Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Exams

As I sit in the wee morning hours in a freezing gym with about 100 high school students taking their science mid-term I think to myself that I should have been a doctor. I have a high tolerance for blood and gore and I have a LOT of opinions about the practice of medice, but as most things in life there are certain limitations.

To become a practicing physician at a hospital at this point would mean a dedication of about 12 years between having to take every science class under the sun to be considered as a possible applicant, moving to Guatemala for med school since it is the only place that will likely let me in, having to do course work, med school, residencies...I think for me that shipped has passed. Though, I recently did discuss it with Eliot and though he is enthusiastic and supportive of pretty much any another graduate degree (adding of course to the one that I already have that is oh so useful) and even some day a PHD, the med school option is off because we want to have babies soon. Sadly this is a concession I am willing to accept. Plus I think at the end of the day I would like to be a psychiatrist if I go that route and you add in another gabillion years for that specialty. Eh, and the thing is that I don't feel so bad about it. Not going to med school ended up being an okay choice, well in truth I never consider it much when I was younger. I was too...impetous or fickle maybe a better term.

I admire people that knew what they wanted to do at 18 and were able just to do it. I just did something because I was too lazy to do anything else and figured it would work itself out. It sort of did I suppose, and though I like teaching and Berkeley was a good find. Don't get me wrong. I like religion. It's still interesting to me but I would be just as happy baking cupcakes downtown and chatting with the local clientele. I know that I am good with teenagers perhaps because of my personal adolescent angst but that really means I could be an assortment of things when I grow up like a bus driver, rec center worker or manager of the GAP. I figure I will find many things to do through the years so I don't get too bored. For now I watch my students struggle over the complexity of honors chemistry and honors physics. They will probably grow up to be doctors.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Fun


This is our First Christmas Tree. It truly was a labor of love. We selected it and it took forever to get it to stand up straight. We had to go and get a new tree stand. Once we got it straight than we took a nap and finished the trimming the next day. It was fun to get all our stuff out and put our Christmas cheer together. We tried to listen to Christmas music but it was really bad and decided that Sunday football adds the same element of holiday fun as the Brighthouse music channels.

Oh the baking I have done. I found a great recipe for Pumpkin cheesecake and since I was going to three different celebrations I wanted to be sure to bring something to share. I love Thanksgiving and it is my very favorite of holidays because you get to eat and hangout with people you love. So I made my first cheesecake and took it over to the Rohrs dinner before they headed to NYC to check out the Macy's day parade. I had never used non flavored gelatin and I had some technical difficulties. The gelatin clumped up and after trying it two different ways, I ended using it, assuming it was the correct consistency. Well the pie looked great but the chunks of gelatin were still very much in there. It felt like pieces of glue that were in your mouths. Luckily, they are all super awesome and told me how great the cheesecake was and never mentioned the yuck of finding these pieces in there (ah! family.)

I found a different recipe and avoided the whole gelatin thing altogether. It was great. My family loved it. Eliot's family loved it. It was awesome. Then I decided that I wanted to make a treat for my nonsugar eaters. I found a recipe for cream cheese pound cake. I substituted the sugar for splenda. It was really easy. I threw the ingredients in the mixer for both but somehow they turned out a little differently. One really flourish wonderfully and they other didn't grow much at all. So I cut them both in half and gave two halves to my parents and two halves to Cuca and Dani. The taste was good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democracy has spoken!

Proud to be an American! What an exciting time for our nation! I might by a flag t-shirt. Seriously.

We have managed to eat at a couple local diners that have been a round St. Petersburg longer than dirt. After church on Sunday we ate brunch at Skyway Jacks. It used to be located right under the actual Skyway bridge but the cost of the property went up too high so they moved north about 2 miles. The location is still not what it once was but it was still super crowded. They accept cash only which we didn't remember until we were there, luckily, they had an ATM. The food was alright. The price was right. The atmosphere was eh. I felt like the junk they had on display was not only filled with dust, and grease but had lost a bit of it's charm. The table was stinky and the service was shotty. This long St. Pete legend very well might be slipping through the cracks.

On the beloved election day, post various medical appointments we decided we should breakfast at Munches. The service was amazing! And the place was packed even though it was a Tuesday morning. The breakfast was inexpensive and delicious. It had been years since I had allowed myself pancakes and I am glad that I did here. They were light and fluffy. The bacon was crisp. A lovely way to have breakfast and experience a local treasure. A few years back the Weekly Planet did a nice review of this place along with its most frequented customers. My friend's dad was pictured at the counter and even though its been years since I have been there and years since the article, I still looked.

Friday, October 31, 2008

For the record...

I did not actually watch Game 5 of the World Series, so I had no effect on the game whatsoever.

Election Day is coming up. I am hoping that all those voters out there get out and make their choices known. It will be a big day for our country and if all goes well for history. I am excited about the possibility of change, a country that I could feel proud of and believe that all people will actually be liberty and have justice for all. Nothing is set in stone! Get out and vote!

McCain is no saint. Did you know that he filed for a marriage license to his second wife while still being married to his first? Did you know that he was 588 in a class of 589? Did you know that he crashed his little airplane three previous times because of negligence prior to crashing when he became a POW? He isn't as trustworthy as some may believe.

Obama is no saint either but he seems to have a past that has been dedicated to helping others. He might really have socialist ideas but it doesn't mean he is a socialist. If he is for equality of all people that can lead to good things: maintain the women's right to choose, Gay/Lesbian marriage, and immigration reformation.

Neither candidate has a good plan for health care or the war in Iraq or the economic crisis. The problems are too big and too indepth for a plan that can be articulated in five minutes. It's just too complex and the solutions are not simple. We are voting for the man that has the greatest capability to lead a bi-partisan solutions.

I think you know my vote! Rock it! November 4th.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Jinx and the Rays

Way back in a far away land there was a girl. She was nice and kind and loved to join a bandwagon. Though she was surely a shoe in to be a genuine fan considering she had been to several games through the years and was a native resident to the area, it was clear that something was missing. Perhaps it was the appropriate fan gear with new snazzy sparkles or simply it may have been a lack umph during the season. Regardless, it was quite certain that each time she tuned in those mighty Rays of light would shine a little less bright. They lose time and time again when her wide brown eyes peered in. The only thing left to do was not watch....maybe that will help.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween!!

When I was a little girl I hated plastic costumes and my mom would make me the best costumes by hand. I have been pretty much everything there is to be: a fun clown, a geisha, peter pan, bananas in pajamas, witch, 50's girl with poodle skirt, a princess, a cave woman....well the list goes on. It was super fun. My parents would dress us. My Cuca and Dani would dress up. My aunts and uncles would dress up. Before global warming it was actually cold in Florida that time of year and everyone in the neighborhood was waiting for you to come by.

When I was in high school my first long term boyfriend broke my heart on Halloween. He was at some other girls house when a bunch of us were walking around the neighborhood. South St. Petersburg was always much more like a small town, than the average sized city it really is. The worst of it was apparently everyone knew that he was a jerk but me. It ruined Halloween for many years. Admittedly, its still a little tainted because of it.

When I was in college my sorority had a tradition of Hallowennies. You would wake up in the morning and taped to your dorm door would be a card. On the outside a fun Halloween sticker, on the inside a surprising image of a hot sexy chap in all of his glory. It was funny, always alarming but funny nonetheless.

