Posts Tagged With: shiro

Top Ten Travel Highlights of 2013

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2014 already. Since we’ve moved abroad, Sean and I have rang in the new year in Jordan, Egypt, and now Cambodia. As amazing as it is to keep looking forward to new adventures, it is equally important to reflect on all we’ve experienced. 2013 was pretty awesome. We moved from Kuwait to Cambodia. We celebrated our second year of marriage. Sean had knee surgery. I had wrist surgery. Sean tried pufferfish. I started eating chicken again. We watched Breaking Bad. But I digress.

Anyways, here are our travel highlights of 2013. There’s not really any particular order; it was near impossible to prioritize such perfect memories…  I hope you enjoy!

 2013 Travel Highlights

10. Playing disc golf with my family over the summer (Wisconsin)547901_4009921418603_1670924733_n

 

9. My last vegetarian thali at Banana Leaf (Kuwait)img_2404

 

8. Climbing Kep Mountain (Cambodia)10

 

7. Learning to speak Khmer (Cambodia)1185019_10201246178628688_1713916646_n

 

6. Eating giant prawns on the Koh Kong coast (Cambodia)img_6725

 

5. Becoming addicted to shiro and injera (Ethiopia)img_4913

 

4. Smoking shisha with my mother and the head of the Ministry of Communication (Kuwait)img_4726_2

 

3. Hiking five nights on The Beaten Path trail (Montana)15

 

2. Petting baboons in the Simien Mountains (Ethiopia)img_5656

 

1. Standing under the raging waterfall of Tad Yeang—Can you spot me? (Laos)img_7795-version-2

 

 

 

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Categories: America, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Weeks In Kuwait Through My Eyes

Happy May everyone! And by May, I mean one way away from June. I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by. That sounds cliche, I know, but within this month, I am no longer a second-year teacher and Sean and I will have been married two years now. How mind-blowing is that! I feel like it was just a few months ago that I was walking down the grassy green alter on our wedding day, and when I was nervously preparing lesson plans for my “first day” of school.

What do you learn in two years? Would you consider me a different person? Sean is twenty-five and and I am twenty-four. Are we more mature than our college selves? I think we live a less spartan lifestyle, and we laugh when we say things like, “in this household”, realizing that we ARE a household, a family. The two of us.

Regardless, do I know where I’m going and what the next two years will hold? Absolutely not. And I hope I can never say that I do.

Anyways, this blog post is to catch you up on this month in Kuwait. May was a fun month of exploring, dining out, and celebrating the end of the school year. As of right now, we have next week of final exams, then school is over. Sean and I fly out of Kuwait June 9th for Chicago. That means I have to get as much Kuwait culture in as possible, and I’ve been pretty good at it.

IMG_5794Abby, Wyn and I went to the Ethiopian restaurant in Kuwait. Well, we’ve been going and will continue to go, once a week for the past month. I don’t know if you picked up on it, but Abby and I were absolutely obsessed with Ethiopian food! It is a vegetarian’s dream. Everyone had mentioned that there was an Ethiopian restaurant in Kuwait, and when we got back from Ethiopia I tracked it down the same week. Their food was fantastic, and they are so nice. It is a totally “feel good” place, with the Ethiopian colors painted on the walls, and the smell of spices, coffee, and frankensense in the air. Everyone in there was Ethiopian, and it felt like we were back in Addis Ababa.

IMG_5795This is my favorite dish, beyaynetu. It is a mix of vegetarian items that you eat with the fluffy sour bread, injera. No forks needed, you just scoop it up with the injera! The stuffed spicy pepper is my favorite.

If you live in Kuwait and are looking for this place, it’s called Al Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant.

Picture 1It’s in Hawally, near the Universal American School. I take the bus to get there, the #66, and get off at the mosque roundabout (in the upper right-hand corner of this map). Then I walk down Ibn Khaldoun street. Stay on the left side of the street, you’ll pass a McDonald’s, then a Sears, then a Subway (sounds like America, doesn’t it!?) which is part of a nicer looking mall called Zawya Complex.

