Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's My Name?

Rappers’ Real Names
Vanilla Ice – Robert Van Winkle
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Calvin Broadus
Shaggy – Orville Richard Burrell
Tupac Shakur – Lesane Crooks
Guru – Keith Elam
Queen Latifah – Dana Owens
Shabba Ranks – Rexton Rawlston Gordon
Notorious Big – Christopher Wallace
LL Cool J – James Todd Smith
Foxy Brown – Inga Marchand
Chuck D – Carlton Douglas Ridenhour
Coolio – Artis Ivey
Flavor Flav – William Dreyton
Krs One – Kris Parker
Eric B – Eric Barrier
Rakim – William Griffin
Timbaland – Tim Mosely
Missy Elliot – Melissa Elliot
Slick Rick – Ricky Walters
Redman – Reggie Noble
MC Hammer – Stanley Kirk Burrell
Ice T – Tracy Marrow
Grandmaster Flash – Joseph Sadler
Doug E Fresh – Douglas Davies

...Ladies Love Cool James, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Testies and Rural Flavor at the Blues & Brews

I know I already mentioned how much I enjoyed the Telluride Blues & Brews this year and I think it deserves a bit more insight really. The Sunday day-time shows provided us the opportunity to lay down a blanket and just take in the scene. After a short time in our new "spot" we had a pretty good understanding of the people surrounding us...to the right we had the rural flavor, to the left some adult reunion group dancing their pants off and in front of us were the "testies", techie festies.

We became aware of the surrounding community when the unhappy campers, that were the rural flavor, kicked some people out of their area and we happily agreed to squeeze them and their chairs in. The she of the couple preceded to talk loudly about how we were all stealing the space and give her husband an eye massage from behind. She has apparently been waiting in line before the festival opened to secure her tarp's location.
The "testies"in front of us acquired their newly trademarked name by being overly prepared right down to the bagged fig bar snacks. They were a young couple fully sporting danskos, prana, rei and whole food swag while sitting in folding chairs and using their binoculars to watch the performers. With these two in my line of sight I couldn't help but be continually reminded of the "Stuff White People Like" list. The couple were violating at least half of the list, which is a blog and also book, featuring...standing still at concerts, tea, not having tv, etc...

The best part really is the outcome of this diverse group of concert growers. As the music went on and the sun went down, tarp lines and mud all start to blend together as more and more people take to dancing. The rural flavor couple didn't budge, they did a little jig from their seated position. The dancing group to the other side really took it to a whole new level with the mud, working it into their fun. As people flocked to the area the male of the testie couple went to run all their chairs, portable thermos and bag to the car. In the short time that he was gone his area/tarp was completely taken over by dancers and mud as his significant other was slowly pushed further and further into the corner. In the end, I think everyone had a good time and I was fully entertained just observing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Telluride Blues & Brews

Beautiful Telluride + Blues + Beer...what could be better?

As a tightly packed weekend getaway, Telluride delivered all I had expected and more. Buddy Guy put on a great headliner show Saturday night, accompanied by Umphree's. The after-festival entertainment lived up to expectations as well, with free live blues at the New Sheridan bar all night long.

Sunday was more low-key, minus the free micro-brewery tasting, so we decided to make camp and have a picnic during the day-time shows. The weather quickly turned from warm sunshine to a quick hail storm, but Bonnie Raitt was not phased...she just took a few minute break to take shelter.
2009...new year, same old Blues & Brews, love you Telluride.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great, Social Networking, Divide

Somewhere along the way society, at least among my 20-something recently graduated crowd, has become divided into the haves and have-nots. I'm not referring to monetary status, I'm referring to those who have embraced online socially networking and those who are blind to it. There is a huge difference between someone at a Kings of Leon show who is tweeting via their iPhone and the person who has left their phone and camera in the car...between reading Kanye's blog post apology and hearing it on the morning radio show. Not that one is superior to the other, but the social networking virgins seem to be overwhelmed on where to begin. Here are some great places to start:

Set up a twitter account...you can start by adding status updates and finding some friends who might already be signed up. You can also use twitter to follow conversation trends, ask questions and get quick answers. Tons of fun!

From here you can explore other sites and articles that might interest you through StubleUpon , Digg, Delicious and Mixx. These sites allow you to submit articles you love, make a network of other similar users and get info that might interest you.

