With this blistering heatwave that has come through San Diego the last few days, I’m seeking daily, cooling refuge in the form of jumping into the ocean and seeking out food and drink that’s light and bright. Lucky for me, the Latin Food Fest in San Diego last weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Cocktails, tequila tastings, cool ceviche, delicious tacos and so much more were offered at the Grand Tasting Village at San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park.
San Diegans truly are blessed with easy access to some of the country’s best latin food. The team behind the Latin Food Fest work hard every year to bring forth the best restaurants and beverage vendors to accumulate over a single weekend.
When I’m totally parched, the first thing I look for is fresh coconut water. Since the trend has gained momentum, this thirst-quenching juice can get a bit pricey at your local grocery store. Luckily the guys behind Coco Jack have created a line of tools so that you can break through your own young coconut and serve yourself. The tools may look like they’re straight out of the caveman era but they do the trick within seconds.
By far, my favorite taste of the day was the Smoked Albacore Ceviche from the Tequila Bar & Grille located inside the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The ceviche was perfectly seasoned and sat on top of a crunchy tostada.
Another favorite of the day was the Choritos a la Chalaca from Cafe Secret in Del Mar. I’m not a huge mussel fan but these were served with perfection. Ceviche was plentiful throughout the Grand Tasting Village, but I especially loved the Ahi Ceviche from Venga Venga. Bright with citrus, avocado and fresh fish, this ceviche was fantastic.
While I wish there were a few more dessert offerings at the event, one of my favorites was the Chocolate Mole and Tres Leche ice creams from Calexico Creamery. The ice cream was super creamy and their mobile ice cream shop was absolutely adorable.
The drinks were flowing at the Latin Food Festival and we had our pick from dozens of different tequilas, cocktails, beers, micheladas and wines. It was like having a taste of Tijuana and Ensenada without ever crossing the border. Attending foodie festivals like this one is great because you find out about restaurants, wineries and spirit purveyors that you would have never stumbled upon otherwise. The Latin Food Fest in San Diego is one of my favorites each year and I’m always so excited to be invited back to cover this delicious event. From the tequila tent and endless food, to the entertainment and beautiful San Diego skyline backdrop, the Latin Food Fest is definitely one to add to your calendar. For more information, visit www.latinfoodfest.com.
As a luxury and travel website, Wander magazine wants to take a moment to remind readers that you can visit exotic parts of the world doing one of the greatest things in the world – giving back to those in need through volunteerism.
We are all for traveling on luxurious, fun trips, but volunteerism, a blend of overseas traveling and volunteering, has begun one of the most popular ways to give back. Essentially, you become the charity you donate to. You are the action, the change in the world. You get to see your time and money make an impact immediately, while working with others looking for the same adventure you are.
From Australia to South America, there are plenty of places for you to reach out and make a positive impact, while traveling to a beautiful, exotic part of the world that you might not have seen otherwise.
To help us get a better glimpse of volunteerism, the Wander team has reached out to some international volunteer programs that are looking for an adventurer with a heart to serve others.
Ranked as one of the Top Ten Volunteer Organizations” by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, International Student Volunteers (ISV) offers two-week volunteer placements in teams in numerous countries around the world such as Costa Rica, Thailand, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Australia and New Zealand.
ISV has sent over 30,000 students around the world, even giving academic credit to students for their hard work.
This isn’t just a vacation that students take during their spring break. According to Narelle Webber, the ISV International Program Director, ISV partners with local non-profit, voluntary citizens’ groups in each host country to set up safe, meaningful, sustainable and life-changing volunteer projects with achievable goals that benefit the environment and local people.
Volunteers with ISV could very well be providing water and sanitation, building or maintaining community facilities, or helping teach children about health, environment, and English language.
For those who are more passionate about helping in an environmental aspect, ISV has environmental projects involving long-term scientific research in tropical rainforests and endangered species, animal care and sanctuary maintenance, and habitat restoration.
“Volunteers have done everything from monitoring dolphin behaviour, tagging and collecting data on sea turtles, to planting thousands of native trees in incredible locations,” said Webber. “Our mission is ‘to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.’”
