fivemack: (Default)

In the last two weeks, I have:

Swum across an Alpine lake
Peered across the barbed wire into both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
Ridden a black stallion across the plains around Lake Song-Kul
Climbed up beside the Tash Rabat caravanserai to a place where I could see fifty miles around the horizon, and another place where I could see two million light years up
And washed my undergarments in a glacial stream at sunset



Admittedly the stallion was called the Kyrgyz equivalent of Cuddles and was the result of a special request for the most tranquil horse in the beginners' herd, but the rest work in full generality.

There will be photos of everything except the horse-riding (because trotting while wearing a large camera around the neck is unwise) and the skivvy-laundering, in the fullness of time

fivemack: (iguana)

So, there I was, contemplating some left-over half-chicken-breasts and a collection of memories of Mexico. Retried beans. Tomato sauce. Hey, can't I skip a step here using one of the more canonically readily available items of commerce? It had worked poorly in the haggis stir-fry last weekend, but in a generally gloopier context, maybe???

Chop a big onion; chop a deseeded red pepper and the raw chicken into thin strips. Put a bit of oil in a non-stick pan. Fry the onion and some garlic. Add (I know this sounds weird) some chopped black olives. Add the chicken if you want it with chicken, fry a bit more. Add a 400g tin of Heinz baked beans. Start stirring quite devotedly from this point: the Heinz sauce is a perfect substrate for the Maillard reaction, but if it sticks and crisps and burns the burned flavour will overwhelm the crispy brownness. Add a fair slug of tomato purée - half a tube, I guess - to play off against the sweetness of the sauce; the olives are also helping out there. Add the pepper, turn the heat down, start warming the tortillas, remember to keep stirring. Put a dollop in a tortilla with a piece of cheese on top, wrap, eat, repeat. Scrape the brown crispy bits off the side of the pan and eat them before washing it up.

OK, it's an abomination in some senses, I will be haunted by the ghosts of a dozen Maya and of the chicken that I committed to the recipe. But it's a pretty tasty abomination for all that: amazingly filling. And it'll be even nicer for lunch during the week when the mysterious pepper-improving qualities of time have had their play.

fivemack: (Default)

And, for devotees of Latin American tat, I think this resin bird-bath depicting the Last Supper cannot but score highly

fivemack: (bok)

Palenque (Temple of the Inscriptions: tomb of Pakal)

Uxmal, view from the top of the Great Pyramid towards the 'nunnery'

Chichen Itza: sacrifice-stone in the Temple of the Warriors

Tulum: watch-tower on the northern sea front


Tulum is the size of a big British site - same sort of area as Fountains Abbey, no individual building that impressive. But Uxmal and Chichen Itza are both bigger and more filled with buildings than the Forum in Rome; Palenque is even more impressive because most of the site, including the biggest pyramid, is still embedded in jungle.

fivemack: (Default)

Yesterday we went to the Chocolate Museum, whose exhibits are now slightly depleted:

And today to the Agua Azul waterfall: you can, and we did, swim in the slightly less rushy bits upstream of this one.

Tomorrow, and the four days after, will take us to one Mayan complex per day: Palenque, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Tulum, Chetumal. There Will Be Temples.

fivemack: (Default)

The status of a man or woman in the town of Santiago de Atitlán can be determined by the colour of his or her shirt or hat (red is the highest status), and by the number of birds embroidered on her top or his trousers

There is a Guatemalan tradition of making little crocheted balls, which can be decorated according to a great number of designs: this one is obscure, possibly Scandinavian?

Rough water looks amazing with a short enough shutter speed

I am, you can probably tell, having a lot of fun here.

fivemack: (Default)

I am in Guatemala, on the shores of Lago de Atitlán: dawn broke about an hour ago. Peace is disrupted only by the shrill whistles of the grackles, the clacking of amorous(?) coots, and the occasional motorboat-taxi across the lake. To the left Mount Atitlán is poking out behind Mount Tolimán; to the right, San Pedro.

fivemack: (Default)

From the Jagd- und Fischereimuseum on the main street through central Munich. This is an absurd museum, containing not only a fine collection of crossbows, not only a baronial hall lined with carefully-labelled antlers,

not only a set of stuffed exemplars of the fauna of Bavaria down to the Feldhamster and a pair of feral guinea-pigs that someone found living in a rabbit burrow, but an entire fifteen-metre-long side-gallery devoted to taxidermists' jokes with laborious multi-paragraph articles about the habitats and behaviours of the Wolpertinger depicted.

fivemack: (Default)

On Thursday I took the six-hour, three-country train trip from Ljubljana to Munich.

There is an awful lot of blather written about the British Discovery of the Alps, mostly along the lines of

ELIZABETH Howard, do not these mountains bear an aspect most unlike the pastoral climes of Gloucestershire?
HOWARD Indeed my dear: nor do the meadows reflect the most refined agricultural practices than my uncle Lord Townshend is pioneering in Surrey


ELIZABETH Do not the skies lower most greyly? Might one not feel a certain almost pleasurable anticipation of Peril?

HOWARD Indeed my dear one might. Is it not fortunate that this train is provided with the finest precautions that Man can contrive against such happenstance!

(an AVALANCHE sweeps train, Howard and Elizabeth away)

fivemack: (Default)

This full-block building, clearly designed by someone who thought Keble College lacked only balustraded turrets, is apparently the headquarters of the water board


I went to see Evita in the Recoleta cemetery: if you are well-loved after your death, your friends will get bronze plaques made and bolted to your large marble tomb.

This may be the daftest-looking Owl Symbolising the Contemplation of Mortality ever committed to stone.

I am now off to the main cathedral to see if anything attractively pontifical is going on, this sunny St-Patrick's-day morning.

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