Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Turn the Calendar, Turn the Page, Turn Yourself

Turning pages from 2010 to 2011

Looking back on my 2010 Resolution and Goals with my feet kicked up after a long day on bicycle, it's time to reflect people. How was your 2010? What's in store for 2011? New Year's is my second favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving. The new year represents the turning of a chapter in our lives dictated by the calendar, no better time to reflect. Thanksgiving is a holiday that should be actualized on a daily basis but the fact that we make a point to touch our gratitude pulse on one day is special.

In my personal reflection, I realize that I only fully achieved 40% of the resolutions and goals I set out for. Upon further analysis of the goals that I did not achieve or those that are in progress (60%), all of them have lead to something different. Different is ok, although it may not be what I set out for, something good came in an alternative form. For example, instead of the the pursuit of Spanish literature, I've followed my language passion into learning another language... Portuguese. Brazilian beauty intrigued me into learning its language. That's just one example but in my refl
ection it's interesting seeing how much life has changed in the last 365 days.

The year started in the bitter cold of the rocky mountains passing days at Monarch Ski Area then hitting the Golden coast for a road trip with my 2 hermanos (one from anotha motha). Then came a summer time of mountain biking and working 6-7 days a week to save money for a return to South America, one of the successful resolutions! Then came the migration south in September. Colombia was my home for 6 weeks and the perfect transition to my life here today, in Buenos Aires. One whole revolution around the sun and I find myself back in the southern hemisphere, this is the place for me now.

So now it's time for resolutions and goals in 2011, let's turn another page. This year will be one to remember, I can feel it!

1. Grow Biking BA into top 5 tour companies in Buenos Aires with 2 locations and a fleet of 100 bicycles.

2. Learn Portuguese- At least the basics of the language to where I can hold a 10 minute conversation with my fellow Brazilian friends in their language.

3. Learn Capoeira- This Brazilian art is like a mixture of martial arts and break dancing requiring incredible core strength and flexibility. It has a great history behind it too. Read about it by clicking the link above. Also, to see a good video of capoeira, check out this video. Every time I see people performing capoeira live, it intrigues me to the point of wanting to jump in. Only if I knew how...

4. Write more- I'm aware that I lose motivation for writing at times but I love it when I'm actually putting the pen to the paper. So I must find what will I do to make it a habit and be continuously motivated to write while balancing the rest of my activities.

5. Visit 5 places I've never seen- This includes the Salta/Jujuy region of Northern Argentina and others on the list are Uruguay and Bolivia.

That's it! Yes, this year I'm only going with 5 resolutions. I laid out 10 last year and realized that I need to keep it simple for 2011. It's time to simplify and focus on what I enjoy doing on a daily basis, being active. Biking, 5 vs. 5 games of futbol, learning capoeira and samba all will bring me enough joy for one year.

Living 2011 as if world really will end in 2012

The Mayan calendar predicted that the world as we know it will no longer be in 2012. I'm not 100% convinced of this, however I will use it as an opportunity to propose that we all live 2011 as if the Mayan Calendar is correct. Within legal and moral judgement of course. But what's wrong with living each day of this year as its the last May 5th, June 17th, September 28th, etc. that you'll live. We all might show a little more humility, love and passion in our daily life. So take it or leave it, to those who wish to approach 2011 this way, I can't wait to see how your life will be this time next year.

I sincerely hope 2010 dealt you as many ups as it did downs. To living yet another year through our ups and downs with grace, love, health and felicidad.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is La Pura Vida?

image from

A slow steady realization settled in and I thought to myself, "Hmm self, it has be a while since I've written a blog on La Pura Vida blog. The self always responds in silence as a mirror of reality. With no excuses to lean on, I search for more meaning of why blogs are even beneficial. They help us upload and share information with others in our own pursuit of education, reasoning, happiness or whatever it may be. La Pura Vida, perhaps.

Pondering back to why I ever started La Pura Vida blog in the first place, I recall I was sitting at a dining table in my first week of Buenos Aires, 3 years ago to the day, using what little Spanish I had known at the time to name my new blog, translated 'the pure life'. The pure life wasn't so much about living free of sins but about exploring a pure life yet to be fully understood. La pura vida, like much in life, is very subjective and is open to interpretation. The intention of this blog was to show my personal life and pursuit of living la pura vida. It consitutes of living healthy, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. They're all interdependent. By living healthy in all of these facets, I mean living without toxins-negativity and trying to be something that I'm not. La Pura Vida is living a well-balanced, simple life. We all like to make life complex sometimes and we must remind ourselves to simplify everything and remember what's really important to our well-being.

Personally, these are the elements that constitute my own pura vida- healthy foods (fruits, veggies, yerba mate, etc), yoga, cardio exercise, meditation, writing, reading, learning new languages and cleaning. Cleaning? Yes, ever since I left home at 18, I've been a product of my ''neatness counts'' Dad and can't stand being in a dirty place. Without clutter, dirty dishes, etc. it's much easier to focus on the other elements.

Some of the readers on this blog have asked me where I get my views or philosophy on life from. Here is a list of my favorite blogs or websites:

And that's it, those are a few of my favorite online sources that inspire my pursuit of the pura vida.

My favorite authors are:

Deepak Chopra
Eckhart Tolle
Tim Ferriss
Edward Abbey
Del Carnegie

Many of my views and inspiration for travels and writing this blog come from these sources. However, my greatest source for new inspiration is from you, anyone who reads this blog. What is your own personal pursuit of la pura vida?

