A Bohemian Traveler

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A Grand Year of Adventures in 2013~Now onto Another Trip Around the Sun

In Personal Update, Travel on January 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Sun Trippin

Well, as I write this morning, I am in a spiritual retreat center on the north shores of Maui in the islands of Hawaii. The weather is so nice and energetic here and its been a few years since I last was in the islands. Sunrises on top of volcanos, spectacular coastal drives and trekking through rainforest to ancient Hawaiian swim holes are a few recently made memories that will bring smiles to my face in years to come.

I hope to those that keep up with my updates and travels all had a wonderful holiday and New Year. I am truly happy to share life with friends, be it in person or through a blog. I haven’t posted for a few months now, so I figure it is time to give some “juice.”

In 2013, I went around the world. I traveled in early February to Europe where I spent two months in the Netherlands, with side trips to France and Germany. It was then off to South East Asia, where I spent close to four months venturing Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. And then it was right over to good ole’ North Dakota just in time for 4th of July Fireworks and one of my best friends weddings. From there, I hopped on a ride share across the northern part of the States to California, where I spent a majority of the rest of the year. It seems I’m destined for another round the world journey in 2014, yet this time flying West.

Of course this wasn’t a vacation, as some can assume. Throughout the entire time being abroad, I was writing. Both in my professional 9-5 job with Visual News, and also with book projects I plan to publish. Personally, I find more inspiration being in a completely different environment than my own home country of the West Coast. While I love to see my friends and family in the states, I’ve personally evolved to a place where I need the chaos of a foreign context to shape and stimulate my heart and mind.

Each day is anew, filled with tones, noises, tastes, weather and relationships. And more.

I’ll give a few highlights from last year I enjoyed throughout the movements~

Carnival in Netherlands

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Carnival is widely celebrated in Holland, and the Dutch recognize that the best festivities are held in the South of the country. I happened to be in that particular area at the time it was happening and though it was quite cold outside, my spirit was warm with song, dance and of course, beer!

Yoga in Thailand

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Thailand Yoga

I began my Yoga journey finally in Thailand. I had waited until I could learn directly from my cousin, who has been a Yoga Ashtangi for over 20 years. Her practice is quite well known around the world and I was privileged to learn from her on a beautiful island.

Friendship in Langkawi

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After spending time in Thailand, I went over to the Island of Langkawi in Malaysia to explore, meet up with a friend and check out sailboats. I found a wonderful expat community there whom I had a lot of fun getting to know. Langkawi itself is a great island to check out as it is unique in its own way. Definitely stay at Soluna Guesthouse if you get there and tell Claudia I said hello.

Art in Black Rock

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It was another year of art installations in that special place in the desert. It was a wonderful year again full of expression, exploration and community.

Hiking in NorCal

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I spent some of the Autumn writing in Northern Cal/ Southern Oregon. To be in the quiet stillness of the vast forest is renewing and energizing. In a world where the race gets faster by the millisecond, finding these sanctuaries are more important than ever, and I was lucky to find such raw nature so close by to my SF bay home.

Well, I’m back to Hawaii Life now and am already making great memories for this year. I hope you do too, because really, anything is possible if you project your intention into the universe enough~ Thanks for reading as always~

The Unknown Island of Langkawi, Malaysia

In Personal Update, Travel on June 12, 2013 at 1:10 am

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I came to Langkawi in search of sailboats.
Until I had come to Southern Thailand, I had never heard of the small 500 square kilometers island in Northwest Malaysia before. Close to the Thai border, Langkawi I discovered has quite a bit to offer. I came expecting to stay 3-7 days and now I’m going onto the 4th week here.

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There are some really nice yachts out here and I’ve been hounding the marinas, talking to Captains, brokers and long term expats about getting a larger sailboat here than what I currently have back in Seattle. Basically I’m looking for a 30-38ft cruiser that is able to make coastal passages through the straits of Melacca, the Southern Burmese archipelago and of course all of Indonesia. There are just too many islands here along with genuinely friendly human beings that make such an adventure hard to resist.

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This Malaysian island of Langkawi has the potential to be a base for such adventures. There are plenty of business opportunities both on the island and virtually and with an international airport on the island, one can get to practically any major Asian city in less than 5 hours for those occasional city fixes.

