November 2010

Kicking back with Salta beer in Salta

Almost exactly one year ago I decided to change my life (with no small assist from Sarah). The Traveling Savage anniversary is December 13, and I can’t think of a greater barometer for success than the fact that I’m writing this from Salta, Argentina.

I’ve created a travel site dedicated to innovative ideas and quality writing, quit my job, and followed through on my plans to travel for one month at a time. Though I spent the better part of a year blogging before my travels began, these few weeks abroad have been a massive change agent filling me with new logistical thoughts and strategic ideas. Nothing substitutes for travel, and I’m thankful to be testing my principles. You can bet I’ll come through my journey to Argentina with a clearer vision for Traveling Savage (and perhaps a rekindled love of 80s power ballads).

Stick with me – it’s been a crazy month! Read more...

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Empanadas in Argentina

It begins with a triangle. You fold in the dough at the corner toward the pocket of savory goodness. And repeat, and repeat again. All the way around the curvature of the pocket until a pastry braid comes into being.

This is the spine of the empanada, the keystone that holds in the flavor of the ubiquitous hand-sized snack as it’s baked or fried. By my third empanada I had the hang of it, and Ana (my mentor) congratulated me on my execution. I look at the the succulent pile of goodies manufactured by the other empanaderos at the party and realize making empanadas, like chess or foreign policy, is one of those seemingly easy-to-pick-up-but-hard-to-master skills. Read more...

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The Quebrada de las Conchas (Quebrada de Cafayate)

“Oh, you’re young. She thought you were going to be 50” said Yvette, the woman in the front seat, pointing to our guide and driver, Ana.

“What, 50? Why would I be 50?”

Another woman, Yvette’s older sister Jillian, turns to me in the back of the small, red van. “Well, you’re married and traveling alone. Who does that?”

Who does that? I’ve been answering that question a lot since I left my job, and it’s pretty difficult to explain in broken Spanish to the Argentines I meet. Luckily, I’m riding with two 30-something American women. I cover the usual bases (a dissatisfaction with my job, a desire to follow my passions, a severe dislike of regret) as we weave through traffic on the way south of Salta. The women nod their heads in understanding.

Or was it feigned interest? You see, I don’t know if they expected me to be a part of their sojourn to Cafayate. Read more...

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Boards of Canada

Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.

Nestled somewhere in the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh, Scotland, two men, who until recently were not known to be brothers, concoct otherworldly electronic compositions under the moniker Boards of Canada. This is not your standard booty-shaking thump-thump-thump-thump electronic music, it is mathematical in its construction and historical in its use of samples. Boards of Canada don’t do live shows probably because it would look like a post-graduate study hall. Well, that and perhaps the music wouldn’t grow in any appreciable way in a social setting.

This is pensive, personal, and provocative music.

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Salta La Linda

I shoulder my bags and step off the bus into a blaze. The mid-afternoon sun limns my body in sweat as I scan the sky for the Teleférico. The cable cars bob up to Cerro San Bernardo, hanging from the line like crab apples. It is the first step in what feels, to my travel-fried brain, like a labyrinthine journey to the tiny farm community of Castellanos outside of Salta. I clamber on to the prescribed Saeta bus and bounce and jolt through the city to a soundtrack of Cumbia. People climb onto the bus, their glances at me stretch on beneath slightly arched brows.

I stare out the window, the details of the streets and blocks roll off me like stones on a pile that has already reached its apex. There are bare brick walls, graffiti-stained concrete, and masses of wires hung haphazardly across the streets. Buses, cars, and motorbikes dash across intersections like a pack of robbers fighting over the last share of loot. From the walls, windows, and rooftops, faint brownish stains reach for the street like run mascara that has been slept in. Read more...

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