The Firecracker (La Petarda)

(Dealing with explosives, Medellin – 12/10/2018)

-‘You are like a firecracker. Making lots of noise but with no substance behind. Just annoying.’

That was my mental message to her every time I had to come across. She was a particularly irritating type. Typical millennial acting as the only thing in the universe was herself. Her boyfriend was just a quiet satellite orbiting around her. I tried not to get triggered, just to let her go. But what I was doing instead was to feed my passive aggressive side. Not good, I know

We were sharing a flat. So the communal areas were places were we were not alone, and our actions had an impact.

I could not understand the logic of her actions: removing the legs hair in the lounge, front of everyone. Or going through the place listening loud one of the American news channels…. listening to the same thing all over and over.

That made me think you were American….. The typical loud one. The one that can’t bear the silence. There is a type of American citizen like that. A person that needs to create or be surrounded by constant noise, because they can’t stand their own conscience and opted to bombard themselves with constant buzz to silence it.

Don’t get me wrong. All of us in the western world are doing that as well, but Americans are doing it to a greater extent. What is it with us, western world humans, that we can’t bear the silence?

Her need of being surrounded by noise was beyond comprehension. Like cooking a meal at 2am while loud listening to those news or any other American show. Unable to grasp that perhaps she is not alone, and that at 2am people sleep. The next morning you would find the dishes not cleaned from the night before. Probably she decided not to clean to not disturb our rest. What a kind gesture…….

Loud voices any time of the day or the night, meals cooked in the fridge for days getting spoiled, not replacing the toilet roll when finished…. Everything was an exercise of strong impact with no considerations for the others. An unnecessary overbearing presence: what a firecracker is.

So I decided to talk to you. Yes you, the annoying type, just to make you aware of the basic: that other people were around you. But I was told by the management the you were leaving the day after tomorrow so I thought that most pragmatical thing to do at this point was to let it go.

I was cooking my lunch and ready to eat when you and your boyfriend came in with street food. You guys sat in the table just minutes before I was going to do so. In a twist of fate, on your last day, I was set to share the table and eat with you.

Obviously the beginning of our meal together was frosty. You were, again, listening to that annoying news channel. I made a comment about it, could not be quiet. I thought it was unpolite to force everyone to listen that. So the conversation started.

I don’t know when and how, but when I wanted to realised, we were embarked in a very interesting and rewarding conversation. You were not american, but swiss. Your background, what you have done, your work for humanitarian agencies, what is going on with global conscience….. were topics that resonated and went well with my sabbatical experience. Likewise, you found my story very interesting and enriching.

Our conversation extended longer than the meal. I learnt new interesting things about how these humanitarian agencies work. And also realized that I was grumpier that I should have been. My passive aggressiveness blew things bigger, enhancing hostility instead of friendliness.

I was very pleased we had to sat down and eat at the same time with them so we could chat. So I could change my perception on her. I apologized (in my inner will) from my passive aggressive behaviour. That only damages me, no one else. So I should be kinder to myself.

There were 24h more to your departure. Relieved from my negative attitude, I thought I made peace with the whole situation. And in a way I did. But couple of hours later, it came back. I still think you are noisy, that you create unnecessary level of noise and disturbance.

Just that knowing the kind of person you are, I can tolerate it better. Turns out that when we step outside our ego and connect with the others, things are different than the image our ego created. However, there is still a bit of firecracker material in you, my dear. No one is perfect. I am Mr Grumpy.

Alice in Wonderland

(A conversation between Alice and Mr Dodo, Medellin – 03/11/2018)

Hey, when are we going to meet?
Hello Alice, you tell me… you know I have lots of time. Whenever you want
Oh well… we can meet up later today or tomorrow. We can do something during the day
– As you wish Alice. We can plan something during the day
– Ok, let’s have some drink together. Tomorrow I need to the Police and I don’t know how long they will retain me there
– Retain? How come? Shouldn’t Alice be travelling already? …. Well, in any case they will keep you there for a long time
– No no, my travel plans have ended. Now I want to stay quiet, I can tell you when I meet you
– Ok…. I know where are we going to go then in a couple of days. It is a magical place. Around 4pm. I will disclose details day after tomorrow in the morning.

And with that thought, Alice greeted him. They will meet up another day. A day of adventure, and above all, knowledge. But the next two days started with a heavy grey cover in the skies… Despite the torrential rain, Alice was optimistic about it.

– How are you today?
– Hello Alice…. I was going to contact you, but look how rainy it is…. and my species can’t travel in this rain, Alice……
– Ohhh……
– I know Alice, but we will have to postpone it
– Ok
– What about your trip, Alice?
– Oh well… Alice got dates
– Really?
– Yes, but until the day of my departure Alice will spend her time reading. That is what Alice is doing most of the days… In the afternoon, she takes a couple of drinks and that’s it
– I like that life, Alice…. What about the papers?
– Which papers?
– Will Alice come back to her previous life? Will Alice come back to the work cubicle?
– Only thing I can say is that Alice will go to the North in 2 weeks, looking for the sea
– Oh, you will never be the same person again, Alice
– Well…. I am not the same person anymore. Now Alice does not know how to come back…..
– Fantastic….! You found yourself Alice….. You were quite lost, Alice, that’s true.  But you will only know how to return if you know how to get lost
– Mr Dodo, you always speak to me in an encrypted manner as a way to maintain the mystery. You are a bit hard to catch…. but you know what? I have accepted you as you are. I have interesting conversations with you in any case. Everything is ok as it is….
– I am pleased to hear that from you, Alice
– Yes, it is better to accept things as they are… So you are saying that I was already lost?
– I am going to accept your invitation to lunch, Alice
– Ok…. Where?
– Tomorrow I will tell you where. You wont know until you get there
– Mmmmmm…….
– But if it rains before midday, it won’t be possible….. I have told you that my race doesn’t walk under the rain
– Which race is your race?
– We are the opposite of vampires. We live during the day and fear the night. And above all, we fear the rainy days….
– I think your nature is more complex than that. Your biology as standard human is just an external layer….
– I can see you are grasping it….. We don’t drink blood though. We eat vegetables
– You talk to me in an encrypted manner again. But it is ok, I am in learning mode and absorbing information. And there is knowledge I want you to share with me
– Knowledge…….  My soul is an old one
– Mine as well…..
– There is something more there… An interest in the beyond…. Something that you keep there…. A level of conscience to connect with….
– Uff… There has been a bang in my conscience. I have been absorbing an inmense amount of information….. So much that it produces vertigo. Lots of knowledge in such a short time…..
– I know. The plant of wisdom told me something about it, Alice…….  That you are already by the other side. That you would wake up here, in the middle of the world, my friend. How does it feel to be alive?
– By the other side? How do you know that if we have barely talked about ?
– Because my species always know….


– Answering your query about the vertigo, I will tell you that is normal. That is the feeling when we are born. Perhaps later on it will be different. You will get used to it. But right now is vertigo. Only that this time you don’t lose the ability of being surprised. It is normal. You look at the universe and realise how deep is everything you are discovering and facing. Your body will be less necessary in this journey. Your brain will show to you things that you didn’t know they existed. Just right front of your eyes. You will see how magical everything is
– Ufff…. I hope I don’t become mental….
– It is, in reality, very intense… but also very exciting. The whole universe is like a drug
– Ok, when I see you I will tell you my dreams… They have been quite revealing…
– Oh Alice…. You have grown a lot lately….
– How do you know that? Can you see it from your control panel? Is that a good or a bad thing?
– Me? I know nothing……
– Here we go again, the encrypted ways….. I consider you a creature of knowledge… And a bit mysterious too….
– Me? I am just normal…
– There’s more to you that meets the eye
– I know little… I go to school to learn….
– Yes Mr Dodo. You go to school to mix with the mortals, so you can understand them better….
– Ha ha… … yes
– This isn’t new for me…. I have known beings from other planets living in this one…..
– Oh well…. I am bored of this one. I want to be taken to another.
– Another what?
– Another planet. Here they all are mad… Can you imagine how it is out there? We are a plague over this beautiful world. We are a virus
– But you know that we cannot escape from this planet that easily…..
– I know…. We are trapped here trying to transcend
– We are trapped in a system that forces us to come back here again and again….
– Yes, there is something big behind….. What purpose is beneath? Who are we in reality? What reality are we creating without knowing it?
– I thought you would tell me…. but in that case I can share with you the little I know
– We are born, we grow and we die ….
– Yes, we are a like a virus, because we are asleep and we behave like giant amoebas…..
– Exactly, like a virus in a giant body…..
– Hence, my vertigo…. Which comes from knowing that we are trapped and obliged to stay asleep, spending half of our lives in the process of awakening, only to die and when you come back here turns out they slept you again…..
– That is how the game is played Alice….
– I don’t want to come back then
– Me neither Alice. I can tell you that I aspire to be disintegrated in such a way that I cannot be re-assembled in any way!
– Well, my spiritual master told me that inevitably we all come back here
– Really? What a sad thing, don’t you think, Alice?
 – Yes… the only way to escape is to reach a very high level of conscience
– Lets hope that the planets will align so we can get you out of the hole, Alice… it is time for you to come back
– Oh…. and you are coming with me?
– You can’t live there forever. You are in a complicated moment but it is normal
 – Come back where to?
– To the world…….
– Ok Mr Dodo, you speak interesting things again while keeping it encrypted…. are you like that with everyone?
– No, it is not the same for everyone….. The others only know the surface. Only few know my real age. And I have not seen the waking process in many….
– You havent told me your age
– Others have shown me their real age, how old is their spirit. But I have only known one soul. Life doesn’t pan out in the same way for everyone…..
– True….
– The majority are only simple mortals… And I emphasise the world simple…
– And what is your real age, Mr Dodo?
– You know it…. once upon a time, it was a task. You and I have the same age
– I am trying to do the calc of my own age, but I got lost counting…. Remember me please… I am performing too many processes at the moment
– The same age of the universe… my matter is as old as the creation is
– So you are saying that is time to come back to the world…. which world, mr Dodo? Where I am supposed to be now?
– Depends on which level of conscience you are…. You will need to hear the infinitum inside of you to get certain answers….
– Oh Mr Dodo…. it is very instructive to hear you
– You can’t live in wonderland for ever Alice, but you can always come back here. We will be waiting for you, Alice
– Come back? That means I was there? I thought I was in wonderland before waking up….
– You are here… in the chaotic present of a world full of wonders. You were trapped in the real world.
– And you want me to come back where I was?
– We only allowed you to see what could be different, but you are not ready to stay here yet. You will return where you coming from. But you will come back here, that is for sure
– Come back where?
– Here or another land where you can live in peace and harmony. You need to prepare yourself
– Ok…
– Journeys are made in metal birds that you will be using. But there will be a time you will not use them. This time you will leave your conscience and heart in your awakening. So you will come back to fetch them. You deserve a rest of your existence proper of someone who masters its destin
-Mr Dodo, you speak with riddles….. And you previously said the word ‘We’…. who else is with you?
– So many beings that you could not imagine

Sliding Doors

(About the ability to change fate, Puyuhuapi & Medellin  – 26/10/2018)

Sliding Doors is an interesting movie. From, at least, the reflection is trying to make. The film alternates between two parallel lifelines, based on the two paths the central character’s life could take depending on whether she catches a train or not, and causing different outcomes in her life.

If you want to see the movie do not continue reading this post, as I will reveal how it ends. Otherwise, keep reading.

In April this year, in one of the most remote towns in Chile, I rescued a tiny little kitten giving her the possibility of survival (http://www.libonotos.com/2018/04/06/kitten-hero/ ). Her name was Felipa. I was very pleased to follow her thriving process and to know she was happy and doing well. I thought I did something good. I thought I made a difference.

Felipa on the day she was rescued

The couple who adopted the cat, David & Margaret wrote me few days ago. Over the past months, Felipa was doing very well, becoming a playful happy cat. But one morning, Felipa’s mood changed. Suddenly she lost appetite and playfulness. Her mood deteriorated during the day. In the evening, Felipa’s sight became lost, as she was not fully present in the moment. She did not eat at all. At that point, David & Margaret decided to go the vet first thing in the morning. For that they had to take a bus to the nearest town.

They decided to comfort Felipa in the best way possible until the morning. So Felipa spent the night at their room, in the bed, fully warm. That was the best way Felipa could spend the night.

When they woke up in the morning, Felipa was not in this world anymore. She could not make it through the night. Whitin 24h of the first symptom, she was gone.

Just like in the movie, where the two parallel lifelines that occurred (depending on whether she catched a train or not) ended up merging at the same point, the fate of Felipa could not be changed. Her fate was not to stay in this planet. God knows if that little creature will come back to this world or to another world, in the body of another cat or more evolved creature. But what is certain is that she accomplished her mission in this planet.

Perhaps I did not make a difference in her fate, just delayed by 6 months. Still believe was worth the effort. And I am, at least, relieved that I contributed to make her path to her final fate a happier one.

Be in peace wherever you are, Felipa.

The Gang After Death

(Revelations about the other side, Medellin – 07/10/2018)

Sometimes the most shocking story comes unannounced. And again, for some reason (I will write a post in this blog about it) the information unfolds front of you in a manner that in the past years would have never flowed.

Few days ago I bumped into someone I knew from my previous time in Medellin.

We arranged to meet last night and have a drink. So far so good. Like any other gathering, we were catching up and, myself, was storytelling my trip and what happened since last time.

My friend’s phone was beeping all the time. Notifications every 30seconds. My friend was polite enough not to pay attention to those. But I made the calcs, and probably 50 notifications went through.

-‘What a pain must be to check 50 messages in a one go. No wonder why people nowadays are stressed’ – I thought.

It is like these constant notifications prevent you from being present and absorb your attention, making you to run like a robot. I must say that I have been a victim myself of that, so when my mum was criticising my behaviour with the smartphone when I was around her, I must say I did not fully get what she was meaning. I could not grasp how addictive that was. Sorry Mum.

But let’s not get diverted. My friend asked me if I wouldn’t mind another friend joining. I didn’t object. Things need to flow naturally.

His friend arrived slightly wounded up, as the police stopped and searched him. Something that police in Colombia does often. And most of the times, they go for easy targets. To the people who they think they can cash and obtain a bribe from. I was one of them, so I know what exactly I am talking about, as you probably have read in this blog already.

One thing led to another thing, and from the topic of the police we moved to the topic of astral body split experiences. You would ask what is the connection between these two.  Speaking about the police lead us towards the subject of the new cannabis legislation in Colombia. Was it the right step? At the end of the day, there we were, the three of us intoxicating ourselves with a legal drug: alcohol. So once with the topic was on the table, we sidetracked to speak about more interesting experiences.

