Moved to Houston, Texas 2018

I moved to Houston, Texas.  What inspired me to move to Texas?  A year ago I said I would come back here.  The people I told that too probably didn’t believe me.  Maybe I didn’t believe myself.  Nonetheless, I actually did move to Texas.  It’s still weird change for me.  It was the only way I can see my life continuing.  My life in the Bay Area was stagnant.  I was living at my parent’s house, working and Jiu Jitsu, no real forward progress in life.  It was nice to spend time with family and see my friends, but something wasn’t right, a little off.  I accrued lots of debt from traveling and working as a line cook or barista wasn’t cutting it.  I thought that I better move and start a career so I can carry on with my life.  The only plan I had was Texas.  I researched the school, GI Bill compatibility, welding career salary, cost of living in Texas, Jiu Jitsu school and support system.

I train at Maven Jiu Jitsu in Spring, Texas.  I met the instructor, James, on Guam while I was stationed there.  I felt the quality of his instruction is unparalleled to what I have seen in my years of Jiu Jitsu training.  He is someone who really thinks deeply about the subject.  I’m excited to learn and understand Jiu Jitsu on different level.  The school has fairly young ranks of white belts and a few blues, but that doesn’t stop the place from being a great gym to train at.  My friend, Kevin, whom I also met while I lived in Guam had moved to Texas to train with James.  My time in Texas will be a life experience that I will never forget.

I enrolled in welding school in Houston, Texas.  My tuition is being funded by my GI bill I earned from my enlistment in the Navy.  I will graduate 9 1/2 months from now as a welding specialist with pipefitting.  I finished my first week.  My day is school, Jiu Jitsu, rinse repeat.  I should explain a little bit more about my life but this will be all for now.

 

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Day 80. Seoul, South Korea Again

Seoul is the only place I visited twice on this trip.  That is fortunate because this time my  long time friend Carolina is visiting me.  I was able to spend more time with Yun-Jin too.  Carolina and I hung out with Yun-Jin, Yun-Min, her older sister, and Catherine, Yun-Min’s room mate.  The second experience was just as memorable as the first.  I am thankful to have a guides that know the language and show me around.  The generosity of strangers continue to amaze me on my journey.

Catherine, Yun-Jin, Carolina, and Yun- Min

We went to Incheon to visit Yun-Min and she took us out to eat at a seafood place. It was delicious.  Koreans know how to eat.  Carolina and I asked if this was a special occasion kind of meal.  They said no, this is how they normally eat.  I love that idea.  We went to the beach and looked for oysters.  We also grabbed coffee/ice cream.  Then they showed us the Incheon China Town.  Hearing a little bit of the history of Incheon and Seoul was sobering.  A divided nation that has indefinite time frame of when they will rejoin, if ever.

Fish Ice Cream. Don’t judge the taste by the wrapper.

The next day Carolina and I went to Hongdae and ate American breakfast.  That was what I wanted to eat.  I really enjoy a big breakfast.  There’s a satisfying feeling when I can eat eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and pancakes.  We went to Lotte world after that.  Lotte world is basically the Korean version of Disneyland. That was what Carolina wanted to do.  It was an interesting experience, they basically compacted an American sized theme park in a mall in the middle of a city.  We ended the night with eating Korean BBQ.

Korean BBQ with Caro

On the last day we went to eat sashimi at the Noryangjin Fish Market.  I would like to say it is a unique experience to eat fresh fish straight from the fish market.  There are many places in the world where this is possible I think.  But this is Seoul.  The experience was one of kind.  We ate an assortment of fish, shrimp and sea urchin(uni). Like most meals I’ve had in Seoul it was accompanied with Soju and beer.  We were stuffed from all that food and decided to walk it off.

Fresh Sashimi for lunch

Yun- Jin took us to her school,  Seoul National University. Carolina and I compared the feeling of being in an American College and Seoul National University.  We were seeing not as much school pride as US schools. You know ever third student you see walking by has a sweatshirt or shirt of their school name. I’m all for school pride but it gets over the top at some schools, i.e. Stanford, Cal.  She showed us her graduate office, where a couple of other master students were working on their thesis.

Yun-Min got us tickets to opening night at Jamyung-go, a Korean Opera.  I have never been to an opera before so it was a first for me.  There was an orchestra, set design and a full cast of costumes.  It played for only three nights. They had English subtitles for me on a screen above the stage.  Carolina speaks Korean say she probably followed along better than me. The story is about a magical drum that warns the city if invaders are approaching and the division of two kingdoms trying to reunite despite the opposition of inside forces.

Like most countries on my trip I say that I will return.  I really mean it for Korea.  I plan on learning Korean and planing my next trip back to Korea after my world tour.  It maybe because of the culture, a certain someone or that I didn’t train Jiu Jitsu there. Either way I had a memorable experience that I wish to have again in Korea. I recommend Korea to everyone.