Monday, October 18, 2010


The main reason I wanted to move back to South America, Buenos Aires specifically, was to help my good buddy Chilly Willy Whittle get his bike tour company in high gear. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a foreign city is explore it via bicycle. With each pedal, you get to see the many different lives on the streets. One corner you may see kids kicking around a futbol, the next corner you're greeted by drummers performing for a few pesos. Three blocks later, the smell of carne or empanadas may activate the appetite. It's interesting, fun and absolutely liberating exploring foreign lands by the pedal.

This is an opportunity to follow a passion and put to test our creativity, innovation and determination. It's truly exciting. If you or anyone you know has plans in the near to far future of visiting Buenos Aires, please let them experience the city the most fulfilling way...

To see our latest blog on our latest biking experiences in Bogota, click here!

We leave Bogota tomorrow for Buenos Aires with our vision in mind and on paper in the form of a business plan. As much as we've learned just putting together the business plan, we've only hit the tip the iceberg. Let the lessons, challenges and rewards begin.. See you in Buenos Aires!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Caribbean Waters Part II/ Santa Marta

Santa Marta, Colombia
Where has the time gone? I sit here on our balcony looking out to the crystal Caribbean blue reflect the sun to my eyes. Seven days have passed here in this beach community that has been a major time trap. We don't return to Bogota for another three days. Ten days in Santa Marta is like one long dream that you never want to end. Why does it have to end?? "This too shall pass," the Buddha once said, such a painful reminder in some cases yet a healthy reminder in others.

Gilles, the Dutch owner of our apartment, told us he moved here seven years ago and has never left. Now he sits in his office two blocks from the beach and hires a bunch of Juans to bring the tourists to him so he can rent out his apartments. We had a great time negotiating with Gilles. All of our negotiations up to this point have been taking place in Español, which has been very frustrating to Jason, the wheel n deal kind of business man who thrives on getting the best deal for his friends every time. He's the best guy to travel with, always making things exciting. Anyways, once the opportunity to negotiate in English presented itself with our Dutch friend Gilles, Jason jumped on it and brought Gilles down in price $20/usd per night. The result, we stayed the final 8 nights of our stay in Santa Marta in a roomy flat that can fit 12 people. For the six of us, we each spent $10/night and had plenty of space and a nice hammock on our balcony, full kitchen, dining room, 2 bathrooms, laundry... todo! Oh have I mentioned the advantages of travelling the Caribbean coast in low season? See previous post here.

So the last seven days have been that dream one doesn't want to end. My ears have been plugged since I left the island in Cartagena. I never knew swimmers ear could be such a pain in the ass. I am now being labeled as the grandpa of the trip. "Robin! Listen to me.." they say. "What? What did you say? I can't hear you," I reply like a frustrated old man. All remedies have been tried. Over the counter medicines, shaking the ear and jumping, and even the ol' plug the nose and blow trick. None have been a successful remedy, so for now I accept my temporary deafness and tune into my other senses. My eyes and taste buds have been the most delighted by this beautiful beach community. My skin has even felt the bathwater of the sea here for hours on end. This place has been amazing and has provided some of the best sunsets one could ask for...

This place called Santa Marta has also shown us things we don't expect to see, like babies being bathed in public.....

...or more people on the beach at night than during the day as a regularity.

The locals also wouldn't expect to see one gringo pushing off another for a backflip

BJ's patented backflip w/ a little help from Jason

This is a place where I was even lucky enough to capture lightning crash at night marking the beginning of just another daily/nightly warm shower...

This is a place where the Sierra Nevada Mountains loom over the coast. The eastern edge of the city starts the ascent into the lush green mountains. The roads are no car's best friend yet the people are friendly enough to gringos to make them want to stay in this paradise. Our time here in Santa Marta was not just consumed by loafing on the beaches, only 80% of it was. Give us a break, we did take day trips to Parque Tayrona and ancient Minca waterfalls. Yet, laziness did get the best of us here in Santa Marta.

A side note: It's known as the honeymoon location of Colombia and it lived up to its reputation. We so happened to be here during the Colombian Valentine's Day. In one day, I counted forty six different couples taking their long walks on the beach, que lindo!

However, people really must not see too many gringos in this area since they often approached us as if we were celebrities as did this beautiful Colombian nena...

With every step in this bath water, with every yummy bite of the Caribbean fish & rice meals, with every damn stinking lazy moment in this hammock of the balcony, with every beautiful Colombian woman walking by, with every jaw-dropping sunset and with every breath of Caribbean coastal air, I am most grateful to experience this paradise... Santa Marta, you're the dream I never want to wake up to...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caribbean Waters Part I

