Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We Bought a New Home!

Hi there Gumboot Enthusiasts.

The Weekly Gumboot has gotten ambitious and moved across the interscape to www.dailygumboot.ca. Check out our new location and continue to be part of the community!

Kind regards,

John Horn
Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Gumboot
Publish Post

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Gumboot is Under Construction

Good day, community-minded readers of The Weekly Gumboot. Over the next few days/weeks, your favourite blog will be undergoing some changes so that, forever more, we can provide some sexier and more cutting edge service to you, the people. We're making this happen with a two-fold strategy. First, our Correspondents will be attending a two week long "community twitblogging for the interscape" and team-building retreat in Prince Rupert; they will return better than ever and with a thirst for community-building. Second, we're making The Gumboot prettier from the back-end (not sure exactly what what means, but the guy we "hired" won't stop talking about it).

Keep your eyes open for our new direction. And thanks, as always, for your support, comments and, most importantly, the memories.

Stay classy. And keep reaching for those rainbows.

Your pal always,

John Horn

Monday, July 27, 2009

Buenos Aires and the Journey Home - Chapter 3

Hola, Gumboot readers! Well, Michellé y Juan have returned home to Downtown Canada (Editor`s note: on Sunday night, we flew over mountains and ocean and rivers and green space into Vancouver...and then we were lucky enough to meander up and down The Drive during the tail-end of Summer Days - people, we are so, so fortunate to live where we do...tourists must orgasm when they arrive in this part of the world!).

But enough about Vancouver and beautiful British Columbia. Let`s get back to Downtown South America! So, the last time we checked in with Juan y Michellé, we had thrived in the Andes, learned about olive oil, defended against nuclear zombies at the Difunta Correa, and survived precarious paragliding. The next challenge for this delightful power couple: smog, traffic, rain, and a hospital in Buenos Aires!

So, Buenos Aires is a city of 13 million people (give or take a dozen). Some of the city's highlights include the world's largest street, 9 de Julio, and Christianity's answer to Disneyland, the Parque Tierra Santa. According to the country's maps, Argentina, not Britain, owns the Malvinas, not Falklands (shhh, don't tell the United Kingdom!). Argentinians, as described by the "rest of South America" and "Lonely Planet" are "Italians who speak Spanish, want to be French and behave like the English." One travel writer also used the term "a-hole" to depict these "Europeans of the Third World." In the experience of Juan y Michellé, the Canadian travelers were discriminated against more by French Canadians named Martin than by Argentinians; everyone was pretty darn nice, in spite of the hazy busyness of the city. In the end, Buenos Aires grew on us.

First highlight, Caminito: ladies and gentlemen, welcome to La Boca, a neighbourhood built on Italian immigrants (not literally), tango and Maradona's football club, Boca Juniors, where the now coach of Argentina's National Men's Club played his career. Caminito was/is a tourist mecca. Throughout our travels, Juan typically looked out of place with his Panasonic Lumix draped around his neck; however, amongst the restaurants, souvenir shops, cheesy tango dancers, and colourful buildings of Caminito he was right at home. Besides, dozens of Argentinian tourists had, ahem, much longer lenses than he did. Fun fact about tango: contrary to popular belief, tango is actually not at all about dancing; originally, the art form was created as a comment on class-romance-relations, where a man would sing to a woman about, well, forbidden-esque love. For questions about tango, please email Martin Renauld at renauld14(at)hotmail.com. Probably the most hilarious part of the Caminito trip was the Maradona impersonator. For a modest price of, we think, 10 pesos, you - yes, you - can have your photo taken with a guy who looks like Maradona. Again. He's not Maradona, but he kinda sorta maybe looks like him. Needless to say, we don't have a photo of this gent. But we do have a great idea. A "business venture" if you will. Would you rather pay 10 pesos for a picture with a fake Maradona, or 8 pesos for a picture of the real Martin Renauld. We know the answer...

Second highlight, San Telmo Market: as Summer Days in Vancouver sputter towards cancellation (such is the word on the street about carless streets), the San Telmo Market, which is exactly where the thoughtful, visionary, humble, street-savvy, and amazing Andrea Reimer will be taking Vancouver in the years ahead, will be the vibrant, colourful and, yes, carless Sunday street market that it has been for decades. Hey, man, Buenos Aires defines itself as a "European City," so it's understandable that such street culture survives and thrives amidst the rise of the automobile in the Southern hemisphere. Argentinians see cars as a status symbol, sure, but having a street or two closed in a neighbourhood will never deter people (most of whom still walk everywhere, which is why the wine and meat can't make 'em all fat!) from visiting the neighbourhood. From the locally made crafts (most of Argentina's consumer products are also local) to the amazing street performers (see video and prepare to dance!) the market was a delightful romp that was so extensive that it took up all of Sunday afternoon and most of the evening.

