These Boots are Made for Walking

The great blog Where’s My Backpack came up with a fun and unusual Travel Theme of Feet!  One could go all over the place with this theme…my feet, animal feet, statute feet, furniture feet, feats of strength…this gives me an excuse to display some of the random photos I have taken while trekking around…

One thing is for sure.  Apparently, I have nothing better to do than to take photos of my feet while wandering through the world! I suppose these photos tell a story of their own separate from those that were taken directly of the attraction I was visiting.  🙂

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Relaxing in Mendocino

Spring Flower Hiking in the California Sierras

Resting at the top of one of the temples of Tikal

Cooling off in Phoenix

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Boonie Crashing at the Arch of Labna in the Yucatan

Searching for Water in California

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Hot Chili and Cool Cars in Rocklin, California

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Mendocino Mushroom Festival

Hiking in El Dorado National Forest

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Standard Beach apparel – Doran Beach

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Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Cee’s Black and White Challenge – Signs – Tapir Crossing and Fox Hunting

Happy Friday everyone,

I see Cee’s weekly black and white challenge is signs.  I seems to recall a few interesting ones in my files…  I hope you enjoy a Tapir Crossing sign from the Belize Zoo and a Fox Hunting sign from France.  Random and funny if you ask me.

So, wherever your travels take you please, whatever you do, be aware of tapirs and hunting dogs as you cross the street.  😉

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http://ceenphotography.com/2015/04/30/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-signs/

The ever changing Travel Journal

Everywhere you go now you see people typing on their laptops, tablets, or smartphones.  Visiting a coffee shop now, when you actually want a cup of coffee, is like finding a parking place among all those clicking away on their devices.  While I admire all of these folk’s work ethic it reminds me of my old hand written travel journals. ( It also reminded me of a post on my friend Indah’s gorgeous travel blog Indah’s Monochrome Travel Journal Post who was herself inspired by the following post from PhoTrablogger. )

When I first started traveling I kept hand written notes and used the journals as a place to store my paper memories like receipts, pamphlets, tickets, etc.  In fact, one amusing entry I read went like this…”Damn, I left my glue stick at home!”  That made me laugh.  I used these journals to remember what order I visited places, what the names of all the places were after I forgot them likely 24 hours later, it allowed me to write down what I was thinking, make notes on things to do when I returned, and mostly just to write or track anything I wanted.

Well, previously my journals were all hand written.  On my most recent big trip I used my iPhone instead.  While it was terribly convenient it wasn’t terribly inspired.  After reviewing entries in my old journals it made me realize I never want to use the phone or an app again.  It just isn’t the same as my silly rants, my terrible but amusing drawings, and my glue stick sorry excuse for a scrapbook.

I am now officially on the search for a new glue stick and my next interesting and blank travel journal.  How do you like to track your travels?  Do you still hand write your thoughts?  Do you use a laptop or tablet or even a voice recorder?  I always admire those that write and blog and post while on their vacation but prefer to ruminate over my travels after I return home.

An example of a few of my travel journals one from Costa Rica in 2006 and one from Scotland and Germany in 2000.

Apparently, I felt compelled to illustrate my journey towards Panama. (I missed my calling as a cartoonist.)  😉

I watched the great Leather back Turtles lay their eggs on a sandy beach in the middle of the night and must have been in the mood to draw another little cartoon.  Those little baby turtles are likely now nine years old!

I felt the need to document a tasty candy bar while in Scotland.  (Note: I wrote “Yummy” with an arrow if it wasn’t obvious enough.)  🙂

I always like to keep tickets from anywhere I go as a fun memento.

21st Century & functional yet uninspired travel journal.  ;(

  
What travel journals or method of tracking your journals do you use? What has worked or not worked? Anyone have a favorite type of journal?

Belize Butterfly Breeding Sanctuary

While on a wild ride through the Shipstern Nature Preserve in Belize we decided to head to a little dot on the map called the Belize Butterfly Breeding Sanctuary.  We had spent the morning in Corozal Town even having a coat-imundi sighting in the sugar cane fields of Caledonia.  Shipstern Nature Preserve is 22,000 acres of jungle, savanna, and mangrove swamp just outside of the lovely and small town of Sarteneja.  The butterfly breeding center supplies many other countries with pupae to further growth of its particular type of Butterfly.  The center is difficult to find, approximately an hour or so beyond Orange Walk Town, and requires a four wheel drive journey through dirt roads past Mennonite farms and settlements.  The center is funded on donation but has no official entrance fee.  It boasts a lovely Botanical Trail and small educational museum.  But, please for the sake of all that is important to you, bring loads of mosquito repellent.  (It’s as if this is where the mosquitoes go for vacation and they are hungry!)

