Bella Vida by Letty


Things to do in Chicago Take in the Willis Tower Views

Things to do in Chicago

The Willis Tower was originally built and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower. This 108-story skyscraper is one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, Illinois. It took 2,000 workers three years to build and has been open to the public since 1974. It’s the second tallest in North America and the Western Hemisphere and the eight tallest building in the world.

Skydeck Willis Tower

If you’re visiting Chicago I highly recommend checking out the views from this iconic skyscraper. The Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the United States and from the 103rd floor features expansive views of the city and lake front. Visibility from the Skydeck is approximately 40-50 miles. On a clear day you can see four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Fun Fact

The average sway of the building is six inches from true center. But don’t worry the building is designed to sway up to 3 feet and you won’t feel it anyway.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Insider Tip

The Willis Tower Skydeck is a popular attraction, which receives about 25,000 people each day. The best times to visit are either early morning or evening. One way to beat the long lines and save money is to purchase a Chicago CityPASS. If you purchase the booklet ahead of time you can totally by pass super long lines and go straight to the elevator that swoops you up to the Skydeck.

The CityPASS also includes entrance to Chicago’s most popular attractions, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute, Museum of Science, Planetarium, etc. It comes out way cheaper than purchasing tickets for each individual attraction. Especially if you’re traveling as a family.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Chicago CityPASS  ~ See the Best and Save Money


Have you visited the Skydeck at the Willis Tower?

Where you brave enough to step out onto the platform?

Willis Tower related products.

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Travel Food Recommendations Where to Eat in Chicago 2015


Food Recommendations Where to Eat in Chicago 2015

Best food recommendations from locals and travel pros on where to eat in Chicago. I’m planning a trip to Chicago, Ilinois and have asked the experts where I should go to eat. These are their recommendations.

Orgullo de Mexico’s recommendations:

Puerto Rican Food

La Bomba located at 3221 W Armitage is a casual neighborhood eatery serving Puerto Rican fare & soft drinks amid colorful murals & TVs.

La Plena located at 2617 W Division in Humboldt Park is an upbeat eatery offering homestyle Puerto Rican cooking amid tropical murals & a thatched-roof patio.

Mexican Food

If you are in Chicago on Sunday visit Maxwell St Market, outdoors, 6am-2pm, Desplaines & Roosevelt Rd’s for great Mexican. Maxwell Street Market is located at 800 S. Desplaines St.

Cemitas Puebla located 3619 W North Ave in Humboldt Park/West Loop is inspired by the food made by cemiteros & taqueros of Puebla, Mexico.

Carnitas Uruapan is a Foodie Favorite serving up the best authentic Carnitas in Chicago since 1975 located at 1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 in Pilson.

In May of 2008, Chef Carlos Gaytan opened his own restaurant Mexique on Chicago Avenue in Chicago. With great creativity, love, and dedication he applies his knowledge of French cooking techniques and ingredients to his roots of traditional Mexican cuisine, creating a revolution of Mexican gastronomy.  1529 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

Mezcalina Restaurant is upscale Mexican Dining in the Lakeshore East area of Chicago. Come experience the authentic flavors of Mexico and a Mosaic of Ingredients from its regions.

Xoco Chicago by Chef Rick Bayless. Order Online! Pick-Up and Delivery. Open early and closing late, this quick-service café from Rick and Deann Bayless proffers contemporary expressions of Mexico’s most beloved street food and snacks: flaky empanadas, hot-from-the-fryer churros, frothy Mexican hot chocolate, crusty tortas and meal-in-a-bowl caldos. Located at 449 N Clark St in  Wicker Park.

Frontera_Grill The place to savor authentic and scrumptious regional dishes and stellar margaritas.” 445 North Clark Street.

@ELSanPatricio  recommends

Latin Fusion

Carnivale located at702 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60661.  Engages colors, glamour, wild design, global flavors, Latin Music, and savory aromas in each dish.



Gulliver’s located at 2727 Howard St. is an established venue for deep-dish pizza & Italian grub, with antiques, Tiffany-style lamps & a patio.

Lou Malnati’s Pizza is considered the oldest family name in Chicago pizza, Malnati’s has been serving slices of delicious deep dish for 44 years in 41 Chicagoland locations.

Gino’s East Pizza The Gino’s East story began in 1966 when two taxi drivers and a friend, frustrated with rush hour traffic, decided to open a pizzeria just off Michigan Ave. and Superior St. in Chicago.

Nancy’s Pizza is the official inventor of stuffed pizza in Chicago. Started in 1972, now we’re here. Inspired in Italy, perfected in America!


Choose Chicago’s recommends I do some patio dinning and check out the outdoor festivals.

