My dad grew up in Peoria, IL. 

My family spent a considerable amount of time there when I was a kid.  We experienced snowy Christmases, sat in the back yard and watched fireflies in the summer, picked tomatoes from the plants in my grandparents' garden, watched Gone With the Wind with my grandma, and slept in the attic (also childhood bedroom of my dad and uncle) of the house my grandpa built.

As an adult, the draws of Peoria are German food, endless cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, jet skiing in the river, and the Casino.

Last night, out of curiosity, I typed "Peoria" into YouTube and found some gems.  You'll find that these two videos pretty much sum up this part of the world.

1) After some Google searches and a few conversations with the locals, I can confidently say that the flying Asian carp invasion is Peoria's biggest news right now.  Watch this video of some vigilante bros taking care of them...

James and I were cracking up at this, and mid-watch it occurred to me that some might see the random killing of animals as horrifying.  Either we are terrible people, or the carp are overrunning the river and pose an environmental threat so who cares, or I just can't empathize with the feelings of fish.  Maybe all three?

2) Here's a wonderful YouTube account by a guy named Ronnie who vaguely reminds me of my dad and other men on that side of my family.  He seems really sweet and drags his stories out, much like my dad.  This guy pulls at my heartstrings in a similar way as the woman who wrote the Olive Garden review that went viral.  His farmer joke turns out to be funny, too, even though you have to wait two whole minutes for it.

I'm not sure if you need a midwestern background to find this stuff interesting.  Possibly.  

Here are the photos I took in Peoria this summer.  I didn't get any of my grandpa this time because he can't see or walk anymore, so posting photos of that kind of weirds me out, so the first one is from a few years ago.

grandpa and cousin (2010ish)

My booziness is inherited, methinks.

my dad and his brother

bunch of cousins, my mom in the middle

James and my cousins waiting at the security checkpoint of the Pair-A-Dice Casino
Irresponsibly steering my uncle's boat along the Illinois river
Peoria Hofbrau. I don't think I could get more in touch with my roots than a German restaurant in Peoria.
It was poorly lit and old, with lots of beer from which to choose.
We found a racing derby, which was full of white people drinking Mountain Dew, some of whom wore overalls.
Breakfast at the Burger Barge, a place where I would undoubtedly be a regular.


papipollo and liquid poop

Our first meal in Ecuador was a split-betwixt-us order of papipollo.

Papas = potatoes
Pollo = chicken

papipollo = fried chicken over a bed of french fries, sauced the hell up with mayo and ketchup and aji 

aji = ubiquitous slightly spicy sauce that can be anywhere from a pink goo to a mexican salsa-type thing, with tomatoes and onions.  Peruvians have aji too, but this is different.

You see the phrase "papi-whatever" everywhere in Ecuador... papicarne, salchipapa, papihuevo

We got into the country late afternoon and had heard the most insane things about Quito, in terms of tourist robbery.  The main thing that stood out was that thieves will splash you with liquid poop so that you'll be disoriented and then someone will approach and snatch your stuff.

Let me repeat that...


I had read these stories on some Trip Advisor* forums and I told Jenn about the rumors as we were on our way to the airport.  As it turned out, telling her in person was a genius move because I got to see the look on her face.  She genuinely looked like she might cry.

*By the way, I don't like Trip Advisor that much- If anyone has another user generated travel website I would love to know about it

"Liquid... poop?" She said slowly, in disbelief.  I shrugged.

Oh no, I just realized this was supposed to be a post about food.  Sorry!

Um, where in god's name was I going with this... Oh, I think I mentioned liquid poop to say that we were sort of nervous to be walking around Quito at night and were completely on our guard.

Let me add to that... we were in "you'd better not fucking rob me" mode, but we were also really hungry.  So despite all the hearsay about liquid poop, robbers, and advice to take cabs at night, we ended up walking around an unfamiliar city of ill-repute at nightfall in search of dinner.

