Category Archives: Lists

#4: Cooking Class: Vietnam

This was hands down my favorite cooking class. Possibly the best one I’ve ever taken, and as you know, I’ve taken one or two 😉

First, the class was all of $36 including our crazy taxi ride way out to the facility. If you are EVER in Vietnam and you like to cook (or eat) head out to the Vietnam Cookery Center.

Second, I arranged it myself and ended up w/ 7 of my SAS students who wanted to go…so we did. And they LOVED it. That’s Isaiah aka “Zeke” pictured, Shaan got into it and here’s a couple pics of the remaining 5 students I took.

Third, the chef and his assistants were hella-funny, great humor, phenomenal facility, great menu and all the little touches that most places don’t do. The let us take pictures w/ the head chef, gave us each a “diploma” and each of us had our own individual work station and we followed along and made our own meals to our tastes as the chef led.

The cooking class in China was a favorite in terms of being in a top notch international facility w/ real chefs in training. India was great because of the outdoor facility and evening of relaxation and Capetown’s class was great for the info on spices and the spices that I shipped back home. In fact, I just made a Chicken Braai for my family w/ some of those spices…and it was goooooood!

#8: The Union aka The Living Room

Onboard the ship, The Union was the main gathering space for large community events. I loved it when the union was full, it was like a huge, cozy living room with 700 of your closest friends and family members. Sometimes we’d have late night events and I’d go in my pajamas (by week 4 of the voyage the students were already going to class in their pajamas!).

The Union is where we started our journey together and where we ended our journey together. The place we played, the place we prayed.

I got to be a eucharistic minister on Easter Sunday and serve communion wine to the 400+ people who came for Easter Service w/ Archbishop Tutu. I was nominated and selected to give the staff reflection speech at the shipboard convocation, I was blessed to sit and watch my colleagues, peers, friends and students showcase their talents..great and small.

I miss it.

Cape Town, So Africa: Bye Bye Love

“Live every week…like it’s Shark Week.”
– Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan on Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.

[1] My first post from Cape Town was a view of Table Mountain from the waterfront. I thought it would be fitting that my last post from Cape Town would be of the waterfront (and specifically you can see our ship the MV Explorer there with the blue hull), from Table Mt. My 55-300 lens is sweeet!

[2] My last day in Cape Town was filled with a lot of joy, no sorrow and a little magic. I think I’ll keep that to myself, to savor and revisit, to touch with the edges of my mind when I want a smile.

[3] Thanks for all your votes on my inital post
Choose Your Own Adventure. I hope you all get the chance to do any and everything you’d like to do in So. Africa one day. In the end I couldn’t fit in everything-but here’s what I did get to do in the week:

Robben Island
Table Mountain
Ostrich Farm
Cooking Class
Church w/ Archbishop Tutu
Meerkat Manor
Visit A Township (x3)
See/Hear Good Jazz
Dance until 4am (x2)
Eat Authentic Braai
Pet Baby Cheetahs
Hold a Boa Constrictor
Drink/Buy Good Wine
Laugh until I Cried (x7)
Bought Good Music
See the Winelands
Drink Beer w/ the Locals (x3)
Dinner at Archbishop Tutu’s House
Catch Upper Respiratory Ebola Virus (UREV)
Wished My Mom Happy Birthday
Learned a new sexy trick for opening Beer bottles

and my favorite: Getting to know people (both locals and my students and colleagues) a little better. To sit next to, across from (and some times on laps)-with people of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds and dream our common dreams.

Check me out over at Gadling.
Next up on Funchilde: Mauritius, the Island you’ve never heard of!

Pre-Trip Planning: Travel Gear Faves

*Note: If you click on the photo it will take you to flickr where you can see my notes on each item*

So what do you take on a RTW (round the world) trip? I have no idea so I’m taking my favorite stuff.

Things I Cannot Live Without:

-Aquafresh Toothpaste
-Lady Speedstick
-Various odd-a$$ sized batteries
-Orbit Gum
-Goody’s Headache Powder
-Gillette Venus Razor
-Ultra Mentha Lip Shine
-Tazo Tea & Splenda
-Ralph Lauren Sunglasses
-Camera (Nikon D50 & Coolpix S6)
-Women’s Ultra Mega Vitamins (GNC)
-Travel Alarm Clock
-Swiss army tool w/ penlight
-Hip Hop; R&B; Jazz Tunes
-Barnes & Noble Spiral Journals & Uniball Pens
-Toothbrush & Mouthwash
-Cold, Hard, Cash (US $ and Indian Rupees pictured)

What else should I take? What can’t you live without when you travel?

T-minus: 6 days and counting to Semester at Sea.

Check me out over at Gadling.

