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We’ve been on the move for the past few days and today we’re starting our Inca Trail adventure to Macchu Pitchu. We’ve still got some more stories to tell you about Chile so we’ll catch up when we get back. Happy Trails!
One of my goals on this trip was to work on a few pieces of digital video journalism. It’s been a little bit more of a process than I anticipated but tonight I would like to debut the premiere Life Offtrack DJ interview! Lance Horsley, co-owner of Casa Cool Beans, graciously granted me my first interview on the road. (Full disclosure: Nellu and I stayed at Casa Cool Beans during our time in Rio de Janiero and loved every minute of it.)
Taking on the Cidade Maravilhosa
Just over five months ago, Lance, his partner David, and their dog Mousse set off for the Cidade Maravilhosa, or Marvelous City as Rio is often called. The plan: transform an existing pousada into the Casa Cool Beans. Already a successful business owner in the United States, the opening of this guesthouse was the realization of a 25-year old dream for Lance. While the timing of their move had little to do with the city’s move to the international stage (World Cup 2014, Olympics 2016), the booming Brazilian economy certainly encouraged them to take on Rio.
But enough from me, I’ll let Lance tell you his story:
It’s customary for journalists, at the end of an interview, to ask if the interviewee has anything to add, mostly to make sure you’re not missing a critical part of the story. When I asked Lance, he gave me a response that needed to stand on its own. (If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you might want to keep this video close at hand and listen to it every morning you need a pep talk.)
One unexpected advantage in the whole process: While Lance and David had originally planned to close the guesthouse to renovate, its previous owner encouraged them to buy out bookings already on the calendar. Five months in and Casa Cool Beans has been at full capacity the whole time. Lance says its been nice having income coming in, “But even more important is the ability we’ve had to meet people, which at the end of the day is the reason I got into this business and why we got the pousada. It’s been a fabulous blessing.”
The one thing I was truly prepared for, during this adventure, was my discovery and experience of local food and beverages. One would even say I was looking forward to it, especially when I decided to start the ball rolling by ordering and eating a Cambodian baked tarantula for my last day at work :
Having arrived in Chile, the notion that locals eat certain foods has come into question. The first such item is called a terremoto. The name alone invokes something terrifying and earth shattering, as it translates from Spanish to earthquake. Does this remind you of an earthquake ??
It is a combination of pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine more akin to moonshine), a scoop of pineapple ice cream & a splash of red wine served in a plastic cup. It is called earthquake because of how it makes you feel; shaky when you attempt to stand up. We tried this drink on an early Thursday afternoon and thankfully we never sat down. “Happy hour” would definitely be the description of the attitude of most of the patrons of the bar, yet from all our people-watching, it would appear only tourists, local inebriates and pre 20-year olds were the only ones actually buying and drinking it.
It was better than expected and my experience with ţuică probably gives me a bit of an advantage. It is definitely strong and more than two at once, experienced drinker or not, could likely lead to some sort of distress. It was the second item that I had while in Chile, that made me really question whether or not the locals actually ate or drank any of these creations.
The second item of intrigue is called a “mote con huesillo” :
It was initially described by one of our Airbnb.com hosts (Megan) as a smoothie-like drink equivalent to dumping a can of peaches onto barley in a plastic cup. At one point she even described it as “peach oatmeal”. I have to note that I am not a fan of peaches and canned peaches seem even less appetizing, so I was not looking forward to this. It would be our reward for walking to and climbing Cerro San Cristobal. Sure enough, when we reached the top all the vendors there were ready with this concoction, sadly lacking any alcohol.
It is not a bad drink. The syrup & cinnamon juice mixes well with the barley. The problem lays with the peaches. This drink can be made with dried peaches, but in our case, it had two whole peaches complete with pits. The juice and wheat were quite complementary and very enjoyable (if you like really sweet things). I did notice that Molly was not diving into the peach as I had. She commented that it was not enjoyable, as it was a bit fleshy. In typical Nellu-form, I tried to encourage her by saying that it wasn’t fleshy at all and going into a diatribe about how it wasn’t anything like human flesh. You can just imagine the results…..
It was during this endeavor that I kept thinking to myself that this drink was seemingly created in a surplus of wheat and government issued canned peaches and an attempt was made to make money on it (and get some laughs) by convincing the tourists that the locals “love” to drink this. So far my theory has not paid off, as every Chilean I have asked has sworn that they and others drink it, especially in the summer. We shall see….