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Believe it or not Butterflies are made in red cups

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Beach view in nearby Sarteneja

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Lamanai Archaeological Site – Orange Walk Belize

It’s so much fun to fancy oneself as an archaeologist when traveling the world.  My latest attempt at being an armchair Indiana Jones/Dora the Explorer was at Lamanai near Orange Walk town in Belize.

We took a boat tour down the New River from Orange Walk to Lamanai.  We observed all sorts of gorgeous jungle wildlife on the way.  Birds, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, flowers, and more.  The boat tour provided a lovely home cooked lunch to power up its guests for the walk to come.

Lamanai, which translates to “submerged crocodile”, is a Mesoamerican archaeological site of the Mayan people.  It is a gorgeous and peaceful location mostly shaded throughout with lovely jungle canopy.  It’s highlights are the High Temple, Mask Temple, Jaguar Temple, and the Ball court.  Much of the area still remains unexcavated.  The masks on the Mask Temple are reproductions protecting the originals beneath.

The howler monkeys who live in the area were active while we were on site.  It is an impressive noise one would more associate with a veloso raptor than a monkey.  However, it is effective in keeping pretty much any other animal or human at a distance.

This site was occupied from the 16th century until Spanish conquest.  The site boasts a small museum and a couple of lovely little souvenir shops whose proceeds go to the upkeep of the site.

Of all the archaeological sites I visited while in Belize this was likely my favorite primarily due to the location’s peaceful environs, the wonderful guides, and the enjoyable boat tour to gain entrance.

Jaguar Temple

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Jaguar

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Mask Temple

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High Temple

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Our Boat Captain motoring off in to the distance.

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Lunch!

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Negative Star Dining

I am going to say something that could seem rather controversial.  (Or, at least it does to me anyway.)  I am not a professional food critic.  Nor am I even a novice food critic.  I am just a lover of food and a lover of travel.  But I have a thought.

I believe local street food or local dining, whatever one wants to call it, can and often does beat a four or five star restaurant in quality and ambiance any day.  What?  Who does she think she is making a statement like that?  I am no Anthony Bordain, Food Chanel critic, or French Michelin star aficionado by any means.

But, I want you to look at a photo for a moment and bear with me.  The below photo of this little boy was taken outside of Maggie’s on Caye Caulker in Belize.  He was trying to be like his Grandmother who owned the restaurant.  He was trying to clean and BBQ his own fish.  He was very proud and showed off his fish cleaning prowess to all of the guests much to their pleasure and his grandmother’s chagrin.  He even got a curt warning when he tried to BBQ it himself.  Clearly he wasn’t old enough to do so per his family.  This little interaction in front of this beautiful view was one of my favorite and sweetest memories in all of Belize.  Small local places often have ambiance that one would not necessarily expect.

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While in Belize I had glorious street food daily.  (See another post on Street Food.) I had meals that were extremely inexpensive, fresh, and local.  But, what’s more the ambiance of these places added to the food experience.  Eating lobster that was no more than four hours old from the sea at a restaurant where the owner’s children were running around barefoot and free is what eating and traveling is about for me.  Additionally one’s expectations for a knock-out experience are far lower than when that same person makes reservations, valet parks their car, gets all dolled up, and orders four courses off of an expensive menu full of items that are hard to understand.  Now mind you, I have had some delicious and memorable meals at fancy places and I don’t mean to discount them necessarily.   Doing so would probably be silly and against the better judgment of people far more knowledgeable than me.

But eating at a local place feels good for a number of reasons.  I feel like I am giving money to people who truly need it.  I feel like I am getting away with something by paying little to nothing for fresh, local, and interesting cuisine.  I feel like I am learning something about the local people and their food history.  Eating at small places often sparks conversation with other locals or the owners of the establishment.  And, I feel like I often have a memorable experience that oftentimes makes a trip.

I would argue that fresh local “negative star” restaurants outshine any four or five star place any day.    I have experienced this over and over again traveling throughout the world and felt like talking about it on the blogosphere.

Tell me, have you ever had a fresh local eating experience that was memorable that you care to share?  Do you share my regard for street food?

Global Table Adventures – Sasha Martin

I was introduced to the work of Sasha Martin, of Global Table Adventure, after listening to a piece on her from the podcast The Splendid Table.  Sasha set out to make food from every country in the world in alphabetical order.  She made Korean Turkey, Indian Chana Masala, Yemeni Spiced Skillet Eggs, Emirati Date Crepes, Syrian Lentil Dip, the Ukrainian Pasta Bake, and more.  She, with a young daughter and picky husband, managed to learn and experience a lot all from the comfort of her own suburban Tulsa Oklahoma home.  She finds she is a better Mom and a better wife after completing her challenge.

