Lost in Translation

Learning the word "delicious" and how to ask "what do you recommend?" are two of the easiest ways to break the ice doing something you do every day - eat!

Learning the word “delicious” and how to ask “what do you recommend?” are two of the easiest ways to break the ice doing something you do every day – eat!

One of the things I love best about traveling in a foreign country is the feeling of being out of my comfort zone. When I’m in a place where I don’t speak the language, every day tasks such as finding a good place for lunch, catching the right bus or trying to buy shampoo become learning experiences. Although it can be challenging at times (and I often feel like an idiot) it forces me to be humble, to ask for help and to use more of my brain every day.

In 2008 when I was in Laos, I wrote a post about the language barrier and how it was frustrating when it prevented me from doing simple things like getting where I wanted to go. In Asia, being half-Japanese worked to my advantage because I didn’t stand out as obviously as being foreign. It’s the same here in Ecuador until I open my mouth and I’m forced to show how bad my Spanish is!
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Sprawl

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Shadows growing long
Palm trees rising like dots against the horizon
As the California sun drips into the sea

Cars going round the freeway clovers
Orderly stops at each entrance
Concrete baking in the sun

A thousand blue pools shining
Like turquoise jewels
In the midst of the arid grid below
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Hawaii Food & Wine Fest 2014

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSeptember was truly a month of gluttony for me. Knowing that I’d be on the road for months with a mostly street food diet to stretch my budget over the course of my trip, I wanted to be sure leave on a high note. I created a “Honolulu bucket list” of sorts – places I’d never gotten around to dining and things I’d always meant to experience, like riding around Oahu via The Bus, trying to omakase menu at Sushi Sasabune, watching the sunset from Kaena Point or having a picnic lunch on the lawn at Iolani Palace. Thanks to my amazing friends, I made it to most of them.

Of course, I also went out with my foodie friends to my favorite spots more than a few times, trying to soak it all in. Now, almost two months into my trip, I miss the familiar flavors, even as I’m experiencing new ones daily. I can’t help but crave dry mein from Sam Sato’s, a good cocktail from the Manifest, just about anything on the menu at town or The Pig & The Lady, not to mention poke, sashimi, ramen, pho…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSo I suppose it was perfect that one of my “last hurrah” food events in Honolulu was Hawaiian Airlines presents: Corks & Forks at the 2014 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. I’d attended last year’s festival as a guest at the Under A Modern Moon: Morimoto & Friends event and loved it. As it was my first time attending, I quickly joined up with a little group of social media acquaintances and food lovers – Dawn & Derek Paiva and Martha Cheng. It was only fitting that for the 2014 event, we once again worked on our strategy to secure a table as a “home base” while we took turns making the rounds, photographing chefs and their dishes and scouting out the best plates to bring back to the table. I have to say, it’s pretty much the perfect way to attack an event like this. Dawn quickly scored us a table right in front of one of the cocktail stations and I was free to roam. Continue reading

Colombia by Bus

The bus careens around another hairpin turn and I’m met with a cold blast of mountain air from the window in front of me. Behind me, a child continues happily banging on my headrest and I consider pulling on my headphones to listen to a guided meditation for patience. Or at least Jack Johnson. Something — anything — to pass the next two hours quickly.

But I don’t.

To put on my headphones and drown out the world around me would be a shame. (Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD, right Kim?)

Bus rides through the clouds in the rainy season

Bus rides through the clouds during the rainy season

It’s been just over a week since I’ve been in Colombia, my first destination in what will be at least nine months on the road. This has actually been one of the shorter bus rides so far, and truth be told, I really do enjoy them.

So instead of pulling on my headphones, I pull my scarf a little tighter. I watch as we pass small country fincas with cattle grazing mountainous terrain, like goats. The driver veers a bit to avoid a random horse in the road. Eventually the winding country roads we left in Guatape curve into a two lane highway. As we near the city of Medellin, semi trucks and motorcycles whiz past. It’s October, one of the two wettest months in Colombia and as the rain begins to pick up, the woman in front of me finally closes her window. Ahhhh, warmth!

Beautiful views from Bogota - Medellin

Beautiful views from Bogoto – Medellin

Less than a week ago we followed this same road on a 10+ hour bus ride from Bogota. Colombia is way more mountainous than I’d realized, so most of that ride also had me gripping my seat as we sped up narrow mountain roads and into winding valleys, just barely escaping collisions on what felt like more than a few occasions.

On that trip, around 1am as the lights of Medellin spread out below us at each curve, I remember being in awe that so many dwellings were pushed so far up into the mountains, glowing like landlocked stars. They say Colombia is famous for the magical realism made popular by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and in that moment I could feel why.

Colombia really is magical!

Colombia really is magical!

For the next two weeks, Kim and I will be slowing down a bit – today we are catching a bus for Salento in coffee country and then we will move further south to visit friends in Cali, the Salsa Dancing Capitol of the World! As I work on restructuring the blog and catching up on a few non-blog projects to pay the bills, the best way to follow along is via social media, as I’ll be posting frequently there.

>> You can find me just about daily on Instagram and Twitter, and photo albums will go up on the Shoyu Sugar page on Facebook.

Me photobombing Kim at the top of La Piedra. (pc: Kim On A Whim)

Me photobombing Kim at the top of La Piedra. (pc: Kim On A Whim)

And now, a proper introduction for Kim, who has been my travel companion all over the world. We met in Bali in ’08, took a cruise to Greece & Turkey later the same year, attended TBEX conferences in Toronto (’13) & Cancun (’14), went hot air ballooning in Utah, and now we’ve reunited in Colombia!

We will be heading separate ways later this month for (badly needed) Spanish language classes, then meeting up at some point before March, when we both head to South Africa. Once a corporate attorney in NYC, now a globe-trotting travel blogger, she is doing a fantastic job at keeping her new blog updated, so I highly recommend you take a peek!

>> Follow Kim’s Whims at Kim On A Whim.

Before I Leave Honolulu…

I moved to Oahu a few months before my 21st birthday. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago, but as I look back through old photos before I pack them away, I can remember discovering Honolulu through my 21-year-old eyes.

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(Ok, and mayyybe through a bit of the haze of a 21-year-old hangover.)

Coming from Maui and having had a brief taste of living in New York, I was restless and wanted to do and see more, more, more. I was ready for new adventure. So Honolulu was my compromise – the “big city” nightlife and culture, better job opportunities, but still close enough to my family on Maui.
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