If you are still looking for more, you can swing by Alltop...search topics you love most...and check out some of the top blogs in the arena.

Cheers, Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Say YES to Michigan

Although it is not a common traveler destination, Michigan has a lot to offer. From Detroit's ethnic food options to the Great Lakes, Michigan is a well kept secret. I have to say it takes a bit of an effort. I have called Michigan home for the past 20 years or so, and until recent visitors came I was completely unaware of all the mitten has to explore.

Let's start in Detroit. I have always regarded downtown Detroit as a scary place, only worthy of providing sports games and concerts. Yet, La Petit Zinc café is a perfect of example of my error. This cute little café serves up sweet and savory crepes alongside Izze beverages. After eating, you can head to Riverside Drive and rent cruiser bikes for some shoreline pedaling at Wheelhouse Detroit. If all the biking tires you out, The Old Miami, a spunky bar, has a lovely backyard garden and old beer to offer. If you want to venture a little bit further, Hamtramic is famous for it's Polish food and ethnic restaurants.
After exploring the city life, Grand Haven, Port Austin and Harsen's Island all offer relaxing waterside destinations. Grand Haven is a typical Lake Michigan "Up North" town offering a sandy beach and great architecture in it's homes. It is also conveniently located near to some sand dunes, where varying companies will rent you a Jeep or dune buggy to whip around on.

Port Austin, located on the tip of the thumb of Michigan, is a very quiet town with kayaking, biking and put-put galore. The local farmer's market sells everything from Michigan cherry's to handcrafts and kittens. Then there is Harsen's Island, which is the closest to the Metro-Detroit area, offering a huge bay and shallow water, perfect conditions for some kiteboarding sessions. Guilty plug; don't forget you kiteboarding PUMP. Arriving on the car ferry to Harsen's instantly removes you from your day-to-day life and transports you to the small town summer atmosphere, where stress in really unnecessary. This picture below is of an amphibian car that we watched drive right into the water, which a small plane was also water landing nearby, pretty cool toys.

So, I say YES to MI!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In-Flight Wifi is a Party

On my recent flight from Atlanta to Chicago I got to do a free trial on Delta's in-flight wifi...incredible. You can't bust out the laptops until the 15 min. mark when "certified electronic devices" can be used. The wifi signal was great and the flight went by very quickly. I say YES to in-flight wifi, especially if it's free.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shucos & Mj

If hot dogs are American than shucos is what Guatemala has to offer....and if the two were to battle I might have to say that shucos would win. Yesterday I tried my first shuco in Guatemala City. You just drive to the city block full of shucos in Zone 4 and these dudes race to be the first one to your car to offer you their shuco. The shuco can be with hot dog meat, or sausage and then it comes with guacamole, mayo, sour crout and a bun, all for about Q5 (roughly 50 cents).

While you are waiting for the shucos to arrive locals vendors will approach the car and try to sell you just about anything. We were lucky enough to score a full Micheal Jackson dvd of videos and performances, along with a giant size Kung Fu Panda sticker...as if the shucos weren't enough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lake Atilan in all it's Glory

Lake Atilan, located west of Guatemala City, is a surrounded by Mountains, Volcanoes and little towns. Our journey started out in San Pedro La Laguna...far left in the map below. San Pedro is one of the larger cities around the lake and is well set up for tourists with cafés spanish language schools and bars. On our first day there we rented kayaks and took them across the bay to San Marcos .
San Marcos has a great cliff jumping/ swim spot where we spent some time before checking out the town. The town of San Marcos mainly consists of a shore area with lots of pathways dividing lodging and restaurants from massage and language schools. After a stroll in San Marcos we paid the dudes watching out kayaks and headed back across the lake...only by afternoon time the
wind picks up a bit. After battling the waves and currents for about 45 min we finally paddled our way into Sam Pedro.
The next adventure was hiking El Nariz de Indio (Nose of the Indian). We got an early start on the day and headed up the shoreline mountain for a great view. The hike took us about two hours to summit and strangely there was music being broadcast very loudly for most of the walk up. The view from the top was incredible and well worth the cardio struggles.

Guatemala is currently in their rainy season, which means you can plan on a bit of a downpour everyday between 1pm and 3pm. This particular day the rainstorm was very powerful and we lost power, which didn't seem to bother anyone in San Pedro. We had some beer and tacos at a dark, Mexican place and then called it a night. The next day there was still no sign of power...or water, so after a refreshing, shower-like dip in the lake we packed up and took a water taxi to Panajachel on the opposite side of the lake.