Seventy minutes of flight and the warm, humid air coats our Gringo skin. Those who were battling allergies in Bogota are now cured quickly by the Caribbean climate. It feels as if we´re in a complete different country. The Spanish here is mucho más rapido and the temperature gives us warm greetings. The only similarity between the coast and Bogotá is that it rains like clockwork every afternoon. Its simply a choice between a cold shower in the high city of Bogotá or a warm shower on the coast. For now, we´ll switch it up and spend some time in the warm showers. Break out the flip flops, swimming suits, sunscreen, insect repellent and the shades. We're livin' this one Caribbean style...
Good morning Cartagena from our apt. balcony
Upon arrival to our rented flat in the Boca Grande peninsula of Cartagena, we are approached by 'Caribbean Salesmen.' "Oye chicos, coca, departamento, muy barrato, muy barrato.." The gringos have arrived and everyone there knew it. The advantage of travelling the coast during low season is the affordability of everything. We managed to score a really nice apartment/flat to comfortably accomodate all six of us with a balcony view, blender, fully equipped kitchen among other amenities for a price of $12/person/night! The disadvantage of being the only gringos in sight during this low season is that we are target for every salesmen... and there are tons of them. For now let's just call them Juan, for some reason most salesmen were named Juan or Carlos.
Our first full day, we decide to take advantage of our location, head 3 blocks north and walk the beach. The Juan's (all of them) were delighted to see us step foot on the sand. "Chicos, cerveza cervezas, snorkeling, gaseosas (sodas), muy barratos chicos.." Aaand here we go, every 30 feet we walk, we're approached by an average of 2.8 Juan's, they're aggressive and we're highly entertained. We finally find one guy who approaches us speaking broken English and his name is Johnny, he wins best salesman of the day this day for getting us to rent out his cabana and order a few cervezas from him. No need to go anywhere if you want to buy any food or beer or massages. They bring it all to you. Juan's salesman sister, Juana we'll call her loves to approach us offering masajes. They actually don't offer, they tell you, ''promocion, masaje, masaje, es una promocion," and start rubbing your shoulders or legs. Some Juanas are so aggressive, you have to show your mean gringo side and walk away or yell at them. It's an interesting game here, are we celebrities that are just so damn irresistible or are we just wearing $ on our skin in low season? We'd all like to think the former but the latter is the reality. Day 2, we take a boat ride to Playa Blanca on an island about 25 minutes from Cartagena...

The Island:

Playa Blanca

Nearly twenty five minutes of a choppy boat ride out from Cartagena, we (only us 6) are dropped off at Playa Blanca on an island. What was strange about this? They told us to get off and everyone else on the boat kept on going. We were rather confused but went with it. As we unload the boat, 30-40 Juans and Juanas come out of the trees of the beach and start approaching us. "All hail, the gringos are here." We were all upset that none of us took a video of this scene, it was like a movie. Masajes, beers, food, ceramics, fish, ceviche... todo barrato chicos. Barrato for those who don't know español means cheap. They say everything is cheap, however we like to negotiate. Whatever price they'd quote us on, we'd respond with "pfff, no, no gracias, too much money," even if it was dirt cheap. We became master negotiators.

Jason, Mike, BJ and Dora in negotiations with Juan Uno, Dos y Tres

We had successfully denied every massage offer until Jason decided he was going to give in and buy himself a massage. This opened up the can of Juanas, once Jason lied face down on the sand and committed himself to a massage, ten other Juanas came over and attacked Reed and I, we literally would have had to run away to get away from the attack of the masajes. Dora, BJ and Mike were swimming in the bathwater called the Caribbean meanwhile before we could say "No gracias Juanas," Reed, Jason and I were all lied face down receiving the best masajes ever. No happy ending included! But for the price of $15 USD, I had four Juanas giving me a massage for thirty minutes. Twenty minutes in, I was considering how I could live on this island forever, Juana paradise. After we were in a nice relaxed state, our yummy fish lunch was awaiting us at the next cabana over.

Jason opening up the can of Juanas

Best fish lunch I've ever tasted

The rest of the day was a breeze, for some reason all of the Juanas stopped bothering us and disappeared, perhaps their daily income from us gringos had been successfully earned, congrats Juana you won in the end. Regardless, we felt victorious agains Juans, maybe because they didn't offer masajes. The todo barrato that they offered just didn't seem as appealing. Three days in Cartagena and we were ready to move up the coast to Santa Marta where prices are even more affordable and the Juan/Juana mix isn't nearly as aggressive. Three hours on a bus up the coast to Santa Marta and round 2 of Caribbean Waters begins...

Sunset from our balcony in Cartagena

Monday, September 13, 2010

Simple Lessons in Bogota

View of Bogota from top of Monserrate Mountain

The lungs draw shorter amounts of air in every breath. Half way up the mountain of Monserrate, which peaks over Bogota at nearly 11,000ft high to the east of the city, our legs weaken with every step. To our side is Hector (Dora's padre) who has been made a weekly Sunday routine of this climb. He stands about 5'5 and is 73 years young. Hector's stride is pushing the pace and making the mid-20's Gringos look rather weak in our ascent to the top of Monseratte. Bogota itself is nestled in a valley at 8,500 feet. We were drawing for deeper breaths just on our walk to the bottom of the mountain. As we near the top, beads of sweat slide down the cheek with every step in the high Colombian air with the sound of Church bells in the distance. Sunday morning church music greets us as we arrive to the top of Monseratte. The rising sun feels much warmer at the top as we can now see much more to the east at approximately 7:15am. Gasping for air and soaking up the moment with my companions, I'm amazed to see Hector calmly smiling at all of us. Is this guy for real?
Hector (not tired) & I (tired)

At 73, he just gave us lesson number #1 in this blog post: Age is only a number. Hector gracefully ascended this mountain with a 'cruise-control' pace and showed us young guns that some get better with age.
We begin to follow his lead as he shows us a place to do some abdominal workouts on rock seats. The church music complemented by the morning bird's song is just better than 'Eye of the Tiger' at this time. We explore the top of Monseratte for a good hour or so before we make the quick descent down to Bogota. Hector's amazing factor goes up on our charts as quickly as he leads us down the mountain. He begins running down with us, bouncing from step to step with plenty of spring and pep. I catch up with him as we wait for the others. "Are you really 73 years old Hector?" I ask him in Spanish. He laughs and responds that he is with a big smile on his face. He then proceeds to explain how his body has yet to deteriorate at this age, living a very active lifestyle. But at 73? really? Well, Hector just became another mentor as he gladly tells me of how great he feels. He's never even taken a pill, all natural medicines for colds and the flu, leaving fruit and vegetable shakes as the remedy of choice. Gracias Hector for making us feel your age but at the same time showing us age is only a number.
The crew on the top of Monserrate with Sunday morning church in background

On to lesson #2... Driving in Bogota Colombia!