Third "highlight," public health care in Argentina: nothing says "adventure" like heading to one of Buenos Aires's hospitals during a swine flu epidemic that has inspired a "state of emergency" from the city's mayor, Mauricio Marci. While free health care for all is certainly admirable, in a city of 13 million with a 51% poverty rate, it obviously comes with a fair share of challenges. One such challenge is limited resources coupled with high demand: there's nothing quite like waiting 2 hours in a crowded waiting room only to share a 6x8 ft doctor's office with three other individuals, each suffering from a different ailment. Despite the 'health care for all' mantra, a tiered system was still fairly obvious: one of the first questions Michellé was asked was why she had come to the public hospital and not the nearby private hospital. With symptoms that some sources (mostly questionable organizations like the WHO) say represent the swine flu (5 out of 6 symptoms isn't that bad, right?) Michellé was lucky to have made it out alive two x-rays, one ventilator, numerous threats of quarantine, and 5 hours later.

Fourth highlight, artful museums, cemetaries and freezing rain:
for two days in Buenos Aires it rained like it was November in the Pacific Northwest. And we took the bus. First, buses in Argentina are superfun, because they only stop for, like, 30 seconds to let people on. And, when you get off, sometimes you just have time to jump off the back as the bus slows down. Needless to say, a fun time. What is not fun is putting 2.50 pesos in change (biggest coin in Juan's hand was 25 cents) into a rickety old machine that eats a lot of them (bus companies may or may not be a leading cause of Argentina's coin shortage). And what is hilarious is when a five-person line up forms behind Juan as the bus careens around Buenos Aires streets and he tries - with little success - to pay for the tickets from 10 blocks ago. And what is amazing and community-inspirational is when the five-person line-up cheers Juan on and gives him high-fives when the tickets finally spit out of the machine. And then the unraveling travelers got off the bus at the next stop... So, we nerded out in a couple of musems, including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (picture), and then braved the chilly weather in one of Buesnos Aires's coolest, and creepiest, attractions: the La Recoleta Cemetery. Some of the famous burials include Eva Peron, Domingo Sarmiento and Isabel Walewski Colonna (grandchild of Napoleon Boneparte). After walking for 20 minutes in the wrong direction, Juan y Michelle arrived a little later than expected at the cemetery, which inspired them to split up - each with a camera - and document the amazing history of the site. Soon, we were approached by security guards who were understandably cold and ready to shut things down. And so began a giant game of hide-and-seek. Basically, there were two strategies: first, Michellé pretended to not understand what anyone was saying (which she took to quite naturally); second, Juan just ran, man. The game was highlighted by pointing, shrugging and yelling of infinitives and nouns: "Amigo?! Amigo?!" That's right, Recoleta Cemetary Security, Juan leaves on his own accord...and because hypothermia was setting in. Oh, and, needless to say, given how the journey began, we took a taxi back to Ximen and Martana's place...

Fifth highlight, Tigre on the Delta:
one can only imagine how excited Michellé was to travel into the river delta of Buenos Aires on a train and a boat! While the train was, well, a jam-packed, uncomfortable commuter train that makes the B-Line look spacious, the boat-ride was enjoyable and adventurous (see "transportation culture" community-takeaway below), mostly because the boat doesn't really "stop" for you to get off; the Captain (we're nautical now, people) sorta backs up, the First Mate loosely wraps a rope around the "dock" and then you hop off as the boat pulls away. Making the day even more enjoyable was the delicious lunch we had on one of the islands. Perhaps it was our nautical savvy, or our delightful Canadian air, but somehow we even managed to score free drinks at the end of the meal. We later learned that such drinks are given to customers when they (a) spend a larger-than-normal amount on a meal or (b) are well liked by their patrons. Given that Juan's meal consisted of "Provaletta El Hornero" - fried cheese - it was probably mostly column b that earned us the drinks. Top score for efficiency. Top score for deliciousness and customer service. Top score for adventure. Low score for safety. Still, well played, Argentina.

