Category Archives: Travel

La Cabeza

“What is that?” I asked in Castillian.

There was a large chunk on his plate. It was about the size of a childs fist. Earlier in the dinner I had assumed that he had ordered chicken, but now that I took a second look, I wasn´t so sure.

“The head.” He replied.

The table was silent as he and his father watched me for my reaction.

“The head of what?” I asked cautiously. Then,  suddenly I recgonized the two long front teeth and the shape of the skull.

The father made a bouncing motion with his hand, then put both his hands to the side of his head to simulate the long ears of a rabbit. He raised his eyebrows excitedly.

“Oh…” I paused…

“You´re not going to eat that?” I asked.

“Oh, yes! The head of the rabbit is very good!” Replied the father. “This is just how my grandmother used to make it. It´s so good, I ordered one for myself too!” He had already finished his dinner. But as if on que, the waiter arrived with a second plate of broken rabbit parts piled on a thin pool of broth.

Knowing how he likes to share the flavors and textures of his culture, I quickly took a gulp of red wine and prepared myself for the worst.

“You never see the head of the animal on the plate in the United States.” I stammered in Castillian.

Within seconds of the new rabbit landing on our table, he had forked a small object onto my empty plate. It rolled around like a marble before coming to a stop in the center.

“Uh oh. Organ meat!” I silently thought to myself.

The father´s eyes lit up as he excitedly pointed to his own back and smiled, “How do you say this part?” He questioned in english.

“Kidney.” I replied.

“Yes!” He said, then smoothly added in Castillian, “It´s very rich, No?”

Trying not to think too much about it, I quickly forked it into my mouth. Indeed, it was very savory with a pleasant firm texture.

“Yes, it´s very good.” I admitted.

“The cheek. You must try the cheek. This is a very special part.” He dug into the face of  the rabbit and pried off a small chunk of meat that he deposited on my plate. Again, I found it to be delicious, smoothly textured, well seasoned.

“And now, you try the brains.” He informed me.

“No! You don´t truthfully eat the brains?” I suggested, hoping not to find out.

“Oh yes. This too is a very special part. You must try it.” He insisted.

A lump of grey matter was forked onto my plate.

As I think back on this moment, I´m pretty sure everyone in the restaraunt stopped what they were doing or saying so they could watch the American eat rabbit brains for the first time.  I was so focused on the burnt and basted substance before me that I´ll never know. At that moment, the small, pulpy lump was larger then the jagged peaks I´d seen in the distance, more mysterious than any of the high mountain passes I´d been crossing to get to the valleys on the other side.

I hesitated.

Then I went for it.

As opposed to finding something to  savor, I discovered a disconcertingly textured, offensively flavored mush that tasted miraculoulsy, exactly how I feared rabbit brains would taste.

“No me gusta!” I exclaimed, and reached for the wine.

Skiing in Morocco, Part 1 of 5

Powder Princess and Foothill Freak wearing the traditional Moroccan Jellaba cloak on the streets of Marraketch.

Powder Princess and Foothill Freak wearing the traditional Moroccan Jellaba cloak on the streets of Marraketch.

Here it is, the Morocco Report.

Part 1 is about our stay in Marraketch, four days of intense shopping, cooking classes, eating, and looking for the perfect postcard before the ski tour.

The ancient Medina of Marraketch is an amazing place: vibrant, dirty, in-your-face, and it serves up the best fresh squeezed orange juice on the face of the planet. We stayed in a traditional riad, a 3 story structure built around a beautiful, open air courtyard, minutes away from the frenzied plaza where snake charmers have hypnotized cobras and snakes since the dawn of, well, snake charming.

streets of Marraketch

After we first left the airport, our taxi driver mentioned that the road is too narrow to drive us all the way to the hotel and that we

This is the front door of our Hotel. If we didn't have a local kid show us the door, we'd never found it.

This is the front door of our Hotel. If we didn't have a local kid show us the door, we'd never found it.

