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. 

Day 3 Lima, Peru 

Day 3 The walk there was the adventure. It became less and less populated the further I walked away from my hostel. The streets got darker and dirtier. I became more and more worried about my safety. This is why I came. To step out of the complacency. My family is filipino so I have been to the Philippines a few times, but never have I walked alone in the rough parts. I always had local family members or taxi drivers to chauffeur me around.

Then I come into a mat space 20×20 with a pillar in the middle. No tatami mats here just old school puzzle mats. It gets the jobs done. The training was very detailed and specific. I we went over anaconda, darce and a choke I didn’t know the name of. All from turtle. We drilled these moves then we did several rounds of 3 minutes. It was a good first gym in Lima.

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Enrico and I rolling.

Enrico was a very knowledgable teacher. His understanding of the techniques he was teaching us was very detailed and concise. I appreciated how he broke stuff down in English for me, especially the details. I has a brown belt in jiu jitsu, for reasons I couldn’t decipher in Spanish/Castellano.

The walk home was fine.  I was soaking with sweat still, I sweat a lot. I got some street food for 7 soles. I have no idea what the meat was but it was tasty.  I felt like a local after jiu jitsu class walking home.  It was a good end of the night.

I wanted to travel and do jiu jitsu since I was a white belt.  I’m glad I’m a purple belt traveling.  I think you can travel as any belt but they all have some pros and cons. If you’re a white belt, you are so new that you may not understand the techniques or positions. I think blue and purple belt is a good belt to travel with. I’m not brown or black but my assumption is that you have to prove your belt where ever you train. More than likely you will outrank the majority  in the gyms you encounter.

If you are able to travel around the world and take your hobby with you. Do it. There’s a special feeling where you get to share what you love with strangers. You may not speak the same tongue but you do have a common language.

Books: I have to finish Lolita.
Google maps: you can download maps and use them without being connected to wifi. Useful when you’re walking around foreign countries looking for Jiu Jitsu gyms.

Thanks to BJJ Musashi Ronin Club in Lima, Peru. and BJJ Globetrotters for my travel gi.

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Day 1. The Unknown

I have a lot of emotions in me.  I’m about to embark on a year of travel. This type of travel has been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  It seems to big of a task to undertake.  I’ve chosen a handful of countries to see and maybe I’ll see some more later.

Last night I was especially anxious because it is actually happening. Why?  Is it that I’m going to a continent I have never visited?  Or the long time frame? Being homesick? The inevitable return home? The unknown?

It’s that unknown feeling. That feeling of not knowing. It hits your stomach so profound that it only happens a few times in my life.  Like when you approach a girl you like, when you have a big test, or when you are about the compete in your respective sport.  I don’t get that feeling anymore.  You would think I would get that feeling in the military, but alas I probably felt it twice. The moment before you enter boot camp and my first day at dive school from the fleet. Now when I think of it,  I smiled during those times of unknown. I search for the feeling again.

I invite the adventure.  For whatever comes out of it.  I’ve wrapped my head around the scenarios of what could possibly happen to me.  I will continue because I would rather do this than not living out my dream.

More to come…

 

One World Jiu Jitsu

 

One World Jiu Jitsu. Newark, CA

Good place. good people.  It’s always weird when I roll up to a new gym.  I think I always feel a little stand offish. Probably because I know not all gym environments are a good place.  As far as One World Jiu Jitsu in Newark, CA. It is a great gym to be apart of.

Why do I feel stand off-like when I train in new gyms?  Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport.  I think you naturally size people up by looking at your training partners. How tall are they? Muscle mass? Belt Rank? How seasoned is their belt? Cauliflower ear? Hands? You can tell a lot about someone by looking at their hands.

After awhile it turns into your gym.  Which is a really good feeling.  It becomes your second home.  You don’t feel like a stranger to it anymore. For someone that traveled around a lot, that feeling of home is something you always want to come back to. Something you are always searching for. 

2 more days till Peru.

Open mat Sunday Nights. Newark, Ca

 

Camino de Santiago IV

My last post about the Camino. I’m currently in Lima, Peru. I had to finish this subject before I continue my travels.

