Creative urban gardeners always looking for more places to grow things have embarked on the next obvious space: the walls. In the style of graffiti and mural art, building have become the new blank canvas, begging the artist for creative input. I’m enjoying this growing trend of urban greenery in American cities, and during our recent jaunt south for the Winter, took some photos in countries across South America in February 2016.
(Pictures forthcoming as I work out the app and mobile uploading)
Brand new and so big there are trams to gates, escalators to various floors, large 3 story sculptures, speedy mechanical walkways and golf carts with passengers driving by. We went through security even though we were transfering from one Qatar Airways flight to another Qatar Airways flight for the Singapore leg of our journey. There was security checkpoint capability at the gate as well, although not active for our flight, we walked through the frames of the metal detectors up to the attendant who checked our boarding passes and waved us through. Down a hall and through a door was another seated waiting area, glassed in from the normal seating area outside the gate. The seating was labeled zones 1, 2, and 3, which seemed like an entirely logical way to organize such a space.
And of course Chinese New Year is always best celebrated with golden lucky cats.
Youtube video: Rainbow Salads Qatar Airport
Colombia is known worldwide for its quality coffee. One organization, the Juan Valdez (cartel), is in charge of the country’s industry from requiring buying their variety of arabica plant starts to paying them to remove the fruit hull layer and grade the beans. They will not allow the export of smaller beans, which can be sold for national consumption. Only larger grades are allowed for export.
I love plants, having a masters degree in agriculture and having grown up in California, but I strongly dislike wine and coffee. The burnt bean smell on my clothing after leaving a Starbucks makes me regret entering. The two buck chuck and the cheap wine craze befuddle me, sulphur doesnt pair well with flavor, is inflammatory, and makes for painful hangovers not even Starbucks can fix. However, an unlabeled bottle poured by the winemaker him/herself is a treat and an honor of excellence I relish and enjoy, knowing the entire process and trusting the integrity and enthusiasm, care and craft, of the person who guided the process of years it took for that special moment to transpire, sharing the enjoyment of their fruits of dedicated labor.
On another note, I love chocolate, the darker the better, and it seems coffee would be a natural next step, yet I haven’t ever had more than a sip of coffee my entire 44 years. After experiencing the mere aromas of burnt, stale beans, I’ve never been interested to try coffee in the United States.
After a month and a half in South America trying the stimulants of the region, greatly enjoying the Yerba Mate tea leaves of Argentina and Uruguay and chewing the coca leaves of Bolivia, it was clearly time to visit Colombian coffee.
Granted a mocchaccino is not a straight cup of black, bitter awfulness Americans call coffee, but not being a fan of coffee in the slightest, it was all an adventure.
Farm fresh, premium grade, single origen sourced beans produced such subtle, earthy flavors like I’d never known could be expressed through a coffee infusion. Perfectly blended with milk and chocolate syrup, the combination was delightful and I could finally understand the global addiction to this disgusting legal stimulant traded as a commodity second only to oil.
Although I’m highly unlikely to try coffee again in the US, I greatly enjoyed the experience of locally grown Colombian coffee in Cartagena made by the cafe barista at San Alberto.
We did the Lonely Planet recommended tour of multiple sites including buildings that got bombed to where Pablo was killed to his grave site.
The tour guide concluded with that there is more business now than during Colombia’s 50 years violence when 100s of thousands of people were killed every year. The seat of global distribution has been shifted to Mexico, where a violent era is in progress.
His was the only grave in this strict, private cemetary allowed special concessions of his favorite Miami palms and decorative rocks.
Despite our Medellin hosts not having hot shower water, slow Internet, and the public toilets not having the lids I’ve been accustomed to my entire life, I enjoyed Colombia’s beautiful landscape, access to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans combined with traditional grazing and abundant tropical fruits plus extremely favorable exchange rates.
Restaurants, movies, and travel were less than a third the prices of any other major US city. Movies were 2-4 dollars with a bottle of water costing another dollar at the concession. Buses and rail were about 60 cents a ride. Taxis cost a few dollars for quick trips to get off our feet for a few minutes.