Picture 2Here’s another, closer view. Notice that the restaurant is BEHIND the Zawya Complex (it has also been called Al Bassam Complex #3). When you get to the Subway, you need to wrap around the back of the building, and the restaurant is on the backside. There is actually a row of cool Ethiopian shops all in a row there! It’s now one of my favorite hidden gems of Kuwait.

IMG_5796Here we are waiting to board the bus home from Al Habesha.

Al Habesha delivers, too! Abby and I were really tired on Wednesday and had student-led conferences at 5:30, so we decided to have them deliver. Their delivery numbers are 6633 9296 or 6048 4303. I highly recommend it!

IMG_5785You can even buy their injera to go, so I ordered 10 pieces. (It’s only 1 KD for 10!) I learned how to make shiro (a chickpea flour and tomato puree), so now I order injera from Al Habesha and feast on my own shiro. Life is good! I will miss this when I leave Kuwait!

IMG_5932Since this post is a week through my eyes, I wanted to mention how much I love Zumba in Kuwait. It keeps me sane since there’s not a lot of outdoor recreation possibilities here. Sharon (on the left) has been my instructor for two years, and Nicole (on the left) just got her instructor’s license last summer, and teaches lessons from time to time. I love dancing with them! Sharon is leaving this year and moving to Mozambique, and Nicole is taking over instruction next year. She teaches at AIS, where the classes will be held. If you’re looking for great Zumba in Kuwait, I highly recommend dancing with these ladies!

IMG_5916I brought my camera to school one day, and wanted to snap a few photos before the year finishes and we head for home. This is a “hall way” near Sean’s classroom. Everything is open air, and has a really peaceful feeling. I’m going to miss it.

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Sean getting down to business in his classroom. He just screams fun humanities teacher, doesn’t he?

IMG_5919Sean’s classroom. He is such a great teacher. I love the visuals, the color, the student work. He inspires me.

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Time for another food adventure! Abby and I went to the Sri Lankan restaurant in Kuwait City. I love, love, LOVE Sri Lankan food, and ate at this place when my mom visited. It is really spicy, but a fun chance to mix it up when you get tired of hummus and flat bread.

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These are traditional Sri Lankan “snacks”, which you can eat on-the-go. When you sit down to eat in Sri Lanka, these are placed in heaping mounds on your table, and you eat your fill of whatever kinds you want, then you pay whatever you owe. They’re filled with all sorts of curries in the center. Curried hard boiled egg, curried potatoes, they’re delicious!IMG_5891

These are string hoppers in the back, and then I swear the front item is a shredded, seasoned coconut, but Abby disagreed. Post in the comments if you know what it is! Regardless, you eat it all with your fingers. Nom nom nom.

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I never understood why the restaurant was called the “Chandra Hotel”. But I like that they have a clear price list posted. I want to go back and try even more things.

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A meal is not complete with a spot of tea after wards. In all the countries I’ve been to in the Middle East, this is the typical way most people drink tea. They add cream (or condensed milk) to it, then you add sugar as you see fit. It’s delicious!

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A stormy afternoon in Kuwait. It’s not often that you see dark clouds in the sky, or swirling ones for that matter! Unfortunately they only provided a few sprinkles, not a torrential downpour like I dreamed.

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My last “adventure” of the past two weeks was when Sean and I took a trip to one of our favorite restaurants in Kuwait, Sabaidee Thai. It’s in Medan Hawally (or Salmiya?) and it’s a really well-priced Thai place with good food.

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Sean ordered sweet and sour chicken and I got shrimp panang curry. We had two sides of rice and two sodas for a total of 5 KD, which is really a great deal for good food and a nice atmosphere in Kuwait. We walk there, which makes for a very pleasant stroll. Sabaidee is actually marked on Google Maps, so look it up if you’re interested in visiting.