There’s sailing, there are beaches, mountains, jungles, bald eagles, high cable cars, waterfalls and lakes, foods of all sorts and literally people from all over the world here. This island doesn’t attract just the western crowd, but there are quite a few tourists from China, India, and the Middle East. Everyday I meet citizens from countries all over. Just yesterday I spent some time with a young Syrian man named Ahmed who fled the country from Bashar and is running a little stand selling middle eastern products in the mall. We’re friends on facebook now. ;)

Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying

Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying

The longer I spend out the country, the more I realize just how integral it is in my life. My family has a vibrant international history and my upbringing incorporated American, European and Asian traditions. While it’s more natural for me to be overseas than in America, I still appreciate the vastness and beauty of America. What I don’t like about America is that citizens are given only two to three weeks vacation a year. The culture is “live to work,” and it cripples Americans because they work so hard, and even when they take vacation, there are sometimes still the concerns of projects they attempted to leave at home.

This is why in the two months I have been in Asia, I have only met 8 Americans. Four of them quit their jobs to travel, the other 4 were either a post grad or long-term expat. It’s just too much to go to Asia when you only have two weeks holiday and the flights there and back are going to eliminate a couple of days already. So Americans float to Hawaii, Mexico or even Europe. It makes sense, But I tell you, Asia is “where it is at.” This is my 5th time back and I love it more and more every time I come back.

Get to Asia, eat all sorts of food, meet many interesting people everyday and make friends, enjoy the nature of mountains, jungle, oceans, reefs and underwater worlds. It’s all here, and it’s not going away.

I’m doing alright and feeling right at home. Hope Summer is beginning to treat everyone nicely~

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Left Thailand and now in Malaysia~

In Personal Update, Travel on May 16, 2013 at 1:05 am

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Wow. I must say in the past 20 years that I have traveled internationally, I have never come across a place as magical as I just did. I mean, there is Burning Man, and that can be quite a wonder filled environment, yet it’s not its own country (in some ways it is) and it’s temporary. Where I just came from is in another country and has been thriving for some time now.

This place was so special that I’m not even going to disclose where it is. I will just say it was on a Thai island.

It’s really nice when you can discover a beautiful natural environment, yet when one can come to a beautiful place and also have a beautiful community, then it’s perfect.

I came to this bay and met some amazing people, I danced all night, I swam everyday, I ate healthy nutritious food, I laughed, I smiled, I made friends, I loved. I created stars in the water, I explored exotic reefs and jungle, I connected and reconnected with myself.

If you come across this place I describe, it was meant to be for you.

I’m thankful for the memories, the people, the family and will return when the wind draws me near~

Now I’m in the historic Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia and soon I will venture to another island and South ~

Thanks for reading as always~

and…a song that I am feeling is a theme song for the past days~

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Current Stop: Pa-Pa-Pa-Pattaya – Thailand

In Travel on April 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

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It’s April 7th, and I just got in from a 19 hour transit leg from the Netherlands to Thailand. First, a car ride to Brussels, then a 15 hr flight to Phuket, another hour flight to Bangkok, a 2 hour bus ride to Pattaya and a 15 min motorcycle taxi to my AirBnB rental for the next 4 days. The question looms…..Why Pattaya?

Pattaya was known as a fishermans village for many years until more tourism invaded Thailand and the beachfront town became a city and is now notoriously known for its very accessible ways to get massages, happy endings and more in its many parlours. No, it’s not the reason I came here :) The chief reason I came was mostly because of the flight deal ($275 one way) and also to be close to Bangkok when one of my best friends arrives. Together we plan to travel and work while doing so.

I’ve been to Bangkok before and it’s pretty overwhelming. I am already planning on staying there a few nights, and that’s enough for me. The hustle and bustle and everyone trying to score a buck from you gets old quick. So I opted to go to the famous Pattaya beach and brothel city and I got a nice studio overlooking the action below. I’m actually writing from my patio now….I hear some funky Thai music, mopeds driving by, street food vendors cooking their spicy concoctions and chatter from multiple languages. It’s nice to be back in warm weather.

So far some of the stereotypes ring true for this town in the few hours I have been here. I see quite a bit of 50+ old men and some younger ones too, walking with their young Thai companions. It seems many a man comes here searching for that desire they may have lost or could not achieve in their home countries. I’m sure some are actually couples, but by the neutral expressions on the womens faces along with their seductive clothing, I’m guessing not.

I had a wonderful rice dish (40 baht-$1.25), got some water and a small bottle of M-150. That’s like the cheap version of Redbull out here in Asia. Funny enough the cap was not sealed tight, which signals that the bottle was reused, but I don’t care, I drank the yellow liquid anyways and it’s helping me stay up until I can pass out and avoid days of jetlag. I think I’ve got about 4-5 hours of sleep in the past 35. I’ll survive.

Well, it’s good to be back in an area that is noisy, busy and active. I enjoy being a minority ethnicity and seeing what people of local regions do, dress, act with their lovers and work. I’ll plan to be in Asia for a few months, so if you want to keep updated, subscribe and post comments!

