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About the Author
Connie Spenuzza, MSEd, received First Place from the International Latino Book Awards for her novels Lucia Zarate (2017), Missing in Macchu (2013), andTraces of Bliss (2012). The Association of American Publishers and the Las Comadres International organization selected her novels to the National Latino Book Club. In 2017, Foreword Reviews selectedLucia Zarate as and Indie Book Finalist, Parisian Promises (2014) was the runner-up for the Paris Book Award, and Gathering the Indigo Maidens (2011) was a finalist for the Mariposa Award. Her children's bilingual fables: Olinguito Speaks Up, Lalo Loves and Help, and Howl of the Mission Owl have received numerous awards. Her pen name for the works cited above is Cecilia Velástegui.
Connie was born in Ecuador and raised in California and France. She received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California, speaks four languages, and has traveled to 125 countries. Connie donates the proceeds from the sale of her books to the flight against human trafficking. She lives with her family in Dana Point, California.
A family that travels together learns together, and Connie Spenuzza and her family have gained a cornucopia of knowledge and intuitive lore by seeing the world with wide open eyes and minds. Connie's travels began as a child when she had to leave her home in Quito, Ecuador after a coup attempt rocked the country. She wound up in California and gradually became Americanized. She later moved to France, and now speaks 4 languages fluently. She never lost the inspiration received on that very first journey when she realized "the world outside my emerald city of Quito was immense." Her husband Peter is similarly travel-dedicated, and the two, with their sons Peter and Jay-Paul, for years devoted every possible free week and month to flying the globe and exploring that immensity.
Connie and Peter hunted for ancestors and miraculously, found them in the Basque region of Spain where a man named Rafa confirmed their kinship over a cup of chocolate. This revelation was enabled by the couple's commitment to a few of their unwritten rules of cultural encounter: they never denigrated the poor or indigenous people and cultures they encountered, they didn't overtly express doubt about what they were being told, and they always listened acutely for the slightest cue to the knowledge they sought. With Rafa, Spenuzza felt genuine affirmation regarding her ancestor, Ojer de Velastegui, said to have sailed with Columbus aboard the Pinta, with whom she sensed many similarities: Ojer was nearsighted and never got seasick, two traits she shares. And as Rafa confirmed her family's lore, he himself found commonality with Jay-Paul, because of the lad's knowledge of chocolate and its interconnection between old and new worlds. They pronounced themselves cousins.
Much of Connie's traveling was related to research for her many award-winning books - intense, dramatic stories that dole out tidbits of her life in mythical style, even the titles redolent of her rich heritage: Missing in Machu Picchu, Parisian Promises, Gathering the Indigo Maidens. This book continues that literary line in episodic, memoir form. One of the passages in Jubilant Journeys recounts her visit with Peter to the Inca Trail where "every year, for the past few years, a tourist had fallen to his or her death." There, seeing Connie's trepidation about the dizzyingly high, narrow stone steps, Peter engages the services of a diminutive teenage girl, K'antu, to guide them. Amazingly, this youngster proves both a comforting presence and a kind of earth mother, echoing perhaps the watchfulness of the Andean earth mother, Pachamamma as K'antu assures Connie that even in this ancient site of blood and baby sacrifice, they were under the protection of K'antu's nine month old daughter. In an especially moving demonstration of her powers, K'antu literally sings two tourists out of their paralyzing fear.
Spenuzza and family have globe-trotted to Japan, to Egypt, Berlin, Helsinki, Montevideo, Zambezi, the Amazon and the Nile - sampling cuisine, hearing music, fishing and listening, absorbing legends and folk tales. One senses that if they find the smallest pretext, they will buy a plane ticket. The author writes with that sense of magic often and properly associated with the great Latin tradition as she rhapsodizes over the labyrinth, the wondrous maze, that travel can offer. Every story is an opening to some new revelation. Her descriptive powers give truth to her words, that she and her husband seek to wander "with an empty mental suitcase, one we fill with significant memories, unique viewpoints, and global problems beyond our reach."--Barbara Bamberger Scott - A Woman's Write