My Calgary: Pigeonhole

Eating at a hyped up restaurant can be dangerous. When an eatery comes highly recommended by trusted friends or has been given prestigious awards, it’s easy to come in with sky-high expectations and be disappointed when the food doesn’t quite measure up. I’d eaten at Pigeonhole prior to its Air Canada Best New Restaurant win, but last week was Zevi’s first time at the restaurant, and we were counting on a meal worthy of a big winner! Spoiler alert: it lived up to our expectations and then some! 

Pigeonhole scored points with me before I even walked in to the restaurant because of their small-plates format. Choosing what to eat at a restaurant is always an incredibly agonizing ordeal for me, so what could be better than getting to sample five dishes instead of just one! Even with the opportunity to choose multiple dishes, though, Zevi and I had a pretty hard time picking just five plates to share. The menu is divided into vegetables, meat, seafood, seasonal, and dessert categories, and we were tempted by so many of the offerings from each section.

 After we’d come to a hard-won consensus, we were presented with our first two dishes. The lamb tartare and tuna crudo, much like the other dishes we’d eat through the course of the evening, came out on adorable mismatched saucers that looked like they’d been stolen from my grandmother’s china cabinet (or maybe a hipster’s apartment😉. My enthusiasm for the plates was soon forgotten as I took my first bite of silky raw tuna with bright radish and the perfect crunchy pop of crispy puffed rice. Slathered on crusty bread oozing with burnt onion butter, the lamb was gone in a flash. If Pigeonhole started selling that burnt onion butter my toast would be dripping with it every day of the week!

Things only got better as our next three dishes made their appearance. Pillowy ricotta and spinach dumplings begged to be broken open and dunked in their lucious mushroom sauce. Every bite of halloumi was both soft and chewy, its saltiness perfectly complimented by mini bites of beet and caper. Zevi and I consider ourselves semipro-level halloumi connoisseurs, and we’ve never made any that’s close to as good as Pigeonhole’s. The flank steak, cooked to medium rare perfection, absolutely blew our minds and made us question everything we knew about cooking beef. Each thinly sliced piece all but melted in my mouth, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a more expertly prepared steak.
The memory of that juicy beef singing on my tongue would have been more than enough to keep me smiling for the rest of the night, but my dessert-loving husband was pretty keen on trying something from the sweet side of the menu. Zevi’s a diehard chocolate guy, so I knew we’d be going with the chocolate pot-de-creme. Rich, dark, and not too sweet, the creme-filled teacup was everything I love in a chocolate indulgence, and the perfect way to end a delicious evening. 

Pigeonhole is not only the best new restaurant in Canada, it’s one of my all-time favourite restaurants in Calgary, and I don’t give out that kind of praise lightly! If you love to share delicious food as much as I do, you should definitely check out this 17th avenue spot. Just save a little flank steak for me, ok?  

On Fear

Heather Baldy Pass

You know those ubiquitous Lululemon bags? I’m sure you’ve seen them – they’re full of motivational sayings and tidbits on what you should do to stay in good shape both physically and mentally. The phrase “do one thing every day that scares you” has always stood out to me from that sea of uplifting messages. I think it’s because at first it’s easy to dismiss this idea as a crazy one. Why would I want to do something that makes me feel afraid and uncomfortable? That certainly doesn’t sound like it would be good for my well-being.

And yet, when I ponder it again, I realize that some of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life have scared the crap out of me. I remember crying on the phone to Zevi as I waited in the Toronto airport for my flight to Iceland eight years ago, terrified that I would spend six weeks feeling incredibly homesick. I wiped my tears away and got on that plane, and had a completely life-changing and heart-expanding experience. I could barely breathe as I got on the phone with Craig Norris to guest host on CBC Radio 3, and came away feeling an even stronger connection to an amazing community. A very tiny part of my subconscious hoped that something would happen to derail our trip to South America so that I wouldn’t have to face the terrifying decision to quit my job and come back to uncertainty, but those three months enriched my life and my relationship with Zevi in a way that makes them impossible to regret.

Fear doesn’t just rear it’s head when it comes time to take a huge leap. It’s there every day – that little voice that says that maybe I shouldn’t put myself out there or try something new. It’s that little voice that tells me that it would be easier to just stay home, to stay within the confines of my comfort zone. I find myself pushing past that voice all the time, and I know I’m so much better for it.

