Thursday, November 30, 2006

Uptown New Orleans

Here are some photos from our visit in Uptown New Orleans. Many of the homes there are beautiful and historic. You can also observe the tradition of painting the ceiling of porches blue, like the sky. These gorgeous homes are nothing like the pre-fab cr@p you see in other places. I hope developers don't blot out the unique character that is New Orleans.



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pleasant French Quarter Photos

I promised some pleasant photos, so here they are.

below: French Quarter roofline view from the hotel we stayed in. I get mad when I see this photo; it reminds me of people who told me N.O. is Atlantis and should be allowed to drown. (I didn't promise my commentary would be pleasant!)


below: my DH, at breakfast at Petunia's restaurant. This place reminded me of my mother's living room before it was destroyed. See a photo of the outside of the restaurant and read the interesting history of the building on their WEBSITE


below: I have a caption for this one too, but no one wants to hear me talk about NOLA. I'm turning into Debbie Downer from the Saturday Night Live skit.


below: here's me at Petunia's restaurant. Half a block off Bourbon. One good thing: the waiter instructed us that after Thanksgiving dinner, we were to sing Jingle Bells at the top of our lungs. Sounds like a good tradition. My mom and I tried it, was fun!


below: fountain in the hotel courtyard. I didn't notice the drink cup floating in the water until I got home. Reminds me: Pat O'Brien's has a new cocktail. It's called the Category 5 margarita. DH tried it. It's a margarita with Hurricane mix. He got the souvenir cocktail shaker with it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Photos

Here we are on Thanksgiving. We went to Crown Point, LA to a restaurant on the bayou named Des Familles.

below: my husband and me; that sun was blinding.


below: my sister Sarah and me


below: my mom, Lee, and her daughter in law Alayna


below: Hmm, are they related? It's my brother and step-dad. That apple didn't fall far from the tree.


My SIL Alayna and my bro, Elie


Great photo! My step-dad Don and my mom, Lee

Monday, November 27, 2006

Peace is Satanic?



Woman faces fines for wreath peace sign
By ROBERT WELLER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Nov 26, 11:13 PM ET

DENVER - A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said."Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Lisa Jensen said she wasn't thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, "Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing." Jensen, a past association president, calculates the fines will cost her about $1,000, and doubts they will be able to make her pay. But she said she's not going to take it down until after Christmas. "Now that it has come to this I feel I can't get bullied," she said. "What if they don't like my Santa Claus."

The association in this 200-home subdivision 270 miles southwest of Denver has sent a letter to her saying that residents were offended by the sign and the board "will not allow signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive."

The subdivision's rules say no signs, billboards or advertising are permitted without the consent of the architectural control committee. Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members.

My Mama's House

Back from our Thanksgiving visit to New Orleans. I know everyone has seen photos of the city, so I'll limit my posting to my mother's house.

New Orleans is still in very bad shape. Driving through New Orleans East, the whole area was a blown out ghost town. Huge apartment complexes, empty and shattered, from the Chalmette exit to the other side of the industrial canal bridge. For those in the know, the mall in N.O. East is completely shut down. So are most of the stores out there. It's literally like a war zone. I wish you could see it personally, words and photos do not do it justice.

In the city proper, many community groceries, drug stores and the like remain closed. The population is way down. Just seeing the lack of traffic was eerie.

The French Quarter was deserted and sad. Even some businesses on Bourbon St. remain boarded up.

Our government's response to this disaster is shameful and abysmal. So much for patriotism and taking care of our own.

Captions are above their corresponding photos.

My mother outside the FEMA camper. It's 30 ft long and 9 ft wide.

FEMA camper parked in the drive. My mom and stepdad joked that they now live in a gated community.

Here's the inside of their gutted house. Hard to get perspective here, but you are looking through 3 large rooms.

Gutted wall.

Fireplace.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tofurkey Disguise


I just found out about this fun, Tofurkey disguise. Print it out for FREE and decorate your vegan holiday dish! It's not too late to use for Yule.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Yucatan Cenote

Sorry it's kind of dim, but this was taken underground. It's an underground freshwater pool inside a limestone cave. There are people swimming in it, and you can see my DH near the end of the video. This is from our visit to the Yucatan. You can see the stalactites, and the opening in the cave to the outside. There is also a man-made walkway out into the water. Not visible in the video are the ancient handprints high up on the wall of the cave (red outlined handprints); an attendant used a huge flashlight to point them out to us touristas.

More Chichen Itza Photos

Here are some more photos from Chichen Itza, the Mayan city in the Yucatan.

Below: the Observatory. Amazing, isn't it?

Below: this is as close as I could get to this... up high on the side of this building is a human head being swallowed by a snake mouth. If you are looking at this online, you can click on the photo and get a closer look (on my computer I am able to click on it twice and it zooms in for a good look). I'm not sure if it works for those of you receiving this via email...somebody try it and let me know.

Below: an iguana sunning itself on top of a ruin.

Below: another Mayan human figure. He's looking towards the left, and has a circular earring with a hole in the middle, and a feathered headdress. Can you make it out? OH MY GOD! I just zoomed in on this carving and saw something I didn't even notice when I was there in person. This Mayan figure is holding a severed human head in his hand (maybe one in each hand)! This carving was found in the Ballfield; I will post later about their hacky-sack like game that ends in decapitation. WHOA!