The church group took a group picture with the leading lady. Jamyung-go

Day 69. Seoul, South Korea Part I

I enjoy stories.  I believe every good story has a great beginning.  The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start.  We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from.  There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish.  Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto.  She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.

 

Yun-Jin and I in cool looking ponchos.

We ran into each other the next day on the Camino.  We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think.  It was a long day.  But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history.  There was scattered rain along the path.  At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours.  An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream.  I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together.  I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.

 

We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place.  I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace.  During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany.  It was mostly just of the three of us.  It was an interesting crew.  Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew.  I’ll take that reference.

 

A Korean picnic on top of a mountain.

Fast Forward to seven months later.  I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour.  I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin.  Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary.  It was an amazing experience.  After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture.  Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.

 

Some where in Yeoeuido-Dong.

 

We did many activities while I was there.  I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant.  We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free.  We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm.  There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater.  Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong.  There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.

The wall near Dongdaemon.

Currently I’m in Guam.  I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia.  I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.

How to get to Seoul:

Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.

A “Korean” picture for the memory.

 

Day 60. Valparaiso El Fin.

A month in Valparaiso, Chile.

I spent a month in Valparaiso, Chile.  I did a work exchange at a hostel.  I worked in exchange for a bed and some food.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought, despite everything being in Spanish.  It is said that Chilean Spanish is difficult to understand because they talk to fast and they have different slang.  I got along fine though. Before Chile I spent the prior month backpacking through Peru.  It was too fast for me, a week here and a week there.  I found this gig through, Workaway, check it out. I have another gig in August in Scotland.  It was great to relax and not have to worry about traveling.

 

Cerro Bellavista

Valparaiso is the cultural capital of Chile. There are 42 hills, cerros, in the city. There are many incredible murals all over the city.  It has one of the three homes of famous Chilean Poet, Pablo Neruda. It used to be one of the premier ports in the 1800s.  With the creation of the Panama Canal.  Its stopped receiving as many visitors.  I saw a video that showed the city and immediately I wanted to visit the city.

I don’t know who this artist is but I dig the character style and colors.

Red Bull Valparaiso Abajo

 

Me, Hernan, and Lucas

Who I met.  The first people I met were my co-workers, Hernan.  He was the manager of the hostel.  He was very friendly and welcoming.  I learned a lot about Chilean culture from him.  Lucas, a young Brazilian kid, who is from Sao Paulo.  He is traveling all over South America.  He will be in Chile until July.  Pierre, a French traveler, who is from Marseilles.  He has a travel visa for a year.  He left to travel south after a week I arrived.

Pierre made crepes as his last meal with us.

What I got from the experience. Traveling slow is a much more enjoyable experience.  I was able to spend more time to meet people and learn about their culture and country. One of the traditions at the hostel was to have lunch together with all the workers.  It will be something that I’m going to miss.  I believe breaking bread with strangers is one of the best ways to get to know people. The last lunch I had with Hernan and Lucas, I made Filipino chicken adobo.  I believe knowing how to cook is an essential adult skill.  I’m thankful for living on my own, it helped with my knowledge around the kitchen.

My last lunch with the guys. Food brings people together.

I had a lot of down time to train Jiu Jitsu, read, cook, walk around the city, enjoy a  wine tour and take in the Chilean culture.  I will miss the weather, empanadas, murals, food, wine, and speaking spanish but not the terremotos.  I will go to South Korea for a week.

The view from La Sebastiana.

 

Travel slow.

Day 41. Valparaiso

One of my favorite parts of my stay.  Eating together with my Hostel. 


I finished Christian Graugart’s book this week while working reception at my hostel. One take away from the book is that it’s easy for me to be self conscious of my skills and compare myself to other purple belts around the world. By the end of my trip I will roll with over hundred different strangers from countries all over the world. It’s ridiculous to compare each other. We walk our own Camino, our on path.

Cerro Concepcion.  Looking down.


I have to enjoy to process, the journey.  With the example of the Camino.  The most enjoyable part was the day of walking.  The getting up early and packing your bag.  The walk by yourself or with people.  The evening meals with other pilgrims. Those are my favorite memories.  When I got to Santiago, the final destination. I got this meh feeling.  That’s it. I was just sad that it was over.

“If you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back,”- Yvon Chounard.

I spend most mornings going for a walk and exploring the city. I sit at a cafe and I write in my journal.  It’s very meditative.  I enjoy this slow pace of travel.  I’m reading a lot more. I have time to really immerse myself here.

 I trained last Friday at Gracie Jiu Jitsu on Pedro Montt.  Which is the picture above. Samir was the Black Belt. He is very welcoming.  First time back since my URI(Upper Respiratory Infection). I rolled mainly with Nico, a purple belt who is competing in a tournament the next day in Santiago. He submitted me many times, with many different submissions.

Currently reading: The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

I will try to blog every week.

Jiu Jitsu Terms in Spanish

Compiled from Reddit and my own research. Please correct where you see necessary.

