Self Truth

Got to Lima two days ago.  Wrote on the rooftop of my hostel for a bit.  Alone. Peaceful.  I’ve been feeling quite lonely these past few days.  From Cusco to Lima it’s been so grey, the dullness of the sky seems to weigh on my spirit.

Strange to believe tonight I will be on a plane back to the states.  It’s really been 2.5 months.  Costa Rica (the beginning of my trip) feels so long ago.  And Nicaragua…I had all these fears of seeing someone I’m sort of in love with (there is no label but I fondly describe him as my ‘seasonal partner’), and it ended up being a beautiful time in my life.  Although peppered with some strange aquaitances, I learned how to own my confidence with grace.  When grace failed me, I learned to laugh. And when my laughter faltered, I learned to let things go.

Anicca, the Buddhist term for impermanence.  My friend, Uri from Isreal taught me that word.  It was the first night I’d be thrown into the arms of Mother Ayahuasca.  Just me and Uri in the jungles of Perú.  I noticed it tattooed on his forearm and asked him of its meaning.  I couldn’t help but chuckle and reply, “Ironic.”

He joined in with me and said it hadn’t occurred to him until afterwards.  He gets that response all the time.  But really, why bother getting attached to anything?  In the end it doesn’t matter, we all die.  Nothing is permanent.

I nodded in understanding,  but really the thought of this made me feel empty, almost pointless.  I think I’d rather get attached and suffer.  Maybe that’s why I write.  Suffering is so crucial to writing.  The next morning, after Ayahuasca and much weeping, Uri, who was Buddha beside me all night, commented he wanted to suffer as I had that night.

The other day, I messaged a friend I made in Portland while living there last year.  So simply she asked, “Are you happy?”

Wow.  So powerful.  A ‘How are you,’ is such a robotic nicety these days, it doesn’t really mean anything.  I took a moment to respond.

“Grateful is a better adjective.”

I’m seeing the world like I always said I would, and I’m proud of myself for that.  But some days, I really feel the challenges of my solo quests.  Because of this, I always remind myself how good it feels to be in a loved ones company, to hold hands, to connect with a stranger, even for a day; they stay that much sweeter in my memory.

I sit here alone, writing on a couch in a long hall of a big, Victorian hostel.  Everything is white.  I wonder how many people before me have sat down with their thoughts, much like mine.  What were they searching for?  What were they remembering?

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I just met a man named Falk from Germany.  He’s been riding his bicycle around South America for 6 months and has another year or so to go.  He must be in his 40’s.  I wonder if he’s happy.  I wonder if he is like Uri and lives in a state of Anicca.  I wonder if he is like me.

I met a girl in Tarapoto.  Her name escapes me but she is from Switzerland.  We talked about how we liked to travel.  By how, I mean she didn’t bother doing anything touristy.  Only walking around, looking, observing, even cafés were in a sense for tourists, but sometimes she was thirsty.

She told me she enjoyed doing nothing.  Her friend had told her she was the only person she knew that actually meant it when she said she wasn’t doing anything.  Only sitting and thinking.  I found her quite lonely, but rather I think she valued her loneness more so.  Something I could relate to.

Soon I’ll be in familiar surroundings again.  Back with friends.  Back to the mountains.  Cali sunshine.  I’m sure some things will have changed, if ever so slightly.

I’m thinking of what these 2.5 months have been to me.  A step closer to something else.  Most people travel to get away, but I think I travel to get closer.  Picking up pieces of myself along the way. Each new place allows me to learn something new about myself.  I’m grateful for this- to discover, revealing the truth, even if it is my own.  Yes, there is more work to be done.  One more step, and another…

Ultima Dia (Last Day)

I have one more night in Cusco, Perú.  Broke my vegan streak for a home cooked Peruvian chicken dish.  Living life according to my rules.  No guilt.  Instead of one last wandering through the cobblestone streets of the historic center, I’ve spent most of the day in bed.

It’s raining hard.  While drinking tea and talking to a new friend from Argentina (in Spanish 👊🏽), hail began to fall around us through the roof as we sat at a table.  We had just been complaining of the cold showers as well.  I picked up a speck of hail to feel it melt in my hand.  It’s always been an odd phenomenon for me, hail. We laughed and climbed to the top story to view Mother Nature’s power and all of Cusco.  The city, the mountains, the deep grey skies.  This is it.