So in a smooth transition of the subject, the 3 of us were talking about mystical experiences. My friend was telling how many times he went through a body split experience, something that occurs to him few times in a year. That entails a level of consciousness that I have not reached yet. Although, at that point, I related to a very powerful experience I had when I was feeling my spirit was trying to get stolen from me (there will be a post about it).

So the door of the beyond was open. Turns out that my audience, instead of being weirded or unfamiliar with the topic, had lot more to relate and to tell me. The Law of the Attraction was working again, and although these topics are never the agenda for the meeting, they end up appearing.

What I am about to write next might be too ‘crazy’ for some of you. But seems that when you are in one of this astral body split experiences is better not to try to control it, as if you would have the ability to control your journey, you will be tempted to go further and further. And if you go beyond certain point, the connection between your physical and astral body might break. And there is a possibility you can’t go back or that another spirit takes your physical body. Apparently there are many errand spirits floating in the upper dimensions looking for a body to occupy.  To be honest, I don’t understand why they would do so. Who wants to come back to the earth again?

So the next topic was what happens when you die. There is another theory saying that the light at the end of the tunnel is a trap. That once we reach that light, we will be convinced to agree our return to earth to rectify our mistakes and learn more. If that is the case, then I can see this is an endless loop, as no matter how good you live your life here, you will always have mistakes and things to learn at the moment you die. So, according to this theory, you will be eternally coming back. And, if  that is the case, it is a trap.

I’m not sure how much to believe from all this, but if we reincarnate, would you like to be sent back to Earth?  At this point, the friend of my friend told us that he died and came back. He had what is called a near death experience.

I do not feel Colombia as particularly dangerous. But it is true, that to the standards of a European, things happening here are way more violent than in Europe. There is more poverty, more inequality and more crime. That is true. And you need to be more careful than in Europe.

So the friend of my friend told us he was robbed at home. By a gang of 4 latinamerican men. I will not disclose their nationality to not stir prejudices. Apparently, those gangs observe the victim for days before they perpetrate the cup.

One day he was coming back home and, at the moment he opened the gate, he was beaten in the head to lose the conscience. He woke up in his flat tied up in a chair where the four men were beating him up viciously He was bleeding, and got consistently punched till they thought he was dead.

And probably he was, because at that point he felt he was leaving his body. To enter a space of darkness where we was walking towards a light. He crossed the bridge just to get closer to the light. However, he did not entered the light, as his brother (who was murdered years ago) prevent him from doing so. Apparently once we get into the light, there is no way back.

So his brother sent him back.

When the friend of my friend opened the eyes, he was in his bathtub, tied up both arms and legs with blood everywhere. He could hear the four men in the other rooms raving the entire place. They were taking absolutely everything. Apparently these gangs come with a van and to the eyes of the neighbors they are removal people.

From time to time, one of the guys came back to the bathroom and punched the friend of my friend. He had to make an incredible effort of self-control to not react neither breathe. And he stayed like that for good two hours.

-‘The longest two hours of my life’ – he said to us.

One guy of the gang was particularly cruel. Coming back more often than the others and hitting him several times.

-‘Come on man, he’s dead meat! Hurry up here we need to load the van quickly…’ – one of the other gang members shouted at him.

So the gang rushed the final moves to leave the flat. The friend of my friend finally could move and react. Luckily for him, in a shelve near by, there was a bag with toiletries containing some scissors. His body moves managed to push the bag, which felt inside the bathtub spreading all the content inside. After few more twists he manage to somehow get the scissors, and little my little he managed to cut the tapes.

The following events were the standard steps after robbery. He went for help, he got medical support and police came to make a report. Took some weeks for him to recover.

Few months later, the friend of my friend went on Grinder (the magical site of this trip) and you can imagine his surprise when we saw one of the guys of the gang who robbed him. As he was having a profile with no face picture, he approached the guy in order to start a conversation and obtain information. The gang guy was escorting in Grinder. Either in that conversation or in a second one, the friend of my friend managed to know the name of the company he was working for. So he went to the website of the company to obtain the full name and address.

-‘So with that info you went to the police’ – I said
-‘No, man. That is not the way things work in Colombia. The police won’t do anything!’

He gave the details to a couple of hit-men that he knew well.

-‘Do with him whatever you need to. Just don’t tell me what you have done’ – he told the hit-men

Options could be that fingers were chopped, hands burnt or being simply shot. No one knows.  That is the way things work sometimes in here.

Today

(An unexpected outcome, Medellin – 05/10/2018)

Today, 8500km away and 13 years later, an event from the past has become present. I should be surprised, but considering I am going through a period of spiritual growth and adjustment, it might make perfect sense.

Today, an ex partner who has remained friends since our split back in 2005, has written to me to tell me that he does not want to continue our contact so he can have the clear cut that never occurred at that time. I cannot say I was happy to read his email. Neither relieved, although during the last years I sensed something was not flowing right in our friendship.

(The thing is that) Today perhaps I am ready to process this in the correct manner. Which means that in the past I wasn’t ready. One can be (or think that one is) a decent person. And going through life with best intentions. But that doesn’t prevent you from hurting people. The possibility that, for whatever reason, you might not do well to the others, and in particular someone, no matter how good your intentions are. We are constantly trading at emotional levels. Our interactions with others are emotional transactions which, in normal circumstances, benefit both parties.

Today though, I know that most of us start trading romantically before our emotional skills, solvency and understanding of the process are fully acquired. That is why so many of these transactions ended busted and with someone, if not both parties, hurt in the process.

Yesterday, I would have taken the decision of someone not wanting to remain friends after a split as I direct appreciation of who I am. In other words, my ego would have taken the decision of not continue the contact as an invalidating act and direct reflection of what kind of person I am.

Yesterday, my ego perhaps was seeking for the contact to be maintained just to dissipate the idea I could be unworthy or a bad person. A selfish attitude. Just to wash any self criticism as the civilized friendship afterwards would possibly make me a cool person.

Today, I understand that, at that time, that joint decision might have created some unnecessary pain on the other. That the best thing we can do is to let the other people go and to accept that we can create joy as well as pain. That we need to accept the pain we create as an ultimate act of responsibility. That we do not need to say anything else. That I am sorry. That I know you are not reading these words, but the apology is out there now.

Today, I respect your will and I accept your decision to move on.

 

The End of the Affaire

(Change occurs again, Somewhere in America – 15/09/2018)

My journey has been like climbing a mountain. Ascend, peak and descend. Three stages which correspond with three defined moods during this trip.

Ascend. Innocence, Freshness, Expectation, Hope, Keenness
The ascension was to spend two months in Cape Town. Venturing myself outside Europe and getting the flavour of living in a different continent: Africa (although many of you might object that Cape Town isn’t real Africa, which is true in certain ways, but it is Africa in others). Those two months were months of preparation for being a nomad for the rest of the year: to slow down and adjust my pace to the way life outside of working corporate Europe. This was necessary in order to appreciate and absorb the knowledge and experiences set for the next phase.

During that training, I also decided to do give something back. That is why I did some volunteering while I lived in Cape Town. I thought that two months of doing so would be sufficient and would allow me to move in a full leisure mode for the next months. But surprisingly, that was not the case. That experience made me see how much unnecessary pain there was around me. My issues, my problems, my pain was just a little grain of sand in the mountain of pain that this world creates over a vast majority of the humans. Those months in Cape Town activated an emotional and spiritual process that would progress through the remaining of my journey.

Peak. Power, Expansion, Interaction, Adventure, Challenge, Joy
The peak of my journey was backpacking across the entire American continent. From the very south end to almost Canada. From Ushuaia to San Francisco, my journey took me through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile. Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and USA. What a rich selection of places for the journey: glaciers, volcanoes, valleys, mountains, deserts, salt flats, colonial cities, Caribbean beaches and megalopolis that express the power of capitalism.

During such phase I had my ups and downs, I froze and I melted, I travelled with mates and I travelled alone, I had very active weeks and weeks of not doing much. But as I gradually went through this phase, I gradually have become tired. At the beginning, you hardly notice it. But on the final weeks of these phase it was very evident. The signs are very clear: the need of spending time with yourself doing your own things becomes more evident. Sharing dormitories in hostels is something that increasingly becomes less comfortable for you, your wish to talk to strangers diminishes and you might end up preferring sitting on a bench to read your book instead of waking up early to explore all the sights that a place has to offer. That is what happened to me over the last weeks, and when that happens is a moment to slow down.

However during the previous months, the idea that my expartner would join me on this trip kept me going on peak mode. The initial plan was to explore Asia together. The confirmation that he would not going to be able to be part of the experience was the final straw for this phase and precipitated my transition into the final stage of my trip: the descend.

So this is the end of the affaire… The end of the trip.

I am returning back to Colombia to spend the next months reading, writing, exercising, gradually coming back into a routine and allow things to sediment in my system.

Descend. Contraction, Introversion, Isolation, Chary, Withdrawal
The final stage, therefore, has arrived. A time for spiritual learning and physical rest before I return back to I don’t know yet. During the previous phase my spiritual side ignited as I was exploring South America. Deepening my knowledge and questioning on the human condition, on what is our purpose in life, was something that grew together with my geographical knowledge of the continent.

This new phase is the time to absorb, to process, to expand and reflect these things I have learnt, experience and seen over the past months. My journey to Asia will have to wait. What my body is telling me is that I need to start this reflective phase now. Perhaps this change in plans shows I have learnt something on this trip. Perhaps I am slightly more connected to myself and listening to my body in a better way. It has been a huge inconvenience and a loss of money, but shifted my plans and decided to stay still in a place until I can complete my descend.

I am sure it will be a rich period. Hopefully the seeds planted during this trip will start to grow and the beautiful emotions I experienced will lead to another step towards love and balance. Towards enlightenment and higher conscience.

Life is change. People doing a sabbatical are triggering a change in their lives. And for sure, and this is a my golden advice to anyone doing this kind of trip or experience, change will constantly occur during the trip. In the physical and emotional level. Make sure your plans allow you to be flexible because you will have to.

The Hamburguer

(A different meal, Santa Monica – 13/09/2018)

– What brings you here?
– I don’t know…. I was just passing by, saw you and want to give it a try.

I didn’t really want to tell her that part of me was curious what the outcome would be, considering where I am at the moment, and that part of me was sceptical about it. Money, as usual, was the balancing factor. I could decide what kind of treat I could give to myself. A hamburger or this one, both they would cost me the same.

– So what do you want to address?
– Nothing in particular, I am here with an open view. Whatever comes through will be good.
– Well…. since is a very generic request, we will remain in that field: a mixed of ‘flavours’ of your past, present and future, all combined to define your personality.
– That is ok. I have to say I am not hiding from you. The fact I am not looking into your eyes is because I need to get my ear close to your mouth so I can hear you well. There is lot of background noise here.
– Yes, I know. No need to say, but thanks.
– Ok.

I tried to remain as inexpressive as possible whilst I wanted to be polite. Difficult balance, although when you work in corporate world you need to master that skill.

– You are smiling to me. You are very smiley person, but the reality is that there is lot of sadness and loneliness inside of you. You have been let down in the past by those around you, so you don’t trust a lot now. You only trust a limited number of people in your life. You only allow few to be close to you. That also determines your work and professional interaction. You like, you need, to be your own boss.
– Mmm…. ok. I am listening.
– The thing is that, despite that, you dedicate yourself to give. To give to the others, to help the others, to teach the others…. Is easier to for you to give than receive, because you tend to not trust. So giving is easier.
– I see.

Never thought about myself on those terms. But I kept on listening.

– You have been through a period of suppression. You are a creative being, but your creativity has been inhibited over the past years, creating a rift in your inner you. But from this point of your life forwards, creativity is going to be the main drive for your job. Creativity is going to thrive. You will connect with that side of yourself.
– Interesting to hear…
– Yes, your life is going to be a long one. And better times are coming ahead. But your love life has been going through a bumpy period, with someone drifting in and out, without a proper settlement. I have to tell you that this relationship has now come to a point of stagnation. There is not going to be progress in love for a while. It will be a still period.
– Mmmm…. that is not very optimistic output….
– I know, but you don’t have to worry. You are entering a period of light. Everything will be fine.

Her fingers, that were gently touching my hand, withdrew. I slowly started to close my palm and retrieved my hand back towards myself. I did not know what to think. Pretty generic? Or pretty accurate? How many of us would find the above relevant to themselves?

In any case, it was my esoteric hamburger which I enjoyed to have. And, like any type of fast food, it will take a while for the body to digest.

Drama!

(The capital of the world takes its cut, New York – 23/08/2018)

I felt silly today. Perhaps odd. I am not sure how to take what happened today.

Today I travelled to Cancun airport to take my flight to NYC. My feelings towards New York are mixed. I have been always very critical with America and what it stands for. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful people everywhere. But I find the american way of life insane and it is a fact it was only viable because one nation was doing it at the cost of the rest of the planet. If they entire planet would live as America does, we would be extinct within 1 year.

But I must admit that my ideas about the place do not contradict the fact that, number one, it might be worth to visit and number two, that New York might be a fascinating place even if it would horrify me.

That fascination started right before approaching NYC. Accommodation prices in New York are just insane. Your accommodation search will return with ridiculous prices for places that look like a dump.

‘Cesar, prepare yourself – I told my alter ego. The one I chat with most of the times, as I spend a great deal of time with myself.

One week in NYC is going to cost the same than 8 weeks in beautiful Bolivia. Or even more. God knows.

Looking for accommodation was a lengthy task. I found through MrBnB.com a decent place. Ok, I have to share the room but it was in a brand new house in Upper Manhattan for 28 USD. A bargain considering what he city offers.

But the rose of the winds changes its direction and the breeze from the helping gods would quickly turn into other type of wind.

I arrived to the airport in time. No drama. Yesterday, I checked the time of the flight again and a 13.10 departure would ensure me plenty of time. Even better, no queues at the check-in. Within 3 min I was a the counter. What a great start of the day!

The air assistant could not find my booking. We tried all the possible ways to retrieve it but we could not locate it. I booked my ticket using www.opodo.com. All I got at that time was a long email from them and an opodo transaction number. Not an airline code nor a booking reference from the airline. Trying to find additional information to provide to the air assistant, I started to carefully read the email again just to find out that my flight was yesterday.

What a shock and odd thing. Never in my life something like that occurred to me. Most strange thing was that, for months, I kept saying friends and everyone that I was flying on the 23rd Aug. The booking for accomodation was based on that day. The heading I gave to the PDF confirmation voucher was with the date of the 23rd.

I checked the flying details several times in the past. And two days ago I checked the time of the departure again and did not see that it was for the 22nd Aug.