When I feel that clutching in my heart that whispers at me to hold back, I give it a nod and a smile, because I know that it means that I’m doing something right. I’m doing something that will expand my horizons and ultimately leaving me feeling alive. Fear is a tough adversary, and it’s beaten me on more than one occasion, but if history is any indication it’s is also a good friend.

Tagged

Travelling: You’re Doing it Wrong

I wrote most of this post while we were in South America but never put the finishing touches on it and published it. I came back to it today because it still resonates with me, and I thought it was worth posting. Enjoy! 

Northern argentina field

The title of this post is something that I find myself thinking every once in a while. I try to push the thought away as quickly as it appears, but there are times when I just can’t help myself. Before you think that I’m constantly judging others for their choices, I’ll clarify that I’m talking about the way that I think about my own travel. With so many different places to go and things to do, and an even bigger variety of ways to do them, it’s hard not to second guess myself and feel like we’re maybe not doing things in exactly the way they should be done.

When we were in Cusco, I had a brief conversation with another Canadian traveller about our plans for heading to Machu Picchu. He asked me which trek we’d be doing, and I let him know that we weren’t going to be doing any trek at all. Instead we’d be making our way up there by train and bus. He was completely shocked by this, and said to me “No way. There’s no way you can come to Cusco and not do one of the treks to Machu Picchu”. While I know that hiking through the Sacred Valley would be an amazing experience, for various reasons it just wasn’t going to work for us, and I attempted to explain this to him. At that moment I felt like I needed to justify our choices so that we wouldn’t somehow seem like “lesser travellers”, whatever that means. There was no convincing him, though – we were most definitely doing it wrong.

I’m giving this guy more screen time than the space he really took up in my head. Look me in the eye and I’ll tell you without hesitation that his attitude was ridiculous, and that no one should make those kinds of judgements about their fellow travellers, or fellow human beings for that matter. But the hardest voice to silence is the one in my own head. Zevi and I have realized that we just aren’t “museum people”. They honestly aren’t a lot of fun for us and we rarely feel like we’ve gotten our money’s worth when we go. We’d rather spend our cash eating at a great restaurant or seeing a cool show or doing some kind of outdoor activity. Even with that knowlege, it’s hard not to feel like we’re doing it wrong when we talk to people who rave about Bogota’s Botero gallery, which we skipped, or Arequipa’s Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, which we gave a pass to as well. Are we missing some sort of key experience if we don’t check these things off our list? In my heart I know that we’re not, and we’re doing our trip in exactly the way that works for us, and that’s the only thing that matters. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of irrational self-doubt where I question the choices we’re making, though.

I’ve realized that the worst thing we can do is take someone’s else version of “doing it right” and try to apply it to our own trip. We love hearing about things that other people have loved along the way, but the fact that our newfound friends tell us that we just have to go somewhere, seriously does not mean that we do. We’ve made the choice to skip Iguazu Falls. It’s a real shame that we won’t be able to make it there, because everyone we talk to tells us it’s a showstopper, but it just isn’t going to fit within our budget and our itinerary. With a month in Argentina, many would be shocked that we won’t be making the trip there, but that’s just the way things are going to work out. And that’s ok.

In Puerto Maldonado we met a couple who decided to skip Machu Picchu altogether. For a second, I found myself feeling incredulous – how could they miss out on what might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something so iconic? I quickly stopped myself when I realized that I was thinking about their journey in the same way as that guy in Cusco was thinking about ours. As strange as it might seem to me, the choice they made was the right one for them, and it’s not my place to declare that their somewhat unorthodox decision is the wrong one. As with most things in life, it’s best to just worry about what we’re doing and appreciate that everyone is doing what they’re doing for their own reasons. I’m going to keep on spending hours in farmers markets and leave the must-see museums for everyone else. When that doubting voice in my head starts to creep in, I’ll take another bite of ceviche and remember that as long as we’re being true to ourselves, there’s no reason for regrets.

Tagged , , ,

My Five: Favourite Online Recipe Finds

Macheesmo beef slow cooker tacos

I love scouring food blogs and online recipe websites for inspiration and ideas on what to make for dinner. I’ve made countless meals from many different sources and have found some repeat-worthy dishes that are definitely worth checking out! Here are five of my favourite online recipe finds.

1. Macheesmo’s Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos

We just bought a slow cooker and this recipe was our first foray into crockpot cooking. If every slow cooker recipe results in meat this tender, juicy, and flavourful, I’ll be taking that thing out of my pantry on a regular basis! With my favourite condiment, gochujang, enhancing the beef’s deep umami flavours and giving it a little bit of spice, these tacos were spot on. I can’t wait to scarf down the leftovers!

