LOCAVORista may have fallen in love with Buenos Aires and thought it had the best street art, but she was mistaken…Sao Paulo holds that crown. Yes, Buenos Aires offers a wide array of high-quality street art, but it pales in comparasion to Villa Madalena’s paint covered walls. In fact, it’s harder to find places without street art in this posh Sao Paulo neighborhood than trying to locate art. Let’s take a quick walk through the neighborhood to check out just some of the paintings.
The minds of the many artists in the neighborhoods have spilled out onto the walls exactly as this mural depicts: directly from brains to spray paint.
One of the larger works, the whimsical scene stretches almost an entire block, even working in the landscaping.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Sao Paulo Street Art Smackdown
WHAT WAS YOUR SCARIEST TRAVEL MOMENT?
For reasons yet unknown I found myself quite intoxicated. Maybe it was the beer with lunch, or the beers between lunch and dinner, certainly the beer at dinner didn’t help, but no matter when and how, I needed to go home. Home was our friend’s Hong Kong apartment which we had arrived to the day before. He lived, conveniently for those of us of Chinese descent, above a 24-hour Dim Sum restaurant and a 7-11. While great neighbors, both of these establishments are as frequent as skyscrapers in Hong Kong, which means it could be anywhere on Hong Kong Island. If you didn’t know exactly where his street is and where to find his discrete door, you’d never find his place. Luckily for me, with built-in GPS, even in the state of inebriation I was in, I could found his place after leaving LOCAVORista and Michael to drink the night away.
Hours later I woke to the sound of the door opening I saw Michael enter…alone. He turned on the light, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I lost Erica.” This was an “oh-shit” moment. I asked what happened, to which he responded, “last I saw her she jumped over a median and was running. You wouldn’t believe how fast she is! I tried to catch her but she was gone…” She had little money on her, didn’t have a credit card, or any way to contact us. We had no idea where she could be, how to find her, or if she’d be able to find a safe place for the night. We thought about going to the police, but realized that was best done in the morning, hoping we would find her before we would need to explain ourselves.
We had lost Erica. This wasn’t the first time, but definitely the most serious. Losing Erica on the Macalester College campus at home was one thing, Hong Kong, a city we’d been in for two days, was another matter. Knowing this was a situation with no resolution we cracked open another beer and watched “Swamp People”, because, you just lost your wife…what else are you going to do?
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: He Said/She Said FAQ — Scariest Travel Moment
The Middle Eastern version of the free market is the modern day souq. A visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the covered alleyways in search of exotic treasures and fine jewelry and silks. While these markets don’t offer the luxurious shopping experience of the Mall of the Emirates or the Dubai Mall they give visitors a glimpse into the origins of Dubai’s trade.
The Dubai Creek where many of the historic and still active souq’s are located is the foundation of modern Dubai. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. You can still see some of the old custom houses, but the creek is frequented more by local shoppers and tourists than by shipping vessels these days. Take a step back in time with me and take a peek into Dubai’s souq’s:
The dazzling gold souk, located at the mouth of the Dubai Creek is a must vist for any visitor to the gold-obsessed UAE. The small shops are packed with large quantities of gold and shop-owners ready to bargain. Most of the gold is 22 carat and sold by weight with an additional charge for craftsmanship. The window shopping is excellent, but prices are high for prospective buyers.
The textile souq’s alleyways are adorned with luxurious silks, yards of beaded fabrics, pashmina scarves and everything you need to outfit yourselif in traditional Emirati dress. If you want something special made any of the vendors will be happy to help you, just remember to bargain.
Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: Dubai Souqs
From The Huffington Post:
A significant majority of Americans favor legalizing hemp, according to a HuffPost/You Gov poll. The poll found that 56 percent of Americans support the plant’s legalization. Twenty-four percent are opposed, while 20 percent are unsure.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have introduced an amendment to the farm bill that would make it legal to grow hemp domestically. Hemp can be imported legally from Canada or other foreign countries, and it is legal to produce and sell shirts, soap or other hemp products with foreign-grown hemp. But it is illegal to grow hemp domestically under current laws, since cannabis is a “schedule I controlled substance” — though it is extremely difficult to turn hemp into a drug with the psychoactive properties of other cannabis-associated substances, such as marijuana.