From the day of the purchase, I commited to the 23rd Aug as the flying date. Most oddly, when your flight is approaching, you get emails from the airline or ticket supplier reminding you that your flight date is coming or that you could check-in online. But I did not get any communication. Something that could have made me spot my mistake.

Everything prior today was aligned with the date of the 23rd. There was not a single sign that could indicate something different. Just to realize at the counter that it was yesterday.

The airline could not offer me an alternative arrangement, as everything was fully booked until sunday 26th. I just have to get a new ticket elsewhere.

That was not the only problem. Despite being one of the major world airports, there was no internet at Cancun Airport. Neither free or paying one. Literally there was no way to connect myself to the internet.

Out of the blue, a middle age taxi driver saw my face of dispair when he asked me what was the matter. He offered me to share his connection after my answer. So just there, standing up in the middle of the entrance someone shared his connection so I could try to find my way out of the drama.

Found a ticket for today. Very expensive, although considering is a last minute ticket, was not that bad. Just did not think about it and bought it. And, as I was having 6 hours wait at the airport, I started writting this post (offline).

As I said at the beginning of this post I felt silly. And odd. Because I cannot understand how did it happened. Perhaps this is an Illuminati conspiration and revenge, since few days ago someone in facebook that claimed to be part of the group (I did not believe it that much) sent me a friend request that I rejected. Not really interested in joining any of these groups.

Or perhaps it is a different force behind? In any case, feels like the date was just changed overnight while I was sleeping to make me go through what I am experiencing today.

I thought that by finding the affordable accommodation I booked at the end, I escaped the demands of the capital to fulfil my duties. But the capital of capitalism always find the way to make you pay. One way or the other, NYC is going to get its cut.

It was a bad start for New York. And I hoped the Rose of the Winds would turn again soon.

But my day ended arriving to JFK at midnight and waiting 2h30min to go through inmigration. And spent another 60USD in a taxi as it was the only way to get to my accommodation.

I deeply breathed and assumed what happened as inevitable. It was meant to happen. Sometimes, money is there to be spent. Or to be put down the sink.

One tattoo less.

En el taxi con Torrente

(El brazo tonto de la ley y yo, La Habana – 11/08/2018)

En La Habana, como en otras ciudades del mundo, funcionan los taxis colectivos. Son taxis con una ruta predefinida en los que te subes y bajas cuando lo solicitas. Los colectivos son siempre compartidos. Otra gente se sube al taxi y comparten el viaje.

Evidentemente, los colectivos son mucho más baratos que los taxis individuales (en la Habana pagas hasta 10 veces menos) y siempre son mucho más interesantes, ya que compartes el viaje con personas locales. Lo cual te permite saborerar la realidad de las gentes que habitan la ciudad.

Normalmente en los colectivos te encuentras con gente simpática. Ayer, al subirme al colectivo, me topé con un personaje para recordar. La personificación de Torrente en un cubano: CuTorrente.

CuTorrente reía compulsivamente y dominaba la conversación dentro del colectivo. No se oía a otra persona más que a él. Nada más subirme, centró su verborrea en la persona nueva que se subía al colectivo: o sea, yo.

– ‘Hola tío, joder la ostia como estás tío?’ – lo cual fue seguido de una carcajada grotesca, que sería la muletilla que acompañaría a cualquiera de sus frases. – ‘Eres de Essshhpaña!’

Por lo visto, CuTorrente encontraba sus intervenciones de una gran brillantez y gracia.

– ‘Si, ya veo que lo has notado’ – alcancé a decir, intentando ser educado pero conciso y breve.

Confiaba en no alimentar la conversación. Pero eso no detuvo a CuTorrente.

– ‘ Te gusta el fútbol? De qué equipo eres?…..   Prefieres a Messi o a Cristiano?‘ – preguntó de inmediato.
– ‘La verdad? Pues ninguno de los dos……. No me gustan las superestrellas en un equipo. Prefiero cuando el equipo no gira en torno a una sola persona y es más equilibrado’ – respondí.
– ‘Joder, al essshpañol no le gustan las figuras!’ – alcanzó a verborrear dirigiéndose al resto de la gente del colectivo, tras lo cual acto seguido lanzó otra de sus carcajadas delirantes.

El chico sentado al lado mío me miró con cara atónita, aunque más cara de póker tendría yo. CuTorrente seguia diciendo nosequé y riendo a carcajada limpia. Acto seguido, volvió a preguntarme.

– ‘Te gusta la farlopa?‘ – alcanzó a decir.

Temiéndome una reacción aun más histriónica, sopesé mi respuesta a fin de decir algo que fuese neutro y no le diese más cuerda a su verborrea (Un curripipi mix, en términos de Jesulín de Ubrique).

– ‘Si es buena,   sí – le respondí
– ‘Ah pues yo tengo, quieres?‘ -dijo él partiéndose de risa
– ‘Gracias, pero ya voy a dormir’ – le contesté. Y pensé para mis adentros, ‘tiene que ser una farlopa muy buena, porque se te ha ido la pinza del todo y no te das cuenta de lo fuera de tono que estás!’

CuTorrente seguía berreando y riéndose de sus propias ocurrencias. Las caras del resto de personas en el colectivo eren dignas de ser fotografiadas. Qué tipo tan casposo!

Al parar en un semáforo, dos chicas cruzaron la calle. Eran dos muchachas normales, nada llamativas y desde luego, sin un físico agraciado. Pero el olor a mujer debió de llegar a las papilas olfativas de CuTorrente a través de los conductos de ventilación del colectivo.

-‘Mira que dos shoshitos, qué ricos… no te gustaría comértelos?’ – espetó… seguido de una carcajada tan larga y ruidosa que afortuanadamente no hubo ocasión de decir nada.

El semáforo se puso en verde, el coche en marcha y dos manzanas más adelante me bajé… justo a tiempo antes de que CuTorrente propusiese a la gente del colectivo hacerse unas pajillas…….  pero sin mariconadas, eh?

Grinder encounters (again)

(A happy family reunion, Peru – 01/08/2018)

Undoubtedly, Grinder is a useful tool for a gay man when traveling alone. Despite its toxicity at times (too often though), it allows you to contact people. And, like everywhere, there is bad people but also good people.

I always believed that every person in your life has a meaning. Every encounter has a purpose. The tricky thing is to know that purpose. The beauty of my trip is that I am finding out about that purpose quite quickly and I am experiencing how beautiful that purpose is.

During my stay in Lima, and despite being alone for many days in a shitty accommodation (until I met my old friend in the last 2 days of my stay in the city), I only met one guy in grinder: Leandro.

Leandro is from Venezuela, and like many of his country fellows, he had to leave the country to venture a better life somewhere else, in this case Peru. We went for lunch together and a coffee afterwards. And although we had a nice conversation and time together, we did not meet again. In that respect, it was an unconventional meet under the standards that normally apply on the app. It was not a date, it was not a hook-up. Just two people sharing their life experiences.

That afternoon I had to move to a completely different part of the town and entered a period of introspection, so I did not meet nor speak to Leandro again.

For a strange reason, few weeks later when I was in Colombia, I messaged him. Leandro was trying to reunite the money to bring his family to Peru, as the situation in Venezuela deteriorates by the day.  At this point I had an impulse: that was the purpose of our meeting. Leandro never asked me anything, but I offered him the money for the passage of one of his family members.

I have been in the same situation, where someone who barely knew me helped with in a generous manner, with no questions, without expecting something back. So it was my turn to return some of that. I want to believe good people are out there, everywhere. I want to believe social media and apps are not shallow places only. Good will and energy is everywhere. And the more you give, the more you receive.

So I am glad I could help this family to have a better life. Good luck to all of you in this new phase! God bless you all, Leandro.

One day there will be no borders, no customs, no closed countries…. We all will be people of the world and no one will have to leave his place because there is no hope or opportunities due to the incompetence and confrontation between men.

My Tayrona

(How to make the best of Tayrona Park, Colombia – 26/07/2018)

My bad luck……. (Sometimes)

Do you ever have the feeling that when you decide to do something or attend somewhere, circumstances do not work in your favor? In other words, that you have bad luck (or at least not the same luck than others?)… I do.

And this is one of the things I am trying to burn in this trip….. because it isn’t true and because, in any case, the universe works its way for us and everything happens in the way is supposed to happen.

The Tayrona Park is without a doubt a must see place in Colombia. So when you travel to Colombia, make sure you allow yourself sufficient time to visit the place. As well, it is very important to get all the information correctly, so you make the best out of the place.

Minutes after my arrival to the hostel in Santa Marta, one of my roommates gave me information about the park. But unfortunately this information was incomplete and without you having the correct and accurate information, you will make your experience at the park more complicated. So this post will try to give you better understanding on the choices and what can you do.

Buses from Santa Marta go to the Park every 15 min. And cost is 8000 COP.

The park stretches over a vast area of the North Caribbean cost of Colombia, although only 1/4 of the park is accessible for tourists. The rest is protected and sacred land.

So in the area open to tourism, you will find numerous beaches and places to stay. However, we could say that there are mainly two areas for staying: San Juan and Arrecifes. Both have different atmosphere.

San Juan is the most famous one and, therefore, the busiest place. It is right by the beach, so you will sleep seeing and hearing the waves. That is a wonderful thing. It is also, the place for partying and socializing. So San Juan is packed with young backpackers all over the world. The downside of this is the quality of the facilities (more backpacking standards), the noise and the difficulty to get a place. It gets filled quite quickly.

Arrecifes instead has more options, including a higher rating lodge-camping ground with a good restaurant. It is also quieter, and the hamacs have mosquito nets (not present in San Juan), so for those looking for a good night of rest and quieter mood, Arrecifes is better. The dowside of Arrecifes is that is not by the beach, but slightly inland. So you don’t see or feel the sea close.

Obviously, despite I always tend to to go for a good sleeping place, I was preferring San Juan. I wanted to sleep right next to the sea. I was told you could not prebook your accommodation in the park.

There are two entrances in the park, the official entrance on the eastern end of the park and a small one in a place called ‘Calabazo’, which is inland but aligned with San Juan if you walk straight towards the sea. The Calabazo entrance is poorly equipped, so you will not benefit from all the infrastructure you have in the main entrance. The advice given was to enter through Calabazo and walk straight to San Juan, so I could arrive earlier than the others, as they were coming from further distance.

However, the walk from Calabazo to San Juan is through a steep hill/little mountain. You have a pretty good 3.5h hike in a torrid, sticky, hot and humid environment. So it is not easy, neither you walk fast.

In the middle of that hike you will visit a indian settlement (Pueblito) which is half way to San Juan. Usually people go there from San Juan and come back. The path is quite rocky and challenging, so if you do it from a relax mood (rather than rushing through it as you want to get to San Juan quickly to get your space), it is quite enjoyable.

After 4h, and sweating my own body weight, I arrived to San Juan. I queued at the reception to get to my hamac, just to be told they are fully booked.  But right after me, some Argentinian girls claimed their reserved hamacs for the evening….. Reserved????? –  ‘I thought accommodation in the park could not be reserved’

Here is when my insistence in getting the right information is key to ensure a pleasant experience. Apparently, when you get off the bus from Santa Marta at the main park entrance, some people are selling you spaces in San Juan Lodge, so before you enter the park you have your space. Bummer!!!

Even worse, once inside the park there is a shuttle service from there to an internal parking area, very close to the beach La Piscinita. So people entering  from the main entrance, walked half the time with a secured place. And myself, I had to walk 5h at the end to get a space which was not by the sea.

So, I hope this prevents you from making the same mistakes and you can make the most of the Park. Allow yourself few days to stay there and finish your visit in Palomino, one of the most beautiful nature preserved beaches in the area.

Pictures of the Tayrona Park and Palomino are in the video below.

Moral lessons (The ugly side of Colombia)

(A conversation with the Police, Medellin – 22/07/2018)

Sooner or later something like that would happen. In a way was meant to happen, but didn’t see it coming. What a beautiful country Colombia is, but like any place, it has its drawbacks.

Medellin is a very pleasant town, and perfect for a bit of relaxing and leisure. So in a backpacker trip, there are times where you need a bit of leisure and festive time. Medellin was perfect for this. I stayed in the most trendy-hipster part of the town, Parque Lleras. A pleasant area full of bars, places to eat and relax.

So no long after I joined the first bar, I managed to chat with a couple of local people. The night started to unfold nicely, friendly atmosphere and conversation. So when at some point, someone offered me some grass I engaged with the idea of having some, which I placed in my back pocket.

Few more drinks went on, until it was time to change venue. I started to walk in the street towards the next bar, when the police stop me. Perhaps was a random thing, but looking foreigner in Colombia obviously makes me more noticeable.

What happened next, you could imagine. Police searched me and, obviously, found the little grass in my pocket. Turns out that having some grass for your own use is not a legal issue, but these kind of things are not known beforehand and is difficult to argue with a police man.

So, the police men (they were two) started to reprimand me: ‘we (foreigners) are scum coming to their beautiful country to commit crimes’. After the moral reprimand, came the legal threat. They will have to take me to the Police Station and so on. And after these two, came the possible redemption. I could, instead of going to the station, pay ‘the fine’ for what I was doing. They asked me what would I prefer. To pay ‘in situ’ or going to the station. At that point I understood what this game was about and knew that money was the name of the game.

So I engaged with the idea of paying with no resistance and played along.

What it came after, was a very well orchestrated pantomime performed by the police. One of the officers took a device out where apparently was inputting data to obtain the amount of my fine. To come with an initial figure of $70 US dollar (I have converted the currency).

I did not have that money, so I took my phone out to charge my prepaid credit so I could pay him with card or withdraw the money. When the police saw this was going to leave any kind of trace kinda panicked… ‘What you doing?‘ he said.

‘I need to get money in my card, as I have no cash to pay that amount’ – was my answer

‘Don’t worry. There is a discount, so you don’t have to pay the full amount’ – And once again, went back to his device to play god knows what, to come with the reduced figure – ‘$35 US dollar it is!’

As I was trying to get the cash, the police men told me to hide it (not to have it in my hands). They asked me to move to a darker area of the road (where no cameras are present) and place the money of the ‘fine’ in my back pocket. Not to give it in their hands.

So, I gently placed the money in my back pocket. The police played the game was searching me again just to take the money from my pocket. And after I paid the money, they returned to me my little grass so I could use to relax after the stressful experience. How kind of them!

So what a great moral lesson I got from these police men. Other travelers told me similar stories, but I never thought it could happen to me.

To end up the story, 5 min after and 100m away from my moral lesson learnt about the police and values, someone tried to mug me and get my phone. He did not succeed as I reacted cleverly. But I am sure my contribution to police funding will help for police to be more efficient and avoid robbery in city centers…..

By the way, anyone know how to claim the receipt of the fine I got?