Strolling through town isn't as enjoyable with huge packs to tote around so we found a good place to camp out called The Deli, where we plugged everything in, used their bathroom and left our packs all day- really wonderfully kind people working there, as well as delicious food. The heavy afternoon rain should not have been a surprise but it was, as we were planning to take another water taxi that afternoon. Somehow we managed to get a water taxi with the not to fabulous weather and we arrived at our friends house just near Cerro de Oro, small mountain on that map.

Arriving at a house was a great feeling, yet we still seemed to be lacking power and hot water. We hauled in all of our food and luggage and settled in for some quality card games. The rainy days were followed by two full days of sunshine, swimming, cooking, and more games.

After spending a week at Lake Atilan I am quite sure that it would not be a bad place to spend a year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Earth Lodge Guatemala

I recently had the chance to explore Earth Lodge, Guatemala; a collection of cabins and treehouses just outside Antigua, and I only wish I had stayed longer. To arrive at the Earth Lodge one must walk down a steep dirt trail of about 30m. The mini-trek wasn't challenging, but it definitely deters guests from excessive, or rolling luggage. The whole lodge site was very quite, especially because the owners told us they we at full capacity of 20 guests that night. After checking out the main dinning/ drinking area and view of city lights below, we headed to our cabin. The cabin was a small A-frame tree house that looked directly out, over the spectacular view, well equipt with clean sheets and tons of blankets.

The next day we headed out on a little hike around the area, with a map of landmarks provided by Earth Lodge. We hiked about an hour through jungle and coffee farms, although somewhere between the flower garden and the log crossing we lost orientation and ended up retracing our steps back. The hike wasn't overly difficult but just perfect to break a sweat and take in the views of Antigua below.

Overall, the Earth Lodge gets five starts in my book, it would be the perfect place to spend a week with a companion and a great book.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Emma's Wine Club

So if I had a wine club, these would be my three recommendations of the month.
  1. Cayao; Chilean mix of strong read wines, a bit pricey, but delicious
  2. Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec; A yummy Argentinian Malbec
  3. Cortijo III; A great value, smooth and light, red wine

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick & Easy; Get Your Quiche On

You'll Need;
  • 1 Pie Crust
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of Cream of... soup (mushroom, celery, etc...)
  • cheese of choice
  • veggies/ insides of choice 
Good Options
- Rice-Broccoli-Onion-Tomatoes-Mozzarella-
- Cooked ground turkey- Sun dried tomatoes- Spinach- Feta
- Or any combo of veggies, meat and cheese of your liking
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Get insides of choice ready. AKA, cook meat and veggies
  3. Mix together can of cream soup  and eggs in a bowl
  4. Put insides (minus cheese) into the pie crust and then pour in soup/egg mix
  5. Top the pie with cheese of choice 
  6. Bake for 1 hour

YUM enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rodrigo Rosenberg Scandal

I can not comment on the prestige of Guatemala's elected government before Rodrigo Rosenberg's videos were released, but now President Colom and his crew have themselves in quite a pickle.

About a week ago, after his murder and funeral, Rodrigo Rosenberg's self-recorded videos were released. These videos very directly explain that the victim was murdered on behalf of President Colom, his wife and a few other important officials. Rodrigo reveals the dirty business of money laundering that the government is participating in and also that his knowledge of this is directly why he has been murdered. The video's can be found here;


The video is not vague at all, as Rodrigo reveals facts, names and dates. Guatemala is NOT ignoring his message. A few smaller protests last week led up to last Sunday's protest of 30,000. The groups were distinguished by those wearing white shirts, against the Colom regime and a group in support of the current government. The two groups were separate and non-violent. 

The group in support of the government was mainly comprised of lower income level citizens. It is more than speculative that these supporters are being bused into the city, provided signs and incentives, by the government itself . The government appears to be using the easily won support of the poor and dividing the country further by class. 

Guatemala outside of the capital continues daily life with an increased awareness of news, hope that something will take place and the ppropriate persons will be held accountable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Antigua, Guatemala

Thursday, April 16, 2009

...good price, good price...

