Category Archives: Travel

The worst has happened

I’m in Thailand and the worst thing that can possibly happen to a person has happened to me.

Bedlam. I’m experiencing bedlam.

My Mother found my blog!

She posted a comment on my Pearl Harbor post and signed it with “Ma.”

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She claims to have searched my name on the Internet and that’s how she found it.

Impossible! My name is nowhere to be found here except for the Melanie part and since I stopped blogging all the time, it’s rare I pop up on search engines AND WordPress tells me what search terms were used to find my blog and my full name was never one of them.

Which means my own mother is lying to me.

Ever since my blog started getting personal, I stopped sharing it with people. It’s not worth it. A few of my closest friends still don’t know of its existence.

And now of all people, my Mom found it. She wants me to delete it.

Um, no?

And so I did what every normal sophisticated blogger would do if in my situation and told her I’ll die here in Thailand if she continues to read it.

“I have a bad feeling that if you continue reading it, I’ll die here in Thailand. I’m not going to make it home.”

Childish? Absolutely. But I asked her repeatedly to stop reading it and she kept responding with “no, it’s right here on my computer.”

I had no choice but to play dirty and use her superstitious fears against her.

It worked.

Son of a bitch though, right? I’m dying to go home to see exactly what she’s talking about with my name being in the search engines. There’s no way.

I don’t want her reading it but what I’m more upset about is that someone told her about it. Who would do that?

Okay well, if someone has a personal vendetta against me I think that’s pretty much the worst they can do. If that doesn’t satiate their thirst for revenge, negative reviews for my business will be next.

Negative reviews would be the worst possible thing they can do to me.

It’s only Wednesday and my business already made over $400 this week and we sold 2 more memberships. I should go away more often.

I’m here in Bangkok. I arrived the night before yesterday. Yesterday all I did was lay around ordering room service and napping. It was spectacular.

Today I ventured the streets toting my hefty guide book in hand. Sweat rolling down my back and my eyes squinting in the sun because I forgot my sunglasses at home. It was hot. And I was sticky from letting an ice pop melt all down my arm.

I met a friendly thai man who hailed me a tuk tuk and he told the driver to take me to several different places for the low price of 60 baht. The guy was a complete stranger off the street. And I was like, sure, why not? I literally had no idea what to do or where to go. I somehow always end up meeting helpful people whenever I travel. It’s weird but true.

Truthfully, I can’t wait until Brianna gets here.

I want to check out this big shopping plaza tomorrow but it’s a pain in the ass to get to. My hotel is near the grand palace and a few other cool sites, but I’m far from the subway, sky train and bus routes. I’m not in a central location. It makes me not want to go out.

Alas, I can’t stay here all day. Although I love it here in my hotel…I love the room service and the universal TV channel and the friendly lady boy behind the front desk. He’s so pretty.

I’m going to save the grand palace and boat tour for when Brianna gets here and tomorrow I’ll check out the shopping plaza. There’s a movie theatre playing Exodus there. I’ll manage just fine on my own.

Unless if my mom breaks her promise and reads my blog again, I’ll most likely die from malaria.

Yes, a horrible feeling I have. Something bad will happen to me if she continues to read it.

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Here’s a transfixed ramble before I leave for Thailand tonight!

I woke up last night at 3 A.M feeling like I had to throw up.

“Why do I have to throw up?  I haven’t drank anything.”

Then a mini thunder storm erupted in my bowels.

“What did I eat?”

I wanted to get up, but couldn’t.  Every muscle felt weak.  All I could do was lay in bed and decide on whether I wanted to puke or to shit.  Then I realized I’d have to do both sooner or later and I wondered which one will happen first.  Which one I had the least control over.  And that was shit.

I shit like I never shit before.  Then I brushed my teeth because it was 3 A.M and I had morning mouth already – I threw up while I was brushing my teeth.

And so I brushed again.

But man I was sick.  Dizzy, out of breath, brain malfunctioning, black spots.

I couldn’t stand for more than a minute without needing to sit down.

Why?  From half a malaria pill that’s why!  I went online and read the side-effects and one of them were seizures – seizures!  I knew in my heart of hearts that what I was feeling (brain malfunctioning, light-headedness, black spots), are all symptoms leading up to a seizure.  I just knew, you know?  So yeah, no more malaria pills for this girl.  I’ll take my chances with the bugs.

The exhaustion I felt yesterday was impenetrable.  I couldn’t watch tv without feeling sick – I couldn’t listen to my audiobook.  Have you ever felt that sick?

It’s now the next day.  I missed my window to go to the Thai embassy in NY so I’m hoping they’ll still let me on the plane to Thailand.

