Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!!

We made fire 20 kilometeres from the Bosnian border, cooked  meat,
 and enjoyed our first night back out under the stars.
       After 3 months of Serbian life, a full day of village visits, and a newly refurbished van full of Serbian food products (tomato juice, rikea in all its varieties, lavatshka salad, ivar, marmelades, and even a sack of potatoes from Stana's celler), we drove to Goran and Caki's (our dearest Pavlovci friends) to say our final farewells.  They both happened to be in the middle of their winter pork preparation, and had plenty to share. It wasn't easy to say good bye to our friends who kept our Serbian dream alive, but with both hands full of fresh pork sausage, and a glimmering Galvez, we began our drive south.

It was raining cats and dogs when we went to sleep,
and when we woke up there was 30 cm of fresh snow piled
on top of the van as well as the roads! 

The flapping blue tarp attracted quiet a bit of attention along the way and especially at the border crossings. We untied a few cords in order to show our bikes, a soccer ball and a fishing net, and after exchanging a few laughs in Serbian, we continued on our way. We spent the night outside of the local mesquite social club in a town 70 km north of Sarajevo.
The view from our apartment in Karloberg. After 6 days on the
 road we gave into renting a room with shower on the
 northern Croatian coast. 

We spent 2 days driving in third gear through Bosnia and it was just enough to decide that a return trip in warmer weather would be very worth it. The sun and water of the Adriatic sea were calling us and we made our way to the Croatian border. We went through another round of security checks at the border and this time we exchanged laughs over the quantity of paradiso (tomatoes in Serbian) products we carried.
Mountain's on our right, and sea to the left.


Due to the region's natural beauty, summer tourism has made its mark on the local economy. However the industry was clearly on holiday, as every restaurant and camping station was chained and locked.With the mountains to our east and the Adriatic to our west we enjoyed 450 kilometers of coastal freeway practically to ourselves.

  In search of a fresh fish plate we followed our curiosity to Split. We lost ourselves in the Venetian architecture of the old city before sitting down to the most expensive sea bass and roasted vegetable dinner I have ever eaten in my life. However, the service was fantastic as well as entertaining and we left the restaurant much more satisfied than when we arrived.


20 kilometers north of Split and 10km to the east we visited Krka national park. We spent the day visiting the many wide waterfalls along the river and walking through the beautiful forest paths. Lastly, we walked through traditional agriculture buildings and I watched the force of the water turn the stone wheels as they grinded corn between their weight.

After 6 days of driving no more than 1200 km we decided it was time to make some bigger steps. We entered the European Union through the southern border of Slovenia, and spent the night 30 kilometers northwest, in Italy sleeping under the stars.

We woke up the next day and caught the European Freeway. We drove down the Italian mountains from Trieste to Genova and then from Genova along the Italian coast, through Monaco and into France. We cut through France just north of Marsaille and onward towards Montpellier. From there we followed the French free way in direction Toulouse and dropped down into the northern side of the Pyranees.

Me, Jorge, Ramon and Irene, infront of one of the Burkina Bae
curtains we helped put up.

Jorge and Ramon contemplating life in the newly completed basement. 
      This summer Ramon and I stayed a fey days at the house of Jorge, Irene, and Iker in between weekends at the International Music Festival in Sallent de Gallego at their house in the French village of Alcay and they again invited us to pass by. With the tarp hanging on to the roof by threads, we pulled into their driveway and the dogs came running out to greet us.

     We spent the week sharing food, stories, and photos over life's adventures and lent them a hand with work around the house. After 8 days of winter travel in the van it felt amazing to to arrive into the house of good friends.

    Thanks to Jorge and Irene we tied a fresh tarp over the roof rack and we officially entered Spain on the 22nd of December. We drove through the Pyrenees without problems and decided to make a visit to the 18th century Monestary of Piedras, just south of Zaragoza and Catalyud.

      Without realizing we spent the entire next day exploring the grounds of the monastery. We traversed the trail up and across the waterfall, through the forest overlooking the gardens, down the stream cascading through the mossy hill, through the long hollow caves and finally to the reflection pond. I completely lost myself in the excitement of the new adventure and we found ourselves with hunger lost in an almond orchard. We made our way back to the grounds and ended our visit with a guided tour of the monastery. I was again blown away by the agriculture practices; 4 meter food preservation trenches, sub-terrain fire chambers for heat stone floor above, a centrally located cast iron kitchen, a wine bodega utilizing Spain's best grapes, and even a liquor distillation machine, oddly familiar to Serbia's version used for Rikeas! There was even a history report on their work with Cacoa, a leaf that was brought to Spain from South America and turned into the rich chocolates Europeans and the world came to love. Needless to say it was an amazing visit, and better yet a perfect outing to prepare for the evenings return to Madrid.

Monk overlooking his years  food  reserve.

We went straight to La Parcela, Ramon's families place on Calle Pluto, 30 km South East of Madrid. We spent Christmas eve and day, eating, sleeping and catching up with Daniela, Ramon's mother, Mario, his brother, Esther, his sister-inlaw, Lucas and Diego his nephews, as well as Dani and Monica ramon's other brother and sister. The weather was beautiful, at least 16 C, so I spent the majority of my free time jumping on the giant trampoline.

Dinner tat the apartment with Madrid friends; Paco, Juan Fran
Ramon, Maite and Mara. Fusion dinner!

Our good fortune continued, and Mario and Esther offered us their apartment in Madrid to stay in while in town. They have been in the process of building a house down the road from La Parcela for the past few years and finally were prepared to move into it this fall. In exchange for a little help in the preparation of the apartment for rental the coming month, we found ourselves happily dusting and vacuuming in honor of our temporary urban haven. 
       After a fantastic week acquainting our selves with our new space in the city and catching up with friends we made our way back out to La Parcela to prepare the house for a new years eve party for an amazing group of Monica's Friends. Typical Spanish style, everyone showed up at 10 and we sat down to a dinner of roasted sweet potatoes, onion, and mushrooms, salad with pomegranite, and Lavatshka salad Pasta. We wined and dined until midnight, when according to the Spanish tradition everyone brought in the new year by stuffing 12 grapes into their mouth!

Happy Happy Happy New Year and may this year bring you all the happiness you seek!

And a big thank you to all of those who bought a Burkina Bae apron and for sharing in my project. I hope the aprons brings
you as much glory in the kitchen as they brought me in their construction. Until next time, happy cooking!

1 comment:

  1. It was a pleasure reading your blog and all you are doing. Have fun, stay strong and enjoy every single day you have with the bees.