Tuesday, March 23, 2010

80% Hippie

I thought I'd never say this, but I feel like I'm following in my parent's footsteps.

Recent discussions between me and Ev (Evan and I) have consistently contained one or all of the following topics: Buying land, building a house made out of anything and everything other than wood including recycled materials, tires, mud, clay, straw bales, etc., growing a giant garden/farm, owning a couple of goats, some chickens, solar panels, catching and storing rain water, living off the land, off the grid, composting toilets (WAT?), moving to Mexico, and opening a raw food bed and breakfast. This trip is seriously opening my eyes. I bathe in the ocean, I barely use shampoo anymore, I haven't shaved my legs in .... god, I don't even know how long (just kidding, I did today). My closest companion (other than my co-pilot, Evan) is Dr. Bronners organic soap and when the van starts to smell like rotting produce, jalapenos, and body odor - we light incense. Although I still wear makeup practically every day (I rationalize for practical reasons - it contains sunblock) and I finally had the opportunity after about seven weeks to get to a salon for some personal maintenance - nails, brows, and skin, I'd say I've finally tipped the scale at about 80% hippie.

All-in-all, this trip has been as incredible as I had hoped and aside from some vicious cat fights between Mr. Testosterone and myself, it has gone even more smoothly than expected (::knock on wood::).

Now to bring you all up-to-date on our travels over the past three weeks:

My last post left off in the ghost town of Harshaw outside of Patagonia, Arizona. From there we parked the van and had a picnic on the roof with leftovers from Evan's birthday dinner (raw zucchini pasta, raw sunflower seed cheeze, and raw zucchini hummus):

We then proceeded to bask in the glow of the southern Arizona sunshine (rooftop):

The next day we went on a hike with Chip & Laura. The terrain was a mix of desert, an endless field of struggling mesquite trees, small-scale rock cliffs, waterfalls, and wading pools. 
Chip and Laura went away for a few days and left us their house which was awesome. Evan and I spent most of our time lounging around for once. We watched four movies in one day, made a ton of green smoothies with their Vitamix (thanks guys!)...
...took showers (!), sprouted some green lentils (delicious + a good source of iron and other nutrients: click here)
We hiked up to the top of Red Mountain - steep incline, loose rocks, total ankle-breaker, but it was an awesome workout with great views. Our legs felt like noodles by the end of it.
Patagonia Lake in the distance
From the top of Red Mountain

The town of Patagonia, Arizona
We also took the highly anticipated trip to the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, a vegan raw food retreat center. The whole reason we came to Patagonia was to check out the Tree of Life cafe. Due to money constraints, which is probably our number one complaint, we were "stuck" in Patagonia for two weeks before we could afford the $50 splurge ($25 per person for the raw lunch buffet). And so it begins... 
My trip to the Tree of Life
We parked in the dirt parking lot at the cafe.

Tree of Life Cafe
A word from the Tree of Life Cafe

The sprouts and many of the greens are grown here at The Tree of Life. Much of the emphasis of the diet is based off of this foundation. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs and greens are the plant and tree-based foods used at our cafe. Each meal is consciously prepared with love, joy and peace.

The main arrangements for lunch that come out of the Tree of Life Cafe are:
Freshly prepared fruits and vegetables, soups and salads, freshly harvested sprouts and garden greens, creamy dressings, veggie dips, sauerkraut, crackers, and/or bread.

In addition to these main arrangements, a plated item is presented at lunch
A plated dish is a way of bringing more joy, color and consciousness to your life.
Monday: Vegetable Terrine served with Olive Tapenade
Tuesday: Italian Canneloni filled with Aged Seed Cheeze
Wednesday: Vegetable Shish Kabob served over Cauliflower Biryani with Tarragon Bermaise Sauce
Thursday: Ceviche Empanadas dusted with Cilantro Fondue
Friday: Spinach Enchiladas and Salsa Picante
Saturday: Arugula Gnocci with Sweet Pepper Creme
Sunday: Chef's Choice

Breakfast Menu
We will be serving granola or granola bars on M, W, & F
Fruit cream pie or fruit and cream on Tuesdays
Waffles or other sweet bread on Thursdays
Monday through Friday - phase 1 & 2 mylks, fruit and salad bar

If you haven't read any of Gabrielle Cousens' books, there are three phases to his program: Phase 1, Phase 1.5, and Phase 2 and they pertain to the amount of low-glycemic foods you can include in your diet through each phase. Here is a chart I found of specific foods included in each phase: Click Here
I read his book "Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine" because I was (and still am?) dealing with a self-diagnosed case of candida over-growth in my intestines. In a future post, I will go more in depth as to why I think this is so (aside from being a complete hypochondriac) and I will discuss my experience on his program.