My stomach is gurgling.  I have a client coming in an hour and a half.

It’s a few days later.  One day away from Thailand and omg…..

OMG!

I underwent a series of events yesterday all leading up to a new understanding about life.  It was incredible.  It all started with my new employee when she spelled the word “does” wrong.

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I cringed at the sight of it.

“There’s a reason why I didn’t hire her in the first place.”

The way my brain operates is, I try to see all sides of a situation before my judgements blind me from seeing truth.  I won’t go into too much detail, but I was once again brought to the conclusion that whatever you believe about a person, you will find.  You’ll keep finding truth to your judgements until that person’s own belief about themselves rises to meet your challenge.

If you dumb yourself down, holding back judgement, in a way, that person you’re holding judgment from will never evolve.  Placating people is a means to enable them.  And when you enable a person – nobody has any power.  It’s a stalemate and an egoic feeding frenzy that circulates back and forth into a spiral.  Placating is not diplomatic, it’s conforming – conceding.  Nobody wins.

I usually close my eyes and say to myself, “all will be well.”  I try not to judge and instead, close my eyes.  If I didn’t close my eyes, nobody will ever like me.  Trust me, they wouldn’t.

“You meant to say “does”, right?”

But what it comes down to is this; (when you’re not enabling stupid behavior and you’re being forthright in your assessments) if their power of belief about themselves overcasts your initial assessment of them, they become worthy of respect.  And since we all judge people from our own perspectives and values, what we believe about someone may be completely opposite of what someone else see’s in them.

The thing I value most is intelligence.  Lack of intelligence is the only thing that annoys me about people.  Feeling annoyed is a subtle branch of anger and hatred.  It’s placing blame to avoid having to deal with our own issues. If we accept people for who they are, this annoyance towards them disappears (it taken me 11 years to realize this).  However, when their behavior affects you in a way where you can’t accept it, remaining passive with your eyes closed will not benefit anyone.

It is more compassionate and giving to express your anger rather than holding onto it.  Expressing anger to someone who upset you is the more compassionate choice.

Since I judge people based on their intelligence, I have absolute power over anyone who annoys me for the sole reason that I don’t care what they think about me.

“Prove to me that you’re not an idiot.  I don’t need to prove anything to you because if an idiot thinks I’m an idiot, it cancels itself out.”

Why do I feel the need to close my eyes during all this?  Because it’s the easy thing to do.  But the right thing to do is most often the hardest.

Expressing our values in a show of annoyance, blame, and judgement – exposes our truest selves.  And the most pig-headed people have no awareness of their truest selves – even while exposing themselves to the wolves.

To find out what you value most, look to see what makes you angry and annoyed – it’s there where you’ll find it.

A dangerous value to have is believing that you’re always right.  By having this value, anytime someone opposes you, you will get defensive and angry.  You can end up running from the truth, and running from yourself.  All mental illness stems from avoiding truth.

Believing that you are always right is a trait of a superficial survivalist who will suffer a mental melt down if their perspective is challenged.  Why?  Because if the world they constructed is wrong, nothing will ever make sense again.  Their foundation is gone.  The void of emptiness (the bad kind), swallows them whole.  Admitting when you’re wrong without experiencing emotions of anger, annoyance, or embarrassment, is the trait of a truly strong person.  A person with faith, not fear.

I also value humility.  I know this for sure because I loathe narcissists – well, we are all narcissists but there’s a scale on how bad we can be.  The more validation you need, the higher you are on the scale.  The stronger our sociopathic traits (we are all sociopaths too), the further up you go.

Ayahuasca told me that we are all worthy of equal respect, but here in the physical realm where the ego is inescapable and spiritual evolution is our only goal – the spirit laws don’t apply here.  Only in death do they apply.

It’s all part of the game.

Growth and belief.  You grow and your perception widens – you’re able to understand more.  Expressing our value’s to others is a way for us to evolve.  You contribute nothing while placating and keeping your eyes shut.

This idea taken me to my own life.  My own growth process.

Up until, oh I don’t know…..YESTERDAY, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  I didn’t know what made me truly happy.  Since I was a kid, I wanted and fantasized about every career under the sun.  Then I found my business which brought me direction and goals – but are my present goals really what my heart wants?

Rational brain – “You’re only happy when others are happy.”

Yeah but it’s not lasting.  It’s transient.  Who am I in-between those laughs?  Who am I when a friend carries with them a heavy heart?

Rational brain – “Everything is transient and meaningless.  Leave the in-between part for growth and possibilities.  Never cement yourself.

In the grand scope of things yes, life is transient and meaningless.  I agree that’s it’s improbable and unwise to be happy all of the time.  But It’s about having a foundation – one that is built upon seeing and experiencing my own potential….