First stop: Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to Nassau, Bahamas.

My Philosophy (or Why I Don’t B*tch)


This photo is a result of an internet app that lets you customize the things that are currently on your “poop list” as my Mom would say, as presented by everybody’s favorite political genius Stephen Colbert. So those things are the things that make me want to rant as of right now.

Karen over at Chookooloonks blogs about “Why I Don’t B*tch” and I have been thinking about this topic alot lately. The last several months as I moved into the reality of my dream, I received e-mail from people all over the world asking me how I did/do it, what’s my secret for living a seemingly perfect life, how do I stay so positive?, etc. I was at once flattered and alarmed. In general what you see on my blog is really how I am (all the commenters who know me in real life (irl) please feel free to confirm or contradict that), and I’ve said for years that I’m one of the happiest people that I know. And its true. Not because I have the magic bullet to a perfect life, but because a) I believe that a certain amount of your outlook is predetermined by genetics and my parents might not have passed on the “skinny” gene, but they sure did make up for it with the “optimist” gene. b) I believe even more of your outlook is pure decision. I am determined to be happy and live my life as fully as I can. c) I’ve been THROUGH some things (mother’s critical illness, divorce) and I realized that I will always be going through something(s) but as long as I’m alive and in control of my mind and body, history bodes well that I’m not the first person to experience X and that even if Y happens I’ll be okay.

Another reason I decided to join the 12 million + bloggers out here in the blogosphere is not because I felt like I had something to say that hasn’t been said before, but I hope that the WAY I say it brings a smile to your face, inspires you to pursue YOUR big dreams and gets me a couple of points with the Big Guy upstairs, so that when I slide into my grave: sideways, giggling and thoroughly exhausted from living a full life, I’ll have a shot at some wings, a halo and the chance to be a guardian angel for some poor sap who is breathing their first breath with a lifetime of joy and pain ahead of them.

I think this topic is especially appropriate in light of the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Anyone who knows me will tell you that since that day, my philosophy – which alternately drives people crazy and makes them smile at the same time is:

“If this is the worst thing that happens to me today/this month/this year (depending on the scale), then that’s alright with me!” Even in the hardest situations I find myself saying this with a smile on my face or at the least in my voice – and it changes EVERYTHING. But mostly it changes ME. So here is to you dear reader, for all that you are and all that you will be, I wish for you the sun, moon and stars on a platter, and the knowledge that if you’re going through Hell, the best thing to do is to just.keep.going.  Trouble don’t last always.

San Miguel de Allende: The Church & The Zocalo

Before I get into San Miguel let me just say that the comments on the previous two entries have to be some of my favorites so far. You guys are making the trip so much funner! Maybe not as fun as the guy who dry humped my leg, the other guy who asked how I liked the “sex” in mexico or the unlimited amusement opportunities presented by the melanin-free (some of yall will get that on the way home) 20-somethings re-creating any version of the “Girls gone Wild” video series. But close, yall are definitely close.

The Family and The Church are easily summed up as the top two priorities in Mexican culture. This is a sideshot of the Zocalo (town center) and the beautiful church in the background is made from this pink stone that catches the sunlight and is the perfect compliment to the greenery of the well-watered Zocalo. So much so that I realized that these people really built these temples FOR God, and even if you aren’t religious, that is kind of impressive. The churches in Mexico are quite simply: Divine.

The Zolcalo is the other place of gathering and fellowship central to daily life in most cities. No matter how small the town, there is usually still a respectable Zocalo in it. Now let me tell you, people in mexico sit out in the Zocalo All.Day.Long. not necessarily the same people, but I have NEVER, even at 2, 4, or 6 in the morning seen a Zocalo that didn’t have people in it. Also, unlike U.S. municipal parks there’s no homeless people sleeping on benches (because it is waaaayyyy too damn noisy to sleep with the teenagers, old folks jibber jabbing and Mariachia Bands). I have always kind of had this thing for the homeless and it made me wonder where Mexico’s homeless people are. Are they better cared for or even more invisible?

Anyway, among the many customs I’d like to bring back to the US from Mexico, hanging in the parks with friends and family is one of them (with the one cheek kiss greeting being a close second). So why don’t yall get on that while I’m here? Since you’ve got a nice long weekend to figure out what to do with. Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone (before I forget).

