Tevis Spezia loves to travel and has negotiated a month off to be able to recharge from his hectic nonprofit job. This year his destination was Chile, landing first in Santiago. With friends in Santiago there was plenty to do and still he found time to take a cooking class with his friend Edmond.
Tevis has cooked since his senior year in high school and he’s developed some skills from cooking with friends weekly in San Francisco and taking some classes in Southeast Asia. He’s also game to try new things. Based on past good experiences, he went on Trip Advisor and found a class.
They walked to the markets and took the subway to the kitchen. The teaching chefs had already prepared the dough to make dosladitas–a Chilean bread that is similar to sourdough that you eat with salsa or butter. The class put the bread dough in the oven and prepared the salsa (pebre). They also made ceviche. No recommendation here (Tevis is not a fan of fish, cooked or raw). They mixed up pisco sour cocktails (which can make you invisible but that is a tale for another day). The menu was rounded out with a pork and potato dish (Chorrillana de Cerdo) and a Panacota de Chirimoya dessert.
All of the food was very tasty. Tevis thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to anyone spending time in Santiago.
Cooking classes are a great way to get to know a culture more intimately. Taste preferences are created over a lifetime. We assume pumpkin pie is delicious to everyone, but when I asked the chef at Moreton’s in St. Heliers/Auckland to make one for our family Thanksgiving dinner, he scrapped it because it tasted off to him. He remade it with butternut squash. And this in a country that eats pumpkin all the time.
The recipes and the knowledge of how to make them are the ultimate souvenir to take home.
We arrived in Auckland very early one morning. Our Air New Zealand flight arrived ahead of schedule and customs are a breeze in Auckland International. We rented our car from A2B, drove to St Heliers, ate breakfast at Kahve, freshened up at a friends and then drove to Auckland’s central business district (CBD).
We dropped our car with the valet at Britomart (between the shopping center and transit center), and walked around Britomart and into Milse for exquisite dessert.
Afterward we walked up Queen Street and High Street stopping at shops along the way–always Unity bookstore. Then over to Sky Tower. We paused to watch some brave/crazy souls ride a slingshot kind of bungee (except Sarah who could not bear it). Then we walked round to the Auckland Art Gallery and stopped for a cup of tea at the cafe. After seeing the Goldie Maori portraits and then back toward the Quay.
Our day was fun, relaxing and a great way to ease into a new time zone. One of the great things about visiting New Zealand at the end of November is the long days of light.
Chris Guillebeau’s newest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, is all about finding meaning in life through a quest. A quest is bigger than an adventure; it is a series of adventures with a clear end goal. It is challenging and requires a sacrifice of time or treasure. The CTI Co-Active Leadership program ends with designing a quest; however, there was very little information about what form a quest might take. This book fills that void.
The book is full of people’s quest examples. I compared their experiences to my own. 5 years ago I needed a change in my life. The stress and the work treadmill were making me physically sick. Knowing that I needed to make changes was not enough to sustain the redesign needed–like expecting to lose weight while working in a donut shop.
I started with a couple of adventures with Habitat for Humanity, Global Village program. This was a normal extension of the travel volunteering I had done before. I focused on Northern Ireland and, based on other volunteers’ stories, I wanted to do a Jimmy Carter Build. Then HFH selected five countries along the Mekong River for the JC Build and I had friends in Cambodia. So I went on a Jimmy Carter Build in Cambodia hoping that the next step would reveal itself.
This is the real challenge of a quest figuring how much you need to do and how much you need to leave unplanned for the Universe to fill in the blanks. Much of quest begins and moves forward on intuitive hunches.
While I was on the Cambodia build I met a group of really great New Zealand volunteers. This led to taking a group of Canadian and US volunteers to a build in Wellington. By this time I had more than an inkling that my quest was leading me to live overseas.
New Zealand was love at first sight. My quest began to focus on moving to New Zealand. I spent a year “leaving well.” As far as sacrifice, does selling everything you own count? The thrill of fulfilling a life long dream of living in a foreign country for longer than 10 weeks (my previous stretch) was so exciting that it carried me through the wrenching process of leaving family and a house I had lived in for 25 years.
Once I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand lots of things fell into place—a place to live in St Heliers, a kindred spirit bf, and so many great things. Except a job. Eventually my money and Visa ran out and I found myself flying back to Sacramento on Christmas Day, 2011.
This is the end of the third act of a screenplay called “the all is lost moment.” I really felt confused about my quest. I thought it was about creating a new life overseas and yet I was not able to stay. Within a few months I had a new consulting business and still enjoying a lifestyle that included writing. (Much of this quest is chronicled in my first blog http://redesigning49.com.)
My life is largely redesigned. Yet my quest feels unresolved. I continue to plan adventures and stay open to what comes next.
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. Post-modern tale of a mediocre man’s quest to find a special sheep in the mountains of Japan. The magical realism emphasizes the mystical aspects to a quest. It is the yin and yang of quests: doing and being.
The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Wind and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. This Swedish version of Forrest Gump is a tall tale that illustrates how one thing in life can lead to another in a good way if you retain your basic optimism and do not over think situations.
I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, this month. I have several longer travel-writing projects I want to pursue and I am challenged with carving out the time needed to complete these and get them to publication. I am excited about this challenge. I completed a 50,000+ word novel in 2011 while I was living in St Heliers, Auckland and it helped me discover myself as a writer. I wrote the first draft to a mystery novel called Death by Sand and Gravel. Over time I discovered that I make a better travel writer than mistress of mysteries, so I am using November to recommit to a more disciplined approach to my writing life.
The reward will be a couple of long essays that I can independently publish through On Your Radar Media Company and many, many blog posts. There are other rewards. To write “The Hip and Chic Knitter’s Guide to Norway,” I will also knit a pretty-in-pink project that I purchased in Bergen. This will involve some pattern translation challenges and may involve interviewing other knitters who regularly translate patterns from other languages into English. This child’s sweater will also be a Christmas gift for a friend’s daughter. (Sorry to remind you that Christmas is coming.)
Thinking through how I am going to translate this pattern–asking my friend Susie in Sweden to help me and coordinate with her friends in Stavanger–got me to thinking about how travel is no longer a time set aside with strict bookends. At one time it felt like my “self” on adventures abroad was somehow different that the duller, more cautious Julie who lived a work-a-day life in NorCal. At some point, my travels and the friends I made on my adventures became so numerous that they could not be easily contained in a 2 week time slot called “vacation.” The transition was complete when I redesigned my life to be less about earning a paycheck and more about living a full life. I now have as many or more friends living abroad and I see my travel adventures as bright colored threads woven into my life tapestry, not a separate scarf only donned at the airport. Nor are my work threads the beige neutral threads in my life; they are full of vibrant color too.