A few hours later…..

DAmn I’m drunk.

I trained my new therapist, went to my brothers holiday party and then to a friends house and now I’m here at home drunk wanting to sleep.

I was onto something fierce before.  A good ol’ fashioned head squashing.  But now it’s 2 A.M and I want to watch Japanese anime like the freak-show that I am.  I’m eating left over steak.  Hunter X Hunter is the Japanese anime if you’re wondering.  I’m HOOKED.  I’m being completely honest here when I say this show is amazing.  Why the hell do I like this shit so much?  It’s not normal!  I don’t just like it, I LOVE it!

My brother had a holiday party at his spa tonight.  He had a party last year if you care to scroll back to read about it.  Here’s a pick of me and my folks:

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I love these people more than words can explain.  I cradle their heads in my hands and kiss their cheeks every night wishing them a good-night before I head downstairs to my domicile.  I break out in cold sweats whenever my mother walks on icy terrain.  I cry silent tears when my father can’t write his own name with his shaking hand.

OMG I love my parents.  So much so that it hurts, you know?  It’s this side of me that’s both my weakness and my strength.  The side that I hide from everybody, but eventually I’m sure it leaks out and once it does, it’s viewed only as weakness.  Insurmountable love.  A sentimentality that stagnates and circles around like a little eddie.  Never to venture off into the blue unknown.  That’s what love is.  It’s the familiar, the net.  It’s what enables you.

Both weakness and strength…

Oh man, yesterdays epiphany was awesome but it’s gone now.  If I weren’t so busy earlier I could’ve captured the remnants of it.  But I leave tomorrow for Thailand so there’s no time.  I must post this unfinished thought.

Shit….

So much left unsaid.

I went to visit my best friend in Minnesota for Thanksgiving last week.  Here’s a video to capture the moments.  Held safe here in my memory bank blog for all the world to see.

I’m so tired.  I’m leaving tomorrow at 2 A.M.  My computer screen is so bright.  I gotta get some zzzz….

It’s now the next day.  I’m beyond tired.  I was so hungover this morning and slept for about 4 hours before having to go to work to give a massage and hand out Christmas cards to my employee’s.  They each got $50 and the 3 girls working today all gave me big hugs and wished me well on my trip.

This trip feels destined.  Like I was never not meant to go.

I need to nap big time, finish packing, take a shower before I leave and that’s it.  Then it’ll mostly be video blogs for the next 36 days.

And so my hero’s journey continue’s….

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Filed under All about me, journal, philosophy, random thoughts, Self help, Travel, video's

How to buy cheap plane tickets online

Short story:

The best way for me personally is to use Google flights.

Long story:

I hate buying plane tickets. I spent hours pouring over choices and comparing tickets on Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, what-have-you. None of them come close to the power of Google Flights. You simply type in where and when, to and fro – and BAM a calendar pops up with the lowest price available. It’s a calendar that shows you what days are cheapest to fly on. All right there on one page without having to re-type new dates in and search again and again from website to website.

It compares prices for you. Click on the day you want to fly on with a price you can afford and it shows you where you can buy that ticket for that price which is usually Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity….etc. But the odd thing is, when searching through one of these websites (priceline..etc) for a flight, they skip over and don’t list all your options. You can ONLY find these flights on Google Flights.

I tried buying a plane ticket to Thailand and every site that I went to, they had me flying to Chicago, than Tokyo, than Thailand. Or Texas, than Tokyo, than Thailand – all really long layovers with 35+ travel time. Tickets ranging from $1600 – $2000. And in Tokyo, some flights wanted me to go to Tokyo and board a plane at an entirely different airport during a 30 minute layover! WTF, right?

I searched on Google flights and what do I find? China Air! China Air was everywhere! And they don’t take me to Chicago or Taxes – hell, they don’t even take me to Tokyo. I have one stop in Canada and then it’s a straight shot to Thailand. Travel time? 27 hours. Price of ticket? $1100.

So anyways……

It’s done. My parents know I’m leaving, I have almost everything I need for the trip. My first four days are already planned out which includes seeing the Jade Buddha and the Grand Palace.

My business is in the red zone, meaning, running low on funds.  I’m only going to Thailand because I have perfect faith that this month I’ll sell enough memberships to cover all my monthly bills and then some.  Perfect faith.  Yes.

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Ayahuasca in Ecuador

(For anyone wanting to read about the effects of ayahuasca, you should read my first experience with it here.)

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This post is long overdue.  I didn’t keep a journal while I was there which makes it hard for me to write about it especially now being that it was over two months ago.  I did however film a few videos that I’m not too keen on sharing (a big reason for procrastinating this post).