It was worth the risk!  We came upon this outdoor "papi" place with a line off the chain.  It was one of those moments when you're so deliriously happy to be traveling and hungry, tempted with french fry smells and unfamiliarity and the promise of salchichas and fried chicken shared with good friends for the next week of your life.

It was a shit-hole!  Yay!
Do you notice how in this photo the fry pile is gleaming like a pile of gold treasure?

But seriously, can you look at the prices in the photo above?  Yes, this is in US dollars (that's what they use in Ecuador).  That's a meal with meat and fries for one dollar.  We did not add to $0.40 soda because we aren't big spenders.

Before sauce.  Again, I must point out the french fry perfection.  
The plates come ungarnished, then they had like seven plastic buckets of sauce with soup ladles so you can just go nuts.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of that, probably because I was alternating between drooling at the mouth and being frightened of a stranger hurling literal shit at me.

Poor sweet Jenn allowed me to be in charge of saucing.  That was probably a mistake.

Post sauce.  I overdid it.
She said, "It was really good but maaaaaybe not so much sauce next time."  I looked at my mayo-covered fingers and pile of dirty napkins and errant puddles of sauce in shame and thought what have I done.

At the end of a loooong day of travelling and a re-introduction to South America, this was the perfect place, perfect meal, perfect price.

By the way, if you'd like more information on the ol' Ecuadoran liquid poop trick, here are the google results.

I guess I should also say, during the next ten days we were not robbed, and we didn't get any bodily excretions thrown on us.  In fact, we felt very safe in Quito and the rest of Ecuador.  The police presence in the tourist parts of Quito was off the charts (in a good way - I mentioned to Jenn that this was one of the first times I felt happy to see a bunch of cops, and we asked them for directions constantly), and there are cabs everywhere that you can take to any other part of the city for like two dollars, should you not want to walk.  We both carried around our smart phones for picture taking, which is something I've never done while in Latin America.  I was glad I read up on the crime first though, because it made us more aware of our surroundings and hence less susceptible to predators.

eight years eleven months ago

Cochabamba, Bolivia


blog recommendation - the everywhereist


The Everywhereist

It's my favorite travel blog.  The author totally keeps it real at all times.  I feel like we would be really good friends, though I realize that is sort of creepy.  I am also envious of both her extensive travels and blogging success.  But not envious in a bad way, more like a supportive way, if such an emotion is possible.

I've been backwards-reading about her Cambodia trip that she took with a friend (she normally travels with her husband) and I have been gushingly relate-y and me-too-y since I just went to Ecuador with Jenn (and I'm so accustomed to taking trips with James).

I am gobbling all the 'bodia posts up!  You will too.  She over-indulges in that stank fruit durian, goes to a wildlife sanctuary and befriends some elephants, eats fried tarantulas, and learns a shit-ton about the Khmer Rouge and manages to write about their atrocities in a sensitive yet entertaining way.

I would completely replicate this trip and do my own cheap knock off stories about it.

Yay travel writing.

my priceless advice

Something I recommend that you NOT do when you're feeling kind of low is to go over everything that you've started and given up on, going back like ten years.

It's a total bummer and impossible to win.

Some ways I've disappointed myself:
- Real Estate career
- Etsy store
- Volunteering at animal shelter
- Teaching English in Buenos Aires
- Skipped interview to work at a dive bar one day a week
- Threw away my burgeoning career as a Sidecar driver
- City college writing class
- Throwing a Halloween party instead of studying for Greek Classics midterm sophomore year at UCSB; resulting in not passing class
- Had a boyfriend in Spain for like four months and instead of acting like an adult I got sick of him and straight up NEVER TALKED TO HIM AGAIN.  I feel like that was a shitty thing to do.  (This is very low on the list of things that make me feel legitimately guilty though.)
- Bought supplies for beading three years ago.  Made one bracelet and one ugly necklace.

