Ukranian Easter Egg Decorating

This is my favorite easter tradition.
My Aunt Lynette married a first generation Ukranian man. With the wonderful tradition of kielbasa sausage and potato pierogies, into the family came pysanky easter egg decorating.
To make a pysanky egg, you have to work in reverse, lightest colors first dark colors last. You use a little tool (a metal funnel on a stick) you fill the funnel with hot wax and draw on to the egg everything that you wish to turn out the color that the egg is dyed. It's hard to explain. Here's a link if you want to know the more technical details.


An Austin After-thought

Our good friend Lauren's French bulldog Lady, how she does the stairs.


(This "Will you marry me?" salsa packet, guarantees a classy way to pop that special question at your favorite fine dining facility)

We are currently in the midst of a 30 hour road trip, from Austin to Washington DC, somewhere in South Carolina right now.

We got the ride from craigslist rideshares, and despite whatever horror stories you have heard from the gossip blogs about a couple of awful incidents that happened out of the millions of fine rideshare transactions take place everyday, we have only had pleasant experiences with actual rideshares.

In fact the only negative experiences we have had was in Atlanta trying to get back to Virginia, when three ride offers either backed out at the last second or never returned our phone calls, with us waiting hours past the time we were supposed to meet up.

So overall, as long as you exchange web profile pages (like facebook, myspace or any other life sucking, friend database) to prove to the offered or rider that you are indeed a real person, we consider rideshare a great way to travel.

- Whiskey


Breakfast Tacos

These are breakfast tacos, one of Austin's many claims to fame.

Though this may be an overly boastful claim, seeing as breakfast 'tacos' are just miniature breakfast 'burritos' that come from Santa Fe.

But any proud Austinite knows that the details and "technical" creation of the breakfast 'taco' is undebatable when your mouth is full of egg, guacamole, salsa, cheese and tortilla.

So the breakfast 'taco' has become a staple in Austin, and is found in almost any restaurant or food cart (another Austin claim to fame), which makes finding the breakfast taco that's right for you a bit of a challenge.

Seeing as we are vegetarians we usually opt for a nice selection of veggie fixings over varieties of sausage.

So our selection for best breakfast tacos in Austin is:
Food Heads
(pictured above)
* based off of close proximity to our location, veggie selection and economic value.


South by South West

SXSW is a music festival in Austin, TX that started in 1987 with only one location, and a handful of bands. Now, 23 years later, it has become an entire city endeavor that occupies a calendar week or more.
It is a monster that grosses the city almost $110 Million dollars in revenue and attracts people from all over the country, and globe.

The "official" SXSW event last 4 days and includes tons of independent feature films like academy award winning The Hurt Locker or Passing Strange along with well known musicians like Motorhead, Dillinger Escape Plan and GWAR.
These official events usually run $10 or $20+ a pop or hundreds of dollars for special day or weekend passes of various sorts.

However, because this event brings the city so much outside tourism, sponsorship and attention, local clubs and organizations hold FREE shows and events through out the week bearing the SXSW name. Seeing as Austin, per capita, has more venues than any other US city, there end up being a lot of these. As if that wasn't enough, many of the venues or community organizations throw in free beer or food during their show to get a bigger crowd.

I have never, in my life, seen such a busy music fest. There is SO much music and events to attend that we have now gone out every day and night for the past 4 days, with no sign of slowing down until next week.

Somehow, accidentally, we came to Austin at the perfect time.


Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 9

This is Mangosteeno

The only other time I've found this amazing fruit was in Laos, where my friend Hannah and I would sit on the street corner and eat bags and bags. Once I saw a pack of four for $12 in the grocery store in arlington. I bought them to show my mom, but they tasted old, like they had spent months on a boat.
Maybe they were just from Bogota. Turns out they are also grown here.

The fruit has a hard, dark purple shell. It feels like a small baseball and has no distinguishing odor.

You can't eat the shell, its disgusting, but crack the thing open and there are tiny membrane-resembling white slivers of delicious sweet fruit. They taste like creamy pear and red grape mixed with other flavors that I don't even know how to describe, but its delicious.