La Casa de los Espiritus (The House of Spirits)

(A place for mysticism and connection- 03/07/2018)

My visit to Lima has been one of the most unconventional stays during my trip. It is well know for being a culinary center where to eat most delicious food. And, although I had quite good couple of meals there, for me Lima was a place for spiritual nurturing.

Perhaps the constant fog that covered Lima during the 8 days I stayed there was a manifestation of its mysticism and special vibrational energy. I did not see the sun while I was there, but the city ended up being a place of other sorts of light.

Lima is, certainly a tough place: a city that has quickly grown inorganically to reach 9 million, lacking a proper public transport system and with the most congested traffic in South America….. But in the middle of that chaos, new friendships were forged along the relighting of old ones.

New friends like Leandro (there is a post about him) or like Miguel and Carlos. After 3 cancellations in a row of a different places I booked, I ended up in despair as I had no place to stay. Through a network of friends of friends I ended up meeting Miguel and lately his flatmate Carlos. Although the initial purpose was to help me during my accommodation crisis, we ended up making a beautiful friendship and spiritual connection.

It wasn’t perhaps a coincidence that in the weeks before my Ayahuasca session (which took place in Lima and for which I am making another post) I started to get in touch with lots of spiritual/metaphysical contents about who we are, where we come from, about our transcendence, eternity and what happens after death.

Some of these theories are quite interesting. And from the narrative point of view fascinating, whether we can believe in them or not. The origins of humanity as an inference of a more advance alien intelligence, the re-incarnation circle of Samsara, the purpose of having recurrent dreams and hypnotic regressions to find out about previous incarnations of our soul… all of these topics were boiling inside me during the past weeks. And I had fantastic conversations with Miguel and Carlos about them. So finding people who could be part of that process and share their own knowledge wasn’t a random thing. The universe is wisdom, and places the right people and information along your path.

But Lima was also a place to meet again with an old friend. After weeks of trying to communicate with her, I finally reached my friend Rocio.

Rocio and I know each other from my time in Madrid, same place and time as Rodrigo (whom I re-encountered in Santiago in April). Rocio has been always a woman of special spiritual sensitivity. Always in touch with our transcendence and the reality around us that many times we are not able to feel, Rocio channels her energy by writing and mediating.

Same as my encounter with Rodrigo, meeting up someone after 25 years always bring you some anxiety. However, this time was easier. The warmth and wonderful experience I had reconnecting with Rodrigo in April, made me more confident. So this time would go well as well.

In addition, there was the spiritual side of Rocio. Something that 25 years ago, I was not ready to keep up with but that now, in the light of my journey the past months and recent experiences, I was ready and keen to share.

However, on the day of our meet, same questions came back to me: will she look the same or very different, will we have a fluid conversation or not….. But this time, I didn’t need to prepare myself with a couple of drinks prior our meeting.

We met in one of the most trendy cafes in Miraflores and it was like those 25 years were only 25 months. She look exactly the same and our conversation was as if those years didn’t pass. After few beers, she took me to a birthday party of her friends where I ended up meeting some really nice people, especially her friend Milca.

It was another highlight to meet and reconnect with an old friend after 25 years, and again, not only reconnect with her but making new friendships. That night I went to bed with a smile and nice feeling inside.

So good to meet you again Rocio, and speak about our life events, our projects and spiritual stuff. This trip is not one-off event, but the reinstate of a part of my that I did not cultivate the past years. Thank you for all the things we shared and for your wonderful book. Till we will meet again, which will be soon.

La Abuelita (The Grandmother)

(A magic encounter, Lima – 28/06/2018)

They say that you don’t find her. She finds you. And she comes to you when you are ready.

I started to hear about her at the same time than the idea of the need of a sabbatical break (and trip) was brewing. Initially was like the exotic story you hear from someone when you are drunk. The kind of conversations you have when you are intoxicated.

She only can be found in South America. At least, the real deal. The Amazonian Jungle is where she’s from. As my trip proposal and plans were slowly pointing myself towards South America, references about her started to appear as well. Was that a signal? I didn’t know. It could be that during my trip she could be meters away from me and we would never meet.

She has to come to you. She finds you. That is the way she always work.

So I kept my mind open. With the understanding that when the moment comes, I would not have to bend backwards to find her. She will just cross my path.

But she kept me sending subliminal messages since I entered the Latin America. From time to time, she sent me a messenger just to tell me ‘I am around’. So I was optimistic about the possibility of meeting up.

If there is a country where she feels comfortable, that is Peru. One of the spiritual vortexes of the world, Peru is the place for mysticism and transcendence. So when I reached Peru, despite I knew she had to find me, I could not help to be, let’s say, extra alert.

She chose the perfect time and place to send the messenger announcing her arrival. Once I arrived to Cuzco, just to meet me after visiting Machu Picchu. The channel she chose to send the messenger was Grinder. What a twist. The least spiritual platform on earth became the platform for enlightenment.

-‘ She is playful ‘ – I thought when I could analyse the whole thing retrospectively.

Someone from Cusco wrote me a message when I was in Arequipa. His name was Victor. It wasn’t clear how would meet and for which purpose. But turned out we ended up having a coffee 30min after I arrived to Cusco city centre. We had that coffee and we never met again (although the initial plan was to properly meet up). During our brief coffee, we spoke (among other things) about Cusco and its mysticism.

I asked Victor if she had met her. His answer was yes. And that he knew who could put me in contact with her. She is the caring grandmother of us. And if you have not worked out who she is by now, her name is Ayahuasca.

From that moment, I knew I would meet her. Victor passed me the details of a shaman he knew. I immediately messaged him. And despite the shaman did not reply my initial message, I began my preparation.

The nickname of La Abuela is not my make. Local people and shamans refer to San Pedro (the herb) as el Abuelo and Ayahuasca as La Abuela. Both take care of the humans, but do have a different personality.

Ayahuasca is not to be taken lightly. Neither to be embraced without a preparation. It has to be done only through a Shaman. And you have to prepare yourself physically and spiritually.

You need to detox your body and spirit. For at least one week, you will have to diet. Not to eat dead animals, specially meat. No coffee, no alcohol, no cigarettes. And no sex (you cannot masturbate yourself either). Your body is the temple where you will receive her, and you will need to be as pure as possible. As well, praying and meditating during that preparation time is helpful.

Under those conditions I did the Salkantay Trek (4 days trek in the mountain, ending in Machu Picchu). At my return to Cusco, the shaman replied to me. He was in Lima during those days and not in Cusco.

I could not come to terms why she would choose Lima for our encounter, but that was the way things worked out. So I booked a ticket to Lima.

At this point of the story, I started to feel a bit of anxiety. I did not take her lightly. And I knew that, although is a healing journey, is not necessarily a pleasant one. That respect I had for her along with the fact that we were going to meet in the middle of an urban jungle, instead of being in the middle of nature one, was a key factor to understand what came next.

Two things the shaman asked me to do in preparation for the ceremony. Number one, to wear clothes as white as possible. And number two, to do a preparation/forgiving prayer for my ancestors, my parents and myself prior the day of the ceremony.

The forgiving prayer was an interesting experience. I did it the night before the ceremony and lasted for almost one hour. During that time I was thinking about my ancestors and my parents, although the energy shifted towards my parents, my brothers and uncles/aunties.

I cried during that prayer. For some reason, I could see them under a different light. I became more aware of the history behind them and the pain each of them was carrying in life. And I felt compassion. And I cried.

Next morning I went to Lima. And couple of hours after I arrived to Lima and checked-in, I was on my way to the ceremony. It took me more than 1 hour in a traffic jam to get to the place. That was not good start. You need to put things in perspective. Here I am, about to have a life changing experience. To be done alone, just me and the shaman, in a quite run down house in a proletarian suburb of Lima. That was quite intimidating.

But that was the way she came to me. So I was committed to just do it.

The shaman took me to the room and prepared both himself and myself for it. Blankets, cushions and empty bucket for each of us. And there she was. Right front of me. My anxiety peaked. But there was no way back.

The journey that came after taking her was unconventional. And, like everytime we are extremely alert about something, it worked in an unexpected way. The best way to describe it is like when you are waiting to get somewhere and you set yourself in a waiting mode, just to realise at some point that you are there. You got there without noticing.

As I previously disclosed my fears to the shaman, he was conservative about dosage. The idea was to have first journey not too wild. And that was going to be the case, although I didn’t know it at that time.

In the journey, you go through different sensorial phases. There is a sound phase, where the smallest resonance vibrates inside of you with no fading. There is a geometrical phase, where alive geometries take shape inside your brain. And from there you go to organic phase.

It is an interesting journey. You get out of reality as same time part of you remains within. Your brain drifts in and out of it. And I was conscious of the whole thing and therefore, bit scared. I didn’t know where the journey would take me.

I remember a part of me wanting to stand up and go, although I was unable to move. I never had crazy visions nor too strong or frightening. It was neither the thing I imagined. The gate of the universe did not open front of me. For that, you will probably need to let go more and trip much further. The journey just went as far as I was ready to go. She was gentle with me.

The visions were right front of my eyes but at some point stabilsied. Normally that is the moment you are given a second dose. But neither the shaman offered it, neither myself was keen to do it. Probably the shaman felt it. So at that point, when I knew that nothing bad would happen to me, I started to relax and embrace it.

Ironically, at the point of embracing it was the point where a plateau was reached. And from that moment, the sensations and visions started to slowly gradually further themselves from me. The vision of animals (especially cats) crossed my mind. That along with the idea that she was doing her work in a different way I had expected. At the end of the day, that is always the way lessons come to you.

So I relaxed. Took the experience as it was. And enjoyed myself in the gentle journey of touching down.

Almost five hours after the start, I finally touched down. Didn’t throw up. Wasn’t feeling weird or bad. Just clear. And with the conviction that she did her work in a subtle way. Isn’t that the way our grandmothers taught us lessons?

The experience needs to be taken as a whole. Not only what occurred at the ceremony, but what I learnt during the preparation was also part of it. Other people also told me the same. Other people’s first experiences were similar. It is, in a way, like your first sexual experience. Rarely deploys itself to the full. And your expectations about it always exceed the reality of it. Good thing this time is that it was not traumatic. Despite my initial fear, it was pleasant.

Although I was offered the possibility of staying there overnight, I preferred to skip the morning horrendous traffic. I booked a cab to get to where my accommodation was.

When I arrived to the hostel, something odd happened. The in-house cats (who barely saw me) came to me as if I was a magnet. They were rubbing themselves against me for 40 min. And I stayed in that state with them in the darkness of the living room.

As I went to my room, one of the cats followed me. I laid in the bed and the cat sat front of my face, looking at me. The cat did not want to be petted or touched. Just to stay still front of my eyes. Like a guarding agent. As if the cat felt a special energy or vibration. And just like that, I felt asleep.

Six hours later, I opened the eyes and found the cat’s eyes facing me. I naturally woke up. The cat did not do anything to wake me up. I released the cat and the memory of my dream came to my head.

I could not tell exactly what my dream during my sleep was. But there was this feeling in the dream of being humble. Not in reprimanding way. My dream was showing me a path of humility and gratitude.

The final message that the Abuelita left me with. Until we meet again.

El Dorado

(A revelation of an ancient story, Machu Picchu – 24/06/2018)

– Yupanqui, what are we doing in this city? There is food scarcity, our trading with other tribes has diminished to almost non-existent, we no longer protected by our federation and people…. Our enemies are surrounding us….
– We are protecting the sacred gold of our Gods from the greedy bloody hands of the spanish. We are the keepers of the Inca Empire.
– But there is no Inca Empire. It is all gone…. Our time has gone! On the other hand, the spanish will offer us a civilization in which we can live.
– You are out of your mind Huáscar! – Yupanqui said – We are the civilization!  We had an empire that extended over the entire land. We know the secret of the stars. We live synchronised with our environment. We know the secrets of mother earth… Spanish people know nothing. And they have obscure intentions.
– They have same intentions we had with other tribes… To create an empire and integrate people under that rule…..
– They killed our people!!! We are safe here. We built this city and as long as we are here, we can survive.
– Yupanqui, you don’t see the reality. Our children are getting sicker and weaker by each generation, our militar ability to defend is diminishing, the spanish are expanding across the land and it is a matter of time they will see the fires we set in the night to warm us…… It is a matter of time they will find us.
– We can’t surrender to those gold diggers. We can’t give our sacred gold to the spanish…. It will only feed death and destruction. The gold of our Gods is for the connection of the man with the light, not with the darkness. We can’t allow the sacred gold to fuel the evil in the world.
– But Yupanqui, by staying here we will not protect it, rather the opposite. We are exposing it. The best way to protect the sacred gold is to do something rather than staying here… to be proactive! Staying in this place will actually allow the spanish to find us and get the sacred gold….

Tears came out of the eyes of Yupanqui. For the first time in years, he saw the reality. He knew Huáscar was right. Their sacred city, Machu Picchu, was no longer safe. It had to be abandoned. A city built by the most noble and fierce men of the Inca Empire. The empire that once dominated the entire land. Now reduced to few isolated settlements in the jungle.

– Oh Gods, why did you abandon us? – Yupanqui thought.

Yupanqui and Huáscar summoned the sacred council for the next day. All the wise men together had to decide what to do with the city of Machu Picchu and its people.

After a light dinner and little pray for the gods, Yupanqui went to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and he would need his sleep. Whitin minutes, he was sleeping.

The gods visited Yupanqui during his dreams. He heard stories or kings and priests visited by the gods during the sleep, but he always thought that was part of the group of legends to contain the ancestral knowledge of the Incas. But that night it was happening for him: he was being visited. He could not see any faces, just shapes of light around him, making a circle .

– Yupanqui, – the gods said – you need to listen carefully. Huáscar was our messenger to prepare you for this. We cannot allow the spanish to get our sacred gold. Our culture, our history, our knowledge, our memory is contained in our sacred paraphernalia. If the spanish get hold of the gold, we will be vanished for good. Our memory will be wiped out, and the mother nature will lose its guards. Our spirit, our values must remain. We need to protect the mother nature, even if we protect it to allow foreigners to thrive and act against us. They think they can rule the world without us, but without our existence mother nature will die and everything on Earth will die too.
– Oh Gods, but the spanish only create destruction and pain…..
– Yupanqui, we are the keepers of mother nature. Our mission in this planet is to nurture and guard mother nature, so the light and the darkness, the good and the evil, can exist. It is not for us to judge the others. Our mission is to enable and keep life.
– Gods, I am your servant. I will follow your instructions….
– In a month, on the day of the summer solstice, the entire city has to be summoned in the flat land at the north of the city before the sunrise. A stone totem will be placed in the middle of the land by that day. Our sacred gold will be distributed among everyone, so every person will be carrying a portion of our sacred gold. You, Yupanqui, need to organise people in circles. Climb to the totem and conduct them from there. Circles must be concentric around the totem made by the people holding hands.
Everything needs to be ready before the sunrise. Each circle of people will be rotating in an alternating way, and the people will be singing the mother nature mantra.
– Is that all? What will happen after?
– It is not for you to know more than this, Yupanqui. Only that by doing that the survival and memory of the Incas will be preserved forever.

