Category: women

Cardboard Kayaking

If you needed to make a getaway by water, and all you had was cardboard and tape and a paddle, could you make it? Maybe. Every July on Governors Island (a few minutes by ferry from Manhattan), 20 teams have two hours to build a vessel, and then they race with two-person crews. Some of the boats disintegrate, many of them flip over. A few make it.

I love this event. This year it was even better for me. My friend Lauren Collins helped build this pizza slice shaped vessel with the scrappy Red Hook kayak club, so I had a personal reason to cheer for this team.



The competition looked tough–some coastal engineering firms had teams, environmental groups, kayaking clubs and the formidable Coast Guard (the two woman in the first picture were their crew).

When the Red Hook pizza slice began their heat with four boats, I’d say their odds weren’t good. But then, every other cardboard kayak instantly flipped over.


Even the Coast Guard boat flipped.


All Red Hook had to do was get around the buoy and come back, which they did to big cheers.



In the finals, all team crews were men except the Red Hook team with Sherry and her 10-year-old daughter Maggie.

The Red Hook team got the biggest cheers and came in fourth (not last!). Sherry nearly got knocked in the head by the paddle of one of the eventual winners (last picture), who didn’t need to be so aggressive to win the trophy made of cardboard and tape.

Still, Sherry thought racing was thrilling from beginning to end. A woman came up to her and said, ‘I just want to say you’re the most awesome Mom.”

The Red Hook team took home the prize for “Most Ambitious.”

Their boat held up, unlike many, including the one below:


So…Could you escape by cardboard and tape boat? Build it like a pizza slice, and then maybe.


People Every Time–Women at Work in Mexico

On cold winter days in New York, I’ve been looking at thousands of photos I took in Mexico last year. While the lovely warm colors of the landscapes and sky and flowers and buildings infuse me with warmth, the photos of women working in small businesses are most compelling. Their faces, their aprons, their hands tell their stories.

I took these pictures for Pro Mujer, a non-governmental organization that provides small loans and health care to women in Latin America. I published a few of the pictures here last year, but I want to share more images of these hard-working, lovely women. They live on on the outskirts of Mexico City and around the states of Hidalgo, Pachuca, Puebla, and Oaxaca.

Click on an image to enlarge it and see the caption and to scroll through all the images.


For the photos of Pro Mujer women I published here last year, here’s the link:

Mujeres at Work, more photos


Mujeres at work

You know what you tell people to say in Mexico if you want them to smile for the camera? WHISKEY.

That’s one of the discoveries I made last week driving around for three days with the intrepid Yesenia Diaz Delgado, communications coordinator for Pro Mujer Mexico. Working as a volunteer, I took pictures of women who get loans and health care through the nonprofit. Here are some of the dynamic women working hard near Mexico City.

Click on any photo to enlarge it. All photos © Pat Arnow 2014.

Josefa Gomez Sanchez at her pollería in Tecámac, Mexico.
Josefa Gomez Sanchez is tough on chickens but good-humored to everyone else  at her pollería in Tecámac, a big town just north of Mexico City. She is one of the micro-finance clients of Pro Mujer.
Josefa Gomez Sanchez
Josefa Gomez Sanchez at her pollería.
Arely Pavón-Torres and a plant.
Arely Pavón-Torres has a green thumb that she has turned into a plant business from a workshop in her home in Xochimilco in the southern part of Mexico City.
Paola Torres
Paola Torres, Arely’s mother has an indoor and outdoor kitchen. I want what was in the stewpot.
Paola Torres and molcajetes
Paola  showed me her impressive collection of molcajetes, the stone vessels used for grinding food since forever in Mexico. These were just a couple of them.
Molcajete planter
A planting by Arely in a molcajete. I didn’t ask if it was one of her mother’s collection.
Pat Arnow and Arely Pavón-Torres.
Me and Arely in her plant-filled courtyard in Xochimilco. Yesenia from Pro Mujer took the photo.
Sky-high poinsettias
The landscape around the state of Hidalgo north of Mexico City where we traveled after Xochimilco was dramatic with cactus and canyons, mountains, fast-moving streams, and big poinsettias plants like these growing over rooftops.
Gabriela Gonzalez Lopez and Yesenia Diaz Delgado
Tomato grower Gabriela Gonzalez Lopez in Ixmiquilpan in the state of Hidalgo. She also runs a produce and chicken store at a crossroads nearby.
With her is Yesenia from Pro Mujer, who did all the driving through some profoundly bad traffic. She maintained her patience with both the jammed roads and my slow, tense-mangled Spanish.


We visited a farm that currently has just one two-year-old pig. She was happy to see us, grunting and looking for an ear scratch. Who can resist a cute pig portrait?