Thursday, January 24, 2013

Most Memorable Meals - Central and South America

Sorry I haven't been here for a while. I don't really have a good excuse other than I am lazy. I know you'll forgive me, right?

The travel continues. After six weeks in Chile (the longest we've spent anywhere except Canada so far) we are headed to Argentina, and Buenos Aires stole my heart. There's just something sexy about the city of tango. After Argentina, we crossed over to Brazil, skipped across the pond, and are now wandering around Europe.

When I talk to friends and family about our travel, the topic of food almost always comes around. I love food. I love eating. Due to our budget, Husband and I try to find the most reasonable ways to eat while travelling, which usually involves some combination of street food, self-catering from our hostel, or walking around and looking for whatever place currently has the most locals eating there. This method has led us to some pretty amazing meals and also some not so much. Here are some of the highlights of our eating adventures in Central and South America. Sadly, some of the photos were lost, but you have Google image search, so you'll be ok.

Mexico - Esquites (street food)

It's a cup filled with corn, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and topped with chile powder. I don't think I need to explain why that's delicious.

Colombia - Menu Ejecutivo at La Mana, San Gil

Strangely I can't find any pictures of the actual food, but here is a shot of La Mana.

This wasn't so much about the meal itself, though the food was delicious. This is a common sort of set menu including salad, soup, bread, a main course, dessert and a drink for a very reasonable price. I think Colombians are on to something here.

Peru - Papa Rellena (street food)

Let's take mashed potatoes and shape them into a ball. Wait, let's fill the mashed potato ball with seasoned ground beef, onions, and egg. Shouldn't we deep fry that and cover it with mayonnaise? Yes, let's do that.

Peru - 1/4 Roasted Chicken

You can eat roast chicken pretty much anywhere, but I have never had a chicken cooked as well as this with a choice of delicious sauces.

Chile - Lomito at Lomit's, Punta Arenas

For east coast Canadians out there, this tastes like a Halifax donair if you made it into a sandwich, but without the signature donair sauce.

Chile - Torremoto (street drink)

I need to say thanks to whoever came up with this one because it combines two of my most favorite things: wine and ice-cream. Homemade white wine topped off with a scoop of pineapple ice-cream, they call it an "earthquake."

Argentina - Asado (street food)

Simple. Elegant. Grilled meat.

Brazil - Churrascaria

Again with the meat. I can hear my colon crying.

I'll try to do another delicious recap at the end of our time in Europe.
And let me know if you've had any amazing eats that we should try while we're in Europe!

Liebster: noun. a person who liebs?

The lovely and talented Jen from Jennipal recently sent me a shout out on her blog (which you should read by the way) letting me know she thinks I'm worthy of a Liebster! What is a Liebster, you ask? Well, as far as I can tell, it's like a high-five that bloggers give to each other to show some love, an excuse to tell someone how awesome they are and throw a few questions their way. I'm down.

I hope reading my blog gives you the same joy as this picture of Chilean penguins.

The Rules:

List 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions.
Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers. (I don't think I actually read 11 blogs especially if you take out Jen's and which Jen has already tagged in her post).
Comment on their page to let them know.
Tag the person who nominated you in your post.

I know that a lot of people hate being tagged in these things, so if I do send it your way, and you don't feel like doing it, no pressure. I get it. Just delete the tag and carry on being your awesome self.

So, eleven random facts about me...

My dreams (or at least the ones I can remember) tend to follow the same few plot-lines with limited variations.

One of my front teeth is a fake.

My first dream-job was "polar bear."

My family is huge and complicated. I have to like someone a lot before I tell them all the details about my family.

I love the smell of marshmallows. I wish I had a pillow made of marshmallows.

I will watch absolutely ANY movie with Jackie Chan in it... and love it.

I fell in love with my husband because of his awesome sense of humour. He's still the funniest guy I know.

There are very few people who actually call me Ashley. I always go by Ash.

I hate when people spit on the street. It's gross!

I sometimes come off as cold when I first meet people. I'm actually just awkward.

I have a large collection of children's books.