The next day, Yupanqui spoke at the sacred council explaining the vision he had during the dream. Surprisingly, no one had objection. They agreed the course of action and the next day the entire city was informed.

On the day of the summer solstice everything was arranged according to the indications of the gods. The stone totem was placed in the middle of the flat land at the north of the city. The gold was distributed among the entire population, ensuring everyone was carrying a bit of the sacred gold.

It was still a good hour before the sunrise, but everyone was holding hands creating circles around the central totem. Yupanqui was at the top of the totem, setting the pace, the sense of rotation of each circle and conducting the mantra, so everyone was synced.

At the beginning was a bit chaotic, but soon everyone found its way and moments later the entire city of Macchu Picchu was dancing in circles around the totem. Yupanqui was at the top of the totem, holding the sacred golden sphere above his head.

It was at that moment when the first sunrays appeared and started to reflect. The curved surface of the sphere reflected the sun rays in different angles, reaching each of the circles. The rotation of the circles made the reflection of the sun to reach everyone. And the gold everyone was carrying reflected back, creating an immense cloud of shine.

Like a tornado spiraling, the different circles of shine started to spin faster and ascend, creating the shape of a mountain. The energy was so powerful that everyone blended with the ascending spiral of shine. As they ascended, the tone of the mantra elevated. The entire people unified in one single energy field, spinning faster and faster until a point was reached where it was no longer possible to distinguish people. Just a shining mountain shape covered in haze emitting the sound of the mantra of the mother nature, which was gradually fading as the spin got faster and faster.

When the sound of the mantra faded, the hazy atmosphere cleared up to reveal a new mountain at the place where people summoned. The Huana Picchu. The Inca people blended with mother nature to become the permanent guards of Machu Pichu and the Inca memory. And that is the way it has remained since.

Tells the legend that if you visit Machu Pichu on the day of the summer solstice, the first rays of the sun over Huana Pichu will show the golden reflection of the sacred gold than the Incas took with themselves. And if you manage to silence your spirit, you will hear a mantra in the background.

The Incas keep safeguarding life and nature for us to enjoy this world.

On the morning of the 24th, the Inti Raymi, we ascended the Machu Picchu mountain to see the miracle of the sun hitting the Huana Piccu montain.

We woke at 3.30am and departed from Aguas Calientes so we could start the ascension to the sacred city by 4.30am. There is a stepped climb of almost 800m to reach the entrance. But these are no easy steps, they vary as the mountain changes.  The first 30min were very difficult, but surprisingly after that, seemed that my body got activated and the other half hour went better.

By 5.45am, covered in sweat and exhausted, we reached the entrance. 15min before opening of the gates. The place was jammed…. everyone seemed to have the same idea.

We grabbed a coffee and few minutes later, we finally got in….  And there it was… The Huana Picchu, like a magnet capturing all the energy and presence of the place.

We sat in a privilege area and waited for the sunrise rays to hit the mountain. What a magical moment. I saw the golden reflection and my soul heard the beautiful message that ancestral people of Machu Picchu wispered to me……..

Learning to Fly

(Learning to Fly, La Paz – 09/06/2018)

La Paz is the highest capital in the world and the place for one of the experiences I wanted to do in this trip: paragliding.

After pushing myself doing the zip line over Victoria Falls, it was time for me to go to the next level and try to float in the air. To fly and feels what is like.

La Paz offers the possibility of doing lots of adventure activities at very affordable price, so when paragliding was offered to me for $60 USD I did not hesitate. I booked my fly with  Marco Aruquipa through an agent although can be done directly with him (https://parapenteboliviia.es.tl)

Although I was excited, I became anxious about it since the minute I committed to it. The night before I couldn’t sleep well… the idea of jumping over a cliff was frightening to me and making me anxious.

-‘Close your eyes when you run towards the cliff’ – I was advised. But that seemed to me even scarier thing to do.

Early start at 6am for a jump that would happen around 11.30am…. 5 hours of anticipation for the moment of that jump…. That wasn’t helpful… I wanted to be the first one so I could relax afterwards.

Paragliding requires lots of preparation. And I wasn’t the first person jumping, so the hours waiting felt to me like an eternity. But apparently mid morning conditions are always better than very early.  I was given the best slot for the fly that morning.

Finally my turn arrived so I jumped into the car to get to the top of the mountain.

We ascended through an impossible bendy road with sharp vertical cliffs. I am not sure what was more dangerous, the flight or racing up the mountain in that impossible road. However, I must say that driver was very skilled. He squeezed the performance of the car.

Once we arrive to the top of the mountain the instructor was checking the wind conditions from the space we were suppose to jump. My heart started to go faster and I could feel the adrenaline. However, due the direction of the wind, that platform was not suitable so we went for an alternative jumping place.

The second place chosen for the jump was even scarier. In less than 20m run, there was the cliff.  More adrenaline was running through my system, but fortunately everything happened fast. We did a couple of rehearsals for the running bit and in few minutes I was set.

I decided to jump with my eyes closed. Just run and go!

So the moment arrived….  ‘Three, Two, One…… RUN!!!!’

Almost immediately I was up in the air, flying. And everything was smoother that expected. Once comfortable sit on the para-glide, the whole thing felt like a gentle movement of a feather in the wind.  Marco allowed to drive it and as I gained control over it, my anxiety dissipated completely and my enjoyment soared.

After 20min in the air, with safely landed. What a beautiful experience paragliding was. I would definitively do it again.

My pictures and movie of the experience are blended in the video below.

 

 

 

Cars & Girls

(Oscar Crespo Urban Race, Sucre – 02/06/2018)

Prefab Sprout was a band that got successful with a hit called ‘Cars & Girls’

Perhaps that song should have been played last weekend in Sucre. The Oscar Crespo race was taking place during Saturday and Sunday.

I have never seen a car race so, despite I was meant to leave Sucre already, decided to stay two more days and see what is like.

It was the 50th edition. The Oscar Crespo race brought drivers from all South America and made Sucre the automotive center of Bolivia for 3 days.

And yet, the whole thing looked tacky to me. Young kids full of testosterone driving tuned cars in order to make noise, both visually and acoustically…. And all of that hosted by girls wearing tight suites and impossible heels. As if both things, loud cars and lousy girls, should be connected….. well, isn’t that what the song is about?

So once I initially went over my horror and judging mind, I started to see some merit and skills in the race. Driving through the circuit as fast as you can while maintaining the control of the vehicle isn’t an easy thing.

There were some spectacular laps and cars turning on the devil’s bend by the square. The entire town was seeing the race and a festive atmosphere took the square, with people drinking, eating and sharing the experience.

So at the end it was more enjoyable than envisaged. Still think that displaying girls as mere visual add-ons to the event was a bit tacky and cliché. A bunch of handsome men and cute girls all together will make the hole event more inclusive and interesting.

The painting kids in Sucre

(Sucre city center – 31/05/2018)

In the centre of Sucre, near the market, you can see the new trend for some people to earn some Bolivianos. Kids go onto the pavement and replicate drawings they copy from a piece of paper. I have to say that some of them are quite good and draw better than myself.

It touches my heart to see such young kids forced (by the circumstances) to work at such early age…. Part of me wanted to support them but at the same time I am convinced that giving money to the kid will perpetrate that activity…. a kid should be playing!

So I bought 5 sets of playing cards (the Simpsons, dragon ball, etc….) and some sweets and gave them to the kids I found on my way….  Their gratitude and smile made my evening. Although I feel a bit guilty as I distracted them from completing the drawing….

In the pic, these two brothers are comparing what type of cards they got.

The Fallen Guard Angel

(Visiting the mine of the Cerro Rico de Potosi – 22/05/2018)

The history of Spain, Europe, Bolivia and South America cannot be understood without the inclusion of the Cerro Rico of Potosi.

The Cerro Rico of Potosi has been the biggest silver mine on earth. The mountain reaches almost 5000m above sea level and its presence dominates the views of the city. There is some kind of majestic shape to it, the profile of the mountain looks like a protective presence over the city.

This triangular mountain shape represents the nurturing essence of the Pachamama (the mother nature for andeans). The presence of this shape is so powerful that got featured in the local religious art. ‘La virgen del Cerro’ is one of the most important paint we can find at the Museo Casa de la Moneda, in Potosi, and one of the peaks of andean painting school.

Despite the magnificent and protective shape the mountain projects, the reality is that the Cerro is a soul eating mountain. Since the discovery of silver in 1545, it is said that 8 million people died inside.

The silver mine was feeding the greed of the Spanish empire (and proto-capitalist Europe) during XVI and XVII century. One would be inclined to think that with the independence of Bolivia, dignity would get in place. But the history of the mine and its working conditions have not much improved since. Greed is a timeless and global condition.

So, once in Potosi, I decided to visit the mine myself and see it with my own eyes.

At the hostel they offered me the tour for 120 bolivianos, but you can find it cheaper (specially if you speak Spanish) in the local agents across the city. I ended up paying 80.

The money paid for the tour does not go to the miners (only 5 bolivianos) so that’s why you need to buy presents to the miners and bring them to the visit.

Once inside I could not stop feeling the strong energy of the place. Entering the mine is an act of courage. The mine is like a jungle of tunnels and dangers. And no one knows who’s inside so you are at the mercy of the elements and people around you. That is why you will require good luck and protection.

El Cerro has been perforated viciously since mining started, like a Gruyere cheese and some fear one day it will collapse.

Local miners seek the protection of “El Tio”. Located at the entrance of the tunnel, El Tio is a representation of a devil that trades with the Pachamama. In order to bring protection, El Tio demands presents and sacrifices. Presents in the shape of cigarettes, alcohol and coca leaves are offered to him every time someone enters the mine.

But El Tio requires more presents and some blood. You can see around the figure red stains: these are the blood of sacrificed llamas during the rituals held during the celebration of Pachamama festivals (May and November). The blood of cute llamas is traded for protection and luck.

However, it seems that the deals that El Tio trades might require higher costs. Rumor has it that human phoetus from abortions are brought to El Cerro to be presented to him. And legends and stories circulating around in the city talk about kids been brought into the mine as they were given toys and sweets, just to be left alone inside to get lost and die to satiate the appetite of the mountain.

I was not aware of these rumors while visited the mine, so my brain was just dealing with the darkness and claustrophobia.

Entering the mine is a challenge. The tunnels are tiny and dark. No signaling, some of the beams propping the tunnels are broken, descending or ascending levels are made in the Indiana Jones way… and all of that several meters underneath a mountain at 4200m high. Breathing isn’t easy and coca leaves are your best help.

Once inside you can see real miners working and realize how tough this job is. Life expectancy for these miners, if nothing happens, is around 50. We exchanged presents and drank with them before we decided we saw enough and kindly suggested to our guide that it was time to see the sun.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience but certainly it was one of the most impacting experiences in this trip. Glad I did but I would not come back inside again.

And despite the pain trapped in the mountain, I still find fascinating its shape and presence over the city.

Naranjo de la China

(Un poco de petardeo, Santiago – 07/05/2018)

Si, habéis oido bien. No son ‘Naranjas de la China‘ sino Naranjo de la China.

Unos de los lugares en los que me hospedé en Santiago de Chile fue el hostel Chile Lindo en el barrio de Yungay. Allí conocí a Kumiko, una china que trabajaba como voluntaria en el hostel.

 

´Qué cosa tan curiosa’ – pensé.

Que alguien como ella decida venirse a Santiago a aprender español. Ya sé que estamos en un mundo globalizado, pero durante mi viaje apenas encontré gente de China interesada en sudamérica y, aún menos, Chile.

Los hostels son un hervidero social. Al estar todos compartiendo o bien dormitorio o bien la cocina o ambos, es fácil (y en cierta medida inevitable) entablar contacto y conversación.

Así que, a los pocos días, cuando coincidimos en la cocina para preparnos cada uno nuestra cena, no pude evitar preguntarle acerca de su historia y de su interés por la cultura española.

Kumiko vivia en una ciudad media china, cerca de Shangai creo recordar. Una tarde ella entró en un local para tomarse algo. Era un sitio agradable en el cual sonaba una canción de fondo.

Al escuchar las notas de la melodía, Kumiko se enamoró de la música y del idioma en el que estaba cantandose….. Ante tanta belleza, Kumiko decidió en ese preciso momento que quería aprender el idioma de la canción, que dicho sea de paso era una canción bastante conocida en China. Y el resto es historia.

Lo curioso de esta historia es que la canción en cuestión, no era famosa en España. Aunque su intérprete si alcanzó el éxito con albumes posteriores. ¿Quién podria pensar que esta canción sí es famosa en China?

La verdad es que después de conocer esta historia, si que me puedo imaginar esta canción sonando en algún restaurante oriental o karaoke del lejano oriente. Así que, no son Naranjas de la China sino (Mónica) Naranjo de la China. Dado el servicio prestado a la promoción del castellano, quizás el Instituto Cervantes debería de contar con los servicios de ella.

Y los gays en China sin saber quien es ella…. y yo con estos pelos!

Grinder perks

(An unconventional party in Santiago – 05/05/2018)

Is inevitable for a gay man traveling alone not to use dating apps when in a city. Although the selection of apps is vast, seems grinder is in the DNA of every country gay life.

Today for a person starting to socialize in the gay world is as easy as downloading a free app in the smartphone. What a difference from my first steps in gay world back in the 1990. Those beginnings are worth, if not a book, a good post. But let’s go back to today’s story.

After 6 weeks in icy and lonely Patagonia, it was time for some urban lifestyle and gay socializing. So I deployed my fishing net and turned on grinder upon my arrival to Santiago.

Perhaps is my age, perhaps is my mood… but it takes lots of non-transcendental entries before something interesting comes along.

That day it was particularly tedious… so when someone send me a message inviting me to a big party, my curiosity woke up.

The party was going to be celebrated in the evening, with an attendance of roughly 40 people in a location disclosed by whatsapp only 2h prior the start. And, although you could suspect that sex is behind every social gathering, it was not an invitation for a dodgy party. An entrance fee had to be paid and there was going to be a bar and music.

I wasn’t sure if I would go but was good to have a plan if nothing else happens.