This fruit is sold by the bag, and is not made into juice, just picked apart and eaten as is. It also leaves your fingers stained red.



Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 8

This is Feijoa.

Our friend Stella from Oso Perezoso bought it for us specifically for our fruit entries on this blog. So thanks Stella.

Immediately it looks and feels like a small avocado, but its skin smells like old lady perfume.

When you open it the outside still resembles an avocado, but where the giant brown seed would be instead contains something like a mushy pudding.

This 'mushy pudding' part is the only tasty part of the fruit. This is how it differs greatly from an avocado.

The soft center tastes like a mix between banana and passion fruit, and was quite good.
The outer flesh however tasted like old lady perfume, and you couldn't separate your mind from thinking you were eating your grandmother.

We tried turning the flesh into juice, but this didn't refresh our immediate cannibal impression.

Turns out Feijoa is more popularly used for corner store candies and popsicles.


slide show: Barichara

A Good Place to Rest

It was somewhere on the bus ride from San Gil to Barichara that it hit us, the Santander region is by far the most beautiful area of Colombia we have seen.
Located in the north-eastern satchel of the country, Santander is full of lush rolling hills with body builder trees lifting weights of moss.

When we got off the bus in Barichara, I realized that somewhere along the road we must have projected our vehicle into a worm hole with such velocity that we traveled through space and time to a parallel dimension or into the past of our own.

There is almost no other way to describe this town's preservation. The hills are lined with white stucco walls and burning red clay shingles, and surrounded by canyons and clouds. You feel as though every cobble stone road were moving in slow motion and that some patron saint had been created to protect this land from God's evolving hand. This being the only explanation for the many corner cathedrals with slanted floors to pour prayers like water to the streets.

Every year in May after the giant, flying, red roof matching ants build their nests in corners of cliffs and rafters, they take to the street in celebration of their labor and coat the sky in a plague-like charm, until the people below cast their nets for the harvest.
From there the smells of toasted red roof ants fill the air, and are used to season steaks and are candied for children's tongues.

It is the perfectly risen altitude of Barichara, that makes the hunters and gathers weightless, but only once a year.

- Jameson


slide show: San Gil

Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 7

These are Ciruelas

This really, I don't think, is the scientific name of the fruit because "ciruelas" technically means "plums". I guess these are tropical baby plums.

People sell bags of this fruit from wooden carts in the streets of santa marta. Buying a bag is like a guessing game, you never know what portion of the ciruelas are ripe and how many are still hard green and sour inside.

The perfectly ripe ones you can easily eat, skin and all. You just have to make sure to eat around the seed in the center which looks and feels like a tiny mango seed.

The ripe fruit tastes like a mix of a white grape and a mango. Yum.

But if you grab an un-ripe one, it is like biting into a lime. The sour ones taste better dropped in a beer.

Also, no one turns this street fruit into juice.


Leaving Las Brisas

It is easy to see where Gabriel García Márquez got his mystical influences, they are all around you in Colombia.

Just recently I have realized that the environment has been mirroring my emotions, in a much more spiritual than Shakespearean way.
We left Taganga today.
Less than a week before our departure the infamous, 'brisas locas' or crazy winds, the source of every comfortable sleep and relief from Master Suns whip, stopped for three days.

Causing my Love and I to sleep in separate stagnant beds under the same roof for the first time in our togetherness.

Then when it seemed that no beer, no matter the amount of time it spent in the freezer rather than fridge, could bring refreshment from the dead hanging air. The winds came back and only then could we muster enough strength to raise our sails.

I mourned the taxi ride to the bus station, less for Taganga and more for the energies of people we were leaving behind.
While we rode I saw a man welding in the dark. The light was so bright that his enormous shadow was projected behind him on the white factory walls. As if a monster was aiding him in his work.

The sky flashed with lightening all through the night, and the Taganga winds blew us south to San Gil. Where it continues to thunder with rain.

- Jameson