Sunday, 23 October 2011

Brunus Rosé, Portal de Montsant DO 2009

Things are positively improving here. After finishing our kilo of Maragogipe and half-way through a kilo bag of Lavazza (bought via Amazon!), I was relieved to find that now we have the source of quality coffee beans in Corralejo. They could be found in the Marumba store in C.C. El Campanario. During our last visit there (yesterday, to be precise), I bought a bag of Costa Rican beans and a bottle of this delicious rosé from Catalonia. Try it if you can find it.

More photos of rosé wine @ Shutterstock.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

This beautifully told story is set on Bougainville, the Melanesian island of which very existence I was ignorant until now, during the 1990s civil war. I loved the book, but be warned. When the “redskin” soldiers appear in the village for the first time, you know it is not going to end well. Still, nothing prepares you to the horrors of their final visit.

My favourite chapters are the ones where Mr Watts, the only white person in the village, invites the parents of the children to come into his classroom and “share what they knew of the world”.
‘There is a place called Egypt,’ she said. ‘I know nothing of that place. I wish I could tell you kids about Egypt. Forgive me for not knowing more. But, if you care to listen, I will tell you everything I know about the colour blue.’
And so we heard about the colour blue.
‘Some islands have beautiful names for different winds. My favourite is the wind that is known as “gentle as a woman”.’
Gilbert’s uncle, a big man, round as an oil drum, black as tar from toiling out at sea, came to speak to us about ‘broken dreams’. He said the best place to find a broken dream is on the wharf. ‘Look at all those dead fish with their eyes and mouths open. They can’t believe they are not in the sea and never will be again.’
‘At night the blimmin’ dogs and roosters chase after dreams and break them in two. The one good thing about a broken dream is that you can pick up the threads of it again. By the way, fish go to heaven. Don’t believe any other shit you hear.’

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Samba Reggae Workout

with Quenia Ribeiro
First published 14 October 2011 @ zumbafuerteventura

I bought this DVD on the strength of the Amazon reviews — and was not disappointed.

Quenia starts with Welcome and, in just two minutes, introduces the samba reggae Basic Steps. These look easy; that’s encouraging.

To my fellow Zumber@s, Quenia’s Warm-Up may seem more like “cool-down”: a lot of stretching exercises, some of them rather impressive. At 12 minutes, it is a bit longer than your typical Zumba class warm-up/cool-down. But you can’t have too much of a good thing. You will be sweating by the end of it.

In Workout #1 (about 37 minutes) Quenia builds up, well, a “routine”: shows a step, repeats, adds a new step, repeats “from the top”, shows a new step and so on. Non-stop. (Speaking of stops: the great thing about the DVD is that you always can use the stop button to catch your breath. I had to do that a few times during Workout #1.) “Routine” may sound boring, but actually it is a good fun. OK, I found Quenia’s verbal cues rather redundant and did not exactly fell in love with her voice. So what, I know how to turn the volume down, so it really is not a problem. It would be perfect if there was a way to quick-jump to particular steps, because the only way to navigate within Workout #1 is the good old fast-forward (or fast-backward).

Workout #2 (about six minutes) is basically the same routine as we learn in Workout #1 but danced at the higher pace. As by now we should know it more or less by heart, it goes without any commentary.

I love how Ms Ribeiro introduces her band and dancers and explains the role of each instrument. Once again, quite unlike Zumba Fitness Anonymous.

One day, I hope to learn how to dance samba properly. I can start with making good use of Quenia’s moves.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Botany of Desire

by Michael Pollan

Are we selecting the plants we want to grow, or is it the plants who make us to spread their genes far and wide? Michael Pollan invites us to take the plants’ point of view. He is telling the stories of four plant species: the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato, with an emphasis on their co-evolution with Homo sapiens.

At times, Pollan’s writing gets too florid for my taste, but it is the fascinating read all the same, no doubt helped by the author’s first-hand experience of (mostly successfully) growing the protagonists in his garden.

The magic plants were, and remain, a gravitational force pulling us back to Earth, to matter, away from the there and then of Christian salvation and back to the here and now. Indeed, what these plants do to time is perhaps the most dangerous thing about them — dangerous, that is, from the perspective of a civilization organized on the lines of Christianity and, more recently, capitalism.

Christianity and capitalism are both probably right to detest a plant like cannabis. Both faiths bid us to set our sights on the future; both reject the pleasures of the moment and the senses in favor of the expectation of a fulfillment yet to come — whether by earning salvation or by getting and spending. More even than most plants drugs, cannabis, by immersing us in the present and offering something like fulfillment here and now, short-circuits the metaphysics of desire on which Christianity and capitalism (and so much else in our civilization) depend.