The cafe itself was small
with plenty of outdoor seating
There was a wheatgrass station outside
And an array of goodies inside. To start with, there was the basic salad bar - butterleaf lettuce, sunflower sprouts, chickweed, clover sprouts, fenugreek sprouts, cucumber, tomato, kim chi, red leaf lettuce and sliced peppers.
Two types of salad dressings - A fatty one and a low-to-no fatty one (not pictured).
The prepared entreé for the day was raw Eggplant Canneloni
There is always one prepared entreé at lunch with one or two prepared salads, a raw soup, raw crackers, raw breads, a basic salad bar, and nut-seed mylks as a beverage.
The prepared salad for the day was Curry Kale Salad
The ingredients:
The raw soup for the day looked like this
The ingredients included:
Raw Italian-Tomato Flax Crackers (some crackers sprinkled with italian seasonings and some crackers sprinkled with poppy seeds)
Raw Sunflower Seed Butter (just sunflower seeds)
Raw Mesquite Bread!

Raw Stuffed Avocado Wedges
Another photo of the raw Eggplant Canneloni
~Phase 1~
Stuffing: Brazil nut mylk, irish moss, olives, sundried tomatoes, salt, black pepper, hing, olive oil
Eggplant: lemon, black pepper, hing, olive oil
Breading: flax seed, pumpkin seeds, salt, italian seasoning, lemon zest
Pesto: arugula, spinach, basil, olive oil, hing, lemon, juice, salt
~Phase 2~
Sweet potato paté: sweet potato, olive oil, salt, italian seasoning, cilantro

So we walked in and they were still setting up the buffet. Right before people started funneling through the line, we had the option of participating in a sort of gratitude prayer for the glorious food that lay before us. I've affectionately coined this action as "namaste-ing your food" and I'd like to start doing this before every meal. I think it's important to take a moment to thank the universe for bringing us (me and the food) together and for the nutrients that are about to be delivered to my body. 

After the prayer, we grabbed a salad bowl and a dish of the eggplant canneloni and started filling up.
Our first helpings
Our salad bowls, eggplant canneloni, and nut/seed mylk spiced with nutmeg, cloves, corriander, and mesquite powder.
Water from Aqua Vita, one of the natural food stores I visited in Tucson. Good stuff.
Needless to say, lunch was superbly delicious. I ended up going back for seconds and thirds (really wanted to get my money's worth). Posting these photos right now is making my mouth water. All those organic greens! The eggplant canneloni was great - the eggplant was just the right texture, not tough or chewy, very malleable and the flavors from the sauces, sun cheeze, and sweet potato paté combined well. I chose to cut up the canneloni into little pieces and add it to my salad bowl for some extra salad pizzaz. I absolutely love arugula and just realized they add it to the pesto sauce? Great idea.

The salad was wonderful, of course. Nice variety of sprouts and greens. The homemade kim chi was pretty tasty, mildly spicy. I might even prefer my kim chi más picante. I loved the poppy seeds on the flax crackers. I felt like it bolstered the cracker, made it sturdier and more appealing - like I could've slathered it with any kind of spread (even crunchy almond butter) and it would have remained in tact. I would venture to say fenugreek sprouts are my favorite and then attempt to describe the taste for you, but I can't place it at the moment. You think I can find fenugreek seeds in Mexico? The spiced nut-seed mylk was a pleasant surprise, as well. I love chai spices and I think next time I make a nut-seed mylk with access to chai spices, I will combine them together. Awesome. Oh, and that mesquite bread...wow. It was subtly sweet, chewy like a dense bread should be, and absolutely divine. 

The only slight criticism I have is that the curry kale salad was a little nori-heavy, in my opinion. Although, thinking about it now is making me salivate. I must be deficient in iodine or something. The stuffed avocado was interesting, as well. Not my favorite. And this was probably the most fat-laden meal I've had in the past two months (I'm currently trying to eat lower fat - limiting nuts, seeds, and oils while eating larger amounts of fruits and greens), but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. In a future post when I discuss my experience on Gabriel Cousens' Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine, I will also talk about the several transitions of raw that I've been through over the course of my 1.5-year journey.  

