Thursday, December 23, 2010

history and place

Oh and something else from last night, talking to Miguel (who I met at the yoga park and who's also at the apartment I'm staying at), he made some really potent observations about travel and history that made me consider how lazy I have become about experiencing places. Especially having been so lucky to do so much travel in the last couple of years in Europe. His point was that history is not just about what happened, seeing yet another cathedral, beautiful monument or old town, but it's more about understanding and seeing (or even sharing) the passions from the culture and people that instigated the 'historical' event or change. History isn't just a collection of buildings or events, and if we try to understand the passion, this changes how we too can experience the history and culture of a people and place.  

Not just what... some musings also

I'm going to start dropping in some other musings on the trip, instead of just the what I did and who I met. After all this trip is also about moving through the world at a slower pace, and to muse and contemplate along the way.

Yesterday I got hit with a weird headachey, fluey type thing, so spent the better part of the afternoon crashed out on the couch and later in the hammock outside. Later on in the night I did a bit of re-reading of passages from Erich Fromm's “To have or to be”, a book that my dad gave to me. It's a bit too deep to jump into right now, but how it relates to me at this moment, is about how I can tune into things that truly 'activates' me and letting that guide the next step of my travel. I had been feeling a little flat that I hadn't been making 'progress'; progress on working out my life, revealing layers of myself etc. I realised though that progress is not necessarily linear, nor is it about always building on something existing. If the intention is to delve within, to open myself up to new experiences and feelings, embrace these and to then let them go, then progress can be in various forms. My time at the yoga park was not all revealing, but nor did it have to be. One thing I have strongly realised is that at this time, I do not want to be in the city. I want to be in the mountains, walking, feeling my body take me through these places. So with this in mind I'm looking at getting down to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego for new years at the end of the earth. BA has been fun, and xmas with the party gang here will be fun, but for me, I need to move on.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

eco / hare krishna escapades

The wind is kicking up, the heat of the day has evaporated and there's definitely a storm afoot.... the days have drifted somewhat into a flow of hot mornings in the garden refining my hoe-ing skills, the afternoons into a series of visits to the peach and mulberry trees and constant eating of food, and escape trips to the local town for internet, wanders up the road to the shop and evening runs through the fields. Life here is scarily merging into a flow of just well moments; today we thought about heading into town for a chant and fiesta, but after uming and ahing through the afternoon, it just all seems like too much! I smile when I think of all the things I used to fit into a day!

The temple on the left, our organic garden on the right! Loads of remolacha (beetroot), lechuga (various kinds of lettuce), zapallo (lil squashs) and more yum veggies.

Our lunch: mostly from the garden, and the bread is made fresh here in an outdoor wood oven. Always also is a little bit of the offering to Krishna. Another interesting thing is that you are not allowed to taste anything in the kitchen or clean bowls that you've eaten from - as it shares the karma around. Not sure how they reason this with all the flies and bugs etc that are hopping between here a the compost and eco-toliets!

A lechuga haul
It's been 2 weeks since I've arrived at the yoga park – and even though I'm espousing the virtues of this life, in this time we've also forayed back to Buenos Aires for 3 days for a steady diet of wine, beer and of course meat to celebrate a birthday, and had many thoughts and discussions about the virtues of the yoga park we are staying at. Essentially it is a group of Hare Krishnas that split their time between the park and a center in town – there are about 15 in total, with usually half here at the park at any one time. They do music based meditation 5 times a day, and spend the other parts of the time teaching yoga classes (there is 1 a day here and more in town), preparing the food we eat, maintaining the place and doing other bits and pieces. They don't seem to specifically support any local groups or offer any particular 'service', it is more that they run and maintain the place and do their own practice. The park itself consists of a temple, kitchen, dorms/rooms, an 'art gallery', a bigger room called the 'cine' and the vegetable market garden – or huerta. Some of the other volunteers here have worked in other places; with orphanages, running schools, animal parks etc, and as a comparison I suppose this place feels a little inward facing and insular. It is beautiful, and a great place to think and relax, but it has started to feel a little meaningless.