Click here to read the full piece.
Hours, no days, of any “expedition” to Antarctica is spent on your ship. Considering the majority of the time you’ll be on the ship, what will you see? Here’s a photo guide to an Antarctic Peninsula trip to show why time on the ship won’t be wasted.
Our ship, the M/V Plancius, had an open bridge. That meant we could wander up to the controls whenever we pleased to get the captain’s view. This was “the” moment that we saw the first land of Antarctica with bare eyes after two days of seasickness inducing, rocking through the Drake Passage.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: What to See on an Antarctic Voyage
Many people travel in search of a place. There is an idea among travelers, whether spoken or not, that one day they will come across a place so perfect they’ll lay down roots. Even among non-travelers there is an idea that there is somewhere that will feel the way home should. The people will like you, the scenery will inspire you, work won’t be work…in short, in the perfect place life will be perfect. The core of this idea is that a place can make us happy, not that we make a place happy. Couchsurfing in the Middle East showed me that it is up to us to make a place, a home, spending our energy making a life rather than trying to find one.
Having met and stayed with expats the world over, the people we met in Oman and UAE were different, they had made their lives there. Most of the young people we’ve met working abroad were abroad because they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. We even met one person who moved to Asia because they clicked on a facebook ad promoting teaching opportunities. There is no discounting the amount of work that everyone teaching abroad must do, from visas to physically moving across the planet, but, in general, most of the young expats I met were abroad not because they knew what they wanted to do, rather they were there because they didn’t know what they wanted to do. At their worst they were killing time, at their best they were hoping to find themselves. In the UAE and Oman though, the people we met were dynamic, seizing the opportunity to live in a rapidly changing place, who were making a life abroad.
Read the rest of…
Matt & Erica Chua: How to Make a Life Abroad
This morning’s Newsweek/The Daily Beast features a cover story by The RP on the growing national movement to legalize hemp. Here’s an excerpt:
Poor, poor pitiful hemp.
Its cooler cannabis cousin, marijuana, gets all the buzz — generational bards from Bob Dylan to Snoop Dogg sing Mary Jane’s praise; cancer and AIDS patients declare her glory.
And even though smoking hemp won’t make you feel high — just really stupid for trying (as well as a sharp burning sensation in the lungs) — the Feds still crack down on it because they think it kinda…sorta…looks like the wacky weed that threatens to send our nation back into reefer madness. Just another innocent casualty in the War on Drugs.
In recent weeks, however, it appears that hemp might have the last (sober) laugh. That’s because a bi-partisan, blue-grassroots effort to secure federal legalization of industrial hemp production might not only prove successful; it could also provide a model for solving far more pressing issues within our hyper-partisan, dysfunctional democracy.
To understand why the hemp movement is going mainstream, consider one of its strongest advocates: first-term Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. The GOP official shocks the hemp stereotype: He’s neither the liberal hipster nor the bow-tied libertarian, each hoping the movement will bring us a step closer to legalized marijuana. Instead, the 40-year-old, rosy-cheeked beef cattle farmer is part and parcel of his rural, small town, socially conservative upbringing, a culture that’s traditionally been most hostile to hemp legalization…mostly because, well, they fear it will bring us a step closer to legalized marijuana.
And Comer, a political comer who’s popular with both the Mitch McConnell GOP establishment and the Rand Paul Tea Party, is passionate about agriculture. Seeing his vocation under siege, particularly upon the decline of tobacco, Comer risked ridicule by campaigning on an issue that many lampooned, and few of his constituents understood. But he stubbornly embarked on a statewide educational campaign with a simple, irrefutable message: Hemp is not marijuana.
Click here to read the full article at Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
Skip to the 12:43 mark to watch the legendary Bill Bryant interview The RP and KY Agriculture Commissioner James Comer about their bi-partisan trip to Washington, DC, to lobby capital lawmakers about industrial hemp legalization:
From Tom Eblen of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Each time I have visited West Liberty since the devastating tornado, people have expressed determination to rebuild. But they didn’t just want to put things back the way they were; they wanted to use the disaster to reposition their community for the future.