Two hours before the start I got my invitation through whatsapp. I fought the idea of going. I imagined either a bad place or a party full of uninteresting people. But the fact was that by 10pm had no better plan so I said to myself ‘what the hell, let’s go to there’

Party was in a flat at the 16th floor of modern block. As I had to disclose to the concierge where I was going, I thought I could sense what he was thinking at that moment…. ‘another one’ …… Part of my was slightly embarrassed although there was no reason for.

Once at the flat door I tried to hear from outside the door any kind of noise either to reassure or dismiss the idea of entering. But nothing. So I had to venture and buzzed the bell.

What I found inside was, at least, refreshing. It seemed that two young men turned their flat into a weekend gay bar. Most of furniture was cleared and a decoration of curtains and lights was throughout the entire place. There was a bar, a DJ and even a cloak check.

‘People in South America are so creative that invent ways to make revenue’ – I thought.   So I went for a drink and decided to relax and enjoy the peculiarity of the setting.

As I chatted to the organizers, the whole thing turned to be more sophisticated than two young guys setting an informal bar. Almost one hour after my arrival, an older guy entered the bar. Turned out to be the manager. I spoke to him as I was in a talkative and curious mood. And he explained to me the way that bar was operated.

Rather than an informal thing, there was an organized structure behind it. The two young boys in the bar and him were working for a company. That company was hiring flats for the weekend only from standard people (imagine you have your flat and rent it for the weekend to an event company). So flat owners leave their flat sat morning. The company arrives at sets the bar and venue for the evening, operates the bar until Sunday morning, to clear and give the flat to their owners in the evening.

Owners don’t know what goes on in their flats and customers never know where the next bar is. The whole thing iterates and get clientele from the whatsapp subscription list plus any local guys in the vicinity found through grinder.

Rest to tell, is like any other gay venue. So there was a bit of everything for everyone. I couldn’t take pics of the entire thing as the hosts did not want pictures of the whole thing, but I managed to get a couple of snapshots.

                

It wasn’t the most amazing party I have been, but certainly was one of the most peculiar venues I have been and, therefore, refreshing. Besides that, I made a new friend and beautiful connection.

La place des grands hommes

(Reencuentros- 20/04/2018) 

¿Alguien conoce esta maravilla de cancion de Patrick Bruel?

La canción describe un encuentro entre viejos amigos que acordaron verse en una fecha futura concreta…. y ver qué ha acontecido en sus vidas durante ese período (en la canción son 10años).   De camino a la cita, el protagonista expresa su ansiedad y sus inquietudes: quienes irán, cómo estarán…. seguirán igual o no los reconoceré….. qué experiencias habrán vivido y sobre todo … ¿seguiremos siendo amigos y tendremos algo de que hablar?

Bueno, pues 4 meses después de haber comenzado mi viaje llegó mi momento Plaza de los Héroes.

Durante mi época universitaria en Madrid, hice amistades con gente de toda Sudamérica que residían en el Colegio Mayor donde me hospedaba. Amistades que, por circunstancias de la vida, no contactaba desde hacía muchísimos años. Así, cuando decidí que haría un viaje por este bello continente, uno de mis objetivos era volverme a reencontrar con aquellas amistades.

Y héme aquí, en Santiago de Chile a punto de reencontrarme con el primero de esos viejos amigos, Rodrigo, al cual no veía desde hace 25 años…..  Al igual que en la canción, el encuentro me producía cierta ansiedad y dudas.  Años atrás fuimos amigos cercanos pero desde que abandoné Madrid abruptamente no volví a tener contacto. ¿Cómo sería el encuentro? ¿Tendríamos conversación y conexión despues de tanto tiempo? ¿O rápidamente nos daríamos cuenta de que fuera de las anécdotas del pasado no queda nada más?

La comunicación intermitente durante las semanas previas al encuentro no ayudaba a disipar mi inquietud al respecto, en todo caso, lo contrario.  En el día anterior al encuentro, Rodrigo me comunica que viene con un amigo….. ¡Un amigo! ¿Para qué diablos trae un amigo a nuestro encuentro?

Llegado el día, me preparé con calma.   A pesar de que muchas veces lo hago, odio llegar tarde. Así que me puse en el centro de Santiago 40min antes de la hora prevista y  busqué un lugar donde relajarme previo al encuentro y donde poder tomarme un litro de cerveza (2 Pintas) las cuales me ayudaron a relajarme y afrontar la situación con más calma. Mis amigas las cerverzas me hicieron entender que el hecho de que trajese un amigo no significaba que Rodrigo estuviese adisgusto con la idea de encontrarse…. Quizás querría traer a su pareja al encuentro, o simplemente tenía ansiedad con el encuentro al igual que yo y la presencia de un amigo haría todo más relajado.  Al final de cuentas yo decidí afrontar la situación en modo británico y él escogió otras vías…. Así que me dije a mi mismo “todo está bien”.

Ultimos minutos antes del encuentro y  la letra de la canción pasaba por mi cabeza palabra por palabra…… ¿Se pueden beber 25 años en un café?

Al final lo pasamos bacan. Y no sólo me re-encontré con mi amigo, sino que hice uno nuevo, Eduardo. Fuimos a comer, luego a tomar café y después un licor.  ¡E incluso nos dió tiempo a hacernos algunos retoques!

Kitten Hero

(Rescuing a fighter, Puyuhuapi, Chile – 06/04/2018)

I am on the conviction that there aren’t different types of life. Human life is no different than animal life. Life is life. All live beings are a portion of the primitive source. We all are one single life from which each live being is a portion. We all part of the same thing. We all are connected.

During my trip across South America, I have seen lots of street animals. So when I have come across to these animals, I could not help the impulse of interacting with them. I believe that animal interaction brings us closer to The Source, and therefore, make us more humans. We are more human when we get closer to that source.

And some species are so related to humans, that we (or at least I) can sense their emotions. When you look into the eyes of a dog or a cat, you can feel what emotion the animal is feeling. For that reason, although during this trip I have been helping and comforting people, I have also been comforting animals I found on my way.

Among all pets, I have to admit I have a soft spot for cats. Such a fierce type of animal (feline) in such a small size that makes it vulnerable as well… what a cute combination. The same way I like a man, fierce but also soft and tender…… But let’s go back to today’s story.

I found Felipa (that is the name of today’s cat) in the most remote place one could imagine. Puyuhuapi is a remote town in the Chilean Patagonia. Apart from snow, rain, wind and cold is hardly remote to find anything else in that town.

That evening we decided to cook our dinner in the camper van of my travel mates. We found a quiet spot outside town where we could cook, dine and drink. All with beautiful views of the lake front of us.

No longer after we started to cook, the smell of our food brought 3 extra guests to our setting. Bamboo and Fiona (two dogs) and Felipa, a small fragile kitten. Leaving aside my soft spot for cats, it was obvious Felipa was in a more fragile situation than Bamboo and Fiona. The dogs were grown up and look relatively healty. Felipa looked rough and shaky. She was tiny.

Poor Bamboo was so cute but scared of human touch… Obviously some humans hurt him and he associated human interaction with beating. It took a lot of work for Alessandra (my travel mate) to overcome that fear and make the dog trust human touch.

Fiona, though the biggest and more grown up pet, was a selfish needy animal. Always trying to get in between any of us and the other animals. So someone had to constantly distract here so the we could take care of the other two: Bamboo and Felipa.

Felipa and her fragility melted my heart. I could see she was struggling. So I focused on feeding her with the leftovers of the tuna cans. At some point, jealous Fiona tried to attack Felipa and steal the food from her. The reaction of such a little kitten was admirable. She hissed and show her nails out, confronting a dog it was at least 6 times bigger than her.

‘Oh, She’s a fighter’ – I told my travel mates while we watched the scene.

At that point I decided I could not leave her alone.

So after the dinner, I took Felipa in my arms with me and decided to bring her to the hostel I was staying. Something will work out. Hostel owners might love having a cat around. But hostel owner’s daughter hated cats. She had kind of mental breakdown conceiving the idea little Felipa was around.

‘Oh, Felipa… things are not looking good for you’ – told my little kitten

Took her out with me and asked around in town until someone told me there was a house with a couple having lots of cats. Despite the vague indications, I managed to find it.

David and Margaret were the owners. They were living with another 8 cats. I did not have to say much. When they saw Felipa, immediately took her on board.

‘If there’s space for 8, there’s space for 9’, they said.

And just like that Felipa jumped free towards the food bowl. Brief after, she comforted herself in a warm place, under the stove. And a big cat in the house greeted her.

Seeing that, reassured me she finally found a safe place she could stay. And just like that, despite how fond I became of that little kitten, I let her go. I greeted David and Margaret, thanking them for such a generous gesture.

Turned my back and left. I could swear that I felt the connection with such a tiny creature. That our energies were synced. I felt the closeness. That we both were connected to the same source.

That night fluffy paws were in my dreams. And a big smile in my face. And I felt a bit more human.

Diamonds in Johannesburg

(A hidden gem in the city of diamonds, Johannesburg – 04/02/2018)

Sometimes rewarding experiences and wonderful people just arrive inadvertently. And, although these occasions are rare events, they are good reminders that the universe is full of wisdom and beauty.

I bumped into Marius and Reuben’s path at Clifton beach. As they were sunbathing next to me, we politely exchanged few words. They were leaving soon and my plan was to stay at the beach reading and enjoying the quietness and the beauty of the sunset. So we agreed to meet up and have a sundowner at my beloved Manhattans.

Few hours later, we met at the bar. We had an enjoyable evening and interesting conversation. My experience with having a sabbatical time and time for myself resonated very well in them, specially in Reuben as he went through a similar experience. The process of going through a sabbatical is a complex one. There are ups and downs, things that you expect and things that you don’t, feelings of adequacy and feelings of guilt… so having the opportunity to come across with people who have done the journey is a precious gift.

Marius and Reuben had to travel back to Johannesburg the next day, as they needed to return to work: a beautiful hotel & nature resort in the outskirts of the city. Visiting Johannesburg was in my travel plan, so I agreed to meet then in few weeks, once I start my itinerant part of my journey. They invited me to visit them at the hotel, so I could also know and enjoy the environment in which they work.

Generosity is not a core value of this society. So I have to admit, that I initially took their invitation with a pinch of salt. However, when I communicated to them the dates I would be in Johannesburg, they immediately arranged my stay at their hotel: The Thaba Eco Hotel.

The Thaba Eco Hotel is surrounded by the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, and it is beautifully built in tune with the site. It features elegant suites, a swimming pool, a spa, a restaurant, cocktail bar and function and conference facilities. My time there was one of the best hotel experiences I had. Everything in the place was supreme. The concept, the layout, the decor, the site, the facilities, the nature, the restaurant, the bar… Everything was made with passion and attention to detail.

After checking myself in my own lodge, I briefly went for a walk around to make time until Marius and Reuben could meet me. The place welcomed me with an explosion of life around me: birds, insects and little animals were bursting around me. It was sunset time and the sky rewarded me with one of the most beautiful sunsets.

One hour later, Marius and Reuben greeted in one of the bars al fresco, where we had a drink. To continue the evening with an exquisite meal at the restaurant. As per our previous time in Cape Town, we had a meaningful rich and deep conversation about life and personal growth. The power and need of being present, the life shift that happens to us when we reach the second half of our lives, the spiritual awakening…. Supreme food combined with supreme wisdom. What a gift that evening was for me. It was as if the Universe was giving me a blessing for my decision on my sabbatical and Marius and Reuben the messengers.

We arranged to meet in the morning for a walk in the Klipriviersberg nature reserve. So just right before 7 am Reuben was waiting for me outside the restaurant. What came after wasn’t something I envisaged. The nature reserve was really big. Something that was created, enlarged and preserved by the vision and good work than Reuben and its team had.

We had a good 1.5h walk. During that walk, we came across numerous plants and trees (I forgot their names) and a big variety of animals, including the Gnu (or Bouwildebeeste) and zebras. We managed to get close to the Zebras. Actually it has been the closest I have been to one of them. All of that combined with a conversation where I learnt a lot about the history of South Africa, especially from the period where Afrikaans communities and English colonizers ‘collided’.

I completed my experience with a superb breakfast at the restaurant. Marius was running a staff meeting there, where employees were appraised and rewarded for their good work. Another rewarding thing, to see core values of true leadership.

After returning to my lodge, I packed my bags and met Marius and Reuben for saying goodbye. Johannesburg was my farewell to beautiful South Africa, and the universe rewarded me with a wonderful experience for it.

What an inspirational place Thaba Eco Hotel was. A beautiful gem in a city still dealing with unresolved issues arising from the end of the Apartheid in South Africa. Passion, integrity, wisdom, tenacity, knowledge and care are the values behind the creation of that place, and you can see and feel those all over the place. The values than its creators and managers show everyday in their work and lives.

If you ever travel to Johannesburg, you should really visit the place.

Thank you Marius. Thank you Reuben. For the generosity. For sharing with me such a beautiful place and such beautiful values and knowledge.

Dr. Livingstone, I suppose….

(Memories of Africa, Livingstone, Zambia – 02/02/2018)

I always was fascinated by Africa and its wild nature. And the Victoria Falls were one of these places I wanted to visit in my lifetime. So when the chance of visit then came along, didn’t hesitate.

Johannesburg was my last city and to farewell Africa, I wanted to visit something really special. Most of people decide to go to Kruger National Park, but even for Europeans prices are expensive. And if you go alone, prohibitive.

Pilanesberg Park (www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org) is an alternative, but it is more of a ‘tamed’ environment. And if you have been in a big 5 reserve as I did (Thank you Gatito for being such a wonderful guide of your country), then is not a money that well spent.

So for a 1/4 of the money I could spend in Kruger, I went to Victoria Falls. Few tips: go to Zambia instead of Zimbawe (the falls are in the border of both countries) as it is cheaper.

As well, use a flight deal search page to get your flight (in my case I found a fantastic great deal in https://www.flightsite.co.za). And you can find decent accommodation at affordable prices once in Livingstone.

I stayed at cafe Zambezi House of Africa (http://www.booking.com/Share-oJntQS) for $10 USD per night. It was a dormitory of 4, but I was alone the entire time so it was like having my own room. Cafe Zambezi was refreshing place: there was a pool, a restaurant and a bar and at night, live music was performed and people from town attended. What a beautiful atmosphere.

Tip number three. Ask for more than one quotation. Don’t take first price on board without checking. And for certain things you will need to play the bidding game. I have to admit I was never good at that. Besides I feel embarrassed to discuss about 1 dollar extra or less, but at the same time it infuriates me to pay more than it really is.

However, and this is advice number four, be prepared when traveling to Africa, South America and Asia. Everyone thinks you have a money making machine in your luggage and you will have to negotiate prices if you don’t want to be milked.

Final advice, when visiting the falls you don’t need a guide. You can perfectly visit them on your own, although your money might help local economy?