Having spent a few days in Antigua, Guatemala this week, Mandy, my travel companion, and I decided to take a day trip to Chichicastinango. Chichicastinango is known as one of the largest outdoor markets in Central America, containing everything from bracelets to chicken feet. I am proud to say we only got scammed once...I think.

The market is huge and endless, but not with too much variety, so bargaining is key. After taking in one 'lap' of textiles Mandy purchased a purse. The purse is beautiful and we bargained the Señora down quite a bit; I'd say we won the bargain by 1Q (about 12 cents) , she seemed bitter. Anyway, at our next stop the saleswomen asked if Mandy had purchased the bag in the market and asked how much we paid. She kind of damped the mood when she said it would be worth less. That wasn't so dis-heartening and we continued shopping and bargaining all over the place. 
After a while we grew tired and hungry and stopped in at a café/ restuarant. We were very happily enjoying some coffee when a very friendly Guatemalan started showing us her fancy head wrap thing. It was pretty cool, yet the minute we showed interest she began wrapping my head in one of these little hand made band things. She then wrapped Mandy's head and we all talked about how it felt great and how beautiful they were.  The bad news came when we said we didn't have enough money to pay her price she was asking, which really did seem outrageous. Anywho, this all lead to a half hour debate of "no i really don't have that mandy quetzales (the currency here)'' and ''good price, this is a very GOOD price'' . In the end Mandy and I ended up purchasing two, very lovely, hand made, head wraps. We left the market looking like true locals (or major tourist, whichever extreme you prefer) and have really struggled at re-wrapping the band since. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chubby Bunny

Just after arriving in D.F. Diana and I took off to hike the volcano La Malinche, which peaks at an altitude of 14,646ft. We met up with our crew at the bus station and headed off to Apisaco, a town that is apparently not frequented by tourists. After some tortas at Pepe's, a local restaurant, we headed to basecamp by collectivo. Our cabin turned out to be fabulous, a fireplace, comfy beds and it was even cabin number 214!! We made some foil dinners and then cooked our foil dinners outside on a coal fire. It was quite chilly and we were all anxious to get back inside, so we made a wood fire in the cabin. We made s'mores...with tropical flavored marshmallows for a twist... played a few card games and a competitive round of chubby bunny until late in the evening when we cuddled up in our bunks.

The alarms all went off at 7am, we checked out and starting walking uphill. The trail followed along a road for a bit and then began straight up. After we broke the tree line the straight up dirt trail became a straight up loose rock trail. The view from above was amazing and everyone in our 1o person group made it. The trek down and home was challenging, as we were all exhausted. But the shower and nights rest in D.F. were very well earned. 

"You are in Zapatista rebel territory. Here the people give the orders and the government obeys"

Before leaving Oaxaca I took a quick trip to San Cristobal de Casa, Chiapas. Chiapas is the southern most and most poor state of Mexico, as well as home to the Zapatistas. 
I arrived in San Cristobal super early after an 11 hour, night bus and since the city was still sleeping I visited most of the landmarks and cathedrals. By the time I arrived at the Santo Domingo market the city was in full swing.  San Cristobal is a very charming little city full of all different types of food, music and Zapatista info. The Zapatistas are an armed revolutionary 
group, the EZLN. The Zapatistas rose up in the mid 90's under the leader Subcomandate Marcos against the Mexican government, demanding the right to control their own native land of Chiapas.  Today, the Zapatistas exist as an autonomous group that claim that all they want is to be treated fairly as citizens and given freedom over their land. Beyond the Zapatistas, Chiapas is full of natural beauty, much more than can be seen in my two day venture. I did make it to the Canyon Sumidero in Chiapa de Corzo, where I took a boat tour of the wilderness. EEE, crocodile!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Save the Cool Stuff for When Visitors Come

A couple weekends ago my sister Diana came to visit me in Oaxaca City and we did all the tourist stuff that I had been holding out on. The Museo de Santo Domingo turns out to be an incredible building and huge museum that Diana and I could not have explored completely even if we had hours upon hours.
The following day we headed out to El Hierve el Agua. This is a geographical gem that is located about 2 hours outside of Oaxaca City. Being the non-lame tourists that we are, Diana and I decided to take a city bus followed by a caminoneta (truck with a little roof on the back).
 The journey was a bit bumpy and long, but totally worthwhile once we arrived. El Hierve el Agua looks like a waterfall in pictures, but there is no moving water. The waterfall formation is 
actually petrified mineral water that has flown over the edge of
 these little pools. The water bubbles to the surface very, very slowly and fills small pools until it petrifies, growing in altitude little by little. Pretty 
much a natural beauty out in the middle of nowhere...made for a great Sunday.

