Sihanoukville, Cambodia, April 2014
When I was 3, my mom got me bathed and ready to go out. I was left in the kitchen and was supposed to wait until my mom was ready. According to the stories, I sat on the floor, open the kitchen cabinets, grabbed a half a dozen of eggs, cracked them open all over me and then added some oil to the mayhem.
When I was a bit older, I grabbed the pot of dulce de leche, which was open, lift it up and banged it into the table, causing the sweet goodness to go up to the ceiling.
From ages 8 to 12 I would chop up potato skins pretending I was making something yummy while my mom was cooking. More than half of those times, I would cut my fingers. After the 10th time, I would no longer cry or ask for my mom’s help, I would quietly go into the bathroom, clean it up and get a band-aid.
Around the age of 16 I develop an interest for baking. At that time I didn’t quite grasp the concept of creamed butter or mixing flour and butter until it resembled a coarse meal. As a result, all my cookies where flat and boring.
I would always come back for more, despite all the flat cookies and dry cakes. No matter how bad I was I always wanted to do more. Eventually, I realized there was something there. I moved on to savory foods, which allow more room for improvisation (aka – mistakes)
When I turned 30 I decided it was time to give baking another try. And by then, I was ready. All this amazing things starting happening, like magic! I would make this gooey mixes, shove them into the oven and 40 to 50 minutes later my house would smell like a dream and out of the oven came banana bread, lemon blueberry pound cake, scones, clafoutis, anything and everything was possible.
My career path evolved from ballerina to kinder garden teacher to therapist to diplomat. Finally I decided to go study Journalism but ended up making the change to advertising. By the time I was done, I knew, certainly and clearly, that I wanted the rest of my life to have something to do with, not advertising, but cooking. Or food. Either owning a deli with weird spices from around the world or a small bistro like you would see in Buenos Aires or Paris; 5 tables, that’s it. I started telling myself, that either way, I would go to culinary school, preferably in France, even if it was only for fun, and then I’d be on track.
So, little over 6 months ago I left home, searching. For myself, my wants, my needs, my fears, my dreams. And unexpectedly, life took the turn I always knew it was going to take; into the kitchen. So my life now consists of aprons and chopping boards and veggie burgers and food Pinterest boards. And making people happy through food, cause I’m half Italian and half Argentinian and the best way I know to say I love you is by putting a plate of food in front of you.
According to my plans, scribbled on my travel notebook during a boat trip to Koh Phi Phi, I should’ve arrived in Myanmar 2 days ago. This would’ve happened after leaving Indonesia before New Year, after the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Northern Thailand. I was going to see all this with my friend from back home.
I’m writing this sitting in the vegetarian café I’m working at as a chef in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I haven’t yet been to the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Northern Thailand. My friend and I are not travelling together anymore either.
I was never fixed on my plans. But I never expected life to take me on these crazy adventures and experiences. I learnt that we make plans and the life does whatever it wants. I’m grateful for having the courage of taking advantage of what life wants to do. I could’ve said no to the job in the café and be on my way, but I have a place to sleep, food and enough money to stop me from draining my travelling funds. I feel like I’m buying time, to be away, to experience a place, to experience myself.
So, the new plan is to be here until July, the go meet my dad in Italy for one month and come back to Cambodia to either continue working or continue travelling. But, as I learnt, you can make all the plans you want, but if the winds change you’re going to have to adjust the sails.
It was a Friday night, 2 weeks ago. My housemate was having a bad day. She was chugging the beer she had bought for a party that never happened. She offered me some, I passed; it was warm beer, yucks. After 3 refusals, I agreed to half a glass, mostly to keep her company. Half a glass of beer turned into (6 beers) buying tickets from Bali, Indonesia to Perth, Australia to go see Queens of the Stone Age’s gig. It is not budget smart AT ALL but she offered to pay for the concert tickets and accommodation as an early birthday present for me. AND it’s Queens of the fucking Stone Age! Favorite band. And it’s this crazy shit we allow ourselves to do that will make up the best memories and stories and will make us smile whenever we look back on them.
Ps: the gig was awesome; fourth time seeing them live, first one seeing them in a close venue so I was blown away by the sound. And to top it all off, I got to see Nine inch Nails live for the first time. I’m not really a fan but hats off to those guys, they put on a great show!
November 2013, Langkawi, Malaysia.
Caminando por una de las playas de Malasia noté unas bolitas de arena en la orilla. Me tomó unos minutos notar que estas bolitas formaban pequeñas obras de arte. Conclusión obvia: aliens.
Al ratito empecé a notar movimiento. Los autores de estas maravillas eran… cangrejos! Con base en un agujerito chiquito al centro de su trabajo, van formando estructuras concéntricas que se abren sobre la superficie.
Gracias a internet después me enteré que es un cangrejo específico de Malasia y que hace todo ese trabajo midiendo solo 1 cm de diámetro! Hacen esas bolitas mientras que buscan comida en la arena cuando la marea esta baja.
