Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tour de Ohio: Buckeye Nation

I'm not sure if my Tour de Columbus is more for publicizing the GYPA trip or embarking on a gastronomic adventure. Anyone who knows me well also knows how deep my love runs for this gritty little city - especially the restaurants. I may have been born in Cleveland, but Columbus is surely my home.

The tour started Thursday morning with the Butvin team's dinner at PF Changs, but the real eating started on Friday morning at Jack and Benny's on the corner of Hudson and High Street - the coconut and chocolate chip pancakes are still the best. Note to self - avocado and swiss omelettes would ONLY be good in Uganda -- not in Midwestern USA. Lunch was a letdown - a stop at Eurocafe just south of Broad and High in downtown CBus (my weekly lunch destination when I worked for the State of Ohio). We arrived to find out that they were out of pierogies until the end of the month. I almost cried out in agony. I brought my spirits back up last night with a trip to El Vaquero's - my weekly stop for margaritas and the #40 (a chicken burrito, enchilada and a side of Mexican rice). Much to my dismay, they've expanded the restaurant and remodeled it (no worries here - the inside is still covered with cheesy murals and Scarface-esque chandaliers). It's no longer attached to the Super 8 motel - since my last visit they tore that wonder down and built a Hilton Garden Inn. What's this town coming to?

Aside from eating, I also gave a lecture to the Ohio State City and Regional Planning class, which went very well. With a little luck we'll have a Buckeye contingent on the trips to Uganda this summer. I also did another interview with NPR - this time for WCBE, the Columbus station. The interview was recorded and will be cut up and played during morning rush hour on Monday. I will post it when it's available online.

I'm now doing what I rarely get the chance to do - spending the day at Cup o' Joe on Tulane and High Street, working on my caffeine binge and catching up on my reading - What is the What by Dave Eggers. It's a fictionalized account of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese Lost Boy, and his journey from a war-torn Sudan, to life in refugee camps, to a difficult life in the U.S. Stories from Sudan have been popping up a lot in my life lately, from the Darfur photography exhibit at the US Holocaust Museum, to God Grew Tired of Us (go see it immediately), to my conversation with Lisa Moser about African refugees in Cleveland. It's impossible to learn about one war in East Africa without having to then learn something about the others, which leaves you mired in a web of seemingly insolvable conflicts. On that note, back to my reading.

1 comment:

Katie Spencer said...

Alll the way over here in your beloved Uganda, your number 1 fan sat in Cafe Pap with her headphones on and listened to NPR interview #1. I am sure I looked a little bit strange with a HUGE grin on my face. Actually I know I looked strange, because at one point I definitely looked over to the person next to me to make a comment, clearly thinking it was you, and then realized that I was alone in Uganda and you were actually the eloquant person that I was listening to. You did such a great job representing GYPA, representing yourself, and exposing a sleeping US public to what is happening in northern Uganda. You make me proud!