The Morgan County seat had been hurting for years before the twister, which killed six people on March 2, 2012. West Liberty was like so many other small towns that have struggled to adapt to the loss of cash crops and factories.
Last week, after more than a year of study and work, West Liberty leaders unveiled a new strategic plan for their community. It is a creative, forward-looking plan designed to attract national attention and support. If successful, it could serve as a model for struggling small towns throughout Kentucky and across America.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Hank Allen, CEO of Commercial Bank in West Liberty and president of the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. “There is such a will to rebuild, to not only get back to where we were but to be better than we were.”
One key aspect of the plan follows the lead of Greensburg, Kansas, which was wiped out by a 2007 tornado and attracted national attention by rebuilding using the latest energy-efficient technology.
West Liberty’s energy-efficient reconstruction plans include replacement houses with “passive” design and construction, which can cut energy costs as much as 70 percent over conventional construction. Habitat for Humanity has already built several such homes in the area.
The downtown business district also would be rebuilt using energy-efficient construction, including a geothermal loop that many buildings could share to lower their heating and cooling costs.
Allen says he thinks that will be one of the biggest factors in recreating a viable downtown. Rent was cheap in the old buildings the tornado blew away. But reconstruction will be expensive, pushing rents beyond what many mom-and-pop businesses can afford.
Commercial Bank is kicking off the geothermal loop as part of its headquarters reconstruction. Allen said designs are almost complete for a new bank building that should be certified LEED Gold. The pre-tornado bank building cost about $4,000 to $5,000 a month to heat and cool, but Allen estimates the new one will cost about $1,500 a month.
The bank building will include about 1,800 square feet of incubator space on its first floor to help small local businesses get back on their feet, Allen said.
The strategic plan also calls for encouraging downtown to be rebuilt with mixed-use structures housing businesses, offices, restaurants and apartments. That would create a more lively downtown with lower rents because of more efficient use of space.
Plans also call for installing free wireless service downtown to attract businesses and people in a region where wi-fi availability is now limited.
The strategic plan’s economic development initiatives have a big focus on eco-tourism, built around Morgan County’s natural beauty and local assets such as the Licking River, Cave Run and Paintsville lakes, and nearby destinations such as the Red River Gorge.
There would be encouragement for entrepreneurs to start businesses focusing on kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, fishing and hunting. Plans also call for developing walking and biking trails along the Licking River through West Liberty.
Other economic development ideas in the plan also focus on existing strengths, such as trying to use the local ambulance service and hospital to develop new methods for rural health-care delivery.
The strategic plan grew out of a partnership among the city, Morgan County, local businesses, Morehead State University’s Innovation and Commercialization Center and the nonprofit Regional Technology and Innovation Center.
Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise LLC of Lexington was a consultant on the process. Jonathan Miller, a clean-energy advocate and former state treasurer, has been retained to help raise money nationally for the effort by promoting it as a model for small-town revitalization.
The Morgan County Community Fund, an affiliate of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, has been set up to help collect and distribute donations for the rebuilding effort.
These efforts got a big jump-start in February, when Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced a package of about $30 million in federal, state and private money for various rebuilding projects.
“That really opened people’s eyes to what is possible,” Allen said of the financial package. “As a community, we must think really, really large. But we have a long way to go.”
Click here to read the full piece.
I like vegetarians, they taste good. Nowhere else is this better understood than in South America, where meat isn’t just part of a meal…it’s the meal. Balanced diet? That’s when your plate has an equal amount of meat on all sides, right? Vegetables? We feed those to the animals, so it’s pretty much in the meat, right? Seemingly ridiculous to say at home, a proper South American parrilla (or asado) ignores the Surgeon General’s warnings about eating healthy for meat, meat, and more meat.
Where’s the beef? Such a question doesn’t even make sense to South Americans who love their beef with sides of chicken, sausage, fish and anything else that once moved under it’s own volition.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: South America’s Must-East Meal