And Jen's 11 questions:

1.  What is one thing that you want to do but haven't done yet for whatever reason? 
I'd like to have a garden. I haven't done that because I am lazy.

2.  What worries you?
I worry about a lot of stuff (all of it trivial), but the thing that causes me the most anxiety is being on time. In school, I was what some might call an "apple-polisher" (brown-noser). When I was in middle school, my father moved about 45 minutes out of the city, but I continued to attend school in the city where my mom was living. My father was notorious for oversleeping and being impossible to wake up, so whenever I'd stay at my his house for a few days, I'd always be late for school. Being the conscientious student I was, this caused me immense anxiety. Since then I've had big issues about being on time. Ask my husband. Anytime we're supposed to catch a bus, plane, whatever... I am not fit to talk to until we are at the bus station/airport at a crazy early hour. It's taken him a long time to accept that about me.

3.  What is one thing you would change about yourself/life?
I would take my own advice and relax more. 

4.  If you could travel anywhere where would you go and why?
I'm currently living my dream, travelling full-time. One place that's high on my list is India for it's cultural and historical importance. Also, I've never heard anyone smack-talk India.

5.  What is one thing you'd like to be remember for?
I would like people to remember me as a thoughtful person. That's one of the qualities I value most highly in other people, so I'd feel pretty awesome if people thought that about me.

6.  What was your original motivation for starting a blog?  Is it still the same now?
My original motivation was my relationship with Korean culture. That's still a journey I'm on today, but the motivation for writing about it comes and goes.

7.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I hope to be somewhere on this amazing planet, learning, teaching, and hopefully momming. And of course eating everything in sight.

8.  Who was the last person that made you cry? Why? (if you care to share)
I cry ALL THE TIME. I'm just an easy crier about anything, sadness, frustration, anger, laughter. Since my husband is the only person I have regular face to face contact with, he's probably the last one that made me cry, though I don't remember what about.

9.  Why are you happy?
I'm happy because I'm leading a blessed life traveling around the world with somebody I love.

10.  What is your favourite thing to do when you are alone?
When I'm alone (which is pretty much never these days), I enjoy reading, drawing, watching terrible movies, and eating junk food.

11.  What is one thing you'd like to learn?
I'd like to learn embroidery. And of course I'll continue learning about Korean language and culture.

Thanks to Jen for the push to update this blog again! Seriously, check out her blog. She's rad!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

한국어를 말하는 것이 다시 이겼다! (Speaking Korean Wins Again!)

Last week we crossed into San Pedro de Atacama, Chile from the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. While cooking some lunch in the communal kitchen at our guesthouse in San Pedro, I noticed a sweet-looking Korean mom and her two children. I instantly recalled the conversation I had with my K-mom the night before:

"애슐리, 한국어 공부해야지." (Ashley, you need to study Korean.)

I guess she noticed my Korean getting a little rusty on the phone.

So approached the kind looking Korean mom at the guesthouse. I mustered my courage and spluttered, "저... 한국분 이세요?" (Excuse me, are you Korean?)

Well, of course she was surprised to see a white girl speaking Korean, especially since Husband was in another room. After her initial shock and 101 questions about how I learned Korean, we had a great chat and shared lunch together.

We hung out with her and her family for the remainder of our time in San Pedro. We took the same tour to Valle de la Luna and hung out with her super cute kids. When they left to go back to their home in Vina del Mar (her husband is working for a Korean company in Chile), she not only sweetly gifted us with her electric travel pot (cook ramyeon anywhere!), she also invited us to come stay at her house after we spend a few days in Santiago.

Speaking Korean wins again! I can't wait to meet this family again soon. They are too sweet.

If you're studying a foreign language, approach and practice with native speakers. You never know what new relationships you can build.

And here are some pictures of the lovely family during our time in San Pedro.

the lovely family at Valle de la Luna, Chile

She complained about us being too tall, so she stood on rock.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Day I Almost Died (for reals!) But Didn't (yay!)

Remember that song, "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen?" Well, I do because the song was crazy popular in the year I finished middle school (now you know how old/young I am).