Now I am a teacher and have to help decide on Halloween dress code rules and spend Sunday building a Haunted House. The worst of it is dealing with the majority of my generation that are heading straight for the "slutty whatever costume fits" store which just seems to pop up for about month every year. You know what I mean: sexy nurse, hot librarian, or the screw me now kitty cat. No orginality, just a bunch a females out there wanting to get attention that most likely will be unwanted by the end of the night. Halloween has become exhausting. Sad really.

On the happier side of Halloween, El and I craved a pumpkin! It was fun and it looks scarier everyday. The heat it receives on our front stoop has made it moldy and therefore condense somehow, so its face is scrunching up making it even more menancing. I will be a homeowner for the first time this Halloween, so I am ready to distribute candy! See all the little children dressed in their mother's best filled with fright and Happy Halloweeness!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Seattle Day 3, 4 and Home

I feel short of my blogging responsibilities while is Seattle so I will provide a short recap. We managed to do Seattle right. We went to all the most significant places like the Space Needle, Pikes Market, and the Music Experience which were all super cool. We, of course, checked out the first Starbucks, Chinatown (or the ever so popular international district) as well as the Waterfall Park.

That evening we had a very nice high end dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant where Mike, Eliot and I dressed in jeans and casual sweaters enjoyed 4 hours of fancy foods. We went and had a rugged dessert at the Hurricane Cafe because it is known for the Tsunami sundae.

The next day we headed north. We checked out Discovery Park and Golden Garden Park which lie on the shore of the Bay. The weather was comfortable. We walked a few trails and beaches. We explored thorough Ballard and ate lunch at a cute little local hamburger joint where we indulged in a variety of gourmet burgers and obsessed about playing trivia. We saw Archie McPhee and had cupcakes at the best cupcake place in Seattle, and in Washington State! (according to the awards on the windows.)

After a fun day about, Mikey headed home and Eliot and I took long naps. We headed to the movies for a laid back evening to see Bill Maher's flick and had a sushi and good conversation.

We headed on a jet plane the next day! We are home and safe.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Seattle Day 2

Head Like a Kite rocked it! I don't know if its because we are in the birth place of grunge or because they hired people to dress up in fuzzy rainbow colored people costumes and dance around the crowd or if it was because we got to hang out with the drummer...but they rocked.

Strange phenomenon here in Seattle...weather. Everyone always says that Washington is freezing and wet and gray. I will accept the gray but because there is no humidity or wind, at all, the weather is really delightful. Casual long sleeves and jeans with the raincoats handy but that is about it. The oddity is that the Seattlites don't seem to realize that the weather is amazing. They are in the pea coats with scarves and caps. It's rather wild. That and the hoodie thing. Everyone under the age of 45 has one seemingly at all times, around their waists. Why is that?

Today we are off to the Space Needle and The Music Experience!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Seattle Day1

We are in Seattle! With all the technology at my fingertips I still can't seem to blog via iphone so I have sneaked into the hotel business office for a minute to give the scoop on our first day in Washington state.

We are staying at the Hotel Max which is located in downtown. It is very chic and reminiscent of the 90's grunge scene in Seattle. Each floor is an exposition of photographs. For example, the 5th floor on each room door are pictures from live Nirvana shows. The hotel also instead of hosting the traditional Gideon bible actually has a menu of spiritual texts that they will bring to your room free of charge, along with a menu of pillows. So whether you are firm sleeping Catholic or a down feather sleeper Buddhist your needs will be fulfilled.

Today, because of the time change I woke up at 6:30 West coast time. I did all my internet duties and then went to Starbucks. This coffee business that is literally taking over the world is even more pronounced in Seattle, since this is its hometown. We started playing a game (mushiness coming here...) That every time we saw one we would kiss. We spent the day kissing on every corner because there really are two on every block of the city.

We had breakfast at a Seattle classic 24 hour diner called the Hurricane Cafe. We read the paper (this may lead to my complete and total rant against Sarah Palin but I will attempt to contain myself) and tasted fantastic breakfast foods (Kim I hope you guys went here!). Shortly after we headed to the Seattle Main library (oh CD!!) . The building is a work of art. The architecture is post modern and spectacular. We then did a historic underground tour of the city which was incredible (Tre and Chadd would have been in heaven.) We lunched on the bay at the Crab Pot.

This evening we are headed to see Head like a Kite and Harvey Danger and tasty eats with Mike. Can't wait.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend Events

The Save the Date crisis has hopefully been resolved. It was great because I was the only one laughing and since I am the bride that is a good thing I am told. El was annoyed at the post office and kindly, a couple of bridesmaids jump quickly provided several options to help. My mom had an instant plan. A set of new envelopes and time during Project Runway solved it all.

This weekend should be busy. We have an appointment with a florist Friday afternoon, then off to Orlando for dinner with The Koshys and the Zac Brown concert. Then return to Tampa, for El to play early morning tennis, a going away party at the Hard Rock and then Rock Band at the studio (aka the Rohrs) Fingerpaint really needs to practice if we are ever going to get signed. Sunday, I hope to have coffee with an old college friend and church in the morning to meet the minister that will marry us into our happy ever after. In the in between times I really would like to cook a bit and maybe weed my front flower bed, but for some reason that may fall right off the list.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wedding Hiccup!

We have been flying by all the fun wedding planning and things have really been super smooth. I suspect that it's fairly normal for some things to go badly. And we have encountered our first issue. El and I got Save the Date magnets printed which really are super cool. We got small cards made to go in them to share our wedding site and small envelopes to send them in. El went to the post office had them weighed by a postal person who told him that since they were small we needed extra postage. So he bought the proper stamps and he stamped them, labeled them and it was up to me to send them. Though the traditional foreshadowing would indicate that I forgot to send them or lost them in the bath tub or somehow a dog peed on them, but none of those things happened while they were in my possession. I sent them. I took them to the post office and I sent them. They went into the postal bin.

The very next day, I go outside the front door to check my mail and there it was, a small box provided by our countries trusted with all of the magnets and a letter from the post office indicating that you can not send things that small in the mail. I call El at work who of course was pissed off that the first post person did not mention this clause when they looked at the envelop. We deviced a multilevel plan and hope that we can deliver our Save the Dates AND preserve our stamps. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cooking Fun

It's so nice to be home and have the ability to cook. I really missed it! This week I thought it would be great to be able to make one meal and have it lead to the next. The idea was to have good healthy food but be able to use the main part of it again, in hopes of not wasting food. The frig often gets stuffed with leftovers that sometimes just get tossed.

First came the roasted chicken. I made a nice mojo marinade and basted the it. I threw potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomatoes around it, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper. We ate it for a couple of days. I must say it was damn good.


Then came Chicken Enchiladas. I shredded the chicken and wrapped up the chicken with homemade guacamole in sun-dried tomato wraps. I made 4 good sized ones for the pan I wanted to use. I poured enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkled with light Mexican cheese mix. I baked it to melt the cheese for a bit and it was good to go. Each one was a good size so we ate one a piece and El munched on the leftovers for lunch.

We made salad with carrots, zucchini, onions, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and the rest of the shredded chicken. I complimented it with a tomato soup (more like a gazpacho really) from my handy Moosewood cookbook. The gazpacho was really tasty and my plan is to use the leftovers of that to make a pasta sauce!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Things in Spain I love

This the main Cathedral in Cadiz. It's massive and quite stunning. Right in the same plaza are cafes, shops, and those darn montaditos (tiny delicious sandwiches.)

