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The Traveler's Triathlon - The Road To Kona

August 26, 2012

Ironman Triathalon Kona 2012

The leeward side of the Big Island Hawaii momentarily loses its cool for one weekend in October every year. The  food truck grinds and slipper wear of Kailua Kona is replaced by scientifically timed carb loading and tight laced cross trainers as the Ironman World Championship swims, bikes, and runs its way through through town. You can't place an order at Kona Coffee Cafe off Ali'i Drive without waiting in line for 30 minutes - but it's worth it for the Donkey Balls. Forget about trying to navigate along Queen Ka'ahumanu highway on the day of the event. Residents park their cars while the competitors start their engines. They wait all year for this Triathlon and some competitors train their whole lives for this moment on the Big Island. Victory here makes you a true Ironman or Ironwoman, putting Tony Stark and his billion dollar toys to shame.

Ironman Triathalon Kona 2012

This weekend I had the privilege of attending a qualifier for Kona Hawaii's 2012 World Championship IronMan in a sleepy summer town in the Pacific Northwest well over 2000 miles from the Sandwich Islands. In the same manner that Kailua Village transforms from surf town to an arena for some of the planet's best endurance athletes Penticton (BC) too comes to lack in hotel vacancies. Fold out chairs, towels, and blankets line the beach in the evening but face the roads instead of the water in efforts to cheer on a friend, family member, co-worker or entire onslaught of singlet adorned triathletes whom from a helicopter resemble an army of ants trailing along the blistering concrete towards their queen - the finish line.

Ironman Triathalon Canada 2012

Athletes from all over the world converge upon the small desert town that barely registers on any traveler's periphery and turn it upside down. The locals may make off the cuff remarks about road closures and long lines but inside they adore this weekend as much as the competitors and will be the first to smile and pass on sincere well wishes to an athlete - given away by sinewy veined legs - standing next to them in line at the local coffee shop. Even though fellow residents who happen to be participating in the triathlon are cheered on more than the rest, this is no sporting event where the visiting "team" is considered to be the enemy for the town hosting the affair. Instead they're welcome into the fold out of respect and admiration. They're  tourists that pay their dues with the blood, sweat, and tears falling on the concrete of the town and thus have every right to clog up the streets, cafes, shops and hotels before and after the event concludes. With each stroke, peddle, and step they've earned a permanent place in the community and are welcomed back every year with open arms.

Ironman Triathalon Canada 2012

Sitting on the cafe patio sidelines and ironically sipping imported Kona coffee, I ponder if I'll ever devote an entire year or two of training to place one of these triathlons on my travel itinerary as a serious competitor. Shrugging I put it on my bucket list, wishing I had the Donkey Balls.

Ironman Triathalon Canada 2012

Ironman Triathalon Canada 2012Ironman Triathalon OHANAIronman Triathalon Canada 2012

Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

post by : Editor - YAH Yaps

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In Search of the Best Cafe Mocha in the World

August 22, 2012

Best Cafe Mocha in the World?

I checked 101 off the list after an especially "adventurous" weekend. 101 has a nice ring to it. Before anyone jumps to conclusions about the achievement as if it refers to some uncouth male braggadocio conquest I'll nip that dirty mind in the bud. Instead the tally refers to my espresso based beverage of choice and the fact that a few months ago I vowed to sample a Cafe Mocha from every coffee shop I come across in my travels until I find the best in North America. Considering I only allow myself the indulgence twice per week (vacation excluded) this mission may take some time. In fact, there won't be a concluding piece on the topic unless I have the foresight to write it as I prepare for my death bed one day. The Cafe Mochas of the World - a literal coffee table book for certain. It's a never ending journey though, one without a final destination. Perhaps my heirs will carry it on. Poor bastards.

If it sounds like I'm over romanticizing something so trivial as a creamy foamed blend of aromatic espresso and rich dark chocolate (the description alone defies you) and to potentially have it define my life's literary work on travel, please bear with me.

The first thing I do after awaking from my hotel room slumber for sunrise in a new town, city, island, or country is shuffle down through the lobby and out of the doors to seek the nearest non-chain cafe for a fix. I don't care if the ocean and air temp meets at a perfect 80 degrees fahrenheit with off shore winds, glassy surf and only two or three bikini clad souls in the water. I need my mocha first. I cradle the mug with the same gentle care taken with a newborn kitten and slide into the bistro seating to stare off into nothing-in-particular and sip. I'm never alone in this ritual. There are always three or four others engaged in the same, beating the post-dawn crowds to the setting. We're kindred spirits. We might exchange pleasantries about the weather, we may trade crumpled pages from the cafe's only newspaper, we may learn something about where one another is from and bask in the brief moments of peace before our families wake from the 11th floor of a 7 night packaged deal and make their way down with beach bags and towels slung around shoulders, or we may say nothing at all. But we understand. The catalyst is in the coffee.

In the same manner that I check the bottom of souvenirs pre-purchase for signs of the dreaded Made in China stamp I demand that my coffee is grown locally or at the very least imported from the nearest coffee bean sustaining climate within its radius. I want the callused hands (but fair trade paid) locals to have picked my bean. If I'm on the Big Island I want to sip Kona Mountain Coffee off the slopes of Mauna Loa from a cafe in the old plantation town of Kainaliu. In Jamaica I want Blue Mountain straight from the plantation after waking and walking down from a Penny Hill guest house near Mavis Bank. When in Rome. To me and a million others, morning brew from a local cafe is part of what defines a vacation destination. It sets the tone for where the rest of the day takes you.

While I won't be booking flights to locations based on their espresso any time soon it remains to be a part of my experience nonetheless. My last trip to the Caribbean didn't place one in my grasp until I awaited departure at the airport gate cafe 10 days after arriving and the trip still went without a hitch. Although I must admit it was a nice way to draw closure to my time on the island. Maybe the 7 hour flight back home wouldn't have went so well otherwise.

Best Cafe Mocha in the World?

A great way to start the day's travels

Best Cafe Mocha in the World?

It makes everything taste better

Best Cafe Mocha in the World?

It makes great books even greater, especially on a Sunday morning

Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

post by : Editor - YAH Yaps

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