I Love Lamp: Trees, Herbs, and Office Nooks

Have I ever mentioned that sometimes when I'm gardening (ahem, weeding, let's get real; THAT'S ALL GARDENING IS) I wish I could move plants like I move furniture? Well the other day I decided to actually do just that:

My mom sent us some Japanese Cedars that were on sale which are supposed to grow quickly and densely. Perfect for a natural privacy fence between our house and the Inn guests' BBQ patio. 

So we relocated a few of the more spindly trees we'd planted upon moving in that hadn't done too much in the way of creating a barrier and clustered 'em together on one side:

Then planted the three new trees in the remaining space:

Hi Gary! (He's one of our favorite neighbors and does all our mowing.)

Hi Gary! (He's one of our favorite neighbors and does all our mowing.)

Yes, they are hilariously tiny right now. But supposedly they grow up to 4 ft per year, up to 30 ft total! Also, those sparse looking bushes are hydrangeas that get big and fluffy and beautiful, so hopefully soon we'll have several layers of natural, pretty barriers that will help define and cozify the different spaces.

Yup, cozify. It's a word now. As in, to make a space more cozy.

Then we moved some small bushes from other parts of the property over to the corner of our oh so charming kitchen "patio" and potted some herbs, again, with the idea to cozify that space. This is before:


And after-ish:

I say "after-ish" because we'll see how it grows...

Meanwhile, right upstairs in my home office, I had the obvious realization that since I'm clearly not going to figure how out to properly repair or move the broken, ugly radiator any time soon, I should just paint it so it simply goes away. I also needed to deal with my ever accumulating stacks of (mostly travel) magazines... Not to mention that bag of random crap.

So, out came the white paint once more! (First coat always looks like a preschooler had a go at it, right?)

first coat.jpg

Et voila!

Not the most elegant solution, but an inexpensive one that works! Just a little white paint, some more purposeful stacking, a small rug that came out of hiding, and a throw pillow. 

Now I think it's time to do some reading and writing in one of these two cozified nooks...

PS Vago Chairs For Daaaaaaaaays

As I've confessed before, I am a BIG fan of Ikea's special designs. Their outdoor stuff in particular. So, as our locally purchased wooden Adirondack chairs broke one by one over the past year and half, I basically spent that time figuring out how to justify the steep delivery fee Ikea would add to my dream chair purchase, the PS Vago chair I have in Room Seven:

But in grey. A) Because I didn't really want them looking like strange and notable white sculptures throughout the very green property and B) I have no interest in having to wipe these down regularly. I've got enough property maintenance work on my plate.

So how'd the math look? Well, when you buy TWENTY of them, the cost really evens out chair by chair. And holy moly was it worth not having to step foot into an actual Ikea! 

Et voila! Under the apple tree!

In the meadow!

At the Bar!

By the creek!

By the horseshoes!

By the hammock!

People with an ability to count on both hands twice will notice that those pictured still don't add up to twenty. That's because we stole four for our own garden. Couldn't resist. 

And yesterday afternoon, after setting them all out, planting some new trees, and replanting some others (pics of all that to come), we tested them out under the apple tree with some beers. They worked real good. 

This + That: Mon, May 2

Monday, May 2nd.

1. Reading A Dirty Life. So glad I only deal with 18 strangers' needs any given day, not a couple hundred acres of farm plus dozens of chickens and horses and cows. PS Good book.  / 2. Rainy spring. Aforementioned book is making me feel like it's a "blessing". You know, nature and all / 3. Laundry money. Aka money that appears at the bottom of our clean laundry pile sometimes. / 4. ERRANDS. / 5. To so many places that when driving the Subaru you can literally feel how heavy it is when you turn or stop. / 6. We've taken this road in Kingston several times and never before has it looked so San Francisco or "establishing shot". / 7. Coming home down "The Notch". People used to drive wagons down this to get to our valley. (?!) / 8. When the post-lady delivers you handmade spoons from Japan from a lovely friend (shout out Victoria! thank you!) and you look at your snack and are like, "I'm gonna make this work." / 9. Finished A Dirty Life. Cried, because I love a good cry when reading, then snuggled the dog. / 10. Birthday party at the Peekamoose, (Happy Birthday Erik!) / 11. Gotta keep a look out for the coyotes there. / 12. And the fire breathing cakes. 