After lunch, Evan went to the van to work and I walked around the premises.
The back of the temple harnessing some solar power.
The front of the temple (it was locked so I couldn't go inside)
"May Peace Prevail On Earth"
"Mikvah is a sacred Jewish Essene purification bath. It is a cosmic womb in which we spiritually rebirth ourselves. Completely immerse 3 times to let go of the past, clear present and sanctify future. Repeat YHWN with each immersion or any name of the Divine with which you are comfortable. Please do not use the mikvah until you are at least one day past your moon cycle (menses). This ensures that the Jewish Essene tradition is honored and the health safety of the mikvah is maintained. The mikvah and this "Garden of Eden" inside the wall is not to be used as a restroom facility. No Swimming Allowed."
Not sure if this is called anything in particular, but I do know it is a Star of David
The Labyrinth
I most certainly walked it. 
Here's some more information on labyrinths.
Devi Circle (not sure what this is)
Women's sundeck
Not sure what this is, either
I couldn't find a way in
Back at the Tree of Life store...
The store contained a variety of products ranging from packaged food, supplements, skin care, essential oils, and kitchen appliances (vitamix, blendtecs, green star juicers, etc), herbs...
We even spotted Eric's products from our hometown of Portland, Oregon: It's Alive crackers
Our experience at Tree of Life was a pleasant one. I was expecting it to have more of a "resort-y" feel to it, but I'm glad it didn't. It felt natural and raw and authentic just like the food we ate at the cafe. I left with a bottle of Hydrochloric acid tablets (to see if it helps my digestion) and some sage to burn in the van. I will make a return trip one day. 

The night before we left for Mexico, I made a batch of walnut mylk. I had been using organic hemp and almond milk as a base for my Vitamineral Green-Vitamineral Earth-MacaForce shakes. I decided to make my own nut mylk because Red Mountain Natural Foods was out of organic hemp milk and I knew I wouldn't be able to find anything like that in Mexico. 

Below I've included instructions for those of you who don't know how to make your own nut-seed mylks.

Step 1: Soak your nuts (or seeds) 8 - 12 hours. I soaked about 1 1/2 cups of walnuts.
Step 2: Rinse and drain your soaked nuts/seeds and place in the blender with water at a 1:2, 1:3, or 1:4 ratio depending on how creamy (fatty) or thin (lower fatty) you'd like it. 
This is about a 1:2 ratio, but I added water afterwards because it was too rich. 

Step 3: Blend on high for 10 seconds or until a creamy consistency is achieved.
Step 4: Grab your nut milk bag and an extremely wide-mouthed pitcher or more appropriately, a bowl with a spout. (I went with a pitcher and then transferred to a bowl)
Step 5: Pour the mixture from the blender into the nut milk bag
It was at this point that I attempted to "milk" the bag over the pitcher and ended up with a mess. 
Step 6: Transfer the mixture to a large bowl
Step 7: Begin milking the bag
Step 8: When the nut milk bag feels fully drained, you can remove the "pulp" and store it in the freezer for later use in crackers, croutons, or smoothies (or compost it if you must). 

Step 9: Add sweetener and spices if you'd like. I used stevia, but you could blend in dates or lucuma powder, mesquite powder, agave, honey, or leave it unsweetened.

Step 10: Pour the nut milk into an air-tight container and serve chilled.
The walnut milk stayed nice and cold out in the van all night. We finished it off the following day with our Vitamineral Green-Earth-Maca shake. Best shake to date!
---Los Mochis, Sinaloa---
Fast forward to our drive out of Álamos, Sonora south to Los Mochis, Sinoloa. *If you haven't read the previous post about crossing the border, you can read it here* From our short stay in Álamos, I can safely say that it is nearly impossible to be a vegetarian or vegan in this country (at least in this town), but it is most enjoyable and insanely easy to be a raw food vegan. This makes me one happy van-dwelling camper.

We stopped and bought 10 ears of white corn for 10 pesos - roughly $0.80 USD from the back of some dude's pick-up.
We tried it raw, of course. There's really no better way :)
It was definitely not entirely what either of us were expecting. It was quite starchy and not sweet at all like raw yellow corn in the summer, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and later that night used the kernels in a raw corn & cactus salsa.
We also purchased a 40-lb bag of oranges that is still (14 days later) sitting in the van somewhere buried beneath empty water jugs and neglected sleeping bags.
These oranges were much tarter (more tart?) more tart than the other oranges we've tasted in Mexico. We decided to get a little hand-held citrus juicer to juice these babies, but we didn't end up getting one until yesterday and, as you can probably infer, the van isn't in the best shape of its life at the moment. The oranges might even be past their prime and attracting fruit flies at this point. I wouldn't be surprised.