As I write this I’m in Lima, Peru. Traveling around from place to place is different from walking the Camino.  I don’t have to pick up and leave every morning which is a good feeling, but there’s a sense of urgency when you have a goal while you’re traveling. A sense of mission is common with all the other pilgrims. To continue walking whether your goal is Santiago or not.  In a normal hostel, it is a motley crew of backpackers, travelers, and tourists with different motives. Lima is no exception. It makes me miss the Camino and Spain. It will be something I will wrestle with but I digress.

I walked with Thomas and Maria for more than half of the way.  Thomas is from North Germany, near Bremen.  He is studying wood engineering.  He is a good person to walk with.  I appreciated his honesty and company when we conversed.  He has very good travel stories and dreams to travel more.  I will see him again in Dresden.

 

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They were a  few days where it rained constantly. We just went with the flow. Eventually we got past the rain and the weather was beautiful.  Seeing the coast is an amazing feeling when you have been walking inland for many kilometers.  Through rain, mud and drinking Sidra. It was some of the best parts of the Camino.
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last 100 KM

These two German ladies had stopped us and gave us all beers to celebrate the last 100 kilometers of Camino Norte.  It was a good feeling to celebrate with beers at 830am.  The last few days were just too fast to remember. Before I knew it we were one day until Santiago. It’s an amazing feeling to get to the end.

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Mark(Me), Parti, Thomas, Soren, and Maria in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

By the last 4 days or so, I walked with a core group of people. Parti, who was from Switzerland, Thomas, from Germany, Soren, from Denmark, and Maria, from South Korea. We had dinner in Santiago then Maria took a bus to Finisterre.  Parti took a bus a few days later with his girl friend to Muxia. Thomas took a bus to Bilbao for a flight back to Bremen. Soren, Thomas and I had a few going away beers his last night.

Soren and I walked to Finisterre in two days from Santiago.  It was a beautiful walk with spectacular views.  It was exhausting though. Why did I walk it in two days? Off a bet and because I wanted to push myself.  It was a hell of a last day. Soren walked with me the entire way even though he won the bet.  He said he would stop at the town before Finestera. I’ll always remember that. The fact he kept going even though he didn’t have to. That’s a friend. We parted ways the next day. The next morning I walked to the end of the world and had some long thoughts.

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It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting – The Alchemist

Originally when I finished my obligation with the Navy I was going to move to Spain.  After finishing the Camino, I changed my mind.  I want to travel to more countries before I want to settle on one place again.  I really haven’t seen the world on the terms I wish to see it. So I decided afterwards I will take a year and travel the world. I will see all the countries of most of the people I’ve met on the Camino.  So far its going well. In fact most of the contacts around the world are either through the Camino or Jiu Jitsu.

El Fin. A part of me wants to walk it again.  For the friendship and camaraderie in walking.  Maybe a piece of the Basque country, that was my favorite.

Camino de Santiago III

 

Fast forward to a year later.

It is September 4th, 2016 and I’m in Bilbao.

I returned to Europe on a military place because I was active duty at the time, cheap flight. I traveled from Palm Springs, Ca – Baltimore Washington International- Rammstein Air Force Base- Frankfurt, Germany- Madrid, Spain-Bilbao, Spain.  It amazing to experience  travel in such a quick time frame.  I had to make a quick connection when I had a connecting flight in Madrid.  My bag was lost.  I stayed in Bilbao for a few days waiting for my bag.

I saw it as a omen to see and experience Bilbao for the three more days. The airline eventually found my pack and brought it to me on the first day.  I had two more nights at the hostel. It was the same hostel, Bilbao Central Hostel, that I walked two Austrian girls at the end of a night the year before.  I spent all night charming one of them and the Danish dude does a quarterback sneak and he makes out with her at the end of the night. (Sigh)

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Bilbao to Santander. Regma Ice Cream.

