Posts Tagged With: locals

Does it taste better when you catch it?

As I boarded the bus I to my next volunteer spot, I reviewed the directions:
“Bus to Bahia transfer towards Manta then grab a cab to Santa Marionita. Get dropped off at the top, walk towards the nice beach and look for a fence with a sign that says Donkey Den“.
Hmmm, this should be good.

Knowing the adventure I have ahead of me, you can imagine the comfort I felt when aboard walks sweet Rocio! Remember her? She was the one that helped me get to Canoa and provided hours of Spanish practice due to her lack of English. Here we are on the last bus, followed by a photo from today.

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To make it even better of a ride, I meet these friendly guys from Auburn. If you’re unfamiliar with California, they live in a city that hugs my hometown! Big, beautiful, little world out there.

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Off we go to the next bus transfer. The last seat open was passenger side to the driver, score!

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It’s a hot day and I’m pleasantly melting directly in the sun. The cure? Those silly little salesmen are back! I passed on the ice cream cone from the last bus…

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…but this time I heard the word “yogurt” and you know it, I’ll take one please!

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The man sitting next to me must have recognized my enjoyment from that frozen treat, because before I knew it, I was trying out this little delight. “Helado de Coco con chocolate” is basically homemade frozen chocolate coconut milk.

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Finally arriving to Manta, Rocio directs me away from the taxi line and signals me to follow her. We hop into a cab on the outside of the terminal as she tries to explain my next step. I really didn’t comprehend anything until I was literally jumping into the back of a moving truck that was apparently going to take me to my final stop.

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These little camionetas pack in as many as they can and head in one direction. You simple pound on the window that divides you and the driver and it stops long enough for you to jump out. This little trick costs $1 verses the $13 cab ride that I was originally headed for. Thank you Rocio!

I’ve arrived to “the top” where after a quick knock on the window and a smooth escape, I find myself standing at this view. Next step “walk to the nice beach and look for The Donkey Den”.

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Bingo!

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I’m greeted with a quick hello and an offer that made the entire journey feel like this was the experience I came for.

A few times a week, the locals gather with a enormous net and start with it out in the water to gather fish. Together, they pull against the wake for about an hour, slowly bringing it in towards the shore.

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I must of looked like a kid on the side lines wanting a turn because with a big smile, a few of them invited me over to give a hand. Priceless.

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As it gets closer, the small fish are jumping and the birds know what’s coming next… The catch of the day!

Side note: Really look at the first picture, can you see the boy in the background? Looks like he’s about to get a fish in the face!

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During the festivities, a few of the local boys were adding a little fun by throwing fish parts into the air for the birds to snag. It was like playing toss with a puppy, these birds were all over it!

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Once everyone got their share, which to my observation was just a casual distribution, the crowd disbursed and the beach cleared to a calm sunset. The end result of the towns effort was our fish dinners for the next few days!

Puts a beautiful new enhancement on the idea of “teamwork” to feed a village.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sushi hopping in Japan

A situation that posed a bigger challenge that I expected was trying to order without someone who could read and/or speak Japanese. How silly of me to assume that the menus would have pictures or English versions. On one hand, what a great sign clearly proving we weren’t settled for the tourist spots. On the other hand, it found us with empty stomachs, holding a menu of Japanese characters with a shy waitress eagerly waiting for our order.

I didn’t feel appropriate taking photos in some of the places we chose to ate at, but here are some shots from a few of our successful and “attempted” meals.

This dining experience turned out to be a noodle specialty house with only 2 tables and 3 tatami rooms with a chabudai (a low setting japanese table with no chairs). We took off our shoes and climbed in.

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To order, we literally pointed to a picture on the wall and gave a thumbs up (with fingers crossed). She walked towards the kitchen and giggled as she relayed our request. Returning gently with our bowl of delightful goodies, she properly served us after watching our awkward attempt.

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This was a restaurant that provided you with your own grill and a menu of fresh foods including pork, beef, chicken, tofu, vegetables and more. All served to you raw for you to cook at your preference. The boys went with beef and chicken and I complemented their choice with fresh veggies.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Brandon added a bowl of spicy noodle soup. We thought it was going to come out in a cute mini “miso” cup… We were wrong, but it was delicious!

