Two words. Mexican food. We miss our burritos. We miss endless baskets of tortilla chips and inexpensive salsa. And then there’s the cheese but that’s a whole other blog post. We’re making it work and there are many more options than I’m used to having after living in places like Germany or Papua New Guinea so I won’t complain. Old El Paso is, after all, quite the staple in most grocery stores. But this interesting bounty doesn’t change that we are missing some of our trusted staples and learning to eat creatively when we want to indulge our Mexican cravings. Some of this has to do more with my frugalness than actually not being able to find things. For example, there is an American store in town, two in fact. See my previous blog post: The American Store. But you’re not only going to pay a marked up price, you’re going to pay for their gift of importing these goodies to you too. So that jar of salsa is now $8. But sometimes you get lucky and they are on sale so you stock up and also offer them to your friends because you know they’ll appreciate the new lower $3 price too:-) This means that we are now unapologetic about the shelf in our pantry that looks like this but when this salsa is gone we might just start making our own. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places in town that make a decent Mexican meal but it’s just not the same. So I will continue to use my Trader Joe’s taco seasoning sparingily and keep rationing out the large bottle of Cholula that we brought in our suitcases. I will enjoy making our favorite chicken tortilla soup once the weather cools down again. But this week, I think I need to scrap my meal plan and see if I can gather enough ingredients to make my homemade enchiladas. If I can pull this off relatively inexpensively, it will be quite the Mexican food achievement.
Rottnest Island is southwest of Perth in the Indian Ocean and only 11 miles off the Australian coast. There are express boats that leave daily from Perth and Fremantle. I’ve been on the Island once before in 2012 when I was single. It was great walking around, swimming and I even got to take a whale watching tour: A Beach and Animal Day. So yesterday, since I have a little break before classes begin full-time and we also needed an adventure for Flat Stanley, Ryan and I figured that a trip out to Rottnest to meet quokkas was in order.
These little guys live only a couple other places besides Rottnest (named “Rats Nest” because the Dutch that named the Island thought the quokkas were really large rats). And they are curious, gentle and pretty cute. They hop around, hang out and will drink water from your hand.
Besides hanging out with the quokkas, we also biked around the island (which was not my favorite part of the trip). But the bikes did allow us to get out and see more than I had before. It’s beautiful here and this was our view as we ate lunch in between snorkeling adventures. Snorkeling was a highlight. I loved being in the water. The weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold so we lost track of time chasing fish and taking videos. The first place we went in the water was ok but the second place (right below where we ate lunch), had a ton of fish and more bright colors. I even found a place where I could swim under and through a coral tunnel. This picture is for Beverly, although it’s not the official pink lake (we didn’t have time to ride by that one). Rottnest does have a few lakes with high salt content and I’m sure some other mineral that cause them to be pink! While biking by this one, it seemed to have a bright salmon, almost orange color that didn’t show up as bright in the picture.Ryan and I had a great day at Rottnest Island. If you come visit us, Rottnest is on the list of places you could enjoy too! And we’ll supply the SPF50 sunscreen. We applied 3 times and managed to escape only a little singed. Well worth it for the fun adventure of a day.
Perth International Arts Festival opened this weekend with an amazing light show through Kings Park. Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak explored the Australian landscape through lights music and story telling.
The pictures from my phone don’t do it any justice. But it was pretty spectacular even with the crowds of other people surrounding us. Just listening to the music was mesmerizing. Another wonderful free Perth event was a great way to end the weekend.
It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been in school. And starting next week, I will be a full time student again. I’ve been organizing the paperwork. I’ve bought basic school supplies. And I even did a bit of reading at the beach for my first seminar that begins on Monday. It brought back flashbacks of my undergrad at UCSB where I certainly tried to study at the beach but was never really successful. Maybe the beach won’t be the ideal place to study for grad school either but I will not make that decision until I try at least a few more times. Please pray for me in this new endeavor. Pray that I would learn well and be able to understand the coursework. Please also pray that I would connect well with my professors and fellow students. I’m looking forward to having a student community again. And I’ll be sure to let you know how the beach studying works out.
Ryan and I have some newfound freedom this week because we are borrowing a car. Because of this, we’ve taken the opportunity to do a big grocery shopping trip at Coles (not clothing but food) as well as visit Ikea (the same wonderful store). It’s been interesting hauling our purchases up to the 18th floor but praise the Lord for elevators (or the lift for all you Australians). And it is worth mentioning that the driving has been interesting for us too. I’m sure I will blog more about our Australian road adventures another time. But now is the time to share about The American Store.50 States American Foodmart has two locations in Perth. There is a small shop in the CBD (central business district) and a larger in the suburbs just outside of East Perth. We’ve checked out both of them now and the only thing we bought was 4 jars of non-Old El Paso salsa that was awesomely on sale. Side note: Old El Paso is pretty much the main Mexican food provider here at the grocery store. Hard shell tacos, taco kits and salsa are all Old El Paso brand. We’ve already tried some Australian salsas but it’s not quite the same. We’re going to keep trying though because Mexican food is slowly gaining in popularity here.
50 States does have many speciality American items that you won’t find on the grocery store shelves. But there are many American products that can also be found at a normal grocery store as well. Some things like ranch packets and taco seasoning you can find here but they just cost more. Other things like chocolate chips, salsa and marshmallows can also be bought, however, they are different and don’t really taste the same. But don’t hear this as complaining, we’re thankful for all the food options and choices that we do have. And I’m following @50statesinperth now so that I can have a heads up if something special does come in that we can’t live without.
And at least for now we don’t have to pay the super high prices for our hot sauce of choice, Cholula, because we brought our own extra large bottle with us:-)
Tomorrow Ryan and I fly from San Fransisco to Dubai and then from Dubai to Perth. If everything goes as planned we will arrive in Perth on the 30th. Ryan and I will ring in the New Year down under! We’re starting 2017 off in a new country, in a new apartment, new friends, a new team and all sorts of other new things that we haven’t even realized yet. I’m sure the year won’t be without challenges but we’re looking forward to what is ahead for us in Perth, Western Australia. Please pray for our transition.Please forgive the blog silence into the New Year because we aren’t sure about internet, jet lag and scheduling once we arrive. However, we will try to be posting to Instagram so you can follow us along the way. If you haven’t already, you can find us on Instagram @joycandee and @lpturntable. Next time I post will be from somewhere over the rainbow!