2. Pinch of Yum’s Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles

I only recently started following this ultra popular food blog, but I’ve already made a bunch of Lindsay’s recipes. Everything she posts makes my mouth water, and most of her dishes are high on flavour without being overly time consuming. My favourite so far was this asian inspired chicken salad – juicy poached chicken, chewy rice noodles, bright herbs, and a zippy dressing come together for the perfect party in your mouth.

3. Shutterbean’s Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is a recipe I’ve made quite a few times, and I find myself craving it if I haven’t eaten it in a while. Cooking the rice and chicken along with coconut milk, aromatics, and some warming spices, makes for an easy one pot dish that will have you scraping for those brown bits at the bottom. It makes enough for eight people, but luckily it tastes just as good warmed up two or three days later!

4. Spoon Fork Bacon’s Blood Orange and Kale Salad

Just to prove that not everything I eat is asian-inspired, I’m putting this kale salad on the list. Actually, I’m putting it on the list because it’s the best kale salad I’ve ever had, and everyone who tries it agrees! I’ve made it more time than I can count and brought it to potlucks, work parties, and family dinners, and it’s been a hit every time. The tangy dressing balances out the bitterness of the kale, and the goat cheese adds the richness that turns kale haters into believers. I’ve tried it with a variety of different nuts and a few different types of kale, and it’s always tasted terrific.

5. How Sweet It Is’ Beef Enchiladas

I’ve made and loved a ton of Jessica’s recipes, but these beef enchiladas have probably been the biggest hit. I love how the tortillas slathered in chili-infused tomato sauce soften and absorb the delicious flavours of the beef, and the cheesy topping melts and browns beautifully. Enchiladas are the sassier sister to lasagna, and these ones pack a punch.

I’ve found so many other great recipes in the great wide internet, but these are a few that I wholeheartedly recommend. What are your favourite food blog finds?

Tagged , ,

My Calgary: Mugshotz

Mugshotz dill pickle wings

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, so much of the best food I’ve eaten comes from places without beautiful decor or a high end price tag. That is definitely true when it comes to Mugshotz, a bar in Calgary’s South East that’s about as divey as they come. With one of the city’s radio stations, complete with ads, playing over the speakers, splotchy formica tables, and fluorescent lighting, Mugshotz isn’t a place you come for the ambience, or for Instagram-worthy food photos. It is, however, a place you come for the wings.

Mugshotz wings two plates

Mugshotz wing flavours

I’ve tried my fair share of chicken around Calgary and beyond, and when it comes to wing night, Mugshotz beats my neighbourhood haunts by a long shot. If you’re looking for something standard, you can find hot, honey garlic, salt and pepper, teriyaki and all of the usual suspects on the menu. They make a mean medium according to Zevi, who’s a bit of a hot wings connoisseur. For those of us who like something a little more outside the box, Mugshotz delivers in a big way, with a whole host of flavours that you won’t find anywhere else, or at least anywhere else that I’ve been. The Sweet and Sour Sriracha has a subtler heat than your typical Franks-doused chicken, and the tangy spice makes for a much interesting bite than the usual one-note hot wing. The Louisiana Garlic Parmesan is another favourite – how can you go wrong with a thick coating of savoury, salty cheese? The Dill Pickle wings come covered with crunchy chunks of real pickle, one of many flavours accompanied by fun garnishes. There are so many types that I still want to try, and with Soy Sensation, Sultry Ginger, and Raspberry Chipotle calling my name, I’ll have to head back for more soon.

Mugshotz wings close up

Great flavours make Mugshotz unique, but the quality of the wings themselves make the place truly awesome. There are no bony, overcooked bites to be found here, and the meat melts in your mouth the way a great piece of fried chicken should. I’m partial to the mini drumsticks, and there were plenty of meaty ones to be found on my plate.

There are lots of spots servings wings on a Wednesday, but I’m more than willing to go out of my way to eat the ones Mugshotz is serving. At eight dollars a pound, they’re not the cheapest wings in the city, but you won’t lament the price tag when you bite in to that first piece of juicy, flavourful chicken. If you’re looking for cheap beer and a top-notch version of the most classic of bar snacks, Mugshotz is the place to go!

Tagged , ,

YouTube find: Postmodern Jukebox

Zevi’s always browsing The Awesomer finding cool things to check out, and last night he came across this YouTube channel called Postmodern Jukebox. Have you heard of them? They do jazz-infused covers of all sorts of songs, from boy band hits, to old school cartoon themes, to modern hits. I love the totally unique spin that they put on these well known tunes. Some of them are so completely unexpected!