I Love Lamp: Sheer Curtains

I've been looking to add a little softness and some more privacy to our bedroom windows.

For the big windows, last year I made us the same drop cloth drape that we have at the Inn

It works great, but obviously you can't see in/out at all when it's up and I wanted something between the "all or nothing" for dusk, or if I'm lounging around on my day off and reading in bed but still want good light and a hint of trees.

So I got some small, $10 tension rods off Amazon and "tailored" (aka snip snipped) two long curtains into four small ones. Two for the large windows:

And one for the small (plus one in my studio, pictured):

 It's cozy and soft and extra alluring right now because it's been warm out and we have the WINDOWS OPEN and there are birds chirping and everything! Oh, spring. Without fifteen different blizzards this winter it feels like we hardly deserve you yet but I love, love, LOVE that you're here.

I'm also realizing I never posted a photo of the small Moroccan carpets I got from Baba Souk this fall that are on each side of the bed. Here's one of 'em:

I'm currently mad at myself about this one because I stepped out of bed onto it with my feet covered in Vermont Bag Balm and there's now a perfect imprint of my foot right in the freaking middle. Not pictured because this is an older photograph and I'm too pissed to find it funny yet. Any tips for removing it? The carpets are of course silk. Sigh.

Anyways. That cozy bedroom is now calling for maybe just a quick afternoon nap...

Dreaming About Vietnam

I've been pushing Vietnam as our next trip preeeeetty much since Steven and I first went there nine years ago after our stint teaching English in China.

And now our buddies Sara and Soheil, the oh so wonderful pair behind Brushland Eating House, are over there and it's making me jealous to say the least!

So during a quiet moment in coffee service at the Inn this morning, I pulled up some old photos from our time in Hanoi and Halong Bay.

Yup. Still reeeeeeeally wanna go back.

This + That: Wed, February 24

Wednesday, February 24.

1. Waldo snuggles. / 2. Steven was extra amused by his morning ensemble and wanted it documented. / 3. It snowed yesterday then rained all night. Winter, what's up?  / 4. Mail came. Wrapped in the usual rubber band which for whatever reason drives me nuts. The reason most likely being that said rubber bands somehow end up all over the house. / 5. Trying to be strict about not checking my work email on my "weekends", so morning time was spent reading a book instead. Finally getting around to this one! / 6. "I should sweep" somehow became "I should tear apart the entire living room and hand clean every inch of floor with vinegar and olive oil while listening to The Weekend". / 7. "And I should definitely remove the contents of the living room cabinets while I'm at it." / 8. So. Much. Rain. / 9. Got another Snake Plant at the grocery store yesterday. Repotted it immediately knowing otherwise it would live in its sad plastic one til, oh, 2026. / 10. I'm not sure Waldo fully appreciated all the floor buffing, but he definitely enjoyed the benefits of pillow and furniture fluffing. / 11. Up to Steven's studio to talk about his latest manuscript. / 12. Drove to a nearby bar to meet friends. Passed the most adorable baby lambs that yes, in this photo are just little white blurs but TRUST ME. So freaking cute. / 13. The bar. Catskill Brewery Devil's Path IPAs on tap. / 14. Made cumin lamb chops for dinner and gave Waldo some leftovers. This dog never finishes his bowl but he came thiiiiiiiis close tonight. He left just one dry food pebble. You know, just in case he gets hungry later.

I Love Lamp: Spruceton Inn, haha!

Guys, can I pat myself on the back for a moment and say that I love the rooms at the Inn? Is that ok? Because I do! I really, reeeeeeeally do! And every time I see them through other people's eyes I get so excited!