The Victoria Falls are impressive, absolutely stunning to see, smell and feel the power of the water around you. In addition to the tour, there are other activities you can do like zip line or rafting. All can be done in 1 day. Elephant riding for sightseeing safari was banned due to new laws that came into force.

If you want to get posh, there are cruises along the river offering a view of the sunset while eating and drinking. But in my opinion, these are to westernized. My interaction with locals at Cafe Zambezi was more interesting.

In addition to the Falls, wandering around the streets of Livingstone is well worth it. The city has a mixture of colonial architecture and real African houses. Africa at his best: protestant colonial churches altogether with hotels and civil architecture, all along mixed with houses built by locals.

Like Africa, the city is chaotic in a beautiful way. Some streets are paved but majority aren’t. You might find a modern mall and three blocks away an African flea market, with all the colors, flavors and smells (some of them not pleasant) exploding right front of you.

The Livingstone Museum is worth the visit, although you need to adjust your expectations. But with no doubt, exploring the city, getting lost in the alleyways is the best way to flavor Africa.

Pictures of my trip are in the video below.

Despite all the chaos, there are very fond memories of my time there. Africa will be always a special place.

The First Messenger

(An unexpected companion, Cape Town-Port Elizabeth – 29/01/2018)

After two months staying still in Cape Town, it was time to start my mobile part of my journey and explore South Africa. The plan was to drive all along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth from where I will fly to Jobo.

For that purpose, I rented a car. And for monetary reasons (and enviromental ones as well, altough I admit money was main drive) I looked for people to join me on that journey. So I placed an ad in the hostel I stayed during my first days in Cape Town (91 Loop street, which is in my opinion one of the best hostels in the city).

One guy was interested to join me, the receptionist said. His name was Andrew and he was from Ukraine. It was arranged to meet up in the hostel to speak and arrange the details.

The next day, I went there to meet him. When I saw him I was in shock. Andrew was not the travel companion I was expecting. To be honest, I expected someone with some matching features with me so we could have same travelling interests. But Andrew was a man in his mid fifties, divorced and overweight who could barely speak english properly. I inmediately thought he would be a burden rather than an asset to my journey. And there was a part of me wishing he would not join me at the end. But he was very keen to do the trip with me.

What a grumpy and judgemental person I can be sometimes…… The deciding factor to take him on board was the fact that it was my only offer. So, I deeply breathed and thought that it was sent into my way for a reason. He would not certainly be a person I could sandsurf together with or do a hike, but it was sent into my way for a reason. And despite my disappointment, that was the thought I kept with me for the time we travelled together (3 days).

Everything about him was peculiar. He was a big man, weighting 140-150 kg. He was so big that he had to sit in the back seat of the car, because sitting at the front would take so much space that using the gear box will be difficult. Somehow I was relieved he went in the back, as having him at the front in such a small car would definitvely cramp the space.

He would easily fall sleep and snore during the drive. That combined with the fact that his english was quite basic, didn’t make him good companion for someone driving.

His smell, strong, and his breathing quite heavy.  And his diet was also heavy and peculiar. Leaving aside the type and amount of food he had (make your own assumptions), Andrew started the day with a massive pint of beer. Literally. A pint in his breakfast. Everyday. And after the first pint, many others would follow.

But the most striking feature is that Andrew did not have a credit or bank card. He only used cash. All the time, no exemption. He had all his cash in a wallet attached to his chest. He did not use the phone for purchases: I obtained a plane ticket for him with my phone and he cashed me the amount of the transaction.

I would lie if I say I wasn’t slightly uncomfortable/grossed with such a particular person around. So unconventional and overbrearing type. But during the days we travelled together, Andrew taught me something.

Andrew had no expectations. For him, everything was perfect and enjoyable as it was. He would sit in the back of the car and spend hours (when not snoozing) watching the landscape. Doing that was a big pleasure for him. Every place we went was beautiful for him. Every meal was great, as long as he could have his pint of beer. Every landscape, beautiful. Everything was fine the way it was.  He enjoyed the present moment. He just accepted the present moment (the now) as it was. The Power of Now.

I must say that when we said goodbye there was a part of me relieved. But at the same time I was grateful to get such a powerful and useful message for my trip from him. I knew that I had something to learn from him. He was an unconventional messenger.

Sometimes I still think this was a good presence from the Universe disguised in a not appealling form. Thats the way messengers come across. Never in a beautiful wrap, neither they have an army of trumpetiers announcing a revelation is coming. And that is the beauty of the lesson. So, as weird as the experience was, I am grateful. And I am sure that if it happens again, I would feel (the good and bad emotions) similarly. But I am convinced it was sent into my way for a purpose.

So thank you Andrew.

Burning Shame

(About the wheel of pain, Cape Town – 18/01/2018)

Every person should read this book. Gay and straight people. ‘The Velvet Rage’ by Alan Downs is one of the most powerful readings I recently did.

The book describes with astonishing precision a mechanism I have been trapped in. Something that it is not exclusive to myself but that applies to every person who receives a constant negative reinforcement/message during his life from a non-inclusive/hostile environment. Something than the book defines as ‘shame’ which is described as the feeling that some of us are flawed individuals. That in essence there is something about us that is at least a disadvantage if not something that makes us defective.

In this case, and that is where this book focuses, the fact that someone is gay and has to live constantly with the feeling of being essentially flawed. But the same applies with other discrimination factors in this society: race, physical appearance or social class for example (hence the importance of understanding this topic). Things that define who you are, who are intrinsically part of you (you cannot change those things) for which you have been constantly receiving a negative appraisal or reaction from the people around you.

The book touches many issues but the backbone of the narrative explains how the pursuit of success and perfection (excelling in all the aspects of your life: career, partners, physical shape, lifestyle, etc.) is a compensating mechanism for the feeling of flawless and shame (that’s the term the book uses) that most of us have been storing inside throughout our upbringing within a non-inclusive (and most times hostile) environment.

There are 3 phases clearly identified. So after drowning ourselves in ‘shame’ during phase 1, most of us enter phase 2 which is defined by being driven by this overcompensating mechanism to show the world we are not the flawed human beings we grew up thinking of. Obviously that mechanism doesn’t lead to anywhere… We spin the wheel of compensation compulsively without knowing we are doing so, until it crashes and we get ready to enter phase 3. The phase where we shift the attention towards ourselves, towards who we really are. A phase where we source joy and validation from the relationship we have with ourselves instead of obtaining those from external sources.

Compensating for shame was one of the mechanisms behind the unsustainable life style that lead me into my sabbatical. A mechanism in the shape of the pursuit of ‘success’ and proving myself above all, bringing my life to a collapsing edge. Same scenario as uncontrolled money driven capitalism would lead this planet: a breaking point after all resources are burnt. The therapy, support, readings and reflection I had during the months preceding my departure made me understand that. Also, made to realize that the compensating mechanism and other behaviours I had, were just a way for me to burn that pain and shame I had inside. There was lots of non-acknowledged (and therefore, unprocessed) pain inside of me that was the fuel for all the toxic mechanisms that occurred in my life.

Becoming aware of the pain and understanding the acting mechanism, although not easy process, was liberating. Once you stop the spinning wheel of burning shame, you start to see your life and things in a different manner.

I said few times in this blog how privileged I am. Having the opportunity, time and money to do such reflective work on myself is not a thing everyone can do. As I mentioned when I wrote about homeless people, many humans do not have a safety net or cushion to mitigate the crash when it comes. That’s why I started the trip with the idea of giving something back and sharing the knowledge I have acquired during the process.

The issue of burning shame is very present in gay men, although many other groups participate of the same mechanisms. And society tends to portray gay people in a non very healthy manner. There is a bad press about certain behaviours many manifest. But behind any destructive behaviour that our society condemns, there is a person suffering, a person that is burning pain. Pain received by the environment.  People in LGBT community carry a huge amount of internalised pain, in most of the cases, without themselves noticing. So, rather than playing the victim card,  it is time of taking responsibility. Us, as society. It is time to uncover the mask and see the real face. To identify the pain we collectively create.

Since I read the book, I have been discussing the subject and with friends and other people I met on my way. It was more like an informal thing, based on the spur of the moment. But when I was in Cape Town, I felt I had to do bit more than feeding homeless. So I embraced the idea of doing something for gay men/women who were in a difficult situation.

Pride Shelter, 1 Molteno Rd, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa         https://www.pridesheltertrust.com/

Pride Shelter in Cape Town hosts gay men/women who are in a situation of vulnerability and/or exclusion. People who had been attacked or expelled out of their places by their family or neighbours (just for being gay), people who had lost their job (and therefore income) because they were gay, people who got trapped in drug addictions leading them into the loss of their jobs, house, health and/or families…. The list is vast, but if you dig down the history of everyone there, the common link is the pain that everyone carries. A pain that is originated, ultimately, by the rejection and hostility that people around them had because they were gay.

So I contacted the shelter, they asked me how did I think I could help them and I offered myself to have a talk with the residents on the topic of  ‘Burning shame .

I am not an expert in gay issues. I am not a therapist. I am just a person who has been through quite a lot and learnt very valuable lessons from it. And I just wanted to share that.

So we had the talk. And it went well. They listened to me and I listened to them as well. All I did was to tell everyone in the most honest manner, what have I been through. And despite that in appearance my history might look different from theirs, I made them see that I am not different from any of them. I was processing same feelings, just that I had luckier circumstances and better environment. We were all burning pain that comes from the feeling of disconnection and rejection from the environment around us.

Everytime environment makes someone feel inferior, unworthy, deffective, inmoral, inappropriate or just not as good as the others, we are wheeling the wheel of pain. And pain is at the root of any destructive behaviour we have towards ourselves or towards others. The more destructive the behaviour, the more pain is behind that.

It is time for society to understand that. It is time to stop the wheel.

Message In a Bottle

(A message received,  Cape Town – 15/01/2018)

If there is something I am convinced about it is that the Universe is playful. I will explain.

Everything you really wish, comes to you. But here’s the playful bit. It doesn’t come to you when you want it. You don`t know when it is coming to you. The universe sends it to you when you don’t expect. Even more, many times you don’t recognise when it finally comes to you. That is the playful part the universe plays. It is like sending a message in a bottle. It is received at some point, but you don’t know when that bottle is going to reach the shore and the message acknowledged.

I was living in my home town, Granada, in the year 2003 when I met a german couple. At that time, I was so bored in my home town, that I was very keen on socialising with foreigners and anyone who would broad my horizons and mindset.

Tom and Klaus. We had few drinks and took them around few places in the city centre. At that time, speaking in english was way more rewarding than speaking my own language. I know is silly, but that was my mindset at that time.

I had a big crush on one of them: Klaus. What a interesting sexy man. He was different, nothing to do with predictible boring locals from Granada (I know I know… that was a silly way of thinking but, again, that was where my mind was at that time).

The theatrical part of me was fantasising the idea of Tom getting food poisoning and staying in the hotel. Or just him tripping in a stair. Or a huge fight with Klaus and quick divorce… (teenagers fantasies) but I knew that it was more useful to use that part of my brain for other more creative purposes.

So I politely and discreetly detached myself from them. There was no point to maintain that contact, as I thought it was not honourable to meet them wishing one to be much closer and the other one much further. I blamed my university commitments for limiting my time with them. We had a couple of coffes before they left Granada.

The following 15 years were a rollercoaster for me. So that memory was stored at the back of my head.

So let’s go back to the present moment and the time where this blog is being written.

That night in Cape Town was hot. And there was full moon. I normally prefer to go to the Manhattan (one of the gay bars in town) to have a sundowner, chill and talk. Cape Town scene is quiet (at least this year has been) so places are not hectic, and there is a feeling of a little family there. I mean, you start to know people and when you get there, just start a chat with who you bump into. The kind of interaction that happens in a bar where everyone knows everyone. It is a pleasant thing. Specially when you are alone in a city.

But that night the Manhattan was particularly dead. I did not encounter the acquantainces I normally do, so I had my drink alone. The drink was there, I only needed the conversation to complete the moment.

Smartphones are our providers of everything nowadays. Tickets, food, sex, shopping, news, friends…. etc. are sourced through the device. Not saying it should be like that, but reality is that we are getting more and more things through them. So opened Grinder to initiate a conversation.

Flicked through few introductions till I started a conversation with someone. We chatted, swapped pics and briefed each other about where we were coming from and what we were doing in South Africa. As the Manhattans was close to its closing time, we agreed to meet at his hotel bar for another drink.

We met at the place and ordered a drink to start our conversation. Went to the terrace so he could smoke. And there, under the moon and hearing the sea waves, I realised the bottle with my message 15 years ago reached the shore of the Cape Town. The man front of me was Klaus.

The memory of the episode in Granada was so distant, and we both have changed (specially me, lost my hair and grew a beard instead) that we did not recognise each other instantly. 15 years later, and 9000km away I ended up meeting the person once I wished so much to do. Just him. Tom did not have to trip the stairs or get food poisoned. Klaus was travelling across South Africa and we ramdomly met again.

These kind of coincidences take me out of my standard mode. It is not the first time something like that occurs. And always catch me off guard. There he is. What I wished for. But do I really want it? Specially now, after such a long time…. I have changed so much in this time… is this really what I want? What is the purpose of this happening now?

I don’t have an answer for those questions. I don’t understand why the universe gives you what you wish at a different time. What is to learn with such thing? I keep thinking is because the universe is playful. And perhaps real needs and wishes don’t have an expire date. They are timeless.

I took the experience as it was. A pleasant coincidence and re-encounter. It was a pleasure to close that circle. To meet Klaus again and reinstate contact. He is still happily married with Tom and I realised that, as much as he is the same beautiful interesting person, my perception and wishes have evolved. Perhaps the Universe allowed me to meet Klaus at the point I could manage my wish in a constructive way.

I am sure that if I visit Berlin we will reinstate our coffee tradition. The three of us.

P.S. Klaus and Tom are fictional names. Elegance protocols 🙂

The Grinch

(A Christmas Tale, Cape Town – 24/12/2017)

I don’t like Christmas. Or lets put it this way, it makes me apprehensive. And the truth is that Christmas always disappoints me. Although if we are really accurate, then we should say it never does: everytime is as deceiving as I expect. Maybe I should look it that way. Christmas always deliver the drama that is inbuilt in it.

Last Christmas I stayed away from a family one. It was going to be a fun one. I was on a sabbatical, in sunny Cape Town and with no duties of any kind.

One of my Cape Town friends, Legolas, invited me to the Christmas Eve dinner party he was organising. I met Legolas when we were teaming together in the Fellowship of the Ring, but that is another story and movie.

Twelve people were attending to the dinner. Like in the last supper. Twelve gay men. What a contrast to the standard family dinner.

