Monday, May 20, 2013
It doesn't look like a wallet. In fact, when the publicist for HuMn Wallets sent me two, thin aluminum cards for review, I thought she had mistakenly sent the packaging without the wallet. But no, HuMn wallets are really just two thin aluminum cards held together with an elastic band or shock strap. I couldn't figure out how these pieces were supposed to form a secure wallet so I watched the videos on the company's website. (Never thought I'd have to watch an instructional video on how to use a wallet but hey, we are in a new millennium. ) The creators are travelers who wanted a lightweight wallet that wouldn't bulge when filled with cards and would protect from RIFD skimming. They came up with a sleek design that blocks RFID scanners and can be customized with different aluminum and band colors. Cool. So how does it hold up while traveling? I tucked the wallet into my travel arsenal for Jamaica to find out.
It was really helpful to be able to separate my Jamaican dollars from my American bucks. I put the different currency on opposite sides of the card. I stuffed my credit card and ID inside the band and I pushed my business cards in a corner on the outside. Everything was orderly and clearly visible with no bulge. The issue came when I tried to quickly retrieve anything. The bands are industrial strength and not easy to stretch. I felt like I had to strengthen my fingers before I could ever hope to pull out my cash or cards in under a minute. I also missed a compartment for coins but I think this is a woman thing. Guys don't like to keep change jangling in their pockets (I polled them) whereas women have lots of nooks and crannies for this in their purses. In fact, all the guys on my trip went gaga over this stylish wallet, sliding it in and out of their pockets. Starting at $75 for the HmMn mini, I thought the price was a little steep but works out reasonably when you factor in how long aluminum holds up compared to leather. Replacing the shock straps only costs $12 .All in all, I think HuMn wallets make great travel wallets, especially with the identity protection but I believe it's more appealing to men over women. What do you think?
Friday, May 10, 2013
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A UNESCO World Heritage Site,Casco Viejo is a lively area filled with 16th century buildings and lots of bars, cafes and restaurants. The diablico sucio stands outside of the traditional Panamanian restaurant, appropriately named, Diablicos. I didn't eat in the restaurant but I did stop to hug the colorful devil character. Luckily for me, he didn't have his stick for any impromptu whipping.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Panama displays a rich array of cultures and influences but for me, the indigenous people represent the real Panama. I journeyed to an Embera Indian village tucked into the Panamanian rainforest and that was the most memorable experience of my trip. The Embera are also called Choco` and are warm, inviting people. This photo of an Embera girl overlooking her village is my favorite photo from my visit because it shows the beauty of both the landscape and the people.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I travel through North and South America a lot but never at once. This feat can only happen in Panama, where the Bridge of the Americas, pictured above, connects both continents as it spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. I'll be exploring Panama on a media trip where I'll visit legendary structures like the Panama Canal, Bridge of the Americas and Casco Viejo (Old Panama), which dates back to the 1600s, when pirates controlled much of the region. I'm most excited about visiting an Embera Indian village tucked into the Panamanian rain forest, where I'll learn about native plants and rituals. Look out for posts on Panamanian culture, food and fun next week.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This is very serious business. Like Democrat or Republican, White Sox or Cubs, Stones or Beatles, choosing your favorite Jamaican pattie helps determine your direction in life. Patties are such an integral part of Jamaican culture that everyone nibbles an a version of the savory stuffed pastries at one time or the other. I journeyed through the north coast of the island to document the rivalry between the two most popular pattie companies and uncover the best pattie.
If you ask a Jamaican about their favorite pattie, you will get one of two answers: Tastee or Juici. So what's the difference? Juici is supposed to offer more varieties, Tastee, more flavor. So I investigated (in a highly scientific sampling). Around Montego Bay, Tastee seemed to be the clear favorite, boasting more stores and longer lines. In Ocho Rios, Juici earned more visibility and outlets.
Although the classic pattie is stuffed simply with seasoned beef, I saw a myriad of non-traditional flavors from shrimp to callaloo and saltfish. To make comparisons easier, I sampled curried chicken and callaloo patties from both stores.
The Tastee pattie was flaky and the filling was well seasoned. The Juici patty was thicker, with a bread-like consistency.
The callaloo pattie, above, which is like spinach, was flavorful but wasn't so well seasoned at Juici.
I like my pattie crusts flaky and the fillings spicy so sign me up for team Tastee.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Spring flowers aren't blooming yet in Chicago but my favorite blossoms are actually tropical. These St. Thomas bird of paradise flowers grow all over the island, spreading cheer with vividly colored petals that look like birds wings. Happy Spring!