Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Most memorable travel drinks...

There wasn't just one drink, but rather four that come to mind as deliciously memorable.

Place - It wasn't necessarily the most delicious beer I'd ever drank, but certainly the most satisfying. We'd been in The Sudan for two weeks, a dry Islamic country that condemns alcohol. Most of our time had been spent battling through bureaucracy and gathering various permits to legalize our travel plans and mere presence in Sudan.
The desert sun was powerful and the heat coming through the windows of the beach buggy felt like a furnace blowing onto my face.

Up ahead, my good friend Ian had come to a stop. I caught up and, thankful for the respite, took a place under the shade of the tarpaulin which pulled out from the side of his landy.

Ian fished around in his tiny fridge and returned with two cold Ethiopian beers. Words can't describe the unexpected appearance of a cold beer in stiflingly hot desert. It felt like a reward for our tough drive through the rocky desert. It also had a bonus element of satisfaction, we were breaking the law. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the Islamic country Sudan.

Most refreshing - I'd had a long day travelling all the way from Morocco to Gibraltar. It was summer, and I was exhausted and thirsty from having walked up the steep hill to the centre of Gibraltar. Having lived in Morocco, I never thought much of the local Heinekin beer. It was average. On this day, for some unknown reason, I ordered a half-pint of Heinekin from what was advertised as the oldest pub in Gibraltar. The first sip was delicious, amazingly delicious. Ice cold and incredibly crisp and refreshing, as though all of the beer traits advertised in a commercial were exploding onto my tongue (except for the bikini models that is).
I felt the urge to order a second, but digressed. I preferred to have the memory of that one delicious, crisp and cold beer to remain fixed as the best beer I'd ever drank.

Best hot drink - I was in Kenya. It was morning and I'd camped out in a small nature reserve next to a crystal-blue lake called Bogoria. I had some premium Kenyan coffee that I'd bought from a supermarket. It was the stuff that's rumoured to be too good for export and reserved for Kenyan consumption.
Using my camping stove, I boiled up half a litre of water in a small pot.
Next, using a funnel I'd bought specifically for this purpose, a coffee filter and two spoons of coffee grounds, I carefully poured the boiling water over the grains, and drained them into my coffee cup.
It was a time consuming process. Finally, I went to sip the coffee. Again, it could have been a commercial where a coffee drinker shows the delicious satisfaction of sipping a robust brew. That's how I felt, surprised by the rich flavour bouncing around the back of my tongue and lingering deliciously with the breaths that followed.

Most delicious non-alcoholic.

I was in Zanzibar. I find it difficult to say many good things about Zanzibar. It's corrupt, disappointing, touristy and dangerous. Street hassle is as bad as I've seen. The police would rather lock you up, call you a liar, and take your last dollar than help out a scammed tourist.
The Island has it's good points, and I became friends with a couple local business owners and my teacher during my study-stay in the town. I was on the cheap when I went there, unlike millionaire tourists who stay in the highly secure five star resorts.
One day, I stopped in a puny Zanzibar restaurant and ordered a Passion fruit Lassie. I'd had the Indian yoghurt drinks before, they were always a nice change and helped take the zing out of a spicy curry.
It was sweet and delicious. One sip had me addicted. Creamy and fruity, with just the right zing and the lingering taste of passion fruit. As the remnant of flavour diminished, like a disappearing ghost on the tongue, I felt myself instinctively reaching for another addictive sip.

I often find myself trying to rekindle the drinking memories. I scour the supermarkets and luxury coffee shops like starbucks in search of a perfect Kenyan brew. I order a different brand of beer every chance I get, but never get the same satisfaction as I did from that cold Gibraltar Heinekin.

The closest I ever come is a nice sunset drink, on a holiday or a nice weekend, with friends and family, after a long hard day.

1 comment:

taamarbuuta said...

Surprisingly, Target brand (Arrowhead or something like that?) has a good Kenyan AA. So does Green Mountain coffee. I've always had a taste for Kenyan beans.