colombia

The milk man

I was half awake still in bed as I heard a man’s voice coming from the front door. It was towards the end of our Colombia trip and I guess I was still trying to catch up on sleep. (It took us more than 24 hours to travel to Colombia from Seattle, Washington!)

Bryce poked his head into the bedroom to see if I was awake.

“Who is that talking?” I asked.

“The milk delivery man. He’s talking to my aunt,” he replied.

“But I only hear the man talking.”

“Everyone talks here!”

He didn’t mean it in a negative way. It was a friendly fact. Everyone talks to everyone as if they are old friends, even with the milk man!

It was around 8 am and I finally got out of bed and Bryce’s aunt walked by with a pot. The milk was inside.

I asked her in my broken Spanish if the milk man delivered in a car or on a motorcycle. She said on a moto. He has two canteens strapped to the back, full of milk, no biggie.

A friendly, and well-balanced, man! I mean, I’m assuming you’d have to have good balance to be able to drive a motorbike with canteens of milk in the back!

Just another morning in Cali, Colombia.

colombia

The avocado man

The street outside Bryce’s grandma’s house can be lively during the day with cars rushing by and honking their horns, or people calling out to each other. She lives in Cali, Colombia.

The other day as we ate breakfast, I heard someone yelling through a loud speaker outside.

“Is it something political?” I asked Bryce.

“No, it’s a man selling avocados. Come look!” he replied, as he peeked through the blinds of a window facing the street.

I walked over to the window just in time to see the man pushing his cart, and surprised to see he only had like four avocados!

He also wasn’t yelling through a microphone. He was playing a pre-recorded recording to make his avocado sales.

We were unsure if he perhaps already sold most of his avocados, or if he just didn’t have a lot to sell to begin with.

All I know is that I would love to have an avocado vendor walk the streets outside of my house so I could have the opportunity to buy fresh avocados. That’s pretty much the dream. For those of you thinking it: Amazon Fresh doesn’t count!

Aguacates! Aguacates!

colombia, travel

A Cali Christmas

First things first: It does not feel like Christmas here because I have a dozen mosquito bites up and down my legs and I can’t stop sweating!

This Pacific Northwest girl is not used to a hot Christmas.

Although, Bryce’s family has been telling us that it has “cooled off” this week. (My phone says that it is current 88 degrees Fahrenheit in Cali right now!)

Last night (Christmas Eve) the streets outside the house were “lively” with neighbors shooting fireworks and sparklers. It did not keep me up since I think I’m still making up for sleep deprivation from our 26+ hours of travel to get from Seattle to Cali, Colombia!

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Bryce, his aunt and I went on a walk this morning. She said we needed to go before things got crazy in the afternoon for the fair. (It’s a big fair that starts on Christmas Day and goes until the 30th full of lots of dancing and fanfare).

I was actually surprised to see “so much activity”on the streets during our walk. I expected to see other people going on family walks as well. But, there were lots of street vendors out and restaurants opened, too.

Back home, it’s really just big chain grocery stores and Starbucks that are open for like half a day on Christmas. There seemed to be more going on here, but maybe it was just in preparation for the fair.

As we headed back to the house, Bryce’s aunt asked if we wanted some water as we walked by a little convenience shop. The shop owner had the store gate closed but stood inside as a few people voiced out what they would like to buy — probably drinks as well.

“It’s closed, but opened,” Bryce said.

After buying the water bottles, we stopped in a grocery store that was opened and bought a few groceries. Knowing that I love avocados, his aunt said she knew a better place to buy fresh avocados than the grocery store we were at.

Just around the corner from the grocery store was a stand that solely sold avocados.

“This is my heaven,” I told Bryce as his aunt consulted with the stand vendor to make sure we were buying the best ripe avocados he had to offer.

And, these avocados put all the avocados I see back home to shame. These ones are like the size of what I think a papaya to be!

Merry Christmas from me and the avocados (not pictured, but I’ll need to upload the photos later!)

FYI: I have yet to sync my Instagram to the blog but for those wanting to see more photos and videos (in my stories), feel free to follow along at @ottertravelmore

seattle

Being a holiday tourist in your hometown

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Me, a little scared of fake Santa.

A few weeks ago if you had asked me if I had done any “Christmas activities” my answer would have been “no” followed by a long sigh. (I love Christmas and everything about the holiday season — with a hard exception for eggnog).

To make sure I efficiently and effectively got into the Christmas spirit, I changed that a week ago.

Phyllis and I postponed our holiday of fun to holiday afternoon tea at Queen Mary Tea in North Seattle. Why afternoon tea?

We decided on afternoon tea at this specific location because of their holiday decor and atmosphere. And, secondly, we both love tea. (Also, I’ve never been to a proper high or afternoon tea!)

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Phyllis with all the treats and tea.

It did not disappoint. There were more nutcrackers and Santa Claus’s than I could count! Even the sugar bowl had red and green sprinkles in it! I had a white chai tea and Phyllis a hazelnut tea as we stuffed ourselves with sweet and savory treats.

