Tag Archives: Argentina

Sailing with “Imvubu”

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I was fortunate enough to sail throughout the Chilean channels for a second time. The sailboat was called “Imvubu” (significance is a hippopotamus in Zulu). It’s a 54 foot South African steel boat that was only launched 5 years ago.

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Owner Ralf Dominick offered my friend Jimmy and I positions to crew in exchange for food and lessons in sailing.

Click Here for more information on Imvubu

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SAM_3552Ocean waves escalate up and repel down…up and down, up and down. 54 ft steel vessel “Imvubu” handles the waters with ease.

Swells swimming in from the open ocean push us to 1.9 knots and gusts of 45 knots against the currents and winds. Up and down. I feel thankful I don’t get seasick.

Patagonia is breathtakingly beautiful, with waters tinted a pale glacier green and mountains soaring and diving into the sea with mossy patches and happy green trees.

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My favourite part of sailing is when we are not moving. Anchored in a  cove. This is the best part.

One can hear all around the nature untouched and vibrant. The thick smell of the trees dancing with the shoreline. The sea mixing with the heavy winds creating a whimsical misty spray that follows the design of the erratic shifting winds.

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The sounds are chilling as birds voices echo throughout the forests and the stillness of the bays and coves consume one with purity of the air and open sky. If your lucky you can see pockets in clouds with striking stars in all their radiance and beauty with sometimes their only chance to say hello.

Weather changes quickly and the cove is alive. Alive with chaotic calmness as this change is frequent and can send the boat dancing with the clanky anchor chain.

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Sailing is not as romantic as one may believe.

Sailing takes a toll on your body as energy used to maintain balance is sucked away and one can feel helpless and useless at times. Sleeping becomes a routine in the daytime and eating becomes a highlight. The romance lies in the seam of the nighttime and the assurance in being sewed back together in the stillness.

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I learned a new language while sailing. New manoeuvres, parts and functions of a sailboat. Not only that but the importance of wind direction, strength, wind angle, and interaction with the boat. Navigation, meteorology, currents, cloud patterns, and air all play a vital role. You must be constantly aware yet the slow pace of the boat makes you want to drift to sleep. It’s quite the difficult balancing act.

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5 am or 6 am we wake up and anywhere from 6 pm to 11 we arrive to a cove to anchor for the night. Dinner, a drink and off to sleep. It’s become routine but almost mundane. No sailing is not as romantic as they say.

45-80 Nautical miles a day, 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.

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Coffee and tea become quite the treat, as it takes time to make such a thing. When you have a warm cup and are in the crispy wet conditions it can warm a heart and body right up!

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Try cooking in conditions with open water swells and strong winds blowing. It takes 3-4 times to make anything.

Overall, I don’t get along with sailing too well. I think I prefer meeting new people, walking and exploring.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful experience but I think I was made for a different lifestyle.

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Meanwhile feeling grateful and appreciative for the openness and willingness the sailing world provided for me. There are always lessons to be learned in every experience.

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Here is a look inside of the boat!

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Train -Buenos Aires to Bahia Blanca to Puerto Madryn

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When I heard that you could take a night bus to Puerto Madryn that takes 9 hours I thought, “Are you crazy? I need to cut that trip in half and take my time!” Well, you could say that’s what I did…but a little more than what I wanted.

The experience of taking a train is one that I have always wanted. I’ve never been on a long distance train or an overnight train so I wanted to try it. Maybe I over romanced the idea, but it was something I was determined to do. The train was also 1/4 the price as well.

$95 AR Pesos ($11 USD) is what it cost contrasted to the $430 AR Pesos ($53 USD) for a bus. It was only 4 more hours and for all buses I’ve endured the last year I was up to the challenge.

When I arrived early to the train station (which was gorgeous and made me nostalgic like i had seen in movies) I found my seat next to two people, and thank goodness next to the window. The weird thing about the seat was that it was more of a bench because we were all sharing the same cushion. You could feel everyone adjusting and moving.

No problem I thought. But as more and more people started piling on the train the hot neon lights and noise was making me feel claustrophobic, maybe 150 people were in one car and it was the type of train that had some seats facing each other. So much energy and chaos.

I had a moment right before we left where I thought to myself “Should I just get off now? I know there’s a night bus I can take and it’s just a mere $95 pesos and subway stop away. You have time go go go and get off!!! Go go go! There is no way you can stand this for 12 hours!”

Then the other part of me calmed me down and said “You wanted the train experience don’t cop out and fail before you even try”. So I stayed. Mistake? Some could see it that way. I look at it as an experience I can learn from.

Well sure enough as the train starts slowly, the noise and chatter gets louder. “Surely it will get more quiet as we make our way into the night.” I thought. Argentinians can stay up all night and never get tired I swear. Even the children are up at 4:00 am. So it’s super loud, I had headphones but I could still hear and smell the newly paired couple who were sitting next to me kissing and telling each other their life stories because they were falling madly in love with each other and did I mention smoking cigarettes? So I opened the window but then the surging neon lights were attracting flocks of bugs from outside so now bugs were lining my face waiting for a shot at the light. Calm. Calm. Calm. I told myself. Only 12 more hours. Calm. Everything changes. I kept saying.

I got up to use the bathroom and when I finally entered the bathroom it’s hot boxed with cigarettes and weed and there’s just a whole in the floor which was the bathroom. Yikes.

I didn’t sleep at all. The train turned into 11 hours then 12 then 13 then 13 and 30 minutes then 14 and finally and we arrived. I couldn’t believe that I made it. I really couldn’t. BUT with all that said I am proud of myself for taking the train. I followed my rule of “Don’t let anyone tell you if something is good or bad. You must figure it  out by your own experience.” I got my train experience, I got what I wanted. Now I appreciate buses. Now I understand how beautiful it is I have your own seat and how a dark and quiet bus is paradise.