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I just wanted to show the amount of grill smoke that was constantly floating around. I also smile every time I look at the sweet girls face to the left of the picture, adorable!

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With this evening attempts, we decided to jump on the train and “sushi hop” around a new city. The rule was to split a sake or a beer and order one thing before we move to the next place. We were joined by a willing friend Maddox that was along for the ride! The adventure began…

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Snack #1: 7 seats total, one famous chef with a cheerful assistant, a local couple (who loved Brandon’s Halloween mask), an order of grilled peppers with fish flakes and of course… local sake.

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Stop # 2: American classics decorated the walls including Elvis records in the restroom and “The Marlboro man” ads lining the hallway. Hey look! We found another local that liked his mask.

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Sushi #3: When was the last time you had a beer at a bar with no shoes on… Legally?

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#4: We had a hard time figuring out to get into this one. The entrance was a sliding glass door which had a covering that you had to duck under. Following that was pebble stones to stand in before taking off your shoes to be seated. I caught the giggles here (if you know me well, you understand how hard this can be to maintain) and the more confused that Maddox looked, the worse it got. He couldn’t figure out what was so funny!

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Last stop: We were the only ones here except the sweet woman chatting it up with Brandon. Friendly bartenders, a funky Dj’s booth and different decor made this upstairs gig a unique one.

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The walk home presented a tiny debate (maybe from all the sake). What do you think… Is the character on the sign an elderly man with a beard or a hamster?

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What do you get when you mix 4 Germans, 2 Dutch and me?

A party in Amsterdam!

Quick recap: I met Carina and Florian, years ago at Oktoberfest who introduced me to Julia and Sebastian this year. Denise and I met while studying in Spain last year and just met Ioni in Argentina this March. Since I know all 6 of these incredible people I felt more than than driven to connect us all at once. Success!

We met up early in the day to wander the streets before heading out on the town. I got to take them to one of my favorite open markets!

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I honestly couldn’t figure out if this was a real man. He didn’t budge or blink for the awkward moments I just stood there… I’m still not sure.

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We were extremely tempted to purchase snow suits and wear them out as a huge group, next time!

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Most vendors have some sort of design on the outside of their closed shed. Gotta love the one and only Bob Marley!

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After snooping through bags, books, clothes, tools, posters, jewelry, plants, and still trying to figure out if that guy was alive or not… we head to Dam Square to meet up with the rest of the bunch.

While waiting, I offered to take a picture of a group of lovely ladies that ended up being so sweet! Besides the great conversation with these intelligent girls, I now have a place to stay in Indonesia!

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Who took the group photo of us? Italy on my right and Spain on my left!

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All right, time to dance! Amsterdam is full of bars, clubs and offers a variety of entertainment every night of the week. We didn’t have any specific plans which led us on a walk to see what we could find.

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A crazy disco club? A loud sports bar? A classy cocktail lounge? Nope. An old school bar in which we were the youth by a solid 35 years… priceless! All eyes peered over in curiosity as we bounced through the entry way. I wonder what they were all thinking?

After only minutes I saw this woman ever so slightly shaking her hips to the tunes and that was my cue… That girl wants to dance!

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…and this was the beginning to our self-made dance party with new friends. I hope the locals will look back and smile remembering the enthusiasm we brought and the energy we left with.

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The first photo is the owner playing bottles of liquor with two sticks making them chime to some crazy Dutch song. Then naturally Carina and I end up behind the bar pouring drinks. We both agree that these taps poor differently than back home.

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As the evening wrapped up, we handed my camera to one of our new pals for a group photo.
Judging from the pictures, he wasn’t sober. Here’s what we ended up with! (In the exact order they were taken).

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The closing to the night was finding a solution to the growling tummy’s of my dear buddy’s.

What’s this? For those of you in the dark like I was, this is a form of fast food vending machine style! Instead of a bag of nuts or skittles, you have your choice of hamburgers, chicken strips, friend cheese, hotdogs and so on. This smile says it all!

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Carina, Florian, Julia, Sebastian, Denise and Ioni… I hope you stay connected as this evening should be the first of many! I’ve got to be the luckiest “tourist” around these parts, thanks for joining me! Doei and Tschuss!

Categories: Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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