Well, there you have it. Two weeks in Kuwait. Do you think food is a central element to recreation here? I hope that changes when I move to Cambodia. As much as I consider myself a foodie, I want to develop hobbies that don’t involve visiting restaurants and taking pictures of food. On the flip side, when people talk to me about my blog, they say they love looking at all the cool restaurants I visit and foods I eat. I can’t wait to share the foods of Southeast Asia with you! The more people I tell about Cambodia, the more they gush about how much Sean and I will love it. We are toying with the idea of purchasing a car and, dare I say it in writing, a dog. It would be my dream to have a dog and a car, so as to travel around Cambodia for swimming in the waterfalls, canoeing, bicycling, weekend trips, island hopping (well, that would be without the car), all with a doggy. I want a dog so bad, it’s not even funny. However, it’s really difficult to have a traveling lifestyle when you’ve got a pet, so we have some decision to make in the near future. In Cambodia, the possibilities are endless!

I hope to post at least once more before we leave Kuwait. I will continue to carry my camera around with me. Post in the comments if there is a particular thing/activity/event/place/item you are interested in my blogging about, and I will make an effort to do so before we leave Kuwait!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ethiopia: Iron Like A Lion In Zion

I need to confess: I’ve been keeping a secret from you. You had to have been wondering about our spring break, right? We’re at an American school, we had a spring break last year, and we’ve been burning the midnight oil since January.

We had a spring break. What a spring break we had.

We went to Ethiopia.

I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to build any anticipation. Some people don’t like excess anticipation, and we had the trip planned for months. Ethiopia doesn’t have as much background knowledge with people, and I thought it would be a nice surprise : )

Now that we’ve returned from our trip, I can boldly say that I have gone where no Wisconsin-Middle-School-Teacher-Working-In-Kuwait has gone before. We booked the flights in early November, and had months of scouring the internet, staring slaw-jawed at pictures of baboons, castles, mountains, and waterfalls.

Why Ethiopia, you ask? It all started one lackluster evening in Kuwait; I had finished my lesson plans for the following day, swallowed my hummus, sipped my tea, watched my episodes, and reclined on the couch, nibbling on baklava, staring at a map of the world. (Yes, this series of events is a frequent occurrence in my life. Admire or pity me, your choice.) I noticed that Ethiopia was considerably closer than I had originally thought, and that there was a patchwork of national parks and mountain ranges. I called up my girlfriend Abby, and an hour later we booked our tickets.

We couldn’t have made a better choice.

I don’t know how to describe Ethiopia, it was unlike anywhere we’ve ever been.

Ethiopia was…

Camelot
Baboons
One of the largest mountain ranges in Africa
Giant smiles and waving hands
Platters of delicious food, meant to be lovingly shared with friends
Rastafarian history
Foosball
Beautiful women
Great music
Pure, simple life and love.

We hired a driver, and are so glad we did. His name is Demiss Mamo, and really felt more like a good friend than a business. We spent all our meals with him, hiked with him, laughed with him, told stories with him, and learned more about Ethiopia with him than we ever could have alone. Demiss was the best driver I’ve ever had, and actually miss him quite a bit. He is a unique soul. Check out his website at http://www.ethiopiandriver.com  – he’s even driven for Reuters, BBC, and Oxfam.

Shall we get to the first round of photos?

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Snapped out of the car window as we drove from the capital city, Addis Ababa, up to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. A simple home, a bit nicer than most we saw in the countryside. I can’t believe the hardened mud walls hold up so well, even through the rain.

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Our first stop was at an overlook to the Jemma River Gorge. We had a coffee (Ethiopian coffee, mind you! More on that later…) at a lodge that was perched right on the cliff; it was really beautiful.

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Our friends Kyle and Abby overlooking the gorge. We have grown really close with them this year, and had a blast with them in Ethiopia. They are a couple that we would love to stay in touch with forever; hopefully we can find space in our new school in Cambodia for them…

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The Jemma River is a tributary to the Nile. The gorge is over 1,000 meters deep. The weather was just perfect, and the coffee tasted just right. Paradise.

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After our coffee, we began a short hike along the rim of the gorge. There were Gelada Baboons everywhere! We were terrified at first, but our driver laughed and told us they are harmless.

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Our hike took us to the Portuguese Bridge, built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. It is still used as a traveling route on market days. They say it was constructed out of limestone and ostrich eggs!

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After our diversion in the Jemma Valley, we continued driving North towards our destination, Bahir Dar. I shot the above photo out of the van; like I said, our driver was fantastic! We had a van to ourselves, it was so relaxing and great to be able to spread out. We felt so safe the whole time, and it was so nice to have someone who knew all the directions and the good places to stop and eat.

