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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thanks to infrequent work hours, a struggling job market, and Netflix's Watch Instantly feature, I'm hooked on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain is a difficult-to-like person. He doesn't have the warmest personality, he's extremely sarcastic, and hates vegans with a fiery passion. Still, I like his show because it shows so many parts of the world that I'm dying to visit and Anthony isn't afraid to get dirty, he prefers the unbeaten path, and he always interacts with the locals, which is my kind of traveling. Since my pockets are empty, this is as close to traveling as I'll get for awhile.

After awhile, he's grown on me. Sometimes his sarcasm is amusing, and I can easily get past the cheesy jokes and overabundance of meat products. I've come to like him, while fully realizing that he's kind of a jerk. This is why I find this clip so hilarious:

In a recent episode of No Reservations in India, Anthony did not hide his impatience with rowdy children. And now he's a guest star on Yo Gabba Gabba, surely one of the top most annoying children's shows on air today?! THIS CRACKS ME UP! In the YGG clip above, you can his clumsiness with "Tootie," and I'm just waiting for Anthony to get exasperated with the maniacal singing and pull out of a cigarette and some curse words.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Food Fa Life

And let's not forget the food!

I feel that as a vegan, it comes with the territory to be obsessed with food. I love food! Many (non-vegan) people think of a vegan diet as so limited, so bland, so boring. Gosh, they just don't know! Being vegan is a huge part of my life, and food and cooking is one of my great passions (right along with traveling and helping others).

Since I just wrapped up my intro/Jamaica post, I should squeeze in a picture of the best meal of the (short) trip: a full plate of vegan goodness from Food Fa Life, a Rastafarian restaurant up the road from our resort, in Salem, Jamaica.

This is the vegetable "sip" we were served as an appetizer. The woman running Food Fa Life explained that vegetarian soups are called "sip" to differentiate them from meat-based "soups."

Food Fa Life is just a small restaurant, about the size of a mobile home in America. There's a small kitchenette and the small stove had several pots sitting on top. The woman gave us a scoop from each pot. I wish I could remember the names of some of these foods, but basically what you're looking at is: rice and "peas" (like what we would typically call red beans and rice), stewed vegetables with "veggie chunks" (think TVP), cabbage and spicy tofu, two different root vegetables (the grey chunk and the yellow chunk), and a whole wheat biscuit, designed to be eaten with the other foods, not on its own. The woman sat with us and our local friends and we had a lovely chat about politics, religion, diversity and acceptance... We had so much in common!

If you ever find yourself in the Runaway Bay or Ocho Rios area of Jamaica, be sure to make a stop at Food Fa Life in Salem.

Vegan food will be another big part of this blog. I will include foods I prepare at home as well as foods on the road. There's so much amazing, vegan food out there. I can't wait to taste it all!

Where it All Begins

My goals have changed throughout my life. Now in my mid-20s, one goal and one dream has remained the same: to change the world, and to travel the world.

2010 started off rather eventfully. I rushed off to Connecticut to be with family during a medical emergency. One afternoon, I was talking to my uncle, ever the wise man, and he kept emphasizing that life is short and I need to do what makes me happy. He said that while I'm still young, I won't be young for long and I can't waste my life being unhappy.

Less than a week after my return from CT, I was whisked off to sunny Florida to visit friends, then to gorgeous Runaway Bay, Jamaica. This was my first time traveling outside of the country (unless I count Canada in the 2nd grade, back when passports weren't required to visit our northern neighbors) and the experience was exhilarating and eye-opening. Jamaica is a beautiful island, spoiled by heavy tourism, and rich in poverty. I met some amazing local people, such strong and optimistic people. The highlight of the trip was stumbling upon a basic school (pre-K and Kindergarten) in Ocho Rios and being invited in by the principal to play with the children. 200 children attend this school with just 5 teachers and a dirt pit to play in. The principal gave me the school's address and I am in the process of putting together a care package for the school with copies of the pictures we took, books, cleaning supplies, etc.

My whirlwind month and a half inspired me. I loved being on the road and in the air. I am so content on an airplane, even if I'm squashed between two other passengers, even if one of them has a nasty cough, even if a kid is kicking my seat. I'm so at peace when I'm on the go; how can I worry about anything when I'm thousands and thousands of feet up in the air?

Exploring is my favorite thing to do. I stayed in a nice (albeit cheesy) resort in Jamaica, but I loved leaving the resort and exploring Runaway Bay on foot. This is how we made a new friend (Ricardo) and saw life moving: schoolchildren walking home, a busy post office, a tiny library (only open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-6pm), a dimly lit grocery store... I loved every detail, every movement, and every person we encountered along the way.

The poverty in Runaway Bay (and everywhere else in Jamaica, for that matter) opened my eyes and cracked my heart. How could so many people visit this island every day and NOT do something?

So here I am. Mid-20s. Determined to make the most of this life, to make the most of my life, and go above and beyond to make a difference. I'm happiest when I'm moving, and I'm happiest when I'm helping. Life is too short to be unhappy.