A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WANDERLUST

It’s the journey more than the destination

Back in the Philippines, we grew up doing kris kringle during the holiday season.

For a long time, I haven’t done it. Overseas, it is unlikely we have like-minded people doing secret Santa (some don’t even celebrate Christmas or have a religious affiliation). Besides, we don’t get to spend Christmas together to make a run for it unless we start in November before we head off to our families for the holidays.

So gift-giving and to keep it suspenseful is not always possible. But this year, because of the pandemic, I get to join one of my #rotaryclub organized virtual party. Not bad for someone alone in Kampala.

The objective is to support the local food business in my city. Because of the pandemic, many companies closed down, and those still open are barely making profits. It was a noble idea; it may not be a lot, but yet it warms one’s heart knowing that the gift you received supported another person or business. Like what we always say in rotary #serviceaboveself, that’s why I joined in.

Of course, I didn’t get to taste the #peri-peri chicken sent by the one that got my name, but I’m sure my family enjoyed it. Thanks to our #TransformingPresident Jeannette who picked my name  😊


Who would have thought that a simple virtual post-Christmas party is an opportunity to help our local businesses like when I am doing online shopping here.

Kudos to all!

When I started my chocolate tasting series, I said I would taste all 13 chocolates sent to me. Unfortunately, only after five types of chocolates, I decided not to continue because of my own bias to bittersweet and dark chocolate, and already I wouldn’t say I like the ruby type chocolate.

Most that were left in the mix are milk and ruby chocolates that I know I will not like, and based on what I have tasted so far. But to be fair to the artisan, she made an effort to make them look and taste good; I promised to give her my honest opinion, which I did and hopefully received well.

As early as now, I can say she needs to continue to hone her chocolate-making skills, and eventually get good at it and sell delicious artisan chocolates. It can be life-changing to her and online customers like me.

🍒🌰🥜

I’ve done my last three reviews according to the wrapper’s color because I did on Christmas morning; I woke up feeling festive, and seeing the colors on my table, made me excited.

I made my review as straightforward as my last two posts – on the teacup and red chip. I will describe them and be on my merry way.

#3 – Peppermint Chocolates

Its milk chocolate base with a subtle taste of Peppermint. The kind I like in flavored chocolate. It was not an overpowering taste in your mouth, a pleasant experience. The flavor builds up in your mouth as you continue to chew on it and what remains is that freshness peppermint always leaves you with.

It’s hard chocolate; even when left overnight on the counter, it didn’t soften to the touch. When I placed it between my fingers, it took a while to have that melted feel on the surface but didn’t make the mess I was expecting.

When you peel the wrapper, it has a patterned surface. Not glossy but not dull also. Overall it’s an okay chocolate piece.

#4 – Blueberry Tint

When the chocolates were delivered, it came with a voice message explaining what to expect for each color and shape—for this, I’ve been warned that the color transfer to the mouth or tongue and, in my case, finger.

The blue tint is not mixed in the white chocolate. It was painted over; that’s why it transfers when the heat is applied. But the Blueberry taste was there. Unlike the Peppermint, this one is not as subtle, it lingers, but you get the same intensity from the moment you bite into it until it melts away. But I only have one piece to try to compare.

I don’t mind the color transfer; that can be rectified. I like the consistency of the chocolate and the taste in my mouth. The texture is better than the other chocolates I tasted, but it can still use more tempering and adjusting of the color and the flavor in the future.

#5 – Red Tuttifrutty

The base, as you guess, is the ruby chocolates, which are acidic, have a fruity base taste. Adding tutti-fruity makes the chocolate not appealing to me – I felt it’s sourer, not what chocolate is to me.

The texture of the chocolate is crumbly. I only had one bite and decided I will not continue eating it.

Ruby chocolates, in my opinion, are best paired or mixed with plain nuts, where it doesn’t increase the acidity of the chocolate—if not nuts, maybe dried fruits, not in the sour-side like cherries or tart and those with similar sour notes.

🥜🌰🍒

I didn’t finish the rest of the chocolates. I’ve tasted at least forty percent of what I bought, and I think that’s enough to know what the rest are like.

I will continue to look for other online sellers that will get me curious to try their products.

For chocolates, understanding the temperaments of the different types of chocolates and taste is key to making them good. As we say we eat with our eyes, presentation is also crucial, which is a skill in itself that needs to be practice.

