Monday, October 31, 2011


Today I just got honked at while single honk.  One.
I was crossing legally on the bike path, on a green bike crossing light and I was in the middle of the street at the time of said honk.

Looking behind me at the older gentleman driving his beat up truck with his fist in the air staring in my direction, I saw anger in his face and a little resentment...thinking something on the lines of....

"Damn bikers, they think they can just bike however they'd like!  They think they own the street as well as their beloved bike paths!  Stay off my god damn streets you good for nothing sons of $%^$!"

What does he do to express all of this deep feeling?  A SINGLE HONK!

Well this whole thing got me gruffed and riled up to shout a single profanity one!
RIGHT!  Just me!  Waiting to legally cross the other intersection, patiently/peacefully waiting my turn accept for one verbal outletting of...

"What the F*** was THAT?!?"
and.... I felt better!

Thinking about this afterwards, I started laughing at the incredible midwestern passive aggressive weirdness that just occurred in comparison to so many other places....

One honk.  One F bomb....and that was enough to release the tension.  In comparison to Jakarta or Bangkok, Santiago, Buenos Aires, New York City.....I can't imagine the same 1:1 ratio of honking to profanity....just one!  It just doesn't happen!  I almost miss the continual non useful honking now....what a continual release of inner stress!  To be allowed to honk and not mean anything by at!'s flipping annoying to everyone else...but to be the honker ....not just letting it go once, but 50!  WOW!
and then!  To be on the receiving end...where one can feel comfortable to rip open...arms flailing...words flying....screaming, ranting....letting it all go!  Well, in comparison, my one little baby f bomb at no one 20 seconds after being honked at....pathetic!

I mean...heck...he could have even been honking as a caution!  "Hello biker...I have no breaks...I'm turning right behind sincerest apologies!"  Here in the midwest, this is just as likely.

I'm befuddled by it all!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Freaky Foods

Things that seem totally normal to us can be strange to other people, and other things that are normal to them are completely strange to us. Here are a few examples.

India: fried tubes

Bali: snake fruit

Spain: anchovies (not just for pizza, and PS -- they are delish!)

Spain: leg of pig complete with hoof (jamon) and liver of duck (pate de pato)

Namibia: wieners, in a can

Vietnam: several varieties of hedgehog

Vietnam: dragonfruit

South Korea: no idea what these weird shellfish are

For more strange foods, go see my other blog later this week! There were just too many for one post!

Have you ever eaten any of these? What's the strangest food you've ever eaten? Or seen?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Now I know!

I know I was supposed to "find myself" or "figure myself out" while spending time traveling.
Self awareness, self realization and all that...well...this is as far as I got:
  • I'm not a beach person.  I like about 30 minutes max, if that, per day and beyond that, no thank you! 
  • I hate the 30 seconds spent between getting out of the water and into my sandals when my feet get covered in beach sand....bleuk!
  • I enjoy a diet rich in multiple varieties of carbs.  Rice.  Bread.  Pasta.  Cous Cous.  Interspersed.  Awesomeness!  2 months straight of only rice or only bread....I get a little wiggy.
  • If everything fails, the best thing I can do is sit down and shut I do this?  Nope.
  • Eggs.  I really love them!  Fried sunny side up particularly.  I'll eat them any other way as well...accept raw......that was gross.  
  • I would prefer to be too cold then too hot.
  • I looooove eating fried chicken off the bone...num num num num num.
  • I really don't have to pee (have access to a restroom) all the time!
  • I'll take Fanta over a Coke.
  • I'll take a beer over a bottle of water I have to pay for...especially if they're the same price!
  • I really suck at languages...but I try anyways!
  • I'm not a good driver...anywhere
  • I would rather walk 3 miles in the heat, starving, then get ripped off by a taxi driver
  • I can't stand when people try to push things on me....even if I want what they're pushing
  • I really love washing dishes.
So.  What does it all mean?!?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Learning From Them

Columbia - Ciudad Perdida - Friendly guard
I get asked by a lot of people, "Why do you travel?"

Traveling can be done for many different reasons. Each person or situation warrants a different reason and results in a different experience. You may want to relax; you may want to learn about History; you may want to hike every mountain in the world; you may want to dive every coral reef. Of course, I want to do it all. 

Above all, I have always been curious about how other people live. I travel to LEARN. Whether they are in the million dollar apartments in Paris or the slums of Mumbai, I want to see it. More than that, I want to experience it. This is not to say I necessarily want to sleep amongst the fleas in Mumbai, but I do want to see it all and, if possible, I want to understand it a little. Don’t get me wrong, I am not some bleeding heart liberal who wants to give food and money to every poor person in the world. But I am interested in the logistics of life in other countries.

What I have learned is this: 

In some of the poorest countries, they seem the happiest. I have gone to festivals in Bolivia or in Malawi where people are enjoying themselves fully. They are dancing and singing and clapping. They don’t need an expensive band and fancy food. They have each other and their mood creates the party. In a couple instances, I joined them, and it was so delightful. 

This Korean guy gave us booze!
People are generous. I have had people at bus stops with nothing more than the clothes on their backs offer me food. In Albania, where nobody spoke English, they gave us mandarin oranges. In Egypt, where nobody spoke English, they gave us bread. Me, with my backpack that costs more than a years salary. They gave ME food! This taught me to be a little more generous, even if it was only crackers or bread or fruit. 

People are helpful. You may go into your journey with the stereotype that Italians are loud or French people are snobby or Germans are abrupt, but really, when you get down to it, people are very helpful (and mostly very nice). When we were wandering around in circles with our backpacks looking for our hotel in Paris, we didn’t have to even stop anyone. They stopped and asked US if we needed directions. When I was looking for my hostel in Rome in the middle of the night in an unsavory neighborhood, people were helpful, even the unsavory looking ones. When I arrived in Salvadore in the wee hours of the morning, a homeless looking guy walked me home. I am not saying to completely let down your guard, but we, and especially the “we” who live in bigger cities, sometimes forget to help our fellow man. 

Crowded subway in Beijing
People get close to you: This is something we (in the US) don’t deal with very much, but people in many other countries have absolutely NO personal space. They will stand right on top of you with their sweaty armpit right near your face. It’s okay. Get used to it. Next time, it will be your sweaty armpit in their face. 

People make do with what they have: We saw outdoor “churches” in Africa, because they didn’t have a building big enough to house everyone.  They sang hallelujah to the skies and it was beautiful. I am not a religious person, but I wanted to join them. 

So, I learned a little about the logistics of life in other countries. I still have a lot to learn. But the main point I have taken from traveling so far is that people are good. Yes, there are wars and strife and fighting. There is starvation and pain and hate. But the evildoers are the minority. You cannot judge a country (ours included) by its leader or its government. You need to meet the people. The people are the key. 
And the people are wonderful. 

So go, plan that trip to _____ that you have always wanted to take. Don't be afraid. Go to the market there and talk to the locals, even if you don’t speak the same language. Taste their strange food and ride too close to them on a strange vehicle. 

Live their life for a minute. Do what they do. And learn from them. 

What have you learned from traveling? What stereotypes do you think people have about your state or your country before going there? Do you think they find it to be true?