Patio Dinning

IO Godgrey is a Chicago rooftop lounge offering state-of-the-art retractable roof which allows the outdoor space to evoke a unique in-is-out and out-is-in vibe. Enjoy the day, revel the night, and discover your element in the rooftop bar. Dress to impress. I|O Late Night requires upscale casual attire as it is located inside a 4 star luxury hotel. I|O in The Godfrey Hotel Chicago 4th Floor 127 W Huron and LaSalle.

Three Aces where the Italian countryside meets the American farm house… in Keith Richard’s basement bar located at 1321 W Taylor St.

Big Star Chicago Tacos, Whiskey, Hillbilly Music.  Big Star is a bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky-tonk in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood located at 1531 N Damen.


Chicago Blues Festival at Grant Park. June 12 to 14 2015. Enjoy the largest free blues festival in the world!

Ribfest – It’s no wonder that Ribfest Chicago has been recognized as Chicago’s “Best Food Fest” for the past three years. This festival remains one of the city’s best summer attractions. At the intersection of Lincoln Avenue / Irving Park Road / Damen Avenue  Friday 5-10 PM, Saturday Noon-10 PM, Sunday Noon-10 PM

Andersonville Midsommarfest  Midsommarfest is Andersonville’s annual summer street festival, now entering its 50th year! Each year, nearly 50,000 people throng Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa for two days of music, dancing, kids’ entertainment, and delicious food. Vendors from around the region sell their wares to passers-by, while ethnic dance troupes and cutting-edge bands keep the party going.


Have you eaten at any of these places?

What was the best thing you ate there?

Do you have any recommendations for me?



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Chicago’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in the 60’s

Last Friday on my weekly visit to my parents house the subject of old photos came up.  Enthusiastically, I began digging around closets in search of old boxes and bins. I hit the jackpot when I found these super cool photos of Chicago in the 60’s.  At first I thought my Pops had snapped these photos because he’s such a gadget junkie but it turns out its my Mom who is the historical documentarian.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

In 1968, about a year after my Mom moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico her cousins took her to see the Puerto Rican Day Parade in downtown Chicago.  It was an annual event the entire community looked forward to.  First a fabulous parade then more festivities at its conclusion in Humboldt Park with performances and music.

They are far from professional shots but they are a treasure because they do capture the enthusiasm and tangible excitement of the people present at this Puerto Rican cultural event.  Using her Kodak camera my Mom has captured 1960’s fashion trends, hairstyles and dress.

They also capture the wonderful multi-story brick architecture of the windy city as well as the businesses that occupied them; Lerner Shops, Karolls Men’s Wear & Woolworths.  Stores used eye-catching advertising of all sorts including filling windows with slogans in colorful neon lights.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

This is my favorite photo of the bunch for many reasons. First, because we have the American flag swaying in the breeze like a hand inviting this elegant procession forward.  The American flag is then greeted by this float sponsored by Comunidad Santa Maria, with the Puerto Rican Flag proudly exhibited under the words Amor y Paz (Love & Peace).  Second is the fact  there is a band playing live music.  I can imagine the Caribbean musical notes echoing loudly against the tall buildings carried away by the wind bringing swaying hips and smiles to caressed ears.  Lastly, it gives us a clear example of how Puerto Ricans have adapted or assimilated to American culture of the 1960’s in the dress of the beautiful ladies on the float.  The women attired in elegant long ball gowns holding bright blood-red roses, the perfect contrast to their matching white gloves.  Donning wigs in the hairdo of the time, the beehive, carefully balanced on their heads.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

On the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce float we have a handful of elegant ladies in long formal gowns of varying pastel shades with formal long white gloves.  Waving left and right looking like they belong in a beauty pageant. Especially the ones wearing crowns.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

The Confraternidad Cidrena float has even more beautiful young ladies in formal wear.  Only one woman gets to wear a crown on this float but they all  seem to really be enjoying themselves energetically waving to the crowd in every direction. One or two seem to be responding to someone they saw in the crowd.  Maybe a family member or friend.  (Cidra is a town located in Central Puerto Rico.)

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

This two story float is sponsored by the Puerto Rican Union of Chicago.  It’s amazing how many young beautiful elegant women there are representing our culture.  Each wearing a slightly different gown with each head of hair perfectly groomed either with a ribbon or the perfect curls.  The queen of this float wears a red cape over her wide white skirted dress reminding me of a Puerto Rican folk bridal doll.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

In the next floats we have examples of the type of corporate sponsors who participated in the parade.  The name of the beer company is cut off in the photo but I can make out the Meister. I did find a reference to a Meister Brau Inc. a 1960’s Chicago brewery later purchased by Milwaukee based Miller Brewing Co.  The immense horses are beautifully adorned and expertly driven by a man in costume.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Float Vintage Chicago

This float says “El correo de Chicago celebra el dia de los Puertorriqueños.”  The worlds largest post office celebrates the day of Puerto Ricans.  Puerto Ricans are big business for the post office sending plenty of letters and care packages back and forth from the island.

