From Woonsocket, RI to Nairobi

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10:30am After staying a couple of nights with my parents, we left from Woonsocket, Rhode Island for the JFK airport in New York.

2:00pm We were pleasantly surprised with light traffic the whole way to the airport. We checked in early for our flight which was a good thing because it took us about an hour to get completely checked in. One of our bags was overweight, and one of our carry-ons had too much in it. The check-in agent worked with us to redistribute weight into some of our other bags.

3:30pm Our last meal in the US. Jeff got McDonalds. There isn’t one in Nairobi. I had a personal-sized pizza.

5:45pm Boarding the plane for our first flight to London, England.

6:30pm Our flight leaves JFK

8:15pm Each seat on the plane has a personal video screen. In addition to a selection of movies and television, we can view a map of our progress. We’ve now flown out of view of the US.

1:00am (EDT)/6:00am (London Time) We enter Heathrow Airport in London, England. We’d read about a hotel in one of the terminals for which you could stay in during a layover, so we thought we’d see if we could check in for a couple of hours to get cleaned up. We’d arrived at terminal 5 and the hotel was in terminal 4. It didn’t seem like it would be far, however, to get to terminal 4 we had to ride a bus. Twenty minutes later…we arrived at terminal 4, only to find out that we’d have to exit the terminal to go to the hotel. We decided to head back to terminal 5 where our next flight would be leaving.

2:30am (EDT)/7:30am (London Time) We finally make it into the waiting lounge in terminal 5 after waiting in several lines and going through another security check. The terminal is like a shopping mall. We eventually made it past the stores to the seats.

3:00am (EDT)/8:00am (London Time) We’ve cleaned up a bit. I can’t find any free internet.

3:45am (EDT)/8:45am (London Time) I finally decide to pay for an hour of internet.

4:00am (EDT)/9:00am (London Time) Our departure gate is announced. We head down to the gate. I’ve only had a few minutes to post some stuff on-line.

4:15am/9:15am (London Time) The bus arrives to take us to our next plane.

5:30am (EDT)/10:30am (London Time) We depart for Kenya

12:00pm (EDT)/8:00pm (Nairobi Time) The map shows us flying over the Nile River.

12:30pm (EDT)/8:30pm (Nairobi Time) We cross over the equator. We’re now in the southern hemisphere

1:30pm (EDT)/9:30pm (Nairobi Time) We land in Nairobi.

1:45pm (EDT)/9:45pm (Nairobi Time) We go through immigration, and head downstairs to baggage claim and customs.

2:00pm (EDT)/10:00pm (Nairobi Time) We have all of our bags on three carts. Everything came through without damage.

2:05pm (EDT)/10:05pm (Nairobi Time) We are waved through customs without any baggage search. We see a sign for the “Puebels” and meet our driver. He tells us that we made it through immigration and customs much faster than he expected.

2:15pm (EDT)/10:15pm (Nairobi Time) Several people in the parking lot decide to “help” us with our baggage.

2:30pm (EDT)/10:30pm (Nairobi Time) We leave the airport. The road we’re on initially passes next to the Nairobi Game Park. We see a few Zebras on the other side of the fence.

3:00pm (EDT)/11:00pm (Nairobi Time) We arrive at the guest house where we will be staying for about a week.

3:30pm (EDT)/11:30pm (Nairobi Time) We clean up, and get into bed. We pray together thanking God for getting us and our belongings to Nairobi.

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Finding good Mexican food in the northeast

Because he grew up in Los Angeles, Jeff’s experienced a host of good Mexican food. I grew up having an about once-a-year taco dinner, eating chips and salsa, going once or twice to Casa Lupita (Mexican restaurant that used to be in Warwick, RI) and then Taco Bell came to Woonsocket when I was in high school. Those were all good, but I hadn’t yet really experienced great Mexican food.

I went to Mexico in November of 2000 and searched in vain for some of the Mexican favorites I knew. I didn’t find them, but I did find a lot of great foods that I really loved. So, when I met Jeff, I was ready to experience the Mexican food he liked.

Shortly after we were married, he started making me tacos (not like I’d ever had), enchiladas, burritos… I’ve never been the same.

We’ve spent part of this year traveling in the northeast, and we’ve been searching whenever it was possible for some good Mexican food. Not Taco Bell…not Don Pablo’sreal Mexican food. We’ve been looking from Philadelphia to Boston. Finding good and truly authentic Mexican food has been a challenge. There are more Mexican eating establishments here than when I was I younger. Some of them even say “authentic” on their sign, but we’d define many of them as tex-mex restaurants in disguise (trust me, there is a difference). However, we have found a few gems. Our test food is carne asada/bistek (steak) tacos.

