Adventures in Lobster Country

Maine_StateofMaine

Maine! The great vacationers destination—plus the headquarters of L.L. Bean! When my mum was a kid, she and my grandparents would spend a few weeks of the summer visiting a lakeside cottage. Now, my parents like to steal a few days of the summer to go revisit the memories and visit friends. This trip included stays at two friend’s houses in East Blue Hill and on Vinalhaven Island.

Our adventure included mountain biking, hiking, and much lobster gobbling. We began with a visit to East Burke, VT to the infamous Kingdom Trails. You can find the site here. The three hour biking adventure resulted in a few scars on my part. One  is shaped like a Nike Swoosh on my left leg. I think it makes me look tough. Nonetheless, our crew had a blast and the soreness lasted for the rest of the trip.

Pentagoet

After our jaunt to VT, we crossed into Maine and to visit friends of ours who live at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine. The owners, Jack and Julie are the most darling people. Julie owned a pastry shop in Philadelphia where my mum worked in her youth. The two of them moved in together in South Philly before mum moved abroad. Jack worked with refugees in desperate situations and has the most fascinating stories to tell. The two of them make a fantastic duo and the best hosts a guest could ask for. Jack mans the Passport Bar, which is decorated by portraits of world leaders and transplants you to another place and time. Julie is the executive chef and whips up incredible flavors with the local produce as the centerpiece. I wish I had taken more photos to share, but the rooms are just darling with antique furniture and a homey, loved feeling about them. We were sad to spend only one night.

Maine_IslandViews

The next morning after a brisk walk to the lighthouse and back, we headed off to Acadia National Park. The views were breathtaking, and the hike fairly mild. Acadia is crowned by Cadillac Mountain—a rocky, mossy landmark. We took the two hour hike, parking at the top to expedite the trip.

Good friends welcomed us into their homes with a tour of the recently constructed Kiln and a great firewood-stacking endeavor. Nothing like industry to pique hunger!

Maine_Marina

After a grand meal and a night’s sleep, we left for Rockport and the Vinalhaven ferry. Vinalhaven is an old mining and fishing island, which hasn’t changed much over the years. Since the car we took across the ferry was loaded with supplies, all but two of us rode our bikes the twenty minutes to the house.

Maine_Lighthouse

The island was just beautiful. Below are two pictures I took while out on a walk. One showcases the greenery and the other is of a house resting in the middle of an inlet.

Maine_Moss

Maine_LakeHouse

Two nights and three lobsters later, we said goodbye to the island and headed back to PA.

Maine_VinalhavenPeople

To see what became of the lobsters, check out my instagram below!

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–>Instagram

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Kuelap, Machu Picchu’s Older Brother

Have you heard of Machu Picchu?

Kuelap_bird

Probably,  it is a UNESCO World History site and is visited by two million tourists per year.  What about Kuelap?

Kuelap_viewThe fortress of Kuelap just as historically relavent, but is located in a rather obscure a part of North Peru. Legend tells the Chachapoyas were a race of blond, blue-eyed people whom the Incans described as “tall and fair.” The site is nestled in the Amazonian Andes, a rugged, remote area of deep ravines and soaring precipices shrouded in cloud forest.

Kuelapmt_stairs

Entering through the very narrow yet impressive entrance way we arrived within the complex to find an extensive number of ruins hidden under a jungle of brightly colored Air-plants, Bromeliads and Orchids.

Kuelap_jungle

There were no other people during our four hour tour, and the forest has reasserted itself: roots break through walls, moss crawls over a guinea pig run, and the wildlife runs rampant.

Kuelap_Village

Kuelap is the largest ancient building in the Americas and is estimated to contain 3 times more stone material in its construction than the largest pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The city holds more than 400 round homes and is 600 meters long, 110 meters wide, and the walls tower more than 60 feet.

Kuelap Huts

It was in much better condition than Machu Picchu upon discovery and carbon-dating puts the initial construction in the 6th century. Note: Machu Picchu was inhabited during the 15th century.

Kuelap_hut

Only 1% of tourists visiting Peru journey to the north of the country and only a tiny fraction of these few visit Kuelap. I highly recommend the trip, though the eight hour car ride is a bit arduous. But the cloud people have left us a fortress to surpass even the widely publicized Machu Picchu.

Kuelap_snakeThese carved characters were near the main gate of the structure. There were faces, snakes, birds, and many other inscriptions.