I have made some great friends here though – and will be sharing an apartment with them in Buenos Aires to celebrate Xmas. Being back in BA though this week made me realise yet again that I really don't want to be in a city! But I'm torn between taking a spanish class for a week to brush up before heading down to Patagonia... and just making a move. Ah well the beauty of this travel is I can just let the plans evolve somewhat. We shall see what xmas brings.

As we've got Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, the States and Australia represented at Xmas, we thought we'd each do a dish and hopefully make use of our Parilla on the balcony to cook up a storm! I'm looking forward to celebrating together in the hot sunshine... certainly makes a change from the last couple of xmases in the cold! (although the snow is very pretty). So, Monday I head back to BA, and will be at La Bomba Del Tiempo (drumming group) so if anyone happens to be in BA – see you there!

Happy run up to xmas everyone and have a great time partying!
Us VERY happy back in BA - there's more pics on the album

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

big city-ness, Buenos Aires style

I'm sitting outside at 8pm, there are sparrows chirping merrily in the background as they feast in the grove of trees behind me, and I can smell the water evaporating off the hot ground. The sun's just setting, and the whispy clouds are deepening from a coral to a vibrant sunset hue. It's a fairly far cry from last week, where we were cooking up a curry, downing a fair bit of wine and getting ready to hit the town!

I'm about 60kms out of Beunos Aires now, at an Eco Yoga Park – a loose community of permanent Hare Krishnas, volunteers, day visitors and other travellers. After 1 week in the big, busy and boisterous Buenos Aires, I've retired out to country life, and after a morning of gardening, afternoon of napping and yoga, have to say I'm happier here! But before I get more words in about where I currently am, I'd better recount my last week in BA.

Looking towards Palermo Soho at sunset
Coming in on the bus last Friday, BA really felt like another big Spanish city like Seville – and it sort of lived up to it's 'European-ness'. It's a bustling metropolis with different characterful neighbourhoods to wander through, there's bars and restaurants all around, highrise apartments, parks and monuments and people everywhere! I was staying in an apartment in Palermo with my high school friend, Sara and her friend Fiesal from Brisbane. It was lovely to stay in an apartment; complete with lovely big pool and even better – an outdoor parilla (bbq) where people congregated to eat and talk and enjoy life!

mmm....meat on the Parilla!
Essentially, my days in BA were a mixture of laying by the pool (a far cry from laying under the doona in a freezing Montana), walking walking walking, eating biscuits, dulce de leche (caramel) and hot empanadas, drinking very cheap yummy argentinian wine, wandering through tree lined streets in Palermo looking at uniquely outfitted stores (that really struck me – the stores in Palermo had different and interesting interiors – on par with Tokyo stores), basking in warm sunshine, lathering on sunscreen (always, first 2 days you're like GIVE ME SUN, then you're like eeek – where's the sunscreen), eating MEAT (more on that below) and the awesome dinners that Fiesal whipped up, delighting in a fragrant rose garden (and getting told off for climbing over the fence to get in), heading out clubbing, doing a spot on an indoor climbing wall and starting on my rather large pile of books to read. There's more in the Buenos Aires pics.
In Caminito

Fiesal and I showing off our moves

Out and yes a bit drunk in Palermo

Recoleta cemetary

That's a bit of a mish mash – but there's just 2 more things....

Grilling up a storm on our Parilla: Not knowing how the deal with booking the parilla area worked, Sara and I wandered down with a splayed out chicken and marinated vegetables (yes I know, not very argentinean but we had consumed a copious amount of beef the previous night, and Sara is vegetarian as well.) and a half drunk bottle of wine. We politely crashed a father/son boys night out – how awesome is this – every Thursday the friends of the son and friends of the father gather together to eat and drink), shared their grill and um, sort of ended up partaking in a little of their rather large cuts of beef and wine.

