Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday whatevers

I'm not feeling all that motivated these days. Motivation is not a dragon breathing down my neck and making me do stuff that needs doing--stuff like exercise. I love to bike and run in the summer. I like doing weights and dropping into a yoga class for some stretching, and all manner of hiking and wandering. I like these activities, I really do! Except when it's humid and I have homework to finish.

Someone had the audacity to bring a set of digial scales into my home last night, and I couldn't resist stepping on. Oy! Ironically, this person also cooks up an array of delicious Indian curries that would put the entire city of Mumbai to shame, and we have been feasting on curries every night for a few weeks now.

Biking and running were not options for the evening, but I wanted to find an activity.
The humid heat in our apartment feels a lot like the atmosphere of a hot yoga class. The warmth is comforting, surrounding our bodies like blankets.

I tried a few sequences of sun salutations and noticed that I didn't overheat after even a half dozen go-arounds. (These were performed entirely from memory, and although I'm rusty I wasn't too far from the video I watched on It was pretty fun. My stuff back needs some serious stretching after sitting all day, so I think a few rounds of sun salutations after work would be a nice fix.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tomatoes and cheese

One of the awesome things about travelling is getting around on your own to explore and experience the new world in which you're immersed. Arriving in a new place is like meeting someone: you form impressions which are really beyond your control, and then it's necessary to observe and listen to deepen these impressions.

I especially like to observe from my table at a cafe, and through my "morning eyes," when, still hazy with sleep, my sight is filtered and the imperfections of my environment are airbrushed away. So, "suits" striding down the sidewalk to office jobs appear as characters in an 80s movie, and my chocolate-covered pastries are not an unhealthy breakfast but an example of my efforts to try local cuisine!

Along the aquaduct // Evora, Portugal

When you travel on your own schedule you can take time to stroll (or bike, or run) and watch a day in another country slowly unfold. You can linger and gush over whatever you want: colourful flowers, burmese cats, a game show host - whatever.

Exploring natural areas is even more special because few people are around to tell you that you can't be there.

A 16th century aquaduct runs from the town of Evora into somewhere in the woods. We read in the guidebook that it could be possible to follow the aquaduct to its source, so we packed food and water and headed toward the town centre. We found the massive arches of the stone structure - hard to miss - and followed it through narrow streets, petting cats and smiling at shy kids, until we were deep in grassy fields and on foot paths through farmland. We passed horses and houses, and a nunnery still in operation. Water is a wiley element, however, and we lost our hold on the aquaduct somewhere in the brambles under the hot sun. 

Lunch at the top of the hill

We climbed higher to see the town laid out beneath us like a map. There, on the smooth rocks of the plateau of a hill, we unpacked our food and spread out our ingredients on a towel. We took swigs from water bottles and made sandwiches from a small round of cheese and ripe tomatoes from the market. D, ever prepared for spice-related emergencies, unpacked two bottles of Portuguese hot sauce and the pepper mill I'd brought him from Canada. When everything had been devoured, we lay down and sunned our bodies like lizards.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hay Buenissimos

Spanish snails are friendly and edible!
I might have just polished off a glass of red wine when I snapped this one, yet I think that if you replaced the snail's stein with a red wine stem our trip would not be entirely ill-represented by the chalky, long-lashed caricature you see here.

There were wines, smiles and unfamiliar languages so musical you could hear the upside-down exclamation marks.

There were pots of seafood, baskets of bread, soft creamy cheeses, perfect olives and er, curries and naan.

A bowl of snails one time (which ended up being a super gross experience but it had to be tried), coffees and pastries and lots of other goodies. Let's see how well I can describe these and other Spanish and Portuguese treats in future posts....