Friday, March 8, 2013

Almost One Year In (Part Two): Things We Miss

People by nature are creatures of habit. My piles of print media in any abode I've ever lived in can attest to this. After being gone so long (11 months and counting now) from our normal, everyday lives they're quite a few things Alli and I pine for that we can't find here. Or if they can be found, it's rare or just not the same.

The following is quite food heavy and, yes, obviously we miss family and friends, duh. This is actually the hardest part of being gone, missing people. This list is in addition to everyone we miss. I ranted on in my post from yesterday (found here) about a hodge podge of things Alli and I are glad to be done with in Asia, but below it's exactly the opposite. This list is comprised of things we would have loved to have on many occasions. For example, if Mexican food could stand up to international shipping conditions we would have asked for that care package many months ago.

It might not be a burrito but Kenny and I were pretty pumped for our Sonoran hot dogs in Cozumel, Mexico in Dec. 2011. Fry everything up! * All photos can be enlarged by clicking on 'em.
I didn't think these Mexican staples would be so hard to say goodbye to. Southern Arizona, and obviously our neighbor Sonora, has some impeccable food: sweet pork tacos, greasy lard-filled tortillas, carne asada, tortas, the list goes on and on. But the standard burrito is sorely missed. This was Alli and I's go-to food: before the lab for her, on the way to track Gila monsters for me, and a cure-all hangover grease bomb for the both of us. Not to mention many a cheap dinner date. Yes, we've both separately had food fantasies about scarfing burros.

Live Music
I've always had a weakness for blowing money I didn't have on concerts. And I'll never regret that. Whether it was for bigger names like George Clinton or the Fleet Foxes, or one of the plentiful kick-ass local shows Tucson had on the regular it was well worth it (shout out to Scrilla Gorilla!), especially now that our live music attendance has ceased. I'd give anything to get on down and have the opportunity to throw my back out again. But I don't think Yo La Tengo or Big Boi will be playing Sulawesi anytime soon.

Sometimes it's hard for Alli and I to look at this photo cause there's just too much tasty cheese on it. If only it was simple to make homemade pizza with goat cheese, mozzarella and pancetta on it when traveling.
Self-explanatory. You just can't find it here often. Processed American cheese slices don't count. That's like saying you miss hearing rock 'n' roll and then someone says "Hey, listen to this!" while handing you a Nickelback CD.

If you can't tell Alli (and myself) were quite excited for this bag 'o' pizza "topping" we found in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo. We even made an elaborate pasta since the cabin we were staying at had a kitchen. Unfortunately after checking the ingredients docket, we found out 49% or so of this "topping" was filler, and what was in that filler, we do not know. Probably sheep's grease or something else utterly appetizing.
I pedaled Blue Boogie all over Tucson. When I got my sweet bike trailer I was then able to cart around caged snakes, small pieces of furniture, cases of beer, even our cat Polly. While we had motorbikes at the turtle project on Tioman it just ain't the same. Juara's the perfect size for a couple of bitchin' road bikes and hopefully when we return this spring Alli and I will be rocking 'em. And if we're lucky the salty sea air won' t turn them into creaky piles of rust too soon (see entry below).

Noah and I looking fresh to def before the last Urban Assault Ride Alli and I participated in before we left for SE Asia. Team Tie Die! Tornado tore it up. And Noah, we all still know you should have won that mustache contest.
A daily newspaper? Nope, but that's also because I'm way too American and don't know any other languages beside English. Magazines? A slightly overpriced National Geographic here and there, but I wasn't desperate enough yet to fork over $20 USD for a New Yorker. Time will tell.

Moments like this for me are unfortunately few and far between.
Refried and Black Beans
Slathered in a chimichanga, topped with cheese or straight out the tin in the field, I don't hate. Every time Alli and I wander into a supermarket we always check the appropriate isle, thinking, maybe this one place will smile down on us. I'm not one for dreaming of canned food, but Amy's Refried Black Beans have caused this. I think we're both going to ask our parents to ship some out. No joke.

Granola & Yogurt
This entry was a surprise to me. When Alli and I had one of our first conservations about what we missed, this popped out my mouth. Obviously the headiest, most crunchy hippie entry on the list, but tasty granola was always one of my favorite snacks. They have yogurt out here, but it's mostly a cup of sugar with a splash of yogurt. I might as well eat a doughnut instead. 
Not only am I raising the roof cause I dig living in the desert, but also because all the clothes I'm wearing in this photo are mold and rust free. Full journalistic disclosure: this desert here is Joshua Tree National Park. I never actually lived there. I did live in a city called Tucson, about five hours to the east though.
Mold & Rust Free Stuff
Living in the desert has its perks: ample sunshine, sexy sunsets, Tiger rattlesnakes, Sonoran hot dogs, and never having your possessions fall victim to mold or rust. To say it can be quite humid out here is an understatement. Almost all of my shirts, a few boxers and my favorite shorts already have accumulated an impressive abstract art display of mold. A few of the shirts look like a demonic kid sat down with a ballpoint pen, setting up the perfect game of connect the dots. Even my miniature medical kit and Alli's copy of David Quammen's Song of the Dodo are gathering mold. Being constantly sweaty doesn't help the cause. Rust is a steady creeper too, brandishing its image on my fingernail clippers, and book bag and fanny pack zippers.

Living on the ocean and up against the steamy, humid jungle (throw in some tropical rain too) does a number on your belongings. As I'm going to press the latest casualty of mine to bite it is the bathing suit I'm wearing in this photo. Mold is running rampant everywhere inside 'em. And it's too bad you can't zoom in better to the water pump I'm lugging out here, there was so much rust on this thing it was just one colossal tetanus infection waiting to happen. FYI: We're changing Jo's tank, the blind Green sea turtle that resides at JTP, in this photo. That's Alli up ahead with the hose.
Fresh Mushrooms
Too often it's the can variety out here, especially on Tioman. They don't even compare. I never knew it before I left the states but I'm a big fresh fungi fan. When you do find it in SE Asia it's yummy, especially the white fungi they sauté up in oyster sauce. But those canned shrooms are always lurking in the shadows, ready to jump into my fried rice or noodles, or even worse, trying to front like they're okay to be in fresh pasta.
Canned mushrooms all up in my spaghetts.
My Own Personal Coffee Maker
Sometimes I just wanna do it all by myself. One of my favorite morning rituals was grinding beans and brewing 'em up. I just can't get in the zone like I used to. Once in awhile I can do it when we're traveling, but it's not the same. I don't think any other guests want to see a grown man making coffee while singing Prince's "Take Me With U" in the kitchen commons. Some people just don't appreciate Prince's funky jams enough in the A.M.
While I take my afternoon Milo making very seriously, it just doesn't compare to making a strong cup of black coffee in the morning.
I figured I'd end another blog with a jolly Alli and her afternoon tea. This cup was enjoyed on the deck of our homestay, right outside Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.


  1. I enjoyed both this post and the previous one oh so much.

  2. They Crystal! I a so glad you enjoy. To make Alli and I happier please eat a Taco Shop breakfast burrito while riding your bike around Tucson, reading the Weekly and preferably on your way to Plush to get silly. Thank you.