Sunday, March 27, 2011

Richmond's own VCU Wins! On to the Final Four!

We LOVED this cartoon in today's sports section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Perhaps this would make a welcome addition to Monument Avenue!
Go Rams!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Madness Sweeps Richmond!!

I always think of my father at this time of year.  He LOVED March Madness basketball!! This year, he would be especially excited that teams from two of our own Richmond universities--Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond--have advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen."  As our newspaper has noted over the past several days, the NCAA basketball tournament has shifted the national spotlight to our underdog city.  Richmond is the "Cinderella Story" of the playoffs this year.  Friday will be the big day to see if our hometown teams will continue to advance.  First, Richmond plays Kansas, and VCU will later play Florida State--both in San Antonio.  It is safe to say that most Richmond households will be tuning in to cheer our hometown teams to victory.  Maury Place at Monument is located exactly halfway between the two schools!  Go Spiders!! Go Rams!!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Maury Place Innkeeper Travel Diary | Arbolitos Costa Rica

This week, I am sharing my experiences traveling with friends Janet and Sharon in Costa Rica. We are visiting SIGA Ministries, a nonprofit organization serving an area in the north of that country.  Having enjoyed a relaxing day in San Jose, yesterday we traveled to the village of Arbolitors, where SIGA does its work.

Costa Rica is a country known for its luxury vacation resorts and spas, but it also has remote areas with extreme poverty.  Arbolitos is a village near the Nicaraguan border, so remote that we traveled there by boat.  SIGA, a ministry run by Ruth and her husband Carlos, serve a number of communities in the area, including one village in Nicaragua.

Rural areas of Costa Rica and Latin America often have only rudimentary educational opportunities.  Some students go through school without ever seeing a textbook, and most students drop out before finishing high school.  SIGA works with local schools by providing textbooks, teaching classes, and providing support to teachers.  SIGA also works to support local pastors, and plans to begin a program of pastoral education.

Today we traveled by boat to a school in Baca del Toro, at the mouth (baca) of the Toro River.  Janet did a crafts project with the students, and the students practiced their English. Following lunch, Janet and Sharon visited a local woman who is starting her own business, supported by SIGA.  Janet is pastor at Richmond's Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church and a board member of SIGA.

This area of Costa Rica is beautiful, and we are enjoying our time here, this being the first time any of has visited the country.  We will see more of the area tomorrow, and then fly back Richmond VA on Friday.

Mac Pence
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper at Maury Place at Monument

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maury Place Innkeeper Travel Diary | Costa Rica

While Jeff is running our Richmond VA bed and breakfast Maury Place at Monument, I am travelling in Costa Rica in order to visit  SIGA Ministries, a Central American nonprofit organization that we support. I am travelling with Sharon and Janet, two friends who also want to see the work that SIGA is doing in rural Costa Rica.

La Gioconda Bed and Breakfast

 We began our travels yesterday flying out of Dulles Airport in Washington DC. Being seasoned travellers, we wanted to avoid having to rush from Richmond to the DC airport in the same day, so we wisely went up the night before and stayed at the airport Hilton. But then… three hours before flight time Janet discovered her passport missing! Fortunately, her husband Gary saved the day, rushing up Interstate 95 to deliver the passport just in time for boarding.

Inn Dog Shila

We made it with no other hitches, thanks to Gary and to TACA airlines, and are spending our first two nights in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. We are exploring here for a day, since this is our first trip to Costa Rica, before proceeding to the village where SIGA is located. Janet and Sharon have gone “Zip Lining”, whatever that is, and I am exploring the city. Our lodging is a bed and breakfast in San Jose, “La Gioconda Hotel B&B”, a very nice inn with a beautiful interior courtyard and friendly staff. My favorite staff member is Shila, the inn dog, who warmly greets me every time she sees me.
Plaza Democracia Sculpture
The bed and breakfast is located near the shopping district on Central Avenue, as well as a number of parks. San Juan reminds me of Savannah, where Jeff and I visited earlier this year, because there are parks and plazas everywhere. The closest, and my favorite, is the Plaza Democracia, built in 1989 to celebrate 100 years of democracy. It has great views, a wide open plaza, and a globe sculpture right in front of the Museo Costa Rica.
Tomorrow, we travel to a remote village accessible only by boat, in the tropical jungle along the Sarapiquí and San Juan Rivers of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This is where SIGA ministries operates, providing a variety of educational and development support to the communities in the area. I look forward to seeing what they do, and sharing it on our blog. 
Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maury Place at Monument Magnolia in Full Bloom

 One of the first signs of Spring here at Maury Place is the annual blooming of our spectacular Tulip Magnolia in our backyard!  As you can see, it is in its prime at the moment!  The Belmont Suite and Addie's Suite have spectacular views of this tree right outside the window!  The Belmont Suite offers a prime view from a private balcony as well!  Hurry Spring!
Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Maury Place at Monument Featured in Passport Magazine

Passport Magazine features Richmond Virginia as a travel destination, and Maury Place at Monument as the perfect lodging choice, in its March 1, 2011 issue.  Article author Rich Ruben raves about the "four exquisite suites" offered at Maury Place, "beautifully restored by the owners with an air of graciousness that is quintessential Richmond."   Richmond is, he says, "cultured, with tons of history, an active and friendly GLBT community, and a slew of great restaurants.  It's a low-key, lovely city filled with row houses of brick and wood, with a green, gracious air to it. "  He describes Richmond as having "a laid-back Southern atmosphere, but (with) a vibrant contemporary scene developing against the background of 400 years of history."

Check out this, and other articles at our Maury Place at Monument Media Page.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Friday, March 4, 2011

Holy Hotcakes!

I am participating in a men's group at our church, Richmond's Second Presbyterian Church, that is planning a pancake supper on Ash Wednesday, which is March 9.  Coincidentally, there was an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch yesterday about the tradition of church pancake suppers on Ash Wednesday.   Tuesday, March 8, is Shrove Tuesday, which is a time for confessing one's sins before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  According to Holly Prestidge's newspaper article, once upon a time, church bells rang to mark the beginning of the holiday and to call the faithful to church to confess their sins.  A housewife making pancakes ran out of the house in the middle of her preparations with her skillet in hand!  She was making pancakes because in the days before refrigeration, abstaining from dairy products during Lent meant you had to use up anything you had in the house so it would not spoil.  Eggs, cream, milk, butter--all had to be used up!  Housewives added a little flour, and voila! A pancake supper is born.  The Brits even call Tuesday Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday!  This will be our first Pancake Supper at Second Pres prepared by our men's group.  Wish us luck!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument