Only 18 Days is a variety of Taiwan Beer that expires 18 days after production.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei was a winery back when Japan ruled Taiwan, but today it's an art park that reminds me a bit of the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. I wandered around for about an hour looking for the upsidedown house, a picture of which turned me onto 1914, only to realize that the house wasn't a permanent installation and that I'd missed it by months. Huashan 1914 Creative Park is less impressive than Beijing's 798, but also less commercial. It's a nice place to kill an hour or two.
Ciyou Temple is a folk temple where people worship the Chinese sea goddess, Mazu.
Jioufen/Jiufen is on the northern coast of Taiwan, east of Taipei and Yangminshan National Park, near Keelung City. References to gold in the area date back nearly 600 years but Jioufen wasn't mined heavily until the 1890s, nearly 50 years after the California Gold Rush. Until recently Jioufen was home to the world's largest gold bar (220kg) but today the largest bar (250kg) is in Japan.
Proud captains José and Nelson gutting and sharing their catch from the previous night. These guys work all day, then fish all night. Best captains in the West End.
Noni is a tree in the coffee family, and its fruit tastes absolutely terrible. Some say it has medicinal properties, but I'd rather be sick and eat coconuts and mangoes.
I miss living behind Rotisserie, even if I don't eat the chicken. Dola. Karen. Rosalie. The cats. The dogs. The passersby. I lived here for a year and I couldn't have asked for better neighbors, or better coconut beans and rice. Dola sources the coconut oil locally, and it's fantastic. And of course the marmahon, which is basically Israeli couscous but somehow a dish native to Honduras. It's buried beneath Dola's carrot-based spicy salsa.
Gangs came from the mainland for their annual motorcycle biker party or whatever. But it wasn't just bikes. Anything mobile qualified, at least for their (hella loud) display in the West End. Scooters. Skateboards. Bicycles. Someone had a hoverboard. Kids chasing on foot. Everyone was just excited for a little action, and then at night they took the party to French Harbor and beyond.
Overlooking the ironshore in West End.
Comida típica de Honduras. They aren't typically made with rice, but Nelson turned me onto it.
We surfaced from an afternoon dive at Mandy's Eel Garden (spotted eagle ray) and Nelson pointed off into the distance. A boat was in flames and clearly in trouble. By then most of the free boats in West End had gone out to help, or maybe just take a closer look. Over the next few days we heard a few different stories, but the most common was that it was a personal yacht being taken from Belize (or maybe South America) to Washington (or maybe Canada).
A catastrophic, boat-sinking accident that close to shore, close enough to be rescued but deep enough where the boat will never be recovered?
First thought: insurance fraud.
There is no shortage of statistics that show that Honduras is a dangerous place. Assassinations of environmental leaders, the most dangerous place for environmentalists in the world. Murders left and right, with zero accountability or reliable law enforcement. But it's maybe the roads that are most likely to kill you. Nearly all of the cars are salvaged vehicles from the States or elsewhere, and working seatbelts are hard to find. The only dead body I saw during my year in Honduras was from an accident. Motorcycle with no helmet.
When I lived in Honduras, I would sometimes spend an hour in the evening watching the news with John. It was a ritual for him, and more or less became a ritual for me too. We'd get some terrible local feed from New York or New Jersey, or whatever Cable Color had negotiated, and it was almost never of interest or new, but it was a good excuse to drink Salva Vida and debrief the day.
My first time back home in Honduras in nearly eight months.
Applying for another three-year visa to visit friends in Vladivostok and perhaps Moscow.