For further reading about the Chachapoyas people and Kuelap click here.

The People of San Francisco

This past February I took a trip out to San Francisco to meet with a friend from Shanghai. My experience with the West Coast was mainly from San Diego and Nationals for field hockey in central Cali. The city was beautiful , but the people were what really stood out. DSC_0085Whether working or going about their daily routine, the people of San Francisco had a rough stubbornness about them. Below is Michael, who is homeless and came up to me asking for money. I told him that I would pay him to pose for me. He spent five minutes fluffing out his sweatshirt and updating his hairdo, but then he flashed this grin.

DSC_0010I love how after all the effort to fix his hair, he plopped a hat over his efforts.  DSC_0018This guy was weaving in and out of the cars towing a shopping car. The cars seemed not to notice him, but rather to act as if he were a traffic pole, weaving impatiently around him. DSC_0013

I was lucky enough to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This fellow was taking his job very seriously, flanked by what looked to be both his parents. 20130224_120056

And finally, these stoic guys. Looking quite sober, they watched over the exhibit hall of the Asian Art Museum.

 

Cusco or Cuzco? Peru

El PeruEnglish: Cusco
Spanish: Cuzco
Quechua: Qusqu or Qosqo

The City All of these spellings refer to the same city, the capital of the ancient Incan Empire. Today, its people still refer to themselves as Incans and are immensely proud of their ancestors. Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. Since then the capital has adopted Christianity, and Jesus (Christo Blanco) looks over the city. Blanco CristoCross over Cusco

Today, the city sees upwards of two million tourists a year since it is the throughput for Machu Picchu, but the city has its own splendor. There are old Incan sites, including “Sexy Women,” but properly known as Saksaywaman. Even the main square, Plaza de Armas, is drenched in history, including Francisco Pizarro’s proclamation of the conquest of Cusco. Stonework

The colors are vibrant and the stonework is incredible. But watch out for the altitude. The city sits at nearly 11,000 feet and altitude sickness is your new favorite travel demon upon landing in Cusco. Chamomile, lemongrass, mint, and coca tea help the headaches, but don’t plan on any vigorous activity upon arrival. This little lady sold me a beautiful wool belt.  She was so tickled that I wanted to take a picture with her that she posed for four! The locals are about 5′ and all wear neat hats. More to come on their garb and the local dying processes.

DSC_0169Below are local masks, but the alpaca sweaters were the most glorious. Painted Masks

DSC_0289

More posts to follow about the marketplace, but the photos came out beautifully.

East versus West: The Paradox of Beauty

I’m 5’10in and my complexion is true to my near-100% british ancestry. So when I touched down in Shanghai, not only did I stand ten inches taller than the average citizen, I also emitted a beacon of whiteness. In public places, I would have people come up and touch my hand or ask for photos. A few people would even take photos of me on their smartphones while pretending to be occupied elsewhere. FYI- it is pretty obvious when a photo is being taken of you- especially when the flash goes off.

Even at home, I am taller than average, but being in China exacerbated all these differences to the point where I wasn’t just a minority, I was the object of passerby’s attention. I was lucky to have many good Chinese girlfriends who walked me through this process. In asian culture, the whiter the skin, the prettier the girl. If you look at Chinese beauty ads, the model’s skin is retouched to a pearly white sheen. Wandering through department stores in Korea and China led to the same conclusion, all the creams and moisturizers promised whitening solutions.

But that is exactly the opposite of what I find at home. I have friends spending their break between classes to go lay in tanning beds. Sephora in Philadelphia or NYC is full of bronzing and darkening lotions. Just check out Shiseido China’s photos promising “white lucent” and 100% skin protection to US Shiseido’s “tinted moisturizer” photos. Just look at the beach in the summer: most Americans are baring their skin to the sun, while their Chinese-American counterparts use sun umbrellas and over-sized hats. So what gives?

Should you use the chemicals or the sun to darken your skin and be the envy of the West or bleach it whiter as they do in the East?

How about just loving your skin and your complexion! The sun provides a necessary dose of Vitamin D, but also deals out sun cancer. So be careful, protect yourself, and love your body. You are beautiful, no matter the current beauty fads.

And yes- those are tan lines from outdoor swim season.