 When we arrived in Los Mochis we were hit with an unexpected reality check - Carls Junior?
Starbucks? We should've known...
Giant supermarkets?
Yea, we totally investigated La Mega. It had all the trappings of an American supermarket plus a few extra highlights...
Organic milk! In a box! (?)
The hot sauce aisle
Guac' in a bot?
Salsa in a box?
Sin conservadores! (No preservatives! but it makes up for it in added sodium)
Shopping cart
Hands-free shopping cart ramp (blowing our minds)
By-the-way, here is our water filtration system. We get water from the tap in our "Dirty water jug" and use Evan's SteriPen in 1-Liter increments (turn pen on and stick it in the jar with water filled up to the 1-liter mark until the light turns off).
This means the water is sterilized. We then pour the newly sterilized water into the Brita filter and transfer into the "clean water jug".
I made cactus-corn salsa with the items we purchased that day and used the sterilized water with vegetable wash to rinse the peppers and cilantro.
From what I can remember, I used 1 poblano pepper, 1 jalapeno, juice from 2 limes, chopped cactus (nopales), diced cilantro, two ears of de-kerneled white corn, some pre-blended avocado, tomatillo salsa, and cayenne. 
I ate it straight from the bowl while Evan chose to eat with the cilantro bread he picked up at the Mega bakery. 
Then, because of the scenario in Álamos concerning my apprehension with jogging alone, I figured out another way to get some exercise - inside the van. I tried to work out all the major body parts by doubling a yoga mat on top of one of the wooden chests and doing situps, leg lifts, tricep dips, and push ups.

It got me shvitzing and I was even a little sore the next day.
---Mazatlan, Sinaloa---
We spent the night in the Los Mochis Mega parking lot and took off early the next morning for Mazatlan. We crossed the Tropic of Cancer and arrived in a muggy, partly overcast/partly smoggy Mazatlan around 10:30 A.M. We walked around the Pazuela Machado in search of internet (not too difficult to find).
For dinner, we checked out a local seafood joint called Mariscos Toño. Evan ordered ceviche de camaron y ceviche de pescado (raw shrimp & fish "cooked" in lime juice).
shrimp ceviche
fish ceviche
I timidly tasted both dishes and didn't care for either one, but I preferred the shrimp over the regular fish ceviche. The fish ceviche tasted too fishy while the shrimp ceviche took on the flavors of lime and pepper. The meal came with large tortilla chips (tostadas) and slices of lime. Evan finished the entire thing.
From there, we walked to the beach to watch the sunset.
During my days in Mexico, I generally eat fruit for breakfast and lunch (pineapples, papaya, dates, mangos, and smoothies) and then I try to eat greens and vegetables at night with salsa or pico and avocado and sometimes nuts or seeds (lately, it's been handfuls of nuez - pecans).
A beautiful papaya
 I'm off my zucchini hummus kick, but still eating lettuce wraps almost daily. 
We found a juice and smoothie bar in Mazatlan called El Sunami near the cathedral in Old Mazatlan. 
I got the Light juice: Papaya, celery, cactus, orange, and parsley.
We decided to check out the Centro Mercado (central market) and along the way, we came across this stand de dulces (of sweets):
The brightly colored mounds of yellow, orange, and red are actually baked coconut shreds mixed with sugar and food coloring (I imagine?). There are chili spices and sea salt available to sprinkle on the sweet coconut clusters. I tried a few bites. It's very good, especially with the chili spices and sea salt.

