have the baggage checked.  As it was I began to feel bow-legged with the backpack between my legs allowing me to stretch out the growing tingle in my foot and hoping that the Ativan would relax me enough to pretend I was sleeping. The Carravagio biography which I saved specifically for this trip along with a commitment to being on “vacation” would be the only things  filling up all the space in my back pack normally reserved for work-still-to-do demands.

Sleep on a plane is more like a series of trances leaving you too foggy to comprehend a documentary or too lazy to do anything meaningful. It’s best to accept the fact you are moving through time and space or in some cases up and down from sky to ground. Everything was starting to look like art!

art sky fisheye

Touchdown brought a smile to a sleep-sweaty tired face.  The anxieties ahead were simple but relevant.  I wanted to see all three bags come down the chute and find my way to the other international arrivals terminal.  There are two in Frankfurt and of course I was coming into 2 and Billy was coming into 1.

And an added anxiety as his plane was delayed.  With no further complications we would have about an hour to find a train in a station in an airport in a language we were both unfamiliar with.  Customs was  a breeze and informative. I learned my name is German and was questioned if I was related to one of the airport executives. I wanted to say yes but the service was already very good.

frankfurt window

Green bag, the largest struggled a bit in it’s slide down the chute.  Grey bag had more finesse.  Parcel either wedged somewhere or saved for last.  Only when it was time to worry did I think it might have gone to oversize.  Good call as I headed to “bulky” baggage and claimed the orphaned box.

Happy I brought a bungee cord at the last  minute I was off to terminal 1 to retrieve the artist.  Two hours.  Coffee!  Even if I could not speak German it would be easy to animate the request. Intuitive or too exhausted to be mindful my shlep was in motion to the “other” terminal.  Finding coffee was easy,  exceptional actually as I thought maybe the selection was called ahead. When I realized Gross means large in German I was thrilled that I wasn’t born into a Klein family.

gross coffee

Parked myself with coffee in a seat after figuring out which exit door Billy would come though in an hour and a half.  10:58, train at 11:53.  Customs. Baggage. Two tired guys shlepping an art show.

11:15…16..17.  Shifting my gaze as I was now too tired to turn my head I went from sign to sign.  “Landed” on one which was easy to understand to another  which all I could understand was 11:53.  Happy I had an iced tea and something German for Billy to snack on.  I knew we’d have no time for anything but an airport sprint.

One person told me if we ran we could do it ten minutes pointing to an escalator and then upwards out the window to a walk bridge and then from what I could tell his motions indicated an escalator down, a turn right and a long walk forward.  Back looking at the non-swinging customs exit doors I asked  one of the guys holding a sign with a name written in black Sharpie.  He basically shook his  head as an answer.  We were standing under the clock…11:34.

train departures

After eleven years the nudge from behind was familiar and comforting.  There was no time for it to be surprising. I wasn’t  told about the “other” infrequently used door around the corner.  Quick hug and a “gotta run, we have 12 minutes.”  Billy, while sometimes questioning my facts and memory  has learned in circumstances like this to follow my lead.

7 bags. two very tired guys navigating up and down and sometimes flat moving ground we were  weaving in between people sounding like my grandmother when the only thing I could understand was her tone of voice.  We followed unfamiliar  arrows next to unfamiliar but somehow recognizable information and down a longer than 10 minute corridor.

For those unfamiliar with my partnership.  I stay frantic but optimistic.  Billy stays calm. It works.

b infinite jest train

We were on our final stretch. While it may have looked like familiar scenery from Sonoma or so many other places we’ve been…

frankfurt to basel.db train

when we arrived, two and a half hours later…

welcome to basel

free n easy commute basel

we knew we were at our destination city, Basel!

A quick stop at bnb sevogelhof, a convenient home for the next five nights followed by a too quick decision to visit our friends Andrew and Shawn from Thinkspace Gallery-LA at Scope Basel.  Another art fair that attaches its show schedules to the calendars of  the big international fairs (Basel, Basel Miami, Armory NY). Thus, taking on the label, “satellite” fair.

Hunger and exhaustion were let out of  my cages attacking patience, energy and the  impulsive “we’re in a basel go-go mood.”  Scope was just far enough to be annoying and the entry was a backtrack along a fenced in rail track which changed my annoyance into whining apathy. Harder and harder to see and enagage through the thickening veil of exhaustion we spent little time at Scope. Enough to visit with Andrew and Shawn and see their work.

Back on Tram 14 at 5PM I was surrendering to a “dribble “nap .  The untamed nap where the head suddenly collapses down and maybe tilts to one side while the mouth hangs open.

Back at sevogelhof after stopping two stops short of where we could have.

So, almost as in Good Night Moon, I say “Goodnight, Delta, goodnight Detroit, goodnight Frankfurt, good-night race-through airport, goodnight train to Basel, good-night having to pee while the woman next to me in coach snored, goodnight  Scope, goodnight dribble nap, goodnight feeling like shit!”

Hello, Billy. Hello, Basel

I remember starting to lay my head on the pillow but I don’t remember it ever touching

And while it is not in a gallery or fair or on a wall or in a museum, the following image certainly can stir a reaction. Like I started, everyting is art when in Basel this week,

camel smoking