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  • hardie karges 12:50 pm on September 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aztec, Cumbia, El Salvador, , Mexica, , Nahuatl, Nawat, Pipil, refajo, skirt,   

    El Salvador: Rescuing the past… 

    El Salvador is not necessarily the first country to come to mind when you talk about indigenous cultures in Central America, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there, either. There are. And if the indigenous language is the mark of that culture, then it’s been looking pretty grim, with only some two hundred Nawat (Nahuatl) speakers left in a culture that calls itself ‘Pipil’… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Energy drinks, , , , ,   

    ADDICT! Confessions of an American Coffee Drinker… 

    IMG_0099.JPGHi. My name is Hardie, and I’m an addict.”

    “Give Hardie a nice welcome, group.”

    (Multiple voices in unison) “HI, HARDIE!”

    “Why don’t you tell us your story, Hardie…”

    005

    Same in any language…

    Well, I knew I had a problem when I started carrying around a pack of Nescafe, for travel, and totally unselfconsciously, mind you, the hard stuff, too, not the 3-in-1 lady coffee, and I would mix it straight with bottled water and maybe a little sugar, if I was lucky, and happened to have some…

    At that point my habit was probably 200mg a day, though I’m sure I did 400mg many days, espresso cappucino latte’ macchiato, I’ve tried them all, including the Italian ‘ristretto‘, hard to find, like mainlining a little bit of Heaven straight to the carotid artery, pure caffeine, milk and sugar optional, add water to taste, it keeps you awake during prayers, yeah right…

    (snickers and subdued laughter, smiles on a head or two nodding)

    I got my start in the Millsaps College grill, lousiest coffee in the world but cheapest, too, ten cents a cup, and honor system, so you could just thump the cup if you were short on change, for good luck and good measure. That lasted a couple years, there and assorted mini-marts and lousy greasy spoons, Maxwell House, Folger’s, Yuban, Taster’s Choice, mother’s little helpers with a Good Housekeeping seal of approval…

    …but I saw the Promised Land in North Beach, San Francisco, 1974, espresso for a dollar or so a shot, way outta’ my budget, though, me hanging shopper ads on door knobs for less than minimum wage in nameless suburbs where the others lived, enough for a $25 a week studio pad on Washington Square, but I knew then what I wanted to be when I grew up. So it came three years later in Mexico City…

    While Lupita was doling out Burroughs his little pile of junk on anonymous street corners in DF, I was in the downtown cafeterias, real cafeterias, coffee-houses, European-style, with the good stuff, black meat, cafe’ espres’ and cafe’ cortado, just like the Beatniks in North Beach, but only a quarter dollar USD, so I could imbibe, in post-devaluation Mexico, and you get a waiter dressed-like-a-penguin to boot…

    Like Water for Nescafe…

    007 (2)…only problem was that you could get nothing of the sort outside DF, so I’m hooked by then, and stuck in Oaxaca, looking to score at 6am, and nothing open till eight, and then only Nescafe, “agua para Nescafe” infinitely preferable to whatever else might be on tap, at least they’d let you mix it yourself from a large jar with crusty rim, keeps me off the streets and out of the gutters, and somewhat normal for another twenty-four hours at least…

    But Portland, OR, sealed the deal for me, where coffee was already king in the early 80’s, and you could score for the good stuff all over town. But my favorite was macchiato, aka ‘meth’, because it had a dollop of creamy froth to neutralize the acids, but no one would mistake it for a lady drink. That’s the problem with cappucino: unless you know your local dealer, they might put cinnamon or something on it, and by then it’s too late…

    If they don’t have macchiato, then I’ll usually just order the espresso to avoid that possibility, same with latte’. But when Starbuck’s finally hit the big time, it was hard to pass on that two-dollar twenty-ounce bad boy called ‘Veinti‘, so nobody ordered it but me, because they didn’t know how to pronounce it, much less actually know what it means. I figure that monster cup had about 400 mg. of pure caffeine, maybe more if you filled it to the brim, no room for milk—ha! I know that trick…

    Then the energy drinks came along and upped the ante post-Y2K, though I’d known them for years in Thailand, where the Red Bull and many others originated. They made caffeine a party drink, speed-balling caffeine and alcohol, so that you can drink all night, because in effect, you never really get drunk. You just go out of your mind! And the American manufacturers actually improved on the taste of that medicinal-flavored retch—though it does grow on you…