I'd like to make an amendment.

Wear a life jacket.

I grew up on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. I took swimming lessons from a very young age. I'm comfortable on boats of all kinds. I was once insulted that a tour operator made me wear a life jacket while snorkelling.

My attitude changed the day I went rafting on the River Suarez in Colombia.

I first tried white water rafting in Costa Rica a few months ago. Husband had done it while travelling in India and Nepal. He really enjoyed it, so he suggested we try it together. I knew that you had to wear a helmet and life jacket, but honestly I never considered rafting to be particularly dangerous. I guess that stems from my coastal dwelling arrogant non-fear of water. I figured if you followed the directions of the guide, you'd be ok.

River Pacuare in Costa Rica presented no incident. The rapids were levels 2-4 (6 being the highest and only possible in kayak, not raft). We had a great time, so we decided to tackle the more extreme River Suarez in Colombia (levels 3-5).

It was definitely more exciting than Pacuare. The rapids were intense, with waves coming up over our heads at times. We successfully made it through about two hours of rapids. The other raft flipped over once, spilling everyone into the river after a level 3. Don't worry; everyone was fine. Level 3 is no big deal. Finally we reached the final rapid of the course, a level 5.5 appropriately named "Surprise."

Our guide instructed us to listen for his commands and "tie our feet" (shove them under the seat of the raft). We entered the rapid, basically a huge hole of rushing water. Our guide shouted "get down" so we all jumped into the middle of the raft while water crashed in all around us. The entire raft filled with water. I felt myself being lifting out of the raft. Apparently my feet were not adequately "tied."

Luckily (?) I was holding the safety line, so even though I ended up outside of the boat, I was still at least attached to it. I thought about the safety course we took before starting. Ok, I just needed to hold onto the line and someone would lift me back into the raft. Unfortunately the rapid was about 500m long, so the rest of the team was still navigating the rapid and unable to rescue me immediately.

I felt my legs getting sucked under the raft. We were approaching another huge hole of water, so I let go of the safety line and decided to detach from the boat rather than get crushed and possibly drown. Obviously I was in mental and physical shock. I went though about 150m of rapids in just a life jacket, thinking that the raft could still save me if I just stuck it out. Apparently Husband was having a panic attack in the raft from looking at my terrified face bobbing in and out of the water, desperately sucking for air and spitting out water as I went through the rapids.

Then I finally remembered I could swim (thanks to my mother who forced me to go to swimming lessons at the local Y since as early as I can remember). I swam with all my little heart through that rapid to the shore. I found a rock, climbed on top of it, and decided I was not leaving that little rock... EVER. Even when the other raft came by and tried to save me. I would not leave that rock.

An eternity later (maybe 10 minutes), our guide, after parking the raft beyond the rapid and hiking back along the rocky shore of the river, came to rescue me. I am embarrassed to say that he had to hold my hand as I half-walked-half-crawled along the shore to where the raft was waiting. I am proud to say I did not cry (if you know me, you know I'm a crier).

Since "Surprise" was the last rapid on the course, after my rescue everyone was free to jump out of the raft and float down the last 500m of the river. I opted to stay inside, explaining "I've drunk enough river for one day."

So am I now afraid of water, never to raft again? No, actually having survived a class 5 rapid, I feel pretty comfortable I can handle most situations in the water.

But I will never scoff at the noble life jacket again.

PS: If you are a friend or family member who I lied to/omitted details about this incident when it happened, it was only because I didn't want you to worry about me. I'm safe. I'm alive. No worries.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


You might have noticed things are looking a bit different around here (notice my fancy tabs up above?). You may have also picked up on the fact that Husband and I are currently working our way across the globe on an around the world trip (or maybe you haven't... SURPRISE!).

Due to popular demand (by that I mean mostly my family) I'll be updating about our travels here on this blog along with my regular Korean posts because I'm lazy and don't want to juggle two blogs.

If you don't want to read about that, you can simply click on the "All Things Korean" tab.

Or if you don't care about anything Korean and are just here to read about our trip, you can click on the "Around the World" tab.

