by Ember Hood
Felicia was raised in Paso Robles, California, and stayed there until she was twenty-one, when she moved to Ashland for a fresh start. A lover of beer, Felicia started brewing the golden beverage two-and-a-half years ago. She now creates her own beer at home, and she recently took part in a four-day “Beer Camp” at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California. She plans to finish a degree in food science so that she might brew professionally.
Felicia’s favorite travel experience to date was an excursion to Panama when she was fifteen. She went with a church group, which included her father, to a town called Penonomé. There, they visited school children, performing skits and playing games with the kids afterwards. While Felicia didn’t speak Spanish at the time, she had a blast running around with the kids, blowing up balloons, and playing music and games.
While on the trip, Felicia got to visit the famous Panama Canal and watch a boat proceed through the locks. “It seemed like it took forever,” she said. “It was slow, but it probably wasn’t that long.” She was impressed with the enormity of the canal and the huge boats that pass through it.
Felicia’s group also spent a weekend at the beach, where the crystal-blue water was so warm it “felt like a Jacuzzi tub”. They stayed in cottages there, and spent time swimming in the warm water and collecting beautiful seashells. Off the coast, too far to swim to, was a lush green island. “It looked like a pirate ship probably hid its treasure there,” she said. Later, they plucked a couple of mangos from a tree in someone’s yard. “It was a huge tree,” she explained. “Like the fifty-year-old oak trees here, just massive. They probably didn’t notice.”
The food in Panama was largely chicken and rice. She learned how to say “arroz con pollo” really well. They were also frequently served a dish that included a baked potato and a small roasted bird in a clear broth. Felicia and her friends drank a lot of coconut and pineapple smoothies, for that piña colada taste without the alcohol. They went to bakeries for juice and sweet breads for most breakfasts, but also enjoyed eggs and pan-flattened toast. Delicious.
Years later, Felicia would love to return to Panama, now that she speaks Spanish, “to reabsorb the culture.” And, with her fondness for beer and beer production, she would also really like to visit Germany for an authentic Oktoberfest, she said, “Even though the Germans will drink me under the table!”