Traveling Vicariously

I just got back from a beautiful (but hot) wedding in Northern California. As a SoCal native, I’ve been used to the changing terrain as one travels north; it’s very Mediterranean. In fact, it reminds me of Spain…maybe I’ll go there next. Want to come?

How I wish it were that simple to hop continents on a Broke budget! But wait, it can be! Next time you have  the travel bug to visit the Egyptian pyramids, get up-close-and-personal with a wombat, and walk the Camino de Santiago on a three-day weekend, may I suggest “Traveling: Vicariously.”

It’s as simple as popping in a library travel DVD and letting cinematic magic wash over you in a wave of exoticism….and it’s free!  To add to the experience, cook the regional food and add the cultural music to complete the full voyage. Don’t forget to invite along some travel companions! Here are a few destinations I’d suggest from personal experience.

1) Portugal: Don your red and green colors as you surf through Portugal’s many rivers and waltz over the longest bridge in the European continent. Turn up Fado, Portugal’s homegrown folk music as you drop anchor at Belem where Magellan began his journey. Don’t forget to choose the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in the Menu Options, and sit back to relax with a bowl  of gazpacho and pork. Be sure to taste all the seafood too, especially dried cod with spices and olive oil. For dessert, might I recommend the rice pudding doused with cinnamon and lemon? No? Ah well, then try the famous port with orange juice flavored sponge cake.

2) Costa Rica: Did you know that the average life expectancy of native Ticos/Ticas is 77 years old?  This is one of the longest life span predictions in the world. There are seven active volcanoes in the country within the national parks covering 25% of Costa Rica. Be prepared to speak a little Spanish, as it’s the country’s native language. You won’t have to watch your pockets from home, especially since the country’s president won the Nobel Peace Prize and has outlawed a national army. Feeling hungry? Cook some authentic  black beans and rice with plantains, pulled chicken, and cabbage salad with tomatoes and carrots. For dessert consider the rice milk drink of horchata with Pan Bom (dry chocolate bread). Finish with rum or coffee and add some Debi Nova lyrics.

3) Japan: To get in the mood for Japanese simplicity and quiet solitude of the misty mountains try the young adult’s book, The Samurai’s Garden written by Gail Tsukiyama. It’s a short read, so you’ll have plenty of time to whip up some steamed rice and miso soup with a little sun dried salmon. If you’re not up for cooking dinner, get some take-out sushi, pour a glass of sake, and be sure to take off your shoes upon entering your house before watching that travel documentary. Traditional Japanese music is formed on intervals of human breathing rather than the mathematical timing of Western Music. Feel the peace seep into your pores!