– ‘Yes, it was going to be fun’ – I thought.  Lighthearted silly witty funky time in opposition to the heaviness that I always have in my family Christmas celebration. I do love my family but their heaviness is sometimes bit of too much.

One day before the dinner, I went out with Legolas for a sundowner. ‘A warm up for tomorrow’– I thought – ‘So I can meet some of the attendees, which will make tomorrow’s easier’. Because, believe or not, I am bit shy. Although I manage it better as I get old.

I had few drinks with Legolas and the people he introduced to me on that evening, but I went home early. I know myself and if I have a heavy night, the next day I am grumpy and, therefore, not very social.

Those who know me might say at this point that I am always grumpy…. but I can be way way grumpier. As well again, this is another condition I am managing better as I get older.

The next morning I did few bits and bots. Read my book, took a bit of sun and bought some wine and chocolates for the dinner. Phoned my family to wish them a great evening and I got myself prepared. Legolas texted me to check with me that I was going to be in time.

What happened over the next hours would certainly make an unforgettable Christmas.

I arrived to Legolas’ place in time. But we were six people only. Good! It is good not to be the last person joining. So I started to chat with the people. But soon I realised that I was the last person to arrive. Apparently the missing people dropped or never confirmed. That was weird, but still six people could be a good bunch. Actually more manageable than twelve. So there was a good side to it.

There was some table food and snacks, just to get started, I assumed. But before anyone would make an attempt to get seated, one of the guys presented his excuses and told everyone he was going home.

Apparently the gang from the night before had a long night. So he was tired. And, same as me, he wasn’t a very sociable guy when tired.

That was odd. We were down to five.

Few minutes later down the line, the host went to the toilet. But after several min he did not get back. That was even more odd. As he was not responding to our calls we decided to look for him….. When we went to check on him, we found a sweet Christmas scene.

Our host was peacefully sleeping at his bed. The long night the day before made him feel unwell/tired. So, like in the tale, our host was sleeping peacefully. But, unlike the tale, prince charming would not wake him up with a kiss.

We were down to four.

The four remaining people: an israeli/dutch couple, a friend of Legolas and myself tried to continue the momentum and live to the Christmas spirit. But the air became weird at that point and soon the couple decided to leave. I don’t know at which point they agreed such thing… perhaps a look into the eyes of the other was sufficient to do it.

So the couple left. We were down to two.

At this point it was clear that the evening would not bounce back. So Legolas’ friend and I started to clear the place. Thank god there was no table set or a meal cooked. Just the finger food and snacks. So we managed to clear everything and left for the gay bar, which by the way, was empty.

It was certainly a rather different celebration for Christmas Eve.

Next morning, noise in the house woke me up. Although the house was empty the previous day, the following one was full of people. And the kitchen was cramped with my other two housemates cooking a big meal.

Apparently they were organising a big Christmas meal for them and their friends. I was not informed about that, so I immediately understood I was not part of the plan. I embraced my dignity mode, to ensure they would not invite me because embarrassment or obligation.

I pretended I had plans for the day and I got out of the house as quickly as I could. Left the house with no plan or place to go. But the good thing about being in Cape Town during Christmas is that I could go to the beach.

And that was what I did. Spent the whole day at the beach in the most unconventional way I ever spent Christmas. Sunbathing in my swimwear.

I wanted an unforgettable Christmas and that is what I had. That is for sure. Careful what you wish for, they say……

Needless to say I was grumpy most of that day. But I already said I am a grumpy man.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Ladles of Love

(A lesson learnt, Cape Town – 17/12/2017)

Sabbatical years are a gift and a wonderful thing to experience. But the reasons behind the decision of taking such a major step are not so pleasant most of the times. Sabbaticals on people who are on their mid life transition are normally the result of reaching a point of exhaustion or no go. A point where a change is needed.

My developing circumstances leading to my sabbatical were quite hard. But I will cut the story short.

Our lives are cyclical. Things start and end. But the cadence of the different cycles embedded is different. Some parts of your life end at the same moment than other areas of your life thrive. You could end up a job or being unemployed but your love life is booming. Or your family life. Or you could go through a divorce, but your work life is at its peak. So there is always something that keeps you going.

That was the case for myself in the past. But for some reason, my entire life crumbled in the period preceding my sabbatical. Age, work, health, love….. everything just crumbled front of me and a new start was needed. There was a clear rift in the timeline of my life, from which everything has to be new after it.

Like in a storm, clouds built up quite quickly. And torrential rain takes you almost unprepared. If you are a weather expert, maybe you could guess what was brewing in the background. But for most of us, it is hard to notice these things until they are imminent.

So I could not foresee the storm that came onto me. Although I do have now a clear understanding of what happened in my life. But it is only after you hit bottom that you react and start to process the events. The period preceding my sabbatical was therefore, dark and painful. There was lots of pain I was burning and processing, most of the times without noticing.

During that difficult time I received support. Lawyers, doctors, therapists and friends. Some of the help I paid for, some of the help was free. In both cases, I was extremely lucky to be in a system that could offer me that free help and to be in a system where I was able to afford the help I needed.

We, first world citizens, and middle classes are extremely lucky. What we think is just a basic service, is a luxury and an out of reach possibility for the majority of the population in the world. And when, for some reason, we fall off the cliff and crumble down, we have lots of cushions and safety nets around us to mitigate the crash. The majority of the people in this world do not have that.

I was very aware of this when I started my sabbatical. And because of that, I wanted to give something back. It was not a trip of pampering myself with all the luxuries my money could afford, but a journey of knowledge, spiritual growth and giving as well. That is why I wanted to do some volunteering. And South Africa was perfect for it.

Although I tried to sort out volunteering work before my arrival, the fact was that nothing was arranged when I arrived to Cape Town. So after my initial days trying to resolve my accommodation and settling, I started to search for some volunteering work again.

I cannot remember how I came across to Ladles of Love. Someone mentioned it and I searched for the Facebook page. They provide food for the homeless people of Cape Town 3-4 times a week. There is a specific location for each of the days, so they cover the entire city. No qualifications or experience is required. Neither a commitment. You just turn up the day you want to help. That’s all.

I have to admit it was not what I initially expected. I wanted to work with kids. But on the other hand, the setting for Ladles of Love was perfect. Easy and flexible. And in any case, I could go there and help until something else is found.

My experience with Ladles of Love lasted 6 weeks, until the end of my time in Cape Town. Feeding the homeless people taught me many things.

When we see a homeless person in the street, we tend to see him/her as an isolated case. Hard to place that person into perspective. But when you see 200 homeless people in a single moment, you dramatically change your perception of it.

In these moments, you could see the whole spectrum and all the phases of the journey of social exclusion. From people who you could not guess they are in such a situation if it wasn’t because they attended to the event, to people that have gone so far in the road of being homeless and socially excluded, that you could hardly feel that they belong to this world.

Obviously it takes time to get use to the contact with these people. Initially you feel grossed and approach them in a ‘colonial’ way. You are the wealthy man doing a charitable act towards people of another world. But as you get more and more exposed to them and started to see the process behind (how pretty ‘normal’ these people looked at the beginning of the journey to end up transforming themselves in almost ghostly creatures), you end up feeling that there isn’t much difference between you and them.

They are not aliens from another planets. They are just humans who were born in a more fragile and hostile environment than you. Some of them never fell off the cliff, because they never had the chance to be up. But some of them, had their life crumbling. Same as me. But with the difference that there wasn’t a safety net to cushion them.

When I looked into their eyes, I saw the same thing there is inside of me. A soul burning and processing its pain. And their pain, is our pain. Society tends to make us believe we are isolated individuals. But we are not.

My attitude towards the volunteering work shifted as I progressed through it. I preferred to do the tasks that entailed more contact and interaction with them. I know that I did all of that from the comfort that my first world citizen position provided me. At the end of these feeding sessions, I went back to the comfort of my nice accommodation to eat kind of food that these people would never eat.

And at some point you feel that you need to stop your exposure to it because it is something that drains your spirit. So much unnecessary pain that we create and it is impossible to help everyone. My actions would not change the fate of these people (that is the hardest thing to process), just mitigate their suffering.

I learnt that I am not different than them. That is the most valuable lesson I got from it. I am just privileged person living in a system that enables the comfort of some people at the cost of the sacrifice of others.

Silent Angels

(About the caring network , Cape Town – 12/12/2017)

Everyday, everywhere there are silent angels around us. Kind spirits next to us that help us to get through things. Sometimes they help you in a dramatic situation, sometimes they are to provide the back up and stabilising role that ensure certain phases or events of your life are going smoothly.

They are discreet. Sometimes so discreet that we don’t acknowledge their role and how beneficial is for us. Perhaps they are even performing that role without noticing themselves. And in the same way, we might become silent angels ourselves towards other people.

Some of them are already present in your life and their role gets activated in certain circumstances. And some of them just appear in your life at an specific moment, just to take a different path when circumstances change.

They are around us all the time, but in order to see them it is important to sync with love and kindness. The more you are able to synch with, the more you are able to receive and give. The law of attraction they say?

The cards were laid for me almost from the moment I arrived to Cape Town. The people who would be important for me, the people who would play a role during my time in Cape Town providing me with a point of anchorage, were present from the beginning. As if everything was prepared and waiting for me.

Prior my advent I worried so much trying to sort things for my stay in Cape Town… all in vain. None of the arrangements I tried to resolve, apart from my plane ticket, were resoluted by the day before my arrival. But it turned out that things magically deployed themselves, like in a domino effect, as soon as I landed in the city.

So from the initial moment I arrived to Cape Town, a group of silent angels were taking care of me. Willem (I already have written a post about him), Astrid, Lizanne, Qusai, Retha, Verushka, Jako…. each of them with a different role, but all of them a group of people creating a network or love and care around me.

Astrid and I were meant to connect. Firstly, she was in law relative of Willem. Secondly, she was an architect and good friend of a work colleague of mine (Matthew Barac). And thirdly, and most odd, turns out she was my next door neighbour when I found accommodation for the time I had to wait till I could move to Willem’s place. How odd is that?

So as a good neighbour, Astrid offered her support during my time in Cape Town. She gave me keys of her house in case I had an emergency and to cover the transitional period between places. Also, she offered her car and she provided me guidance on what type of volunteering and help I could do while in Cape Town.

Astrid was always there for me. Always happy to meet up and chat. We shared about architecture, travelling and spiritual growth.

I knew Lizanne since 2014, when she was living in London. Being the sister of my former partner is not an easy role, as it is not always easy to isolate us from the shadow of him. But we did very well. Lizanne was constantly in the background, checking up on me on regular intervals and providing support. Lizanne’s mom, Retha was also in Cape Town during the festive season, so we all spend good time together. We did excursions, we went for meals and we went for drinks. I met some of her friends. We had spiritual conversations about being present, about meditation and philosophy. Just to align with the things that were brewing inside my spirit at the moment. We created our own space.

Qusai and I meet on my fist day out. We went for a drink around the stadium area and since that moment we became friends. He introduced me to his friends, showed me places to hike, beaches around the city, restaurants and bars to go. He hosted me during few days on the transition from one accommodation and the other…. He cooked delicious meals, went to parties together and made me see me how beautiful and pleasant life can be in Cape Town.

And same as them, everyone else was playing a role in during my time in Cape Town. So despite I spent a great deal of time on my own, everything I needed was given to me from day one. Everything is present for you from the initial moment. Why worry?

I am fond of the beautiful moments I shared with all of you. At the end of the day, we are just in a universe where particles are in constant movement and collision, which is what produces interactions. Your energy is what channels your path and which particles you will find in your way. Attraction is what it makes particles collide and meet.

Hopefully we will cross paths again and we will keep sharing.

 

 

Cape Town Angels

(First steps, Cape Town – 06/12/2017)

The beginning of my trip was not easy. To the anxiety that leaving everything behind for a kind of trip I would have never imagined, there was the fact that the day before my flight to Cape Town I still didn’t know where to stay.

My plan was to stay in South Africa for two months and do some volunteering work, hoping to get accommodation in exchange for my work. But despite my research and emails to numerous organizations, nothing materialized.

As I approached every South African first line contact I had (work colleagues, my ex partner and his family, friends) with no successful result, the day before my departure I decided to reach further and approach other people I didn’t know that well but with ties with South Africa. ‘Someone might know someone’, – I thought.

Willem, who is from South Africa but lives in Switzerland, was one of these people I asked at that point. We briefly met in London when we were introduced by third people. So although I had the assurance he was a fine man, we were just social acquaintances.

Strike of luck, Willem answered me 40min I was going to board into my plane.  ‘I’m in Cape Town myself over the next days, so you can stay at mine for few days till you find your way‘ -he replied. What a relief to have a safe place to start my journey!

Upon arrival, I took an Uber straight to Willem’s place. A beautiful flat in the seafront with my own bedroom and bathroom! What a start of my journey.

What a nice gesture to host someone that you briefly know. I have done that in the past, so staying with Willem was something I was comfortable with. Willem was due to return to Europe in few days. But during my days with him there were some things he had to do while there, specially maintaining the property. So I went along with it and helped where possible.

This was the first of a series of beautiful connections that would come along my trip. Outside the fuzz of hectic London and Europe, we had the time (9000km away) to chat and share our life experiences. Both recovering from difficult years (his motorbike accident, my massive burn out at work with its subsequent life crumble), we had lots to share and managed to see the real person inside each other.

Knowing about his life, his past, the challenges he went through allowed me to reassure what a beautiful person Willem was. So I was grateful I spent few days at his place, have an easy start of my time in Cape Town and share time together.

So my search for accommodation was not easy. And the kind of places I had to stay until, were not particularly nice.

But my luck and Willem’s generosity went further, and few days after he offered me to stay at his place once his family would leave the flat after the festive season. So I would need to find accommodation for 1 month until I could move to his place.

What a fortunate start of my trip, to find such a generous soul and great place to stay. They say Universe is wisdom and returns what you give. And although I did a similar thing for someone in the past, this reassured me that this trip would not be only about exploring and ‘leisuring‘ but also about giving and connecting. Kindness would be a recurring theme during this trip.

The Universe is wisdom and places the right people at the right time to enable our trip. Thank you Willem for your generosity and for teach me the first lesson in this journey.

 

The Journey Begins

Around to world to get into myself.

Thanks for joining me! Welcome to my travel blog. During this year I will be traveling around the world. Nothing is set, the journey configures itself as I am making it. I hope to see amazing places, meeting and connecting with people and, hopefully, connecting with myself.

´La mente selcciona, exagera, traiciona, los acontecimientos se esfuman, las personas se olvidan y al final sólo queda el trayecto del alma, esos escasos momentos de revelación del espíritu´. — Isabel Allende