Here are a few of my favourites. Check out their YouTube channel for more!

Tagged , , ,

On Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping

There aren’t many chores I’m wild about, but grocery shopping is one that I actually look forward to every week. For the past few years I’ve done the vast majority of the grocery shopping for Zevi and me, and it’s one of those errands I never feel like passing off.

I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising, based on my love for anything and everything food related, that grocery shopping isn’t something I dread, but it occurred to me today that most people don’t get much joy from walking up and down the aisles of their neighbourhood supermarket. I don’t mind driving from one store to another to find what I want, or going to specialty stores to get the obscure ingredients I need. I love browsing for the week’s essentials at off peak times when it’s quiet and I have lots of room to explore. I like to go by myself, so that I can walk slowly and haphazardly around as I try to find what I need. I try to stick to a list, but one or two random finds usually end up sneaking in to my cart.

I honestly don’t get all that much pleasure out of browsing for clothes or accessories, but I could walk around The Cookbook Co. Cooks, or Silk Road Spices, or any Asian grocery store for a long time, just and seeing what kind of interesting things are available. I love to window shop at farmers markets and check out the unique stuff that each vendor has on offer. Being in those places inspires me to try new things when I’m cooking, and to think outside the flavour box. Screw designer jeans, I’m all about high end olive oils and fancy finishing salt.

When I travel, I love to walk around grocery stores and see the things that are available that would be hard to find at home. In South America, I would linger in the aisles, looking over the strange products that I’d never seen before. I love to learn about a culture through food, and supermarkets are my version of a museum.

Do you like shopping for food, or do you dread it? Does anyone want to hire me to be their personal grocery shopper ;)?

Tagged ,

Easter Weekend at the Cabin

Drive home from Shuswap

I made the long drive home from the cabin with my brother today. It’s nice to be back in the land of wifi and reliable internet, but it was pretty hard to leave BC on such a beautiful, sunny day! We ate our lunch outside in Revelstoke in the warm sunshine and there was a brief moment where I contemplated staying right where I was instead of coming home to snowy Alberta.

Shuswap fire Shuswap wood pile Shuswap Julia breaking picnic tableShuswap vertebrae Shuswap buds

Signs of spring were all over the place at the cabin. Buds were starting to peek out of the ground and appear on the trees, and the dock was starting to float out in to the water as the lake level began to rise up to it’s lofty early summer levels. We did some work to get the outdoor areas ready for a new season of fun, including working in the garden and burning some leftover firewood. Someone also decided it was time to get rid of our old decaying picnic table so we got to do some demolition, which is always a good time.

Shuswap Benny Dad Shuswap Benny on deck Shuswap Benny sniffing Shuswap Benny dirty face Shuswap Benny high ten
Shuswap canoeing

Although I’ve never heard him say it, I’m pretty sure that the cabin is as close to paradise as you can get for Benny. Instead of being stuck inside all day, he got to sprint along the beach and through the forest trails to his hearts content. Between my parents and brother and sister, he was pretty much lavished with constant attention, and he always had someone to play with. He even went for a canoe ride one day! With so much running to do and so many interesting things to smell, he was always absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. For a dog who seems to have never ending energy when he’s in the city, it’s amazing to see how truly tired out the cabin life makes him.

Shuswap Easter egg hunt Julia Stephen Shuswap easter egg hunt StephenShuswap easter egg hunt chocolatesDSC01387Shuswap hamShuswap Easter dinner

Of course it was Easter weekend, so we couldn’t forget about the chocolate and amazing food. My mom came up with an elaborate rhyming treasure hunt on Saturday morning that lead us to some delicious goodies. I love that she realizes that her twenty something year old children are still kids at heart😉. That night we made an incredible easter dinner. The piece de resistance was a gorgeous glazed ham that came out beautifully moist and dreamier than I could have imagined. Can a ham be dreamy? I don’t know, but it’s the stuff that my dreams are made of. We also made roasted potatoes, butternut squash puree, kale chips, and steamed asparagus, which were all incredible as well. I missed taking a picture of the key lime pie we had for dessert, but trust me when I say that it was citrusy perfection. We always eat so well at the cabin, which, predictably, is one of my favourite parts of being out there.

Shuswap selfie DSC01380 Shuswap dock view Shuswap woodpile view

It’s good to be home, but I’ll miss the relaxed vibe, beautiful view, and quality family time until I get back to the Shuswap again.