I remember the first day of my trip very clearly.  Getting off the plane and arriving in Ecuador.  I arrived late and had to stay in Cuenca all by myself the first night.

My first trip to do ayahuasca, I was sweating bullets.  I had to down a few beers before getting on the plane and even on the plane, I couldn’t escape the anxiety.  I didn’t have a panic attack thank god – but the anxiety was very severe.  That flight I taken to Columbia was the last time I felt deep inescapable fear without it crossing over in to a panic attack.

This time around was the complete opposite.  My parents knew where I was going, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone ratting on me (yes someone actually threatened me with that!), and I did ayahuasca before, I knew the shamans, knew the people – I was relieved to go and escape life for a while.  This was at a time when I massaged 8 hours a day, six days a week.  I was too worn out to be scared of anything at that point.

My arrival to Ecuador played out like a fairytale.  I taken a taxi to my hostel and enjoyed a quiet nights sleep before waking up early the next day having to take another taxi back to the airport.

“We’re going to the airport too.  We can drive you.”

Said a seemingly nice couple enjoying their continental breakfast.

“That would be wonderful!”  I proclaimed goofily.

This is what idiots do abroad – accept invitations by complete strangers.  And yes, I AM an idiot abroad.  They seemed nice enough though.

Before I go any further, here’s a video of when I first arrived in my hostel.  I don’t recommend that you actually watch these video’s, but since I didn’t keep a journal, they’re pretty much all that I have of my trip.

I found my box of soup and it didn’t bursted like I thought it would.  I was so tired that I stopped filming and started eating my soup and crackers while watching The Simpsons in spanish.

So anyways, there I was getting a free ride back to the airport.

“Where you headed?”  Asked one of my new companions.

“I need to find a shuttle bus to take me to [I forgot the name of the town I was going to].”

“I’m from there!  What will you be doing?”

“A spiritual retreat.”

“I’m actually going to Peru today for that exact same thing!  I’ll make sure you find your shuttle before we leave you.”

When we arrived at the airport, my companion started speaking in spanish to an airport guy – not a whole lot of people spoke English there so I was very thankful.

An airport guy pointed the way to the shuttle busses.

In the email I received prior to the trip, it stated that the shuttle busses are to the right of the airport as soon as you come out of it – but as it turned out, it was a right,  a left, then a walk down a few blocks – not good instructions for an idiot abroad.

The airport worker seen my confusion and offered to walk me there himself.  He spoke little English but found the words to tell me that he won’t leave me until I get safely on the correct shuttle.

I hugged both of my new companions good-bye and thanked them profusely before being handed over to the airport guy.

“You shouldn’t walk alone.”  He said in broken English.

“Is it dangerous?”

“During the day a little, but at night yes.  Very dangerous.  And what you have on…..”

It was so hot that I opted on wearing a tank top.  A youngish girl with a backpack wearing a tank top – walking alone in one of the most poorest area’s of Ecuador is not a good combo.

He kept his promise and got me on the correct shuttle.  Thank goodness he was there because nobody spoke a word of English.

I slept for most of the way there.  I passed so many little restaurants.  They were more like outdoor kitchens.  Everyone ate outside on cheap plastic Coca Cola patio sets.  Everything looked poor and rundown as opposed to Columbia where there was no litter and the houses looked newer.

I fell asleep watching the ramshackle houses go by and woke up a few hours later to my ears being blocked up from the effects of high altitude.  We were in the mountains and I had to put on my sweatshirt, then a half hour later, I put on my jacket.

After a long five hours, I arrived to my destination with time to spare.  It was the [forgot the name] airport.

I was hungry so I grabbed myself a mini pizza from the airport cafeteria and waited for my new spiritual seeking friends to arrive.

We all met up and everyone was lovely.  There were Canadians and people from Jersey.  One woman from Jersey had a stash of cocoa leaves that she swears heals just about everything.  One of the Canadian boys was suffering from altitude sickness and been miraculously cured by the cocoa leaves.  We were up 9,000 ft.

We piled into another shuttle to take us to Gaia Sagrada – way up in the Andes mountains (the longest continental mountain range in the world!).  We needed a special driver because only two taxi’s in all of Ecuador know how to get there.

Basically, my arrival magically slipped into place.  When I needed help – no, not even – before I needed help, there were people there to guide me.  My appreciation was at an all-time high.

But after that first day, I don’t remember much.  I have a horrible memory, that’s why I write.

Here is another video for you guys….

The thing I didn’t like about this particular ayahuasca ceremony is that first off, it was cold, and secondly – people weren’t allow to talk or walk around.  To be able to talk and walk around clears my head from the fog you feel in the beginning of your ayahuasca experience.  Without being able to walk around, I remained in that fog for the entire night.