Recently the dudes of Guys on the Fly stayed with us and they sent me so many yummy photos. Check out a few below.

Now, come stay with us and see for yourself! 

Gringo Trails

Last night, Steven and I watched the documentary Gringo Trails.

It's about how backpacker culture affects local culture and biodiversity... often for the worse, especially if it goes unchecked.

This is SO up Steven's and my alley. We spent the better chunk of our twenties with backpacks and the simple goal of seeing more of the world together. And we were frankly so embarrassed of our backpacks and what we felt they symbolized to the rest of the world, that these are literally the only two photos I can find of us with them:

In Dogon Country in Mali (hence the crazy wax print patterns), and at the train station in Rabat, Morocco.

In Dogon Country in Mali (hence the crazy wax print patterns), and at the train station in Rabat, Morocco.

(I'm wondering, in retrospect, if we should have simply opted for better looking side bags, but you really can't beat the functionality of a big ass backpack with a hip strap when you're lugging it around for months on end.)

We had a wild, wonderful, life-changing time. And we struggled constantly with the question of what exactly our role in the world was as travelers. Silent observers? Guests? Ambassadors of the States? Ambassadors of liberal culture?

And we struggled with the continual chase of finding "authentic" and "off the beaten path" places. (Btw, I'm resisting saying "undiscovered" because I think that word is frankly, disgustingly neocolonialist in this situation. Oh really, you discovered that place where thousands of people have been living for thousands of years? Cool, Columbus.)

How did we choose our paths, both well-beaten and less-taken? Well, this being pre-Bring-Your-Internet-Everywhere-With-You-In-Your-Smart-Phone, we had tumultuous affairs with guidebooks. Yes kids, ACTUAL BOOKS you had to lug around and hope you didn't lose. They became borderline sacred, to the point that I've kept most of them all these years later.

Tumultuous is really the key word here, because we both loved and loathed these tomes. They gave us deeply practical and necessary tips on things like border crossings and transportation hubs. And they gave us highly subjective reviews of just about everything else. We were partial to Lonely Planet books in particular. Their budget and tone suited our age. But we started actually avoiding hotels that had Lonely Planet stickers in their windows, and bemoaning the inescapable fact that if we had found it in the guidebook, hundreds if not thousands of other people had too

So aside from actively seeking out advice from other sources (shop owners! bar tenders! fellow train passengers!) we became experts on the guidebook authors' language. "Hippie" meant banana pancakes for breakfast and lots of weed, "family-friendly" meant expensive but clean, and "big backpacker hub" meant STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS. Because that would mean the difference between this:


Getty Image via Mirror UK, and "Gringo Trails" by Pegi Vail.

Getty Image via Mirror UK, and "Gringo Trails" by Pegi Vail.

No joke. These are both on the same island in Thailand: Kho Phangan. The top photo is Steven floating at the oh so peaceful beach of Haad Salad which is only a half an hour moped ride from Haad Rin, home of the Full Moon Parties, aka the drug and booze fueled shit show that is in the photo just above. 

That was the best part of the "Gringo Trails" documentary, if only because the narrative is so straight forward and heart breaking: Pristine beach with local residents is "discovered" by one backpacker looking to get off the usual backpacker trail. Said backpacker tells other backpackers. Just a handful of years later it's a 50,000 person shit show. 

I'm sorry, I keep using the term "shit show" but come on, is it not? I think an alternative title for the documentary could have been:

Twenty-Somethings Just Want To Get Drunk And Have Sex With Each Other Somewhere That Is Not Their Hometown and Ruin It For Everyone Else, Animals Included

(Who was Patient Zero by the way? Costas Christ, an editor at large for National Geographic who has since won awards for his coverage/promotion of sustainable tourism. Kind of ironic, no? The film doesn't get into any guilt he may or may not have felt, but I'm hoping that's only because it was left on the cutting room floor.)

