I am a writer with a passion for all things Latin. This winter I will be living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to flee the frozen Calgary snowscapes. My latest travel memoir is about Cuba and I will be working on my second travel memoir in Mexico.
The Cuban Chronicles, A True Tale of Rascals, Rogues, and Romance
The Lure, and Secrets, of Cuba
Memoir unveils the truth behind the façade of the island
Some girls have all the fun. Calgarian writer Wanda St.Hilaire has taken her passion for travel, especially to Spanish speaking countries, and has given readers an opportunity to experience Cuba from an original and spirited perspective.
In the infancy of Cuba’s tourism, Wanda St.Hilaire takes a trip to the tiny island. In spite of her love of all things Latin, she puts herself on a travel ban to Castro’s Cuba, one that lasts twenty years.
When she is forced to cancel a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico at the last minute, she finds herself in Cuba twice, on back-to-back trips. Walking into the backstreets of Havana, eyes wide open, she is pulled into a dalliance with a charismatic cubano.
In The Cuban Chronicles, St.Hilaire’s travelogue/memoir, she describes that underneath the façade of Cuba’s tourism lies the desperation of a society living mostly in abject poverty. When tourists mingle with locals, we get a glimpse of what underlies the frivolity of Cuban entanglements. St.Hilaire speaks with an authentic voice and doesn’t mince words; she recounts her own activities, emotions and opinions with refreshing honesty. The author is a natural storyteller and her vivid descriptions of people and her surroundings make Cuba come alive for the reader. Being an epistolary composition (the book is based on a series of letters to a friend in Paris), the author’s tone is warm and confidential, and peppered with touches of humor.
Think Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones’s Diary with a dash of cayenne!
Book can be purchased at www.wandasthilaire.com. Please feel free to utilize the fun selection of e-postcards on my website. They're very cool!
Thanks for visiting.
May 9th 2011
Vallarta: My Healing Place Vallarta: My Healing Place as written by the author for the PV Mirror March 12: http://www.wandasthilaire.com/pdf/PV%20Mirror%20-%20Healing%201.pdf March 19: http://www.wandasthilaire.com/pdf/PV%20Mirror%20-%20Healing%202.pdfth e Last January, I had recently returned from a one-month Christmas vacation in Vallarta when I began to plan a celebratory trip with my best friend. At the tender age of 29, I’d had breast cancer, and last summer would have marked a 20-year cancer-free triumph. In February, two soul sisters (my friend had been through breast cancer 5 years prior) booked a “celebration of life” trip to Italy for the fall. Two weeks later, I found a lump in my other breast. I booked an emergency mammogram, after which the doctor advised that the x-ray did not look promising. I left the concrete institute stunned and confused. After all... read more
May 9th 2011
The Hidden Magic of Puerto Vallarta as written by the author for the Calgary Herald March 2, 2011 http://www.wandasthilaire.com/pdf/The%20Hidden%20Magic%20of%20Puerto%20Vallarta.pdf When you think of Puerto Vallarta, an image of all-inclusive resorts and typical tourist attractions may spring to mind. Due to time constraints, many vacation visitors to Vallarta unfortunately miss the rich international scene of food, art, and culture that bubbles beneath the façade. The city is a magnet for talented artists, chefs, writers, musicians, and instructors. I am in PV for a six-month solo writing sojourn and love the blend of metropolitan life with small town heart. For those who prefer a homier holiday, cooking here is a pleasure with the neighborhood markets’ availability of freshly picked produce, herbs, cheese, fish, seafood, and meat. On Saturdays, the Old Town Farmer’s M... read more
May 8th 2011
The Twelve Days of the Festival of Guadalupe as written by the author for the Calgary Herald December 24th, 2010 link: http://www.wandasthilaire.com/pdf/Festival%20of%20Guadalupe.pdf It is December in Puerto Vallarta and my arrival has coincided with the most important Mexican celebration of the year: the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The number of miracles attributed to the Virgen Morena (dark-skinned virgin) are countless and each December for twelve days, the people of Mexico honor her in astounding numbers. On December 9th, 1531, a beautiful, dark-skinned woman appeared to Juan Diego, a simple peasant. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she declared herself the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe and bore a message of love, compassion, and a promise to help mankind. The skeptical Spanish bishop requested proof of Juan Diego’s claim. When Juan returned, the virgin ... read more
December 7th 2010