Here’s another video: [Warning:  This video is very long and uneventful.  Try to go easy on me.  I was exhausted and stretched to my limit.]

 

Nearly everyone was pissing me off that day.  It was supposed to be about love!

And here’s the last video that I made while in Ecuador:

Those last few nights in Ecuador consisted of dancing with the locals, mud baths, getting shit-faced, reuniting with some of our retreat pals, getting yelled at a few times by cute Ecuadorian cops, getting locked out of our hostel at 3 AM…. I think that about covers it.

There’s a lot more that happened on the trip other than what the video’s provide, but it’s too far gone to capture it.

Now I’m laying in bed tired as hell as usual.

My Mother went on a comfort food cooking spree that lasted for about 2 weeks.  Lasagna, hamburgs, loaves of meat concoctions – not a shred of veggies anywhere.  Then getting bombarded with clients at work redeeming their expiring vouchers – going out a few times, my insomnia still won’t let up….

I was supposed to go hiking today but had to call it off.  I need to get back to a regular sleep routine, exercise, and start eating healthy.  I feel like shit.  It’s 6:30 PM and I want to sleep.  I don’t know how people with kids (let alone a husband/boyfriend) do it.  I don’t know how people have regular jobs!  At least with my job there’s light up ahead – a reprieve from work.

Starting today I can go back to enjoying the comforts of having people work for me.  By next month I’ll have more members signed up to my membership program along with plans to expand.  As the months move along, I’ll be working less and less.  I’m working towards earning my freedom.  Our innate human right.

I’ve decided to go to Thailand in December with Brianna, the girl who held my hand during the ayahuasca ceremony and told me that she loves me.  We get along swimmingly and this opportunity may not happen again if I delay it.

This is not my favorite compilation.  I didn’t film a whole lot while I was over there and had nothing but scraps to work with.  I picked this song because it matched the mood and shamans from all over the world believe that fire cleanses everything.

I had an experience during my last ayahuasca ceremony having to do with fire, but I’m still not in the correct frame of mind to write about it.  I’ve been waiting for it to come, but apparently it’s not happening anytime soon.

Too many buckets, too much stress, too much insomnia….the fall is passing by as quickly as the summer months.

It’s 10 PM.  I’m going to try my hand at sleep.

 

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Insert foot here

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This innocent text was accidentally sent to a client.

And that client called me.  She called me wanting to know who I was because obviously this text wasn’t meant for her.

But she knew who I was.  She had to.  My cell phone number was blasted to over 1,000 client emails trying to get them to buy into my massage membership.  “Here’s my cell number, you can trust me,” was what I was going for.

I answered in a panic before my voicemail picked up to confirm that I am in fact, Melanie the massage therapist.

Client – “Is this Melanie the massage therapist?”

Me – “No, not me.  I think I texted you by accident a few days ago.  Total accident.”

It sounded like she was smiling on her end.  In her indian accent she says, “Okay no problem.”

I hung up with her and exhaled, “I’m going to jail.”

And I don’t even do drugs!  My employee wanted to try mushrooms, so I was trying to hook her up.  Great boss I am, right?  She thinks that text was hilarious.

A few days ago I received a terrible email from an irate client.  She was not happy with her massage, so I took it upon my shoulders to forward that email to all my employee’s telling them to be a little more careful next time.  I came to find out, her massage therapist was ME!

Here’s my email to my employee’s….Oh damn WordPress won’t let me copy and paste it.  WTF?  Well, I’m not figuring it out now.

It’s 1:45 AM.  I can’t sleep.  Why can’t I sleep?  Because I’m going to Ecuador and my plane takes off in approximately 6 hours.  I have to be at the airport 3 hours before my plane leaves because it’s an international flight, so I basically screwed myself.  I couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard I tried which will make for a horrible plane ride.

I’m leaving my business in the hands of four therapists all of whom I don’t know very well.

Holy shit I’m tired.

It’s not just physical tiredness, but stressed-out tiredness on top of everything.  But this is something I must do.  My heart is calling for it, not my head.  My head is pissed at me.

“Idiot!”

“Shut up rational brain!”

I decided four weeks ago that I wasn’t going to Ecuador.  The business is still too new and fragile, I can’t trust my therapists not to mess everything up – I don’t have the money.

But then my key arrived (I wrote about that in my last post), and the key sold 69 memberships.  69 memberships!

I don’t want to jump the gun and say I’m a certified genius business owner with a head for success, but come on now, 69 memberships!

I’ve been working non-stop since February.  When Esmeralda, my old Ford Escort, died on me.  I was forced outside my box and I haven’t stopped or looked back since.