I also enjoyed the interviews with Lonely Planet guidebook writer Anja Mutic. She was especially succinct yet eloquent about the responsibility she feels as a guidebook writer knowing full well that any place she chooses to include in the book will experience an influx of visitors and she can only hope that the local community is adequately prepared for it.

Steven at an elephant rehab sanctuary in Thailand back in 2007. 

Steven at an elephant rehab sanctuary in Thailand back in 2007. 

So what does it mean for a community to be "prepared"? Well, my other alternative title for this movie would be:

Thailand Fucked Up, Bhutan Has The Right Idea

To be fair, Haad Rin got caught by surprise. So places like Bhutan are learning from it and keeping their tourism development highly regulated with a focus on sustainability. And not just environmental sustainability in the sense of recycling all those booze bottles, but the sustainability of the local culture.

Because of course the horrible irony of tourism is that people are flocking to see something that makes that place unique, and simply their presence changes everything. And quite quickly, if development goes unchecked, there's a bajllion shitty restaurants serving those damn banana pancakes and tours giving you the CliffNotes performance version of their "authentic" culture. Yes, there's some quick money to made in it, but then what? You get these xeroxes of xeroxes of culture til it's just a blurry mess. 

Of course this is something I think about in terms of my own hotel.

photo by Ben of #guysonthefly

photo by Ben of #guysonthefly

When we were looking for locations, I hoped to find a place that already had a history of hospitality. Not only would it obviously be a more straight forward renovation, but I reeeeeeally didn't want to swoop into a town and significantly alter its landscape. Especially without having already lived there for a while. So when I found out that at its peek The Schwarzenegger Sunshine Valley House had literally hundreds of guests I was psyched!

Our guests now (all 20 of them max since there is only one remaining hotel structure on the property) are often curious about if we have plans to expand. Add more rooms, become a big time wedding venue. And while of course we're always looking to grow as a business, I feel really strongly about growing responsibly, which to me means slowly and consciously, keeping in mind everything from traffic on Spruceton Road to Steven's and my life/work balance to the wildlife in our backyard. 

photo by Fran of #guysonthefly

photo by Fran of #guysonthefly

Whelp. That got a liiiiittle preachy, but as you can see it's something I feel strongly about! And I have no doubt that I feel so strongly about it, in part, because of everything I saw on and off the "gringo trails". 

So go forth and travel! It will blow your mind. It will change you forever. Just be the guest you'd want to have in your hometown.

Other People's Tattoos

I literally gasped aloud when I read this article on Scott Campbell's art show where he gave tattoos to people WHO HAD NO SAY IN WHAT THEY GOT. 

Yup, he was on one side of a wall, and someone on the other side just stuck their arm through a hole and hoped they liked what they saw when it came out an hour later.

Rebecca Smeyne for the NY Times

Rebecca Smeyne for the NY Times


Now don't get me wrong. My "?!" sentiments are not anti-tattoo judgement. It's more astonishment, awe. In fact, I think this is a really fascinating idea. As Campbell says in the article:

I love tattooing, but it's always a collaboration. When I work in my studio, it's just me. I get to follow whatever whims and curiosities pop up. With tattooing I have to get permission to be exploratory. So it's always been this romantic idea: if I could ever tattoo with the same freedom that I draw or paint.

Rebecca Smeyne for the NY Times

Rebecca Smeyne for the NY Times

Since Steven writes and illustrates books, we wind up talking about this idea a lot. The nature of collaboration and editing, of producing art that is also a product. At what point do you get to say, "Well I don't care what the consumer might want or think they want, I AM THE ARTIST." ?  I can imagine it's something a tattoo artist, especially one like Campbell who is also a "fine artist", thinks about with some frequency. Are you an artist? Simply the person behind the instrument who gives the customer exactly what they're requesting?