I can’t help but feel the tinge of sadness for all the friends I’ve made and most may never see again.  It’s a strange feeling knowing each person you meet will not be a constant you are accustomed to.  To share a week is lucky.

As I begin to sink my teeth into these mountains, and all the doors begin to open, it is time for me to go.  Friends say I could stay, find work, keep going.  But I think I’m missing that constant I can count on.  I’m missing some other mountains, and some other hills as well.  And with the more places I visit and call home for a short time, I know I will have more places to miss, and of course more people.

With each town I have been a part of, I feel like a cat living a different life.  Speaking of cats…At my apartment I lived in for a week during a short workaway, I was blessed with beautiful views of the city.  I’d take it all in, but noticed something on a lower rooftop.  Something mangled looking, garbage?  No, it was definitely a decaying cat.  Moments like those I believe my life is a dark comedy.  Everyday I would take a moment to enjoy the view, but couldn’t bring myself to not look at that poor dead cat and wonder about it.

Perhaps that’s how I look at most of my trips, on the whole there is so much beauty and greatness,  but there’s always something along the way that made me cringe.  Maybe it was drunkenly kissing the wrong guy (yes that happened) or not taking advantage of the clear, sunny days to take a certain hike; but as a good friend always says, c’est la vie.  I’m going to smile on all the moments the way they were, laugh at myself for the way I can be, and enjoy this day with cooking and movies in bed.  Because my rules, no guilt.


 

 

I’m Still Here…

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted!  I’ve been up in the mountains, tucked away, planning and thinking.  And there is so much going on that I will again begin to share with you all.  However, this is a reflective post on turning the big 3-0 a.k.a: dirty 30.

Big sigh…of relief!  I saw my reflection the other day and truly saw myself as a woman: strong, beautiful, and willful.  The days of feeling unsure of who I was or where I was going are gone.  I’ve accepted that everyday I’m learning more about myself, and the future is widely unknown.  I no longer think in terms of how outside influences effect me only, but how my choices reverberate in a multitude of ways.  My satisfaction does not come from the approval of others but out of my own happiness that is being true and real with myself.

It seemed as I drew farther away from my early 20’s, I feared the superficial ideas of what that meant: losing my youth, effects  of aging, ‘taking life seriously,’ etc.  These ideas have transformed into knowing that my spirit will always be youthful; health, happiness, and authenticity is beauty; and life is part doing and part trusting.

These are the positive things you are not told enough. When you’re growing up, you’re growing.  And that is a beautiful thing.

In a couple of weeks I’m embarking on a Central/South America trip. I am so excited to delve into the journey ahead.  With these parts of myself that have grown and developed, I hope I can share with you the ever evolving transformation.

Everything in Its Right Place

Getting to Portland posed a bit of a dilemma for me, rather moving all my s*** was difficult to pull off.  I sold my car about a month ago and prior to deciding I wanted to move more permanently to the West Coast, I more or less lived out of a backpack for 2 years (unless I was back East where all my belongings stayed).  Once I had to be responsible for giving all my things a home (although I was surrounded by beautiful objects, familiarity, and my creature comforts), I’ve realized it’s a real big pain in the ass, given my lifestyle I haven’t yet wanted to give up.

Last year, I packed my Subaru as full as I could and brought it to the Marin Headlands of Sausalito, CA where I lived for a few months. I stayed in a ginormous bedroom  that needed to be filled, so I went on craigslist and bought a cool coffee table.  Well, my job, along with the housing that was offered with it, was only temporary, so 4 months later I had to move it all out.

Next, I went to go work and live on a farm.  This time my accommodation was more creative and I moved into a ginormous tent, along with my cool coffee table, a tempurpedic bed, a rug, and a tiny bookshelf.  Oh yeah, gypsy life was really suiting me now.  You can imagine how cool I felt when I invested in a sheepskin.  This lasted for about 4 months.  Then my English boyfriend’s visa ran out, and I thought I was going to suffer the cold for another month or so, but the very next day he left, the zipper to the tent broke.  Solution:  camper!


The camper was kind of on its last legs, but definitely an upgrade as far as space and warmth were concerned.  I had to say goodbye to the igloo oasis along with the memories of the beautiful English guy that maybe I’d see again one day.