As I come to the end of my South American part of my trip until Brazil.  Here are some of my research while I had some time to think.

Body- Cuerpo

Head- Cabeza

Face- Cara

Throat- Cuello

Shoulder- Hombro

Chest- Pecho

Stomach- Estomago

Arm- Abrazo

Hand- Mano

Hips- Cadera

Fingers- Dedos

Legs- Piernas

Knees- Rodillas

Feet- Pies

Positions- Posiciones

Closed Guard- Guardia Cerrado

Half Guard- Guardia Medio

Side Control- Pecho a Pecho/ Cien Kilos

North South- Norte Sur

Knee on belly- Rodilla en el estomago

Mount- La montada

Back- Espalda

Turtle- La Tortuga

50/50- Cincuenta Cincuenta

X Guard- Guardia X

Single X- Solo X/ Simple X

Deep Half- Profunda media

Inverted Guard- Guardia invertida

De La Riva Guard- Guardia De La Riva

Moves – Movimientos 

Ankle lock- Llave de Tobillo

Knee Bar- Llave de Rodillo

Triangle- Triangulo

Armbar- Llave de abrazo

Choke- Choke/ Estrangulacion

Sweep- raspado

To Shrimp- Hacer la Gamba

Guard Pass- El pasaje de Guardia

Passing the Guard- Paseando la guardia

Useful Words- Palabras Util

Grip- Agarre

Loose- Libre

Tight- Estrecho

Space- Espacio

Heavy- pesado

Light- Ligero

Weight- Peso

Post- pata

Timing- Ritmo

Floor- Suelo

2 on 1- Dos en uno

to pull- tirar (infinitive)

to push- empujar (infinitive)

Good Training- Buen entrenamiento

Questions- Unas preguntas?

What is  your name? – Como se llama?

I am (your name)- Soy ( tu nombre)

Nice to meet you- Mucho Gusto

For Example. Por Ejemplo

Can you show me? –  Usted puede mostrarme?

Can I train here?- Puedo entrenar aqui?

How much does it cost?- Cuanto cuesta?

Thank you very much- Muchas Gracias

Oss- Oss

Travel Slow!

Day 11

I was on 11 hour bus ride from Lima to Trujillo.  The bus was extremely comfortable compared to Greyhound in the US or even a bus I took in Spain from Bilbao to Santander. Our seats were able to lean back and we had our own entertainment. It was a double-decker bus and each row had three seats. We had ample space to stretch.  We were given lunch and snack time with a service attendant. We had a pillow and blanket on our seat waiting for us as we boarded.  It felt like first class for buses. I have never had first class but I imagine that’s what it would have felt like. The scenery was very contemplative. It was full of desert coastlines and driving through little towns.  For $43 USD it was great deal. It had drawbacks though.  You weren’t allowed to defecate in the bathroom, it was only for urinating.  I didn’t understand the explanation if it was broken or if that was normal. The roads were bumpy for more than half the ride paired with the stop and go traffic. The trip took 11 hours.  I wasn’t used to being on a bus for that long.  I will think twice next time I take a bus anywhere.

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Franco telling us a story about women wearing tapadas on balconies.

To bring it back to Lima.  On my last day I took a free walking tour of downtown Lima.  It was good to meet other travelers.  The only other contact I had was my host Jiu Jitsu gym and the hostel workers.  The night before I decided to be more sociable and meet people. By nature I spend a lot of time by myself when I’m at home but I don’t mind because I have a house full of my family.  I’m naturally an introverted person who doesn’t like small talk. I had to force myself to go out and go on the tour.  So I met a few German girls, an Argentine couple, and Franco, our tour guide.  I felt better to talk to people.  I enjoyed how I could speak with everyone and ask questions in Spanish/ Castellano.  If my German was conversational I would be even more happy with myself, but I spoke English with them. The Germans, Mona, Katy, Lea, and Gesa, were going to Cuzco later in the month. The Argentine couple were from a city north of Buenos Aires, I don’t remember the name. They were on a three month car trip ending in Ecuador.

Franco telling us about Taulichusco, the first “alcade” of Lima.

I recommend looking into any free walking tour if you’re ever in a big city.  I took one in Barcelona and Madrid.  They are always a good way to meet other travelers and hear the history of the city.  I have heard about the Spanish Colonization of South America but hearing some of the details and atrocities that took place. It’s very sad.  It’s one thing to hear the story in Spain and another in Peru.  It gives the city you are visiting a personal touch. You may have observations/questions that are not covered in the guide’s normal spiel.  I had a question about the facades of the cathedral having three different styles.

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Lima had earthquakes so they reconstructed the buildings they were in different styles. 

Please see this blog post about introverts https://youngadventuress.com/2015/01/travel-introvert.html

It’s hot in Huanchaco but it’s a beautiful beach though. More to come.

Just outside my hostel is the Playa of Huanchaco.