Spain was one of the first modern countries to legalize same sex marriages. My liberal hippie self appreciates this deeply. I like that whole equal rights for all people concept. In light of my own impending nuptials I notice much more wedding stuff.

The other night joining the last program on the beach after their yoga/tai chi/meditation class the yogi which is also a acupuncturist and chiropractor and holistic healer of sorts decided to give David a free demonstration. He said he felt a tingle all over his body and super relaxed. The guy left him with needles on his head and went to speak with the ocean through various body movements. He also gave us pointers on several pressure points on the body that relieve stress and car sickness. Only in Spain would this all occur on a beach at 11:00PM. Finally, my beloved Shelli and Mike. Shelli and I have been working together for 3 years in Spain and this summer we got to spend most of it together. She is expecting a little girl (perhaps a future matador) in October and the goof ball is her husband Mike. Aren't they super cute? Together we have eaten many a great meal and countless bocadillos. Thursday we begin our travels back to the States!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Singing in the Plaza


We were taking a walk to the best ice cream place in town and we began noticing strange men in very odd costumes. First it was one or two then it was truck loads, so we decided to investigate. The Plaza Mina was hoping with Cadiz residents and completely surrounded by truck loads of funny dressed mostly men. As they were all have a few beers before beginning the festivities I asked a local what was going on. He explained to me that this was the City Singing Carousel Carnival (duh) and that in just a few minutes they will begin singing.

It was really entertaining. There were the folks dressed as prisoners. Ones that were dressed in renaissance fare. The ones that looked like shriners. The ones dressed as women, of course. And the ones dressed as bikers. I am not sure who was the art designer for the event but it was a trip checking them all out and watching them try to out sing each other. The Bikers were a bit of trip because the sand Spanish rock and roll, including a fairly amusing rendition of "We will Rock You."

Most of the songs were almost like extended limericks. The usually had a little story or a moral of some kind. For example:
  • There was one about a real friend is also a true gentleman.
  • A hungry husband will cheat on his wife so keep him feed.
  • There is no better place to take a crap then in your own bathroom.
Surely, these are life lessons for the young and old. Of course there were people sitting and clapping along. Small children throwing pop rocks near people's feet. A grand ol' time on a Saturday Night in the southern part of Spain. Perfect weather and great entertainment. Why don't we ever find truckloads of men singing in funny suits in the States?

Friday, August 1, 2008

March 14 2009 part II

I was doing some flower research at the Plaza of Flowers of course. These are just my favorites. Any of you garden oriented folks let me know if you can identify them, because my plan when we meet with the florist is to just show them the pictures.




Thursday, July 31, 2008

Banking

Banking in Spain is a real treat. They open at 8:30 and close at 2:00, except for Fridays in which they close at 1:30. There is always bankers shuffling papers and hustling around and I wonder to myself, "What could they possibly be doing?" With virtual baking in place and the innovation of the ATM what is there to do for so many people. Especially since they never seem to know anything. I was waiting for a transfer into our bank account and decided since this was the fourth day and it still had not arrived that it would be best for me to ask if they could determine the status. Nothing like brain surgery just looking on the computer and seeing whether it was pending.

-Can you see if there is a transfer pending on the account?
-Of course, just a minute. I see nothing pending.
-Okay, how many days does it usually take?
-How long did your last transfer take?
-Four days.
-Well then it takes four days.
-I have waited four days and it still has not arrived.
-It could post this afternoon. I would check in the morning if I were you.
-Wait a second. You just looked and said nothing was pending. How could it post this afternoon?
-Well if its about to post I can't see that.

What?? You would think that a modern country could figure out its banking. Now, at this point due to various banking hurdles. My programs need money. I asked my Italian equivalent to Western Union me some money. I go to the post office which is also a Western Union office.

I enter the post office. There is no one in there. I go the counter and the gentlemen tells me that I need a ticket to determine my place in line. I am the only person there. But okay, I follow directions. There are 3 choices: send mail, receive mail or other. I select other. I wait for a few minutes until the gentlemen changes the digital sign for it to have my number. I go the counter, again, and he asks me what I need. I explain that I need to receive money from Western Union. He says, oh well that is at that counter over there. He points to the other side of the room. I go to the other counter. A few minutes later the same guy walk around from the original counter to this one. He says, hello (as if this is our first interaction) what can I help you with? I repeat, I need to receive money from Western Union. He says, oh, okay and he leaves.

Time passes and a woman comes from out of nowhere and says, hello what I can I help you with? I state my business once again. She hands me a form and asks me to fill it out. I have already filled it out so I present her with it. She looks at it and says well you have put the city and country in the wrong places this form has to be done again. Okay. I refill out the form, in triplicate. Sigh. I hand it to her. She at this point decides that she should start her computer. We wait as it boots for another five minutes. She seems to be filling out the online access information. Things print. And then she looks at the amount and she says, I don't have this much money.

What???? Who does that! She looks at me as if I can help. I am not sure what to say, so I just stand there and look at her. Until finally, she says to me that she will need to go to the safe and get more out. This will take any where between 10-20 minutes. I have no other choice, I say okay. The next thing I see is that the same lady is sitting behind the first counter changing the numbers on the digital screen. She spends at least 10 minutes over there doing who knows what.

Eventually, I do receive the money. When she gives it to me she tells me to stick it far into my purse and go straight home. I respond, "Of course, thank you."

I can't wait to be in a country where I can't even remember the last time I went inside a bank. God Bless the USA.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

En Cadí se está muy bien

Reporting from your local Spanish paradise city is yours truly. Clear skies and a very moderate 25 degrees celsius which means about 77 degrees US. Not a drop from the skies, which would be really weird because rain isn´t common in July. This is my third year visiting this city and, man, the weather is out of this world for southern Spain in the summer. The breeze is simply delightful. I have been hesitant to write about the weather because it seems fairly lame but it is seriously unreal. Usually one is hiding in a square inch of shade in hopes that your sweat will stop running down your leg.

In other news, clearly I am still in Spain. I have a mere 8 days left before returning to the States. The last couple of days have been fairly low key. On Sunday we headed to a bullfight in Puerto Santa Maria which is across the bay from Cadíz. We took a rough little boat over. Since I am not a big fan of violence in general I opted for sitting out of this fight. Once you have seen it, you´ve seen it. I went on a hunt for a dress that I have been scoping out all summer but was sold out on the Cadíz side, forgetting clearly that the smaller the town the less is open on god´s day, afterall it is the day of rest. So I wandered the empty closed streets for bit until I found a small little Columbian place (apparently no god in Columbia) to sit and have a drink and snack. After chatting with a lovely Ecuadorian gentlemen for a bit (also no god in Ecuador I guess) I headed to see if there was anything else to see or do. This town is known for its night life. It is a party place and considering it was early afternoon on Sunday, I figure most people were resting off their hang overs (at least the Ecuadorian was.)