Seeing boys in action at a club in Palermo: For the early part of the night (we arrived about 12.30am and it was pretty empty), people just stood around talking, and not drinking. We finally worked out that it must be pretty expensive comparatively – after a rather hefty cover charge and an expensive drinks list, it was pricey even by our standards, so therefore people were happy just to stand around and eye each other off. By about 4am it was all on, and the dancers came out. And yes this was a gay club, and yes we were pretty much the only 2 girls there, but it was fun nonetheless!

So to sum up? It's an interesting place – definitely the rich are rich, and there are many expensive place to attest to that, and yet there's still a huge proportion of the population that is surviving at a very different level. My take? As a city, I can see how it's pretty awesome. Only thing is that I really don't want to be in a city at the moment and having just come from London and Europe, it's not really for me. Perhaps after 8 months of remote towns and hostels, it'll be a different story, but for now I'm happy to be listening to the cicadas competing with some chanting in the park.

Next entry will be more on that – I plan to stay here for a week or so and work out my route through Patagonia for the summer months. Till then!

Friday, November 26, 2010

-15 to 27degrees in one morning... brrr it (was) cold out..

So today I find myself exploring terminals E, C and a bit of D at Houston airport. I can safely say this is not a place that I'd recommend to others to layover in, but the highlight has definitely been finding free WiFi by squatting outside the 'Presidents Club' lounge, and having a rather nice glass of Pinot Noir from Gary Farrell – Russian River Valley, CA at one of the bars has eased the 9 hr burden somewhat. This morning I left a very snowy and frosty Whitefish, Montana at negative temps to transit through Salt Lake City (can I say how beautiful those mountains are around SLC?) to end up in a muggy 30deg in Houston.

Today effectively marks the proper start of the 'big journey' – up till now I've been cheating slightly by staying with my awesome friend John in Montana, where there's crunchy snow, big pick up trucks, lots of beer, soya milk in all the coffee shops, people who stop to let you cross the main intersection and stunning scenery and lots of very polite and enthusiastic people! It's been a lovely time - a taste of taking life at a more luxuriously slower pace and relishing the moment.

The sun rising at 9am over Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish is quite a small town in Montana – at the foothills of Glacier National Park and down the road from a ski resort – Big Mountain. It's is beautiful, even when it's -15degrees Celsius, the pipes have frozen at the house leaving all of zilch water and the rumbling of the Amtrak (hear the carriages bumping together) trains keep you company at night. Having seen some photos of the national park in summer, it is a place I would love to return to. The people you meet there have all chosen to be there – for various reasons but mostly because of it's location near the park. So it's nice to come across people who are there because they choose to be, not because they've never wanted to see elsewhere.

Fish Lake - Glacier National Park - check out more of the pics
So... to sum up the last week? Goodness, well for starters, I've lost track of time already. Slightly worrying how easily I managed to do that... But – highlights were definitely relaxing in natural hot springs, hiking up through a winter park wonderland to the eerie Fish Lake, eating copious amounts of cookies and drinking Montana coffee traders coffee, tippling the local beer, being introduced to crepe eggs, spending ALL day in the armchair watching movies and delighting in the uber crunchy/compacting snow and having icicles form when breathing in. Suffice to say I think it's the coldest place I've ever been, but the people and memories some of the warmest (yes corny I know but totally true).
This is what happens when you get stuck at the Packers Roost - a delightful dive where even the barmaid gets topless in winter... (not that I saw)

The next stop – Buenos Aires. I'm catching up with a high school friend – Sara – who I'm very excited to be seeing and hitting town together. So everyone.. watch out! I've heard great things about BA from everyone I've spoken to, and am looking forward to painting the town just well all sorts of bright colours! (oh and yes, practising the non-existent Spanish I have with whomever will listen to me:) Just bring it on I say... bring it on! Oh... and happy thanksgiving everyone:)