Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Escobar Rosas

Let me introduce my darling friend and flatmate, Melissa Afanador.

This is us shaking it down in the tiny club Escobar Roses (named after infamous drug dealer Pablo Escobar) in down town Bogotá. We were kept dancing all night by El Árbol (the tree), he is amazing, one of the best DJs I´ve ever heard.

Tomas doing his thang, Melissa & Juan-Fe.

Monday, 18 September 2006

Things to eat before you die...

I’ve been tagged to comment on the Travelers Lunch Box forum: Things to Eat Before You Die.

Not so much a Monster’s Ball (the last meal provided to someone before execution) but things you love to eat, or think others should try. I was thinking of hot flaky croissants, stinky blue cheeses, ripe figs, oysters, my favourite cocktails and dishes I´ve tried while traveling. But my list of Top 5 meals really are more to do with the experience, the family traditions and childhood memories.

1. Sunday Roast Dinner, at home, Australia
Golden roasted pumpkin, salted potatoes, carrots, garlic and sweet potatoes, tender beef, fresh mint peas all drowned in homemade gravy which is to be mopped up with (Nan´s) chessy muffins. I feel this meal can only be enjoyed in the home, no restaurant would ever get it right, it must be eaten around the dinning room table with all your family and ´the best´ cutlery, china etc.

2. Tea & Toast, taken in bed.
The main element of this dish is that someone else has to make it for you. They kindly wake you in the morning with the tinker of china, the smell of thick-cut freshly baked and toasted bread which has been spread with far too much cold butter and Bunnyconnellen marmalade. To rise to a 5 star occasion, this treat should be accompanied by the best sections of the morning’s newspaper.

3. Colombian Cuisine, Andres Carne de Res, Bogotá, Colombia
Atmosphere (entertainers, Colombian music, every full room and over flowing), Interior Design (every space covered in art, catholic kitch, all recyled materials and furniture) Great Food (served on wooden & metal plates, half coconuts for juices, painted tin mugs for soups). Andres, has it all. It has to be experienced to believe. This is one place you must visit in your life.

Must orders: Huge patacons with melted cheese accompanied by sauces; a selection of meats and sausages (morcilla – blood sauage with rice is amazing) which come out on a decorated grill with hot coals under it; corns on the cob; bottles of tequila which come with a huge sombrero; frijoles with eggs.

4. Fish & Chips, any beach in the world.

Crispy battered fish & chips (extras can include calamari, scallops and pineapple slices), must be wrapped in newspaper and served with tartar sauce while sitting on the beach watching the sunset. Finger licking good.

5. The First Mango of Summer

The perfect celebration of the arrival of summer. As a kid Mum would always buy a box of mangos from a roadside stall on the way to our beach holiday. She would prepare them for us buy cutting them in half, chris-crossing the flesh and inverting the skins. The juice would dribble down our chins, hands and arms; the perfect excuse to take a swim.

I´m looking forward to finding out what you consider as your ´Must Have´ foods or meals. So far my guesses are:

Mum, olives
Dad, bread
Sam, rissoles
Barry, foie gras
Cata, ajiaco
Daniel, oysters
Felipe, eggs
Melissa, cheese
Anita, anything that Xavier cooks!
Gilly, steak

And all my other loyal fans… you´ll have to let me know. I just realized that I forgot Tim Tam, what was I thinking!

Thursday, 7 September 2006

¡Que Pena!

This week I moved out of my glamorous one bedroom, two bathroom apartment with open kitchen and fireplace and into my friend Melissa´s lounge room. It has a fold out bed which if you sit in the middle of it, as I did this morning, collapses on you.

I have LOVED living by myself. I have relished in the solitude, enjoyed the chilly weekends in front of the open fire (yes, everyone, I build a fire!) reading my books and drinking Colombian hot chocolate. I had tears in my eyes as I left my little haven, and it wasn’t just from hauling 60kg of luggage (I have no idea how I´m going to get it all onto my next flight!) into the foyer.

I´ve included some photos of Melissa (I´m trying to repress my Aussie urge to shorten her name) and I looking gorgeous at a night club last weekend. This nightclub is in downtown Bogotá and has an awesome pharmacy theme (like the Croft Institute in Melbourne) and one of the best DJs I´ve heard here; he was able to mix the best of the 80´s glam rock with all the Latin rhythms, and that is why we all look so happy.

So Melissa and I have been staying up late having girly chats, she doesn´t eat chocolate, but I´m trying not to hold that against her. This morning she had an exam that started at 7am, can you believe this! At RMIT we complained and arrived late (still in trackpants with sleep in our eyes) at our 9.30am classes. So while Mel was sitting her programming test, I was still dancing at a friend’s house which we followed with Crepes and Waffles. On the taxi ride home (which took a while as it was peak hour traffic) I was listening to a radio interview… and understanding it! Of course it wasn´t world news or anything intellectual, but more about movies and ice-cream and dating, but I was com-pre-hending!

As most of you know, I haven´t fulfilled Tomas´ prediction of having a debate with him in Spanish after 4 months of living here, I guess he over estimated my intelligence, or more poently, I under estimated the intelligence of every Colombian friend I have – who all speak perfect English and also sometimes French when they feel like being trés cosmopolitan and thus I have had no need to converse in Spanish.

I´m still having those awkward moments, like this morning in the hall way as I was trying to get to the bathroom. The maid burst out of the kitchen and into my path. I naturally (remember I´d only had a few hours sleep) stepped to the left, but instantly remembering I was in Colombian I counteracted this with a quick step to the right.

¨¡Que Pena!¨ she exclaimed as we knock arms. We came to a polite stand still. A poetic still frame. She´s quiet hoety-hoiety, you know. This morning when she came in to work, and saw me sprawled on the couch, I know what she was thinking – lazy rich foreigner, sleeping till midday. Where really the truth was I had only had 2 hours sleep because I had been supporting the Colombian economy into the wee hours of the morning. Anyway, she obviously decided that I should wake up because I had never heard so much slamming of pots and pans in the kitchen since I lived in Moree and Mum used to give me the kitchen utensils to play with when she was cooking.

So, now we´re face to face in the hall. Actually, she´s about half my height. And we both just push scramble past each other in a very undignified and un UN fashion. Both deciding simultaneously that we had the right of way.

So, yes, I´m not at work as you´ve noticed. No I wasn´t fired for my poor Australian work ethic or for encouraging Happy Hour, it was a mutual decision. Sort of. I wanted to keep working but without the Working Visa, can you believe that you have to apply for this visa in another country! And I guess it just came down to financial constraints or more that it didn´t work out as financially viable.

I was reading the Rich Dad Poor Dad sequel about achieving financial freedom, and towards the end of the book it prompts you to identify which section of earning you sit in and what are you financial goals. Well I actually had to laugh. The whole book encourages you to move out of the employee section and into the coveted investor (said in deep voice) section… well. I wasn´t even on the chart. I don´t even have a job! The other teaching is cashflow: positive cashflow preferably from passive sources. I painfully realized that have completely negative cash flow, meaning I spend more (about 1000x more) than what I earn. Ah, the sweet bliss of financial freedom. I´m glad that my only liability is for a uni degree that was supposed to teach me about business and finances… maybe they should introduce 7am uni classes in Australia?

Congratulations to anyone who has made it to the end of this long and ridiculous post. Your prize is a baby chick which has been painted either pink or blue (your choice), these are thrushed at me on the street all the time, and next time, instead of snarling something about cruelty to animals I´ll buy one for you.

Well my darling friend Daniela has just arrived in a gorgeous outfit, with videos and beers as a prelude to tonights adventures.

All my love, C