Much love, no photos this post, but more to come…..

Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa Ta yyyaaaaa!

Pilgrimage as a Form of Travel

In Travel on March 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

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I just left a mass from a large cathedral here in Holland and its focus was to bless the many “pilgrims” that are walking the famous Camino de Santiago trail. While participating in the service, I felt inspired to write a post about the idea of pilgrimage as a form of travel.

Map of the pilgrimage trail the Camino de Santiago. The most traveled route is in Northern Spain, and many routes go to that direction.

Map of the Camino de Santiago. The most traveled route is in Northern Spain, and many routes go to that direction.

Some of my past travels have been spiritual in their nature or involved traveling to very spiritual countries such as Tibet and India. While some of these travels have seemed distant to me at times, I was reminded today about some of the joys I felt when I was in that place in my life. A young man seeking answers to life’s mysteries and taking a bite of the world in the process.

While I didn’t get all the answers I was looking for then, I found enlightenment in my own way. And I expect each person will find their own as well if they decide to pursue it.

I went to Tibet for the summer in 2002. It proved to be a life-altering experience.

I went to Tibet for the summer in 2002. It proved to be a life-altering experience. Photo by my travel companion Jared Kachurak

I think the idea of pilgrimage can conjure up thoughts of it having to only apply to someone who believes in deities and a spiritual world, but I think it applies to each human. The act itself can be beneficial to each person. While there can be many ways one decides to journey as a “pilgrim,” I think there are two ways I would like to spotlight from my own experience. Let’s call them the “slow way” and the “fast way.”

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The slow way is exactly what it implies; Slow motion. In my mind, this mostly involves the idea of walking for a period of time. Although I think it can also apply to sailing and possibly even tour-biking. There is something that happens in this act that I have found magical. I wasn’t expecting it, but after sailing slowly in the raw and vast ocean away from news, cars, computers and phones, something happened.

While “pilgrims/travelers” may walk for a couples days to countless years, I find that if someone is committed to a journey the slow way, they may start to realize a very different reality that they were used to. I had this epiphany when I was sailing in Mexico for two months.

Image of the sailing trip in Baja, Mexico

Image of the sailing trip in Baja, Mexico

One of the first things I noticed was I began to lose track of time. The idea of time was invented by humans, and so much of our lives can be determined by time. Yet, in the open ocean it didn’t matter. I found my schedule revolved around waking up when the sun rose and going to bed not too late after the sun went down.

Initially, I lost track of the hours, and eventually I lost track of days and even weeks. But it was of no matter, I was engaged in the present. There wasn’t telling what the wind or weather was going to be like, so focus was on the now. As a result, I felt an amazing liberation and every action of the day was that much more meaningful and exciting.

During this voyage, I remembered a scripture verse in the Bible told that I heard when I was younger and it said:

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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That’s a fairly difficult mantra to live by it seems, but I found supreme peace in living in the present and not focusing a majority of my energy on the future. There’s another verse in this chapter that says:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

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I found a peace with these sacred words as well because instead of worrying about if we are going to survive for years to come, it encourages the idea of trusting that our needs are going to be provided for us, and to focus on the present. Some may consider this a false reality and hope, but I think there is a release on worry and stress to consider such an idea.

If the “slow way” is pursued, detached from the busyness of life, it most likely will prove to be beneficial that person. One may find themselves further “enlightened” by this action if their heart is open to listen and experience daily.

Ok onto the “fast way.”

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The “fast way” is in a way another form of pilgrimage. To me, this term involves the act of travel but not solely focused in just one form of transport like walking or biking. It can be that one travels by train, plane, bus and car, but because the individual is seeking something in their journey, they will be inspired in their own way.

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For example, someone could be seeking to experience the idea of community. In their journey, there wasn’t a set plan or place to go, it was just a “mission.” And in that journey, that individual may have found themselves accepted by a group of people, sharing meals, dancing, laughing and drinking and finding a satisfactory answer to what they were looking for. Other examples could be seeking friendship, faith, learning others ways of life or even love (though we all know that could be risky :)

There doesn’t even need to be a focus really. Just the idea of going with an open heart and mind to receive is enough. Personally, I always try to travel this way. One can travel with a very set agenda, with all the places they researched before on the schedule. It’s one way to travel, yet if someone has the option to stay and travel longer with flexibility, then it’s rewards will definitely be much more than the short-term option.