 

 

 

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La Isla 

The freshness is gone when you continue the Camino.  It did for me when I continued that day in Santander.  I knew what to expect already. Follow the arrows.  If I’m lost. I know enough Spanish to ask for directions.¿ Por aquí o por allí? ¿ Dónde está el camino? ¿Puede ayudarme, por favor? Estoy perdido. Soy Peregrino.  The locals were so helpful even if you didn’t speak Castellano/Spanish. Walk into town and find an Albergue shower, eat, mend you injuries, meet people, wash your clothes, sleep, wake up, walk, repeat. The magic of being a novice to walking the camino is gone vs those who walk it and finish it in one go.

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Looking back after sunrise. I met Sebastian, Kristiana, and Søren soon after this photo. 

At first I was just walking.  I didn’t talk to anybody the first two days because I was racing some Hungarian dude.  It was exhausting because I never stopped to enjoy the scenery.  As soon as I let it go and just let my journey run its course I started to have fun.  I met two Germans, Sebastian and Kristiana with a Dane, Søren. That group made me laugh and reminded me what the camino was about.  I forgot about walking when I started conversing and laughing with them.  We parted ways several hours later.

Pendules.  I came upon an Javier’s Albergue, which was recommended by my guide book. That Albergue was one of the best.  All of the pilgrims broke bread and shared a vegetarian meal that Javier made.  We sat along a long wooden table and shared songs of our native countries in the respective languages. German, Polish, South Korean, Spanish except American. I really can’t sing. It’s really embarrassing how bad I am. Javier was asked” Why do you do this? (hosting pilgrims in his home and treats them like family) Amongst the laughing, singing and drinking vino tinto with people from all over the world. Javier answered” porque los moments como este.” I smiled because its a feeling that can’t be described without experiencing it.

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Maria and I looking super cool in our ponchos. 

The next day  I met Maria.  Here’s where I think everything happens for a reason. Our paths intertwined many times on the Camino.   I enjoyed her company more than anybody on the camino.   I enjoyed our conversations and her company.  I spent the most time with than anyone else.  We met up in Madrid after we completed it. It felt reminiscent of Before Sunrise.  I said I would visit her in South Korea when I get out of the Navy.

Next is Camino De Santiago IV.

 

My prospective itinerary for 2017.

Subject to change.

Lima, Peru

Valparaíso, Chile

Seoul, Korea

Vienna, Austria

Bratislava, Slovakia-Polyglot Gathering 31 May- 4 Jun 

Prague, Czech Republic

Dresden, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Copenhagen, Denmark. BJJ Globertrotter Jiu Jitsu Camp. 26 Jun- 1 Jul

Porto, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

UK

Scotland

Ireland

 

Reykjavik, Iceland- Polyglot Conference. 27 Oct-29 Oct

 

Bay Area, CA

Auckland, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand

Rio De Janiero, Brazil

Thats a year of travel in less than a hundred words.  Just looking at the names seem daunting because of the size of the task.  I’m excited for the challenge and the adventure.  This is just a prospective itinerary. More than likely it will change.

What I originally planned to do was to hit up these countries with no plan, expectations or mission.  I’m 32 years old.  I know that I’m not an average traveler.  I have specific interests and habits that I do.  I go to the movies of the country I’m visiting, especially if I don’t understand the language.  I eat the food and I try to learn a little bit of the language.  I’m not much of club guy.  Not really my scene.  I can party if I feel like it but I rather enjoy a good conversation with friends around food and alcohol. Extreme sports. I can be peer pressured into that stuff but I don’t go out of my way to do it.  Sightseeing. Yes but it’s not a deal breaker.  Most importantly I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I’ve been training in jiu jitsu for roughly seven years.  I’m going to try to train in every country I visit.  This type of journey has been done and documented by Christian Graugert in his book and blog, The BJJ GLOBETROTTER. I feel more active as traveler with this goal in mind.

What makes a place memorable when you visit?  Is it the food? Sure. Is it the language?  Maybe. Attractions?  Meh. Weather? 75%.  I think what makes a place memorable is the people. I’ve moved a lot in my twenties and in the Navy.  The friends I’ve made where I’ve lived, whether they were locals or not, made those years unforgettable.  What is the best way to bond with the locals.  With a passion we both share, jiu jitsu.  We don’t even need to speak the same language.  I will blog about this subject extensively for the next year. So look out.