Below: another bloodthirsty Eagle.

Below: saw several of these in the "modern" part of the ruin. Fantastic.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

La Habichuela

My favorite restaurant in Cancun was in the downtown area. La Habichuela, which means green bean. The courtyard was extremely romantic. My camera would not capture it, but you can see a fantastic panorama of it plus photos of the Mayan art by clicking the title of this post above (La Habichuela). It's the most beautiful and romantic restaurant I've eaten in. After the panorama plays, click the arrows at the bottom to see wonderful still shots of the art.

I must confess, while traveling I am not strictly vegan. While in Hawaii, I was vegan for 6 days and had a migraine the whole time, I am sure it was something in the foods I was eating (mostly Asian). Must have been some MSG somewhere (even though they swore there wasn't any), and I'm still not sure about tofu, it is a possible migraine trigger. At home, I eat vegan and that is how I prefer to eat. When traveling, I've decided that avoiding migraine is more important to me. Both in Hawaii and in Mexico, it was dang hard to even get a vegetable! And in Hawaii, papayas and bananas both give me migraine (frowny sad face). In Cancun, the vegetables are all strange because they are disinfecting them (presumably with bleach). The textures are strange, like marachino cherries.

I had no migraines in Cancun, it was like a 4 day oasis. Completely pain free until the last day, when I stupidly ate a banana.

So below, at La Habichuela I had curried seafood inside this coconut. You spoon it out through the whole covered by the pineapple.


Below was my favorite, Mayan coffee. It's a flambe' liqueur drink. The waiter, Angel, is pouring flaming xtabentun and brandy. Xtabentun is an anise flavored liqueur made from honey from the flower xtabentun. It was a Mayan drink that the Spaniards later added anise to.

Angel first rubbed lime on the outside of the glasses, then burned the sugar on by passing the glass rim into the fire. The liqueurs are set on fire in the metal pitcher and poured back and forth between two pitchers for effect. Lastly, in the bottom photo you can see how he pours the flaming liquid from on high from one pitcher, to the second, and it cascades like a fountain from the second pitcher into the glass.

Friday, November 10, 2006

But the Hotel's View was Awesome

When we arrived in Cancun, we saw that it is still recovering from Hurricane Wilma. There are blown out shells of mega-hotels, their skeletal shapes reaching skyward. The hotel we stayed in, where the conference was taking place, was back to speed. We wouldn't have stayed there if it wasn't for the conference; it's a 5 star hotel (gorgeous inside) with a dress code. But at the conference rate, it was cheaper than the Waikiki hotel I posted about that lies about it's views. The Cancun hotel, Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, is completely accurate about it's views. Every room is a suite and ocean view. And the staff was the friendliest I have ever encountered anywhere, in any kind of service arena. Check it out.

Below: View in the stairwell. I took the stairs as much as possible to mitigate the goodies I was eating. We were on the 6th floor.

Below: view from the room

Below: our room service breakfast on the balcony, hours before we had to leave.

Below: view of the pools, beachfront restaurant and ocean.

Below: view of one wing of the hotel from the beach. This is only half the hotel; visualize it's mirror opposite on the left side. It's a megalith! It has four restaurants, a coffeeshop, a bar, two shops, an inside tennis court, a gym, a spa and business center inside. Y0u never have to go outside their propery, and they hope you don't.

Below: view from our room. Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cancun Zona Touristica Sucks

The tourist zone (or hotel zone) of Cancun was not to my liking. What you see there are large open air bars, blasting canned disco music at decibels you have never heard before in your life. And I'm from New Orleans, so I know partying. Cancun just seemed desperate and strung out. There was a Hooters, Hard Rock, Outback, all that stuff. Who needs it?

On the street, a man followed us, offering cocaine. Maybe that's why the place seems the way it does?

It was no mythical Margaritaville.

The place was so depressing, the only photo I took on the street was of this scary clown. To me, it symbolizes Zona Hotelera Cancun...a painted face, with sharp teeth and forced gaiety.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mayan Carvings

Mayan carvings on the ruins at Chichen Itza, Yucatan. All photos were taken by me, this past Monday (11/06/06).

Below: Eagle, supposedly eating a human heart.

Below: Jaguar, also said to be eating a human heart. On the left of the photo you can also see an Eagle chomping down. Ew!

Below: Spectacular carving a Mayan in full regalia, on the Temple of a Thousand Columns (yes, it did look like a thousand).
Mariachi Mitch

(Sorry this video is so dark!)

Here's what I was doing last night...watching my husband sing along with a mariachi band in Cancun. The band was surprised to hear that he had once been a member of a mariachi band himself, playing guitarron and singing. This song was my husband's request. Unfortunately my memory card ran out right when the band started shaking their tail feathers.

Chichen Itza, Post #1

Newly returned from Cancun! Here are some initial photos from our tour of the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza.

Below: me, standing before the "Sacred Cenote", a freshwater limestone sinkhole. Archeological research has revealed human remains in this cenote, possibly as sacrifice during times of drought. This is as close as I got to the thing.

Below, Mitch in front of the Temple of the Skulls. Note the carvings.

Here's a closeup look at the Temple of the Skulls:

Below you can just make me out, standing at the base of the site's largest pyramid, "El Castillo". My bravery was not put to the test, since this year they stopped allowing tourists to climb to the top. Decide whether you'd have braved the climb after viewing this YouTube video.