Knowing you’re clientele is another area in online selling that I think many seller miss when they start peddling their products online. They are more on prices, and the volume of products to sell that they miss getting the attention of those that really would want what they are selling.

But I understand that in the current state of the world, everybody can find their way to earn, and I am not the one to tell them not to do it; I can only give my thoughts when it’s needed and welcomed.

Social media is an excellent platform to be seen and an ideal platform to make it if you have the right attitude – consistency in marketing and quality of the product equals value.

Last food for thought, for the artisan or those that makes the product they sell, online or otherwise it is good to field test them before going full blast. I don’t know about the others, but I’m the kind of buyer that try whatever I fancy once. Unless I am impressed, never go back for seconds, and I can be honestly brutal in my opinion if I know it can help.

So until the next adventure, I’ll settle for flowers to give my friends next time.

Belated Christmas greetings from #thesummit.

You guess right, I’m still here in Kampala and haven’t decided on what I want to do until early next year. But I did decide on not taking the full seven weeks in one go. Thank God for having a good line manager. He agreed to break it until March. Hopefully, by then, traveling would ease up.

Meantime I’ve been helping out a friend get ready to go on her holidays. She will be out of the country for two whole months, and among us here, she’s the busiest and the one having a pet to look after. How is that for time management? She really can use the break.

The Lockdown

Days before its implementation, I just arrived from Nairobi. Rather than get caught in Kampala, with limited sets of clothes and necessities, I decided to move upcountry. Arua is my home back then, in the #trendyapartment. I knew I would be cut off from most things, including work, and traveling back to Kampala didn’t happen until after three months.

Thanks to the internet, life and work were bearable but not without their emotional toll. Not only to me but some friends also. One colleague surprised us by buying a puppy two months after the government imposed the lockdown.

Sasha

She became the pet of the group. We didn’t meet her until the lockdown was relaxed, and I am allowed to travel to Kampala in July.

But we knew her antics and witnessed her growing up online … from a little furball to looking like a rabbit and now to the full-on Spitz. We had our doubts about her breed until she grew more prominent. Regardless, she’s a lifesaver to all of us.

But unlike me, Sasha is going on holiday overseas. She’s going to experience the winter in Lebanon, and you can’t believe how much preparation was done to make sure she can travel.

Over the weekend, we went to the mall, braving the crowd to find her a winter coat. That is to make sure she doesn’t freeze when they arrive at 1 am and travel in style according to her human—at the same time, waiting for her travel documents, which almost didn’t happen.

Emotional support

Having Sasha in our friends’ life was a great stress relief. A diversion that often gets to chime in during online meetings breaking the ice and boredom. Her puppy love rubs to us, and we all can’t get enough of her.

If you want to know what I mean, I will let you be the judge.

In her new bubble jacket

In her raincoat

She’s the baby of the group

With her human

At lake Bunyonyi

Hiking with her human

She likes going on road trips

Imahe ng Kapaskuhan sa Ibang Bayan

December 25, 2020

I am cleaning up my cloud when I started seeing photos from the different places I’ve been during the holiday season. Seeing the faces and the smiles of the people I have been celebrating Christmas away from our own families.

Four years ago this week in Palestine 🇵🇸

These are the people I go to church in Gaza every Saturday afternoon. The church is in the old town not far from a mosque and a Coptic church.

It was taken at the priest’s house slash office within the compound. Where we usually gather for simple meals after mass. Apart from the religious, there are three other Filipino, one Ugandan, and two Palestinian with me in the photo.

We all look forward to this mass every Saturday. As you know, Palestinians are Muslims, so having this mass, being part of the minority religion gives the service more meaning as it usually is back home. During the English Mass, we’ll be lucky to have ten people in the church, but the Arabic mass in the morning would have a little over fifty, according to some parishioners that join both services. There are only a small number of Roman Catholics living in Gaza. The majority are Muslims and the Greek Orthodox. I don’t think there are Jewish in there for obvious reason.

Like all in Jerusalem and other cities in Palestine, you will have all religions sharing the space – Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic, and Jews.

As it is with Filipino culture, food brings people together. So the house of HI always brings lasagna that we put on the table and shared with our small group.

The compound also has the orphanage and catholic school in the strip run by the Missionary of Charity. Children with special needs and disabilities are housed in the orphanage. In my personal capacity, while there, I tried to help out a bit and meet the physiotherapists that help the kids daily.

