Another way to go shopping – the theme of a contest Of local shops to promote shopping by bike instead of car in Averio, Portugal.

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Wandering the town of Averio I noticed numerous store fronts incorporating a bicycle in their window display. Conversing with a store owner, she told me of the initiative in Averio to promote commuting and recreational cycling. The shop owners were invited to participate in a contest using bicycles in the window displays.

Here is a sampling of creative designs:

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Check out these websites to see the many ways Portugal is promoting cycling for everyone:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2011/04/aveiro-portugal-promotes-cycling.html

https://ecf.com/news-and-events/news/portugals-silent-pedal-revolution

https://www.cyclingfestivaleurope.eu/images/Portugal—Ciclaveiro-contribution-to-the-Cycling-Promotion-Toolbox_v2.pdf

https://www.facebook.com/ciclaveiro/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1624625851156204

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Azulejos are everywhere in Portugal. They decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries, to palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and railway stations. They often portray scenes from the history of the country, ravishing sights, or simply serve as street signs, nameplates, or house numbers.

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The first tiles used in Portugal came from the neighbouring Kingdom of Castile in Spain but influences from the Moors, Italians, and Dutch all contributed to the Portuguese tile work. The original motifs were mainly geometrical using blue, white, yellow, and greens.

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In the seventeen century the Portuguese painters moved their art to tiles to create the Portuguese Azulejos (tiles). They are distinctively blue and white, graphical, and depict religious scenes, rural landscapes, and prominent local edifices and neighborhoods.

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Today tile continues to cover the exterior walls of homes as it weathers the sea air, salt, and wind.

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In Lisboa don’t miss the wonderful Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum).

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Ahhhh – Portugal’s most famous and emblematic pastry – the pastel de nata, a small egg-tart pastry originating with 18th century monks at Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon’s Belem district. As in most cities of the world I seek out the best pastelaria (bakery/panderia) and specifically in Lisboa I searched for the crème de la crème pastel de nata.

Every street in Lisboa has a pastelaria and they all make pastel de nata. With only a week in Lisboa I have been taste testing a lot of these little delicacies. My barometer for goodness is based on the custard, crust, camelization, and over delicacy of flavor.

Today was the day – while touring Barrio Alto I stumbled on Sede Da pastelaria, footsteps from the Praca Luis de Camoes.

Rolling out the crust

Rolling out the crust

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What ecstasy!

Perfecto

Perfecto

jinjinha

Ginjinha or ginja is the famous Portuguese sweet cherry liqueur made from infusing ginja berries (sour cherries) with alcohol, sugar, and cinnamon and served with a piece of fruit (often a sour cherry) in the bottom of the glass. The recipe originated when Cistern monks mixed the all natural ingredients with aguardente (a Portuguese brandy) in the 15th century. The success was immediate!

There is no specific time for drinking ginja. The Portuguese tend to drink it any time of day. It’s like hitting a café bar for a quick shot of espresso. Lore has it that elder women who drink 5 ginjinha per day and elder men who drink 7 ginjinha per day maintain a strong physical constitution and good health. Perfecto! E uma gingjnha, por favor. Salude!

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Pleasure Yourself

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An important aspect of taking care of yourself
Manifesting your well-being
Physical activity, nutritious and lite food, relaxation
And surrounding yourself in nature
All indulgences that create balance
Nurture good health, a strong body, and clear mind

Massaje en la playa

Massaje en la playa

Soak en la piscina caliente

Soak en la piscina caliente

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Attend to healthy pleasures
A rare and pure form of generosity for oneself

Small roller bag and hyper lite backpack

Small roller bag and hyper
lite backpack


When traveling
I own only what I can carry
And I am carrying too much
So I shed – a warm fleece and tights
Hace mucho calor para estas ropas
I shed a dress, skirt and top
That I foolishly tucked in my bag
At the last moment
My mojo is to blend in
Be local, look local

When traveling
I own only what I can carry
Not interested in transporting
Emotional and acculturated baggage
Labels, barriers, rules, and restrictions
To-do lists, boundaries, and decorum
These all confine creativity and the ability to wander

You only need what you can carry
No need to own more
So keep it lite and minimal

Never leave home without swim stuff

Never leave home without swim stuff

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I have crossed the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and feel I have time warped from a third world to a first world country. In Costa Rica there are mucho gringos, rental cars, roller bags, pricey hotels, screened windows, hospitality workers who speak english, and actual bus stations. I have hot water, an indoor shower, AC, ice, cold water, and you can toss the toilet paper down the toilet – convenient, boring stuff. The electricity or water has not stopped working once, a daily occurrence in Nicaragua.

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There is less dust, wind, trash, and minimal ants, fewer hot crowded buses, not many horse-pulled carts, less constant Spanish, no dogs under the table at dinner or pigs and cattle in the roadway, nor motorcycles pulling through the restaurant and into the attached casita with no doors, not as many chicken buses, and scant backpackers and hostels – most likely due to the higher cost of travel in Costa Rica. Life is tame.

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I am missing the adventure and flavor of Nicaragua.

Faces of Nicaragua

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As I reflect on my Nicaraguan adventure multiple images come into focus:
Colorfully painted houses, extreme poverty, rocking chairs, young backpackers, surf beaches, crazy crowded local buses, Congo (howler ) monkeys with their deep throated and communications, outdoor showers, costal beaches, nica food, and the faces of the friendly Nicaraguans we met on the journey.

chiffles

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The maestra of the cacao and chocolate processing

The maestra of the cacao and chocolate processing

Our familia

Our familia

chef and juancito

donut lady

Gerry

helado

panga

horse and cart

Slow Travel

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As I was walking today deciding if I should extend my stay in Playa Hermosa I realized I was contemplating slow travel. Not to be confused with personally slowing down and losing agility, slow travel translates to stopping and enjoying the journey, sitting for a spell to notice the beauty of the environment, the smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and textures that permeate the senses. You can be moving, yet still, peaceful, surrendering to the space where you are at that moment.

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sand design

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simple lunch

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hammacas

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Where have you traveled slowly today?

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A seven-hour hot, packed ride on a local bus to San Carlos, the launch point for the Rio San Juan – land of infamous pirates from the Caribbean, lush jungle, monkeys and colorful birds, and the original location for the canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean. Six hours on the Rio San Juan in two pangas and one dugout canoe (no roads in this area), we arrived at Base Camp Bartola in the Indio Maiz biological reserve surrounded by the jungle de Nicaragua.

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Panga #1 on the Rio San Juan

Panga #1 on the Rio San Juan

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Dugout canoe transport to Base Camp

Dugout canoe transport to Base Camp

Refreshing coconut water upon our arrival. No ice or refrigerators here!

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Base Camp is located in a community of 26 families that host campers and provide meals and tours of the area. We were transported back in time where all food is prepared with wood fires, outhouses are the only facilities, and bathing and laundry is done in the river. Spent the days hiking the jungle, watching the monkeys, visiting a local finca, making tortillas, roasting cacao fruit, then grinding and cooking the cacao seeds into tasty chocolate balls, and awakening to the sound of the deep-throated howls of the Congo monkeys and a plethora of birds songs.

Our camp at Base Camp Bartola

Base Camp Bartola

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Typical Nica dinner

Typical Nica dinner

Cacao fruit

Cacao fruit

Roasted Cacao seeds ready for grinding

Roasted Cacao seeds ready for grinding

Chocolate balls made from Cacao seeds

Chocolate balls made from Cacao seeds

Stocked with cacao balls we are off to our next Nica adventure!