Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Great Peanut Mystery

As some of you may know, I grew up and spent most of my life in Israel.

As a kid, One of my All-time Favorite snack was "American Peanuts".

They look like this.

When I went to College in Florida, my mom used to send me care packages every once in a while, with all my favorite snacks from home.

One day, in one of many "homework parties", I opened a package of those great American peanuts...

They are absolutely delicious, and have a perfect balance of sweet and salty!

As I was eating them, my friend look at me asking: "Hey, What is that thing you are eating over there??"

"What do you mean?" I said... "it's AMERICAN PEANUTS!"

He looked confused... From what he said, they never heard of those "American Peanuts" in America!!

I was left puzzled... "How is it possible.. That they Don't Have AMERICAN PEANUTS in AMERICA???"

I was very curious about this, and tried to investigate the origin of those crunchy-sweet-and-salty-delightful snacks. When I couldn't really find anything about it, I just forgot about it...

Years later, I went to a local 7/11 for a midnight snack.

At the corner of my eye, something familiar caught my attention.



I tried to not freak out. I remembered that back home they have two very similar kinds of those peanuts. One called "American Peanuts" and the other "Kabukim"

They look like this.

The two are very similar in taste but has some differences in shape and their crunchiness.

it made sense! Perhaps the "Kabukim" are originally from Japan?? and served as snacks at the traditional KABUKI Theater shows??

But then why would they call them American peanuts too?

While I still can't completely solve this America-Japan-Israel mystery, I'd like to believe that if I ever walk the streets of Japan, I'll see something like this:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My trip to Colombia

A few weeks ago Stevie and I were very lucky to travel to Colombia. We were invited by our friend Juan to come and give a talk about our film at the local Siggraph Chapter.

I always wanted to travel to South America, and never got to it, so when this opportunity came, with an advice from a good friend, I knew I have to extend my stay and travel around for a while. So my five day trip got extended to 3 weeks, which were absolutely amazing. I thought I’ll share some of my experiences here. Enjoy!

Flying above Colombia upon arrival, I could already see that the scenario is going to be very different from anything I’ve ever seen. Miles of green jungles were spread beneath. It was beautiful.

When I got to the airport in Bogota, Hernando was waiting for me. I think it’s the first time in my life someone held up a sign with my name on it at the airport. I felt so special J

We made a quick introduction…

And it wasn’t too long before we were out and about, having some drinks.

Hernando was teaching me some basic (very basic) words in Spanish, as well as giving me some advice for the road, as I was about to be on my own the next morning. I made sure to write it all down in my little journal.

The next morning I arrived in Cartagena, on the northern shore of Colombia. The Bus station outside of the airport was HECTIC!!

When I finally found the bus to take me to the city center, the ticket collector was already yelling from inside the bus, telling me to hurry up.

I sat down quickly squeezing into a seat in the packed bus. There was no room to move, and it was steaming hot!!

I noticed that the ticket guy is starting to collect money.

At that point I realized I have no idea how much is the fare, and even worse, what kind of bills I have and how do you call each coin.

When he asked for the money I quickly handed over a bunch of bills which carried the lowest value of 50 (the rest were 10000, 20000, etc…)

What I didn’t know at the time is that the 50 was actually 50,000. The Ticket guy looked confused.

He had so much money in his hands now, and for a glimpse of a second he had that crazed look in his eyes.

As if he was thinking: “I could quit this damn job right now!!! The hell with this stupid bus!!”

Luckily his conscious was on its better side that day, and he corrected my mistake.

That was very nice of him as that was most of my money for the main part of my trip : going onto the Ciudad Perdida – The Lost City, a 5 day Trek into the jungle!

A little Wiki: Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for "Lost City") is the archaeological site of an ancient city in Sierra Nevada, Colombia. It is believed to have been founded about 800 AD, some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu.

Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1972, when a group of local treasure looters found a series of stone steps rising up the mountainside and followed them to an abandoned city. When gold figurines and ceramic urns from this city began to appear in the local black market, authorities revealed the site in 1975.

When I told family and friend I am going most of them were joking that I should try not to get kidnapped by the Guerrilla groups who used to be in this area in the past.

But to be honest, the thing that scared me the most, were the mosquitoes

You see, the day before I flew, I met with a friend at Daphne’s Café in LA.

He started to tell me all those stories about Bot flies which live in South America.

Bot flies are those nasty little flies who lay eggs underneath your skin. After a while a little larva hatch and… well you get the idea. Not cool.

As a kid I was terrified of flies. They used to bite me on the most annoying places… And I would blow up to massive proportions.

The next day at school was never fun.

So I did some research and figured out I should get some DEET.

DEET t is a chemical that was developed by the US Army back in WW2 when the soldiers were getting eaten alive by bugs while fighting in the jungles.

It’s really nasty stuff… I am pretty sure it’s the same thing that killed the joker at the end of the original batman….

The DEET did a pretty good job and I didn’t get too many bites… At least not as many as this guy:

THE ITALIAN was one of the guys who did the trek with me. After doing this trek a few times he gave up on chemicals to prevent getting bit. In exchange he was constantly inhaling some other chemicals that I bet helped to ease the pain J

His back looked like this.

On the first day of our trek it was POURING rain.

All the notes and tips I got from Hernando when I just landed in Colombia got washed away.

I started to think it was probably a better idea to go all Prison Break on it, and tattoo the notes on my body!!

The hike was breathtaking... In the most literal sense of the word.

It didn’t seem too bad to the two lovely European girls who traveled with me. They skipped up the hill like gazelles.

When I finally got to the top and had a moment to catch my breath…

The group was already ready to move on…

When we got to the "Lost City", I just couldn’t believe the view and all the ancient ruins . It was absolutely stunning.

On the way back we were absolutely dead, and got somewhat of a satisfaction seeing the new groups walking into the jungle, not knowing what is awaiting for them ;)

Finally, we all squished into the Jeep that that took us back, enjoyed the great smell of each other blowing in the wind, and were ready for a new adventure!