Tag: Drinks

Fun Jardin Quirks

Fun Jardin Quirks

Jardin has some fun quirks. Thought I’d quickly share a few.

Just Leanin’ Around

The town, like many colonial-style towns, is built around the main square. The Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion (Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception) new-gothic cathedral casts a shadow over the square, likely judging all those vendors hawking knockoff Western sneakers.

Most of the business happens in the square, especially on Sundays when the smaller villages surrounding Jardin come into town to sell their products and do their business (both kinds, seemingly). And as business is conducted, everyone else not conducting, is sipping coffee, rum, cervezas, or often a combo of all three, and ogling the spectacle while leaning back in chairs against the colonial buildings surrouding the square.

This is, partly I posit, because the chairs, straight-angled and wood-framed and wrapped in leather, aren’t comfortable. Leaning takes off the edge, quite literally in this sense. I find myself wanting to lean, not only for comfort but also to posture that I understand the local customs. We are living here for nearly three months after all (that’s the sarcasm italic).

Free Range Horses

Three horses live in town. I’ve never seen their owner. And they free range wherever they darn well please. Perhaps they’re on the city’s payroll. They do a remarkable job keeping the grass lining the roads trimmed.

Posterizing Horses

Horses don’t walk here. Or trot. Or gallop, cantor, or lope really. Their gait is unique — though a quick internet search revealed it may be called the Classic Fino Paso Fino (or some different combo of those words) gait. It’s basically a rapid-fire march. Sounds like ten not one horse marching up the street. And since the steps are short and staccato, it takes the horse a minute to travel a block.

How the caballeros riding the caballos don’t suffer perpetual and permanent back pain, I’m not sure. But they clearly enjoy the attention, as do the horses, both marching with the bravado of Sven in front of his new sleigh in Frozen (one of three kids movies we have downloaded on our iPad — probably should’ve downloaded more).

On the weekend, they step up and swagger and have a, sort of, Pitch Perfect (another downloaded movie) march-off on one side of the square. Horses Classic Fino Paso Fino gait sideways, backwards, and forwards, occasionally pausing to posture. Everyone slops it up. An ever-present dance circle of spectators envelop the spectacle.

I’ll video a clip of the gait and add it later.

Kid Horses

The first weekend we arrived, seemingly every kid road into town on a stick toy horse. A festival of unbeknownst origins (to us). Was cool to witness nevertheless.

Beethoven

We live across the street from Pahel’s school — Everett’s school is a few blocks down the street. We are indeed lazy parents, but this wasn’t intentional. Just happened to the apartment we found. Fortune favors the loafers.

Jardin’s high school is also kitty corner from the apartment. Every morning, as the procession of kids parade through the streets to the school, they blast Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C-Minor. Can be heard for blocks. This is the famous “done done done done” number.

Part of this piece is kinda energizing, like Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyers”, but other parts are kinda enervating. Daunting really. I can’t quite get what the Director of the school — whom we’ve had the pleasure of meeting; an affable dude — is going for. Excite them. Scare them. Intimidate them? All seem covered in this symphony.

El Salvador

El Salvador

Home of the MS-13. And pupusas (stuffed tortillas)!

Crossing the Border

El Salvador is certainly one of the, how do I say this without frightening my parents, more murder-y, err, less safe, countries we’re traveling through. And border towns are typically less safe than other towns. We were determined to van through. Rápido. Then we saw a three-mile long line of semi-trucks….

We paid a fixer, a local that works for tips and speeds you through the crossing. Other overlanders seem defiantly against using fixers, as if it insults their travel expertise. We’ve loved the service. Saves mucho tiempo. Plus you get a new buddy for an hour or two.

We would not have made it through the border that day without our fixer. He told us exactly what copies to deposit in what rooms. Where to flash our passports. He weaved us in and out of traffic. Hustled. Bribed a few truck drivers. He even at one point held up traffic on a bridge, thus allowing us to pass a dozen semis. Earned his tip in other words.

The Roads

The roads were instantaneously better upon crossing the border. Smooth. Relatively trash-free. Canopied by flamboyantly red Árbol De Fuego trees (brachychiton acerifolius). Lined by an ocean on one side and quaint tiendas on the other. Gorgeous. I suppose, given my preconceived notions of El Salvador, I was expecting worse. Less developed. Bodies hanging from telephone poles. To be robbed at least twice — we even prepped both our fake wallets. But we’ve only had one attempted robbery on this trip….

That One Time in San Felipe

Our third night in Mexico.

Andrea was, as per usual, tossing and turning. Or so I thought. Then I heard her whisper-yell: “Someone is stealing our bikes!” I busted out of the van doors, launched toward the thief with my arms up in what only can be described as the “attacking gorilla” position, and released a guttural, primordial scream that, at least in my mind, sounded like a grizzly — it could’ve been a chirp, however. Whatever it was, it worked. The thief, who had successfully picked our bike lock and removed three of the four bikes, dropped his stolen bag of goodies and ran off. It was probably the manliest thing I’ve ever done — though I may have wept silently for the remainder of that night.

Rancho Carolina

Pronounced Care-o-lee-na, as we were quickly corrected.