In the above photo, you may notice the yellow water jugs. We saw them everywhere; it was really humbling to realize that people walk miles each day to get to their water source. They then walk an hour or farther back to their home, only to carefully and meticulously ration the water they’ve transported. And here we are in Kuwait (or America) taking twenty-minute showers. It made me really disappointed in how carelessly we use water in a large part of the world. How easy our lives are, and how mindlessly we are able to live.

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From the Jemma Valley we continued north and eventually reached the Blue Nile Gorge. The magnitude of this gorge is inconceivable. I had to find some statistics online after returning, just so that I could conceptualize how large it actually is:

The Blue Nile gorge is 250 miles long.
The Grand Canyon in America is 277 miles long.

The Blue Nile gorge is 1,500m deep, that’s 4,921 feet deep! (If that doesn’t make sense to you, I’ll say that from the top of the gorge to the bottom is almost 5,000 feet. Or that the walls of the gorge rise 5,000 feet from the bottom of the canyon.)
The Grand Canyon is 1,800m deep, or 6,000 feet deep.

As you can see, they’re comparable in size. We visited the Grand Canyon of Africa. Pretty cool, huh?

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The Blue Nile River at the base of the Blue Nile Gorge. (Those cliff walls are the first in a series of steps of walls; it is far to vast to capture in a single photograph!)

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We stopped in a town called Debre Markos for lunch, and Abby and I discovered the most delicious meal on the face of the earth: Beyaynetu. Beyaynetu is an Ethiopian staple food, and is perfect for vegetarians like myself. It is served on injera, which is a sour pancake-like bread. You eat it with your fingers, using the bread as your serving utensil. You pull off a piece of injera, scoop up some lentils/veggies/shiro of your choice, and pop it in your mouth.The whole time we were in Ethiopia Abby and I split beyaynetu, as it was massive each time we ordered it! Needless to say, we ate beyaynetu for every meal.


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Another meal of beyaynetu on our trip, complete with local Ethiopian beer. I particularly liked the hot green paper, stuffed with minced onions. Every different item on the injera had it’s own unique flavor and texture. We absolutely devoured it. You will see many more photos of food before I finish talking about Ethiopia…

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A fascinating rock sculpture called the Devil’s Nose.

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Sean and I passed many hours in the van playing cribbage.

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A selection of Ethiopian beer (and Kyle very excited in the background). I particularly liked the Dashen beer, on the far left. Sean preferred St. George. Everyone liked Bedele. Okay, after two years in Kuwait we love any beer.
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We spent an afternoon relaxing on the shores of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. It was so lush and green!

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Here’s another food picture, this time an action shot of Abby and I eating injera. This meal, however, is not beyaynetu, but something called shiro. Shiro is made from powdered chickpeas or broadbeans. We would sometimes order a whole platter of shiro and injera, as seen above. Yum!

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The Blue Nile Falls.

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Sean and I at the Blue Nile Falls.

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Hiking to the Blue Nile Falls, I just had to capture this quintessential African tree…

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Abby, Kyle, and I waiting for Sean on a bridge near the Blue Nile Falls. It was market day so everyone was taking their animals to the market near Bahir Dar.

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A crowded bridge (foot traffic only) on the way to the Blue Nile Falls.

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After the Blue Nile Falls we stayed in a gorgeous bed and breakfast called the Lodge Du Chateau in Gonder (Gondar). It had a beautiful terrace overlooking the mountains. We spent many hours playing cards and sipping coffee up there. Paradise.

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Storytelling and recapping the day at our hotel in Bahir Dar.

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The first night, in Bahir Dar, we stayed at a place called “B & B The Annex”, which felt most like a homestay to me. We woke early in the morning to symphony of birds dancing through the trees. Sean was reading his book, sipping fresh mango juice, and I was giving serious thanks for this gorgeous life we live.

That wraps up the first two days of our trip in Ethiopia! Stay tuned for photos of what has been called the “Camelot” of Africa, the Simien Mountains, baboons, and much more!

Categories: Ethiopia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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