BJ has been our Chauffeur through the streets of Bogota until the question hit me somewhat unexpectedly, "Robin you wanna drive this time?" Hmm, driving in Bogota, Colombia. I feel pretty comfortable driving manual cars and after watching BJ maneuver his way through these streets, I feel hestitant, yet so tempted. "Sure, lets do this, " I say. Two blocks in, I feel the difference in the pace of traffic and obstructions. The rules of the road here are simple... No rules. Who needs lanes? Who cares for pedestrians? Nadie, just step on the gas and keep up with traffic. One must maintain aggressive on these roads or you're causing an accident. Fortunately, BJ is co-captain and giving me tips as far as how to most efficiently navigate through these streets. Several times we come within inches of being side swiped or side swiping another vehicle. The urban jungle of Bogota was my first lesson in driving internationally. If Los Angeles traffic isn't enough fun for you, come to South America for some excitement behind the wheel!

Lesson #3: The US has more influence than I even imagined...

After 30 minutes of receiving my international drivers lesson, Dora, BJ and I end up at her parents' house (Hector y Nelly). We are greeted by passion fruit licuados (shakes). The taste of the fresh pulp is simply perfect as we begin to pick Hector's brain some more. Dora had told me that he is fascinated with our country, the US of America. So I open the can of worms and ask where this fascination comes from. The history lesson begins. From Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt, Hector gives me the background on each of them and what made them so great as leaders and as people in general. Jefferson's brilliance, Lincoln's resilience and Roosevelt's work ethic. The world would not be what it was today without Benjamin Franklin, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.'s innovative and revolutionary vision. After 45 minutes, I again look at Hector in amazement and ask myself who is this guru? It just goes to show that you need not be citizen of a country to know its history inside and out, one day Hector may make his way to the country adores so much to see what the American Dream is all about. What really is the American dream all about anyways? It might just be based in the principles and hard work of the aforementioned people, those who have not only changed one country but also one world.
The rest of the day was consumed by more love from Aunt Tita as she decided to treat us to an after-dinner drink of 20 year old Colombian Brandy. She had been waiting for a special occasion for... well... 20 years I suppose. We felt very fortunate and almost undeserving of such a nice gesture. I've never been a fan of Brandy, but 20 year old Colombian Brandy from the hands of one of the nicest ladies one could know. Perfecto... Salud! Now off to the coast, we start in Cartagena....

Dora y Auntie Tita pouring the Brandy, Salud!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Colo Arrives in COLOMBIA

My eyes open slowly as my ears feel the pressure of the descending airplane. It's been nearly 30 hours without decent sleep, mainly resting on floors in airports (Denver, JFK, Orlando) and cat naps on the plane. The lack of rest no longer matters anymore as the captain announces en español our descent into Bogota. My restless body fills with excitement suddendly as I begin to feel giddy like a kid on Christmas morning. I ask the nice family next to me (from Bogota) about their favorite kinds of food. Without much thought, they respond with ajiaco (soup), sancocho and yucca. All sound amazing from their descriptions.
Bienvenidos a Colombia Colo! The people here in South America call me Colo (colorado) because of my red hair, not to be confused with my home state of Colorado, though ironic to them. The long line through customs quickly reminds me of the inefficiency in South America compared to that of the Estados Unidos. Though, I'm simply happy to just be back. I can't put into words what it is about this continent that fills me with so much joy.

Our group for these 3 weeks of travel through Colombia is somewhat dynamic and quite comical to the locals. Dora, from Bogota, is our tour guide and girlfriend of my good amigo BJ (college roommate). We also have Mike Cando (good buddy and my compañero on my first venture to Buenos Aires) coming from Argentina. Jason (also friend from college) is meeting me at the airport so I can be a translater and get us to Dora's Aunt's house safely via taxi. The last 2 of our group are William Reed and myself from Colorado. BJ (William), Reed (William), Jason, Mike, myself and Dora. When you see us its two tall Willy's (one 6'4 another 6'6), Mikey (Philipino), Jason from Hollywood, myself (red-head) and our gracious tour guide Dora. You just have to see us walking down the streets of Bogota to appreciate the comedy of it all. Fortunately I spot Jason in the customs line right away and we pick up our luggage. The taxi driver, Raul, brings us to Dora's Tia's house in 30 minutes. Upon arrival, we are greeted by the rest of our crew, glasses of vino and a yummy dinner of chicken, potatoes and rice. After a good hour of chatting, laughing and catching up we all slowly make our way to our respective bedrooms. The house contains 8 bedrooms, perfect for hosting us gringos!

Excited for breakfast prepared by Tita and Dora, all smiles!

I awake the next day to the calls of breakfast (desayuno). "Tita (Dora's Aunt) has breakfast prepared for us," BJ exlaims happily. The perfect way to awake our first day in Bogota. Eggs and cheese on a tortilla with Colombian Cafe. Sounds simple, tastes delicious!