On that same cart were little cups of this ground cherry-like fruit. I'm not sure what they are called and I didn't sample them.
The centro mercado was a city block crisscrossed with fruit stands, sweets stands, meat stands, and drink stands.
Sliced jicama with chili spices and lime. 
This fruit is called "mamey". It's shaped like an avocado with lighter colored skin and bright orange meat inside. I had never seen nor heard of this fruit before, but it's a tasteful collision of baked yams and sweet custard bursting with vitamin C. Read more about the mamey sapote here.
After the centro mercado, we stopped at Jaun's for some food.
 I ordered some guacamole and salsa, Evan ordered a beer and I busted out some carrots and lettuce for some lettuce wraps.
I ate mamey for dessert. 
For dinner, we walked along the beach and watched the sunset before we headed to a place called Mariscos de Puntilla for their pescado zarandeado (smoked fish stuffed with peppers, onions, and tomatoes) per Lonely Planet's recommendation.
I actually did eat some of this famous Mexican dish, although, I also had a little internal struggle coming to terms with it. I think it was when I accidentally swallowed a tiny fish bone that really unleashed the remorse - that and thinking about how much mercury I was ingesting. Speaking of Mexican food, I'm allowing myself to indulge in some of the native cuisine here and there. I feel like it's part of the experience and I'm not going to beat myself up about it (too much). With that in mind, I drank quite a bit of horchata throughout northern Mexico (rice milk flavored with cinnamon and sugar and most likely leche in some cases). I used it as a base for my Vitamineral Green shakes. I haven't seen it so much in the central-Pacific coast, which is probably a good thing. And I will, without a doubt, throw down at least a few shots of tequila during this leg of the trip.

Anyway, the pescado zarandeado was delicious and my body seemed to digest it just fine. I won't go into any more detail than that.

Back at the ranch (i.e. the van), we had to toss out a jar of sprouts due to the foul smell emanating from inside and also the browning of the sprout tails. No good for consumption. Bye sprouts.
In order to remedy this situation, we tried moving the sprouts from the front seats (sunny side) to the very back of the van. We removed the curtain and had just enough light shining through Dad's tie-dyed t-shirt to keep them chlorophyl-happy, but with (perhaps?) a little less heat.
Good news. It worked! A few days later these sprouts came out looking and tasting great. We still gave them a little loving in the front of the van, though. But if we were out for several hours in the middle of the day, we put them in the back.
The next day we hiked up the hill to El Faro (The lighthouse). The second highest lighthouse in the world behind Gibraltar's. 
Before we set out on our excursion we stopped for breakfast at one of the restaurants on the boardwalk. I ordered the fruit plate and Evan ordered the Spanish Tortilla.
His actually looked really, really good (His always looks really, really good).
The view from the top of El Faro hill.
After the hike, we stopped for some cocos helados (iced coconuts).
I made a shake out of it with my powder supplements.
Ultimate thirst-quencher.
Had a little snack in the van.
I promised Evan I would get a margarita that night. We sipped beach-side.
and ate more lettuce wraps
before another spectacular sunset.
 They have alternative medicine in Mexico.
Before we headed south to San Blas, Nayarit, we stopped at the Mega store for some food. I got some cauliflower, Mega pico de gallo, and avocados along with some juicy fruits. I whipped this up real quick for lunch: cauliflower, pico, avo, limes, and chili spices.
---San Blas, Nayarit---
On the drive to San Blas we came across this fruit stand selling papaya and jackfruit (we thought it was durian, at first).
We brought one home with us.
We stayed in San Blas overnight. Ate dinner at Walla Walla and used their internet.
I ordered some guac & sals and did the whole lettuce wrap thing again (It never gets old). Oh, and if you ever order guacamole in Mexico, be sure to ask for it sin queso (without cheese). They'll sprinkle it on top otherwise. 
San Blas was cute - a quiet fishing town. 
Reminded us a bit of Álamos in that it was a small town and unlike Mazatlan, which was a big, dirty, sprawling, polluted city (but still enjoyable). 