How do we distinguish an authentic taco from a tex-mex one? We look for soft-corn tortillas, meat (chopped steak, shredded and seasoned beef/chicken/pork and other meat like lengua), onions, cilantro and occasionally fresh jalapeno, tomatoes and/or guacamole on top. Hard shells, flour tortillas, cheese, lettuce or hamburger usually signal to us that the tacos aren’t the real thing.

All of these places offer great steak tacos for between about a dollar or two.

PHILADELPHIA


La Lupe’s
1201 S 9th St
Philadelphia 19147
215-551-9920

The sign on the front of their building reads, “The very best Mexican in Philly”. We think they’re right. What did it for us? Homemade corn tortillas. They have a full menu (sit-in or take-out), including a nice selection of Mexican sodas. This restaurant is located close to Gino’s (a famous cheese steak eatery).

NEW YORK CITY


Tacos El Paisanito
202 W Fordham Rd
Bronx, NY 10468-5509
(718)329-0278

I stopped by here during a visit with Aileen, Kate & Susan. I don’t think many tourists stop here. They seemed pretty excited about our stop. Excellent tacos, great sauce. I would stop here again.

Taco Mix
Frnt 1, 234 E 116th St
New York, NY 10029
(212) 831-8147

Located in Spanish Harlem, their tacos were made in the authentic style (soft corn tortilla, meat, onion and cilantro). Their meat was seasoned slightly different than we’re used to, but it was still very good.

PROVIDENCE

La Lupita
1950 Westminster St
Providence, RI 02909
(401) 331-2444

You’ll find this place in the Olneyville section of Providence. They have excellent tacos, and they sell Sangria soda. This non-alcoholic drink is my favorite Mexican soda.

GREATER BOSTON

Tacos Lupita
13 Elm Str
Somerville, MA 02143
617-666-0677

They serve both Mexican and Salvadorian dishes. Great tacos. We’d first tried another place up the street just over the Cambridge line because we’d read so many great reviews on it. This Chipotle-like restaurant had nice decor but only OK Mexican food. They substituted roast beef for steak (but still called it steak), and had skimpy-sized burritos. The real Chipotle is much better. Thankfully, we found Tacos Lupita, and our trip wasn’t wasted. The decor was not as nice as that other restaurant, but the food was far better.

Have you found any great Mexican food establishments in the northeast?

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Fall WA Banquet Tour Complete

We finished our last WA banquet tonight in Baldwin, NY. We’ve toured during these last three banquets with Sherm & Bernie Guyer (speakers) and Bill Richardson, banquet emcee and WA Northeast Area Director.

We decided to leave after the banquet in order to avoid New York City traffic. It got us back late, but the traffic was light the whole way. It’s been a very full month, and we have one more church service left to go this month.

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Remembering

In January I visited St. Paul’s Chapel, a historical church located across the street from the site of the World Trade Center. Built in 1766, this was George Washington’s church for the two years that New York City served as the US capital. It had been on the edge of town, but now it’s surrounded by towering buildings. It stood in the shadow of the twin towers, and miraculously, as those buildings fell, the church was protected by a tree. Countless volunteers slept and ate in that sanctuary of hope during the initial clean up.

A memorial bell sits in the graveyard–a gift from the city of London. It reads, To the Greater Glory of God and in Recognition of the Enduring Links between the City of London and the City of New York. Forged in Adversity–11 September 2001.

I walked around the graveyard and took a picture of a grave stone with ground zero in the background. What was interesting was when I looked at the picture on my computer after I got home, I saw that this grave stone was for someone that died on September 11… but, in 1796.

If you plan to visit New York, this is a site worth seeing. It was a reminder to me that even in our darkest times, there is still hope in the presence of the Lord.

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For I Was Hungry…

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” –Matthew 25:35-36, NIV


I spent some time in New York this past weekend with two friends from college (Amanda Wachsmuth and Bonnie Stevens). We had a great time and reconnected. Amanda has been living in the city for the last four years. Bonnie flew in from Kansas City, and it was just a short train ride for me.

Beside taking in some sights and just visiting together, on Saturday we went along with the financial services fellowship group from Amanda’s church to the Father’s Heart Ministry in the lower east side of Manhattan. We participated together in their Saturday morning breakfast which is part of their hunger prevention program. Bonnie helped with providing water to people waiting in line, and Amanda and I helped with food preparation inside (I was the “bread lady” on our assembly line and Amanda did fruit cups). Together with the whole group of volunteers and staff, we fed and provided groceries to more than 500 people. What a neat experience.

There’s something so neat and so satisfying about helping people this way. It reminds me of Jesus’s words in Matt 25, verse 35 and following; He says that by helping these, we show our love and devotion to Him. In Orlando, Jeff and I participated a couple of times in Good News Ministries, which is similar, but with a few less people, air conditioning (because everything in Orlando has a/c) and very early in the morning (6am). We enjoyed it, and I think God touched us just as much as the people who came to eat.

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