Sunday, September 30, 2012

Árbol de Fuego and Noticing Nature’s Beauty

 Time spent with my Mom almost always includes moments of her excitedly pointing out different flowers, plants, and trees.  “Look at that beautiful bougainvillea!”  “Look at that gorgeous wisteria!”  By pointing them out she shares her joy with me. 
  Throughout my life she has taught me to delight in NATURE.  I’ve also learned through her that by recognizing and naming a particular flower, plant, or tree, I can appreciate it just a bit more.  Now when I see a striking tree in bloom, I don’t say anything, but I think to myself “Look at that amazing TREE!” and I’m filled with wonder. 
  Despite the reality of deforestation and urbanization in El Salvador, there remain many tropical flowers, plants, and trees to notice, name, and delight in.  One that I now know and love is the Árbol de Fuego, or Flame Tree.  (On a recent visit with my Mom at Balboa Park in San Diego I learned from her they can also be called African Tulip Tree.)  The tree seems to be in bloom in this country all year long with its bright colors and crepe paper-like petals.  Here are some links to others who have been inspired by this tree.  Enjoy!  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It

  Somewhere on my recent trip to California I heard this quote.   Both quotes, “the grass is always greener on the other side” and “the grass is greener where you water it”, acknowledge that where you put your energy and focus is where your life shimmers and shines. 
  California is a beautiful place.  On my trip, I got to visit friends and family in Humboldt County, San Diego, and of course, Oakland.  I even got to visit our cats, garden, and home, awaiting our return in January.  It was a wonderful and rich visit that included many moments of noticing differences.  In California, the roads are wide and ample.  In El Salvador, they are not.  In Oakland, strangers do not greet each other.  In San Salvador, they do.  Some differences I enjoyed, like drinking water from the tap.  Others, not so much, like having to wear sweaters, jackets, socks, and boots. 
  It felt very good to be in California and see my friends and family.  Now it feels great to be back in San Salvador with its warm weather, sights and sounds, new delights that continue to surprise me, not to mention my darling husband.  My energy and focus are here, so for me, the grass is greener here.  We have one month left in El Salvador before we head off to another adventure.  I plan to enjoy our remaining days and experience as much as possible.  Quiero aprovecharlo! 

  Where in your life is the grass green?  What are you watering these days?

Here’s an example of a new delight for me, fresh lychees from the MAG farmer’s market.  
The farmer called them “litcheo”, but they could also go by “mamón chino” or “rambután”. 

A new-to-me California delight from a Persian market in San Diego, 
fresh raw pistachios. 

Now I know where the quote came from…
Justin Bieber’s song with a rap by Big Sean.  
There were a few long car rides on the trip!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Licuados y Batidos de Dios a.k.a. Divine Smoothies

  One of the first things my husband and I did once we got settled into our apartment here was buy a blender.  We knew from past experience in tropical lands that we’d want to make refreshing fruit drinks on a regular basis.  Though there is an incredible array of seasonal fruit choices available in El Salvador, we quickly fell into a routine of using papaya, banana, mango, orange, and sometimes, pineapple.  On occasion I’ll indulge in a Sandia (watermelon) Licuado after a visit to the gym or when I meet someone at a café.  But mostly, we make Batidos at home.  (Licuado= Fruit + Water, Batido=Fruit + Milk)  The drink is a perfect mid-morning snack that helps us make it through to lunchtime.  Here’s the general recipe for our special drink (though honestly, I never measure anything):
Put in blender…
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ - 1 cup chunks of papaya and/or mango
  • juice from one orange and/or a squeeze of lime
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • milk or soymilk to cover (2 cups?!)                                                 

      Blend ‘til smooth and DISFRUTA!  (i.e. enjoy!)

  Recently our blender broke and we found ourselves without our ritual.  I turned to chunks of ripe papaya with yogurt and honey.  Good, yes, but not the same!  After a few inquiries around town we were happy to find the replacement part needing fixing and now we are back to our tropical-life-inspired routine.  Hallelujah!  Or as we say here in El Salvador, “Gracias a Dios!”.
 Neighbor's giant mango tree, mangos, and Licuado de Sandia

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Empanadas de Platano a.k.a. Sweet Plantain Empanadas, oh my!

  I love these, though I try not to eat them too frequently.  Cooked and mashed plantains filled with refried beans, cream, or cheese and then deep-fried and covered in sugar, I’ve yet to decide which is my favorite.  Sweet and filling, they are perfect for breakfast or a mid-morning snack.  Best eaten while hot.  Yum!

Photos taken near the entrance to El Boqueron.

If you’re interested in making a batch at home for your friends and family, 
here’s how: