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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I want to record as much memories and ideas to come to me while I’m on my travels. To do so I need to write. I need to make a routine of writing everyday. Which means blogging everyday. Will my blogging be good? Probably not. I want to get in the habit of writing.
What did I do today?
It was the day after my 32nd Birthday. I woke up and studied some German. I took my nephews to the park. I had Skype class for Spanish. I went to Jiu Jitsu.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.
I used to get depressed around Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that the world highlights that you are single. Now I see it as just a day. Not just a day. A day of opportunity. It’s about perspective. For flower and candy shops, it would probably be a blackout day for employees. (A blackout day is a day where you are not allowed to take a day off.) Rightly so, it’s a money making day. That’s how I see tomorrow. Just a day to make money.
7 years and 7 months. Done. It has been a long road. Honestly like many I had a sense of bitterness and disdain towards the Navy. I can make a laundry list of the things I disliked and experienced, but it’s over. What I choose to do is…let go and move forward. It’s easy to focus on all the bad things but flip the coin and you can see all the positives that come from an experience like serving in the military.
1. A good friend of mine said to me, ” I’m not going to miss the work, the places I visited, nor the training, what I’m going to miss the most is the people.” He said that to me a year from my contract ending and it stayed with me. The people I’ve met in my travels and duty stations while enlisted will be some the greatest friends I will ever meet. I would not have met those people if I had not enlisted. For that I am forever grateful for that opportunity.
2. My career path started, like many Sailors in post 9/11, as a recruit at Recruit Training Center Great Lakes, IL. I went across the street to A school, Hospital Corps School Great Lakes, IL. I continued my training to Field Medical Training Battalion in Camp Pendleton, CA. My first duty station was Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. I trained and tried out for special operations as a Dive Medical Technician. Dive School didn’t work out as planned and I was sent to Naval Hospital Guam. 3 years on an isolated island in the Pacific changed me. I choose to be stationed in possibly the best place to get deployed, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, CA. I didn’t get deployed but what I got in exchange was priceless. I’ve experienced many once in a lifetime experiences. I can only be thankful for that opportunity that was given to me.
3. I learned a lot about myself in the Navy. Life isn’t just black and white. I received my DD-214, an official form of military discharge, yesterday. It showed all my duty stations, awards, job and my last rank. It shows what kind of Sailor I was on paper. On black and white. It doesn’t show the struggle, the friends I’ve made, the things I learned, how I changed as a person, the failed policies, love lost, favoritism, politics, trauma, friendship, death and overall life in the Navy. The grey area. The words in between the lines.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I returned home when I got to Santander. I finally continued my journey in September 4, 2016. See Part III
I recently completed the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain. It’s a religious pilgrimage in Spain that has starting points from all over Europe. All of the routes end in the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The English translation is “The way of St. James.” James was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, his tomb is underneath the cathedral in Santiago. People come from all over the world to walk the Camino. Pilgrims, anyone who walks the camino, come from all over the world to walk the camino. The reasons why one walks the Camino are as many as people in the world. This is my story.
There two popular routes of the Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances and Camino Del Norte, the latter being physically harder and less pilgrims because of the numerous elevation changes but more scenic. I choose the road less traveled for several reasons. The scenic views of the coast, my affinity to water, and the cities of the Basque Country, Bilbao and San Sebastian. The challenge of choosing a path the majority do not attempt enticed me.
The origin of the idea of walking the Camino was when I watched “The Way” with Martin sheen. Without spoiling it, is about a man who walks the Camino with his son. The story was so powerful, it affected me with the goal as soon as I finished the movie. I messaged my close friends to see if they would be interested. Nobody showed interest in the endeavor. At the time I started to teach myself Spanish and I visited Spain once already. It was a good goal for myself.
I started April 5th, 2016 when I was in the backyard of 29 Palms and my perspective on life was clearer because I didn’t have all that noise distracting me on my goals. So I decided to make an experiment and take a 30 day break from Facebook. There were times when I felt better about myself for not relying on the infinite news feed for comfort, as other do. I thought about leveling up my Spanish and how to get better. I started doing water color paintings. I’m searching for truth in myself and my art. It’s over now and I logged on. with 4 friend requests and 43 notifications. I didn’t miss anything.
I took the app off my phone and I am logged off on my computer. By taking the application off your phone it disconnects you from always being occupied with advertisements and outside noise. My friend, Kim, said it was fantasy world. A place where people share good news, travel photos, dress up pictures and good memories. Occasionally people share rants and complain about life, but all your 413 friends really don’t want to hear about that, maybe your close friends and family. I’m guilty of all those things. I post travel photos, good memories and have done a rant or two. When it comes down to it. What else could I be doing with my Fucking time!?
I’ve been teaching myself Spanish for the the past year and a half. I used a computer program called Fluenz. I finished the program last year before my second trip to Spain. I learned enough to get by and have small conversations. The process it was very slow and frustrating but very inspired to realize my progress in a foreign language. In January I realized I haven’t progressed at all since Spain. I have to increase my level of proficiency in the language. I’m currently reviewing the program, which is starting from the beginning to the end again. It helps but its not increasing my proficiency in a way that satisfies me. I got a tutor but he was too far away and too expensive for my budget. I’m researching on other tutors on Italki, a website to connect language learners. I will post my research. With teaching myself Spanish I feel like a scientist. I have to try something and if it doesn’t work I’ll have to try something else or adjust my original plan.
As I’m getting out of the military in 8 months. I have to solidify my plan as to what I will do when my life is not confined to routine. As of now. I plan on living in Barcelona, Spain for two years. There is an art school there and I plan on getting a student visa to live there longer than the 90 days allowed for US citizens. After the two years I plan to finish my illustration degree at SVA. With the GI bill I can live in NYC without too much worry of housing and costs of living in the expensive New York City. If I have any money left in the GI Bill. I’ll use it to get my Masters in a foreign country.
Facebook= a social media website where we can see the decline and progress of humanity.
I decided to take a break from Facebook. I am currently on day 4. I was in the field(military training in a tactical environment) for almost two weeks. I had this thought where what if I just stopped scrolling the infinite feed. I think it was being in the middle of the desert and seeing the bright stars shine without the light pollution of civilization.
What kind of person would I be? Do I need to post something or see what everyone else is doing/thinking, sharing? No, I don’t. I doing experiment of 30 days.
What can I accomplish without that noise? I’m interested to find out.
I read two books while I was in the field.
The Sun Also Rises- Hemingway
I didn’t like it though I did enjoy it but I didn’t like the ending. I thought the book was about Spain, which it was. I just couldn’t relate to the characters. The description of the Spanish cities was my favorite passages especially about San Sebastion. The takeaway from reading Hemingway was talking to my Chaplain about literature. He recommended many other authors and books.
The Road- McCarthy
He let me borrow The Road. I enjoyed the read but I watched the movie already so it spoiled the book. I still was glad that I read it.