Tagged ,

Currently

image

Reading: Since I don’t have a job right now and I’m trying to limit my spending, I recently got a library card for the first time in many years. The Calgary Public Library removed the fee to get a library card a short time ago, which makes borrowing even cheaper! I recently read Delicious and Silver Linings Playbook, both of which I really enjoyed, and I’m now reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Unfortunately, I’m not as interested in it as I wish I was, but it’s starting to grow on me. I recently joined a book club with some friends and I’m excited to go to the first meeting this week, but the book we’re reading just became available to me at the library so I’m going to have to do some speed-reading!

Watching: Even though I know that there are so many great shows I should be catching up on, I spent the last two months watching all ten seasons of Friends. Friends is probably my favourite show of all time, and even though I’d seen almost all of the episodes before, I was pretty sad when I reached the end of the series! It’s just such a classic show with so many hilarious moments, and I love all of the characters for different reasons. I haven’t just been watching reruns, though. I caught up on the first two seasons of House of Cards so that Zevi and I could watch season three (we’re a few episodes in so no spoilers!), and Zevi and I finished the third and final season of Newsroom. I loved seasons one and two of the show but with season three being only six episodes long it almost felt like they tried to do too much in too little time. I still think the series is well worth watching though.

Listening: Julia played a newer song by Timber Timbre called Hot Dreams for me as we drove out to the cabin, and I was instantly obsessed! I can’t get enough of that sultry sax, and I’ll probably be listening to this track over and over again until I’m completely sick of it.

Wishing: That Zevi could have come to the cabin with us this weekend. As great as it’s been to be out here, it’s just not the same without him! I know that there will be lots of moments that I won’t be able to share with him because of the nature of his work schedule, and it’s just something I’ll have to get used to. On the plus side, it makes me extra thankful for the days we do have together.

Eating: We made a ham for Easter dinner last night and it turned out so well! I think I’ve eaten it for every meal since. If being addicted to cured meat is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Loving: I’ve really been enjoying running lately! I’ve gone for three runs while I’ve been out here and they’ve all felt great. I did a hill workout yesterday for the first time in forever, and it felt awesome to make it through something really challenging. I’m kind of intimidated by the pace I need to run to meet my goal of sub-two hours for the Calgary Half Marathon, but I think that if I work hard I can put myself in a position to achieve it.

This post was inspired by Danielle of Sometimes Sweet.

Tagged

That Time We Got Stuck in the Argentinean Salt Flats – Part Two

Check out part one to read the beginning of our salt flats saga.

image

After more than two hours and ten kilometres of walking, we arrived at some buildings that we’d been hoping might house some people. We were pretty disappointed to find that the buildings were just empty shells, but our spirits were lifted when we saw a guy riding towards us on his motorcycle. Finally, someone who might be able to help us! By using my stumbling Spanish and showing him a picture of the truck on Zevi’s phone, I managed to convey our situation to him. As I was trying to explain our plight he taught me the Spanish word for “stuck”, which would prove to be very useful later. He couldn’t drive us anywhere since he didn’t have any passenger seats, but he did lead us back to some buildings near to where he was staying in the hopes that we’d be able to get cell phone service. We were at a point where calling 911 seemed to be our best bet – we weren’t sure what the police would be able to do for us, but we felt like our situation was dire enough to warrant an emergency call. However, despite our new friend’s attempt to position first Zevi’s, then my, and then his phone at varying angles on a rock where he said there was usually cell service, none of us were having any luck getting through. Eventually we had to give up and figure out our next move.

Even though the guy who had been helping us told us that waiting by the virtually deserted highway in hopes of flagging down a car would be futile, there really wasn’t anything else for us to do. As we dragged our exhausted bodies towards the road, both Zevi and I glanced at a broken down shell of a building and wondered if that was going to have to be our shelter for the night. Neither of us said anything, but we were both really starting to worry that that huddling behind those ruined walls by the side of the road might be our fate that night.