Cinque Terre We have arrived on the Ligurian coast to visit the beautiful region of Cinque Terre which consists of five villages within hiking distance of each other. We are staying in Monterosso, the largest of the villages and the only one with a beach. Our host, Corrado, comes to meet us at the train station on his bike looking like Lance Armstrong. He calls a taxi and gets us settled in our room at his new place, Acquamarina (http://www.acquamarinacinqueterre.it). The rooms are small but very clean and fresh. There is new town area with restaurants, bars and hotels and the quaint old town section. We visit the old town for a delicious pesto dinner in a tiny trattoria. You have to purchase a pass to walk the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail). We’ve got a perfect ... read more
December 3rd 2010
Florence/Firenze We arrive in Florence mid-day via rail. Mario, our host at B & B Repubblica, is a slow talking, relaxed fellow. He recommends a nearby restaurant crowded with locals, however, we find it a bit too expensive for what we get. We nap after yesterday’s big day in Rome and awaken to the most beautiful music we’ve ever heard. There is a Tunisian festival in the piazza below. Off of the Piazza Santa Croce, we have a fabulous dinner at Bocadama with friendly service and great ambience. My friend’s pasta is exquisitely fresh with ripe tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and olive oil and the house wines, both red and white are delicious. Next day is gallery touring. We’re off to see David’s bum at the Accademia Gallery. He is magnificent. We stop to see ... read more
November 29th 2010
For a shorter trip synopsis (Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice), please see my article in the Calgary Herald at: http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Drink+Laugh/3822915/story.html ROME/ROMA It’s September and my best friend and I have finally made it to our dream destination: Italy. We’ve been talking about this for years and after a rough 2010, this is a very happy day. We’ve landed in Rome and we’re staying in a quaint hotel near Piazza del Popolo. Our first stop is the Spanish Steps and off for a little investigation to see if I can find the tiny hotel I stayed in fifteen years ago near the Piazza de Spagna. We locate it and go inside–a little trip down memory lane. Next, the Fontana di Trevi. This is one of the best people watching spots in Rome. This archaic monument is ... read more
December 9th 2009
December 9th, 2009 Well, I'm definitely in my Mexico. Within the first three hours, more men smiled and said hello to me than in six months in Calgary. I stopped at Las Palomas, which faces the ocean, for my first Mexican meal (and cerveza) and lo and behold, Eduardo, one of the waiters at Salsa Mexicana Restaurant, who was part of my lifesaving apres the France Fiasco, came up to me and said I look the same as twelve years ago. Kind man. He is now married with two children. He's the manager there and bought me a celebratory tequila and has invited me back for breakfast. Then I met a "baby" shaman (young shaman in training) at the square's festivities for the Twelve Days of Guadalupe. He told me I need to work out a ... read more
December 12th 2008
Week One Buenos Aires (Porteño/a - resident of Buenos Aires) In Argentina, they use the abbreviation BsAs, but for the sake of simplicity, I'll use BA. December 14th, 2008 Can't believe I'm here, in Argentina. My apartment is cute and the 'hood (I'm located on Santa Fe on the edge of the Recoleta district) looks good so far but I only went in search of food a few blocks in either direction; I've been here for just three hours. The time change is five hours ahead. There was a huge snowstorm in Calgary Friday night and some flights were stopped. Although my flight left a bit late, it arrived here on time. I sat with an interesting gay guy and we talked a lot. He said I can call him anytime if I need anything. The ... read more
May 25th 2008
Note to the reader: I lived in Puerto Vallarta in a little pink house I called Casa Rosita for four winters writing, reading, taking art and Spanish classes and living la vida dulce. Since then, many things have changed; the city has grown and the lifestyle is vastly influenced by Americans and Canadians. I write from the perspective of being a long-time visitor to Vallarta and area. Puerto Vallarta May 25th 2008 It’s official: the ex-pats have taken over my beloved Vallarta. I am sitting on the patio at Starbuck’s, the final frontier of the coffee world. I need to find my bearings in the new landscape of life here and I will suss out a Mexican café for my lattes, someplace with beans from Chiapas. The Starbuck’s is located in a mall near the hotel, ... read more
December 13th 2007
Feliz Navidad www.wandasthilaire.com December 13th, 2007 Wow. This place brings out the Catholic in me. I have already bought a manger and lights. “Away in a manger, nooooho crib for a bed…” At the church near my casita women sit surrounded by greens making gorgeous handmade barn/mangers made from twigs, covered in moss and flowers. Now gotta find Jesus. He probably thinks so too. Abimael was at the airport with bells on to greet me. He is on a mission to teach me espanol and had a Spanish lesson book he’d bought for me, written in Oaxaca. He carried my heavy suitcases down the street to my apartment, got me settled in and took me to the zocalo before he had to run off to work. I was awestruck entering the zocalo; it is filled, and ... read more