The contents of this blog are written solely by me. The ideas presented here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bolo Horn

Hello Reader!  Between December of 2011 and January of 2012 I spent a few weeks on vacation with my family in India.  I was debating for a long while if my experience should be cataloged as part of this blog since it wasn't exactly Peace Corps related.  However my family is a huge part of who I am today and you can still get a great view of another culture.  There are 38 pics so stick with me here:

I met my parents at the airport in Newark and we flew over to Bombay (now called Mumbai), India.  On one of our first road trips I caught this great image.  If you don't understand the painting on the truck is trying to say try reading it with an Indian accent. (Hint: Blow Horn)

During our road trip we saw hundreds of pilgrims walking the long miles towards Nasik a religious destination.  According to my Uncle it could take them a month to get there on foot.

I was stunned when we turned a corner and saw windmills stretched out to the horizon; apparently the government is starting to look towards renewable resources.

India is a massive country with various types of terrain, in Maharashtra its more arid with lots of plains

The picture above and below are a part of Bombay called Mulund (I was born around here).  As you can see the city is still growing and seems to be rebuilding itself every time I visit.

My mom's oldest brother measuring how tall I had grown in the years since he had last seen me.  Same guy used to carry me around as a kid.

Spending New Years with the family sharing a little bit of Nicaragua with them (that is Flor de Cana on the right)

We then packed up and went to the south of India to visit my Dad's mom's side of the family.  This is how well I fit into a train compartment. 

One of the many stops the train takes on its 16 hour trip down south.

The entire family in one compartment playing cards to pass the time.  When its time to sleep the seats fold up to become multiple sleeping berths.

The pictures above and below are sunrise the next morning as we get close to our destination.

Kannur (Cannanore as the British called it) is located in the state of Kerala.  It seems that everybody who lives in Bombay has a "gao" or native place.  Somewhere your family comes from and you spend your summer vacations during school.  You can see the name in English, Hindi (National Language) and Malayalam (the local language).
This is where I spent some of those vacations.  It is my father's and grandfather's house and I remember spending long, humid summer days playing cricket with my cousins here.

My mom, my cousin, my aunt and I in the back yard 

Drawing water from the well to bathe

My mom making crab curry for lunch

My cousins first child (first for the next generation on our family tree)

Cute kid

My parent's dancing at the family reunion

My cousins and I grew up together like brothers and sisters

This ingenious contraction is a giant copper pot that is set in concrete.  It is filled with water and then a fire is set under it in the morning.  The insulated pot keeps the water hot all day for anybody wanting to take a bath.  My mind was blown.

Victoria Terminus (now called CST) made famous for the ending scene of Slumdog Millionaire

My dad and I decided to go have High Tea at the Taj Hotel.  Amazing.

The view of the Gateway of India from the Taj

Downtown Bombay near the waterfront

Catching the train home from Victoria Terminus

This trip was particularly amazing for me because it was the first family reunion (my paternal grandmothers side) we had ever had.  I saw people who hadn't seen me since I was two and were pleasantly surprised.  I am officially the tallest member in my family.

We had a family reunion of everybody on my paternal grandmother's side of the family.  See if you can find me.
 I was also lucky enough to be able to hang out with my family on my mother's side (photos above and below)

It's funny because on my dad's side I'm the youngest and on my mom's side I'm the oldest
This is most of my direct family on my dad's side (with one of my mom's brothers there also)

And there was cake for my parent's 25th wedding anniversary!
 Hope you enjoyed, next post is already in the process of being made since I have a bunch of pictures.  I'll just give you guys some time to enjoy this one.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pictures from the last few months

Here are a bunch of photos from the last few months that I've been meaning to put up.  For those of you who read my coffee post some of these will be review but there are some great ones in there.  Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any more questions!



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How coffee gets from my back yard to your cup

Hello again dear reader,

So as a teaser (and since I wasn't able to put all my pictures from an update into one blog) I've decided to post a few separate updates.  This one is focused on coffee and its production since that is what truly comes out of the mountains of northern Nicaragua where I live.  Once again mainly pictures :)

These first four photos are my attempt at panoramic shots that I've taken of vantage points I've seen in the adventures through the mountains.  These are where the coffee farms are located and this is where I get to do a majority of my work:

Mountains full of coffee or as it was explained to me "This side goes to Starbucks, and this side goes to Folgers"

The coffee bean before it is mature

Coffee that is maturing

The coffee is picked by migrant worker, placed into a machine that removes the shell and allowed to ferment in pits like this one for a day

The water is drained out and the coffee is pushed down shoots with fresh water to separate

The flowing water carries the empty shells with it leaving the seeds

Empty shells collecting at one of the many separation gates

I've taken some friends advice and started editing some of my photos, this is a good example

The coffee is then collected and placed to dry on long drying tables that also sift out unwanted produce

Migrant workers moving coffee

The coffee is then placed in sacks to the taken to a central collection area

I've spent a couple of days working on the farms doing the lifting and what not, those sacks weight around 200 pounds

This is coffee that hasn't been shelled that will be toasted for local consumption

One of the farm owners sons tired after a day of work and his puppy who doesn't want to stop playing

The coffee is taken to a central location where it is placed out on long toasting slabs and flipped regularly

Toasting coffee

More edited shots, but the coffee does look amazing

The beans are then washed one last time, dried, and ground to make coffee which is packaged and shipped...this is the BEST coffee I've ever had in my life

My friend I stay with when I go way out into the mountains tells me how much he likes his life here because he has no worries, everything he needs is provided for around him, is demonstration he went to get me some milk straight from a cow in the early morning.

My friend Adolfo giving me a glass of amazing milk

And that my friends is coffee.  For those of you caffeine addicts who want a cheap vacation, feel free to come visit, you wont regret it.

A lot more posts to follow.

Thanks for reading,