Tag Archives: Mexico

Countdown to the World Cup 2010: Four Days

The World Cup isn’t all that happens in Cape Town.

Tune into the first matches this Friday, June 11 at 9 a.m. (CT) South Africa v. Mexico, and at 1:30 p.m. (CT) Uruguay v. France. Matches take place all over the country, but Cape Town is enough to entertain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Still not satisfied? Fill your house with the smell of Cape Town by making the Kalmanson family bobotie recipe. The traditional meat pie was invented by the Cape Malays.

Tara for TKGO

Advertisements

In Defense of Cruises

A friend of ours is currently on a cruise from Southern California to Mexico. When I found out, I was a little surprised. She’s well-traveled and culturally-adventurous, and cruises don’t generally attract those interested in exploring the ins and outs of a city like a local, which I know she enjoys doing. I think she was surprised to find herself on one too, judging from her text message that contained the phrase, “…Forgot how ridiculous cruises are.”

For a span of time, my family was all about cruises. While I was in middle school, we boarded three different cruise lines to three different places. The first one was like our test-run. It was a short Carnival cruise that touched on the Caribbean and part of Mexico. Our second one came a few years later to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises and the third (and at this point, final one) was an all-out Caribbean tour thanks to Royal Caribbean Cruises.

In my pre-teenage and early teenage days I considered cruises were the ultimate form of family vacation and travel. I roamed the ship with my new-found best vacation friends Now, though, I’m a little ashamed to admit to serious travelers that I’ve been on so many. Why? Many consider the stereotypical cruise-goer a close relative to (if not the same as) the socks and sandals clad, overweight, Hawaiian-shirted tourist. Our cruises invariably boasted 24-hour buffets. One ship even had an ice rink and a Johnny Rockets. Thousands of people unloaded almost daily into small ports where all the souvenir shirts read some variation of “Yah, mon.” When you look at the profile of a typical cruise and cruise ship, it’s just plain hokey.

But at the time, it worked. My sister was still little, I was itching (more like fighting) for an ounce of vacation freedom and my parents were looking for some relaxation. A cruise was everyone’s happy compromise for a one-size-fits-all form of vacation. And to be honest, in retrospect, we did some pretty cool stuff. We snorkeled with sea turtles in Barbados, fed and swam with stingrays in the Cayman Islands (pre-Steven Irwin incident, RIP). We went rafting on a glacial river and kayaking in an ocean inlet in Alaska. And to this day, I recall the sights from the dock of our cruise ship bound for Alaska as some of the most stunning I’ve ever witnessed. In fact, I’d recommend that cruise to anyone and everyone interested in seeing more of Alaska than Sarah Palin on TV. (It’s really a lush, beautiful place. Warm in the summer, too.)

I’ve thought back on past trips and re-assessed my family’s temporary cruise obsession. It’s made me realize, even more than before, travel really is what you make it.

 

Hubbard Glacier in Alaska (as seen from the cruise ship deck)

 

 

Snorkeling in Barbados (L: My younger sister, R: Me)

 

(I apologize for the quality of the photos; they come the pre-digital camera era. Hard to imagine…)

Karina for TKGO

Real-Life Candyland

Update: The Clark Street Dulcelandia is now closed, but other locations around Chicago are still selling sweets!

Happy Halloween! Earlier today we used the upcoming holiday as an excuse for a candy-related adventure and headed to Dulcelandia in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. “Dulcelandia” translates to “Candy Land,” and this Chicagoland chain was every bit a Mexican reincarnation of the whimsical board game. Actually, it was better: It included piñatas.

Dulcelandia

When we walked into the story, the woman working at the register (Mary was her name; we became friends) offered us a tray full of about eight types of small candies to try. (As if we hadn’t already expected to love this place, but this solidified it.) All of the candy in the story is imported, the majority from Mexico and some from Colombia. The piñatas, which hung from every inch of the ceiling and covered the floor in the front of the store, also are made in Mexico and shipped to Chicago. We took some time investigating the candy selection ourselves before asking Mary to point us toward the most popular—and craziest—candies. Lollipops and anything chile-flavored, especially chile-flavored lollipops, apparently are the bestsellers. We picked up a few “pollo asado” lollipops, which were spicy and shaped like whole chickens (seriously!) as well as some mango and watermelon suckers coated in chile, of course.

Dulcelandia

Some of our other favorite finds (well, Mary helped us find them) were Tomy sucking candies, which are peanut-flavored and reminiscent of Werther’s, chewy watermelon-flavored candies with a kick of chile, decorated sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos and “dulces de camote,” which are slices of candied sweet potato. Every time Mary noticed a certain candy intrigued us, she’d grab a piece, rip off the wrapper and say, “Here, try it!” We thank the culture of Mexican hospitality for that generosity. But seriously, why aren’t all candy stores so encouraging?

Naturally, we wanted to stay in Dulcelandia forever. Once we finally forced ourselves to leave, we gorged on our full-bag purchases (each of us only spent about $5 for hordes of delicious imported candy!) the whole way back to Evanston. We went from sugar high to sugar coma before we even saw Northwestern’s campus. Looks like we haven’t learned since we were five years old.

DSCF0024

See for yourself: We visited the Dulcelandia at 6718 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60626. Look here for more locations. All photos by Tara and Karina.

Tara and Karina for TKGO

A Flea Market Thrives in Brooklyn

Along with a happenin’ outdoor restaurant

One of our first daytime excursions in New York was over (rather, under) the Hudson to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene. We’d read about the wonders old and new to be found at the city’s largest flea market and given the cloudless spring sky, perusing trinkets seemed the best way to spend a Saturday.

When we finally emerged from the subway stop (the trains get wacky on weekends, a source of repeated frustration) wide-eyed and looking confused, a man sitting on a stoop selling old wares asked if we were looking for the flea market and gave us the two-block directions. “When you’re done there,” he said, “head to Habana Outpost right nearby. It’s their opening day celebration and they have great drinks and food, especially mojitos.” Mojitos? Done deal. That, and because when a cool-seeming local gives you a suggestion, you take it!

At the food and vintage-wear-stuffed Brooklyn Flea, one of us picked up a pair of new, handmade earrings, and the other found a couple vintage necklaces. We also spent plenty of time drooling over the baked goods, ice creams and artisan foods lining the fence.

Habana Outpost was a party. Think live music, outdoor seating, succulent specialty corn out of a neon-colored truck parked outside and minty mojitos churning in solar-powered machines (in fact, sunlight powers the whole restaurant). Because it was the outdoor patio’s opening day, it was packed. We squeezed at a picnic table with some Fort Greene locals with an extra cob of the sour cream-coated, cinnamon-sprinkled specialty corn (which might be the best way to make friends at Habana!). By the end of our conversation — and day — we were talking dreamy plans of lives in brownstones in Fort Greene.

Tara and Karina for TKGO