While most participants are university students, ISV doesn’t require only students volunteer, nor do volunteers have to specifically trained in special fields. Volunteers can be as young as 15, and although ISV has a few projects that require students to be studying certain things like veterinary science or medicine/health, ISV provides all the training needed and ensures that tasks are appropriate for volunteer’s skill level.
The ISV adventure tours are jam-packed with cultural and eco-adventure activities, so that after two weeks of working hard, volunteers can explore their host country and experience its diversity in an ethically responsible way.
“ISV tour leaders challenge and motivate students to push outside their comfort zones while having fun,” explains Webber.
ISV programs operate between May and September, and November and February each year. Applications are open now for each upcoming season. For more information, check out their website.
If you’re looking to make an impact on the environment, Projects Abroad is playing an important role in contributing to the preservation of the earth. With ten Conservation & Environment projects on four continents, Projects Abroad is making great strides in conservation work and promoting environmental awareness in communities around the world, with the help of dedicated volunteers.
Founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study, students were originally sent to Romania to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.
Projects Abroad currently has projects in 29 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States. The benefit of volunteering with this non-profit is the fact that you can find nearly any type of service that you would enjoy.
For instance, animal and nature lovers can join Projects Abroad to protect the Amazon Rainforest by running the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in Peru, which has partnered with Projects Abroad since 2001. The reserve has an animal rescue shelter, which after six years, has seen birth of a howler money and the release of a rescued anteater into the reserve. The rescue center at Taricaya is leading the way in animal rescue in the Amazon and has been officially appointed the first Animal Release Center in this part of South America. Over 40 different species in all have already been released back into their natural habitats, including a jaguar, a puma, and two tapirs.
Those driven to teach can head to Costa Rica, where Projects Abroad is collaborating with three schools to demonstrate environmental awareness and teach sustainable development. Projects Abroad volunteers assist with education, training, and the building of ecological strategies that will aid the social development of these three communities in an innovative and sustainable way. For the next year, volunteers will be working on bio-gardens, recycling separation centers, recycling containers, and a butterfly/hummingbird garden for each school, plus educational resources to run environmental awareness projects.
For ultimate adventure lovers, Projects Abroad has a brand new program in Fiji: shark conservation. So far, over two-hundred volunteers have worked hard on scientific shark research, mangrove reforestation, recycling, and shark education initiatives. Last month, volunteers giving an educational talk at a multi-cultural school had the privilege to be joined by Ian Campbell, the Program Manager for the World Wildlife Foundation’s Global Shark Program. Campbell described the day as “inspiring” and also said that the project is “possibly the most important shark project in the world.”
According to Christian Clark, the US Deputy Director for Projects Abroad, volunteers aged 16 and over are welcome, but even 4-year-olds are welcome with parents who consider family volunteer options.
“We actually just had an 87 year old join us,” said Clark. “It is our philosophy that anyone willing to help out should be able to volunteer. We do have some programs for specific demographics as well, including our High School Specials for teens, Global Gap for gap years, Alternative Spring Break Trips for university students, and Projects for Professionals for skilled volunteers.
Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) boasts a hefty amount of places for you to volunteer. With programs around the world, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India (Dharamsala and New Delhi), Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania (Bagamoyo and Kilimanjaro), and Thailand, volunteers have nearly endless options on where to lend a helping hand.
According to Danielle Key, CCS program specialist and three-time Brazil Volunteer, those interested in CCS can not only choose where they want to volunteer, but also get to choose the start date that works best with their schedule, along with how many weeks they would like to participate for.
“We offer start dates year round and our programs are generally available from 1 to 12 weeks in length with some longer term options to include gap year programs,” said Key. “Our volunteers work in partnership with local people on sustainable community initiatives within the areas of education, social services, and public health.”
CCS attracts those who are people-to-people oriented, and are looking for a strong emphasis on the opportunity for cultural exchange. Volunteers can do anything from teaching English, care-taking for elderly community members, improving the quality of care for individuals with disabilities, to supporting individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.
As an added element for volunteers, CCS offers cultural and learning activities throughout their program such as in-depth orientation, discussions on social issues, insight into cultural norms, language assistance, guest speakers, and special events.
