What's your personal Bourdain like moment?

CuseFaninVT

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#1
Just curious if anyone has traveled and ended up going outside their comfort zones and how it turned out.

I'll start.

I worked consulting for a military contractor doing some Air Force work one time on the island of Terciera, one of the Azores that is part of Portugal. It was my first international gig, so I had some trepidation I guess, but mostly, I was pretty excited about it. We were doing a solid waste assessment (literally picking up garbage bags from around the base and sorting and weighing the contents - glamorous stuff). Luckily, I was traveling with guys who weren't afraid to head off post for dinner. It's a fairly small island with many small towns. I was there a week and a half, so we had the weekend free, and me and one other guy enjoyed ourselves including hitting a festival which included some fantastic street food and a 'bullfight' which was really just 8 really big dudes on the ends of rope around a bulls neck making sure the bull didn't actually kill someone.

The one night I'm thinking of though was spent in a small restaurant in one of the towns away from the main town near the base. We got in the car and drove, and just liked the looks of the place because it had a great view. Three of us went in, not knowing a single word of Portugese. Turns out the staff there (waiter, chef, and helper I believe) didn't know much English either. So we just waved our arms indicating he should bring us whatever he thought appropriate. And pointed to a wine that looked good. Three bottles later we finished one of the best meals I've ever had. And I'm fairly sure I spent somewhere around 20 bucks that night. I can't remember each dish, but none were anything less than great. Man that was fun.

I love moments like that. Unexpected and memorable.
 

bevosu

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#2
Back in the day a friend and myself decided to take a trip from Syracuse to Monterrey, Mexico. We were looking for a source for a particular type of vegetation that was popular among us younger people..still is.

The drive from the Texas/Mexico border (Laredo) to Monterrey was mostly barren desert with a few isolated small towns and scattered cantinas. Halfway to our destination we decided to stop at a roadside restaurant and test the local cuisine.

I forget what I ordered, but it turned out to be three enchilada looking things covered in various kinds of sauces, Looked great. Tasted great. Believe me it was authentic. Far enough away from the border to not be compromised by yankee influence. At the time Mexican food in most of the US was packaged processed grocery store offerings.

Oh yeah we found a source for the exotic plant that we were looking for. My partner wanted to make a reasonable sized purchase. I was more interested in finding a source for future reference, getting it back across the border was something I didn't think we were prepared to do.

On the return trip we reentered the states at Nuevo Laredo. Nobody checked the car. We were waved right through, My friend started ragging me about what a dummy I was for not doing business.

We got on Interstate 35 north out of Laredo and drove about 30 miles. All this time my buddy is on my case. Lo and behold a police traffic stop on an interstate. Never saw that before. They were pulling everyone over and checking cars. Gave our car an exhaustive search. Nothing. All the way back to Syracuse I reminded my friend which one of us had made the right decision.
 

chugg21

Gritty, High IQ, Scrappy, Gym Rat, Lunch Pail Guy
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#3
Rented a small guest house in the barrio part of Cozumel for new years a few years ago. Got invited to spend new years eve at dinner with the family we were renting from and then to partake in their traditional festivities. Every family puts out a plastic chair with a dummy in it with a head that is a sky lantern. Around midnight everyone lights their dummy on fire and releases the burning lantern into the sky. It was pretty bonkers to see in the sky. As we walked around the streets later on we started getting some looks that us gringos probably didn't belong and returned to our place. The fireworks going off sounded like bunker busters until about 5am.
 

cliftonparksufan

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#4
Rented a small guest house in the barrio part of Cozumel for new years a few years ago. Got invited to spend new years eve at dinner with the family we were renting from and then to partake in their traditional festivities. Every family puts out a plastic chair with a dummy in it with a head that is a sky lantern. Around midnight everyone lights their dummy on fire and releases the burning lantern into the sky. It was pretty bonkers to see in the sky. As we walked around the streets later on we started getting some looks that us gringos probably didn't belong and returned to our place. The fireworks going off sounded like bunker busters until about 5am.
We were in Cozumel two years ago and on New Years Day, we had a driver take us to a beach on the other side of the island. We got there early so we had a good spot to watch all of the activities (and we were the only gringos). These people from Cozumel set up all of these picnics but it was more like the most amazing tailgaiting that you have ever seen. They set up all of these elaborate pop ups, and there were a lot of them, and they cooked the most amazing food. It was crazy to watch them set up.
 

chugg21

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#5
We were in Cozumel two years ago and on New Years Day, we had a driver take us to a beach on the other side of the island. We got there early so we had a good spot to watch all of the activities (and we were the only gringos). These people from Cozumel set up all of these picnics but it was more like the most amazing tailgaiting that you have ever seen. They set up all of these elaborate pop ups, and there were a lot of them, and they cooked the most amazing food. It was crazy to watch them set up.
Were you there for nye too and get to see the lanterns?
 

cliftonparksufan

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#6
Were you there for nye too and get to see the lanterns?
We were but we went fishing that day. I caught a big barracuda and we took it to a restaurant and they cooked it up with rice, beans and salad for $10. But they closed early so we had to go back to where we were staying to eat it. Turned on the bowl games and my wife crashed so we didn't move.
 

chugg21

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#8
We were but we went fishing that day. I caught a big barracuda and we took it to a restaurant and they cooked it up with rice, beans and salad for $10. But they closed early so we had to go back to where we were staying to eat it. Turned on the bowl games and my wife crashed so we didn't move.
Think we might have been there at the exact same time. Looks like it was '16 into '17.
 
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#9
Oh, man. When I was backpacking Europe, I met this Australian guy in Spain. Worked out well, ‘cause he was a typical friendly, care-free Australian type.

Anyway, we were in Bilbao for my birthday, and he started talking to a local in a bar. We all talked for a couple of hours. When the local was ready to leave, we asked him if he had any suggestions for a special place to have dinner for my birthday. Told us he had the perfect spot, walked us there, and we said goodbye.

When we walked in, it was the kind of restaurant you’d see in The Godfather or something. Dark, ooooolllld wood. Smokey. Pretty empty. Nobody there spoke English, but my Spanish is “good enough.” We thought “Ff it” and went crazy. We ordered everything! We had been eating nothing but cheap traveler stuff, so thought we’d splurge. I mainly remember the giant prawns and verrrrrry rare salt covered steak. Everything was amazingly delicious and probably the single best meal I’ve ever had.

Every few years I try to Google the place, but I have no clue the name of it, so I always give up. Some day, maybe.
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#10
Two things:

First, I've never really had a Bourdain-like travel moment. The "adventures" i had when i was younger were too "bro-ish" to qualify. I like to travel in comfort, and with two young kids, can't be too adventurous. As a kid though, i did work in the backstretch of a horse racing track. There was a greasy-spoon food truck that would come through and I'd order egg-and-cheese sandwiches with a cold Bud, and would sit in the shade or on buckets with the hot walkers and grooms eating and chatting (most of who were Mexican or Central American). That was pretty neat for a kid from typical suburbia.

Second, I have no clue where to post this but there are a few tie-ins here. Next summer we are doing the "little loop" of National Parks, and i hear both Bryce and the North Rim get pretty cool at night the end of August. So i began looking into light weight, warm layers. I was reading that Bourdain always traveled with a light Pantagonia down hoddie, because he could scrunch it up and use it as a pillow if need be. I'm kinda an LL Bean person for the limited outdoors stuff i do, but i found this.


Bean Parka
It's packable, which i though is perfect for basketball games at the Dome. Always walking that fine line in the winter between freezing your ass on the walk to the game, and then not having a place to stick your coat once you sit down.
 


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