According to my genius business mind, I’m about half-way to obtaining financial independence and being able to work as little as 10-15 hours a week.  It’s all right there staring me in the face!  All the steps that I need to take, all the time that still needs to be invested – it’s all right there.  I can visually see it.  Like a map laid out before me.

Alas, I’m going to Ecuador because fate wants me there.  All my clients are rooting for me to go, I see them more than I see my friends, and Laura, a woman I met in Colombia on my first retreat said to me, “you’re definitely going.  I can feel your energy there.”

And my other friend decided to go at the exact critical moment when my heart was most open and vulnerable.

“Okay, I’ll buy my plane ticket.”

And here I am going down the rabbit hole on my second journey with ayahuasca.  I’m going to try keeping a video journal while I’m down there, although, I’m much better with the written word.  Especially since I’ll be looking like shit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Camino Video

Okay, you can call me unoriginal.  I made a music video about walking 500 miles to Santiago using the song “I’m Gonna Be” by the Proclaimers.  There are probably hundreds if not thousands of video’s recording the Camino using that song.

Here is my version.  I hope you like it!

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August 14, 2013 · 9:39 am

Party in Pamplona

I woke at 11, showered, made some eggs and out the door I ventured into the world. My goal for the day: Buy a ticket to the bullfight tomorrow.

I walked by a few young people dressed in white with red sashes around their necks and waists.

Me thinking – “Uh, that’s strange. The celebration starts tomorrow, not today.”

And as I walked deeper into the center of pamplona, I realized that everyone was dressed in white and sporting red sashes or purses.

Small children and their great grandparents were wearing identical colors. Then came the hoots, the shouts, drinking wine and beer in the street. Getting approached by men in mid-celebration asking me where I’m from.

I wanted to run and buy my ticket as fast as I could. Running past the liquored up herds, but the streets became more and more congested with swarms of people parading around, shouting, dancing, drinking. A police siren whistled not too far away.

I found the bullring. Spotted the ATM’s surrounding the building and purchased my ticket in less than 30 seconds. A Spanish woman asked me what I was doing.

“Comprar tackilla por mañana.”

I said timidly as if what I was saying was gibberish and I knew it was gibberish.

But it wasn’t gibberish, the woman understood, asked me how much it costs and then thanked me.

A great deal of the Spanish language is sticking to my ribs without my realizing. How the hell did I remember comprar from high school?

Anyway, I ran back to my hotel as fast as I could. Sweat dripped down my back, my cell phone clutched tightly in my sweaty, slippery hand.

You don’t need to be connected to the Internet for your GPS to work. God how I love my phone! It’s at least a good 20 minute walk from my room to the bullring. And with all the roundabouts, it’s easy getting yourself turned around. I was constantly checking my direction on my cell.

I was checking my direction while maneuvering in and out of the flocks, being careful not to make eye contact.

Hey, when you’re a single gal traveling in a foreign country and you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of drunk men celebrating a holiday that involves animal slaughter, you’d be scared too!

“No hablar espanol, lo siento, no entiendo.”

Saying this helped me out several times. Especially when a gypsy grabbed my hand and started telling me my fortune. I didn’t stop walking, and kept saying over and over, “hablo ingles, no entiendo.”

I finally made it back to my hotel. It’s far from the action, it’s quiet here. I love my hotel. It’s not really a hotel, but some weird multiplex. They have a rec room, patio, laundry room, cafe, vending machines. I don’t want to leave the safety of this place.

The bullfight starts tomorrow morning. They unleash the bulls to run down the street and into the arena at 8am. Cameras are placed on the curbside so the folks seated in the arena can see the spectacle of the bulls chasing the runners on big screens. It reminds me of the Truman show. If they get a close-up of one runner falling behind, becoming the underdog, than all of the arena prays and roots for him and he has no idea what’s happening, no idea that all eyes are on him.

It’s not a far run, and nobody died from running it in 15 years.

I felt the temptation of doing it myself and then I remembered that I hate crowds and I’m more afraid of people than I am of the bulls, and that’s the truth. If there weren’t so many people, I would definitely do it. There’s nothing to it really.

Hell, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, tried ayahuasca and peyote, hiked the camino alone with nothing but the clothes carried on my back, so I don’t think a little bull would scare me much. I’m half Italian, so I got bull (headed) blood in me already.

It’s just a matter of fun vs worth. Is the fun of it worth the risk of getting pushed and trampled over by everybody?

If I were here with Dave, we would both invariably do it. But I’m here alone. Two people wanted to meet me, but I responded to them too late. It’s just as well. I would have had to share my room and honestly it’s way too cramped in here with only me.