“These activities will help you to learn more about the culture in which you are working, so that you can immerse yourself more fully into the experience,” said Key. “Free time is also a component of the overall program design. Weekends and evenings are your personal time to absorb the program and/or possibly do some ‘adventure travel’ on the side, whether independently or with new friends.”
For more visual information on the CCS programs, check out CCS’s Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/crossculturalsolutions/.
For a greater idea of what it’s like to volunteer with CCS, check out this video.
They say your taste buds change every seven years and I’m a strong believer in this statement. The last time I visited Indonesia, which was 14 years ago, I was just a kid who had no idea how to even tackle the enormous traditional Indonesian menu. Instead, I remember two things about my last trip when it came to food: walking around the neighborhood with my cousins looking for candy and cracker shops and the one time I got deathly ill from eating from a food hawker stand on the street.
I had the chance to celebrate my last month as a 29 year-old in Jakarta and Bali and I knew my taste buds were in for a treat. Traditional Indonesian and Balinese food ranges from noodle soups to grilled goat, fried fish and more. While American food is growing popularity in Indonesia, I wanted nothing more than a traditional meal whenever I could.
In my family, catching up over a meal is a daily occurrence and there was no difference among my extended family in Jakarta. We couldn’t have a single conversation without chatting about the next must-see restaurant or where we planned to have our next meal, coffee, or dessert.
Here are some photos from just a few of the delicious meals I enjoyed while traveling through Indonesia.
Es Campur was one of my favorite desserts to order after a meal or on a super hot and humid day. Shaved ice is covered with layers of sweetened condensed milk, grass jelly, coconut jelly, basil seeds, and coco pandan syrup, among many other toppings. The cold and sweet dessert is delicious and extremely cheap.
Bakmi Boy is a culinary institution in Jakarta. Hidden down one of the narrow alleyways in the Fabric District, Bakmi Boy has been around for generations serving up its famous Mi Baso, a warm noodle dish topped with chopped chicken and bok choy. Always, always, always order a side of warm beef meatballs and broth and an order of fried dumplings to balance out the crunch factor. The iced orange juice is fresh and believe me when I say that the oranges found in this tropical part of the world are unlike anything you’ll ever find in the states. This entire meal was way less than $10 and I completely regret not making a second trip before the end of our vacation.
Sunda Kelapa has been serving up their signature seafood dishes to celebrities, dignitaries, politicians and the normal folk since 1970. My uncle treated us to an evening of prawns doused in sweet soy sauce and butter, squid served up two ways, braised vegetables, and so much more. A bit off the beaten path, Sunda Kelapa is definitely a must-see.
When we weren’t treating ourselves to fried fish or bowls of noodles, I was constantly on the hunt for local fruit. Indonesia is home to dozens of different kinds of bananas, spiny fruit that you have no idea how to open, juicy mangoes and melons, and so many other fruit that you didn’t know even existed.
Go for the weirdest and ugliest looking fruit and I guarantee you’ll find one to fall in love with — I certainly did.
Kampung Daun in Bandung, about two hours outside of Jakarta, was one of my favorite places for a meal. The restaurant and cultural center is set inside of a rain forest and serves up traditional and American food. No matter what you ordered, the sounds of a trickling waterfall or surprise thunderstorms will make any meal magical.
Every meal is served to you inside your own personal cabana and the service is impeccable. I suggest starting your meal right before sunset so that you can walk through the restaurant by moonlight. You also can’t miss watching traditional candy being made by local villagers at the base of the restaurant. Take your pick from hand-spun cotton candy, sugar-sculpted lollipops, taffy, and more.
I don’t think there was a day that went by where fried rice or fried noodles weren’t served at either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Whether it was cooked every morning my a relative’s maid or served up at a local restaurant, it was a cheap and easy way to fill up for the day.
Padang is an idea that I don’t think would ever make it in the US, mostly because of health reasons and also because it’s just kind of insane. As soon as you walk into the Padang restaurant, the waiter will bring you a plate of one of everything the chef has cooked for the day. Plates range from the ordinary grilled or fried chicken to cow brains, intestines and chicken liver. You eat what you want and the waiter comes back and only charges you what you consumed before bringing your leftovers back and serving it up to the next patron. Regardless, I ate what I could recognize and would do it again in a heart beat.
