24 Hours in Vancouver (#6)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Vancouver isn’t a real city, and BC isn’t a real “province,” and what are provinces anyway? And you’re probably also thinking: Canada isn’t a real country but if it were I’d want to do spring break in Churchill, Manitoba with the sled dogs, and do they really speak French in Quebec? Also, I heard someone talking about this place called “The Maritimes” once. What is that? There’s a province called “New Brunswick?” You’re shitting me…

Yeah, we’re a little ignorant down here in the south, and by the south I mean The United States of America, and by The United States of America I mean the land of the free, home of the brave, etc etc. I make a point of knowing a little about our neighbors to the north, though. I spent three months here on a reconnaissance mission in 2007, gathering intelligence while posing as an illegal deli worker in Victoria. Am I saying I’m a spy? Obviously not. You don’t have to be a spy to gather intelligence.

But ANYWAY, Vancouver. I got here yesterday morning and went straight to Fantasy Cuts, my favorite hairdresser in the land, on Broadway and Fraser. Fantasy Cuts is run by a troupe of Filipino women, one of whom is apparently in her 80’s, and offers damn cheap cuts at $15. Canadian. I don’t know how much that is in USD, but I know it’s less. I also know that with the beard trim my cut came to $22 cold cash, and then $30 after I tipped a few shekels ‘cuz I’m careless with currency.

Oh, Canada.

Our home and native land.

True patriot love?

(I don’t know how it goes).

We stand on guard…for…THEE!

God keep our land, glorious and free…

After Fantasy Cuts I went to Whole Foods and got a smoothie, and then to my friend Jeff’s house who works as a web designer and who was chilling on his computer while the girl he’s dating did drawings on the couch. I’d just heard the song “November” by Max Richter in the car and implored Jeff to play it at moderate to high volume. Max Richter plays quote unquote contemporary classical music, which I thought I hated but it turns out I might love. I probably listened to “November” seven times yesterday, depending on the strength of the Yuan. Then we drank coffee and watched as a girl across the alley engaged in some sort of modelling photo shoot, gyrating and posing in front of the camera. And then I left Jeff’s house and went to the library.

At the library the two dudes next to me talked of stabbing and murders.

Which was not, to say the very least, ideal.

But what does one do with 24 hours in a city? How does one maximize one’s time? Does one spend time galavanting, or rather reflecting?

I struck a healthy balance and took a nap (while listening to Max Richter, of course).

In the evening I dined with my friend Jenny and Jeff and Jenny’s cousin. They drank wine and then Bailey’s and then we smoked a cigarette on the balcony. It was raining outside, that kind of Vancouver rain that is a mix between a mist and silence but still soaks you to the marrow in about five minutes.

As I lay on the floor, preparing myself for sleep, I reflected on the day and what I would do the next day. Had it been a good day? Had I lived well?

But of course! All is well that ends well. And how can any day be bad that’s spent among friends, drinking mate, getting semi-precious dirt-cheap haircuts?


Caffeinated on Cordata: A Review of the Co-Op (#5)

Hear ye! Hear ye! I have been to the promised land. It turns out it is not where we thought it was. El Dorado’s gold does not exist! All year we have been toiling in the jungles of Mesoamérica, searching for a treasure that wasn’t there. A treasure that never was there. I have lost many good men. I have lost many bad men. I have lost many average men. I have lost fewer women. And friends, at one point I almost lost hope. But I never lost hope completely. And when I was on the verge of giving up, of packing it in and heading home to Spain to live out my life in relative luxury, suckling on the teat of the monarchy like some kind of deranged goat, I decided to look in one more place, and there! There, my friends, I found it.

Turns out it was in Bellingham.

Located on the north side of Bellingham near Whatcom Community College, the Cordata Community Food Co-Op is your one stop shop for quality groceries and produce. This place has everything: a hot bar, a salad bar, a seating area, and even a coffee bar that serves organic, fair-trade coffee at two dollars a pop, with free refills as long as you stay in the store.

The grocery store is open daily from 7am-9pm, and is located at 315 Westerly Road in Bellingham, Washington, kitty corner (or is it catty???) from the Bellingham transit center, otherwise known as: The place where the Bolt Bus stops, otherwise known as: Everyone’s 18th favorite Can-American bus line.