    But most of all there’s now a clear equation of what one milligram of caffeine should cost, and what your choice of flavors are to go with it. Between that twenty-ounce Starbuck’s bad boy and those Monster energy drinks with 160 or 240mg frequently found for less than a buck, I refuse to pay more than five cents USD for a milligram of the drug, and I expect to have my choice of delightful flavors, coffee in the morning, lively limey citrus in the afternoon…

    IMG_0959But my conscience still nags me: isn’t there something wrong with this? I know the Islamic mullahs long ago ruled that it’s okay, but still… Then my Buddhist priest not only okayed it—he started fixing me up every morning before first light, then again in the afternoon, too. He says it helps with meditation. You got that right…

    Fast-forward to the present, and I finally decided to quit. Junk is junk. Maybe it was the betel-nut chewers in Burma or the heroin junkies in Amsterdam—I don’t know. How can I live with myself if I’m disgusted at the same time? If you want to move forward, then you’ve got to leave some things behind, that’s what I figure. Freedom starts in your own mind. If you need help getting up in the morning, then you need to make some changes in your life.” I shrug. “That’s my story.”

    Wow, Hardie! That’s some story! And I’m sure that all the others and I are glad to see you clean, straight and sober. It must feel good knowing that you’ll never have to go back to drinking that nasty stuff…”

    (space intentionally left blank)

    Wait a minute. I didn’t say that. Did I say that? No, I definitely did not say that.”

     

     

     

     
    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on May 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My nerves are shot to pieces after reading this graphic account … only one thing for it … brew myself a cafetiere of full-strength Kenyan Fair Trade!

  • hardie karges 11:17 pm on July 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kamouchea,   

    #Aranyaprathet #Thailand: Swimming to Kampuchea–by Train 

    Train to Cambodia

    Train to Cambodia

    The train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet on the Cambodian border seems unusually crowded. My British friend Tom and I are lucky to get a seat, and we’re both trying to figure out why—maybe because it’s Friday? Or maybe it’s a holiday. Whatever, by the time we’ve reached the BKK airport on the skirts of town, the train has long been full to capacity, and nobody’s getting off, with still more trying to get on. Nobody seems angry, though, as if this were to be expected.

    I assume it’s because the ride is free for locals. That means people can ride whether they have any business or not, just joy-riding, so to speak. Still, no one’s getting off—anywhere. They can’t all be going to the border, can they? Aranyaprathet is not that large of a town. Unless they’re Cambodian (what is the sound of one light-bulb lighting?). Our seatmates are silent the whole trip, pretty strange for Thais, not known for their pensive moments. They’ve got tickets, though; locals wouldn’t need them. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 12:15 am on July 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know how in the world you describe where you are and what is going on.

      Esther

  • hardie karges 8:25 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kota Bahru, , Syugai Kolok,   

    #KotaBharu: on the Thai-Malay Border 

    Market in Kota Bahru, Malaysia

    Market in Kota Bahru, Malaysia

    June 2014

    Crossing the border between Sungai Kolok in Thailand and Kota Bahru in Malaysia is no big deal, just walk across like they should all be, only problem is you’re still miles from the real city on the Malay side no problem just hop on the city bus, only real problem is that there are no forex facilities, so you’re sh*t out of luck, nothing in your hand but your rubber d*ck, if you don’t have a piece of magic plastic that burps out bucks at the punch of a bar code, numerical equivalent to happiness…

    Once again a line in the sand makes all the difference in the world, like TJ or TG, shops closing here while opening in Thailand, sun down means desires up, that’s Thailand for you, but this is the conservative part of Malaysia, the Muslim-est part, that is traditional, hot curries without all the messy juices between the bed sheets; it’s a dry heat, I guess. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 10:38 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I just don’t know how you do it, but I really do enjoy reading about it.

  • hardie karges 2:54 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Oliver Mtukudzi   

    Fear & Loathing In Addis Ababa 

    008

    Scenes From an Ethiopian Wedding

    …flight to Ethiopia is on Turkish Air, so I change planes at Istanbul, finally getting in at midnight… friend’s there to meet me; first time for everything… night air is cool; that suits me fine.  I drink a beer and we shoot the sh*t for a while.  It’s midnight and I’m wired, jet-lagged as Hell.  Welcome to Ethiopia.

    …Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi is playing on Sunday; I’m in… first thing’s come first, though, so I go get my visa to Somaliland, even though it’s not really even a country…

    The “ambassador” calls me into his office.

    “Who told you to go to Somaliland?”