This is a picture of Elía, La Señora I lived with for a month, a very sweet lady. Below is a picture of the wall I painted, look closely I'm highlighting the line between the old dull white and the new vibrant white, courtesy of Emma.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

''I'm not a man without tortillas''

Oaxaca is a city FULL of culture and I'm convinced that in no amount of time could one see and experience all of it. With that said, here is a taste of my progress....

This strange group of people is my cooking class. It took us a little more than an hour to prepare tamales and then they steamed for an hour, while our hunger grew.

Here is our finished product, one of about 50. We made both sweet and savory tamales.
The savory were filled with stewed tomatoes, onions, a little jalapeño and oaxacañan cheese. With the sweet variety we mixed cinnamon and sugar into the maza mixture and put pineapples in the middle. I prefer the savoy, but they were both incredible. I
 would like to think I could makes tamales on my own, yet I'm not sure all the ingredients would be so easy to track down.

Beyond great food, Oaxaca has an incredible number of museums.
 Here are some of my favorites...

The stamp man was part of an entire collection made of vintage stamps. The women looming
 were in action in the courtyard of the textile museum and the elephant is painted on gold blocks.

Apart from exploring, I'm living in a house with an older couple that have been very sweet. I eat breakfast with them everyday and I have to say La Señora is a fabulous cook and always cuts some fresh papaya for me. I can't understand why they make instant coffee, where the real coffee beans here are SO good, but some things are better left unsaid.

In conversation about health and Pépe's diet, he did actually say ''No soy un hombre sin tortillas'' - I'm not a man without tortillas, in reference to a low-carb eating plan his doctor gave him...It made my day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

the new diggs...

...this is my place of rest for the next month here in Oaxaca
and across the hall is a little balcony...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Travel Towels are Not the Same as Beach Towels

I've been in Puerto Escondido about a week now and I've really grown attached. After covering the basics and visiting; the Adoquin, the main pedestrian street, La Playa Zicatela, the surfing beach and the main center...I started to venture out a bit more. Playa Manzinillo, which is just one beach north of downtown Puerto, is a great little spot for swimming. Then, I took a trip to La Laguna Manialtepec, which is just about a 20 min drive from town. The Laguna tour started around 4pm and we headed out with binoculars on a little motor boat. It was me and 5 other gringos. We saw some really cool birds actually, lots of pelicans and even a blue-grey heron (yep dad), all the meanwhile touring the laguna and making our way to where the freshwater meets the salt water at the coast.

Once we got to the strip of beach that divides the Laguna from the Ocean we hung out and watched the sun set. It was really an amazing sunset, accompanied by refreshments and food made by the people that live on that stretch of beach. After the sun set, we all got back in the boat and headed to this particular spot in the Laguna where there are bioilluninescent plankton, so the water glows wherever you touch it...really cool.
This picture is me and Gina. Gina is known in Puerto as the information goddess and lives in the same house as my aunt. Beyond running the tourism booth, Gina gives a walking tour Saturdays and Wednesdays where she shares some history, some exercise and some food with visitors. The tour starts on the main strip with a traditional breakfast of black beans, salsa, cooked cactus, tortillas and coffee, good coffee. After the fule up, the group starts walking uphill, visiting the church, a herbal pharmacy and Ines' tamale 'kitchen'. The group slows down in El Marcado Benito Juarez. The Marcado has literally everything you could ever dream of and we tried some of the bests...sweet, traditional, sour. After the tour, it's all downhill to the beach!

From Puerto Escondido, I traveled south a bit, where the beaches are truly undiscovered. I spent the night in Mezunte, where I met a magician and some fellow travelers, non of which had plans to leave Mazunte. In mazunte, I learned how to use a tank-less toilet and all about the end of the Mayan Calender, which is quickly approaching. I think it went something like "if you were alive 3,850 years then these would be your last 4..?" something of that nature. The turtle conservatory in between Mazunte and San Agustinillo is kind of a must, so I went. The turtles are about the size of a kids sandbox and pretty interesting, although no touching allowed! After I was tired and toasted from the sun, I started making my way back to Puerto Escondido.