My former blog was a language blog.  It was about my journey for a lingua franca, A bridge language.  I am still learning Spanish.  I think I can understand 60-70 percent of news and audiobooks I listen to, if slow.  I can read fairly well in Spanish.  I had Skype classes on italki weekly since I left the Navy.  There’s still a lot more to learn.  Rewind five years ago.  I would not have thought I would be able to communicate or make friends in this language but I have.  I hit that point in my language learning where I realized that I can communicate and I am able to use it.  It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling, almost a drug-like high.  I’m addicted too.  I want to learn more!  I plan to attend two polyglot events, Slovakia and Iceland.  What better way to learn more languages than get advice from the world’s best.

That’s it.

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 1st Stop Maven Jiu Jitsu inSpring, TX.(Kevin,Me, James)

Camino De Santiago II

Camino De Santiago Part II

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San Sebastian. Donostia in Euskara.

I set my goal.  I left for Spain in July 2015.  I arrived in Rota, Spain.  Then I went to Seville. Then to Madrid. I spent three days there if I remember correctly. It was an interesting experience with tours and wondering around. It’s difficult to remember when I look back.  I lot has happened in those memories.

I was able to speak with a beautiful Madrileña on the train to Irún, the starting point of Camino del Norte.  I was so proud of myself for having short conversations with her in Spanish.  She was very patient with my Spanish.

I remember I arrived in Irún late and I didn’t have lodging.  I spent an hour walking around looking for a place to sleep. I finally settled on  a pension.  I thought to myself. “Tomorrow I will begin my journey.” I remember that I was very timid with my Spanish.  Now when I think about it. I feel more comfortable to be in a situation where I need Spanish to help me.

It’s unfortunate that I’m writing this part of the journey more than a year ago.  Many of the details are lost in my mind.  It was an amazing experience because the journey was so new and refreshing. The views were so beautiful.

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Zarautz, la madrugada

I met some wonderful people on that Camino.  I met French, Swiss, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, Belgian, Austrian, Italian, and of course, German.  Everybody had their own reasons for walking the Camino.  Some were newly graduated college students, established adults with a career who saw the Camino as a convenient holiday, or other people who were looking for answer to a life decision.  The last reason was my own. img_2204

My first impression of French people came when I visited Paris as a 21 year old.  It was not a great experience.  It was a strange unwelcoming feeling for an American.  I saw the landmarks but the language barrier and the inherent unfriendliness towards tourists left a dent with me. That impression was shattered when I met a very friendly French man on the Camino. His name was Olivier, from a city north of Paris.  I stopped for a break and he joined me for his break.  I shared some of my orange with him.  We decided to walk to the next town together. Olivier had a wonderful idea of eating sashimi for lunch.  We went to the grocery store and bought our picnic food. We ate on top of green cow pasture above Zumaia looking at the Atlantic Ocean.  We communicated in English, which he spoke very well, and he told me his story.  He was mid 40’s, divorced, two kids. It seemed he was on the camino like most, searching for an answer through meditative walking.  I don’t remember much else from the encounter except that he has upgraded my impression of French people.  There are unpleasant people everywhere from every country, but there are good people everywhere as well.

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Isabel, una madrileña(izquierda) , yo (medio)  y Charlie, una Americana (derecha).

I left 13 days into it.  I stopped in Santander.  It was a one of the best days on the Camino.  We left Güemes and there was a light rain. I remember the day being rainy and miserable but I didn’t care because I knew that was my last day. So I just enjoyed every second of it. Especially the misery. My favorite memory of that day was when we stopped around 11am at a beach bar before Santander. I changed my socks and we ate some food.  I bought some “chupitos” for my group. Then we walked to Santander with a nice buzz.  We took a small commuter boat to Santander.  We had Regma ice cream, Santander ice cream, right after the boat ride.  We parted ways soon after.  It was the best day of Camino because of company I was with.  The most important part about the Camino for me was meeting wonderful people.

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It was said that this was the best Albergue on the Camino, Güemes.

I returned home when I got to Santander. I finally continued my journey in September 4, 2016.  See Part III