Our big night out with Ximen and Marta
na: finally, we experienced an authentic tango show. Ximena, breaking with Argentinian culture and social norms, called out to the singers with requests for songs. People turned and sent curious looks her way, but the performer totally got it: "this is normal in Uruguay," she explained to the audience. You're darn right it is! After several bottles of delicious malbec and the best steak Juan has ever had, Martin and Juan bid goodnight to the ladies and ventured out into the chilly San Telmo, well, morning. [INSERT YOUR GUESS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN 3AM AND 6:30AM HERE]. And then we meandered home to get a restful few hours of sleep before striking out into the city in search of delightful goods to smuggle into Canada. (Editor's note: look, Canada Border Services, we might've brought a green herb back into the country, but, relax, it's only maté.) In any case, Monsieur Renauld, you got it like you did in our Bishop`s University days, good sir.

And then we came home. As it turns out, South America is far from the West Coast. But after 36 hours of traveling, which included extended stopovers in Santiago and LA, we made it home. Terrifying fact about LAX: you can buy iPods and digital cameras in vending machines. On the way home, there was really only one glitch. We had an unannounced two hour stopover in Lima, Peru. It was almost that medium-sized, um, thing that makes travelers lose it, break down and get a little nuts. Luckily, we channeled our craziness through humour. And, so, here is an excerpt of our "things we hate about Lima" list:

1. The "L" has something to hide.
2. Alpaccas, unlike sharks and bears, are naturally violent, aggressive and angry creatures.
3. In Lima, terrorists outnumber teachers 11:1.
4. Machu Pichu was actually built in 1987.
5. We had to go there.

Luckily, Limans (number six on the list) have a good sense of humour.

As you, the readers, know, The Weekly Gumboot is both about community and the actionable steps/tips/ideas that can be implemented to build said community(ies). So, in no particular order, here are the five things Juan y Michellé would like to share about the Argentinian/Urugyuan community that, well, we North Americans can certainly learn from:

1. Maté - the green herb of which we spoke. This warm drink is all about community. It is commonly shared between family and friends over stories and laughs. Here are some rules about mate: only the server can touch the straw or "re-arrange" the maté; drinkers must drink until a slurping sound is made; once you finish your turn you must return it directly to the server. If anyone wants to stop by commercial drive for a little maté-party, like we said, we smuggled some back.
2.Transportation Culture - imagine how much fun it would be to take the 99 B-Line if, say, it only slowed down at Commercial and Broadway. And, hey, imagine if the bus from Vancouver to Calgary served champagne, unlimited wine and the biggest glass of whiskey you've ever seen. Not only that, imagine if, for a few dollars extra, you could lie down and sleep in a full sized bed the whole way. People in Canada don't take the bus over long distances because, well, they're shabby. But recent findings show that, because of things like oil disappearing, traveling by plane as we do will most certainly change. Don't worry. There's a large reserve of whiskey and 1980s music videos in supply.
3. Eating - like maté-drinking, meals are typically a time when families and friends share moments and community is built. So, what better way to widen and deepen the community net than, well, adding another meal to the day? In Argentina, like in many South American countries, dinner is eaten much later in the evening - as late as 11pm - with a smaller meal eaten at about 6pm. While indulging in a small-child sized steak and a bottle of wine close to midnight takes some getting used to, the opportunities for community this tradition brings with it does not.
4. Coins (even if they are part of a black market racket) - if one stereotype can be said to be true about Argentinians - from the perspective of two humble Canadians - it's that they're laid-back. Symbolic of this laid-back lifestyle is the Argentinian attitude towards coins. With a low-supply-high-demand situation on their hands, the laissez faire Argentine solution is not to fight over limited resources (which cannot, sadly, be said about much of the world's population), but to instead not worry about the details and round up or round down to the nearest peso.
5. Martana y Ximen - it is Canada's loss that one of its greatest revolutionaries left Quebec in search of a "real" revolution in Argentina (without Che the place is pretty calm, though, Martin). And Ximena, well, she's just hilarious and makes up for any lack of English-speaking with dramatic flare. When asked what her favourite part of Juan y Michellé's visit was she said, "when you left and went to Cordoba." The delivery was deadpan, too. In all seriousness, our hosts defined friendship and community, constantly putting themselves out to welcome us in. If Martin's PhD dissertation doesn't get finished on time, we are partly to blame. But, then again, it is South America. Being on time is just a little bit different in that neck of the woods. So, Martana y Ximen, muchas gracias!

So there it is. The end of the unraveling travels of Juan y Michelle. Keep your eyes open for The Unraveling Traveler, our new adventure guide for community minded travelers (appendix on shade-finding included for free). We hope you've had as much fun reading as we have writing. So you know, we did our writing in installments... Our final tip: if and when all else fails, just say 'si'...