It was here that Evan decided to baptize himself in the Mexican Pacific.
It was also here that we decided to dismantle the jackfruit. Check it, our first jackfruit ever.
The spread.
The first incision. 
The split.
The sticky innards.
Seed removal.
The spread.
Core removal.
Sweet Meat.
The jackfruit was enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for both of us...for the next two days, but we could only stomach enough for breakfast and maybe a snack later that night. Most of it went to waste, which is tragic, but did you know they flavor Juicyfruit gum with jackfruit? Or at least, that's what inspired the Juicyfruit gum flavor... Neat! Also, you can steam, boil, or bake the seeds and eat those as well. We still have the seeds (dried them on the dash) and we're waiting for somebody to offer up their kitchen to us one day so we can experiment with the jackfruit seed.
---Sayulita, Nayarit---
On our way down to Sayulita we passed a number of coconut palms and jackfruit trees.
We stopped at one roadside coco stand where the lady makes *organic* mosquito repellant with coconut oil and citronella. 
Evan was taking the pictures. I'm not sure if he thought this woman's identity couldn't be revealed or he has a bad aim or what...
Lime, salt, and chili powder on everything.
Jackfruit orchard!
We stopped at yet another fruit stand on the way to Sayulita. Look, red bananas!
Green bananas.
Even Noni juice! I still have never tried noni juice. It's supposed to be a superfood, I think.
We bought a few avocados, a noni fruit, and some banana chips from the old man running this joint. Unfortunately, most of this batch went unnoticed for several days and spoiled - no noni, no avos - they got smashed and moldy. We did enjoy these fried banana chips, however. It came with a little pack of hot sauce. I popped a few. They tasted like potato chips.
A cherimoya we picked up at yet another roadside fruit stand. And another piece of tropical sustenance left by the wayside. I found this one today, squished between the driver's side seat and the wooden chest behind it. I think Evan was thuggin' out in the driver's seat and reclined it without taking note of the giant cherimoya in its trajectory. Sad.
*Correction: I've been informed by one of my blog readers on the raw food site www.giveittomeraw.com that this is, in fact, a gaunabana fruit- also known as soursop. More info here.
We arrived in Sayulita and discovered another gringo-infested town. Sayulita is an adorable surfer's paradise brimming with gringos. One of the bonuses of a tourist town is you are bound to find something on the menu sin carne (without meat). Here is one of those places, Santo Remedio Health Foods:
Fresh juices, smoothies, salads, soy burgers and more. We didn't stop here, but I took two photos for the blog.
We did stop at a cafe called Choco-Banana (I think?). I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a green smoothie on the menu!
It was probably one of the best green smoothies I've ever had. It was called a Green Goddess and the ingredients: Spinach, celery, parsley, pineapple, tofu, and cactus
Tofu...I know. The first time I ordered it, I forgot to ask for it without tofu. The second time I ordered it, they said they couldn't accommodate me so I'm guessing they blend it all together in the morning and just have it sitting in the reefer all day. Maybe? I doubt they use organic tofu. I'm almost too embarrassed to ask. Still, it's probably the best tasting green smoothie I've ever had.

I made some pico de gallo later that day.
Lettuce wraps with pico, avo, and our van-grown sprouts. Those sprouts were damn good, too.
Oh, and look what Evan dug out from the depths of the 'Dura's orifices
 His sneakers - molested by rotting plantains. These are the trials and tribulations of being a van-dweller.

The next morning, I went on a jog. How nice to have linked up with a stray dog along the way (Mexico is chalk full of stray dogs and they all seem to have a gimp back leg. So strange) This pup, however, was running on all four, leading the way, and barking at me if I started lagging behind. I named him "Buddy".
He wouldn't leave my side for two hours. He linked up with me in town and jogged with me all the way down the beach. Rather, he lead the way down the beach.
He was cute. Pouncing on small rocks, pawing at seashells, digging holes and watching them disappear in the rising tides. It was especially great when he jumped in the ocean and then ran out to shake himself dry next to someone's child. "not my dog..." Oh, Buddy.
He followed me all the way back to the van and then tried to get in.
When I locked him out, he pawed, barked, and whimpered for the next 5 minutes until he finally gave up. It was hard to shut him down and sad to see him go. The next day, I saw him leading a pack of caballaros and caballos (cowboys and horses) galloping down the street. He found new friends. Bye, Buddy.
We've been getting our internet fix from a place called simply "Espresso Coffee Company".
It's a lovely outdoor, open-air setting with a thatched roof covering a gravel patio. I've been consuming my fair share of smoothies while here in Sayulita. Here's an interesting combination of creamy and sweet with a hint of basil (strawberries, coconut, pineapple, orange juice, and basil).
I've enjoyed their version of the green smoothie, as well ("Forever Green": pineapple, parsley, celery, ginger, spinach, and orange juice)
A cool thing about Sayulita is that we heard our friend, Becca (from back home) was going to be in town with her mom and family friends. We saw her and the clan walking by, so they stopped in to say "hello".
(From left to right: Willow, Sally, Becs, Suz)
Becca had a little surfing accident earlier that day with a board straight to her left-central forehead above her eye.