This is the winding down of my journey. My feets are tired, my everything is tired. Yesterday and today were blessings. True vacation days of idleness. Tomorrow however, will be a stretch of my patience.

I need to get there early to beat everyone. I’m talking 6 in the morning. I’ll get in, find my seat and remain in my seat until the last bull is struck down. And then I can rightfully say I been to see a bullfight.

I’m excited about it, I really am. I mean, I wouldn’t want to wake up having nothing to do tomorrow. This bullfight is certainly something to do. An exciting something to do. I only complain because it conflicts with my dislike of crowds.

Okay, my arms are numb down to my fingers. I need to stop holding my phone like this.

I’m going to make myself some dinner and listen to an audiobook, then go to bed early. Tomorrow will be the end-all finale to my adventures in Spain. What a way to end a vacation…killin’ stuff.

Here’s a video of today:

It’s a very short video.

What are all those people doing anyway (in the video)? There’s no carnival rides, no kiosks or games, or venders of any creative sort. People are just walking and clumping together. They walk, listen to music and clump together holding beers.

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Pampering myself in Pamplona

I haven’t been writing or anything lately. All I’ve been doing is listening to audiobooks for hours on end. All day and all night, audiobooks. They are fantastic!

I took the train to Pamplona yesterday. It feels so good being here. There’s only about 190,000 people living here compared to Barcelona’s 1.6 million or Madrid’s 3.3 million.

I’m exhausted.

Last night I ventured out of my hotel to pick up some snacks at a grocery store. It was around 10pm, so many of the shops were closed. I was lucky to find a tiny convenient store open. I picked up pasta and sauce for dinner. I have my own kitchen in my room!

It’s still a small room even with having its own kitchen. My feet were literally hanging off the bed last night.

I ate so much freaking pasta while listening to a Sherlock Holmes audiobook. It felt like heaven to me, honestly, heaven.

And now it’s 1pm the next day and I’m still in my hotel room. I’m simply exhausted. I want to nap. I’m boiling water so I can make myself ramen noodles.

There’s only one thing I need to do while here in pamplona and that’s to go see that big stupendous bullfight.

I need to buy my ticket. It’s only 6 euros and a 15 minute walk from here. I saw the bullring last night during my adventure in finding an open grocery store. It was all dark and quiet. In a few short days, that’ll change.

This is the first time since arriving in Spain where I don’t have to hunt down a restaurant for breakfast / lunch, or get kicked out of a domicile, or woken up by people talking loudly in the morning (uh em..the British..uh em). Asians were the quietest and most respectful while surprisingly the British were the most brazen. They beat out the Irish, Australian, Mexican…etc. And it wasn’t the British men, but British women! They talk non-stop in one big lung full of endlessly loud expressions.

So yeah, this is the first time EVER where I can stay put. That is of course if my ramen holds out. I have pasta left over but I can’t even look at it. I ate way too much of it last night. It made my tummy wonky this morning.

I wish I had my laptop. If I had my laptop I no doubt wouldn’t leave my hotel room, possibly going so far as to miss el encierro all together.

It’s just that so much happens, so much in even the most smallest gaps of time that no matter what happens, who you’re with or what you’re doing, there is always a story to be told. That is, if your perspective is accurate enough and you know what you’re looking at.

If you can’t tell a fascinating story, than something is wrong. The thing that’s wrong for me is that I don’t have my laptop or my lofty bed or coffee shop to write.

I’m missing all the small stories along the way.

Like when that 100 year old Spanish woman kidnapped me and paraded me around town never letting her vice grip soften around my wrist. Or that Senegal man who kidnapped my company for a few hours on the beach wanting me to jump in the ocean with him. Or my experience with the Picasso museum, my emotional upheaval while watching a flamenco dance.

I can’t fit it all. I can’t write about everything.

I’m so glad to be out of the big cities. I’m so glad to be out of the hostels. All I can hear is the hum of the fridge and chirping of birds.

This location is perfect.

I’m in heaven. This moment is heaven.

I’ll see if I can scrounge up some video’s to post.

I put this clip together using two days worth of footage. The last part shot on the metro, I wanted to record how the cars swerve side to side when looking down the open isle. For this reason, along with many others, I love the subway.

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Banging Barcelona

I’m not actually banging Barcelona, I just thought that title was catchy.

It’s 10:30pm and I’m sitting in my hostel cloaked in my Bad Ass P Jamma Jams (pajamas). I feel like I should be out clubbing or something.

I’m sitting alone in my six person dorm room. I feel like such a loser. Everyone is out having fun except me.

