Category Archives: Travel

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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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Hangin’ Tough in Madrid

I don’t feel good. I didn’t get back to my hostel until 4am and then I stayed up listening to the last chapter of the picture of Dorian Gray. It’s seriously a great book! I’m so sad it’s over.

I downloaded an app that has over 1,400 free audiobooks and omg I’m in love with it. I don’t mind that I had to delete all my music as long as I can listen to audiobooks.

I’m laying in bed in my hostel. It’s nearly noon. My bunk mate is also here eating cookies under me. She’s a sweet Korean girl. Koreans LOVE to travel! Honestly they are everywhere and they’re always smiling.

I need to shower. There are only two places I must see today and that’s a Salvador Dali exhibit and the royal palace. Both are exquisite and right up my alley.

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Madrid Yay! I’m a ball of fun. Splendid fun today!

I am in the Museo del Prado. It’s a great museum with an enormous selection of old art. And I am enjoying it from the bathroom.

I’m afraid to get up. But I must. I spent 14 euro’s to be here and I’ll be damned if its spent using their baño.

Later that same day….

It’s about 8:30pm and the pub crawl begins at 11. Shall I go? My tummy is still rumbly but not as bad. I stopped at the tienda and bought rice, noodle soup, salad and cucumbers and so I feel a lot better now. I also taken a nap on the couch in front of a non-working tv.

If I was here with actual friends, I would go to the pub crawl. But these people from my hostel are all kids and the girls are dressed up like hoochies.

And let me just tell you, I’m on the complete far end of the makeup scale. I literally look and smell homeless.

Speaking of, I really need to wash my underwear tonight.

So yeah, no. I will not be going to the pub crawl. It would be different if these people were fellow pilgrims, but they’re not. My roommate brought two huge pieces of luggage with her and has her perfumes and makeups scattered all over the place.

And what do I got? Nothin that’s what. Just a pair of old stretched out underwear and some crunchy socks.

Remind me to wash my socks.

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Travelers diarrhea. A true heroic tale of triumph over struggle.

I’m in Madrid suffering from stomach upset. This is the first time I’m experiencing travelers diarrhea. And oh man it sucks.

I’m afraid to leave my hostel. It’s hitting me in waves that keep building in strength until I run to the bathroom again and again.

Oh no it’s happening again….

Now I’m on the toilet.

Holy crap…

If this happened to me in the Santiago cathedral then it really would be holy crap.

I hope this is the last of it.

There’s so much to see here and I only have 4 days. I picked hostels located in the city center so everything is a mere 20 minute walk. No need for bus or taxi.

But I can’t get off the pot or stray too far from it. I’m completely helpless.

Ok, am I done? I mean in the bathroom, am I done here?

I also feel waves of nausea. I take a deep swallow.

Uhhhh……..

Now I have the chills. Traveling is rougher than it looks.

I feel well enough to go see the Egyptian monument that they had shipped here, but I know I’ll get a ping in my gut again shortly.

Last night my stomach pain was so bad.

I ate a weird tortilla at the airport yesterday that looked as though it had been sitting out for a while. My gut told me not to chance it, but my trust and hunger outweighed my fear.

Or it could be from that creamy liquor I chugged down, but I doubt it’s that.

I feel so tired and weak. Maybe I should just lay in the park. The park is a must – see. Plus it has this thing called the crystal palace in it.

Ugh….

Yep, the pings are back…

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I’m a nobody and I like it that way!

I had insomnia last night. My thoughts did not stop.

I miss my laptop the most out of everything back home. To lay in bed and just write and write – absolutely splendid.

I think I need to be a nobody for a while. Maybe that’s why I came to Spain. I came wanting a change in perspective, but first I have to shed my old skin.

I need to become a nobody first. Burn and bury the pages of my book. Both the written and the unwritten. I have literally done that before. 15 years worth.

I don’t need to do anything, be anything or anyone. I’m not special.

Lets drill this into your thick megalomanic skull Mel: You are not special. You are not special. You are a nobody, a nothing. And guess what? It’s okay.

I need to let it all go for a while and just be. It sounds self defacing, but it’s supposed to be liberating.

Ew I can totally hear everything the guy in the next room is doing and it’s disgusting!

I’m laying in bed in my hotel room, and the guy next to me, with our paper thin walls, is making me sick to my stomach! Every phlegm wad scarfed up, every wet fart splattering the toilet – I mean this guy has it all! Think of the most disgusting sounds the human body can make and you have my next door neighbor.

Wow, why the hell would I ever want one of these vile creatures to take home so I can sleep next to it every night? Is this how men sound when they get old? Does my dad hide these sounds from me?

Do I sound like that? No, no way. I’m a civilized dainty rose petal even in private.

I haven’t made a peep this whole time, but over in phlegm palace, they’re working on snot and ass bubbles.

I would not want his room after him. Those poor maids.

Anyway, back to my original business….

I’m a nobody I’m a nobody I’m a nobody.

Would a nobody be disgusted over snot man? No. A nobody just is. A nobody lets things be as they are just as she be’s how she is.

Okay, that last part sounds a trite grammatically incorrect.

I’m a Nobodynobodynobodynobody.

Okay, do I feel better? Does it feel like the pressure is off a bit?

I feel complete anger and horror over sharing a wall with this man. I can almost smell him! He sounds like Jabba the Hutt with a sinus infection.

Now he’s on the phone.

I can’t make out the sound quality of this vid. It’s him talking so you can get an idea of how thin the walls are.

I’m such a dumbass. It’s because of this man that kept me awake last night! He kept farting tremendously loud and hacking up Jabba phlegm. I forgot all about it until now.

He’s getting in the way of my personal development of becoming a nobody. He doesn’t realize that I’m hard at work over here trying to embody nothingness.

Speaking of nothingness, that’s what I did today. I ate at my favorite Italian restaurant and then at my favorite toppa’s restaurant. Then I sat in the park and laid myself down under a tree listening to a free classic audiobook, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It’s about three gay guys.

Then I came back here to my hotel. My pilgrim friends all went home save but a few that are hard to contact.

I leave tomorrow for Madrid.

I’m going to stick on my sticky pilgrim pants and go out for a smokey before bed.

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My view from the park earlier. And hey you know what else? I did a satellite image of the cathedral on my phone and it’s in the shape of a cross!

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Anyway….

I’m not special. I’m nobody.

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