For dinner, I bought some fixings at one of the produce stands in town (no pic). I went to the van and made a salad with spinach, diced habanero, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado, bagged spinach, and plenty of lime juice (no salt or spices this time - trying to cutback).
Of course I washed everything in produce wash and purified water.
It doesn't look like much, but it was just what my body was craving - spicy, fatty, and green (with lime juice). 
---Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco---
We were running low on money with Sayulita's gringo prices and all those smoothies, so we took a short 30-minute drive south to Puerto Vallarta (the big city). We found the prices weren't much cheaper at the cafes (probably more expensive), but we had access to my bank down here and we could scavenge around in the Mega store as well as get myself primed and pampered at the salon. 

Evan worked at a cafe while I went to the salon. I met up with him afterwards and ordered a smoothie (as always) and added my powder supplements (Vitamineral Green, Earth, and Maca - read about why I love this nutrient-packed powder supplement so much in a previous post)
In that same plaza, we found a supermarket similar to Mega, but a little smaller. We bought half a large watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, onion, mangos, and some green cabbage. We came across some chia and flax seeds, as well, which was cool to see. I guess chia seeds come from Mexico so we weren't too surprised to find them here.
It looks like .218 kg = 21.80 pesos. So what does that convert to in US units - .2 kg = about .5 lb
21.80 pesos = about $1.74 USD. Is that right? so 1 lb of chia seeds would cost about $3.50 to $4.00 USD. Is that right? I've seen chia seeds on the cheap for maybe $11/lb. They were organic chia seeds, though, so that may have something to do with the price hike and the fuel used to ship it. That's pretty cool, though. We should definitely stock up on chia seeds while we're here.
Flax seeds are cheap in the states, but what does this work out to be...
.168 kg = about 1/3 lb, 4.69 pesos = $0.37 USD so that would be about $1.10/lb? So about the same. Organic brown flax seeds are probably $1.50/lb in the states (at least at the People's Food Co-op in Portland, Oregon). Math was never one of my strong points so I could have very well messed this up.

We planned on going to Puerto Vallarta just for the day, but we've been here three days now. We are enjoying it, thus far. It's considered the gay capital of Mexico and it's known as a party town - all the bars are hopping on a Wednesday night. We were walking around late last night and saw two people (who were obviously not homeless bums) passed out on the street. It's hilly like San Francisco, cobblestone streets intersect a mix of decaying buildings and modern architecture. It's culturally-rich with art work at every turn, bronze sculptures line the boardwalk, and locals erect sand sculptures on the beach right before your eyes.
You have the option of dining at a high-end Italian Restaurant or French Bistro, stop at a street-side taco stand, or wait for the tamale lady to find you on the boardwalk. All of this is nestled up against a backdrop of hills blanketed with palm trees. I don't doubt PV has some awesome hikes to explore, but you can get a great workout just walking up and down the steep roads and stairs connecting one alley to the next.

It just so happens a gal I went to middle school with now lives in PV with her husband. They have offered to rent out their extra room to us for a month and we are fairly certain we'll take them up on that. There's a lot to see in this city alone, but it would make a great home-base to explore neighboring beach towns and to head east into the mountains for one or two-day trips. Evan and I are both getting weary from this van-dwelling life.

One morning, Evan and I shared 1/2 a watermelon on the beach.
I've been staying strong with the lettuce wraps, bringing in my own romaine lettuce and ordering a salad with guacamole and salsa.
It's funny, pretty much everywhere we've been to in Mexico has been totally chill with me bringing in my own food and ordering gauc' or pico to eat with it. The only time we ran into any problems was in Sayulita at this sports bar called Yoyo Mo's. So when we asked the bartender at this gay bar in the Zona Romantica called "Que?Pasa" if it would be O.K. to bring in my own lettuce and order guacamole (because I don't eat chips), he looked at us like we were crazy. Not crazy for bringing in our own food, but crazy for thinking that they would have a problem with it. I think we will just take our chances in the future and if a place seems to have a "no outside food or drink" policy, they can kick us out.

We found a little frutas y dulces tienda with dates! I'm not sure what kind these are, but I bought half a pound of them.
and a half pound of the jumbo datil (medjool)

The medjools work out to be about $4/lb while the smaller dates work out to be about $2.80/lb. Good deals. I think the smaller dates are preserved with something, though. Maybe even dipped in oil to help protect them. They had a shiny, oily coating, but they kept my sweet tooth at bay.