San Miguel de Allende (SMA) by the Numbers:

Shots of whiskey taken before a juggling lesson from Justin (20, US): 1
Mexican transvestite boutique owners I told “you work too much”: 1
How ridiculously all up in these people’s business I am: infinitely
First Class bus ride to San Miguel de Allende: $7.70US/1.5 hrs
Pieces of Sushi consumed in Mexican Internet Cafe: 6
Hostel bedroom windows I had to climb into because my key wouldn’t work: 1 (yes I was sober. hostel $15US/night)      
Cooking Classes in SMA: 1 ($50US/4hrs + lunch w/ Sra. Maria). I found this class 2 yrs ago researching my “dream trip” and I can’t believe I actually did it!      
Dishes Prepared: 3 (Tortilla Soup, Arroz Verde and Tortitas de Pollo). Fresh Ingredients.     
Mexican Cooking Tip #1: Pork Lard (and I thought it was the peppers! The Scandal: garlic!)     
Number of funny, wealthy, married (to each other) classmates: 2
Number of after-lunch margaritas in the Zocalo: 3 (1 each you gutterheads)     
Number of scarily-huge, livestock petted: 1
Number of police in historic uniforms: 2
How fast I stopped snickering when I saw the guns under the uniforms: .014278/second
Number of Cacti photographed: 23,235 at El Charco Ingenio Jardin and Preserve. and Fish!     
Number of sun-reddened/santa clause-esque cheeks: 2 + 1 nose. (note to self: don’t visit gardens at the zenith of the day without sunscreen). 

Cab from SMA Zocalo to El Charco: $3.50US, Entry fee: $3.50US, Finding that your taxi driver really did show up on time 2 hours later: priceless

Number of votes to leave Guanajuato and head to Oaxaca by questionable internet “supporters”: 8

a “this is the stuff that happens only to me” story: on the morning of my cooking class i was packing, getting dressed etc. in my room. the window (as previously mentioned) faces out onto a courtyard where people can pass through freely so there are curtains, however due to the heat i had the window open. there is also a little cafe style settee (sp?) outside my window (which enabled me to climb into the room the night before). anyway, on this morning, a young Mexican dude is sitting at the table (i didn’t know this). I guess he hears me rummaging, whistling and singing to myself and dude starts talking to me! We can’t see each other but he’s only 20 feet away at the most. i’m half dressed, half-asleep and its 8am in the morning. I answer the first question and next thing I know its like a damn Larry King interview in my pajamas! I mean he even asked me my favorite pro (american) football and basketball teams (The Eagles/The Sixers) and was like: “you’re crazy, the 49’ers are the greatest team ever”. I mean you’re gonna ask me 2,028 questions and then try to dis me? anyone who knows me knows what I did next. i finished getting dressed then went out and got all up in HIS business.

San Miguel de Allende Mexico: International Relations


Do you think it is odd that I’m African American, eating (really good) Sushi in a Mexican internet cafe, listening to European hip-hop? Yeah, me neither.

Things I may or may not have done this week:

[1] Treat a Mexican cab driver to a midnight hamburger and coke in Mexico City.

[2] Sing Karaoke. (Eurythmics, Robert Palmer and Gloria Gaynor).

[3] Go to dinner with a Mexican chic and 3 Japanese chics wherein there was no common language but we had a great conversation about prayers, customs and “sexual relations” (and ate off each other’s plates).

[4] Taught said Japanese chics how to play pool and then get soundly beat 3 times.

[5] Participated in my (all female) spanish class conversation wherein we discussed: men, men from other countries, mexican men, japanese men, american men, would you have kids without a husband, are all men the same around the world? did God make women the crazier sex because s/he knew we’d never deal with men if we weren’t slightly “off”. This ENTIRE conversation was in spanish and it was so funny we were in TEARS. TEARS I tell you. All I contributed: “Yo soy una hija de Dios” (I’m a daughter of God) said with a innocent look and my hands clasped in prayer.

[6] Told a French woman she had one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen.

[7] Told a German chic I was drinking “hater-ade” because of the fact that she was offered an job with a Mexican archaelogy group heading to a dig/exhibit in Cuba. The job offer came from a cute guy she met at a CLUB! I mean really, this stuff only happens in movies right?

[8] Was caught WAY off guard by a kiss from a (drunk) 26 year-old Mexican boy. This happened at Jazz Bar, wherein there is no Jazz played and barely a bar. The upside: he smelled GREAT, the downside: ewww!

[9] Danced until 2a.m. and had to tell the (10 years younger than me) guy that i.couldn’ I mean this guy was a damn dancing machine. I will admit that being African American and a GREAT dancer makes me popular at the dance spots in Mexico. I’ve actually had people APPLAUD my abilities (all of my friends and family stop laughing or i will issue an internet smackdown).

I’m doing my part to improve our international relations, don’t you think?

I’m off to my cooking class tomorrow! I had to travel to San Miguel de Allende after my last client call today to make it in time for our 10AM class (who in the world makes Tortillas de Pollo at damn 10 o’clock in the morning?) Pray I don’t burn anything down or catch anyone off guard with the cutlery.