On my visit to the Co-Op and the one this review is based on, I arrived at 7:30am and, to be truthful, expected it to be closed. Much to my delight, however, I saw it was open, whereupon I wasp-lined it to the coffee bar section where I found precisely what I had come for: yerba mate. I wish I could say I’m not addicted to yerba mate, but that would be like saying I’m not addicted to ketamime — simply untrue! All jokes aside, I talked briefly with one of the employees who informed me that all of the wares at the coffee bar cost two dollars per cup — including tax — no matter the size, with free refills as long as you stay in the store. Judging by the Mexican guy who’s currently preparing ramen noodles in the seating area and has a two liter bottle of Coke and his own bottle of Tapatío, I’d say you can stay here a very long time.

As I was paying for my yerba mate I had a brief conversation with one of the serfs working the register, who posited: “I think it’s the best deal in town, because it’s organic, fair trade coffee…”

She trailed off as if expecting me to say something, but I was looking at the card reader and waiting for it to say “Remove card” so I could rip my credit card from its clutches and retire to the seating area and guzzle yerba mate.

Which is what I’m doing now. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is playing on the PA system and the vibe is chill. Everyone is happy at the Cordata Community Food Co-Op, which is to say, all four of us. But now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go. El Dorado beckons, and in this case it’s kept in a thermos about 20 feet from my person. I intend to see to it that that thermos gets emptied, or at least something very close to it.

Hear ye!


Silence: In the Age of Rimini (#4)

When I woke up this morning, confused as usual, and glanced at the clock, I couldn’t help but be overcome by the following thought: What time is it in Cambodia? Sometimes you wake up dreaming of Phnom Penh or just consonant clusters in general. And that is indeed what happened this morning at 6:18am. Wake up. What time is it in Cambodia. Phhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnn.

Actually, that didn’t happen. I did wake up at 6:18am. But what I really thought about was: A) Should I go back to sleep, and B) Is Christian Pulisic going to start today? Chelsea play Liverpool in the Premier League this morning at 8:30am PDT. To say I’m excited about this game would be a statement. Another statement would be, “Black tea makes me nauseous.”

But anyway. I’m not here to talk to you today about Christian Pulisic. I’m here to talk to you about the the last new country I added to my illustrious list, since this is, ostensibly, a travel blog.

I will give you a hint about what the last country I visited was. It’s completely landlocked by Italy. That should be hint enough. No, it’s not Monaco. Monaco enjoys some beautiful Mediterranean coastline. If you guessed “San Marino,” you win 16 shekels and a pat the on the scapula.

What happened was the following: I was in Rimini, a nearby coastal town, a bit late in the season (December). Let me tell you about Rimini: Rimini is a town where people from countries like Austria and Russia come to get away. Which means it’s essentially two towns: The part by the sea (awful), and the old town (quite charming). I stayed in a small hotel by the sea and would make the walk into the old town at least once a day, often twice. In the old town I would usually go to a bookstore called La Feltrinelli. This is a wonderful bookstore chain in Italy. I later went to one in Rome. At La Feltrinelli, I would sit in their comfortable chairs, reading one of the following books: Silence: In the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge (Pantheon Books; $19.95), and The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli (Penguin; £8.99). While sitting in the chairs I would also gaze at the customers around me. A fat man from Slovakia with a face like a drunk hedgehog. A young Italian girl playing hooky. An older man with a wheezing problem and a penchant for blinking. A lot of people would just come sit in the chairs. They wouldn’t even read books! But oh, I was there for the literature. I was there for the enlightenment. Though to be completely just I did feel like dozing off from time to time.

I don’t know why I read these two books in particular. The one written by the Norwegian guy resonated with me because: A) I like being alone, and B) I like weird missions. This guy walked to the South Pole. He WALKED. Towing a sled behind himself like some kind of deranged Siberian Husky. And what did he do when he got to the South Pole? Why, he turned around, of course. Mission accomplished. He’d almost frozen to death, but mission accomplished.

As far as the one about time, I was interested in it because I spend a lot of (-) thinking about (-). Does (-) exist? Also, how is it always possible that things that seem like they’re going to take forever to happen always, in retrospect, seem like they happened in the blink of an eye? And what’s the difference between yesterday and 10 years ago? Ten years ago might as well be ancient Rome at this point. Or ancient Rimini. Or ancient San Marino. Which might be more appropriate, since San Marino’s government’s claim to fame is that it runs on the oldest written government documents, written some time in the 1600’s in Latin.

The day I went to San Marino I got the bus from the arch near La Feltrinelli. I took the bus up to the castle, walked around the castle, and then took a mountain path town. Whelming. But then, THEN!, I went into a cafe, where I was able to observe the beautiful San Marinense people. Oh, how I long to be San Marinense. To have one of their fat license plates. To have one of their passports, provided they have their own passports. To have their nationality. To speak Italian. To be married to a girl from San Marino.

