Day 135. Porto, Portugal

Surfing, Jiu Jitsu and Family

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Bruno, our surf instuctor, helping out Svenja with standing up.

A few days after the Copenhagen Camp I ended up in Porto, Portugal. I wondered what I would do when I got to Porto. From the start of my trip I knew my family was coming to Portugal. I had to decide what to do before I met them in Porto. My options were I would either walk another Camino from Porto to Santiago, hang out in Porto for a week, or…. wait for it. Go to a surf school.

How long does it take to not be self conscious in a wet suit?

Porto will be an unforgettable chapter in my trip.  I learned to surf and met other beginners from all parts of the world. I trained Jiu Jitsu in the afternoon and nights after surfing. I drank and hung out with cool people whose couches I could use in the future. I was reunited with my family and I had old fashion family vacation.

Food brings people together. Argentina, USA, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, and France.

I booked the camp when I was in Vienna after talking to Tina, from Leipzig post, who described her love for surfing.  I thought that I should try it out. One should push themselves outside of their comfort zones. How else can you grow as a person? I found Surfivor on Google.  A great place with very comfortable accommodations. Bruno and Albert are very good surf instructors.  It seems they still have a lot of enthusiasm for it after many years. There were plenty of beginner students just trying it out.  Most nights the students ate dinner together and drank together. This experience has made me really enjoy surfing.  I will continue to surf in the future.

Gabriel from Romania. He just finished the Camino Frances.

I get my recommendations where to train from the BJJ Globetrotter Facebook Group.  I simply remember or search where people go to train on the forum. So far every place I’ve trained at has not disappointed me. I account that this is also a very open community that loves the sport and showing people their love for Jiu Jitsu.


Focus Jiu Jitsu in Porto, Portugal was one of the best places I’ve trained.  Manuel Neto, the head instructor, was very friendly and welcoming.  Focus has Jiu Jitsu three times a day Monday through Friday with one class on Saturday. The location of the gym is located inside a bigger gym/crossfit/MMA place about three blocks from the beach.  I rented a bike and it took about 15 minutes from my hostel.  A large amount of higher belts, one them just came back from Worlds and was awarded Black Belt. The facilities are clean, showers and a large mat space. The majority of population of Porto could speak English and the gym was no exception. I will definitely return to this place in the future.


My family visiting Porto before they attend a wedding in Lisbon was my favorite part.  I love Jiu Jitsu and surfing, but I enjoy spending time with my family.  It’s a good recharge from the months of travel I’ve been through.  There were many times on my journey where I get homesick.  I would call my sister and see how things are doing back home.  I did this more on this 4 months of travel than my 7 years in the Navy.  I took them to the restaurants that Tiago, the surf camp owner, recommended to me. They enjoyed the Francesinha, Restaurante Ababia do Porto and eating at the grilled fish street. We spent roughly two days in Porto together but I instilled them the love for Porto that I felt.

After 4 months of traveling I am reunited with my family.

My plan is to come back for a month to Porto maybe next summer. The surfing, Jiu Jitsu, and the amazing Portuguese food are a few reasons why I will return.  I’m already planning my return to Portugal.  I want to continue surfing when I return to California so I will be better when I come back.  The lifestyle is very similar to something I imagine myself I would be when I grow older.

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Day 122. Copenhagen, Denmark


My first BJJ Globetrotter Camp. When I first decided to travel around the world this was the first thing I booked, it was also one of the cheapest camps. All I had to do was travel to Copenhagen, lodging not included in price. I didn’t know what to expect for my first Jiu Jitsu camp. I kept my mind open and trained as much as my mind and body let me.  At the end of the camp I gained many friends and invitations to different gyms all over Europe.

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Peter from Sweden, Nick from Wisconsin, Patrick from London,

Some of my favorite tips from the Copenhagen Camp Information Guide by Daniel Bertina. Pace yourself, take notes and be social. Six days of 8-9 hours of Jiu Jitsu is a lot for anyone.  I didn’t want to burn myself out so I went to open mat at least once a day and I attended an average of 2.5 classes.  I would have liked to have attended more classes but it will just be a goal for next time.  I took notes for the classes that I did attend.  A tip that I will do next time is record myself doing the moves again in sequence with a partner to accompany the written notes. I should have been more social during the camp. This is one aspect that I did not take advantage until the end of the camp which was too late.  Next time I will attend the welcome meeting/ Jiu Jitsu speed dating, dinners and a few drink afterwards. The trick is to have a right balance of socializing and rest for the next days training sessions/classes.  As you can tell I’m already convinced that I will attend another camp.  The next important question is which one?