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In a way we are all pilgrims, seeking answers to life, contemplating ideas of Truth, existence and purpose. There are many opinions, and each person has their own thoughts. The thoughts we are exposed to when we are young in our home environment are just that: thoughts we know at our local environment. The world is much bigger than that though, and when one goes to other environments and exposes themselves to other ideas and ways, one will definitely find themselves more “enlightened,” and maybe that is pilgrimage too.

Thanks for reading, feedback is definitely welcomes :)

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cami

Time to talk about Paris

In Personal Update, Travel on February 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm

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I’m sure many have been able to visit Paris at some point. For me though, the first time I was able to explore this famed city was last week.

On my first trip to Europe in 2000, I did go to the Paris airport. But that experience was only limited to eating a croque monsieur, buying Cuban cigars and finagling a customs officer to stamp my passport. Hardly the experience.

And even though I had been to Europe many times after, and spending the better part of a year throughout the continent, Paris never happened.

Maybe I was dissuaded by the tourism of cities like Paris, Rome and Venice. I much rather preferred smaller towns and cities with less cameras and tour buses.

But this is February, in the heart of Winter and not many people travel during this time (at least not to the Northern hemisphere.) I had a friend who had moved to Paris three years ago and I promised to him that when I was in Europe again, I would visit him. So to honor that promise and to finally check out Paris, I hopped on a ride to the City of love, arts and baguettes.

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From Maastrict, Netherlands to Paris I caught a ride share for 22 euros. A train would have cost close to 100 and a flight the same. I had used ride share in the US and am always happy to make new friends through the activity. While some people have an issue meeting and interacting with strangers, I have found it to be quite fun. I also promote the idea of renewing trust between people, so in a way I promote this through the action. If you do find yourself in Europe and want to find a ride, check out the website here.

I arrived in Paris and upon parking the car, I see an artist painting on his easel and hear a semi-pleasant voice singing opera from a 4th floor building. Ah, Paris. City of the arts! :)

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Upon my first walk, I saw the famous Notre Dame cathedral. From a distance it looked massive and the front was one of the most impressive facades I had seen.

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I got to a Metro and met my friend Jason Brown , whom I had been friends with since university days. It was nice to make his acquaintance again after a long 3 years. There was a lot of catching up to do and catch up we did.

The following day I met up with another friend Astra from the UK, who happened to be in Paris studying French. The funny thing about Astra besides her personality, is that we always seem to see each other every time I come to Europe. The past 5 times I have come to Europe, I have run into her. Sometime for just 15 minutes and sometimes for a few days. I have love for her and she’s a good friend.

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Together, we walked to the Eiffel tower and Wow, what an amazing structure. I mean, yes, it’s the Eiffel tower, but some monuments lack the awe upon seeing them (such as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall for me) but the Eiffel tower really was a treat. We of course went up after waiting for only 15 minutes in line and saw some nice views.

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We walked to the Trocodero, to the Arc de Triomphe and finally to the Champs Elysees. It was sort of surreal day to me because, you are somewhat raised seeing these places and then you actually see them all in one day. It was a good day, I took the metro back to Jason’s and rested that night to prepare for the next couple of days of tourism for me.

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The next day Jason and I traversed around the city. We checked out some nice viewpoints, the front of the Opera house, a really nice Starbucks (you’ll see the photo below) and some art districts. One of the crazy highlights was the consuming of “Steak Tartare.” That’s straight up raw ground beef, mixed with a little soy sauce, tabasco and some other flavor. I don’t know why I did it, I guess Jason sort of “egged” me on. It was his first time trying it too. I didn’t get sick, but I definitely felt weird after and proceeded to eat a whole lemon and get drinking some beer real quick. What the @#@@ was I thinking?? Ah, this is what travel is all about :)

Ah, steak tartare...

Ah, steak tartare…

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Yes, this is a Starbucks

Yes, this is a Starbucks

Ah, Europe

Ah, Europe

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The day was nice and it ended with me of course going to a Couchsurfing meetup in Paris. The pub where it was held got seriously packed out with “CSer’s” and I met many people from all over the world as I always do. It’s always a great and fast way to make friends and get great local advice on the region you’re traveling to. If you’re in Paris, every Monday night at the Lions’ Pub at 8pm is the meetup. Good times~

My last day was spent visiting some museums. I decided to skip the Louvre for the next trip and went to the Musee D’Orsay and Musee Rodin. Together I saw some pieces of art I had wanted to see for a long time and Rodin is my favorite sculptor, so it was a treat to see some of his works. He truly had a gifted hand. I couldn’t take photos all the time of these works, so I’ll post which art I really enjoyed below.