The group from left: Tita, Dora, BJ, Jason, Reed, myself enjoying breakfast

We then venture to a huge market to buy food for our stay. Now this is no ordinary mercado. Tita called it the best/cheapest place to buy food in Bogota. BJ is our chaffeur through the city of Bogota, quite an interesting experience. We came within 8-12 inches of hitting other cars or people numerous times. We arrive at the plaza and quickly realize that we are the circus show of this shopping exerience. This is no Safeway or Alberton's. They bring the pigs in and slaughter them at this market. Fresh meat is an understatement here. Around every corner we walk people gather in groups to analyze us like we're either rock stars. Reed, 6'6 attracts people from all over the market. We are being analyzed like we're not human, this is a bit uncomfortable but we all laugh it off. After two hours in the market we return for a great lunch (yucca, potatoes and carne).

carne at the plaza, appetizing?

Fruit for days at the plaza

Over lunch we truly realize the significance of being in Bogota as Americans. Ten to twenty years ago, this city was in constant turmoil. People could barely walk the streets without being targeted by the drug cartels with guns or bombs. She shares stories that are still fresh in her mind, you can see it in her eyes and hear it in her words. We all quickly realize how much the city has cleaned up. The most recent president, Uribe, helped Colombia turn its 180 and become a country that us gringos can now enjoy. "Gracias a Dios y gracias a Uribe," she continually says intermittenly in the stories.

A candycane-like church 2 blocks from our place

Our newfound appreciation of being in Colombia safely, so far.... (keep your fingers crossed) leads us through the night where we find ourselves at a local bar drinking with Dora's amigas and cousins. We danced away the night with very affordable beverages and learning the local salsa dances. This is unreal, we keep saying to each other. Such a special experience thus far and so much more to come. Gracias a Dios y gracias a Uribe that we're here.

Our living area at Tita's casa, very relaxing

I now am being summoned to the patio's barbecue to help out with tonight's Colombian-style asado (bbq). If we're not exploring the city or learning salsa dances, we're gathering and enjoying meals together, such a beautiful way of life and I only hope you can vicariously experience this all with us through these words. Now, lets enjoy another meal together, can you smell the carne marinated with peppers and onions? I can, now let's eat! Until next time, Bon appetit Señoras y Señores!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Never Gone..

Happy 1st of the month. September has arrived signifying my favorite time of year. For those going to school, its a time to step up your level of knowledge, you better know more by now kids! For sports fans, professional football is underway and the baseball season is winding its way towards October when all of the MLB magic happens. Basketball and hockey are on deck and ready to take over the airwaves as well. For those living near Aspen trees, you're about to witness some beautiful colors on the leaves. For the rest of you, just admit it.. September is a great month.

Yes I am biased, my date of birth lands at the end of this month (28th) reminding me how young I am every year. This September will be the best yet in my calculated foresight.

In seven days, my good buddy William Reed and I board a flight to migrate with the birds south. Colombia will be our place of exploration for a few weeks until September is gone then we'll continue to my 2nd home, Argentina!!! This is a time of preparation for round deux in the Southern hemisphere. The 1st round was a great learning experience and has me feeling very relaxed for this next adventure. My Spanish is polished, mas o menos and my packing is more suitable and practical this time. I no longer own a vehicle, whew! No more car payments, check! No car insurance payments, check! Substantial money in the checking account, check! No, I'm not rich by any means but I do feel more prepared to budget travel with all of the connections developed from round uno. I've parred down on many of my possessions here and its quite liberating. A great source to help my psychologically accustom myself to fewer possessions is one of my favorite blogs, Look forward to my next post on packing for travels in another country. Until then, enjoy your first day of September :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Friday the 13th and Happy 823 years!

Tis Friday the 13th, no big deal right? Well, I've never fully understood the mysticism of these days. Perhaps, the reason people question their every move on these days can be attributed to all of the Jason horror films. We are a society intricately intertwined with Hollywood, right?

The real reason I'm writing this post today is because I had something even more awesome brought to my attention today. This month of August 2010, there are 5 Sundays, 5 mondays and 5 Tuesdays. This only happens once every 823 years! I mean, I am reminded of this every 823 years and you'd think I'd remember by now but no, this one snuck up on me. All jokes aside, hopefully this is a cool fact of the day for you.

Last night, I sat on my deck and watched the meteor showers. It blew me away, it was two times better than 4th of July fireworks. Why? It's natural. If you've ever watched meteor showers you might feel the same way. Anyways, all of this together was enough to spark another blog post, maybe I'll write a better blog on the next Friday the 13th or better yet.... 823 years from now!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Once Upon a Camping Time

The crickets serenade us as the sun sets more quickly and lets the fire be the final source of light. A belly full of hot dogs and s'mores and the smell of campfire lining the nostrils and every pore, now this is camping folks!

One of the many beauties of living a summer in colorful Colorado is the ease and accessibility of escaping civilization. One moment, I'm watching the final minutes of a World Cup championship game and celebrating a Spanish victory with a Sangria.. or two.. maybe three. Well let's just say my presumptions had matched those of Paul the Octopus, I had this 6th sense that Spain would win, so I began 'celebrating' with Sangria in the pregame. There I sat wondering what it'd be like to be in Madrid celebrating a victory as I sipped this, my fifth actually, Sangria.

Approx 37 minutes later..

Here we are in Reed's truck taking on the 4 wheel drive experience on Boss Lake Road just a half mile before our camping destination. One mission in mind, get away from any worries by passing the evening with good friends under the stars over a campfire. Wow, those Sangrias sure kicked my butt and made me appreciate being a passenger on this journey. The fresh air wifts through the the trees and the Aspen leaves are alive on this day. As we arrive to our friend's cabin, camping mentality sets in. All of the sudden I crave hot dogs, potato salad and s'mores to soak up this fruity wine in my belly. The cabin is perfect for camping; no electricity, no running water, a real rustic feel and an old fire place. Just down the hill from the cabin was the fire place and another thirty feet away was a horseshoe pit. Another fifty steps and you are greeted by a beautiful creek to drown the sounds all around.