For a long time, I imagined that if I were to ever get a tattoo I would have the whole thing planned to a T and that the tattooist would simply execute my vision exactly with their tools. But then, when I was working at NU Hotel, I went to an art show at Brooklyn Tattoo on Smith Street and started chatting with one of the tattoo artists about their work. I asked him if he's ever turned anyone down for any reason. He said he obviously doesn't do intoxicated people, he doesn't do names of anyone but your own children, and sometimes he has to convince someone that what they've drawn looks good on paper but won't look good on a body, and that that last one is often the hardest. Because it's a three-dimensional thing, you know? Especially stuff like arm pieces that curve around. I can't quote him verbatim because it's been a handful of years but he basically said, "Listen, I've given A LOT of freaking tattoos. Shouldn't you trust me when I say, this isn't going to look good?" 

It really stuck with me. To the point that when I read that piece back in June on Jezebel where a woman was refused a neck tattoo I realized, "Hmmm, I see the tattooist's perspective here more than I would have had I never spoken to that guy." Reading the response of the actual tattoo artist who refused to do the tattoo was even more enlightening, but aaaaaaanyway, how'd I get three paragraphs deep into other people's tattoos when I don't even have any myself?

BECAUSE I'M FASCINATED BY OTHER PEOPLE'S TATTOOS. I am that horribly annoying person who's all, "Tell me about your tattoo! Oh, it goes up your shirt. Well lift up your shirt, I don't care, I wanna see the whole thing come on!" 

But guess what my reoccurring nightmare is? Like my literal nightmare?

That I've gotten a tattoo.

More particularly, that I run into a friend who then points at me and say, "Whoa, you got a tattoo! What's it say?" And then I look at it and it's an Arabic poem on the inside of my forearm and I'm trying to read it aloud for them while simultaneously desperately trying to remember when or why I got it and they're looking at me like I'm super insane because I'm looking at my tattoo like I've never seen it before and... you get the picture.

So perhaps this all explains my obsession with temporary tattoos. Tattly tattoos in particular, because they are extra hilarious and well made.

I'm especially a fan of "chest pieces", probably because, aside from my face, it might be THE LAST place I'd get a real tattoo, but also one of my favorite places for other people's tattoos. 

Anyway. If anyone is going to get a tattoo and needs a pal to sit there and watch I AM SO GAME. Call me.

Btw, this is what the guy in that first photo wound up with:

This + That: Wed, January 20

Wednesday, January 20.

7 gingerale.jpg

1. Lazed about in bed with coffee, talking about Hillary vs. Bernie's campaigns. / 2. I don't dislike doing laundry. I dislike folding laundry. This was laying in a pile on our bedroom floor for a week. Still "clean", right? / 3. Went to the post office down the road. Open 8am-12pm only, super small-town-y and casual. Paul the Postmaster always make fun of me rushing around in there but I think I have NYC Post Office PTSD where I get all nervous that an enormous line is going to form behind me and everyone in it will want to kill me for not having everything properly packaged and addressed before arriving. / 4. Passed Smokey the horse on the way home. Had to stop and say hi. / 5. Got this book in the mail. Knew I'd have to read it all in one day, so I did. *Tears everywhere* / 6. Took a break to go walking in the woods with Steven (and Waldo). / 7. It was fun to go bush-wacking off-trail through the snow. / 8. Afternoon snack. Btw, I think Not Your Father's Rootbeer is better than the Gingerale. / 9. Made a butternut squash, mushroom, kale soup for dinner. / 10. Dog walks in the moonlight. / 11. Watched "Spotlight". Just lots of eeeeeeasy, lighthearted media consumed today...! Wishing we had another episode left of "Last Man On Earth" to lighten things up!

I Love Lamp: Ikea Hacking My Way To A Dream Closet

First off I will begin with the confession that yes, I am mildly embarrassed that I have an entire room devoted to my closet. But I'm also SUPER EXCITED that I have an entire room devoted to my closet so that's that.