At one point, the owner came by our table and asked us if we’d like to try “Christmas cookie” as she stood holding a tray of what did not look like Christmas cookies. Phyllis and I sort of starred blankly at her. I was trying to make sense of what she had just asked us. I looked at the tray again and thought maybe the little cups with what looked like liquid in them were jello shots? Christmas jello shots doesn’t seem like an afternoon tea thing, I told myself before saying anything aloud.

“Christmas cookie — it’s one of our seasonal teas,” she said, since Phyllis and I still hadn’t said anything.

“OHHHH.” we both replied in unison as we each reached for the small tea sample.

As the woman walked away we both bursted out laughing.

“I had no idea what she was talking about at first!” I said.

“ME TOO!” Phyllis replied.

I guess this is one reason we are such good friends — when we hear “cookie”, we expect to see a a sugary baked good!

Seattle skyline
seattle

Home is where the rain is

I’m from Seattle. 

As the years pass by, this phrase has more and more clout for me.

There is constantly construction going on downtown. More and more transplants arrive in droves to work at Amazon, or the next up and coming start-up. There are just fewer and fewer Seattleites in Seattle. It’s a known fact.

I was born in Seattle. I was raised in Seattle. I attended Seattle Public Schools. Even for college, I didn’t go far. I went to UW. I also currently work for an organization that has “Seattle” in its name … but this is just coincidental. I’m not selecting my place of employment based on its name!

I’m the person who gets annoyed when I hear people say they are from Seattle but really they are from Shoreline, Lynnwood or even Tacoma! This is equivalent to New Yorkers hating it when folks from New Jersey say they are from New York.

I can’t say I love the grey, because I don’t. But, living here for more than 30 years has taught me to love the rain.

Today I walked along Alki in West Seattle and was (again) reminded how special it is here. We have water. We have mountains. And, yeah, we have rain and traffic and roads with potholes that don’t get fixed … but, this city is a special place.

Bryce and I spotted a seal bopping its head up and down along the beach as we walked. We also saw a dolphin (or two?!) out in the distance. It’s no surprise to see wildlife other than seagulls in Puget Sound, but you still get that kid-on-Christmas-day-feeling deep inside when you do.

We were the only ones to spot these friends as other walkers and runners just went on by.

Yes, it was raining. But, it was still magical.

new zealand, pre travel, travel

Why New Zealand?

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I’m not sure when Bryce and I decided to go to New Zealand.

When we got engaged at the end of October 2017, obviously everyone wanted to know the who/what/where/whens of the wedding. I more so wanted to get planning on the honeymoon.

Once we had the venue locked down, I made sure to constantly bring up conversations on where we would honeymoon.

It wasn’t that hard picking New Zealand. Our main criteria for our destination was to go somewhere international that neither one of us had ever been to. We also wanted some place where there would be lots of options for outdoor activities and being in nature.

New Zealand naturally came up as a good choice.

I think our conversation went something easy like this:

Kristin: I want to go to Greece … or New Zealand.
Bryce: Let’s go to New Zealand. 
K: Yes! Should we go to Australia and New Zealand?
B: We’ll only have time for New Zealand. 
K: OK, New Zealand it is! 

Whenever it comes up in conversation that I am going to New Zealand, or when someone asks me where we went/are going on our honeymoon, the same question always comes up: Why New Zealand?

Bryce says he gets the same first question among his friends and colleagues.

I’m assuming people ask because from Seattle, it’s so far away and takes “forever” to get to. I’m also guessing people ask because maybe if people were to choose between Australia and New Zealand, they’d pick Australia?

Would we be getting the same question had we picked Mexico? Or, Greece? Or, somewhere in Europe?

I want to know “Why ‘Why New Zealand?'” 🙂

pre travel

Better now than in New Zealand!

I caught a cold last week that really knocked me out. It started somewhat slowly — and progressively got worse.

Last Friday Phyllis and I were supposed to do afternoon tea and walk around downtown Seattle and see the gingerbread houses at the Sheraton and look at Pike Place Market all decked out in its holiday decor. It’s normal to coordinate a day off with your best friend months in advance to do Christmas-y things together, right? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Unfortunately, none of that happened because she and I were both sick! A fun day off turned into a sick day. Neither of us could even muster up the energy to drive to the other’s place to sit and watch Christmas movies together.

North Cascades
Non-sick times in the North Cascades of Washington state

I ended up napping most of the day.

Why did this have to happen?? We had been looking forward to this FOR MONTHS!

I was being a tad dramatic that night.

“Better now than in New Zealand!” Bryce replied. “Or, better now than in Colombia!”

He had a point. Being sick during a vacation is a pretty unfortunate thing to happen. You don’t have time to be sick when you’re supposed to be taking in new sights and exploring!

I guess if I can get this cold out of my system now and not catch anything new, I’ll be a happy traveler.