As I was walking near the Bullfighting stadium which are always amazing in terms of architectual design, I noticed a small crowd near a door. I figured I have nothing going on, so why not check it out. There were several trucks parked right on the edge of the curb between the staduim and the street. Everyone was looking down so I followed their sight and got a peek at the entertainment. The excitement was a dirty sidewalk. Upon closer investigation, it was a bloody sidewalk; bulls blood that is, ntohing like black gold. This very door is where the animal is dragged out in its death onto a truck that then takes it somewhere. Hopefully, some where it can be consumed properly by orphans or poor elderly people. In that moment, I was pretty glad that I hadn´t seen it suffer to its death by the hands of silly man in tight pants and goofy hat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Average Day: Bocadillos and Laundry

The word for sandwich in Spain is bocadillo. But it's more than just a sandwich because it is not on regular whole wheat bread it's on a kind of panini, or a small sized baguette. Anywho, it is delicious. About two blocks from our apartment on the beachside is a great place for a bocadillo. Not only is it ridiculously tasty but really cheap. You can get a grande for 3 euros and small one for 1.50 euros. When we feel particularly crazy we pick out a couple different small ones. I am a tuna fan and I think the last time I was in Cadiz I ate so much tuna that I got mercury poisoning. Of course its not like a average tuna sandwich, its fresh tuna, not made into a crazy paste, placed on the perfect bread, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. There are over 60 different options on the menu and it's local owned and run which when it comes to sandwich places isn't always the case. Here are David and Staci enjoying their bocadillos.

We are living in quite a spacious apartment with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, no air conditioning which is normal but there is no need with all the windows open, a kitchen with all the latest and a washer. Per usual in Spain there is no drier. So we have to hang our clothes out on the line which is located outside of the kitchen and bathroom windows. Since we live on the fourth floor it is a bit of a challenge but our neighbors don't seem to struggle at all. The laundry line is a mechanism that works like a pulley. Or maybe its because you pull it that I think that, which is an awful joke. You hang things and then you pull the cord and the clothes move away and you get the next free space. It's quite genius really. It's really interesting to look at peoples' laundry. You can figure out so much about them like the folks with the 5 cartoon printed towels clearly have kids, the ones that always do a load of blues or reds or yellows are simply OCD, the ones that always have beach gear up must be on vacation. Most of the time we drop stuff from the fourth floor and we have to go down to the common area and pick it up. The problem is we don't actually know how to get there so our neighbor that David befriend has made the trips for us. The view in the picture is actually from the front of our apartment which goes out into a separate corridor in which some persons have their own porches. The view from the back of our apartment is a large common area where you can see everyones laundry. Hence why I am still writing about laundry, it's always in my face.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ana Salazar

Last night we went to a Flamenco concert. Admittedly, Flamenco is one of those things that I would throw into the category of poetry. You either encounter it and it is apart of your soul or you can maturely begin to appreciate it. Last summer I saw a Flamenco show that was life changing. I got it. For the first time I understood the excitement of what everyone is always raving about, so I am a little more willing to see more. If only for the hope of experiencing that same rush.

Ana Salazar is a singer from Cadiz. The concert took place in El Castillo de Santa Catalina; Europeans and their castles. It was a great venue. The air was so crisp that I had goose bumps the entire time. With an amazing setting this Gaditana (a person from Cadiz) dressed in all white took the stay and instantly her beauty radiated. It was more than just her appearance, it was her. You could feel her presence. Her music a fusion between Flamenco and Jazz. It added a certain modernity to the sound that was engaging. Most of her family was at the concert as well which also provided another dimension into her. She took time to preface her songs with history, experience and emotion. Everything seemed to have a context which I think is awesome when you are participating in something for the first time because it gives you a place to start.

Salazar is a dancer as well. That was her first love and after a terrible accident that left her leg in shambles with many years of physical therapy ahead of her, the opportunity to sing fell in her lap. At this point she can dance again. Once again a nontraditional Flamenco style that worked perfectly with her music. The balance she was able to maintain between dancing and singing was impressive. She would literally rock out on the dance floor and as if she didn't lose a breath she would transition to singing.

The only downfall of the evening was that she didn't sell her CDs at the concert. I tried to look her up on ITunes today and only two songs appeared from special complications she was invited to do as tributes to famous Flamenco singers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

March 14 2009

My wedding date! The planning has already begun. It is much more fun than I had anticipated it being. The internet was genius! Good work Al Gore! I have been able to do quite a bit of work from this part of the world because of it. We have a venue, The Sirata Beach Resort and a church, First UMC Gulfport. We have designed and ordered Save the Dates, selected place cards, and invitations. We have a photographer, a DJ and almost a florist. We are well ahead of schedule for the wedding check lists.




While in Spain of course I haven't been able to help noticing every wedding shop on the planet. They all look really intimidating and pricey. They all have displays in the windows of a dress sometimes two dresses but when you peek in behind them you can see that there are no dresses actually hanging up. So they are the type of places you make appointments to and sit around while someone you don't know tries to guess what dress you will like. It seems so impersonal and to be honest not my style at all. I don't even like it when regular sales people hound be but the gowns are beautiful nonetheless. Mostly I am looking for ideas. What do I want in a dress? What would look the best on?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Madrid

The last week we have spent in the capital, Madrid. Madrid is hot as hell. It is summer and it is landlocked but really its has been hotter there, so we lucked out. The first program ended and the next program started giving us only about 36 hours rest in between the two. Shelli's husband came to join us and we have spent many a night at a variety of delicious eateries around the city, as seen below. Having been to Madrid (normally I refer to it as where my heart is but my heart is in other places this summer) several times, I didn't do much site seeing. The museums, the plazas, the clubs, really...been there done that. The great thing about Madrid is the shopping, which I did do. I even managed to track down the rest of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and I devoured the last two books joyfully this week. Now I am eagerly awaiting the release of the 4th in August. It was a nice laid back week in comparison to others and tomorrow we return to Cadiz.

Here is Shelli and Mike at El Mario Parilla. Where the food was tasty and when you walk in you think it will be much more expensive then it really is.

The last two pictures are of us at a Mexican restaurant in La Latina district which had great decor on the inside. The food was touch and go, but it was a cool atmosphere.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Rain in Spain

There is no actual rain in Spain and earlier in the week we returned to Cadiz to a lush hotel (Hotel Barcelo) so there is no rain in my room either. I just like rhyming. To be honest it is 5AM, Spain time and I can't sleep. I have decided that its the tuna. I have eaten a LOT of tuna lately and I can't help it. It tastes so good. Shelli and I have found the best bocadillo place. It is literally a block from our hotel and we go there everyday. Its cheap and good and now since we regulars we get the satisfaction of ordering without the menus. I digress. The tuna. Spain puts tuna on a lot of stuff, starting with your average garden salad and ending with stuffing it into olives. Combine no sleep with some periodic headaches, you would think I was the pregnant one. So I did research which means I googled eating too much Tuna. Low and behold, guess what? Too much mercury in your system can cause headaches and insomnia. There are two things to consider here. One, most ailments or sorts will end up causing headaches and insomnia. The second is that it really may not be the tuna at all, it could be lots of things like the dehydration or homesickness.

In just a couple of days we are off again (you are lucky I ranted about tuna because there is a precious airport story about our trip back from Valencia but I will spare you all) this time to Madrid. Madrid is one my favorite cities in Europe for various reasons and I am really excited about spending an entire week there. I didn't have much time in Valencia to properly rave about the cool vibe, the historic architecture, beach life and overall goodness of the city. One could stay in Valencia and never be bored. It is the 3rd largest city in Spain and this month they were celebrating the city with the Valencia festival, meaning tons of free shows, art exhibits, and interesting events. I mean The Police were there and so was Juannes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A River Runs Through It

My Valencian apartment that is. Christelli (our new name defining all things that are Christy and Shelli) arrived on Monday to Valencia. We will be here about a week and since it was not only more economically but infinitely more convenient we rented an apartment. It is actually a lot of space for just the two of us. It is very modern and it has three things are super special in Spain: laundry, internet and air conditioning.

Each room has an air conditioner that is powered by a remote. As air conditioners do they drip sometimes. Normally, they drip outside because units in the US hang outside of windows, not in Spain. The river running through my room and now Shelli's room is evidence of such an occurrence. The thing is a little water is no big deal. 5 blankets filled with water is a whole another story. The other issue with the river is that we have all marble floors which makes us feel like we are barefooting down the Caloosahatchee. I have never been a good skier.

The keep saying they are going to fix it but it is Wednesday. That is life in Spain. An entire country that only works 5 hours a day, between late mornings, siesta and early evenings, especially in a 98 degree weather, surely there is something to learn from them.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

EUROCUP08 Video

video
This was the footage from THE goal that was made! The crowd went wild. I love futbol!

EUROCUP08

The Euro Cup. I will simply show photos and video because the excitement is so great I am out of words at the moment!
Yo soy Español.
Ole! Ole! Ole!People in capes are always super! Just think Superhombre!
Mina 5 futbol gathering center of Cadiz. There about 100,000 residents and I think the whole town was there. The rest that were not there just drove around on their motos honking.
Surrounded by the biggest TV in town and still too tiny for most to see.
Folks above in their flats which later threw grocery bags filled with water down below into the crowd. When Spain won buckets were falling down! I will attempt to post video of when Spain made the first goal. The Plaza de Mina went nuts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ruffles, Sabor a Jamon

Today the staff arrives for our first program to begin tomorrow. The senior staff members will get things off the ground and greet the instructors along with the students at the Jerez de la Frontera airport tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, quite a bit of little things have to be done. Going to the bank, calling everyone to be sure they have proper transport into the city and of course spending quality time at the tourism office to figure the local happenings. It has been a busy couple of days but time has flown.

Shelli and I are sitting on own respective laptops contacting and networking as one does in the administrative corporate world and decided that it was time to run a couple of errands and get a few snacks. I have been introduced to the most delightful chip: Ruffles, Sabor a Jamon. Yes, friends, Ruffles, Tastes like Ham. Some of you may think to ourselves that is absurd. Who would create such a thing? I am here to tell you that it is delicious, a melted cheese dip would be a nice accent and then you would have a ham and cheese! The options are endless with this party favorite. We also bought fruit from the fruit stand lady. Also good and a nice compliment to the chips happen to be nectarines. Imagine the possibilities when entertaining.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home Sweet Cadiz

Not to much to report other than our safe arrival to Cadiz. No major hang ups at any airports and all flights steady freddy. We have checked into our nice hotel and are contemplating lunch plans. Tomorrow we will get things done. Surely. Did I mention there is a spa on the first floor of Hotel Spa Senator?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back to the US of A

We are home. Safe and sound. I could go on about 8 hours in a Lima airport or a ridiculous incident at the Ft Lauderdale airport that if I think too much about makes me angry all over again, but instead I will let it be. I could also be completely stressed by the fact that I think that my computer ate and lost all of my Peru pictures, but that too I will let be, at least for now. The nice thing is being home, even if its for about 48 hours before leaving for Spain. Home is nice.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Going back to Cusco, to Cusco

Plans have altered just a little bit. Originally El was going to stay in Peru until the 27th and I was going to leave from Puno and head to Lima and ultimately the States on the 20th. But the thing is that Puno really really stunk. Literally and figuratively. It was compared to be the Taiwan of South America which I am not sure is a fair assessment since I have heard plenty of nice things about Taipei, but it was small, dirty and had nothing to offer. Throw in the fact that it lies at about 13,000 feet above sea level walking to get a Peruvian pizza which there is a zillion of is a bit painful. It was cold which normally one can deal with but you throw in the rest with a shitty hotel and no heat and you have got one sick pharmacist and one rather cranky girl. The lake is cool but to be honest. Its a lake. You forget that you are in the middle of mountain and poof there is a lake, so I can appreciate the oddity and all but still a port town turns out to be a port town no matter where it is.

So we have opted to return to Cusco early and El will be returning with me to the States. No need to stay in Peru alone when you aren´t feeling great especially when the Spanish speaking one is leaving the country. By the way, a word of advice, never go to a pharmacy with 2 pharmacists and try to translate. Geesh. Regardless, we made it safely to Cusco which now feels like home.

Apparently today was the marking of the first of festival for Cusco. I asked someone what the festival was for specifically and they said it was for Cusco. So God Bless Cusco and all the little children in it! The streets were packed and there was an endless parade of young pre-adolescent boys doing native dances. It was a sight to see.Tomorrow Lima and then the beloved USA. Traveling makes me rather patriotic...well as much as I am ever going to be I suppose.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Puno

We are now in Puno. We were on a bus for 10 HOURS. We have seen every flipping Incan community in this nation AND every "very very important" itty bitty church. Did I mention 10 hours? When we got here, the folks were late to pick us up and apparently they decided to change our reservations to another hotel because the hotel we originally were going to stay at was all book up. OUr room has two twin beds that El pushed together and no heater! Though I asked for one so we will see. In the morning we get the fun of transfering hotels with our bags down the street. Sigh. So now I am on a 1980 IBM with the worst key board on Earth, just to communicate and let everyone know that we have arrived. As you can see I am cranky!

Tomorrow we head sail on Lake Titicaca and stay at the home of a local on an island in the middle of the heightest navigational lake in the world. Should be cool.

Never been so thrilled at the prospects of getting a plane to leave this town.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Machu Picchu

Another early morning yesterday, 5:30AM, silly Peru. I got on to a tiny bus that takes you up to Machu Picchu on a very tiny road with very narrow turns on the side of a mountain. The only precarious thing is that the one bus barely fits and it functions a two lane road, so there are plenty of moments where you figure that you will plummet to your death because what other possible choice would there be, but no fear, we arrived.

Craziest shit ever! You ready for this... I am getting off this bus and I see Vanessa Fernandez Green my friend and co-worker from 2 summers ago in Cadiz, in line waiting to get into the monument. Unbelievable! Who bumps into people in Peru? We were both completely stunned. We eventually found each other again in the actual monument and took a photo. (All photos will be posted at some point.)

During my very early morning guided tour I couldn´t focus. I couldn´t sit still. I was barely paying attention because all I could do was look for Eliot. My guide new that we were suppose to meet up but he assured me that his trek wouldn´t arrive for several more hours. It didn´t matter, I couldn´t help it. I just kept staring up towards the obvious trail hoping that I would catch a glimmer of him. After my tour was complete, my guide took me to the front enterance where the groups usually rest and eat a snack before entering Machu Picchu for theformal tour. They of course have already seen this impressive Incan site from many meters above.

Without further ado, there he was. First I saw Shuster and Ludlow snacking and as I panned the area, I saw him. I get giddy just thinking about it now. We were definitely like two lost lovers that were reunited. We kissed and hugged. He introduced me to his trekking friends and they all kept telling me how he couldn´t stop talking about me the entire time. It was cute. And as I write these lines I find my typical cynicism fade a bit and blush.

Oh right, Machu Picchu...really freaking amazing! It is huge and really incredible how this community created an entire city in this time period. The structures are so solid. For the religion nerd that lives in me, it was particularly cool to see the Temple of the Sun and some very traditional as well as ecumenical symbols in the architechure and supposed worship of these people.