But alas, all I did was sit in a cafe. And drink tea. And when the bus came, I got on it.

Dreamcatcher (#3)

There is a beverage that is the stuff lucid dreams are made of. It’s called GT’s Dreamcatcher and there’s a cold bottle of it currently resting against the skin of my palm. Using my hand-like appendage, I bring the bottle to my lips and drink of these life-giving waters, these waters infused with such things as beta glucan and alpha gpc and organic coffee from the coffee berry. If you were walking deep in the Amazon, or possibly in the Sierra Madre, and came across a stream bubbling with such waters, you would stoop, not unlike a deer fawn, and drink from them. And then would stand up again and exclaim, “Ahhhhh, tastes like beta glucan.”

For the record, I have no idea what beta glucan does. Maybe something with the muscles. Either way I just got a good dose of it.

Yes, friends, welcome to my morning routine, or rather the morning routine I wish I had. I don’t usually drink GT’s Dreamcatcher, the grocery department’s finest wellness water, because, well, it’s kind of expensive. It’s also cold and here in Seattle it’s quickly becoming fall, so much so that when I woke up this morning I almost immediately threw on sweatpants, but of course dodged this impulse at the last second in favor of trousers that would make me look less like a vagrant.

Why am I talking like an asshole?

It must be the beta glucan.

Anywah, GT’s Dreamcatcher. Whole Foods Interbay. Morning routine. Like I said, Dreamcatcher is my favorite of the so-called wellness waters, and for one very specific reason, though to explain that reason I’ll have to take you back to my days as a young sprite living in Minnesota and attending elementary school.

I must’ve been about eight at the time. It was dark, probably about 7pm, and I was skating in circles on the ice rink behind the elementary school in Chanhassen, where I spent the second six years of my life. I went round and round on my little hockey skates, smiling, exhaling icicles, looking up at the stars, and eventually got tired and decided that after one more loop I’d go into the warming hut that was next to the ice rink. As I approached the warming hut, blades thudding softly on the rubber mats leading up to the door, I heard some laughing inside. When I opened the door a man said, “For 10 dollars each I’ll give you whatever you want.” My friend Jenny and I looked at each other. “Claro,” we both said, and what had begun as an ill-fated hitchhiking trip had now become us eating lobster on a bar next to a beach in Cuba at a fancy all-inclusive resort. After lunch we went to the pool at the resort where we met some Brits who got drinks for us at the bar and then eventually when we felt brazen enough we got them ourselves.

You see what I’m talking about?

Dreamcatcher. On sale now at Whole Foods, $2.50 a bottle.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to San Diego. Sorry to change gears, but I felt it pertinent to mention that since I talked about it in yesterday’s post. I just can’t justify going. Why go there when everything I need and want is right here? People never talk about how much air travel pollutes. It’s like it’s some necessary evil. And granted sometimes it sort of is. But I don’t need to go to San Diego. I’d mostly be going because I’m bored. Which means I’d just be straight polluting, and I don’t know if I’m ok with that. It’s like how I have stock in Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK). On the one hand I believe in this company, but on the other hand think of all the meat consumption. Am I ok with the massive amounts of meat processed for a fast food restaurant? When you’re a shareholder you’re essentially a part owner. So I guess I am ok with it. For now.

But I’m not ok with the San Diego trip.

I have now woken up from my GT’s dream and am drinking a yerba mate. My breakfast consisted almost entirely of meat. I am nothing if not hypocritical.

It’s going to be a beautiful day.


Not Going to San Diego (#2)

I am not happy with these blocks on WordPress. When you type things up in a draft now it wants to make everything into blocks. A block of text. An image block. Another block of text. When you finish writing a paragraph it assumes that you have merely finished another “block.” You should divide everything into blocks. If you don’t do this you’re a fool. Nothing is allowed to flow together, and the blurring of the lines between blocks would be folly. WordPress is designed more and more for people who are barely literate. Can barely write but still want to have a blog? We have the platform for you.

I had coffee this morning. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit aggressive.