    “No one.  I decided to do it on my own.  I plan to go to every country in the world.”

    “Have you ever been in Ethiopia before?”

    “First time.”

    “Where else have you been in Africa?”

    “Mali and Senegal.  But I’ve been in eighty other countries also.”

    003

    Cultural Dinner in Addis Ababa

    He nods.  He didn’t have to know that Mali was an unmitigated disaster and Senegal only somewhat mitigated.  He knows that Africa is a continent unlike any other, where your very conception of what it is to be human will be put to the test, where you’ll see things you might rather forget… like humans eating off the ground in flocks like pigeons… collecting discarded mango skins to process one more time nutritionally.

    …seems as if a whole nation is hungry and willing to do just about anything to satisfy it.  When I suggest to two amputees, one male and one female, that they look cute together, they suggest that I should snap up the thirteen-year-old girl with her hand outstretched.

    …girl immediately comes over closer and strokes my…arm-hairs.  They ask where I’m from, wondering if I’m Chinese.  I guess it’s not obvious with my baseball cap and sunglasses on.  I respond that I’m American, lifting my glasses and showing my eyes.  That seems to quell any further interest.  Apparently the Chinese are getting all the press as the nouveau riche from heaven.  Apparently the new Mandarins are the old Mandarins; they just haven’t come to collect the rent yet.

    Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi

    Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi

    Ethiopian women are quite fetching… comparisons to Thailand occur to me…  word for “foreigner” is even almost the same, “faranji” instead of “farang”…  people equally subdued in character, with delicate lines and fine features, both men and women.  Stuff’s cheap, too.  A Plan “C” gradually emerges in my fantasies; if all else fails, then one could do worse than here.  It gets worse…

    Blogs are illegal apparently, and so is Skype… Addis no paradise either, though some modern conveniences and a bustling night-club scene… sprawling and chaotic and hard to walk around… probably “shambolic” too, as the quote goes, but I’m not sure what that word means.

    …go to a “cultural dinner” complete with song and dance… traditional Ethiopian dancing has to be seen to be believed… like pec exercises… while hopping around the floor, kicking and screaming and gesticulating wildly to music that is best described as a cross between Mungo Jerry and Khmer-style gantreum

    038

    A Decent Restaurant in Addis Ababa

    …coffee is excellent, apparently an Italian legacy… cheap too, except in the foreigner haunts… it originates here, but the Italians took it to a high art… antique espresso machines prove it… old fashion machines with four-barrel carburetors… words “macchiato” and “cappuccino” are in the local vocabulary.  Ethiopians drink it with popcorn traditionally, and incense too, a more distant legacy I guess.

    …don’t like to have to watch my back every day in the city, so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the countryside.  Cities should be reserved for great art and beauty and culture, not shanty-towns.  Poverty still has dignity in the countryside.  Leave it there.  ‘Tuku’s show is great, but I’m getting antsy…

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:30 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very informative indeed. You can fit in “anywhere” – and it is unbelievable.

  • hardie karges 3:14 pm on February 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Paramaribo, Sranan Tongo, Suriname   

    Satori In Suriname: Naked Lunch & A/C Nightmares As I Lay Dying 

    Old Paramaribo, Suriname

    Old Paramaribo, Suriname

    New Year 2009

    Paramaribo a traveler’s dream… Suriname one of those great unknowns, I long put off by the presence of a local dialect called “Taki-taki,” figure some sort of pidgin (i.e. bad) English, follow me around like some fart that just won’t go away.  Mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary.  Taki-taki, aka Sranan Tongo… goes back to the earliest days of colonialism… a complete mystery to me even when written…

    …line between Dutch and Sranan Tongo is a horizontal one separating at least educational, if not social levels… Taki-taki the language of no single one, but of all… Dutch the language of government, education and commerce, and some educated native-born Surinamese who speak it amongst themselves… touts and hawkers bark at me in Dutch not English…  testament to the very low level of tourism here and the high percentage of those who are Dutch… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:29 pm on February 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic. A good read on a cold February morning in Mississippi..

  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Corriverton, Georgtetown, Guyana   

    Welcome To Guyana & A Wet Wet Christmas In The Caribbean 

    Hey, Rastaman

    Hey, Rastaman

    December 2008

    Guyana the last link in a circum-Caribbean semi-circle of British intrigue that starts in Jamaica and the Cayman islands… largest of the lot… probably the poorest also… perfect picture of a colonial capital going down on itself… anything but Jonestown: thirty years ago some nine hundred US citizens committed mass suicide in Guyana under the influence of a bad Elvis impersonator.

