Sunday, July 09, 2006

Food for Thought

[Philadelphia City Hall from 1600 Market St.]

Being back in the United States of America was great! Being back in our condo in Philadelphia was even better. And being able to spend Independence Day there in the birthplace of the U.S. was the icing on the cake.

There's not much more that can spark your "Proud To Be An American" sentiment on the Fourth of July than spending the 5 previous months living halfway around the globe. Not in a self-rightous, nationalistic way, but in a respectful maner, proud of your history and heritage and grateful for freedoms and liberties you have as a citizen of your given home country.

Our current President isn't winning any popularity contests around the world, but that's what's great about America. Even with a government out of control, people still manage to help each other out, care for the sick and poor, creative technological innovations and enjoy more personal freedoms than most places around the Earth. The passion and energy of the 4th of July events around the country are testament to the enterprise, creativity and drive of the American citizens- even while we are unable to win a single game in the World Cup!

So, being back in our home country and city during such a celebratory atmosphere was quite an experience, but it wouldn't have been nearly as great if we hadn't been able to spend as much time with our families as we did. Before we left Manila 2 weeks ago, Kendra drew up a schedule of where we were going to be when and penciled in as many get-togethers and meet-ups as we possibly could. (I've added a few pictures from her post last week, so check that out for some of the stories).

It's the only blog action we've had here recently, given that we've so terribly busy during our flyback and I haven't had access to a computer in 2 weeks. Which reminds me, I was considering joining Philadelphia's MetroBlogger when we got back for good, but seeing how tough it is for me to post for Manila's site here when I've got plenty of free time, there's no way I'd be able to write enough about Philly when I'm working upwards of full-time.

Getting back to family: In addition to my parent's surprise 40th anniversary party, and spending time with Kendra's parents and grandparent's, we got to see a little more of our own hometown with Jen and Jason last weekend. It's funny how you never get around to checking out local attractions until guest drop by! This time we were able to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon touring the grounds of Eastern State Penninetiary, a prison built in 1829 by the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons and abandoned in 1971. It's now a eerie stone structure of crumbling cell blocks and guard towers with some really neat stories and tours- located right in the middle of an urban residential neighborhood, just a few blocks up from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Check it out when you can!

Our favorite Old City spots were happy to have us (well, our money at least) back, including the trendy and colorful Patou and equally ultra-cool Paradigm, where we went for drinks with Erik, Ellen (now w/child!), Eric's sister, Tyler and her boyfriend. Before hitting the bars with them, we all had dinner at Burboun Blue in the recently flooded Manayunk section of Philly. Race St. Cafe was visited twice, once with Jason and Jen and another with Kendra's cousin Martha. Moving down to South Philly, we met up with Liz for a great Israeli meal at Shouk after heading to their ever-quirky annual Canada Party a few days before. Kendra already mentioned seeing Jen and Jason (the Philly version) on our first day back and again with her Mom at Raddichio. I hit Barnaby's in Aston up twice with some of the guys after work (the old guy at the front bar still messes up drink orders on a regular basis!). Here's to ending 6 months without a Yuengling!

Needless to say, we really missed our Philly cuisine (in all it's ethnic diversity) and loved being back in town. The only thing we wished we could have done was take part in A Taste of Philadelphia event, where all the top restaraunts descend on 6th & Market and serve up their best dishes. Next year, I guess.

So, now we're back in Manila, making the best of what we can cook up with ingredients from SM and Rustan's. Our first day back in the Philippines has kept Kendra busy boiling water and soaking vegetables in VeggieWash in order to make them safe for consumption. We've also been spending today unpacking clothes, withdrawing pesos from the ATM, paying our room-charge bill, fixing our Internet access and borrowing an air purifyer unit from maintenance to de-funk-ify our apartment. One more month!

We'll be sure to catch you all up with more pictures from our time in the U.S. and return to our normal daily-ish blog posting routine. Here's a quick pop quiz-- the answer will be the title of tommorow's entry: What does a Buddhist Monestary outside of Hong Kong and my parent's backyard in rural Pennsylvania have in common?

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