Once upon a time it had a loft for a twin bed that we demo'd

I then painted the room white--

--and basically procrastinated finishing it because it was... the wrong white. Which I'd just gone through with the bathroom so I was over it. 

In addition to not being too pleased with the twinge of blue in the white, I was also having trouble settling on a good lay out. I thought I'd wanted to have these pipe racks for all my dresses and exposed shelves for all my shoes, so I laid things out where they'd be... and lived like that for, oh, NINE MONTHS. This is the only photo evidence because I was so embarrassed:

Not pictured are the piles of shirts, pants, and sweaters to the right. Yes, actual piles. Very nicely folded, but piles on the floor nonetheless.

To be fair, I had a VERY BUSY summer and fall at the Inn. And it's hard to spend any time off putzing around in a closet when it could be spent swimming in the river or BBQing in the garden etc etc. 

But when we came back from Mexico I was like, "Enough of this shit." I ponied up and re-painted the room with the leftover (good) paint from the bathroom and while it was tedious it only took a few hours and it was much, MUCH better. More importantly though, I had the epiphany that I didn't want to look at all my clothes. That the whole exposed closet thing didn't feel boutiquey and cool. It felt loud and cluttered. I really like my clothes, but they look pretty bad all together. Fuzzy plaids with silky florals and such.

So I thought about getting a big armoire, or building shelves within the small closet. But I just couldn't picture what kind of armoire I'd want, or exactly how the shelves would work. So I thought about the other parts of the house that I like the best and what we've done there, like my home office:

Ikea hack with some barn wood! Of course! Duh. A thousand times duh. 

Luckily we had two white Ikea shelves from our studio back in Brooklyn collecting dust in the structure where we keep firewood because we were never quiiiite inspired enough to bring them to the dump. Lazy wins the day! So we brought them up and I cleaned them out thoroughly. 

And rather than trying to get a rod to stay in the shitty not-even-dry-wall situation within the small closet, we simply put one of the free standing Ikea racks we already had in it (which yes, required some mild disassembling):

Steven then braved the cold and went to the barn to make me some barn wood doors for the shelves.

Which we then attached with some pretty basic hinges et voila!

Between the two shelves I managed to store all my pants, shirts, sweaters, scarves, and summer shoes. (Did I mention Steven and I Marie Kondo'd our clothes over the summer? GAME CHANGER. Mother effing game changer guys. Get rid of everything that doesn't give you a little jolt of joy. Just do it!) I also bought some baskets I'd been coveting for a while now from Connected Goods to hold my socks and underwear. I put my jewelry in a few small containers I already owned and hung some necklaces on my lamp for easy untangled access. (Because oh my god how rage inducing is a tangled necklace, amiright?!)

By the window, over the radiator, we hung a simple shelf of one piece of barnwood and two L brackets to be my "vanity".

The bright natural light is amazing and terrifying. It keeps me rather religious about my skincare. 

My favorite part though, is my "boutique" table which was Steven's idea. We were standing in the room, trying to figure out the best flow and I said there was something missing. He was like, "What if you kept your boutique idea and had a little table with fancy lady things that you like on it?"

Yes, I'm pretty sure he said "fancy lady things". Or something just as frilly but either way he was totally right! It makes me feel like my closet is a fancy store, but everything I pick up I already own. Very gentle on the wallet you see.

As soon as he mentioned the table this was the exact shape/material I imagined-- white, shiny, circular, strong but delicate. And lucky for me, West Elm had this in stock and on sale!

I have yet to hang a curtain over the small closet door, but I'm thinking I'm going to use the material from this nice hammock we bought in Colombia a handful of years ago that proved to be more pretty than functional. I'll post a pic once that's up. 

So there it is! Unsurprisingly, having a nice closet has re-inspired me to dress with more care. To wear that chifon skirt even though it's twenty degrees (yes, with leggings under it), or put on a bright pop of lipstick and a bold bracelet if I'm layering myself in grey cashmeres. It can be easy to get in a jeans/sweater/winter boots rut out here. Here's to keeping that up! 