These people which of course my people destroyed. You know you grow up in a somewhat white protestant community and you have some of that white liberal guilt going on. Then you begin to see the world a little bit and you know that your body runs the blood of the Spanaird. So between the Inquistion, the ceasing of Moorish buildings/life and massive colonialization, you feel badly enough. You throw in a little endocturnation and yellow fever and you have one guilty Spanish American girl. And for the love, let´s not bring up Cuba.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Aguas Calientes

5:00AM in the morning I was attaching my backpack and heading downstairs to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. The tiny town is at the foot of Machu Picchu and is the jumping off point to catch the bus and see the impressive ruins. Nevertheless, the normally 4 hour train ride turned into 6 1/2 hours.

First of all, the train had no heat. When you are traveling on a Vistadome train which had windows on both sides and on the top through mountains you may think that the engineers of this contraption would have considered the winter months. So now wearing like 7 layers, we are off. In my experience with trains which is rather limited to European countries, when the tracks need to changed there is usually some rail personnel that is stationed at that location and has some sort of schedule to know when and which train is on the way. Still Perurail figures that it is best not to hire any additional assistance when there is perfectly good employees already on the train. So when leaving Cusco we would drive a bit forward, pause, then move a bit backwards then head forwards again. Over and over did this occur. Just to get out of town it was 45 minutes. The Japanese tour group thought this was hilarious. Everytime we would go forward, pause and then go backwards they laughed heartly surely thinking to themselves that this part of the fun. I, on the other hand, not so much. I was just getting impatient.

Thankfully the gods reward impatience. We make it to our first stop. 6 people join the train. We don´t move. Time passes. We still don´t move. We are served breakfast by the train equivilent of stewardesses. We still don´t move. It is so cold as soon as the coffee is poured it is also cold. Still there. A guide on the train finally asks what the hold up is and of course the engine isn´t working. So they are trying to fix it. We sit. The train inches forward. The Japanese cheer. The train moves back to the station. The train launches itself like a children´s story chugging slightly along. The Japanese cheer. The train moves back to the station. Sigh. New plan. We are hooking up a whole new engine train. Great, I think. We are finally using our knoggins rather then our caboose. We wait. The Bolivian women that I am sitting with are turning slightly purple. They have no additional gear with them because this was supposedly a nice day trip for them. Through the frostbite on my innerlobes, I can hear the Japanese cheer...we are on our way! Hooray!

We chuckle, now that the issue is resolved. We rationalize that at least it happened at a train station, wouldn´t it really stink if we were on the side of a mountain somewhere. Guess what? We spoke too soon. An hour from our debaucle we stop. Granted at this point the sun has begun to creep out and I am down to only 4 layers, so at least this is good. The train stewards have dressed up as conductors to sell us train souvenirs and later as native Peruvians to sell us hand made crafts by poor children. It´s like being trapped on the homeshopping channel, though admittedly entertaining. We stop on the side of a mountain. Literally. There is about half an inch to the left of the track where you can see many meters down a lovely rock filled rushing river and to our right another inch from a hard rock mountain. We sit.

In good tradition of ALL countries and of ALL transportion types. They tell us nothing. I swear that no one got the memo that communication is the best option in 99% of situations. Its like no one is reading any ¨The World is Flat¨or ¨Who moved my Cheese?¨in these industries. The Japanese are now wearing vests, hiking hats, all with the Perurail logo on it and reading their commemorative Machu Picchu Then and Now books. They are comfortable, clearly, just not cheering.

Eventually we make it. We saw breath taking scenary and mountains of every type. I never knew there were that many type of mountains. The only thing that when we arrive at the train station every train that left after us to head to Machu Picchu is also behind us. So 5 trains are unloading at the same time. A total cluster.

This town is quiant. Tiny tiny tiny, but it feels warm. Matter of fact it is warm, down to only one layer. The only thing that kept me sane on the train other than stories of Bolivia was my new book: A Thousand Splendid Suns. If you read Kite Runner and loved it, go get this book. If you care about female rights, go get this book. If you have any understanding of geo-politics, go get this book.

Okay. I am off to explore a little more before heading back to a very traditional backbackers hostal, so I can wake in the morning and meet Eliot at the top of Machu Picchu. Sounds pretty romantic huh? I am sure that everything will slow down, cheesy music will be piped in and we will run to each others arms in slow motion.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cusco: Day 3

This morning I headed out the hotel at 8:30AM to see the Sacred Valley which basically emcompasses Incan Ruins and more Andean History. It was a great day! But exhauting due to the tons of hiking to really high places. At the Pisaq site, I was on this tiny trail headed up about a fourth of the way up and suddenly I looked down. Why? In that moment I was clung to the side of a mountain and wishing that vertigo was just one of those names that people name trendy nightclubs versus a real imbalance in a person´s well person. I took a deep breath and came down to sit with a Belguim girl that hadn´t even attempted from our tour. Infinitely more entertaining and from the others mentioned the trail only got smaller and higher. Damn heights.

As our tiny little bus speed up very tiny roads we were able to see simply beautiful mountains and of course tons of impoverished neighborhoods. There seems to be at every spot an older women in traditional grab with a young toddler also dress in the fashion usually with an alpaca or llama in tow. Several folks on the tour took pictures with them which cost about 1 sole (not even 33 cents) and I can´t help but wonder where the line of exploitation and assitance lies in these moments.

After a lunch buffet in what appears to be a private residence and a few less scary ruin climbs we finished off our day in Chinchero a tiny little town with a church at the top that was built by, guess who? My people, the Spaniards. The basically raped the Incans took their perfectly built walls and created a sacred sanctum for Jesus. The church at this point has been restored somewhat, but they still can´t pay their electric bill, so they worship in the dark. We actually saw it with the slight bit of sunlight left and a flashlight for the inner room. This tiny town was so charming and the artseans incredible.

Our guide took us in to his sisters house to show us oh the wool from alpacas, llamas, sheep, what have you are hand cleaned, spun into yearn, dyed from all natural goods and then woven into master pieces. I bought things. Who wouldn´t?

Tomorrow inthe wee hours I am off to Aquas Calientes which is the tiny town below Machu Picchu. Soon I will be reunited with the trekkers. A sappy moment...this is the first time since El and I have met that we have not at least spoken on a telephone. Can´t wait to see him!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cusco: Day 2

The trekkers left this morning to explore the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I stayed behind. In a couple of days I will take a train to the town near by, Aquas Calientes, and then meet them at the top of Machu Picchu.

I slepted in. I woke up and changed rooms from the double to the single. Oddly the single is twice the size and has two beds. Once that was taken care of I headed to a local cafe for some cafe con leche and a bit of reading. It is one of my favorite past times when I travel is to hang a bit and just see life in a city. After cafe, I stumbled upon a beautiful old Convent. It is called the Convento de Merced. Merced is the patron saint of Cucso. I got a guided tour which was totally worth it. (Speaking of worth it. I paid for a private tour guide and admittance to the convent and it was less than $10. It is unreal how inexpensive this place is.)

It had been awhile since I really took the time to connect the female worship in Catholicism with that of ancient female pluralistic worshippers. The image of the mother is so center particularly in Latin America and this was evident in the paintings and even in the decor of this convent. I should mention that there are no nuns here and there never has been but they use this word for the place where the priests and monks would reside as well. In good ol´Spanish colonial style everything is decadent; lined with gold, made of pure marble, stolen and rebuilt in the name of God. I wish I could post pictures. It was amazing.

After I sat had some lunch at a balcony shop and watched the small children dressed in traditional garb eat ice cream as they lined the street for a parade that will be a precusor to the festival late next week.

