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.
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.
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?
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?
Somewhere between Peru and Chile I decided to take a detour and visit my old home, Guam. I lived on Guam for 3 years when I was in the Navy. I look back on my time on Guam as my transformation into Adulthood. It was the first time I really was away from home. I lived by myself without room mates. I paid rent, utilities, cleaned my home, cooked my food, and solved my life problems on my own. There were many ups and downs that came with the experience which is why it feels like a home.
Guam is a small island in the Pacific Ocean. It is a United States Territory, like Puerto Rico. Citizens on Guam cannot vote during federal elections but they do have a delegate in the House of Representatives. The US military is the islands #1 employer. The bases cover 27% of the islands land mass. Most of the income comes from tourists that visit from Asian countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. Here is a video by Wendover productions for an overview.
It is very expensive to fly to Guam from the United States. The average round trip ticket is around $1000 USD. I was initially going to spend three weeks in South Korea. My thought process was that I can take a cheaper flight to visit Guam now than when I return to the States. So I took a detour and made some arrangements with some friends that were still on the island.
My friend, Jordan, and his wife, Emily, were hosting me during my stay. They live in Mangilao, Guam. They gave me my own room and bathroom. It was a luxury that I rarely had during my trip. Both of them were working during my stay but we caught up at night. Jordan even let me borrow his car while he was at work. Jordan worked during the day and Emily at night but she comes home at 8 to 9ish. At that time we would eat dinner and have catch up on life.
I visited my duty station, Naval Hospital Guam. I was a Hospital Corpsman at NH Guam for 3 years. One of the most frustrating jobs of my entire life. Though it helped shape the person I am today because of my experiences there. I ran into some old peers that were still there. It felt great to catch up but it didn’t feel good to listen to the consensus of low morale. It was a good reminder of why I left the Navy to travel the world. I know where their dissatisfaction comes from because I lived it. I hope they find their peace with the Navy. I compare the hospital visit felt like going back to your old high school, if your high school took care of sick and dying patients.
My friend told me it would be a good morale boost to be on American soil and be around friends. I didn’t realize until I left how true that statement was. The ability to speak English freely without thinking if the other person understood me was comfortable. I used to live on Guam, so when Jordan let me use his car, it felt like driving around my home town. I revisited my favorite restaurants McKrauts, Gabriels, Cafe Tu’re, Asu Smokehouse, and Pikas Cafe. I cooked risotto for Emily and Jordan as a kind of payment for hosting me. I’m so thankful to have friends on the other side of the world.
I trained Jiu Jitsu twice. I went to Vida once. It wasn’t too far from where I was staying. It had a good core of students. Some are MMA fighters on Guam. Every night was competition training for them. It was a good push. They waived the mat fee too. Then I trained at Spike 22 at Steel Athletics. I had to pay a $15 mat fee for that day. Only two people showed up for lunch open mat. Rohin was training for a MMA fight in July and Mike was there training with him. It was good training with heavy weights that just used technique, especially Rohin. Rohin could have crushed me, he looked over 250 lbs. It was a chill rolling session. Despite the $15 mat fee and the few people it was a good experience.
I went to see Gabe Baker, my coach when I trained at Carlson Gracie Guam. We had lunch at a Thai place next to the academy. It was getting renovated, new mats, so I couldn’t train at my old gym. Getting a one on one with my old coach was what I needed. It felt at times that I was stumbling through the dark with what I needed to work on. He gave me some guidance that was worth more than the two training sessions I had on the island. He had an interesting philosophy on the belt system. I’m grateful for the training I received on Guam and I thanked him for all that he taught me. I will visit Guam and Carlson Gracie Guam again some day.
“Purple belt is the longest belt, and is the belt most people quit at. A brown belt is just waiting for his black belt. “
I just spent 6 days in Trujillo. I went off the path because my plans were altered in Lima. My friend, Jimmy, whom I was stationed with in 29 Palms, had in-laws in Trujillo. I spoke about my trip a lot at work during my final months in the Navy. He told me if I was in Trujillo to look them up. With the unexpected change of plans in Lima I decided to see another city instead of just the two main cities of Peru.