Vintage Menu Love

The New York Public Library just released more public domain images and oh my gosh it's such a wonderful time suck. You can search by color, date, collection... 

I just spent the morning looking at their collection of menus. Yup, menus. 

El Diablo Y La Sandia: The Coolest Place To Stay In Oaxaca City

There's nothing like staying at someone else's hotel when you spend all the rest of your time running one.

The potential downside is of course that you have become VERY PICKY and way, waaaay too cognizant of every detail that goes into the creation and operation of a place, but the upside is that you enjoy the good service and design you come across even more.

Having done a little Trip Advisor research that was then confirmed by some word of mouth praise, Steven and I decided to have our home base in Oaxaca City be the Boca Del Monte location of El Diablo Y La Sandia.

"The Devil and Watermelon". ADORABLE. Not to mention, those illustrations. ALSO ADORABLE.

The neighborhood was beautiful, laid back yet lively, very walkable.

And the B&B was such a lovely sanctuary, such a great place to put up our tired feet after miles upon miles of walking.

I really didn't photograph it enough. This is just one view of the multiple terraces, and I never snapped a pic of the communal kitchen/hang out spot which trust me, is usually something that makes me cringe but was done quite nicely in smooth cement and local pottery etc.

We spent the first few nights in the Arbol room. Two beds and a communal bath, but it was all that was available so we took it. It turned out to be super cute and comfy. We treated the twin bed like it was a couch.

Then we moved across the courtyard to the Palma which was suuuuper delightful.

I suppose my enthusiasm is unsurprising given my obsession with whitewash, local textiles, concrete, and indoor plants. But where I think this B&B succeeds is not just in its fabulous décor, but in its attention to detail as related to service. The sombreros in each room that you can use while reading on the terrace, the well designed paper map of favorite spots in the area that you can tuck in your pocket for your daily adventures, your cup of coffee that is never empty no matter how much you drink of it thanks to the thoughtful breakfast service. 

Maria is the owner's name. And needless to say we shared some wonderful talks about what it's like to be at the helm of an operation like this. She is doing a kick ass job and I wish her nothing but the best! If you're looking for a place to stay in Oaxaca, look no further. Trust me! 

Side story I have to mention:

One morning, Steven stumbled out of the room to grab some coffee and he saw a woman at the B&B entrance with her bags. He couldn't help himself and went into autopilot, being so used to helping out guests at our Inn. "Are you checking in?" he asked. He didn't quite understand her answer. "I don't work here," he clarified. "I'm just a guest, but come in, I'm sure someone at breakfast can help you."

Of course it turns out that was Maria. 

She'd been out of town for our first two nights, and we didn't know what she looked like. When we all figured it out later it was hilarious. She said she was just so confused, fresh off her long flight. That she'd wanted to tell him, "I know you don't work here because I didn't hire you." Anyway. You can take the innkeepers away from their Inn but you can't keep the hospitality service at bay.

A Few Things Learned On The Road Again in Mexico

1. I like the taste of grasshoppers.

They're a Oaxacan speciality called chipulines and they're roasted in chili and garlic and you put 'em on top of guacamole and they're DELICIOUS.

2. If we ever get another dog, it's gonna be from Mexico.

Because every single dog we came across, from the beaches of Oaxaca to the middle of Mexico City, were sooooooooo chill. And amazing off leash. And never fought with each other. It was adorable (and it made me miss Waldo so bad I quite literally shed a tear when we reunited). 

3. We might be too old for hostels.

Or maybe it's the fact that since we last stayed in a hostel we've opened our own, verrrrrrry quiet hotel and so we've gotten soft. Either way, I don't feel the need to ever share bathroom with a pack of twenty year old Australians again. Or to attend any kind of communal "movie night" in a lobby.