While I sit here, I make myself productive by gently caressing the whiskers sprouting above the upper corners of my lip. Does everyone do that? I’m assessing whether or not they are long enough to pluck, and if so, am I productive enough to actually get up and pluck them?

Video blogs are so weird. That’s not actually me talking, is it? I like to think myself cooler than that.

Why do I come off sounding so freaking innocent?!! God do I sound like that in real life? No, no it can’t be. I’m cool, I’m hip. I’m that connecticut gangsta chic rocking out in her bad ass P Jamma Jams.

A woman a few weeks ago told me that I focus intently on whomever I’m conversing with.

“It’s like you make that person feel like they are your one and only world.”

And than she went on to tell me that I’m an old soul, pure and innocent. Untainted.

I swear on my grandparents graves (all four plus the Greats!) that I’m not making any of this up.

We met along the Camino a few times, had a few beers, a few laughs. I gave her husband such good advice that he announced to everyone, “I’ve been on the Camino for a while now, but the lesson this girl just taught me surpasses anything I learned so far.”

His wife nodded her head in agreement because she feels I am an old wise soul and anything I say should be heeded.

And after having that conversation, I proceeded to drink a gallon of beer, smoke weed and puke in a sink.

I just plucked my whiskers. Ahh, shit feels good.

It is now 11pm and I’m sitting alone in my dorm plucking the hairs on my face.

This makes it a full day. Yes, one for the books!

Barcelona is big. Much bigger than Madrid. This is according to me, so don’t put much stock. But it really does feel on par with New York style big.

The beach was mobbed. Mobbed! I’m never going back. So many skateboarders, rollerbladers, bicyclists, kids on trikes, kids kicking around balls, throwing Frisbees..etc, etc. A girl can get rammed on all sides, including up if you count bird shit. The title is banging Barcelona, while in fact, Barcelona is banging me around.

I will pass, thanks. I seen the beach before and it gave me sun poisoning on my face. My face!

What is everyone’s fascination with the beach anyway? Isn’t it supposed to be calming? My own fascination ceases to exist once the mob of oily sunbathers enters into my sunlight. My sunglasses get streaked in tanning lotion just by looking at them. Just by looking! Not that I look…

Chill people, it’s just water.

Anyway…

Here’s a video.

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A Hero’s Journey

This really is an incredible journey I’m experiencing. It feels like the Camino was so long ago, but when did it end? 9 days ago? 9 days equates to a lifetime in travel years. It’s a distant but strong memory.

Last night I went clubbing in Madrid and today I scoped out a Salvador Dali exhibit. The exhibit happened at a museum called Reina Sofia. It’s much like New York’s MOMA in that you have no idea what any of the art means. It’s possible to see a bowl full of chewed up slimy gummy bears on display.

(I just thought of the gummy bear display, it’s not an actual exhibit.)

I brought my new Australian friend with me.

I had no clue what I was looking at half the time and started feeling drugged and confused. Everything was bugging me out in a creepy nightmarish sort of way. Especially when we entered into a dark room where creepy music played and a painting laid on the floor with a few random rectangles painted on it. A bench sat against the wall.

Me – “Maybe if we sat and looked at the painting, it will start to make sense.”

So we sat.

Me – “Okay now you stand on the bench and I’ll lay on the floor.”

We burst out in hysterics. Nothing in the room made sense.

We entered into a room where a blonde woman stood violently shaking a large tin container of nails. It was so loud and she kept shaking and shaking.

Then she put down the tin container and started climbing up a very short rope. It’s mesmerizing in that you want to understand the point of it and so it pulls you in. Your curiosity battles against logic and reason.

Usually when you don’t see the point in something, you drop it and move on. But when you keep asking yourself “why?” over and over again, trying to understand, it hooks you in a cycle. But there is no point to it. The only point that I can think of is that people are watching and as long as they’re watching, the performer will continue to preform.

There is no end to it and where there is no definitive end, there is no definitive purpose. But hey, it sure makes you think though. Everyone’s perspective’s are different. The more diverse the perspectives, the less truth there is behind anything. Which makes life so interesting and involving!

To be able to snap out of the trance and say to yourself and to others, “Hold the phone now, wait a tick… What the hell is this?” And then let it go.

Life can be a pointless trance until you awaken yourself from it.

Anyway, the woman’s name is Simone Forti and you can find her on YouTube.

I’m exhausted. It’s midnight and my two roomies are awake with the light on. One on a laptop, the other on her phone. I have to be up by 6:30am tomorrow so I can make it to my plane to Barcelona on time.

Tomorrow will be a long exhausting day.

Okay, I should try to sleep. My arms are getting numb from holding my phone like this.

I am seriously not capturing my trip properly. I’m barely able to keep track of 10% of it.

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