Category Archives: Food

Turquoise water and Ital Organic Farming

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When I was a teenager I used to have a picture of an island in the Bahamas posted up on my wall, the perfect Caribbean island, with palm trees, soft pinkish coral sand, and beautiful turquoise water. This was my dream, I had to see something like this in my lifetime. Finally in my 22nd year I got to Jamaica for the first time, and was lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water in Montego Bay, Port Antonio, and Negril left me speechless. My dream had come true.

Since then I’ve been to many tropical beaches in the Caribbean, Central America and South East Asia, and the turquoise water is still one of my favourite things in the world. Here in Providence, I have to say I have been privileged to witness a sea so beautiful I gasped and repeated over an over again, “This is incredible!”

A few pictures, while not quite doing it justice, at least give you an idea. They call it the “Sea of Seven Colours” here because there are so many levels to the blues, aquas and turquoises. At Crab Cay, just a short boat ride from Providence we went up a short path to a lookout point on some rocks and had a 360 degree view of what I think is definitely some of the most beautiful water in the world.  Then we snorkeled around the small island and from the pictures it looks like we were on top of the world.

Back on San Andres we get a lesson in Rastafarian-style living. The word “Ital” pronounced “Eye-tal” while it might remind you of Italian, has nothing to do with it. It means “Vital” and it is what describes the natural way of growing and cooking food in Rastafarianism. It is essentially organic methods of farming and preparing food without chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, the way our ancestors were doing it for centuries.

As I mentioned before there is a strong influence of Jamaican culture like other parts of coastal Latin America (Nicargua, Costa Rica and Panama) and we had the pleasure of visiting Job Saas’ natural farm where he showed us the different fruit trees he grows as well as the endangered species he helps to protect and procreate such as various iguanas, black crabs and turtles.

Job Saas made us fresh Tamarind and cane juice and coconut cookies, sweetened from the sugar cane hand-pressed on his farm. Below he is pressing the cane, some of which we chewed on straight from the stalk, it’s sweet and refreshing.

Job Saas really believes in his work and it was nice to be able to visit his place and show him support, as organic farming is not easy, but is so important. He knows nothing he produces pollutes the water or the air, and is naturally healthy for all who consume the fruits of his labors. So kind he is, he even gave me a book that was on display called How to Speak Caribbean English. The Creole they speak here is similar to Jamaican Patois (in fact I can’t really tell the difference). The main difference is that Spanish is mixed in somewhat here, they say especially with the younger generation, as being part of Colombia means their education is in Spanish. Being completely captivated by language, I love to listen and pick out the roots of words and figure out what people are saying. It’s a lot of fun!

This part of our trip is over now, and on we go to one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in the world, Cartagena.

Providence Island: Relaxation & Reggae

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Ultimate relaxation here on Ol’ Providence or La Isla Providencia. It’s super tranquilo, no big hotels, just small cabin-like places built in the style of architecture of island homes. The homes and cabins are wooden two-storey or bungalow structures painted in bright colours, like the one we stayed in called Sol Caribe.  As Jennifer, our host, explains, “the island itself is the 5 star.” They don’t have big resorts or expansive 5 star hotels because they want the island to remain in as much of its natural state and local style as possible.

As we did in San Andres, we took a tour of the island to see some of the cultural and historical sites, like the first church, school, etc. I think sometimes locals must think tourists are crazy for taking pictures of things like an old school made out of wood, but to us these things are just so different it’s really fascinating. Inside the school there were two signs that touched my heart. One said, “We make studying a party” and the other said, “We bring our backpacks filled with love, creativity, discipline, responsibility and respect.”


In tropical countries, you never know what you will see on the road. In Cambodia I saw oxcarts, in Indonesia whole families on scooters (this is pretty common in a lot of places, including Colombia, but it was in Indonesia that I saw a little naked maybe 2-year-old boy standing up on the front of the scooter holding the handlebars!). Here we got to see a young boy on his way home from fishing taking his catch on his bike. Nothing like fresh fish! Then we were stopped on the road by a herd of cows and the herder, on motorbike was directing them up the road waving a branch.  There’s something to be said for simplicity in this world…

Another thing I love about the tropics is the fresh fruit and natural bounty surrounding you at all times. Have you ever seen almonds in their natural form, growing from trees?  Our lovely Providencian friend, Jennifer, found some for us and broke open the fruit to reveal the nut inside – a fresh raw almond.

Our days on Providencia included amazing meals at Miss Mary’s and Caribbean’s Place.  The small restaurants serve up fresh fish, crab and lobster served beautifully presented with fresh blended juices or wine if you prefer. The food has been SOO good the whole time, we’ve all been really satisfied and stuffed full!

Maybe the best part for me, being a huge reggae fan, was going to Richard’s place and watching the sun go down over the sea and grooving to some nice tunes while chatting with Richard himself. Alfonso, the friendly Rasta pictured below made us drinks and we swapped stories about Jamaica, where of course the culture of this island has its roots. An unforgettable place.