- Juan y Michellé

Friday, July 24, 2009

Recipe for an AKON Concert

  • 1 undersold GM Place
  • 15 qued lines of angry AKON fans forced to exchange tickets for new seats to offset the undersold concert
  • 1000 really, really short skirts
  • a large handful of people from every ethnic community in Vancouver/Lower Mainland
  • 2 three ton giant banana shaped speakers capable of thumping so hard your clothes feel the breeze
  • a shitload of other smaller speakers
  • a large pinch of super drunk and tatted out "gangstars"
  • a sprinkle of the VPD's finest
  • 20 cups of young men wearing funny baseball caps askew
  • 1 guy wearing a pink skirt and a mohawk
  • 1 AKON
  • 1 Karlwolf (never heard of him before, but you learn something new everyday)
  • 1 Danny Fernandez
  • 2 backup dancers from the "hood"
  • 1 random Surrey rapper who does a lot of pacing on the small stage
  • a generous mix of hummer and SUV limousines
  • a generous serving of concerned parents watching suspiciously as their teenage daughters scream they want to be a "private dancer" for AKON
  • 10 cups of boy-band-esque dance moves
  • 1000 bright lights
  • a bakers dozen angry after-concert fights
  • 1 code word that's guaranteed to "take things to the next level with your woman"

Mix all ingredients and you have yourself an AKON concert.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Expression in a Recession

Modus Operandi: Provide yet another example of how fast and dirty (not that kind of dirty) videos posted on Youtube help build community - yah, like that hasn't been hammered in. Fun and free expression during the recession.

Inspiration: The Blair Witch Project meets Sesame Street meets John Carpenter meets bored-twenty-somethings meets Carl Orff's O Fortuna meets Galiano Island meets The Weekly Gumboot meets bored-with-nothing-else-to-do.

Cool Factoid: Did you know that the Latin root for the word inspiration is inspirare? It means "to breath in."

Motto: Breath in, let roll.

You can also watch the video on Youtube -

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From East to West in Argentina ­- Chapter Two

As Juan and Michellé ventured out on our own for the first time in Argentina, without the wise advice and watchful eye of our trusted friend and guide Martin Martin (who taught us, among other things, the intricacies of bus riding and peso procurement) a few questions crossed our minds - will our combined knowledge of about 50 words en éspanol get us across the country and back? Will Michellè's vegetarianism be compromized due to a lack of sin carne options? Are we unknowingly venturing into a fire-ridden, flu-ravaged pool of terror and disease? Ah - fear not, friends! With a combination of luck, wit, and a few uttered threats from a tall, bearded Canadian who constantly boasts a sun-inspired-scowl, it was pretty darn certain that everything would be perfecto. I mean, hey, we made it back to write the blog post, right?

Our adventure started before we even left Buenos Aires. With four minutes to go before our bus departed for Mendoza, we found ourselves madly rushing from one end of the terminal to the other, attempting to figure out how and where to catch a bus that wasn't registering on any of the schedule boards. Luckily, we made it. Not only was this good because it allowed us to, you know, reach our destination, but it also afforded us an opportunity to experience the unexpected bus culture in Argentina. In just a few words: champagne, wine, whiskey, and blaring 80s music videos. 10 hours and some Tears for Fears later, we found ourselves stumbling off the party bus and watching the sun rise in Mendoza province ...

First stop, Uspallata: the town of Uspallata is located in the province of Mendoza and finds itself nestled in the Andes in the middle of the Argentine and Chilean frontiers. Upon arriving, we naturally started looking for a taxi to get to our hotel. Without a taxi in sight, we walked a block and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of town. Town, of course, being one street. Lucky for us, the beautiful landscape more than made up for the lack of cityscape. Our time in Uspallata was spent mountain biking in the Andes, walking through fields and streets with our adopted dog, Carlos, and musing over the inexplicably large and rather threatening military presence in town (It was quite an experience to have a fully armed and camouflaged military batallion pointing guns at us - Argentinians can sleep soundly knowning that the Grupa de Artilleria de Montaña is prepared to defend a Chilean advance through the Andes!). Hey, Lonely Planet and Fodor's, why no love for the Pizzaria?! The two "travel guides"totally sidestepped what is clearly the best kept culinary secret in Uspallata. Folks, if you happen to be in the Andes, stop off at La Pizzaria on Uspallata's main street. For 60 pesos you can dabble in some delicious pizza (vegetarian options available if pre-beginner Spanish spoken), a bottle of outstanding Malbec and a healthy, tasty salad that will leave you stuffed. The tolerant staff even let two talkative - and slightly oblivious - foreigners remain in the restaurant well after closing time. Well played, Uspallata, well played.