Jimmy’s brother-in-law, Yhon, showed me around. He grew up in Norwalk, Ca he is fluent in English and Spanis. I don’t know how express the amount of hospitality his family displayed toward me. It’s overwhelming because of the language barrier. My Spanish/ Castellano was embarrassing. I could speak to them but I couldn’t understand 80% of what they said. They cooked for me, took me out to eat, showed my Chan Chan, and gave me a place to stay. I am forever grateful to Yhon and his family. Many thoughts came over me from visiting his family. Family is a big part of Peruvian culture. It honestly made me homesick for my family.
At first the culture of toilets didn’t bother me in Lima. A couple of things to highlight about toilets on my trip. You have to bring your own TP everywhere you go. I was used to this in Lima because I had a backpack full of everything I needed. But when I was in Trujillo, I felt awkuard to bring my backpack everywhere since my hosts didn’t carry a bag everywhere. I first discovered then read that not everywhere will have TP or hand soap. It wouldn’t be that big a deal but I had travel diarrhea. I had to go the toilet constantly. I had travel diarrhea in Lima but it seems like it’s getting worst.
I’m currently taking a bunch of medication. Ibuprofen, for the body aches and headaches. Sulfamethoxole, for the stomach issues. Paracetamol, for the pain and headaches. Traveling and being sick is a bad combination. It is fine at home because usually you have people to take care of you. I’m glad I had Yhon and his family to care for me. I think I still have some sort of stomach flu.
Recently the north of Peru was hit with a lot of rain. Yhon said it hasn’t rained this hard in about 20 years. The basement garage of the apartment we were staying in was flooded, almost 4ft / 1,2 meters. They pushing the cars that out that were in there overnight. By the time we came back to the apartment that night, they had already started pumping the water out. I was worried about my trip to Cuzco. A selfish thought when thousands of people were displaced because of the flooding and the “huaicos” mudslide.
No Jiu Jitsu in Trujillo because of time constraints and weather. Team Mamut was huge recommendation by many BJJ Globetrotters.
Some updates. I will be doing the Camino again from Porto, Portugal. I am applying to volunteer at the campgrounds for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I started reading The Portrait of Dorian Grey because I left Lolita for Koffi in Lima. Pictures will be updated
Many people make resolutions but not many people keep them. I am one of those people that will keep them. Thats the only way to become a better person. I am not trying to be a someone else. I want to be a better version of myself. Which means all the things that I am good at I want to be better. All the things that I feel are my short comings I wish to make those stronger.
Live in Barcelona, España in 2017. This has been a goal of mine for a long time. It will take a lot of planning and action for this to become a reality. There’s really nothing thats going to stop me. It will take money, visa approval, school acceptance, a grasp of the spanish language, which I am at a basic level now.
Finish the Camino de Santiago. I left the Camino in Santander, Spain. I will continue this summer from Santander to Santiago de Compostela. My goal is to finish during my 30 days work holiday. My maximum amount of time is 25 days. 5 days for travel. It will take money, logistics, more Spanish language practice, training, and a guide book. Summer 2016.
Blog every week. I want to be a better writer. I want to be a travel writer/ journalist. So I have to practice and experience life. Starting now. 52 posts.
Visit New York. This goal is fairly easy. It’s about $1,300 trip that number can probably go lower. It’s figuring out what to do.
Ragnar Relay. SoCal and Norcal. I need a team, training schedule, logistics. Easy. I’ve done this before but being the captain takes a lot of extra work that most people don’t want to do. It’s the most fun I have ever had when I was running a race.
Work on portfolio. I decided I’m going back to art school to finish my degree. I’ve done it before I can do it again.
Jiu Jitsu. I just made purple belt and I have to keep going. There may be a time I may need to defend myself and my family I will need to keep training just in case.
Keel Boat certification. ASA 106. Money, time, scheduling. I love sailing and want to learn more.
Scuba Diver Certifications. I want to learn more about diving.
Last but not least. Courage. I need to put myself out there. There’s feeling that you get when you’re so nervous you feel it in your stomach. It may be asking a girl out, doing something adventurous or just being out of your comfort zone. I haven’t had that feeling in a while.