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Renoir

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

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Monet

Cabanel

Cabanel

Tiffany Vase

Tiffany Vase

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Rodin

I had an amazing time in Paris, there is so much to see. It was a wonderful 4 days, and I hope to spend more time there soon. Thanks for reading, and if you need tips on traveling there or anywhere, feel free to connect with me on my facebook.

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Time to Go again

In Personal Update, Travel on February 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm

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So, I write this post from a Starbucks inside a Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. I see flashing lights on 1 cent slot machines, hear several different languages and wonder what sort of reality this would be if I stayed here indefinitely. Seems sort of like what I imagine hell to be.

Anyways, I didn’t come here to participate in the entertainment of this famed city. I came here because, well, it happened to be the best deal to fly out of this country to where I need to go. Yes, I’m off again and it seems for the better part of 2013 I will be abroad, and while I would like to say I am excited, I just feel it’s more normal than I’ve remembered in the past. It’s not vacation, I’ll be working the whole time while out. And I am in a place where I could be gone for quite a while.

I would like to say, “Yes! I am getting out of the country again, it’s a time to see new things, meet new people, try new foods!” But I guess to some degree, since I have traveled significantly abroad and in the states, and especially in the past three years, I sort of have this feeling of normalcy with the movement.

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I was talking about this last night to someone who asked me about being excited to go. I said yes, I was, but it felt like I was just going to another state in the US. I’ve adapted quite well to navigating anywhere on this planet. I don’t know when it exactly happened, but through the experiences, I’ve gained the “Saavy-ness” to get around, and not just travel, but actually live anywhere. If I wanted to find work in any of these countries, I know how to go about it. If I needed to find those secret places where tourists don’t know about, I could do it. If I needed to find a wife in another country, then I could do…Well, ha, maybe that’s not too difficult, or really a good idea. :)

The thing is, while it is normal, it is exciting. I guess it just doesn’t really hit me until the flight attendant says “We are one hour away from _________.” Then it hits me. I am checking out another foreign land, I am going to witness different behaviors, listen to very different perspectives on family, politics and general life everyday. I am going to experience new food and drinks, I am going to see interesting architecture, and I am going to make new friends, whom I can keep in touch with easier than ever and whose friendship could likely blossom into something I would of never anticipated.

That is exciting. I’m in a starbucks in Vegas in a semi-smokey casino. It’s time to get the #@$% out. Stay tuned.

Unexpected theme from last week: The Fandango~

In Travel on May 4, 2012 at 1:35 am

Olé!

Well maybe not olé, but rhythmic movement to the strums and hums of eight guitarras. The Fandango! No, it is not Fandango.com and I’m not offering any movie tickets, but it is a dance…a dance originating 400 years ago from Veracruz and  a dance that still exists today in the halls and houses of those who dare to participate in its embrace.

I was on my sailboat and I have had a book in there for some time. It made the cut for selected books in the small space when I moved from a house, for it was a classic for sailors: Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

It’s the story of a young sailor in the 1830′s. A young sailor who was previously a student at Harvard but left on a sea voyage due to his “tiredness of the tedium of a slow convalescence.”

It is wonderful to read a book written by Dana during the adventurous age of sail. Stories of Old California in all its natural wild and wonder, of wild horses riding around, beautiful blue ocean and the fandango. Wait…Did you say the fandango?

Yes…I did. While these young sailors spent the better part of a couple of years in their brig named “The Pilgrim,” collecting hides from the coast to bring back to Boston for trade; they also had, upon occasion, “liberty days,” to go to shore and explore a bit on land and in the local pueblos of San Juan Capistrano or Santa Barbara amongst other California coastal towns.

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Well, the local agent for the ship’s trading company was getting married. He was getting married to the lovely Donna Anneta, and they were having the wedding and gathering in town. With weddings during these days, it was “on these occasions no invitations are given, but everyone is expected to come, though there is always a private entertainment within the house for particular friends.” The father of the brides home was one of the established in town and it had a courtyard that could easily host a few hundred guests. This would be a good party needless to say.

When the bride came out of the church with the bridegroom, the flags from the ship that were seen in the distance were raised and the sailors fired a 23 shot salute in succession. Her flags lay up all day in their beautiful colors honoring the wedding celebration and when the sun came down, 23 shots were fired, her flags were lowered and the sailor boys got ready uniform to come ashore for the fiesta and fandango.

With all the guitars and violins, the music played. Hundreds of people were at the gathering, and the fandango was danced. There were some great dancers such as Don Juan Bandini, “who dressed in white pantaloons neatly made, a short jacket of dark silk, gaily figured, white stockings and thin morocco slippers. An occasional touch of the toe to the ground, seemed all that was necessary to give him a long interval of motion in the air.” The ladies loved Don Bandini, and he led a wonderfully dance with the brides sister to which everyone loudly applauded.

It was beautiful. There was love in the air, young men were looking at young ladies and the young señoritas were smiling and enjoying the festivities. There were all sorts of ways the young and single courted about. Techniques  such as placing your sombrero on a lady while she wasn’t looking was a male technique. She would have to wear the hat and  guess who the culprit was. If she found out who he was and was accepting of the suitor so far, she would wear the señors hat. But if she wasn’t particularly attracted to him, there was a point during the song where the ladies could all toss their hats if they pleased. This action was usually followed by lots of laughter amongst the ladies. There was also talk about ladies crushing eggs on the men as a way to let them know they liked them…Ahhh, the good old days!

Two days later, I find myself at a Fandango dance unexpectedly. It happened to be going on at a launch party I was attending for a new blog called the Globalist in Seattle. It’s focused on covering stories that are international in their scope drawing from Seattle’s diversity. While attending, the Seattle Fandango Project had come to offer their music and teach the dance. And as I sat next to my fellow Israeli couchsurfer friend while enjoying a bit of hummus and a dolma, I got up and walked over to participate, because when there are opportunities to dance, I rarely pass them up. And while I may not have had my Moroccan slips and silk robes on, I did have my Indonesian Batik and silk cowboys scarf, so Don Juan Saleme was ready to prance.

As I learned and enjoyed moving my feet to the steps and stomps, I took periodic sips from the drink in my hand, listened to the strumming of 10 something guitars and watched some great fandango from the lovely mujeres of the dance.

Learning of this historic dance  and dancing it in two days makes me love the variety and surprises of life. It became a theme for last week and I may have to go fandango’n again..

Ahhh…It was a nice surprise. Now I shall sign off for some sipping on my yerba mate. Thanks for reading~and keep dancing the fandango of la vida. :) Ciao~

A recent adventure

In Personal Update, Travel on April 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Time for a blog again, and time for adventures again….Well actually adventures happen everyday in their own unique way. I had an adventure that all began with a sunny morning.. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Israeli Writer: Eldad Ben-Moshe, in Mexico!

In Humanitarian, Travel on March 30, 2012 at 1:04 am

While I was in the middle of a Bio-Reserve in Central Yucatan a couple of months ago, I met a long dreaded and bearded nomadic traveler. He was there at this remote Mayan Temple called Calakmul to visit the same day as me. As we got talking and exploring together, I came to find out Eldad was a lawyer and therapist in Tel-Aviv, Israel and enjoys taking some solid time off to enjoy our world. He told me he had been able to travel the world for one year, and was hoping to do another year this time.

Eldad “bush-camps” all over the place. He has a tent, hitchhikes and is a vegetarian along the way. He came across to me as a man who is connected to the universe in a unique way and is a very warm-spirited individual. The last time I saw him in person was on top of a tall Mayan temple, himself in a cross-legged meditative yoga posture.

Since I came back from Mexico, I have been receiving his blog from his continued journey in the area, so I thought I would post his words and photos from his latest post from Palenque to one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City. It is a bit long, but the pictures and his experiences are wonderful. I did a little editing, but for the most part let his english be written the way he did. I also added some bolds and links. Enjoy~

“Los Angeles Mexicanos”

Hola Amigos!

This mail is probably less informative, and as a result it is of a different style…but full of pictures & videos…
and this time I will write less about me and the places, and more about Angeles, most of which are mexicans (hence “los Angeles Mexicanos” - The Mexican Angels. I haven’t gone to LA yet…)

Starting where we last left off: the amazing Palenque. Having written a lot about it last time I will just add that until I left it, I was amazed again and again how green everything is, and I learned a lot from the jungle, the rivers, the waterfalls, the trees, vegetation, the animals… and basically had more of the same:  jungle, good friends, waterfalls and, well, basically a lot of good stuff :-) which also means more pictures, so check out the updated Palenque album again HERE

In fact, just to get you to understand how big Mexico is, here is a map with indications of the places I have been to
Map of Eldad’s Mexican Travels

From there it was a wild ride with 4 great Germans and their great “beatle” car. Except for the great people and the great views, at all times 2 people were sitting on the roof all the way from Palenque to Mexico City(=MC)! everybody wanted to be on the roof of course, so we were taking turns…

This was really fun, especially since the views were most of the time so so beautiful…

Our first destination, except for evening stop-overs (it is a long road!), was Los Tuxtlas - an area that travelers don’t usually go to or even hear/speak about. But I was lucky enough to read about this beautiful area (thanks again, Lonely Planet guide!), which is a natural reserve with a lake, rivers, waterfalls and a lot of green forests and green land… and some beaches too!
so the road over there look like this

and pictures from that area itself are here -

In former mails I wrote how great the Mexicans are, but didn’t write too much about it. I guess I had to wait for some big, beautiful, heart-warming events to happen…
The first of which happened in our first night at Los Tuxlas. We were driving in search for a community we read about to camp for the night. But rain, darkness, our total weight and a steep uphill into the mountains made us turn the car back. On the way back, there was a sign for another “community” (probably more like a very small village than a community). As we were driving in, the people from the first house heard the car and came to see what is going on. We asked about a place to camp and they offered us their balcony, which was perfect because of the heavy rain.

Just think for a moment now – when 5 un-familiar guys from a different country who don’t speak much Spanish come up with a car in the middle of the night, how many people would show loving kindness, and how many people will be too afraid to even open their door? Sadly, I think most of Western Civilization city people would not only stay inside, but will also lock the door. But this was just the angels preview…

As we left Los Tuxtlas after 3 great days, we were getting close to Mexico City when we were stopping for dinner somewhere along the road. Coming back from the restaurant, the car refused to start… So again we were at night, stuck.

One Mexican guy that was there said he knew a mechanic nearby, and went with us to him. At some point, as everybody returned to the car in order to fix it, and the mechanic started working, another Mexican came by. His name was Jorge, and he had a problem with his car too (this place was actually like the Bermuda triangle of cars and trucks…). since it all took a long time, we started talking, and he said that if the car will not be fixed that night, we could come to his home to sleep and in the morning he will set us up with his mechanic.
After 4 hours, around 23:30 (11:30pm), the car was alive again. Jorge, who stayed with us the whole time (!), suggested we still come to him instead of driving to the big city in the middle of the night, and we of course were happy to accept his very kind invitation. And after 100 meters, our car (well actually it was not my car) broke down again… staying with us for so long, inviting 5 strangers into his home, which is not a small cabin but not a large castle either, knowing fixing the car might take some time, while already having in his home a wife, kids, a dog and 2 cats if I remember correctly, is a very kind, special thing to do.

This is the way love multiplies itself: I believe all 5 of us will now be more inclined to do the same in this kind of situation. All in all we stayed there for about 5 days(!) until the car was fixed, and they hosted us beyond any expectation. Imagine 5 young men sleeping in your living room for 5-6 days… not too easy for the family, I am sure! But they made us feel so welcomed and loved, so we didn’t feel like we were interrupting anyone. On the contrary-even their friends invited us to eat in their homes, and we were given nothing but pure love all the way. Did I mention I was dealing with angels?

So this is how the way to MC looked like – even driving in the highway had beautiful views…

…And then we arrived to the big city. How big? “only” 21 Million (!!!) people, almost 3 times the entire population of the entire country of Israel… very small ;-) but before arriving there I was actually thinking to completely skip it (Me? traveling in big cities instead of small natural places?)

I had 3 good reasons to go there – one was to get a new tent instead of the one that broke. The other was to meet great Mexican friends of mine that live in the city (whom I was lucky enough to meet while I was traveling here). And the last – to see another kinds of angels, of which I will write later on. As you can see, none of the reasons had to do with the city itself. With 21,000,000 people, I was sure I had nothing to do there. But I was wrong. Very wrong.

I am here for almost a month now (!!!). While part of it had to do with searching for a tent (you would think that with such large population you could easily find high quality tents. Well, guess again… and I looked really hard, as that would have saved me a lot of money I ended up paying for shipping a tent from the US), the truth is that it is a really great city. I stayed here so long because of my friends,and for the city itself. And the tent is already here for about a week (looking good, and waiting for nature adventures…).

So what is there to do/see here? A lot! The beautiful historical center with its many beautiful buildings, many beautiful fountains (water! always good, definitely in the big city!), a lot of new, tasty, cheap food (street food rules! in fact, Mexico has so much cheap good food all over which makes me and my belly very happy!), beautiful street art, meteors (yes, those big “rocks” that fall from the sky!!), many museums (they say it is the city with the most museums in the world. yes, I became a cultural guy for a month! ;-)), a huge amount of markets of all kinds-food, flowers, antiques (markets rule!), beautiful water canals with gondolas like in Venice (but with a Mexican twist: Mariachi music!), a lot of history (just remember that the Maya, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs and many more civilizations used to live here before the Spanish came and conquered the land…), a lot of colors and many more things. Get the picture?