    Imagine a bus terminal and a market sharing the same space, accompanied by the sounds of barkers barking and horns honking… accents pretty thick here too.  You could almost imagine you’re speaking Creole.  You almost are.  (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:33 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      How you make a common statement into something outstanding. As fpr me, I was in Jamaica once – in Montego Bay For hours yesterday, I got carried away with listing all my trips – and forgot a couple of important ones – a cruise in Hawaii and a cruise in Alaska. How could I forget?

    • hardie karges 3:43 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Actually a cruise is something I’ve never done. It’s too late for the /Caribbean, I guess, but fjords somewhere sound nice… thx for your comment

    • kc 1:01 am on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      gotta love the colors, even in the grey.

  • hardie karges 3:22 pm on January 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Dreams Of Congo Square & The Taco That Ate Trinidad 

    Bring on the night..

    Bring on the night..

    …to Barbados from Jamaica by Air Jamaica, spend the night, then continue on to Trinidad by Liat Airlines… Guyana by Christmas… no air connections amongst the Guyanas… I’ve schemed on Suriname for years, even if their language IS called “Taki Taki.”  I’m battle-hardened linguistically now…

    Welcome to Trinidad.  Super Burritos Gigantes, look out!  You have competition: roti dhal puree: lentils, spinach, chickpeas, mango chutney, two kinds of chicken complete with bone, and of course “pepper” (salsa)… ladled over bread instead of rice.  (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:01 pm on January 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Early food for thought this morning, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
      Quiet here.

  • hardie karges 2:49 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jamaica, Montego Bay   

    Montego Bay: Friendly Natives, Soul Food, & The Quest For Wi-Fi 

    Surfin' to Jamaica

    Surfin’ to Jamaica

    December 2008

    Caribbean ain’t cheap… picture-postcard-perfect swimming-pool-to-the-gods only half a day from approximately one-billion North Americans and Europeans… $50 “budget” hotels… means different things in different countries…. qualities peculiarly Jamaican: reggae, Rastafarians, and rum, the “3R’s” of Jamaican experience…

    …reality on the ground in Montego Bay a bit different… MoBay a veritable cold bed of activity, which is good… Negril the hipper tourist alternative, Ocho Rios the slick uptown cousin… MoBay still manages to rock on weekends and cruise-ship days… functions as an airport terminus far more user-friendly than funky Trenchtown; I mean Kingston. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:39 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Been there – no problem. No “Jamaica Natural,”. No Kingston. Just the Western Caribbean cruise (twice.) Interesting to say the least.

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:49 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I liked Montego Bay best of all about our Western Caribbean cruise – and remember that everything was ‘no problem.’ Fun. Second cruise in 2004, my Christmas gift to 14 of my family members. Also cruised in Hawaii, Alaska and Nova Scotia.

      Nothing compared to your travels all over the world!

      Esther

    • hardie karges 3:52 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I ended up spending all my Jamaican time in Mo’ Bay, so what can I say? Oops, think I gave away the ending… Caribbean is one place where cruise is very cost-effective…

  • hardie karges 3:19 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Filipino, , Kish Island   

    Warm Cheesy Kish: Iran Lite 

    Iran Light: Smoke 'em if you got 'em

    Iran Light: Smoke ’em if you got ’em

    December 2009

    So when I’m going through security check in Dubai, bound for Kish Island, Iran, they call me over for further scrutiny.

    “You have Caesar’s…” the nice lady says.

    I have Caesar’s what…face…bearing…sex appeal? “Excuse me?”

    “You have Caesar’s…” she repeats. The security lady starts making a cutting motion with her fingers.

    Hey, now, don’t start cutting anything. We just met, and I haven’t said anything the slightest bit inappropriate. You want to have a baby by Caesarian section, is that it? Ohhh…  “Scissors? Yes, I have scissors, but they’re blunt ones, not sharp.”

    “Let me see.”

    So I show them to her and she takes them over to her supe. He shakes his head, “Not allowed.”

    “But I pass security with these all the time; they’ve been approved,” I whine, but to no avail. They confiscate my Caesars… scissors. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:24 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I always wonder if this is current – like, happening now?
      Enjoyed. We have an Iranian who built a mansion on Trickhambridge Rd., Brandon.

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:25 pm on January 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I read this post on Facebook – and made a comment. Very interesting.

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