Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dancing (and biking) in the streets

The gorging continues uninterrupted. Gracias a Dios para esta comida tan rico!

Today was another day filled with huevos a la mexicana, squashed filled quesadillas, and pinto beans cooked with tofu and jalapeño pepper. YUM!!!

We also took advantage of free museum Sunday to hit up the Muesum of Modern Art, and the National History Museum. Normally we would have had to take the metro, a cab, or battle walking through the crazy traffic that is Mexico DF, but again as it was Sunday, on of the main roads was shut down to cars and opened to bicyclists, joggers, and lazy walkers like ourselves. Why we don't have this in Seattle every Sunday is beyond me.

As we left the National History Museum we managed to get roped into dancing in a street performance that was being run by a couple of clowns (literally). With about 150-200 Mexicans gathered around watching we got paired up with a Mexican guy and girl, and were forced to dance (and in general make total asses out of ourselves) for about 45 minutes. At least there are no photos of the clown violating me in front of the crowd. Those have all been destroyed...or so I hope...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Viva Mexico

It was hard getting on that first flight yesterday, the one that was going to take us away from our home and friends in Medellin. Yet, somehow we managed to drag ourselves onto the plane, and after 20 hours and three flights we arrived in Mexico City completely exhausted.

After a less than stellar night's sleep (thanks to a bastard mosquito that kept dive bombing my head) we awoke with a singular purpose - to over-indulge in the culinary delights that are Mexico.

Here is day one in food (and a few other things).

Started the day with a breakfast of Oaxaqueño tamales - stuffed with chicken and covered in a dark chocolate mole sauce.

After that we worked up an appetite by walking to some of the obligatory sights like the famous Diego Rivera mural in the National Palace (Palacio Nacional) and around the Zocalo.

This led to the discovery of some great chicken and black bean quesadillas being grilled on the street and served with a spicy tomatillo sauce.

Some more aimless wandering led us to Coox Hanal a Yucatan style taqueria where we finished the afternoon gorging ourselves on panuchos de cochinita y pavo and huevos motuleños.

I'm pretty stuffed, and all this culinary indulgence has been a great way to take our minds off Medellin. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off for a couple of tacos al pastor. Jesus, I am going to get really fat here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mi Vida Aqui

To quote Loyd Christmas "I hate goodbyes." You would think I would be used to them by now. I've done it enough times, but the truth is it never gets any easier. The goodbyes are already starting, so I guess in a way this is my own goodbye, 10 of my favorite pics of four months in Colombia. Hasta pronto parce.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I often find myself in situations where I just sort of step back and think "Wow, I am so fucking lucky to be here right now." That's it, just a brief recognition of how special the moment is going to be for me, an acknowledgment of the fact that I won't be forgetting the memory, the people, the events, or the location that are contributing to it anytime soon.

Last night was a perfect example of one of these situations. Sitting around a large table with about 10 Colombian and American friends having our last Friday night in Medellin. Sitting outside drinking beers talking in two languages (amazingly everyone at the table spoke both Spanish and English), mixing the two together to form our own Espanglish with phrases like ojos en mi chimba, and other phrases which are just too inappropriate to translate here, I realized how much of an impact Colombia has had on me.

I may have been studying Spanish for months before I got here, but I didn't speak Spanish until I found a home in a Spanish speaking country, and that is just what I have found here, a home. A place where I am comfortable, where I understand the culture (well...sort of), and where I have built lasting friendships. A place where someone can say "let's get a drink tonight at Carlos E." and I say "Oh, sure, I know exactly where that is, great idea." A place where I have a regular restaurant, regular gym, pass the same people on the street and say hi everyday, knowing that I will see them again tomorrow, and knowing that we'll smile and maybe stop and chat for a few minutes before continuing on with our day. Hasta mañana, I'll say, knowing that it's true.

But it won't be true for much longer. I'll be saying goodbye next week. Sure, I'll be back, and I hope it will be soon, but you never know. Life is full of surprises. Afterall, when I arrived in Colombia I never thought I would ever be living in Medellin.

I'm glad I was able to stop and have that brief moment. One fleeting thought that somehow encompasses all the feelings I have for this place. 10 people sitting around a table sipping beers, laughing, chatting, and connecting. One brief snapshot I'll carry with me forever.