I like to add a disclaimer that my organization, Humanity, and Inclusion (HI), has no religious affiliation. My religious participation in any place I’ve been in my personal belief and tradition.

One year ago this week in Entebbe, Uganda

Last year before heading home to the Philippines, I chanced upon the skinniest Santa Clause, Mickey Mouse, and Winnie the Pooh in Entebbe.

I don’t know how kids around the world would react to see that their favorite Christmas guy and some of their bedtime buddies had lost so much weight when they moved to Uganda 😅

We’re so used to see them or draw them plump, larger than life character that young and older people love but not this lot, and my colleague cannot miss the opportunity. I won’t show my photo with me in it because it looks like I ate all the cookies and didn’t share 😂😂

We know that many children under five all around the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from malnutrition. Seeing these characters, in their skinny form, doesn’t help lift the image to fun and bounty at this time of the year. It takes away the joy of knowing the situation around the world, and something must be done, PRONTO!

Two years ago this week in Arua, Uganda

I am barely a month in Uganda when this photo was taken in front of the house I stayed in for the first three months. I’m with Gladys out mental health technical advisor, and Topista, our house manager, best dressed than the two of us combined.

In the photo, we are getting ready to go to the annual Christmas celebration of the West Nile team. The best team, I think, before they got disbanded, and new people joined in.

The party went on and on, and I discovered the wonder of Ugandan dance and dancers. Staff can twerk, shake their booty, and dance up to the wee hours if you let them. It was a good experience to have as a new member of the team. Unfortunately, this year, no party was happening because of the government’s SOP on the pandemic. Let’s try in 2021.

All these photos are leading to the day Jesus was born.

It’s good to look back at the memories of when I was away from home during the season. The celebration of Christmas is always ideal when shared with the family, but it was not always the case. We are lucky to have good friends to share it by making the distance feels not so far and the celebration is as good as it gets.

Maligayang Pasko at Mapayapang Bagong Taon!

I read that I can try up to a maximum of 6 different chocolate flavors in one sitting. I will need to clean my palate every time with warm water to prepare for the next batch of tasty chocolate 😋 , But I wish I have the time just to sit and keep eating chocolates.

When I ordered the bunch of chocolates, the seller was advertising a new type of chocolate — but like I told you in my last post, I am biased to dark chocolate; I am not sure I will like it.

But like anyone with a sweet tooth, I will try anything once and see if I will try again. Let’s go!

#2 – The Red Chip

I didn’t know that there is a fourth type of chocolate — the Ruby Chocolate. It was introduced by Callebaut in 2017 after the success of white chocolate some couple of decades ago.

Too bad I don’t have much to taste to really discern the taste, but I agree with the article I read about it being a cross between milk chocolate and white chocolate. Two types that I am not a fan of if I have a choice.

So here goes my experience…

Appearance is a nice light pink color because it’s small and thin. I can’t say I am attracted to it. It’s not shiny and appealing to eat, so the little piece I had is just enough for the experience. At first look, one will think that this chocolate is pretentious, and since I am a dark and darker chocolate lover, mentally, I know I will not like it.

The pink color, which according to what I read, is from the underfermented cacao beans. The beans give off the reddish hue that persists during converting it to chocolate, ending with the cute pick color that appeals to Millenial’s instant gratification attitude.

Will I go for it? Maybe, if the design or shape is different.

The texture was smooth to the touch but flaky. It melts quickly between my finger but nothing unusual for chocolates at room temperature. The wrapping didn’t do justice to the chocolate, which shows the seller needs more practice in making sure her chocolates are wrapped without affecting the appearance and texture of the chocolate.

It needs more tempering. Despite the size, the chip feels like a cake, and it’s chewy, which helps one keep the acidic taste longer in the mouth.

The taste was not fun in the beginning. Immediately after, you will taste the milkiness of the chip then the sourness after. It was an acidic taste that lingers, but if you continue to savor the taste, it is fruity, and I tasted cherries 🍒 , which I like as a filling in some brands.

The fruitiness comes from the process, which may be similar to white, where cocoa is less than milk and dark chocolates. It has a lingering feeling in the mouth that I would want to have a couple more bites – that’s all.

For those who like Milk or White chocolate, the Ruby chocolate may be another option for you.

Have you tried the Ruby chocolate? Tell me how it made you feel.

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