I'm making a bit of a joke about it here, but this was actually a very serious moment for me and Steven. Here we were, having traveled all over the world together, having stayed in a huge variety of bizarre and downright questionable places, having written a goddamn book about this kind of stuff, wondering if we were suddenly too old for this shit. Or, gasp, not adventurous enough anymore..?! There was some serious soul searching done on the beach on both our parts and we ultimately concluded... that the answer is of course a combination of many things but yes we are little too old for this shit, and yes we are spoiled by our own Inn, and no that does not mean that we don't have a sense of adventure.


4. Steven will find a way to fish anywhere we go now.

'Nuff said.

Also-- traveling right before high season begins is a great way to get what feels like exclusive access to stuff that's usually super crowded. Like sunrise boat rides where you swim with dolphins. (And fish too of course.)

5. Sometimes flying within the country is totally worth it even if it's on a 13 seater prop plane and the flight itself is SUPER SCARY.

But also kind of exciting. I mean, we could literally tap the pilot on the shoulder to ask him a question. Like: "If you have an allergic reaction to whatever you just had for lunch and black out, how do I land this thing?" All in all it was totally worth paying the fifty more dollars each to take a thirty minute flight vs. the ten hour puke-inducing bus ride through the mountains. (Also filed under, "Suddenly Too Old For This Shit".)

6. We heart bartenders around the world. 

Ok, so maybe that's in no way a new realization, but it was reaffirmed this trip for sure.

That's Gregory on the left and Asis in the middle. We met Asis at a mescal bar in Oaxaca City and he offered to take us to his family's 125 year old distillery outside of town that weekend. BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE A SENSE OF ADVENTURE WE SAID YES. (Ahem.) And oh my gosh was it fun! We actually wound up going all over the countryside, to three different distilleries and this little waterfall/cave, all the while sipping on mescal after mescal after mescal, asking questions and making terrible jokes in terrible Spanish. 

And you know what? Despite all the mescal consumed, I'm probably going to remember that day for a long, long time. There's simply nothing like cruising around with a local for a day, no matter what you get up to.

 6. WiFi (nearly) everywhere makes travel better and worse.

Oaxaca City.jpg

Better because a) I could easily stay in touch with my Assistant Innkeeper about anything business related b) there was a world of recommendations about what to do and where to eat/stay at our fingertips at any given moment.

Worse because a) I could easily stay in touch with my Assistant Innkeeper about anything business related b) there was a world of recommendations about what to do and where to eat/stay at our fingertips at any given moment.

Yes, those are the same reasons.  Although if I'm gonna be totally fair the "Better" list should also include c) we could easily book flights and rooms on our own without having to mess around with getting local phone credit and/or getting our point across in another language. 

But point b especially was hard. Part of traveling is simply wandering and being present somewhere new. And when you have the Internet to tell you about the bajllions of really cool things you could potentially be missing out on doing at this new place, it gets overwhelming. And suddenly just strolling from plaza to plaza doesn't seem like enough. Even though IT IS TOTALLY ENOUGH. 

It's not even been three years since our last big trip, but this was a huuuuuuuge change. And I'm clearly feeling torn about it.

7. It's so much fun to read a book by a local author.

Local voices, local perspective, stories that take place on the streets you're walking. It's even more fun when it's part of a super cool art/literary project! Our pal John at Community Bookstore recommended we pick up "The Story of My Teeth" by Valeri Luiselli and it was so. freaking. good! She was commissioned by the arts foundation associated with the Jumex Juice factory to write a serialized novel that would be read aloud to the factory workers in the tradition of cigar factory readers in Cuba back in the day who would read stuff like Dickens aloud to everyone as they rolled the cigars. All while trying to create a bridge of sorts between the Jumex Juice factory and their museums. I don't want to say anything about the story itself because it was such a strange pleasure of a tale to dive into blind. But basically, hurry up and go read it. And make sure you ask John for a rec next time you're going on a trip. 

8. Private infinity pools make for great Author Photos. 


This is Hotel Escondido. Aka, one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at in the entire world. More to come on our many different accommodations in my next post!