What makes this experience so great is that nobody can get ahold of you from outside of your campsite, almost a primative feeling in this technologically connected world. I ponder what can be much better than camping in the mountains, then the mosquitos begin to bite. "Ouch! Somebody get me the bug spray quick!" Now we all smell of camping perfume, bug spray and campfire. Yummy, makes me want another s'more. As we all gaze at the stars and spot certain constellations and shooting stars. The song "It's times like these" by the Foo Fighters starts running through my head to complement the crickets' music. "... It's times like these, you learn to live again..." cricket, cricket.. and over again.

Sleepiness begins to set in, not sure if its all of the World Cup beverages or the peaceful setting as the fire slowly dissipates. Perhaps, the combination of the two. Ahhh... sleeping in the outdoors.

"Guys, there's a bear outside, somebody wake up and come out there with me.. all I have is a flashlight... crap!" our buddy Reed says emphatically as he lobbies for the rest of us to awake. What would camping be without the prospect of fighting off a bear? Unfortunately for big 6'7" Reed, he had to go pee solo with the thought of a bear awaiting him... nope, no bear. So we think at least. As the sun rises the next day, we all tell our account of Reed's bear cries. Cooking breakfast over another campfire, the birds' song has replaced that of the crickets'. Oh, the smell of campfire and bug spray has grown on me and the stream down the hill calls me again for more quality time... "It's times like these.."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daily Gratitude

I awoke another day to the birds chirping, the sun shining and the air so fresh from an overnight rain storm. Wow, it sure feels like paradise and I know Colorado in the summer months is as beautiful as any other place on this globe. I can't help but feel my gratitude pouring out with each morning yawn. A good friend once told me the best favor we can do for ourselves is focus our energy on what we're thankful for. "That which we think about and thank about, we bring about," my friend exclaims when my energy has apparently shifted towards unnecessary worries.

So with that in mind, today, I am grateful for:

The sun shining
The rolling clouds
Afternoon rain showers
Friends & Family who bring out the best in me
Having multiple jobs
Having goals and aspirations
The money in my wallet (even if not that much :))
The roof over my head
The food in my kitchen
The books that line my bedroom
The bed I sleep on
The Honda Civic that gives me problems but ultimately serves its purpose
Music, music and more good music
Spanish language
The mountain view I have every breakfast
and today I'm most grateful for having today to be alive!

Hopefully you'll take a few minutes every morning to consider what you're thankful for, try it... it might just be your new best habit.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cup Fever

Hola, Olá, Hallo, Bonjour, こんにちは, Γεια σας, Ciao, Hello and welcome to South Africa 2010 World Cup. For you speaking el español, Bienvenidos a La Copa Mundial del 2010. Every four years, the world's best teams come together to play the world's sport, soccer? Futbol rather. Futebol to you in Portugal and Brazil. Yes, that sport, the sport in any country beyond the borders of Yanquilandia.

I find myself watching a World Cup game at 8am between two teams I could care less about four years ago, South Korea vs. Uruguay. I begin to wonder how the hell this passion came about with each dribble and pass on the fresh South African 'pitch'. One word, one country, one team... La Albicleste (Sky blue & white), Argentina. Growing up in the United States of America, I found my passion in American Football, baseball, wrestling and basketball. All of these sports have international participation as well. However, futbol is on another level in most every other country.

Just ask Les Bleus of France, a team that was runner-up four years ago. This year, cheated their way into the World Cup and absolutely fell apart since they arrived in South Africa, now it has become a political issue in Paris. What about Italy? The defending champions showed some age and were forced to say ciao earlier than the Azzurri following would have liked by Slovakia, a country in its first Cup since being an independent nation. The fans at home in Italy are known for greeting their team rather shrewdly and rudely upon a return of failure to meet expectations. This is what people wait 4 years for in these countries. North Korea made its first appearance on the national stage since 1966, they failed to win a game but showed a lot of heart on the international stage. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands are the favorites of the remaining teams, yet Paraguay and Uruguay have yet to lose and also look promising. In fact, all 5 South American teams to enter the World Cup are still alive and continue to advance.... until tomorrow that is when Chile tries to upset Brazil, buena suerte Chle!

What about the United States of America soccer team? Just another team to show a ton of heart and determination on the world stage, yet were clearly outclassed by a physically superior Ghanaian team. I was criticized by a friend for not being that upset of the USA loss. I was even happy for Ghana, unpatriotic? You call it, when I'm sitting next to several people in the bar making fun of the sport and the uniforms they wear during the game, why should the US deserve to win the World Cup? Would a World Cup victory be more nationally appreciated in the USA or in Ghana, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Holland, etc?

Regardless, why should I be criticized for being more of an Argentine futbol follower than a US soccer follower? I didn't learn the beauty of the sport until I was clearly outclassed trying to play with South Americans at 'their sport'. I learned the passion when I spoke with fans of Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany and Italy and felt the energy they carried for the Cup and the sport in general. I've since been intrigued by the passion all of my international friends have for this time of year and the performance of their respective country. Hats off to the USA team for their effort and the heart they showed and the passion of the sport they brought to this country. In the end, the USA is a country of many sports, many stars and many titles. The other countries are of one sport, one star and one title.. until four years from now... World Cup fever!

Monday, May 3, 2010

West C O A S T I N....