Curacao: Paradise with a touch of Dutch Architecture (Diving Edition)

Curacao

I love to scuba dive. Our most recent family trip was to Curacao. It was relatively easy diving and the coral reefs were spectacular, but there wasn’t much in terms of large aquatic life. What set Curacao apart was the Dutch architecture, especially of the capital: Willemstad.Boat in WIlemstad, Curacao

Curacao is part of the Dutch Antilles and means “heart” in Portugese, referencing its location as a central trading post. The Dutch West India Company founded the capital on the banks of an inlet called the ‘Schottegat’. Curaçao had been ignored by colonists, because it lacked gold deposits. The natural harbor of Willemstad proved to be an ideal spot for trade. Commerce and shipping — and piracy—became Curaçao’s most important economic activities. In addition, the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade in 1662. Wilemstad is now an UNESCO world heritage site. Curacao Water: Just off the dock

Events like the one illustrated below explained why my parents enrolled me in a dive course at age ten, and I was a Padi Open Water Diver by age 11. The best way to keep kids out of trouble is to keep them busy! Mum and Dad were the type of parents who supported climbing trees and playing on the farm, but also limited TV access and signed my brother and I up for all the extracurricular activities accessible. But back to Scuba Diving…

By age 10, I had been abandoned by my parents in their dive boats countless times. Which frequently meant being put under the care of the local childcare. This was bad news for the locals. My fellow abandoned scalawags and I had been on this rodeo once or twice. I have fond memories of pulling out fence posts of daycare centers, wiggling past nannies and scattering, only to meet up at a designated hangout later, and other shenanigans. Probably our worst offense took place in Fiji. I was 10 years old at this point and had gone on quite a few dive trips where the parents took off leaving the kids in the somewhat unprepared hands of the local staff. This time, one of the adults had the genius idea to bring walkie talkies. We made full use of them, dividing up into two teams and leaving our nannies in the dust. You can imagine there were ten of us, separated into groups of five and linked by our walkie talkies. The local staff just wouldn’t leave us alone however, so we devised a plan.

I went into the bathroom. A few moments later, I started screaming at the top of my lungs “spider, spider!” Our two caretakers went rushing into the bathroom to save the day as I went flying out. My co-conspirator then slammed the door shut and popped the latch, holding our captivators inside. We were then free to spend the rest of the day exploring the island and doing as we pleased. What awful children we were!

The next year I was certified to dive and causing no more problems. Sort of…

The First Recorded Speculative Bubble: Tulipmania

Tulips

It certainly feels like tumultuous times…. in the past century we have gone through stock market bubbles, real estate bubbles, and the dot com bubble. When will we ever learn?

Now imagine instead of losing your fortune to speculation on stocks, you lose it by being duped by the tulip market. In the 15th century, the tulip was brought to the Netherlands from Constantinople where it was stolen and sold to the open market. Over the next three decades, tulips became a fad and the price skyrocketed.

Soon, tulip traders deemed it too risky to plant the bulb, instead displaying the orb-shaped seed. The height of the bubble was reached in 1936-37. Traders could make 60,000 florins a month- approximately $61,710 current USD.  With the potential for this level of profits, the market was flooded with new entrants and the supply caught up with demand.

One day, a buyer in Haarlem, Holland failed to show and panic ensued. Tulips were now worth 1/100 the price of the previous day.  As it happens in many speculative bubbles, some prudent people decided to sell and crystallize their profits. The tulip bubble had burst.

Its bulb cost between 3,000 and 4,150 guilders (florins) depending on size. A skilled craftsman at the time earned about 300 guilders a year.

Its bulb cost between 3,000 and 4,150 guilders (florins) depending on size. A skilled craftsman at the time earned about 300 guilders a year.

Now an event that occurred 376 years ago surely won’t be repeated. We learn from the past- yes? Isn’t that what history class is all about.. not repeating past mistakes. Greed and thoughtless behavior becomes commonplace when enough people are following along. It’s only afterwards that we stand back and shake our heads and wonder what came over us.

 

 

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Hi There!

Welcome to my website!

I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, travel, and going beyond the ordinary. I do tend to be a bit goofy at times, but stick with me here. This is a chance to flesh out my ideas and let my post-graduate self connect with the world of social media. Please leave comments- I would love to hear from you and….

I hope you find inspiration in my adventures and misadventures!

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    Jessie

    Jessie

    Entrepreneur, traveler, adventure-finder.

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