I find this idea inspiring since I am always looking for ways to travel when I don’t have time off from work or the money to travel like I would like to.  Since food is such a large part of my travels I loved the idea of her challenging herself to bring the food culture of these locations in to her home.

Most recently I recreated the Belize Onion Habanero Sauce I raved about while travelling in the country.  This sauce can be put on top of just about anything.  It was traditionally put on tacos, tostadas, panades, salbutes, and garnaches.  I can see it on top of steak, eggs, and used just as a dip for your chips.  I modified the recipe a bit and made it my own but I believe it will be a staple on my home table from now moving forward.  I suppose it is my little way of bringing Belize home to me.  While Sasha’s recipes range from easy to very hard I love the idea as a place to come up with new dinner ideas for home.

My terribly unprofessional recipe for Belize Habanero Onion Sauce

*One medium onion diced

*One small to medium Habanero diced very small (Warning they are very hot!)

*Juice from one lime

*Diced fresh cilantro to taste

*Optional Finely diced tomato to taste (I like more my husband likes less)

*A teaspoon of white vinegar (more to taste)

Please visit her website for more information and recipes.  http://globaltableadventure.com/

Has food encountered in your travels ever inspired you to recreate it from home?

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I am being followed by Bette Midler and other 80s Pop Stars in Belize…

At times the sweet sounds of Belize included Toucan tweets, the click of Blue Crabs walking on the dock, the zip of the blender making cocktails, the dinosaur sounding scream of the Howler Monkey warning its peers, Hummingbirds dive bombing each other, ocean waves lapping, the ancient Mayans whispering their secrets at their temples, the sizzling of taco meat, marginally cared for vehicles with numerous creaks and squeaks, the buzzing of the mosquitoes, and…music.

What does one expect to hear in Belize?  Bob Marley is #1.  Drum music on the Southern Coast?  Maybe local music?  Perhaps a little Michael Jackson or Beyonce maybe?

Well, immediately upon renting a car and embarking on our journey, the first radio station we tuned in to was playing The Wind Beneath My Wings by the lovely and talented Bette Midler.  High on the excitement of a new journey and the lack of sleep that accompanies a red-eye flight my husband and I sang this song to each other like the big dorks we are.

During the next ninety minute journey we heard the smooth stylings of Kenny Rogers, Neal Diamond, and Michael Bolton.  This led us to believe that the Belizean people took custody of a 1980’s repossessed radio station without ever updating its playlist. We were really enjoying the music time machine though.

During our first evening meal, on day one, we again heard Bette Midler and had a good laugh about it.  Over the ensuing 12 day trip we heard Bette Midler, and no I am not kidding, a minimum of one time per day if not more.  We started joking that Bette Midler either (a) lived in Belize, (b) owned the radio station(s), or (c) was the head of the Belizean mafia.

Probably about three-quarters of the way through the trip we heard her song one evening at dinner and, as always, had a laugh about it.  As we were riding our bikes home that night we were discussing that they must have 80s American music on some sort of loop in the tourist areas and radios which was the only way to explain it.  Well, that idea was dashed when we rode by a local hut with no front door where a large number of ladies were inside having a party.  What were they blasting loudly and proudly and singing along to?  You guessed…it Bette Midler’s The Wind Beneath My Wings.  My husband and I looked at each other and shook our heads.

Good ol’ Bob Marley is also pervasive in Belize even more so in the coastal regions and out on the Cayes.  I love me some Bob Marley.  I mean what’s not to like, right?  Something dawned on me one night at a local restaurant with a famous Bob Marley concert video played on a loop.  The poor wait staff must listen to this over and over again.  I wondered if this bothered them?  I mean Bob Marley is a God-like figure in areas like this.  I asked a sweet young waitress if Bob’s video playing relentlessly bothered her relaying that as a young person working retail in America we revolted to our managers against certain music being overplayed.  Her response, “Bob’s music is like piss in my ear.”  Tourism has ruined an icon for the tourist wait staff.  I am sorry wait staff.  I truly am.  It’s not Bob’s fault.

While the older 80s Pop music is obviously pervasive in Belize it is impossible not to notice that current music transcends many cultures and countries.  I heard Beyonce, Rhiana, Katie Perry, and other popular songs while there as well.  Many young people play it on their cell phones, on speaker no less, for everyone to hear.  I wonder if these artists have any idea that their music is being played in every corner of the world?  I wonder if they have any idea that music can be one thing that connects us all together even if we don’t speak the same language?  I wonder if Bette Midler has any idea how popular and loved she is in Belize?  I hope she does.