I swung by the local market which was wild because the raw meats, raw chickens hanging, piles of fruits, piles of potatoes (which are originally a Peru thing, who knew?) little smoothie like stands everything is packed and people are certainly enjoying their late afternoon snacks. I, on the other hand ended my afternoon in the spa.

I enterd the Santa Clara Center of Health which apparently is a spa and a dentist. I was escorted up to the massage room which was blaring Enya from a speaker and instructed to take off all my clothes other than my underwear which is standard procedure when getting a massage. Once that task was accomplished then I was to slip in under the blanket on the table and put my face in the comfy foam hole thing. The masseuse enters the room. She places an additional heated towel over my back and begins. Everything was good. She did a very nice job. From the legs to thighs, to back to arms and neck...perfection. It is finely time for me to turn over. In the States there are usually a couple of sheets on you, so no areas of your body are ever exposed. I turned over and she pulls down the sheet and there I am. There I am with my Peruvian masseure and my chest. The Enya seemed to fade and for a complete minute I was in shock. What is one to do in this moment? I am out there. Before the panic completely ensues she places the warm towel over my top half and continues on with the massage. I can´t help but wonder how many she has seen? Is this the norm? And why am I so...prudish in Peru when in the States, not so much? We finish out 1 1/2 hour relaxtion massage which set me back a total of $15. Unreal.

Now I am currently in the lounge with some Brit blokes watching a little footy and laughing about their remarks about the Queen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cusco: Day 1

The weather is divine in this ancient Incan Capital. We thought that it would be much cooler than it is. Yesterday me and my boyz (Eliot, Shuster and Ludlow) enjoyed our complimentary breakfast and headed out to explore the great city. We visited the main Cathedral which with impressive architechure and plenty of areas for specific veneration of saints there still is a large stone outside of the church that represents the Sun God of the Incas. The devotees touch the rock as they exit their visit of prayers to praise the Sun God as well. It´s good to have all your bases covered I suppose.

The boys decided that the best plan was to climb to the top of Cusco. So we did. As we slowly went through a variety of neighborhoods including San Blas which is the center of art and modernity (which means as far as I could tell there is a Thai food resturant) Shuster takes the role of Jesus with the little Children. All 3 of these guys are pharmacists and sometimes they venture into a language of inside medication jokes that causes me to look at then funny and call them nerds. Shuster apparently had honed in on the fact that there is quite a bit of poverty here and that children don´t always get the small luxuries. The patron saint of school supplies, Shuster, carries a full backpack with pencils with positive reinforcement messages like Excellent! and Super! and pads of paper to learn how to write the alphabet. At first he passes out a pencil or two, soon the entire community has come looking for the Saint! He is surrounded by little children begging for pencils and paper. We even bump into a little girl that knows the words thank you and yes in English. She becomes our guide for a bit through some neighborhoods. She leads us to the local artisan shack and quickly runs in and retrieves the sacred flower of Cusco, thanking him.

You know its interesting because this must have been what the disciples and such felt like with Jesus. A swarm full of blind, deaf, infermed people coming for help and they just stand around in ah, shocked that this one guy can make such a difference in a small gesture.

In the evening we went to the Andean Grill in the Plaza de Armas. We had almost a 4 hour meal in which we tried many native Peruvian foods. For those of you that maybe wondering we did in fact sample Coy (guinea pig) and the beloved Alpaca. Both which were really tasty. Alpaca especially good. The coy was good but these are not meaty animals therefore it is a bit of a struggle to get meat off the bone, but once that is accomplished it is good. Our 3 hour meal was delicious from beginning to end. Well mostly at the end. We tried a mango like pie that had the consistency of stale marshmellows. Luckily I ordered ice cream too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Peru

After a bit of a stint in Ft. Lauderdale international airport which I could bitch about for awhile but refer to other airport antics and that would probably be equivilent, we jumped on Spirit airlines and headed the Lima. The flight was lovely and even though it is a solid 6 hours they intentionally to keep cost down do not have any in flight entertainment and all snacks must be paid for, so the interruptions to my reading were very minimal. I decided to finally read the Sex and the City book. It is nonfiction and it is the collection of columns by Candice Bushnell. I think it puts some things in context about the show. But I digress...

We arrived in Lima and saw the Peruvian National Futbol team in customs. There was a million people waiting for them outside because apparently they lost to Mexico the night before. Latin Americas are serious about their soccer. We jumped a cab and headed to meet Shuster at the Melodia. Lima is dirty, crowded and really not at all impressive. We headed out for dinner and tried the local drink pisco sour. It tastes like a mojito and as long as you don´t over think that there is egg whites in your cocktail, it´s pretty tasty. The hotel was nice (pics to be added later) and the perfect way to end the day. Of course when you get engaged at 7:15 AM and rush off to the airport, it´s really nice to slip into bed with your finacee(add goofy smile here), take a deep breath and get ready for the rest of the adventure.

The adventure came early. Our new taxi friend picked us up at 6AM and we headed to the airport once again to meet Ludlow and head to Cusco. This flight was short and really spectacular. You can see the mountains from the windows of the plain and as you are descending you think to yourself, oh shit we are going to hit one of those! and then when you land you feel like the there can´t be that much more to this mountain and the plane could just tip right over. Obviously, we didn´t do either. Cusco is 10500-11000 feet high. There are moments where you wonder if someone has slipped something into your cafe con leche because you are a little loopy and silly for no reason. The altitude hasn´t been too bad at all. We confirmed things with our travel agent, had lunch took a nap and then hit a pub for dinner.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And we are off...




Everything at school ended well. Considering I only had one week before leaving for Peru I have managed to get a lot done. The girls (as many did around the nation) invoked a special evening event to see Sex and the City, the movie. We went to L' Olivier, a great French crepe restaurant where we sipped wine and indulged. The food was light and to die for! The above image was the crepe filled with fresh seafood scampi. It got rave reviews. We shared dessert and headed to the cinema.


A few post school parties, here is Chadd sipping on a bucket of goodness at Jimmy B's. Eliot and I even managed to check out a Siam Thai on 9th Street. It is literally two blocks away from us but we never made it there. They throw in a bit of flashy in the most subtle of ways. They make insects out of their lemons and place them on your water glass and we ordered a few finger foods that came to us on special metal warming towers. Our favorite was the Phad Seew noodle dish that we could have eaten for days. If you don't like too much spice it is a perfect selection. If you do, I recommend the curry. You still might have to tell them to kick it up but the taste is right on.

Tomorrow we leave for Peru. Backpacks are packed. We will be trekking mostly through the southern part of the country. We fly into Lima, meet up with a buddy to crash and head to Cusco the next day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Puerto Rico que Rico!

Eliot and I headed to the lovely Caribbean island of Puerto Rico to see my darling good friend Shelli marry. The day before we left I had the worst bout of food poisoning. Granted I had never had food poisoning before so I thought it was pretty awful. El was the perfect man. He held my hair back and rubbed my back, he was so sweet and patient. Luckily, I felt better before we left for PR, though, the flight was a little, well, rough. I spent some quality time in the tiny little bathroom hoping for good aim. Enough about my digestive system.