Our time in San Diego was great, stayed with Uncle Donn and Reed decided to fly in and join us to truly road trip all that is CalifornIA. With a feeling of extreme gratitude for all of the hospitality we were shown in San Diego by Uncle Donn and in Los Angeles by Jason, who let us camp in the backyard of his posh pad in Hollywood Hills. Camping in Hollywood Hills?? Yes, leave it to the mountain boys.

The Garmin navigator on the dash of the Element confirms that we are indeed heading North on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1). This is a drive every capable U.S. citizen should do in their lifetime.

Highway 1 becomes a coastal highway built right into the side of a mountain over-looking the Pacific Ocean once you pass San Luis Obispo going North. We're in no hurry whatsoever towards our destination of Big Sur, just south of Monterrey. Fortunately for me, I got to captain this drive up the winding road where a speed of 45 mph was not exceeded for nearly 200 miles. The only words that keep coming out of my jaw-dropped mouth are, "wow! This is the coolest drive I've ever done." At first, I may have been exaggerating. With every passing mile and winding turn, my two passengers agree that this is the most beautiful drive any of us have experienced. By the time we're about 40 miles South of Big Sur, we stop the vehicle for the 4th, maybe 5th time to take it all in.

Yes, I am one happy captain on this drive with big Blue to my left...

How does it get any better we repeatedly ask each other, only to be amazed by what's around the next turn. Wait a second, is that California's only coastal waterfall? Yup, sure is... here we are.

This sure doesn't feel like California anymore, these paradise images resemble what you may see of coastal Mexico or the Carribean, but Cali? Well, this is why Highway 1 is a must-do!

The pictures don't really do justice to the beauty of this coastal drive. Visual sensory overload now takes in and we arrive to Big Sur at about 5pm, just in time to park and take the 0.5 mile hike to our campspot, nestled about 0.4 miles from the ocean.

It turns out we didn't prepare very well for our fire since the area was so damp and moist once the sun set, we struggled for over an hour trying to get a fire started and exhausted all of our resources. We were fighting a losing battle as the wood we bought was water-logged, fire pit was damp and the surrounding air was at about 90% humidity by sunset. All this simply meant is even us Colorado boys who trive on camping (in a much drier climate) were defeated by a wet mother-nature. Big Sur 1- us 0. What to do with no fire in a swamp-like evening?.. Bedtime indeed.

San Francisco awaits us tomorrow, until then we experience our first camping experience slathered in a layer of dew with extra moist dew on top, no moisturizers necessary here. Hasta manana!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Desert trails

Just 40 miles west of Gila Bend, Arizona, the Saguaros in my rearview mirror provide a pleasant, friendly foreground to the fading desert mountains.


Yes, friendly! See them waving to us?

Wow, we just realize we've never seen this desert decorated with such fresh vegetation and blooming flowers. {Deserts recommended time of year to travel, Springtime!}

I've never really appreciated the desert setting to the extent that my friends and family have. As we sit in this Blue Honda Element coasting the hot desert interstate, I now see its beauty. Yes, you desert, you won me over on this drive. Even with your gusting winds catching every square inch of the box-like Element and creating challenging conditions for my captain here, Dana. Killer Dana, they call him. I know him as my brother but for many, a long story awaits those curious of how he got such a nickname. You should see him on the dancefloor... and I digress.

Here we are, on Interstate 8 Westbound towards San Diego from Tucson. Wow, what a trip that wedding was. All you need to know is that both sides of the wedding were Irish, 'nuff said. Top o the mornin to ye! Perhaps it's the remnants of an Irish Wedding weekend in the desert that resembles all the symptoms of a hangover on this drive. Regardless, this is a beautiful drive, blue skies with Walt Disney-shaped clouds and a rainbow on the ground with every color of the spectrum illuminated through wild desert flowers.

We chase the sun at a rate of 75 miles per hour and are all smiles..

The wind finally calms with every inch the sun creeps towards the horizon

We approach San Diego and my new appreciation for deserts settles into my skin. The ideal beginning to a road trip. Now lets see what the coast offers for us 'Zonies'! (a term San Diegans use for Arizona visitors who flood the coast every summer to escape the desert heat)

How do you do San Diego?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On the Road Again...

Scores are settled, jobs completed, gas tank is full, bags are loaded and we have snacks and supplies. One grand road trip awaits. How did this come about?

It all started with a wedding invitation and has evolved into the makings of a 2 week road extravaganza with my brother and good buddy Reed. There is no better way of kicking off two weeks on the road of freedom from any commitments or accountability by going to a wedding, right? Marriage is one of humans' most sincere commitment, or at least it used to be. Needless to say, I wish Moira Murphy Cairns and Sean McGovern all the best in their own upcoming adventure! Now back to our little adventure celebrating bachelor-hood.

My brother and I figured that we would follow up the wedding in Tucson by taking the short 6 hour drive west to San Diego like any other Arizona resident would do. Then we figured, since we'll already be in California, we might as well just see all the great parts of the state while we can, after all we're young and single bachelors right? Let's take advantage of this. The timing couldn't be any better as Dana, Reed and I have just completed a long winter of working at local ski resorts. We must transition into summer by partaking in some quality beach and desert time. Reed, my current roomie here in CO, has hardly ever seen any parts of California. Dana and I, looking for any excuse for extra travels, presumably designed the rest of the trip as tour guides catering to our friends' needs, discovering all that is California. Being a Cali tourist instead of a resident will be a nice change of pace. You mean I don't have to pay twice as much rent per month as anywhere else to fund my landlords' Mercedes?? Count me in!