I don’t think there was an Indonesian dish that I didn’t enjoy and devour. I happen to think that my taste buds were appreciative of going back to its roots and partaking in all of the caloric festivities. While legitimate Indonesian food is hard to find back at home, I’ll be happy to make up for lost time during my next trip to Indonesia.
It’s hard to sum up my Bali trip in a few sentences. I’ve been back from traveling abroad for a few days now and whenever friends ask about my trip, I can only say that it was magical. Bali’s ethereal beauty really took my breath away from the moment we landed, to our stay in the forest, from our days on the beach and the hours walking by myself in the streets. The traditional Balinese food, sightseeing, wood and stone handicrafts and the entire Balinese culture promised to keep me busy throughout my stay. But one of my favorite parts of my trip to Bali was my stay at The Royal Pita Maha.
Situated about an hour outside of central Bali and within a stone’s throw of Ubud’s Arts District, The Royal Pita Maha is integrated into the natural landscape, rice terraces and forestry atop the Ayung River. The King of Ubud, Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati, is the owner of the property and we had the unbelievably fortunate opportunity to meet and share a cup of tea with him.
He generously offered a night’s stay in the Royal Pool Villa at The Royal Pita Maha, along with another two nights at sister resort, The Pita Maha. Although our stay was short, I could immediately feel a sense of peace and a complete change in energy as soon as I stepped foot onto the property.
Exploring the Royal Pita Maha in Ubud, Bali
Bali is renowned for its beaches and holy grail surf spots, but Ubud is surrounded by forests, mountains and rivers. The Royal Pita Maha was constructed with the natural habitat in mind so don’t be surprised when you see farmers harvesting the rice paddies above your personal infinity pool or when you find geckos and giant katydids in your garden and walkways.
No matter the length of your stay, you’ll probably find yourself spending most of your time walking around the property. There are plenty of walkways that lead you to the outdoor yoga studio, self-sustaining organic farm, restaurants, or one of the several Balinese statues found all across the resort. Don’t forget to take a dip in the Holy Spring Water Pool, which is believed to heal the mind, spirit and bodily ailments.
Dining at The Royal Pita Maha in Ubud, Bali
Even if you have plans to venture out into Ubud for your meals, you must absolutely have breakfast at the Ayung Valley Restaurant. Traditional Indonesian and other global dishes are served alongside fresh fruits and juices with spectacular views. You definitely won’t want to miss having your morning coffee with a bird’s eye view of the resort and forest below.
There really aren’t enough words — or photos — to show how amazing the island of Bali truly is. A single week is nowhere close to the appropriate amount of time to spend exploring this magical island. It really was a life-altering trip and I believe my stay at The Royal Pita Maha had a lot to do with it. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to visit and looking forward to planning a return visit. For more information, visit http://www.royalpitamaha-bali.com.
It never ceases to amaze me that we are less than an hour from Mexico. While the majority of the population is still terrified to enter into these international waters, my recent trips to Ensenada and Tijuana have been nothing short of exhilarating and exciting. We recently visited Tijuana with our good friend, Turista Libre, for an evening of baseball, mechanical bull rides, vuvuzuelas, tacos, TJ hotdogs, and so much more.
As Tijuana Toros first timers, we were prepped completely. Proper baseball stadium food, cheeky cheerleaders, silly monkey and chicken mascots, and an excitable crowd. And let me just say that Mexican baseball games are 100% times better than anything you’ll see in the MLB.
(Check out our previous trips with Turista Libre to El Vergel waterpark and the Lucha Libre battles.)
Here are some photos from our recent trip with Turista Libre. A very special thank you to Derrik, Pilar and the entire Turista Libre familia for always showing us a great time.
When it doubt, use duct tape.
While it may look like a bloody mess, Mexican beer is SO much better with a rim of Chamoy. Try it and I guarantee you’ll love it.
Estadio Gasmart has every typical baseball food you could every imagine, and more! Take your pick between street tacos, tortas, TJ hot dogs, fried chicken, caramel apples, cream-filled churros, and the like.
Why settle for ketchup, mustard and relish when you can opt for bundles of radishes or grilled green onions and green peppers?
Just some of the sights and sounds from the Tijuana Toros game.