Nikita from Ukraine and Brian from the US.

A rolled with the original BJJ Globetrotter on the last day, Christian Graugart. Many years ago he went on a trip around the world to train Jiu Jitsu in as many different gyms as possible. It spawned into the friendly travel community we now know. He is not the first to make Jiu Jitsu camps but his BJJ Globetrotter brand has the most amount with 10 camps in different locales around the world. I felt honored to roll with him. He rolls like a black belt, relaxed and very composed against a lower belt, like myself. Although very playful and fun. A very approachable guy, it was interesting to pick his brain about the camps and his travels.

I trained everyday during the camp. I didn’t go to every class even though I wanted to. I socialized more on the last few nights. I should have went out more in the beginning especially for the Jiu Jitsu speed dating session to meet people.  I should have recorded myself summarizing the techniques I just learned. A Gopro is good but my iTouch with a tripod would have been fine. I met people from all over the world and received many invitations from gyms and gave out just as many.  I wonder when and where my next BJJ Globetrotter camp will be?

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Day 108. Prague, Czech Republic

What was Prague like? It was beautiful and very picturesque.  I had long term travel fatigue episode, I had coped with it. I tried out my first couch surfing experience. I’m glad I’m an older solo traveler, I can’t keep up with these young people. Meeting local people is my favorite part about traveling. I met up with a old friend from when I was in the Navy.  Took a train out of Prague to Dresden.  I will definitely love to come back and visit the city.

The Dancing House by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunić.

I came to Prague with over 100 days on the road.  It is very tiring being a tourist.  Some days you just want to go back home. Yes, even for the people living their dream there are bad days.  After I had this thought of long term travel fatigue, I looked and there was already a blog post about it, here.  I read this post after I recovered.  What did I do to recover. I kept going, I pushed through.  There are interesting places everywhere, you just have to keep looking.  I went to the National Technical Museum in Prague, practically no tourists there.  It was an inspiring to see different types of technology evolve with time. There is a photography exhibit, medical technology, film, architecture, appliances, printing presses and many more. Then I went to see the National Gallery.  I enjoy looking at painting and modern art because I studied a little bit when I was in art school. It was really exciting to some famous artists that I admired.  The title picture is a close up of a Alphonse Mucha. I love his decorative style and color palette.  What got me out of the slump was to keep doing what I’m doing, keep working, keep searching, and keep exploring. Eventually it will pass. That’s advice if you need it. Please see the link above, that post is also good advice for any plateau.

Sometimes you just need an afternoon to read and drink in a Beer Garden.

You know when your friend would send you a postcard from Europe, Prague is a perfect card. Prague is located in central Europe as the capital city of the Czech Republic.  It’s the fifth most visited city Europe.  To say there were a lot of tourist is an understatement. When Richard Simcott, the polyglot superstar, studied here in the 90’s he described the Charles bridge as walking through a living radio when you turn the dial fast.  So many people and so many languages you can hear maybe five or six walking through it.  I didn’t have that exact experience, but I did hear a lot of English. Prague is beautiful but the amount of people detract from it. There are cool things to do you just have to look closer than the average tourist.

I managed to get some training amidst my slump.  In fact, Jiu Jitsu is a really good way to get back into it.  Exercise is good to way to move forward with a situation.  I have now taken classes in Spanish, German, Czech and English. I wonder how many more languages I can learn Jiu Jitsu in. Honza Stach told me about Richard Andres at Penta BJJ. It’s great to meet people and that other people recommend. Richard spoke English very well and took time to show me certain details in English.  He trained on and off in Minnesota. He is as technical as Honza said he was.  I really enjoy that the network of Jiu Jitsu is just an interconnected network of people.

Richard and I at Penta BJJ.

I met Jan through a mutual acquaintance.  I was in Chile on a bike wine tour. A fellow, Matej from Slovakia, told me to check Czech Republic out and if I was going to Prague he might know someone to put me up.  I didn’t think anything of it. I gave him my email address, usually nothing comes from these situations. Maybe because I’m American and people are flaky in America. I’m used to it. After a few weeks he emailed me some advice on Slovakia and Czech Republic. He gave me a contact for Prague.  That is how I ended up on the Jan’s couch.  It’s so great to hear the perspective of a local about their city.  It’s honestly a priceless experience. I don’t think many tourists experience traveling this way.  I learned a lot about the history and attitude of Czech People through Jan.  He is one of the reason I want to return and really experience Czech Republic.