Agh why am I even doing that!  My advice is to NOT DO THAT.

So... never give up!  Unless you want to...  In that case, who cares, give up.


walking on the sun and deception in the middle of the world

A really popular thing to do in Ecuador is to go to the equator.  I looked it up just now, and the equator passes through 13 countries, but none of them are named after it so I guess there's just not as much hype about it as in, say, Sao Tome & Principe.  

What you'll discover if you want to venture up to the Mitad Del Mundo (middle of the world, about an hour north of Quito) is that whoever built the equator monument made a colossal fuck-up and put the line and monument in the WRONG PLACE.  It's about 600 feet south of the actual GPS zero zero zero latitude.  I'd be soooo embarrassed if I were that guy!  But inaccurate as it is, it's still a really amazing photo opportunity because the monument is huge and phallic and the sky in Ecuador absolutely KILLS IT.  

It was not my intention to be a walking advertisement for Coca Cola that day.  However, the shirt is very comfy and I will steal it from Jenn the second I can.
What?? How stupidly cute is this?
Drink Coke!

But do you see what I mean about the sky killin' it?
Everybody does goofy things on the equator
Oh and then AND THEN we walked over to the llama pen.  There were two and they were hanging out and eating hay or something.  To all of you skeptics, yes I realize that there are llamas in Southern California but I went to Ecuador with the expectation that there would be llamas and alpacas EVERYWHERE and the only time I saw any was at this tourist trap of the century.  But at least I saw a llama, god almighty (slams hand on the table).


If I had to sum up the Mitad Del Mundo in an extremely townie analogy, it would be, "This is to the equator what Shoreline Village/Balboa Park/The Grove is to Long Beach/San Diego/Los Angeles."  It is built for tourists and has sort of a creepy squeaky clean atmosphere, but your photos will be really fun and its worth going once if you have a morning free.

I wish I could see a llama at Shoreline Village.  Agh!  Moving on...

For the geographical sticklers amongst us, good news!  You can walk up to see the actual equator at the Museo Intitan.  It's only a five minute walk and it costs $4, so we didn't have a great reason not to.

Sort of a 180 from its next door neighbor.
We got there and were pretty excited to be somewhere more our style (read: not in any way fancy or clean) and joined a tour.  It was a little discombobulated.  First we went around and talked about those amazon river fish who are supposedly able to go up inside your pee-hole (so far it is just an urban legend, in case you were curious), then we talked about Quechwa Indian homes a hundred years ago, then we talked about totem poles, then we did some weird science experiments concerning the center of the Earth.

I have to admit, I didn't pay attention to a lot of it because at this point it was about noon and so hot and I don't do well in the sun.  This was the first fully sunny morning in Ecuador and I now completely understand why people gab so much about the sun being stronger than normal there.  It was like, whoa.  I mean temperature wise it was probably 78 degrees but after a minute of sun exposure your skin felt like it was roasting.  The guide was having us look at experiments such as balancing an egg, looking at which way water drained, and sun dials, but I was mostly trying to hide my head under the shadows of cacti for some shade.

The experiment I enjoyed the most was what I'll call the "walk on the equator and fall the hell over" one.  They (whoever that is) say that if you walk a straight line on the equator, you'll be naturally pulled to one side.  I put my arms out, closed my eyes, and tip toed on the line and was like suddenly violently pulled to the north.  "That is so awesome!" I exclaimed.

Standing straight
Falling north!
Passport stamp
But perhaps the best thing about going to the Museo is that they stamp your passport with the 0'0'0' latitude, and the tour guide was even kind enough to make sure he stamped it next to the Ecuador entry.  That was totally worth all the sun and vague native american facts that we mostly already knew.

Here is the "real" equator.  I don't even know who to believe anymore.
You may have noticed that I haven't really talked about seeing the equator.  I think this is because it's kind of like, who the hell knows where it is if its so easy to get wrong, and who says its even a line, maybe its like a mile thick and maybe the equator was just the general vicinity of where we were.  Also, I hate to be That Person who knocks the tiny rustic museum, but the Mitad Del Mundo just looked a billion times more impressive.

A note about my favorite falling down experiment... Guess what, I tried it later that day back in Quito and I totally fell over again.  It's not a real thing, balancing is just hard.  I wish I still believed it though.


google +



I barely even know what Google Plus is and I've never used it.  Hopefully they were just photos from the ol' bloggy and Facebook and not, like, the naked ones I take of myself over and over again when I'm feeling vain.  I've scrolled through some and they seem okay.


complete spanish pop fluff

I would say that this is my "song of the summer," but it's like the end of October.  Aren't I supposed to be listening to Iron & Wine while making tea and thinking about the way that life changes?

I say, no!  Shallow Spanish hits rule!  They remind me of hot Andalusian afternoons spent drinking red wine spritzers.

When we got back from Ecuador, Jenn and I were listing all the songs we heard a billion times on the trip (because that's what we do, make lists) and she mentioned that she was surprised that we didn't hear Danza Kaduro.

"Danza what?" I repeated, cocking my head to the side.

She pulled it up on her phone and we listened to it in my parents' kitchen...

And I was like, "Whoa, that is a HIT."

Turns out, its from like 2010.  I guess I've been out of the loop.

One thought about the video, though.  Dude, don't those girls look insanely BORED?  If I were on that yacht listening to a catchy-ass song with those guys I'd be rocking out so hard I'd barf!  You're already tan, girls, no need to lay out.  And you can sleep when the boat docks, because there are champagne bottles to pop and ass to shake.  I'd be doing belly flops into the Caribbean and daring people to motorboat me.  I'd be missing another tooth by the end of the day.  I'd have an emotional heart-to-heart with one of the singing guys and then steal his designer sunglasses then forget ALL ABOUT WHATEVER HE TOLD ME.  At around 4pm I'd sloppily eat all the sandwiches downstairs and pass out on the galley floor, drooling all over a beach towel.

Why doesn't anyone ever invite me out on their charter yacht?

In case you were wondering, the lyrics basically say,
Put your hand up
Move your hips
Do a half turn
Danza Kaduro!
Don't get tired yet
Because we just got started
Move your head around
Danza Kaduro!


oh great, now i'm into astrology

No, I don't really believe in astrology.  Just because I have a dream catcher doesn't mean I'm a total dipshit.

I do believe, however, that its pretty fun.

Do you ever notice that birthdays repeat for important people throughout your life?

example: May 23rd
-my dad
-roommate in my college dorm
-somewhat regrettable end of high school fling (did I just say fling?  Someone please send this blog to a recruiter at Cosmo Magazine)

So anyway, I have a few of those.  April 21, July 7, December 24.  If you were born on that date I think we are cosmically linked (to clarify - just kidding... in a way).

As far as the zodiac signs go, I'm pretty familiar with Taurus, Cancer, Leo (agh Leo! but I love you), Libra (me), and Scorpio (agh again for fuckn Scorpio!!).

I think hating Facebook but constantly logging on anyway is a common practice, so it was to my great surprise and delight while I was scrolling through my feed the other day that I clicked a link to something fairly awesome instead of something completely boring and forgettable.

Behold... The Worst Things About Each Zodiac Sign

Let's take a look at Libra, shall we?  I cackled with laughter at this.

You might be a sociopath! People like you because you’re a chameleon bending to their every wish, whim and expectation. A people pleaser to the end? Not even. A master manipulator studying your surroundings, a cold and calculating robot programmed to say the right thing at the right time to the right people. Perhaps the most obnoxious thing about you is that all the things that make you interesting are actually vapid, empty posturing designed to make you look cool. All style and no substance.

I was prepared to list them all and correspond them to the people I know, but then I realized that the only-in-jest shit-talking could turn unintentionally mean so... Read them yourselves.