But most of all, there are angels here too. My friends have been hosting me in their homes all of this time (1 month!) with amazing love & kindness. And again – their families, their friends, their flat mates, everyone – are making me feel so loved and welcome, even though for sure it is not easy to host people for such a long time. The flat I am staying in now is jokingly named “Hostel carta blanca chilanga” (too long to explain. let’s just say it is a Mexican thing…) because this 2 bedroom+1 living room apartment hosted, while I was there, up to 6 people (and also, as you could see in the pictures, it hosts the famous NBA basketball player Hakeem “the dream” Olajuwon!!!

It was really strange to wake up and see him every morning…) My hosts are golden hearted angels, especially if we consider that in both apartments I was hosted by these people who know me just briefly, for about 3-5 days… And even now that I am sick (I got a cold, the 2nd time in 1 month, ever since I got to the big cities. After about 2.5 months of almost only nature, I guess my body is used to the nature and not the pollution of the city, with other stuff that comes with living in a house like watching a lot of screens – computer, smart phone, tv etc, are causing my body to be sick). I am very lucky indeed to have met such wonderful people and have them as my friends!

But this doesn’t end with just the people I knew before coming to the city – while people in the streets are very nice to me here, some are fantastically amazing. For example, two great guys I met when going to the big “derby” football match of Mexico City – I only asked where I can get a ticket, and ended up with a ticket in 2 minutes, without being cheated on the price (some people do try to cheat travelers… but so far it didn’t happen to me a lot, thank god), I sat with them the whole game, singing and jumping for the whole 90 minutes, and in the end of the game one of them gave me his wallet which is with the symbol and colors of his team (America)given they are the “ultras” fans (the most passionate, extreme fans), giving me this gift was much more about a wallet. It was, again, an act of pure love, kindness and hospitality to a traveler who is in their country.

A few words about the game though, and especially the journey to it -
I was lucky enough to switch one metro line with the other exactly when the ultras arrived to the metro. drums, trumpets, smoke and singing were all part of the deal, as even the policemen took pictures of us (yes, us – of course I jumped right in and joined the party!), for this was truly a spectacular parade(don’t worry, pictures and videos are in the link of mexico city pictures below…). and the game was no different of course a huge crowed of about 100,000 people were singing, dancing and jumping in the stadium through the whole game (the game was held in the Azteca stadium – with 114,000 seats, it is the 2nd largest football stadium in the world. it was also where in the 1970 World Cup final, Brazil defeated Italy 4-1 and in the 1986 World Cup final, Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2. It also hosted the 1986 quarter-final between Argentina and England in which Diego Maradona scored both the “Hand of God goal” and the “Goal of the Century”. The stadium also hosted the “Game of the Century”, when Italy defeated West Germany 4-3 in extra time in one of the 1970 semifinals). oh, and we won the game 2-1…
and another friend which sometimes sleeps in the apartment I am living in now got me a ticket (for free!) to latin america’s biggest music festival-vive latino. being a 3 days festival, in the day I was there I got to see fat boy slim (retro!), madness (ultra-retro!), a good mexican band named molotov, and a good Argentinian band named Ilya kuriaky & the valderamas, in case you were wondering… some of my readers are Argentinian…

but the MC experience does not end here, as there are also a lot of things to see in 1-3 driving hours from here (in mexico it is nothing…), one of which is about another kind of angels – also with wings, but not human… every year tens of thousands (or more?) butterflies migrate from Canada through the US to a specific national reserve in mexico (Mariposa Monarca Reserva), and back to Canada again. if this doesn’t sound so special check out these photos and videos – especially the ones towards the end of that album (but not the last ones), as we got there very early so it took them some time to wake up…

another place my friend Rashid took me to (he was one of my “hosts” here) is Tepoztlan – a small town (in Mexico’s terms, right? we’re still talking about 15,000 people here…), beautiful and kind of hippie..

Speaking of hippies, I was lucky enough (yes! again lucky… thanks god!) to go to the ruins of Teotihuacan (which once, in more ancient times, was the most important city in the area) exactly on the equinox day (which is when the day and night are of equal length). This happens twice a year and used to have big significance for the population that settled the land here. Why was this lucky? Because some of the few indigenous people who survived the Spanish conquest came on this day with many colorful costumes and performed their special dancing rituals. It was extremely beautiful.

So what’s up next? First of all is to feel better. Later on, probably in a few days with Gods help, maybe even this weekend, I’ll be leaving the city. But as you have already learned in the past 3.5 months that I am traveling, all my plans might completely change…

peace, love and happiness to you all,
and may we all be as kind, loving, open-hearted and welcoming as the angels we get to meet (or read about…)

Eldad

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