Monday, June 15, 2009

una frase que vale mil palabras

Every once in a while I run across Spanish words and phrases that are just so wonderful that I only need to hear them once to remember them forever. The Spanish language is chocked full of words that are just so great you can't ever forget them. For example paraguas is umbrella. What makes it so great? It literally means "for water". Or what about retroalimentacion which means feedback, or bendecir/maldecir - to bless/to curse, but literally - "to say well or say bad". All these linguistic luxuries have made learning Spanish an activity to relish.

And then there are the phrases. Sure we may have some great slang phrases in English, but there are just as many in Spanish, which brings me to the point of this blog post. Last night I learned a phrase that can only be described as an artistic masterpiece. The phrase: tener una cagaita en penalti. There is no direct translation in English and explaining each word and the reason that they all fit together so beautifully to convey their meaning would be a lot of work, so I am just going to tell you the closest approximation we have to it in English - I've got a turtle head poking out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

5 Crazy Memories From 2 Years On The Road

It's crazy that I have been traveling for about 15 out of the last 22 months now. Two years ago when I was getting ready for my Bonderman trip I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Now, 22 months later, I have had some absolutely incredible moments. Far more than I could ever write down here, but when I was at the gym earlier I started thinking about some of the more...interesting moments I have had during this trip. So in no particular order here are 5 memories that I have from my life on the road.

1. Eating chapati and curry with a 19 year old Burmese student on the side of the road one night in Mandalay. Aside from the fact that I was gorging myself on some of the best food I had ever eaten in my life (a luxury that many Burmese cannot afford, despite the fact that the total meal cost about 80 cents for both of us), I remember all of a sudden thinking that it was going to be a moment that I would remember for the rest of my life. So far that's true.

2. Climbing over 5416 meter Thorong La pass in Nepal, sick as a dog with Giardia, and wondering if I was going to make it down under my own power or not. I have never been as happy to see a western toilet (a rarity in that country) as I was that night. If I had had to squat anymore I was going to need a couple of friends to help hold me up, and friends like that are hard to come by...

3. Making my first friend in a foreign language and eating a ham sandwich nearly everyday for two months straight on a little island in the Caribbean.

4. Getting tossed in jail in a third world country and becoming an international fugitive. For any of you who don't know, I guess the cat's out of the bag (sorry grandma). For more on said experience read this.

5. Lying on an undisclosed beach at an undisclosed location in Mexico with beautiful woman next to me, thinking I had found paradise, and wondering if my life would ever be better than that moment. So far, no.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

When you walk through the garden watch your back...

When you travel you hear all sorts of horror stories, and usually the worst ones involve violent crimes liked armed robberies. It sucks that it happens, but it happens, and in my mind I always think, "well it could happen anywhere right?"

And so with that attitude I just sort of bumble along going on my merry way, walking where I please and doing what I please. I have probably ended up doing a few stupid things because of that attitude, though I have fortunately never been the victim of such a crime (touch wood). I've always thought that the tourists who act like a total security maniacs (like the ones who travel about with those giant metal mesh cages on their backpacks) are pretty lame and probably shouldn't be traveling in the first place.

Then there are times like last night that make me question if it is just be sheer dumb luck that I haven't been shanked in a dark alley somewhere.

I hop in a cab with a couple of Colombian friends, Natalie, and another American woman living down here. One of our Colombian friends explains to us that even though we aren't going far it is probably to dangerous to walk to where we are going. We drive around for like 20 minutes trying to find one address (the cab driver gets totally lost) and then another 5 minutes to get to where we were going. Net distance traveled: three blocks. THREE BLOCKS!

Had I been on my own there is no way I would have caught a cab to travel three blocks (especially since the neighborhood seemed pretty nice). It's random things like this that make me feel like I need to completely re-think the way I travel and get around from place to place. After all if a Colombian says it's too dangerous to walk, it's probably too dangerous to walk, right?

Or there is this other possibility. No matter what the culture, and no matter what the country, there will always be people equivalent to those overly frightened backpackers with the metal cages on their back, and I should just be thankful that I am not one of them.