Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Taste of Andalucía. Part 1: Culture.

Location: Andalusia, Spain
After hiking the Jesus Trail in Israel, I sped through bits of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, and Sicily. Ready to slow down for a while, I settled into Andalucía for about a month. I've learned a little from my experience and a lot from the locals,* and I'm loving every bit of it. Here's a taste...

Most of us are familiar with gazpacho, but many don't realize that it's actually a drink. It's served with an ice cube and no spoon. If you want a cold tomato soup, order a...

This is unbelievably delicious, especially considering how simple it is. Raw tomatoes, raw garlic, a little vinegar, and old bread soaked in water. Add some spices and a ton of olive oil, and that's it! The bread and oil make it rich and super creamy -- this one is definitely thick enough to merit a spoon! And it's easy enough that I'll happily make it for you when I get back. If I know you in real life.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Jesus Trail.

Location: Nazareth, Israel
I started thinking about hiking the Jesus Trail almost a year ago. I'd always wanted to see the actual sites of the Bible stories I'd grown up hearing. But a big tour group didn't seem right for me. I wanted more time for reflection, more flexibility, and more quiet. Enter the Jesus Trail.

The Jesus Trail is a 65km hiking trail that takes you from Nazareth to Capernaum. This is a route likely walked by Jesus, as he grew up in Nazareth and later lived in the Capernaum area. Landmarks along the trail include the site of His first miracle (turning water into wine), the site of the feeding of the 5,000, and the Mount of the Beatitudes (blessed are the peacemakers, etc). But they also include olive trees, wheat fields, goats, and manure. To me, it was just as special to observe these mundane sights and sounds and smells that would have filled Jesus' senses throughout his life.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

India Photojournal.

Location: India
I have visited some amazing places on this trip. Some have been charming, some welcoming, some delicious, some jaw-droppingly beautiful. But none as utterly picturesque as Patagonia and Vietnam. None that gave me quite such a sense of urgency to grab my camera, none that made me quite so scared to lose my memory card. None, that is, until I got to India.

When I get home, I'll upload my photos and process them properly, and then will hopefully claw out of some of my trip debt by selling them on Etsy. Until then, enjoy my favorite views of India in all their rough draft splendor.

By the way, I post lots more travel photos on Facebook and Instagram. And, as always, portraits are only taken with permission.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

10 Days in Vietnam.

Location: tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
Ten days in Vietnam is not enough time. That's just a fact. But I had three weeks free, and I couldn't let go of the idea of seeing either the Philippines or Vietnam. So I made the decision that made every other backpacker think I was a weirdo, but made me really happy: I visited both.

Do I wish I'd spent more time in each? Of course I do. But do I wish I'd skipped either for the sake of seeing more of the other? Not a bit.

But there's still the issue of how to spend those precious 10 days in Vietnam. The stunning natural beauty of the Phong Nha Caves? The peacefulness of Dalat? The picturesque rice fields of Sapa? The hustle and bustle of Hanoi or Saigon? Some combination of the above? In the end, I decided to aim right for the center. There's no one right answer, of course, but it did teach me a lot of lessons about what's right for me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Halftime Report.

Location: Singapore
I'm five and a half months into what will probably be an eleven month trip, and just arrived in my fourth of probably six continents this trip, so I'm getting predictably nostalgic. It's hard to believe the wide range of things I've been lucky enough to do so far, from lifelong dreams to total surprises.

I have danced on beaches, helped write a cookbook, and played guitar. I have traveled in collectivos, micros, ferries, camper vans, ambulances, horse drawn carriages, taxis, coco taxis, classic car taxis, bici taxis, trains, truck beds, and good old fashioned buses. I have driven multiple vehicles on the left side of the road. I have gotten a filling replaced, spent the night in an ICU, and counseled diabetics. I have gotten my skirt caught in an escalator.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Australian 101.

Location: Perth WA, Australia
I thought when I got to Australia I could indulge in a little brain vacation because we all speak English. Turns out, none of us do! I speak US-ian and they speak Australian, and none of us actually speak England-ian. It's usually easy to translate -- if we just stop pronouncing our R's and start pronouncing our T's, we've pretty much got it. But sometimes it's not that easy. In the interest of keeping the memory alive, I took to writing down what I learned. Maybe it can do some fellow US-ians some good...

Gum tree.
Actually eucalyptus. Why it goes by "gum" is anyone's guess. Maybe the way koalas look when they chew the leaves? I just made that up, don't listen to me.

______ as.
Not "right as rain." Not "snug as a bug in a rug." Just "snug as." The weather is "hot as." The beach is "crowded as." Crowded as what, you ask? Don't.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hospitalized in Australia.

Location: South West Rocks NSW 2431, Australia
I was having a lovely time in South West Rocks, right up until I found myself gasping for breath. Next thing I knew I was in an ambulance, then in an ED, then on a transport to another hospital.

Maybe I should have led with this: don't worry, I'm ok! The cause was basically just a virus, plus me pushing myself too hard. But it sure was an interesting couple of days. My first overnight in a hospital since I was born, as far as I can remember, and in a country where everyone calls you "love" and "darling" and "sweetheart." So I couldn't resist scribbling down a few little snapshots:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Keep New Zealand Weird.

Location: North Island
I entered New Zealand with mixed expectations. It had never been that high on my list, but it seemed like a must-see if I was going all the way to Australia anyway. People rave about New Zealand. On the other hand, I was coming from an amazing time in Argentina, and any subsequent destination would have a hard time following that!

After two weeks in New Zealand, my impression is pretty much as mixed as my expectations had been. It had lots of pros, a handful of cons, and a whole lot of weird. Here's a taste...