Bogotá: Colonial Architecture & Great Food!

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In the morning after writing my post about the crazy cultural interaction going on the night before, we headed off for a short tour of the capital of Colombia. We went to the older historic areas and to where the government buildings, national cathedral, and president’s home are, Plaza de Bolivar, built in the 16th century.   Plaza Bolivarstreets near Plaza Bolivar
I love colonial architecture, even though it reminds us of colonialism. A topic too heavy to get into here. But it definitely is enchanting, especially with hills and narrow streets and small balconies on colourful buildings. Expansive stone structures with pillars and just the oldness of it all, coming from such a young country, always fascinates me. I also haven’t been to Europe, and the first colonial buildings I saw were in the Dominican Republic.

Plaza Bolivar

What made our visit interesting was that since it was on a Sunday, the area had many streets closed off for pedestrians. There were people scattered throughout the Bolivar Plaza, among hundreds and hundreds of pigeons, and vendors of ice cream and corn kernels to feed the pigeons.
I’ve never seen so many people on bicycles – the streets were filled with people out to exercise as the pedestrian Sundays were created for people to get out and do sports on their day off. Even the major highway we drove on to the airport had two centre lanes closed off. It looked like a bicycle race of some sort but I’m told it is just a regular Sunday pastime here in Bogota.

Another great thing about Bogota is the surroundings of the city. While it is a bustling city of concrete and apartments like most cities, it is surrounded in green. Lush mountains act as the lungs of the city and nothing can be built above 1500 feet. So where many cities’ mountains are completely built up with homes, here the trees create a serene, natural environment that contrasts with the busy built environment below.

I have to admit there is quite a military presence in Bogota, soldiers in camouflage with big guns, here and there in the streets. I am told it is to prevent crime, and to make people feel safe, not to make people fearful that something is going on (the effect which of course it actually does have). So you begin to ignore it and realize that nothing is going on, it’s just the way things are here. We felt really comfortable walking around taking pictures, especially on the streets closed for pedestrians to have the right of way! (For those of you who know Latin America well you can attest to the fact that this is not very common!)Brunch

For lunch we went to a beautiful restaurant called “Club Colombia,” which was just that, a club.  It was furnished with plush leather couches and two terraces and a huge buffet serving all kinds of traditional Colombian food. There were envueltos which are made from corn finely mashed with spices such as raisins and nutmeg wrapped and cooked in corn husks. There were arepas which look like tortillas but are thicker, also made with corn and which could be garnished with fresh salsas and other vegetables. There were fresh blended juices, rice dishes and empanadas and I could go on. Everything was delicious and the coffee absolutely amazing. I’ve only been drinking coffee for a few years so have never considered myself a connoisseur but I have to admit it’s the best I’ve tried. Strong and flavorful at the same time as soft and sweet, yum!

In the afternoon we took a short flight, about 2 hours (actually longer than I thought it would be) to the island of San Andres in the Caribbean. We are now actually closer to Nicaragua and Costa Rica than to Colombia by over 2 hundred miles!

A Beloved Costa Rican Condiment

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 By Kelly Galaski

I have to admit, the first time I went to Costa Rica I was surprised that the food wasn’t that spicy. This was the first real independent traveling experience of mine back in 2002 and I ignorantly thought all food from Central America and the Caribbean was going to be spicy.

Well, there are certainly lots of ways to make it spicy. You can add fresh hot peppers usually sitting on the table, or Chilero sauce which is similar to Tobasco but more flavorful. But the real subject of this is Salsa Lizano. Now Salsa Lizano is actually a brand name, but it is synonymous to a flavor that is at the same time really yummy and really Costa Rican. It’s not super spicy in terms of ‘heat’ but it adds flavor to rice and beans that can’t be beat.

You can read more about it here on, a devoted foodie site where Lizano lovers have come to share their adoration.

Costa Rica's Organic Agriculture

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Agriculture in Costa Rica has been the recipient of negative news recently, specifically in relation to its pineapple export. We thought this would be a good time to highlight a positive story on organic farming that recently appeared in Natureair’s in flight magazine,  Nature Landings.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the farmers of Costa Rica began to search for organic methods of planting and harvesting crops with the intent of benefiting from the fruits of the land without using chemicals and other harmful practices that could damage their harvest.

This is how organic agriculture began to take force, and slowly but surely it has today become a viable and productive alternative to traditional agriculture, one that aims to position itself as a means of producing quality and healthy produce that is economically feasible, respects nature and is a great ally to conservation efforts. 

According to data derived from “The Costa Rican Organic Agriculture Movement,” the internal demand for organic produce increases about 20% every year, which demonstrates that efforts dedicated to promoting this type of production are bearing fruit. Furthermore, Costa Rican organic production is recognized both nationally and internationally.

In Costa Rica some 9,000 hectares are dedicated to the organic cultivation of approximately 30 different products.

Read more on Nature Air’s blog.




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