We stayed here our first two nights. A black sand beach around the corner from one of El Salvador’s most famous tourist and surf destinations, El Tunco. Probably a great spot for surfers. Not for swimmers. The current was intense. Fortunately, the campground had a clean, cool pool.

Cadejo Brewing

Andrea spotted a brewery around the corner from the campground. I almost didn’t believe her. I didn’t want to believe her. I couldn’t be let down by another water-flavored beer. I have too many other first-world problems to deal with.

Taking all things into consideration — food and beverage quality, atmosphere, service, etc. — it was the best meal we’ve had in Central America. Awesome tacos. Amazing burgers. And great beers. All with incredible views and service to boot. Oh, and the sweet sculpture below.

Motmot

At one point, in the middle of our bliss and as if on cue, the state bird of El Salvador, the Turquoise-browned Motmot, landed on a post below our table. Andrea, disbelieving, asked: “Is that a real bird?” I quickly quipped: “No, the brewery invested in flying mechanical birds.” It was surreal, however.

The Turquoise-browned Motmot has a turquoise brow and wings, a grassy-colored back, and an orange belly. It also has a crazy, long, turquoise and black tail that splits at the end; each end looks like a broom. See video below.

Playa De Esteron

We’ve spent the last three nights, and tonight, at Adela’s Hostel, Campground, and Restaurant. It’s an awesome locale. The beach is wide and flat and has some of the softest latte-colored sand we’ve ever encountered. If the sand were whiter — as mentioned before, I’m a beach color racist — it’d make my top ten list. And the water temperature, unlike most the Pacific coast beaches we’ve visited thus far, is perfect. For Andrea at least. It’s almost too warm for me.

And Adela is a wonderful host. Perhaps the nicest human we’ve met on this trip. She even went out of her to get medicine and electrolytes for Everett, who spent two nights ago upchucking everything in his belly.

Ya Feel Bad

Every El Salvadoran we’ve met has been innately and refreshingly friendly. It’s too bad a few gangs in a concentrated area in San Salvador have converted their beautiful country into the murder capital of the world.

I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from visiting. I’m guessing, based on the prevalence of dying resorts near the beach, El Salvador could use the tourism. And bang for buck: you’d be hard-pressed to find a better beach vacation. Just fly into San Salvador during the day, and then get out as soon as you can. The rest of the country is, somewhat literally, waiting for you with open arms.

Tillamook Factory Outlet

Tillamook Factory Outlet

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My obsession with meat sticks is recent. I had been attempting to solve one of life’s greatest conundrums: how to consume and transport meat easily. Raw steak in my pocket wasn’t cutting it. Shortly thereafter, in a moment of serendipitous splendor, I bought a pepperoni stick out of the oft-handled and likely hepatitis-infected plastic bin below the register at a Jackson’s Food Store near our old house. I knew I had had a Slim Jims in the past, a distant and perhaps drunken memory at least a decade old, but my tastebuds and arteries couldn’t remember. Then I devoured two, perhaps five, Tillamook pepperoni sticks in rapid succession. I felt both alive and near to death at the same time. And it was a feeling that I wanted, nay needed, for the rest of my life. That’s where’s this category on this blog begins.

Over the last few months, I have familiarized myself with several meat stick varietals. While all have merits — merits I’m hoping to elucidate on this blog — I found myself continually craving Tillamook pepperoni sticks. And I purchased lots of them. By the dozen. Thus when I saw the sign below attached to the side of a trailer across the street from a trailer park, I knew I had found my meat Cloud Cuckoo Land.

The Tillamook Country Smoker Beef Jerky Factory Retail Outlet had been bragging for miles before we arrived about getting a two-foot stick for only one dollar. At first, I thought, if only. Then I thought, dang, that’s an excellent price per linear foot. I’d been getting pillaged at a buck and a quarter per foot in Boise.

Upon entering the outlet, I immediately focused on the open chest cooler stuffed with two-foot sticks. They were all labeled “fresh” and “must be consumed in five days”, which made me think of all the wonderful preservatives and chemicals I must’ve been consuming prior with the store-bought sticks. At first, after examining the sticks, I thought about going exotic, like jalapeno pepperjack, but I eventually decided to start my meat stick and blogging journey with the original: plain pepperoni.

The two-footers were noticeably fresher than their gas station siblings. They tasted like how I imagined real meat taste like. Their caramel-colored skin suit was also looser than I was accustomed to, occasionally popping in my mouth and reminding me that he who gets the freshy-fresh shall get the sweetest thing in the world (name that reference). I’d also noticed that the liquid fats inside the fresh skin suit had not fully mobilized — I was used to squeezing fat drops from the sticks — suggesting that, perhaps, the fresh sticks had not fully matured. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I fully intend to investigate further.

Later that night, I bragged to a hip couple we met in the campground about my meat stick excursion and about how I had consumed five two-foot sticks, so ten regular sticks, a certain record for me, in one van ride to the campground. Then they invited us to their campsite for fresh-caught oysters fire-roasted in butter and topped with cilantro, tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice. I had never felt so white trash, proud, and confused at the same time. But that’s what meat sticks do to you.

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