We walked through a small plaza and saw a mangoes splattered on the ground.
So we looked up.
A mango tree dropping mangos - our favorite type of mango, the yellow ones.
Yesterday, we saw two little kittens hiding in a bush. This one was missing an eye and wouldn't stop hissing at us.
This one was just sitting there. We wanted to take them home, but we can barely afford to feed ourselves let alone two pets. Not to mention, the smell that seems to get worse the farther south we get.
Oh, and check out Vallarta's trash and recycling centers all over town.
One for food scraps
One for cans and plastic?
and one for paper products.
If only we were this organized inside the van...

Once again, that brings you all up-to-date with our travels. Thanks for reading and please leave me comments and/or questions.
Buenos tardes, amigos.
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  1. Love the new post Jaz, even chuckled at my new nickname after being pissed for a brief second :) You're so amazing... So much I want to comment about but I'll save it for my guest blog entry. Stay tuned folks.

  2. I enjoyed all the pictures. =)

    Question though --- it says you are a vegan but you also mentioned that you guys ate raw fish and shrimp?!?!

  3. You're right, I should change that. I consider myself a raw foodist before I consider myself a vegan. I suppose I am a very lax BEEgan who maybe four times a year partakes in sushi outings (sashimi), an occasional cooked meal - soups, steamed veggies, and the like. And I do consume raw honey these days when it's available.

    Raw Veg with a pescetarian twist.

  4. I am just amazed that you are getting past your grooming rituals. This has been a totally enlightening experience for both of you. The food looks so colorful and tasty that I think I have to go down stairs right now and get something to eat. Who is the middle school friend that lives in PV? My sugar peas are sprouting already. Hope to get them in the ground before long. Miss you tons. MoMo

  5. Jazz,

    Love reading your blog! For some reason I don't get notified when a new post goes up...so I end up spending 3 hours trying to catch up! I'm loving all the salsa pictures. I made some Pico de Gallo the other day, first time I made some that tasted good, usually my salsas turn out very bitter. Next time I'm going to try and make it hotter! Anyways while I was eating I was thinking about how many chips it was causing me to down. What would you recommend as a chip substitute, and also something that falls into Jenny's dietary restrictions?

    Miss you and Evan!!



  6. haha! Yea, I know that's why I blast the crap out of twitter, facebook, and email when I post a new blog. Well, I'm glad you could fit my blog into your busy schedule. As for the chip substitutes - you could use thinly sliced beets, which adds a nice sweet element to any salsa (especially good for those 'bitter' picos since sweetness counters a bitter taste). I love using zucchini slices because it really reflects the taste of the salsa or whatever you're dipping it with as oppose to cucumber, which I find tends to dilute the flavors. You could also try slicing yams marinating them in some kind of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and then dehydrating them until they get crispy!

  7. Ergo - The gal from middle school that I was referring to is named Meg Williams (formerly known as Megan Masters). She was only around for a year or two in middle school and then moved away.

  8. Great blog and photos. I enjoy your well-written and photographed travel and food adventures: and I like your 'realist' approach and your honesty about the foibles of living in a van. The space limitations of a 35 or 40 square foot living area seem inversely proportinal to the smallness of the space. Having travled South Africa's coast surfing over 30 years ago in a VW van I can sympathize with storage struggles, fresh food and countless other things lost in the mix, etc.
    Best wishes and I'll look forward to more, Ron

  9. I found your blog on Becca's Facebook. Really enjoyed reading it all and hearing about your travels in Mexico. Great to see you both in Sayulita.

  10. OMG, I am going to try making the yam chips this weekend. I cannot wait!! Ron and Christie, why don't you stop by soon to try them?! Wonderful post. I missed it the first go around!

  11. I totally dig your blog. I will be moving with my family to Puerto Vallarta in June. This really helps as far as knowing how to eat raw when you are unfamiliar with your new surroundings. I enjoy reading your posts. I just started my own blog and hope to do much more on my Mexican adventure! www.existvegan.blogspot.com

  12. Chantel -

    I'm glad you're finding my blog useful. That is essentially its purpose - to serve as a guide to help other raw foodists on the road. You will love Puerto Vallarta, although, I'm sure you know that since you're moving there. It's super simple to be raw down here - an extensive variety of fruits and veggies all year-round. I will definitely check out your blog. Thanks for reading!

  13. wow what an adventure i can only dream about..

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  15. Very enjoyable read thank you! Do you have a recommendation for a balanced place to live along west coast?