Location: Chicago, USA
We have been having a great year with visitors. My Mum and Dad in May, Josh left today, and Anne-Elise is over here on Thursday. Check out James' and Josh's pics from their South-west road trip to Las Vegas, through Arizona, Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation in a Mustang Convertible. There were a few Thelma and Louise jokes
Location: Puerto Rico
We just got back from Puerto Rico this week and we really enjoyed the laidback and relaxed island culture of the place. All the houses are painted bright colors and of course they have all these gorgeous big bright hibiscus and other tropical flowers everywhere.
I thoroughly recommend living in PR if you want the party lifestyle. You can buy alcohol in the gas station and it is as cheap as chips. These people LOVE to party. In fact, believe it or not, Sunday is the big party day of the week. Kind of a last hurrah attitude we were told. We walked through the rainforest feeling all healthy with our big bottles of water and trail mix and the Puerto Ricans are walking through with a six-pack of beer and its about 9:30am. Why not? The rainforest there is like the New Zealand bush with a few boa constrictors thrown in. There was even a tree which looked freakishly similar to a punga tree fern.
Its funny because its an island measuring only 100 miles by 30 miles and it has about the same population size as NZ and absolutely everyone has a car and most people have big SUVs while the roads in the towns and villages have these itty bitty lanes that can barely fit one car let alone a stinking big SUV. James and I rented a car which allowed us to get off beaten track a bit though the traffic is heavy for all the above reasons.
We just really enjoyed spending time at the beaches dotted around the island. Its was sunny and around 30 celsius/90 fahrenheit everyday. We spent a lot of time at gorgeous beaches with clear blue water and white sand and palm trees.
One key highlight was the old section of the capital, San Juan, with its cobble-stoned lanes made of blue marble. San Juan was settled by Spanish in 1500s and 1600s and this is reflected in the architecture. They built a huge fort in the town because PR was strategically placed to help them hold power in the Caribbean over the British and Dutch who also wanted in for the gold. The other interesting aspect of Puerto Rican history were the pirates; frequent visitors back in the day.
Another highlight was kayaking in a lagoon which has enough natural phosphorus in the algae to glow at night when you move your hands through the water. That was pretty awesome. And there was a nun kayaking along with us in her nun habit. I swear I did not make that up.
In fact I would live there alone for the colorful characters. There was a guy on the beach who dressed up like a lifeguard and waved his hands and barked at the ocean.
We had one tour guide who was an American and bit of a self-styled Don Juan thrown in with a touch of Magnum P.I. He told us the weather brought him there, but the woman kept him. Pretty smooth, huh. We loved the Hawaiian shirt and gold chain and hearing about all his girlfriends. He was good fun.
We have both become huge fans of plantains- think a potato crossed with a banana. Sounds weird but all good. Its a huge part of the diet.
I hope everyone is well and good
Love Adi & James
Location: Chicago, USA
Happy New Year!
We have been in Chicago about 10 months now and feeling pretty settled. Its taken a while to get used to the extremes here- the really hot summers and then the freezing winters but we feel pretty much prepared for anything now.
So, a few of my favourite and least favourite things...
- Living in a place where donuts are considered breakfast
- Great subway and train system
- Lake Michigan on our doorstep -it's so big it looks like the ocean
- Pickles, jalapenos and every ice cream flavour ever dreamed of (not together of course). Probably would be ribs and steak for James (this is definetely a meat-lover's city!)
- Kitschy Americana - from the palace made of corn to the world's largest manmade bulls head. You think you don't want to see it but you do.
Things that are taking longer to get used to:
- Crowds- (especially around Christmas) with 3.5 million people living in Chicago city, and 9 million if you include the suburbs. Thats almost the whole of population NZ living in Chicago
- Tipping- it can be really hard to know when you do and when you don't sometimes.
We are planning an escape to somewhere warm and sunny for March or April, maybe Mexico or the Caribbean.
Will keep you posted