Linda la naturaleza, eh!
Walking along one of Malaysia´s beaches, I noticed little sand bubbles in the shore line. It took me a couple of minutes to notice that these bubbles made up a work of art. Obvious conclusion: aliens.
After a while, I noticed movement. The creators of this wonders were… crabs! The use a little hole in the sand as their base to create concentric structures that open up on the surface.
Thanks to internet, I found out this is the sand-bubbler crab, specific to Malaysia, and it does all this work measuring only 1 cm of diameter! They create the bubbles while scouring the sand for food during low tides.
Nature’s pretty cool, hu?
“…I’ve got life,
I’ve got my freedom
I’ve got the life…”
i ain’t got a lot of things, but what i got i love and i’m thankful for
After the diving debacle of my first day in Nusa Lembongan I switched from diver to explorer mode, earth-bound explorer.
My friend and I decided to rent a bike (got a toy bike, more on this ahead), get to the “pier”, which is actually just the beach, leave the bike there and get a boat to get us over to Nusa Penida. So off we went.
Even though Lembongan has developed into a diving village with everything you might need in hand, the roads didn’t keep up with the growth: they suck. Road signage is pretty much non-existent, so adventure was awaiting. We started our journey to the pier/beach taking the wrong way. So we had to turn around since basically there are no roads that would take you across the island, just around it. After a few ups and downs through hills and astonishing views, we got to the beach near Ceningan bridge. We parked our bike next to the beach and hopped on a boat. The trip to Nusa Penida took about 20 minutes. I wish it took longer since the surroundings were absolutely beautiful; emerald-green ocean reflecting the trees, smooth little waves glittering thanks to the sun, fishermen boats sprinkled across the horizon.
In Nusa Penida, we rented anooooother scooter for the day. We had been told there was a temple in a cave and we decided to head there first since it was a bit far and we didn’t want to miss it. It was scorching hot so we had to stop for hydration at a lovely spot.
A recurring image kept popping up along the way: seaweed farms in the ocean. We learned that 85% of Nusa Lembongan and Penida’s population makes a living from these farms.
After a while driving through the coastal road up north we got to the cave temple, Goa Giri Putri. We climbed some stairs and looked for the way in. Nothing here, nothing there… until one of the men there pointed a very narrow hole in the ground: that way. Hmmm… Ok… I sent my friend in first, cause I’m a coward and a horrible friend and went after her. You have to crawl a couple of meters and suddenly you can see this huge dark cave filled with bats and dripping water. A path has been built, so we just followed it and after a few meters we saw a temple inside all that amazing craziness. This is the only decent picture we have. Light was scarce and we couldn’t get a proper shot. Christie managed to get this one though!
We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around and stopping for pictures and a quick dip in the ocean.
We decided to leave the island when the threat of the perfect storm showed up in the sky. We left the bike behind (just there, on the road, cause the owner was not there! I love that aspect of small and tight communities) hopped on the boat and prayed for our lives. We managed to get to Lembongan on the dry side. That didn’t last long since it started pouring as soon as we got on the bike.
The driving was so stressful (I need to find some kind of excuse!) that we indulged in a massage, my first full body massage ever actually. Yes, I swear. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this!!! Freaking awesome, super relaxing and your skin glows afterwards. If you hadn’t had one yet, put everything down and GO! Yes, NOW!
We had an early night with wine and friends (this sounds very wanky, but it’s actually true!); I was out to explore Lembongan itself and Ceningan the next day.
Hopped on the toy bike again.
Toy bike: Red, tiny and fragile motorbike that made rattling noises every second it was in use. Brakes not working, mirrors moving, horn not making a sound unless you reaaaally pushed it. I’m kind of tall so the whole experience felt weird.
Started off looking for the bridge that allows you to cross to Ceningan, a little island between Lembongan and Penida. Got lost a couple of times, no biggie. Eventually got there and crossed the bridge; I felt like Indiana Jones or something. Cool and scary.
Ceningan is small and beautiful in a rugged kind of way. The roads are one big pot hole and that made it a little stressful for me to drive around, specially on the toy bike. But it offers great views of Lembongan, fishermen and seaweed farmers. I think it’s totally worth going.
I went back to Lembongan and attempted to visit the mangrove forest. I was wearing flip-flops and was on my own… suddenly it didn’t look like such a good idea, so I skipped it. Visited Mushroom bay, dream beach and sunset beach, all of them are gorgeous, little intimate stretches of white sand and turquoise sea.
I kept driving around and stopped to take a picture of a temple surrounded by trees when it happened. A loud noise. Before knowing, I knew. The bloody toy bike screwed me over. That little bitch fell to its side while being parked. One of the mirrors came out. Fuck shit fuuuuuuck! Ok, crisis management, need super glue! Got it, tried to stick it back, no luck. I let it be and confessed my crime to the owner of the bike. She made me pay for half the cost of the mirror. I hated her back then, but I recognize I over reacted. I think I got a fair deal. Note to self: never accept a toy bike again.