We arrived in Puerto Rico and picked up the rented car headed towards Fajardo which is located on the north eastern point of the island. The island has a national forest el Yunque that is located near there and towards the center. The island is small. One could easily drive the circumference in less than 10 hours. The only problem is the roads are not in the best shape and not well labeled. Therefore, getting to town was a cinch but finding our hotel was a little difficult. Our hotel, Fajardo Inn, was located on the top of a mountain with the view of the city and the Atlantic all around. It was clear that the Inn was newly opened. Some rooms were still being painted and decorated, the restaurants were brand new, and the smell was of new hotel (kind of like new car but different.)

The next day we woke up early and hung out by the marina for breakfast then spent the afternoon at the pool. We took a nap and headed to El Conquistador for the wedding. The resort was gorgeous. Shelli and Mike got married on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was spectacular. The ceremony was lovely. Intimate and warm. We had drinks in the labyrinth garden and then were escorted in for dinner and dancing. The wedding was amazing. Shelli and Mike are wonderful and there is nothing better than being able to see people you love in love and embarking in a lifetime together.

Dinner was a four-course meal. It was the first day I was really able to eat again which worked out perfectly. We danced. We drank. Eliot loves a wedding. He loves to dance and enjoys the happiness, so of course it made it even better. Towards the end of the evening, Shelli and Mike passed their bouquet to the couple they believed would be the next to marry. They were given the bouquet at a wedding a few weeks prior and wanted to pass along the tradition. They passed it on to Eliot and I.


The next day we slept. We were exhausted. We were lazy in bed until about noon. We checked out and headed into San Juan. We hung out in Old San Juan for a couple of hours, which gave us enough time to have lunch and check out a couple of galleries. The city is quaint and you can clearly see the Spanish influence on the architecture. Our flight was changed to leave a little earlier than we had thought so we returned the car and headed to the airport. All in all in a wonderful trip. Best Wishes Shelli and Mike!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Savannah's Cafe

This past week we celebrated the birth of Kim, glorious day! We went out to dinner to Savannah's downtown for most of us it was the first time that we had been there. This restaurant is the spin off of a beloved favorite off of Park Street called Safron's which was never a let down, so surely Savannah's would be great as well. It turns out that the high class southern food mofit that they are attempting fell fairly short of the high expectations that many of us had.

The appetizers were a bit unclear. We ordered stuffed mushrooms and what we got was one actual mushroom. For an appetizer, not ideal. We did enjoy the sweet potato chips with blue cheese dressing. Oh, and the juleps. This place is great for a drink. The juleps are southern, strong and the tastiest thing you will ever have, this very well may have been worth checking out the place.

Once our entrees arrived all of us were a bit "eh" about them. Rod got pork chops that were a bit dry. My chicken with stuffed goat cheese was way too dry, though the collard greens were soaked in delicious butter and herbs. Eliot's seafood jambalaya had rubbery scallops and mushy rice. The cost of the main meals in relation to the satisfaction of the food itself was a bit disappointing.

It would be fair to say that they were attentive and fantastic with Kim's surprise ice cream cake. They brought it out with candles and sang along with us, provided small plates and forks. The evening over all was a delight because we were hanging with our peeps which is always cool.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Vinoy Brunch

Eliot and I went to brunch Sunday morning with Cd and Fred at the Vinoy downtown St. Pete and it was surely a treat. The Vinoy is located near the water by Straub park. On this particular Sunday morning the day was already setting up to be be beautiful as the water glimmered and the parking was easy to find.

The brunch itself was spectacular. There were several stations with the sous chefs prepared to fulfill your every whim. A seafood stand with fresh mussels, shrimp, lobster and the best tasting crab were up for grabs, along with the raw bar there was several prepared choices ready for the picking as well. There was a tapas selection filled with olives, sausage, and some damn good crab cakes. A meat stand with a cutter slicing your hearts desire, a fruit and cheese area, a full service breakfast man making eggs Benedict on the spot and providing an plethora of other breakfast delights. The smoothie bar and dessert area were equally as decadent providing a fondue fountain, cakes, decorate your own cookie for the kids and the terribly delicious creme brulee. Without further gushing it is evident that it was a truly indulgent.

Mimosas, bottomless coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice surrounded us and of course one of the best parts of the whole thing is enjoying such a fun meal with such good friends. It was certainly the best way to start a Sunday morning.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Top Chef on Iris!

It has been a long while since I have done any local eatery reviews. The last few months I have just been introducing Eliot to the many tasty treats of the beloved 'Burg. Just last weekend we walked to the Ringside Cafe to enjoy great live music, a well poured pints and a table full of appetizers. It is so awesome to be able to wander just a few blocks south and find great grub.

The last few weeks I have been cooking like a wild woman. I have made my own granola (inspired by Kim, a newly licensed clinical social worker!), several banana breads (I liked to give them to my folks. I substitute real brown sugar from the splenda mix. They love it.), low fat chicken parmesan which means no breading. I grilled it with extra virgin olive oil and topped it with fresh smoked mozzarella (Eliot was a big fan.), spicy trail mix, chicken and potatoes (not my best), and finally a great apple dessert with an almond crust that we shared with Tracy and Chadd (They were impressed.). So little Miss Betty Crocker over here, decided that this week I would plan a menu (a la Jeni.)

I have only 3 meals on my menu because since my parents keep us knee high in leftovers which is pretty awesome and I can't reject the lazy jaunt on the town, I figured it was a great plan. I just finished making Pasta and Chickpea soup. It was pretty easy to make, though a little lengthy of a process. I got the recipe from Organic Kitchen. I am going to serve it with fresh rolls and probably freeze some too. Super good.

Next, is moussaka. Eliot and I are a bit obsessed with Greek food. The more feta the better, so I thought I would give this eggplant and lamb delight a try. The recipes are very simply written which is perfect for me because I am not particularly good at following them. I will appeal to the artist part of me on this one. The best part of cooking, at least for me, is seeing what works and following my instincts. Lord knows, that I can't help but do that, so I usually look at a recipe as a suggested guideline. This will make a ton, so I will return the favor and share with the parentals. This will surely need a side salad along with it. After yoga tomorrow night I will embark on this project.

Finally, a garlic shrimp feta pasta. I saw this one in a magazine at Kim's. It might have been Food. This is so super simple I didn't even write it down. I will grill some shrimp in evoo and tiny chopped garlic cloves, pasta tossed with fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and feta. Its light and looks great. Yellow squash and zucchini on the side will be a great compliment.

I will try to add photos as I go! Soup's on!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Allah Lego

My nephew Eli is a toddler genius. Really he is and I am completely not bias at all. I am sure that in months and years to come that he will be the star of many of blog entries. We were chilling the other day, you know with the legos.

As the executive architect on the job, I must say that I was fairly surprised that when I finished my piece, it was a lego mosque. How does this happen? Am I unconsciously a Muslim? Maybe Allah was trying to communicate with me. I am more on the theological understanding of univeral oneness, so thats cool. At the very least, it was an affirmation of my religious teacherness. Eli, of course, had moved on to making me and Kim, dinner and providing a delicious strawberry ice cream dessert. He is also a culinary genius (at least in playworld.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Very Own Lawn!

Today I mowed my own lawn. I had never mowed a lawn before, so it was an exciting double whammy. Eliot took pictures of the proud moment. It was 80 degrees and I was wearing flip flops which I was told is not appropriate show gear for this sort of task but it turn out okay. I still have all ten toes. There is apparently also strategy involved. Some mowers like an up and down the aisle path, while others prefer the circular system. I have got to say, though it was my first time and all I think my diagonal sporadic approach did not only provided a bit more entertaining way of mowing but it worked just as well.