Second stop, Mendoza City: welcome to wine country! Mendoza accounts for 70% of Argentina's wine production, and recent findings show that the province exports nearly 95% of it's wine around the world. The city of Mendoza is kinda like the West Coast Canadian city of Victoria - it is quaint, quiet and sanitized for the millions of tourists who flock their from around the world. The city was actually destroyed in 1861 by an earthquake that levelled the city and killed over 11, 000 people. By the end of the 19th century, Mendoza was "reconstructed on a grid, making it easy to explore on foot." Well said, Fodor's. But you forgot to mention the five outstanding and community-centred plazas (Espana, San Martin, Italia, Chile, and Independencia) that create a vibrant hang-out for youth, seniors, senors, police, philosophers, luncheoning businesspeople, and folks who just wanna make out (there was and is a lot of love in Mendoza). Our hotel - La Hotel Zamora - was located right in the centre of town and had a garden-hallway (complete with koi pond) that made my dad smile just by being there. We toured two wineries (Vistandes and Granata) as well as the Laur olive oil factory. Good times were had by a lot of Argentinians, some Dutch, a Swiss fellow, a Columbian, some Irish lasses, and a couple of Canadians who, after some direction, stopped drinking the olive oil and putting wine on all their bread. Just kidding, we're totally cultured. In fact, Brenda Enegren, my co-worker/sommelier/friend, would've been proud of us. Michellé even caught the hint of red peppers in the Granata Malbec! Mendoza also offered a range of culinary experiences. First, there was La Florenica, a Boston Pizza of a place that got Juan's order wrong and proceeded to drench Michellé's rice and chicken in enough oil to put the Laur factory out of business. The kitchsy ambiance was great, but it wasn't enough. And then there was La Tasca de Plaza España. Amazing atmosphere (we even got an intimate table in the back), amazing tolerance of our limited Spanish and, most importantly, amazing vegetarian-sensitive food. The fish au gratin was out of this world in a way that matched the tastiness of the torrentes wine with which it was paired. Mendoza, it was a pleasure.

Third stop, San Juan:
oh my God!!! Nuclear Zombies have attacked the town of San Juan and no one in the city survived!!! Oh wait, it's Sunday in Argentina. Let's back-track, though. The visit to San Juan started with a rather eccentric and risk-taking taxi driver, who chucked our backpacks in his trunk and, well, didn't close it. We sped off into the dusty, cold night with the trunk's lid bouncing up and down. Further to this, we also stopped next to some rather seedy characters who sneakily eyed our bags. Juan was perched on the edge of his seat, ready to burst out the door and chase down any theives, but it never came to that. Now, back to the zombies. Okay, so there weren't any zombies. More likely, a combined love of rest, family, markets, sport, and Jesus kept 99.9% of San Juanians off the streets on our first day in the town, Sunday, which made searching for food and drink slightly challenging. Speaking of food and drink, San Juan, of all places, possessed a leafy green vegetarian buffet called Soychu. It was delicious and yielded a wide range of vegetarian dishes that ranged from quiche to homemade pasta to stuffed peppers to, thank heaven, a salad bar!!! But, dear readers, the piece de resistance for San Juan province was, without a doubt, the Difunta Correa shrine in Vallecito. Pictures say more than words, and we added a few of em. Here are some words, though: Correa was following her husband, a soldier fighting in the civil wars of the 1840s, through San Juan when she died; her baby, however, lived by suckling on her breast and this has been declared a miracle by a grassroots community (ironically enough led by long-haul truck drivers) that has, for over a hundred years, championed her cause in, well, one of the weirdest and most amazing displays of spirituality that anyone has ever seen. Michellé and Juan walked around like this [insert image gaping, awestruck face here] the entire time. All the license plates, bottles of water, trophies, model houses, plaques, and countless other trinkets are purposed to thank Correa for creating miracles (like cars, houses, success). The Catholic Church, officially, doesn't like it, either. Perhaps they are displeased with a massive grassroots movement that represents a fusion of Catholic and indigenous beliefs. Oh, be sure to pee before arriving in Vallecito, as bathrooms are hidden and the bus ride is two hours. San Juan, you started off with mixed reviews but came through strong in the end - it might have been, um, a miracle!

