Well, I received the typical Friday email that class was cancelled and decided that I needed a new adventure for the day. I realized that it was time to climb the mountain behind my house, Casupo. Let’s be clear, what the people here call a mountain is really a steep hill that takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top. This is also where they are hosting the “Mountain Marathon” which they’ve somehow stretched into an 8km race. I’m thinking about signing up just to say that I’ve ran a marathon! (Side note – Brent just ran his first marathon! A trail marathon at that. And he placed 17th. I have some work to do).
Anyways, as I am hiking up this somewhat vertical, barely maintained path of rock and dirt, I stop for a water break and alas – I meet my first friend! His name is Pedro and he is one of the shirtless, ripped workout junkies who pumps iron on the public equipment on Cuatro Avenidas. Aka, one of the guys that Angel and I like to make fun of because they always look so serious and dedicated to their training. It turns out that Pedro is studying to be a lawyer at the local university and works in a print/copy shop in his spare time. He also loves to kayak and invited me to go with him. Of course, I am a little on guard about my new friend and wish he was a girl so that I wouldn’t feel the obligatory “creeper” vibe, but friends, and outdoorsy friends at that, are hard to come by in this city!
Near the top of Casupo, on the flatter ground. Pedro needs to improve a little on his camera skills a little, I think. There was a lot more going on in the background that he missed. However, this little hike up the mountain may be my new morning routine, meaning more pictures in the future.
As we were descending around 1pm, I couldn’t help but notice how few hikers were on the trail, especially because my students at Sika told me that Casupo was plenty safe to hike alone at that time. After telling Angel about my adventure, he told me that that is the prime “kidnapping” time so no one hikes at that hour. When asked if there was any basis for that claim, he said that about 20 years ago a girl whose family was involved in something sketchy was followed by car after leaving Casupo, and ever since no one hikes at that time. They’ll hike at 9am or 4pm but not 1pm, at least not on weekdays (because kidnappers have a really tight schedule?) Go figure. More open trail for me 🙂
After a successful hike up Casupo, I realized it was time to conquer another one of my fears – baking. More specifically, figuring out something to bake with the limited food resources here. Since I was just at the grocery store yesterday, I didn’t feel like returning today and so I decided that I was going to make something with ingredients already in my apartment. They started out as banana-oatmeal-ginger cookies but because I changed the recipe so much it kind of looked like it was going to turn out more like bread. Thankfully, I have a deep-dish baking pan which I chose to use. I think the result was a banana-oatmeal-ginger…flat bread? Pretty tasty actually, although I’m not sure if they would make a good first impression if I try to befriend the neighbors.
So, this bread-mush was made possible by my teeny-tiny, old school OVEN. If there was ever a time for the word “janky,” it is right here, right now. My oven is janky. I’m okay with having to turn on the gas and light the stove ever time I use it, but the oven? Also, for some reason it wasn’t lighting when I first tried so I wound up explaining my dilemma to very confused gentleman on the floor above who looked like he had never used an oven. Of course, after I was done explaining and tried again, the gas ignited right away and the flame was MASSIVE. After seeing this I was almost 100% positive that I was going to burn the building down baking sub par treats. Meanwhile, the knob on this oven only goes to 300 degrees, to I thought “oh, bummer, the recipe calls for 350” but ended up saving me because what was supposed to cook in 14 minutes cooked in 5! I guess the tiny oven has one thing going for it, its a time saver.
Caution, scary flames:
I think that ends my list of firsts for the day. This weekend I hope to: kayak, eat some AREPAS (finally), cook a second batch of platanos – this time as “tostones” (more like banana chip), go on a long run in a new neighborhood, and save some time for the pool and my new book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (who wrote The Virgin Suicides). I hope everyone else is having a wild and crazy Friday night like me, writing my blog!