The current itinerary from San Diego consists of driving up Pacific Coast Highway, Hwy 1 all the way to San Francisco with a quick pit stop in Los Angeles to see a few friends. Wait, quick pit stop in LA? Not possible, ok so a day long pit stop in LA indulging in smog and traffic, sweeeet! Then we'll continue up Hwy 1 to Big Sur where we plan to camp for a night on the coast. This will be a nice intermediary between LA and San Francisco. Then we continue North to SF, my personal favorite U.S. city, to visit friends and see all of the great landmarks. After a few days of the most beautiful city on this trip we'll follow it up by heading East to Yosemite National Park. This part wasn't in our original plan but we caught wind that its Free National Parks week the week we'll be there, its a sign! Yosemite will be a first for all 3 of us, thus we plan to set up camp and spend 2 days there. Then we plan to venture through Nevada and Utah on Highway 50, loneliest Highway in America, how can we skip something that significant?

With all this said, you all know I love to document my travels more than my complacency, thus I will have more blog posts coming soon sharing our ups, downs and in betweens with pictures and all. So please stay tuned if you wish to vicariously experience this with us! Ciao for now amigos :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Days in Seasons, Seasons in Days

"Rised this morning and smiled with the sun, oh I'm blessed. Another day has begun. Everything in life has its purpose and its reason, it has its season." -Ziggy Marley

The windows of the Honda civic filled with fog as usual on the drive down from the ski area last night. Defrost had its usual waiting period then kicked in. Just another day of driving down Monarch pass in a snowstorm, this has become as consistent as rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. The defrost finally did its work and I noticed something different... is that rain? Indeed! The winter months are winding down and seem ready to spring anew. The snowfall at the ski area has become much more wet and slushy, brought on by warmer temperatures. The days are lasting longer and the sunshine is now greeting me in the early morning hours, whereas I used to awake in pure darkness. The changing of the seasons each day draws out enthusiasm for summertime in the mountains.

Winter days have been quiet and somewhat introspective. I've managed to successfully limit distractions and live a very simple life this winter; working on the mountain, thawing from the cold day in the sauna, no cable television, reading and maintaining physical activity with basketball, snowboarding and some soccer each week. What hasn't been limited is the amount of changing seasons each day. I've seen sunshine followed by snowstorms within several minutes and back again. The changing of seasons is very underestimated and I realize how much I had missed it when living in a paradise-like climate of San Diego. Warm sunny weather carries more weight in a land where the snow cloud looms.

The extra minute or so sunshine each day hasn't gone unnoticed since the Winter Solstice. I am fortunate enough to witness the rising and setting of the sun each day. The sunrises here are shared with few, 'tis special my friends!

Snowflakes, sunshine, winds, cold nights and warm afternoons... I've enjoyed them all and appreciate what winter represents. Although winter may be unbearable for some, its very necessary. Some animals hibernate from it and plants die from it, only to spring new life in the coming months. Everything and everyone has its reason and its season. I only hope you can find the beauty in even your winters, whether internal or external. No matter how sunny or stormy it is.. fear not, it will change very soon.

"New life makes losing life easier to understand"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ten 2010 Resolutions/Goals

Eighteen days into the new year, I realized I really haven't voiced my resolutions or goals. It has long been stated that those who write down their goals or share them with others are more likely to achieve them due to being held accountable. Thus let's hop right into it since we only have 347 days and counting left in 2010, don't blink, the 2011 countdown is right around the corner. The lag period is the catalyst to my first resolution...

Numero uno: Write down or share my ideas, goals and objectives

Numero deuce: Take pressure off of life-changing decisions. Many of us may become stressed from periods in which no direction or yellow-brick road is laid out. However, some of my best decisions have come from periods of down time or low stress.

Numbero 3: Climb and summit five 14,000 foot peaks.

Cuatro: Return to South America, either short-term or indefinitely, to help my friend BJ pioneer his bike tour business =>

Numbero 5: Maintain physical well-being by continuing yoga practice, bike and/or run combined 10 miles per week and other cross training activities once per week (soccer, basketball, wrestling, muay thai)

Numero Six: Discover Spanish literature/poetry. Just another way to stay engaged in my favorite language and one that has always interested me

Numero 7: See 2 countries I haven't seen yet

Ocho: Create a new blog that captures 100 more readers by March 2011.

Numero 9: Rediscover my passion for photography. Photography was a hidden passion while in South America and I neglected it for the most part of 2009, time to capture more moments.

10: To live each moment of every day with a habit of happiness knowing that the year 2010 is just one of many and the most important part of this year or this lifetime is today, here and now.

I wish you all the best in 2010 may you have personal success, health and happiness!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

HappYness in a Snowflake

Peeking out the front window after waking to the 5:30am alarm, snowflake upon snowflake accumulate in the dark morning air. The taste of the yerba mate is a bit more sweet this morning indeed. The first gasp of morning air coats the respiratory system and quickly turns on the brain. Upon arrival to the local ski area, Monarch Mountain, the energy of friends and employees is abnormally positive. "Powder day!" echoes through the lodge as many share an understanding that today is going to be epic.

The frosty precipitation passes time more peacefully, people carry smiles and hot cocoas knowing the 'fluff' is collecting and awaiting new tracks. Welcome to winter in ski-bum country Colorado. Time slows with the cold and some days few thoughts occupy the mind because of its numbed effort to retain body heat.

Whether it can be found in a snowflake, a grain of sand or a mind-muting sunrise, happiness fulfills its subjective meaning in the simplest of things that are often taken for granted. Being open to the even the simplest of gratifications can bring one more smile a day, which is worth it isn't it?

Today, what is your snowflake?