Speaking of coffee, or rather not speaking of coffee at all but kombucha, I had a kombucha this morning at the PCC on Aurora and 80th. The kombucha in question was one of a brand called Shen Zen, a company out of Seattle I’m convinvced participates in no kind of FDA or food regulation. I say this because kombucha, in order to be non-alcoholic, is supposed to have trace amounts of alocohol, or 0.5% or less. This would not only make it non-alcoholic, it would also make it OK for me to drink, since I am no longer an alcoholic. Not that I ever necessarily was. But in any case, I haven’t consumed alcohol in over a year, though I do permit myself the wanton liberty of consuming kombucha, especially since it’s the supposed “drink of immortality.” But ANYWAY, the point I’m trying to make is that this Shen Zen brand, or at least one of the teas in the Shen Zen brand, the “Champagne” variety, tastes like it’s nothing but alcohol. I find it hard to believe it contains less than 0.5%. Hell, I find it hard to believe it contains less than 5%. That said, I don’t feel at all buzzed right now, and if it indeed did have a high alcohol content I probably would feel buzzed since because I haven’t drunk alcohol for over a year I probably have the liver and/or tolerance of a ruby-throated hummingbird.

In other news, I’m probably not going to San Diego tomorrow. Sometimes you just wake up and think, “I’m not going to San Diego tomorrow.” And that’s how I felt when I woke up today. I can’t get myself to buy the ticket. It’s less than $300 roundtrip for a flight leaving tomorrow from SEA, and yet I still can’t get myself to buy the ticket. California. Fun in the sun. But on a deep, visceral level my body must want to stay up here in the north where the air smells like salt and the water is cold. That was part of my whole reason for going to San Diego, to buy a surfboard. The selection up here in WA is poor. But now it looks like I’m probably not going. Unless I get in my car tomorrow and drive south, south, and still further south.

Which is a distinct possibility.

I take a deep breath and I sit up straight on the stool I’m sitting on. Actually, my back was already pretty straight. And my breathing was already pretty deep. My resting heart rate, I’m pleased to note, when I haven’t had caffeine, and usually in the morning when I haven’t done any kind of exercise, aka when I’ve more or less rolled out of bed and into some kind of environment where the taking of vitals is appropriate, is often in the 40’s. One time it was as low as 45 or 44, prompting the nurse or phlebotomist who was taking the vital signs to raise a few eyebrow follicles, and possibly the skin housing these follicles (mother of god, I’m trying to say she raised her damn eyebrow. Jesus. Sorry).




It’s now time to take my sister’s dog on a walk. She’s been patient as I’ve sat here typing on the computer.

We’re going to walk far.


Several Seconds too Late (#1)

I’m in Ballard. I didn’t ask to be in Ballard, and yet I’m forever finding myself there. That’s what happens when you live on the Magnolia side of the locks. You’re not going to go into Magnolia to do grocery shopping and run errands. That’s for the rich/criminally insane. If you live close to the locks you’re obviously going to cross said locks and do all of your errands in Ballard. You’re going to go to Trader Joe’s. You’re going to get the coffee samples given out by the lady who’s always gossiping about her co-workers. And then, loot in hand, you’re going to walk back to the locks along Ballard Ave, possibly stopping at Miro to get tea.

At least that’s one possibility.

There are many, many more possibilities. Some of them involve the bus. Some of them involve not getting tea. Some of them involve getting — stand by please — mate.

I have not had any mate today. Or yesterday.

But what I have had so far is green tea and black tea. The nook off the kitchen of my sister’s house is surprisingly tranquil. From it you can hear: A) the fountain from the neighbor’s yard, and B) the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. I don’t know which is more soothing. It also allows me to be close to my sister’s dog who likes to sit on the back stoop, surveying the yard for squirrels she can possibly murder. When she finds them she watches them intently at first, and then eventually goes sprinting after them, always arriving several seconds too late, or never having a shot in the first place since squirrels are generally in trees.

Generally. They also like power lines and fence tops.

If you’re a longtime Where’s Wetzler fan you know the following: 1) I’ve been traveling on and off for the past 10 years. I’ve visited many countries. I’ve visited many countries people don’t know are countries, like Monaco and Lichtenstein and San Marino, to name exactly three. But you also know that recently I promised someone — let’s call her my friend, let’s call her my mentor — that I would “settle down.” This meant me buying a boat in Olympia, sailing it up to Seattle, and living on it near the Ballard locks.

But fret not! I will still travel. Today for example I’m going to travel back to Trader Joe’s where I will buy more matcha/green tea cans. Yesterday I bought six. The idea was to ration them over the course of two days, but I ended up drinking all six yesterday. And then even more travels are on the horizon. Mexico in October. Vietnam in November. And I know what you’re asking yourself: Aren’t crabs just really big marine spiders? And the answer is yes, they’re probably in the same family. I would imagine they are. And someday I’ll probably get around to googling it.

And I know you’re also asking yourself: How are you going to have a blog dedicated to travel when you’re not even traveling that much, when you, Yaweh forbid, have SETTLED DOWN? And that’s a wonderful question. One to which I don’t really have an answer to yet.

I guess we’ll find out.