Sleeping out in the wilderness might not have been such a concern if we had accounted for the fact that we might still be outside when the sun went down. We were in such a hurry to leave the truck, which at that time was roasting in the sizzling desert heat of the salt flats, that taking warm layers hadn’t crossed our mind. I was wearing a t-shirt and a thin skirt, and Zevi was wearing a lightweight long sleeved shirt and shorts. Standing by the side of the deserted highway as the sun began its slow slide down below the hills, we started to wish that the four water bottles in our backpack could be magically transformed in to warm coats. We found a couple of rocks by the side of the road that functioned as a makeshift seat, and I sat on Zevi’s lap as we tried to keep each other warm. The minutes wore on and on, and, just as our friend had predicted, no cars came. We were both trying to stay positive and be strong for each other, but as we sat there I felt so absolutely helpless and hopeless. This was the most dangerous situation that either of us had been in. I’d never felt more vulnerable, and I don’t mean that I felt like I was in a place where I could share my feelings, I mean that I seriously felt like we might not make it out of that windy, deserted Northern Argentinean countryside. It was incredibly scary, and even thinking back on it now makes my heart race a bit.

We’d been waiting for what seemed like forever, and we were both almost ready to break down. After coming up with a few ideas, all of which we ultimately decided weren’t going to help our cause, Zevi suddenly exclaimed that he thought he’d seen a vehicle moving towards us. When I looked and saw nothing we figured that the stress and exhaustion were making him see things that weren’t there, as much as he wanted them to be. A few minutes later, though, we discovered that he hadn’t been hallucinating, as a beat up orange truck came in to view and laboured towards us. We jumped up and down and frantically waved with every ounce of energy we had, hoping to convey our desperation to the driver of the truck. The relief we felt when he slowed to a stop is indescribable.

Our saviours were a farmer, his wife, and their numerous children, all crammed in to a single bench seat in their elderly truck as they made their way back home from an All Saints Day church service. I told the driver our story, and although his countryside Spanish was nearly impossible for me to understand, I managed to decipher his offer to stay with them in their house just up the road. Let me tell you, I was thanking my lucky stars that I’d decided to do that Spanish minor in university at this point. On top of this, he let me know that he thought he’d be able to recruit some friends and get our truck out in the morning. I couldn’t believe that we’d gone from utter to despair to incredible good fortune in a matter of minutes. Zevi and I couldn’t get the smiles off our faces as we settled in to the back of his truck. The respite from the wind was such a huge relief – we would have slept there all night with no complaints!
image
image
We bumped and jostled our way about five kilometers up a dirt road to the farmer and his family’s humble home, where, incredibly, they gave us a room to sleep in and fed us llama stew for dinner. They had no electricity or running water, but we certainly weren’t looking for luxury at that point. As we ate our dinner and drank our tea, the farmer’s wife came and told me about her children and their way of life. Although this was definitely a negative experience overall, the chance to chat with some true locals and see how they lived was the silver lining.

image

True to his promise, in the morning the farmer had rounded up a couple of neighbours and gotten all of the necessary supplies together in order to extract our truck from its salty, muddy trap. We drove on to the salt flats, and, although I’d warned him that we’d traveled a long way, I think our chauffeur was a little surprised as we journeyed further and further away from the road. When we finally had our truck in our sights, we parked a little ways back so that the farmer’s truck wouldn’t suffer a similar fate to ours. We carted shovels and boards and tarps to our truck and the farmer and his two friends got to work with a little help from Zevi. It took them an hour to extract each wheel from the mud’s powerful grip, using bottle jacks and planks to prop the wheels up little by little. As I watched them chew their coca leaves and drink their boxed red wine as they worked diligently in the hot sunshine, I wondered what poor soul they’d practiced this technique on in the past. They seemed to know exactly what to do.

When all of the wheels were out, Zevi and I were gripped by a new stress. What if this tactic hadn’t worked, and we were forced to abandon our truck in the salty desert? We tensely watched as one of the men slid into the drivers seat and gingerly eased his foot on to the gas pedal. Nothing happened. All our fears were coming true, and my heart sank. After some adjustments, he tried again, and this time we saw the sight we’d been dreaming of for the last twenty hours. The truck was free! We held our breath as he drove over to where the farmer’s truck was parked – getting stuck again would be devastating. Thankfully, he made it, and there were hugs and high fives all around.
image
It was hard to express our immense gratitude to the people that saved us, but we gave them almost all of the money we had as a small show of our appreciation. We held our breath as we drove across the rest of the salt flats, and didn’t really exhale until we got on to a paved highway. Zevi had been eager for adventurous drives, but we’d both had our fill of treacherous roadways for the foreseeable future. We’d also had our fill of salt flats for the foreseeable future, and possibly forever. It was a traumatizing experience, but for as much bad luck as we’d had, we got equally lucky when that farmer stopped to pick us up. We spend so much time avoiding strangers, especially in foreign countries, but you never know when one might save your life.

Tagged ,