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Jan and I at Palour

I extended my stay in Prague an extra day to see and old Navy buddy, Robbie. I was his LPO(Leading Petty Officer) in the department of ICU. He is now stationed in Japan.He has been traveling around Europe for about a week now.  He showed me his itinerary and I managed move some things around and spend a day catching up. We went to pub crawl, urgh I thought. A bunch of other English speaking tourists. Not really my scene but nonetheless I had fun. I met some new people, I got lost, I found my friends and I had a great time. Normally I would shy away from stuff like that. The further I go along in Europe I will probably go on more drunken nights with big groups of strangers.

Austrialian Adam,  Me, Nina from Colorado, Robbie, Justin from Canada.

Overall a good time in Prague.  Sometimes you feel down even in the most beautiful locations. Just keep going and learn from the experience. Keep your hobbies close so that you can feel normal even in a foreign country.  It’s great to meet new friends and old friends all in the same city. Czech Republic left as space in my heart I will try to fill it some day.

Jiu Jitsu in Chile

Jiu Jitsu in Chile

 

Cohab  Jiu Jitsu Vina Del Mar- Chile

Cohab Equipo in Vina Del Mar.

I spent most of my time here.  A exciting group of competition players.  The higher colored belts put me through the ringer as soon as I first stepped on the mat the first night.  Andres Perez is the head Black Belt and coach of Cohab.  He spoke English to me and was very welcoming.  I enjoyed the training environment and schedule. On average there are 3 classes a day with open mat sessions on Saturday and Sunday.  I was able to train everyday when I wasn’t working at my hostel.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Valparaiso, Chile

Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Valparaiso, Chile. This gym was about two blocks from my hostel.  So it was very convenient.  It was the first gym I visited when I recovered from my cold.  The blonde haired purple belt, Nico, really put it on me when I was there.  He was also preparing for competition the next day in Santiago. Samir was the Black Belt there.  A friendly fellow and waived my mat fee.  I would have trained more if their schedule was than three times a week.

Raul Valencia- Cicero Costha- Vina Del Mar

Raul Valencia Cicero Costha- in Vina Del Mar.

There is a good training here. I trained here twice.  It’s one of those places where the white belts get taught to bypass the opponents guards fast rather than play into it.  I was x passed many times by white belts.  I like to go easy on white belts until they start using strength. They train hard here, an hour of training after drilling.  I enjoy that kind of training.  I didn’t train that long at any other gym in Chile.  Raul Valencia was the head instructor there, Brown Belt.  Big Ups to Francisca Floras for showing me around my last  day.

Cohab- Reneca- Reneca, Chile

Cohab- Reneca.

Andres Perez has a brother, that’s also a Black Belt, Fernando Perez.  I went to visit him but he was out that day.  I met Guillermo, purple belt, instructor. It was a small group with all white belts except Guillermo and I.  Only white belts, but they were strong and quick.  I had a white belt really tried to tap me with strength.  He had good submissions on me but kept using his grip to pull, rather than adjusting position or abandon and try something else. Other than that it was a good time.

 

 

Here’s a good discussion questions. How do you roll when you travel? Hard or smooth? Do you give up position to lower belts?

I learned that I still don’t know anything about Jiu Jitsu. What I know is few drops in a water bucket.  It’s never ending.

Day 27: Cuzco

It’s been five days having URI symptoms. I don’t feel like doing shit. I just want to stay in bed until I leave. I’ve been a connoisseur of tea and soup.  I really enjoy Cuzco though. It’s just a shame I can’t shake this cold.


I got back from Machu Picchu and I went searching for Bunker Cuzco.  I ran into Diego Yule. He runs Bunker with Nico Culrich.  It was good to exchange Jiu Jitsu stories and have a local show me around.  He showed me the Mercado de San Blas.  Little things like showing a traveler a local market means a lot.


I trained three times. I’m proud of myself for training but feeling of being sick when I’m not training isn’t good.  Some techniques Nico and Diego went over were an omoplata from spider and half guard/ knee shield. When I went to open mat we exchanged GI and NO GI. Diego was preparing for a No Gi tournament in May. We discussed how leg locks is now a system everybody needs to study. If not you will be behind the curve, especially as purple belts.


I met a Helene at the Open Mat on Saturday, a fellow BJJ Globetrotter. You can follow her blog. She has over 400 days on the road. She gave me some advice on traveling. She is truly an inspiration.

@helenebjj. Follow her on instagram @helenebjj and her blog 

 

As a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman, I self diagnosed myself with acute URI (upper respiratory infection). (Note: self diagnosing yourself is a running joke in the medical field. Why? Nearly all patients google their symptoms and think they know what they have.)  I have decided its viral and that I will just ride out the symptoms.

I fly to Lima then to Cuzco in a few hours. I hope the weather will be better for my symptoms.

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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