Of course, if you like a little bit of both, you can find it all on the main page as usual labelled "Home."

Much love from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile


Saturday, September 8, 2012

써니 (Sunny)

I watched this movie way back in Mexico (about two months ago), but I recently rewatched it while Husband was out cycling on the world's most dangerous road (Bolivia). I, of course, was not confident enough in my cycling ability or ability to function in extreme heights to even think about attempting such a journey, so I was quite happy to wander around La Paz for the day and then return to my hotel room and the awesomeness that is this movie, 써니 (Sunny)!

This movie has appeal on three levels.

1. Honest Portrayal of Girlhood and Maturing Female Friendships
There are about a kimchillion movies that explore and celebrate male friendships, but honest portrayals of women and their relationships with other women are pretty hard to find in film (the most recent decent girl movie... Bridesmaids?). I believed in the characters of Sunny right from the start. The friendship and interactions of the members of Sunny were believable and honest. That of course made the whole movie more relatable and entertaining.

2. Sweet Dual Timeline Accompanied by Awesome Soundtrack
This movie achieves the perfect balance between it's two equally awesome timelines, the main character's present and high-school lives. Neither one outshines the other. Both timelines are entertaining and engaging and integrate well into the whole of the film. Additionally, the high-school timeline has a pretty awesome soundtrack (both Western and Korean).

3. Sense of Humour
The writer of this film obviously has a great sense of humour. I will direct your attention to probably my favourite scene from a movie, ever.

See what I mean?

The only downside of this film is the ending which totally abandons the honest feel and resolves the problems of all the characters deus ex machina style. Lame!

Oh well, still one of my favourite movies ever. Go watch it. Right now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

페루 쿠스코에서 쿠스코리아 축제 (CusCorea Festival, Cusco, Peru)

It's been one month and three countries since I last updated this blog... 미안해요!

It's not that I haven't had anything to write about (aside from switching cities every 5-7 days: San Jose-Arenal-San Jose-Panama City-Cartagena-San Gil-Bogota-Lima-Huaraz-Lima-Cusco since we last talked). Long bus rides make for good opportunities for watching movies (Sunny, A Moment to Remember, Memories of Murder, Introduction to Archaeology) some of which I will hopefully make the time to write about sooner or later. Husband and I had a brutal Olympic nationalism feud in Colombia (friendly, don't worry). I'm loving 버스커 버스커 right now. Anyway, I just haven't made much time for blogging.

The funny thing is, I've probably spent more time speaking Korean than English or even my ridiculous excuse for Spanish since we've arrived in Peru. Husband found a Korean guesthouse in Lima, and since we've spent a lot of time in English speaking backpacker hostels, it was only fair that we switch it up for a change. Plus, he really wanted a chance to access some Korean books. The owner of said guesthouse in Lima let us know about an upcoming Korean culture festival in Cusco (bizarre?). We were heading to Cusco anyway, so we decided to check it out.

Turns out there is a Korean cultural center in Cusco. They offer Korean language lessons which are surprisingly popular, especially among teenage girls. These girls LOVE their K-pop which might be their motivation for learning Korean, who knows? I knew Hallyu was getting big around the world, but seriously, I had no idea... These girls knew all the words to every popular Korean song. They knew the dances too! 강남스타일 was the crowd favorite.

The center hosted this two day festival to spread awareness of the center and its programs. There were traditional games: 제기차기, 널뒤기, and 팽이. They offered samples of Korean food: 주먹밥, 계런마리,  and some other delicious meat pancake that I can't remember the name of. Plus the students of the center put on an awesome talent show, stunning us with their Korean singing and dancing skills!

The festival was a great experience for me in two ways. First, I got to connect with other L2 Korean speakers. It was nice to talk about our shared interest and challenges in studying Korean. Secondly, the Korean community were so welcoming and kind, and it was nice to have a little taste of home, especially after travelling so long.

Well, that's all for now. I didn't take many pictures at the festival. I was having too much fun. But here are a few.

Husband teaching some Peruvian kids to play 제기차기

the students of the center and their Korean idols