This is the atrium of Hotel Sherazad. Amazing, amazing place. Go there. (cost us around $30 a night).

This is the atrium of Hotel Sherazad. Amazing, amazing place. Go there. (cost us around $30 a night).Photo PP.

If you go to Morocco, you simply must stay in Marraketch at the Hotel Sherazade. Here is their website: hotelsherazade.com. The peace and tranquility there was a very welcome respite from the crazy streets outside. But eventually the insanity draws you back out…

Walking the streets you have to be careful to not get run over by a concealed woman driving a moped while talking on her cell phone.

Walking the streets you have to be careful to not get run over by a veiled woman driving a moped while talking on her cell phone. Photo PP.

Or a horse drawn carriage, a bicycle with 3 kids on it, a donkey pulling a wagon, a sleek Mercedes Benz suv that somehow squeezed through; you never knew what might run you over next.

Or a horse drawn carriage, a bicycle with 3 kids on it, a donkey pulling a wagon, a sleek Mercedes Benz suv that somehow squeezed through; you never knew what might run you over next.

In the Souks you could find more hats than in the Powder Princess's closet

In the Souks you could find more hats than in the Powder Princess's closet. Photo PP.

The nuts of Marrakech.

We didn't have a problem locating nuts. Photo by PP.

Buying alcohol in Marrakech. Sometimes if you even asked, it felt as though everyone was staring at you.

On the other hand, it was very hard to find beer or wine, especially in the old Medina where we stayed. Even just asking where to buy wine would get everyone looking at you.

Jawa loading a Moroccan Desert Crawler

All forms of transportation are used and over-burdened in Morocco.

If you can imagine it...

If you can imagine it, it

A Spice Souk in the Marrakech Medina.

When it comes time to buy something in the souks, you have to be prepared with nerves of steel for the negotiating. Some caffiene was helpful too.

Here a member of our ski group discusses the price of a carpet with a local Moroccan after a leisurely cup of sweetened mint tea.

Here a member of our group discusses the price of a carpet with a local Moroccan, after enjoying a traditional cup of sweetened mint tea.

Here's the carpet that Princess bargained for and purchased. She was so stern and determined I almost felt bad for the shopkeeper. Almost. Back at home, the Powder Porpoise approved it immeadeatly.

Here's the carpet that Princess bargained for and purchased. She was so stern and determined I almost felt bad for the shopkeeper. Almost. Back at home, the Powder Porpoise approved it immeadeatly. Photo by PP.

Princess wins the culinary adventurer award for eating pigeon tagine. And she's a vegetarian!

Princess wins the culinary adventurer award for eating pigeon tagine. And she's a vegetarian!

The cooking class we took was, oddly enough, one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was organized beautifully and perfectly by an organization called Souk Cuisine. Here is their website: soukcuisine.com

Princess mixes up an intoxicating blend of spices in our cooking class.

Princess mixes up an intoxicating blend of spices in our cooking class.

The whole time we were in Morocco the Princess kept drawing parallels with our experiences to the movie “Star Wars”. She called the Medina of Marrakech “like the cantina scene, but the jawas ride on mopeds”.

Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia. I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Hola desde Costa Rica

playa-conchalI am in pain. my whole body aches. last night i could barely get myself out of bed to go to the bano. Each night, as I try to fall asleep in the sticky heat, it seems as if I have one less position to use because new body parts are always sore. Initially, when late at night a body part would be throbbing, i’d elevate it under a pile of pillows to keep the swelling down. At this point I need to elevate my entire body, so I’m not exactly sure how to do that. I have bruises. I have rashes. I have pulled muscles. I have flaps of skin torn off my toes and knees. I have bruised ribs and whenever I bend over to pick something up i have liquid pouring out of my sinuses. When I close my eyes I feel myself surging. My body lifting.  Sometimes cartwheeling, sometimes i feel as if I’m being dragged by one ankle by a thundering monster. Continue reading