A month later, I went on a hiatus to Southeast Asia and I was happy to live out of a backpack again for 5 weeks.  Not long enough though!  When I came back, my car broke down a couple weeks later; I sold it.  I already had it set in my mind that I was going to move to Portland, and when I decide something, it’s just the way it’s going to be.

I offered a friend’s dad payment on top of gas there and back, and he was more than happy to take me.  The 10 hour drive was long, and I wanted to stay awake and keep him company for as long as I could, but I couldn’t help but catch a snooze here and there.  Driving just hypnotizes me.

We got fish and chips at a seafood joint he frequents and he encouraged me to order whatever I wanted.

“Hey, it’s your money anyways.”  He joked.

Later on he told me at least twice how happy it made him to buy me dinner and have company at a meal.  My heart melted a little.  I realized how nostalgic this trip was for him once he told me he would travel that route up to Washington with his late wife all the time.  He talked about her the entire way there.  Out of all the anecdotes, I know that she died, “July 22 on the john at 10 minutes to 12:00.”  Yes, that’s on the john.  He told me it’s actually pretty common for the elderly to die that way, and was quite frank about the whole thing.

We pulled into a pit stop where he and his late wife would stop for a hot pork sandwich.  Attached to the restaurant was a gift shop and he insisted I pick out a mug for him to buy me.

As we pulled up to my new abode in Portland I asked him what he was going to do on the way back.

“Buy a hot pork sandwich.”  I laughed and hugged him goodbye.

Now I’ve got a new place for all my things.  And I realize I have too many clothes, and what sane person who travels this much has 4 boxes of books?  Alas, I have my perfect writer’s nook.  Everything in its right place… For now.

 

 

To Be a Muse: Apsara

  

According to Hindu mythology, an Apsara is a celestial being of the sky, dancing beauties for the gods, men, and musicians.

I was mesmerized by these beautiful reliefs, statues, and paintings adorning walls and entryways from temples to night clubs.  They were everywhere in Southeast Asia, and I became more curious of their mysteries than the temples and museums themselves. 

At first I thought they were a depiction of a goddess.  After learning the name I researched ‘Apsara’ and was surprised to find that they were actually muses, beautifully poised into seduction.

I just wanted to post a little something about them to honor the inspiration women have created in art forms.  Their ubiquitous form can be seen throughout Ankor Wat.  I loved going to a locals club and watching the women dance with their hands so delicately and poised to the thumping music.  I couldn’t help but bring myself back to ancient times, imagining them as Apsaras, hypnotizing the men with their swaying hips.

  
  

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

  

  

Well, so far, so good! 

Bangkok is huge (no pun intended)!  I was fortunate enough to make a fellow solo traveler friend during my flight from SFO, and we decided to share a room at The Sananwan Palace in Bangkok.  Super helpful, friendly people.

The next day we ventured to Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Phro, home of the Emerald Buddah and Reclining Buddha.  What an adventure.  Because we were in the outskirts of Bangkok, we took an open cab/bus, a regular bus, taxi, train, and finally ferry to get there.  Worth the chaos and confusion!  Note to self, come early and not on a weekend!  

Wat Phra Kaew was mobbed so we immediately opted for Wat Phro.  The crowd was much more manageable and there were times of silence and no one in sight.

We parted ways in the morning with plans to meet in Chiang Mai.  She had a flight booked and I was going to the train station for a 12hr ride to get there.

Of course, booking on the fly doesn’t always work in your favor.  I arrived at 9:30am and my train was leaving at 10:00…PM!  LOTS of time to kill…

So naturally, spa day!  Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing.  Got ripped off by a tuk tuk driver ($5 more than you should pay is a rip off here) and got lost in Chinatown.

After wandering aimlessly, bombarded by strong smells and endless vendors, I got it together and found Dahra Spa.  Ahhhhh…

Afterwads, I made it back to the station and was happy to find the couple I sat with on the plane, waiting for their 2 month in advance booked train ride at 7:30.

When I finally got on the train, I was greeted by my own sleeper cubby.  12hrs of peace and quiet.

  
Now I’m in Chiang Mai, reunited with my solo travel buddy and relaxing at The Cat House near our hostel.  Life is good.