Last stop, Cordoba: worst. Bus ride. Ever. After the initial party bus to Mendoza, we were pretty excited about spending the night in gluttunous bus glory. One can only imagine how disappointed we were to spend the night on a cold bus with - no lie - only Ricki Lake in a horrid 1984 film to keep us company. No champagne, no whiskey. Life was hard. Luckily, Cordoba was amazing and well worth the torturous journey. The vibrant city was chok-a-block full of university students and colonial architecture. The final leg of the journey was spent exploring the numerous museums and art galleries (since when do notebook scribbles classify as post-modern art?), and marvelling at neo-gothic cathedrals. A highlight includes the Parroquia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus cathedral, which boasts a missing steeple to symbolize human imperfection. Speaking of human imperfection, we capped off our journey with a trip to La Cumbre to go paragliding. After nearly missing our bus after two individuals guided us incorrectly to a nonexistent ticket booth at the bus stop (44 is pretty close to 68, right?), we made our way up to one of the world's top paragliding destinations. Despite some human error in misjudging Juan's weight (it's okay, Pablo, you landed us safely after a scary few minutes caught in an updraft) and resultant free spin in the clouds (oh, the joys of human imperfection!), we experienced other-wordly beauty as we flew with the Condor's through the Sierras. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, look up Fechu - a former Argentine paragliding champion who showed us a very wicked and adventurous time. Food, architecture, culture, adventure, young people; Cordoba had it all, baby!

Juan's reflections: "If I had to rank the cities I would probably do it this way: Uspallata, Cordoba, Mendoza, and San Juan. It's the rural hick in me, man. The rugged outdoorsy-ness of the frontier town just made me feel right at home. The cultural highlight was definitely Difunta Correa - never seen anything like it, and probably never will again. And, hey, I gotta say that I was pretty impressed with my ability to 'speak Spanish' throughout the journey. Mostly, though, I was impressed by my ability to consume an entire cow over the course of 10 days...thanks for that, Argentina. And Michelle was and is a terrific travel companion who tolerated my saying 'si' over and over as 'speaking Spanish' as well as my shoes, which rightfully lived in the closet of our hotel rooms following our mountainbiking through the Andes."

Michellé's reflections: "The trip really couldn't have offered any more. Nature, adventure, culture, and delicious food! Mountain biking through the Andes was definitely a highlight for me - although it's annoying to hear, it really is one of those 'have to be there to believe it' experiences. the scope and scale were unlike anything I've ever seen. Regrets? Well, there were a few ridiculously cute babies and dogs (Carlos!) and many bottles of wine that I would have like to bring back with me. Alas, they must live on in photos (or must they?? insert evil laughter here...). In all seriousness, a fantastic trip with a fantastic travel partner. Despite signing up for an annual membership at a Cordoban grocery strore and possibly offering to sell me, Juan's Spanish savvy was superb (si!), and his humour and sense of adventure were unparalleled."

After a Suite Class bus ride home, which saw our seats turn into beds that even Juan, the tallest person in Argentina, could sprawl out on (Canada, we can learn something from South American bus culture) our unravelling travelers arrived in Buenos Aires a little tired, pretty smelly and ready to relax before living it up in the big city on their last week of vacation. The final chapter will tell such tales!


- Juan and Michellé

Monday, July 20, 2009

the evil banana

some of you may have heard of my ongoing war against the humble banana. if a harangue from me has not convinced you, maybe this will. (full credit to treehugger.com for this excellent munitions package!)

1. Bananas

We eat them every day, and their carbon footprint is huge. This fruit originated in Asia but is now raised in the tropics across the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Brazil is the leading banana producer, followed by Uganda, India, and the Philippines. Latin American countries supply more than 90 percent of the bananas eaten in North America.

Take into account that getting a single banana to your table uses about 8 pounds of carbon for a four ounce serving or .13 % of your year's allowance, according to Eat Low Carbon Diet. If you eat a banana every day for a year that would equal nearly 49% of your goal average. In the event that you can't fight off your banana craving, try buying an organic variety. Then you can at least ensure that your bananas weren't treated with tons of chemicals and pesticides, which can destroy the stunning tropical eco-systems from which they come. If you eat one every other day, a day or two or week, or sparingly you an see how much you can drop your carbon footprint, just by changing your banana habits!

finally --- and importantly; you CAN eat bananas in canada if you grow them yourself. case in point --- alison and my efforts below. and always remember high carbon = low community; more bananas = less farmer's markets = communal sin

a cursory search of the thoughtsphere turns up ihatebananas.com; curiously little to do with the cursed fruit, but i rather enjoy the white button

= )