A little history lesson . . .

  • Puerto Rico has been part of US territory since 1898. Notable migration from Puerto Rico to Chicago began in the 1940’s to fill jobs in various US industries.
  • The Puerto Rican Parade Committee is the oldest existing Puerto Rican organization in Chicago.
  • When the parade was founded in 1964 the celebration originally commemorated El Día de San Juan and was organized by Los Caballeros de San Juan, one of the first Puerto Rican religious and social organizations in Chicago. Los Caballeros de San Juan was a religious institution with the goal of promoting integration of Puerto Rican migrants into mainstream Chicago life.
  • El Día de San Juan celebrations was renamed to the Puerto Rican Parade in the year 1966.
  • It was during the first Puerto Rican Parade on June 12, 1966 that one of the first Puerto Rican riots in the U.S. began. The riot, one of many urban disturbances across the nation in the 1960s was in response to the shooting of a young Puerto Rican man by Chicago police.

I was a bit shocked at first when I read this but then not so much the event is placed within context of the period.  The 1960’s saw Rock n Roll, Hippies, the first Man on the Moon, the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., war protests and the Civil Rights movement.

Arriving from a different country meant adapting to a new place, new customs and new people who did not understand that not everyone who spoke Spanish was Mexican or that speaking Spanish did not mean they were not American citizens.  Puerto Ricans in Chicago encountered racism in many forms;  having their rent raised so they could not afford to live in certain areas forcing moves to other neighborhoods, being charged higher prices at stores because they were not fluent in the language; racial profiling by police . . .

My take away . . .

I’ve read about the riots from various sources and have come to the conclusion that the riots came in response to years of racist abuse from police, politicians and other citizens upon the Puerto Rican community.  The murder of a young man by police was THE last straw. The riots mark a time in history for change. Young  Puerto Rican men and women fought back against armed police dressed in riot gear releasing trained attack dogs on them.  Racism and abuse of power would not be tolerated any longer.  The riots made it clear to police and local government change must happen.

More importantly these events brought to light the issues that needed addressing as well as the education that needed to be spread inspiring community activism and education programs.  One of the purposes of the parade as well as community organizations was to educate others about Puerto Rico, its American citizenship, culture, customs and bilingual people.  I’m in awe of the people who came together the next year and every year after that to continue the Puerto Rican parade cultural educational campaign.

Now 45 years after that first parade I can report Puerto Ricans are still seen in a negative light.   These are the consequences of denying a variety of faces, shapes, sizes and cultures to be seen on television, movies or even be mentioned in history books.  A vast majority of Americans don’t even know we are citizens.  Puerto Rico has been part of the United States for over a century contributing and building the America we live in today.

I know what I will do.  I will continue to write poetry and stories, create all kinds of art and share it with you and the entire world.  I will be a catalyst for change.

What you can do:

– Support your local community and local organizations.

– Address local issues where they matter, your local government.



The following is a wonderful list of resources for more information on the Puerto Rican Day Parade as well as the history of Puerto Ricans in Chicago.

Encyclopedia of Chicago

Puerto Ricans in Chicago on Wikipedia

Paseo Boricua on Wikipedia

Spanish Action Committee of Chicago Historical Archives

Puerto Rican Parade on NBC Chicago


Do you have any Puerto Rican day Parade photos?

If you do, I would LOVE for you to share them with me.

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a Moment in Time

“How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?” Plato
Chicago, Illinois 1967

While going through old photos for yesterday’s Flashback Friday I found a photo of my grandparents living room in Chicago.  Seeing the year on the photo from 1967 made me think about how a photo is like a time capsule capturing a moment in time and preserving it.

I search the photo with ravenous eyes searching for a long forgotten secret.  Hopeful for a clue that might reveal who my grandparents where before I knew them.   I see Abuela’s sweet little knickknacks on top of the television; ceramic figurines, a card, a photo, water globe, some flowers, the lace doily . . .

They fit precisely with my memories of the woman I knew beautiful, dainty, delicate, sweet . . .

I’m sure these were gifts from family and friends and she wanted to display them in a place that would make the giver feel appreciated.

The large television reminds me of my grandfather. I have memories of him staying up late watching movies.  They always had more than one television in the house so no one would be inconvenienced from being able to watch. lol

I know the reel to reel belongs to my dad but I’ll have to ask him why in the world he had one.  I’m sure it must be related to his love of music.

What will your photos capture?  What will they say about you to future generations?

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Oprah
Florida sunset 2011

We are living a moment in time.  This is our moment.  Everything we do or say is left behind for others to make sense of.

Florida city sunset 2011

All of my posts have quotes.  They are insights from the lived moments of past lives.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” Walt Whitman

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Orson Welles

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

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