Then when I got in at 11:00 am the train terminal I had to walk 15 blocks to the bus terminal. Found out there was only 8:30pm buses so I knew I had to stay in Bahia and kill almost 10 hours waiting!

The ticket was $321 pesos ($37.5 USD) and almost 10 hours. Easy breezy ride and trust me I slept the whole time!

The Big Modern City – Buenos Aires

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I planned for one or two days in the city of Buenos Aires before arriving. Well, as most of my travels it turned into 3 weeks. I stumbled upon a lovely friend named Emilia, a native of Buenos Aires; she offered to take me in for ¨one night¨. The universe sends us what we need in the right time and Emilia was it for me. I was feeling tired, I wanted a travel buddy and was thinking I wanted to change a little bit how I was feeling. Emilia was not exactly what I expected, but so much more than what I could of imagined. You could call her a ¨soul friend¨ as we just clicked and I was recharged. Nights out, theater parties, coffee dates, going to plays, dressing up, dressing down, potlucks, cooking meals together, going through a break up together, going to her cabin, meeting new friends, hanging out with her family and just plain living life in the present together, we both found a friendship that will last lifetimes. Really beautiful.

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 I celebrated mother’s day with her family, her mother’s birthday and just little visits with her grandmother, uncle and extended family. Being in Buenos Aires for me was more like a vacation for travelling. I felt so at home, and like I was visiting a family. They really took me in and I could feel all the love and sincerity.

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Emilia changed the way I look at travelers and opened me up to be more accepting and nonjudgmental of people. She has inspired me to take couchsurfers (people who crash on your couch) when I go back home and she gave me a new inspiration to travel and a zing back in my enthusiasm for life! I hope to meet up with her in the North of South America.

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Emilia lived in the neighborhood of Palermo, great area. Super trendy, cafe shops that I would hang in for hours, really interesting murals and great energy. Oh and she also had a cat named ¨Luz¨ (light) who became my good friend.

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At first Buenos Aires reminded me so much of being at home in the States because of its fast paced, stylish and modern lifestyle. The transit subway ¨Subte¨ throughout the city is super easy to use to get around and the city is also bike friendly lined with green pathways. There is a strong Spanish, French and European influence. The architecture is modern; some parts reminded me of San Francisco and some of Times Square in New York. There is a street called 9 de Julio that is the widest street in the world. Huge! I could not believe I was in Argentina. So different than the rest of South America!

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The animals in BA are treated differently as well. It seems as if everyone has a pet and there are tons of dog walkers. I could not handle how amazing it was to see these dog walkers. So serious.

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My friend Courtney from preschool ended up coming to travel and visit with me for a little over a week. We explored parks, saw some an amazing play and a horrible play and it was beautiful to catch up. She stayed in the same place I was, at Emilia’s.

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The two of us stayed at a Yoga Farm for a couple of days. We worked 4.5 hours in the morning, got 4 vegan meals a day, yoga and meditation. The farm was called “Eco Yoga Farm” and was located about 1.5 hours from Buenos Aires by bus and taxi. It was a nice break, met some cute animals and worked hard hours. We only stayed a couple of days but it was nice to get out of the city. Being with a friend who I have known since I can remember was also a great reminder of home and to see how much each of us has changed was incredible.

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On a logistical note I broke my guitar a little while ago and I got it fixed in BA. It takes five days. It broke while I was travelling. Probably from a corner that I knocked into. So for $200 AR Pesos ($22 USD) and got the whole thing fixed! The front part of the guitar, just snapped in half.

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How to get to Buenos Aires from Cordoba: There is a 9 hour bus for $320 AR Pesos ($36 USD) from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. Left at 9 pm and arrived at 7 am. There is also a bus called “ounce” which is cheaper $270 AR Pesos but adds on about 3-4 hours. Depending on if you have time choose wisely!

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Cheese and Wine Country – Cafayate, Argentina

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Just 4 hours outside of Salta, Argentina the adorable town of Cafayate is settled in the dry area great for making wine and goat cheese.

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I took some cheese tasting and wine tours and had a lovely time playing my guitar in all the beautiful nooks and crannies this place had to offer.

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We rented bikes for the day $70 Pesos ($9 USD) a person and hit up as many winery’s and cheese farms we could. Many places were cheap and wine and cheese starting at $15 Pesos ($1.85 USD) a pack or bottle.

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There were tons of baby animals, cats, dogs, sheep and goats. The cheese was some of the best cheese I have ever tasted, and I must admit, some of the best priced as well.

The land around Cafayate is dry, dry, dry. They get rain every 6 months so all is dirt roads and seco (dry in Spanish) plants. Because of this, the grapes produced in this region are one of a kind. Unfortunately many if the wineries we went to only export within South America as they are small and there is no need to send them far.

I want to be just famous enough of an artist to be able to draw on walls of the places I go. Just to draw on walls.

I want to be just famous enough of an artist to be able to draw on walls of the places I go. Just to draw on walls.

I loved Cafayate if I had more time this would for sure be a place where I would spend it. I fantasised about making a mural here. Maybe in the future!

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Cordoba, Argentina

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Have you heard of couch surfing? It’s a online website that connects travelers all over the world with local people that will provide a bed for free. It’s free to use and a great way to mix up traveling as you get to know the culture at a deeper and more intimate level than a hostel beaches you stay with locals. The website is couchsurfing.org and I would highly recommend it.

The lovely couple that let me stay with them a couple of nights

The lovely couple that let me stay with them a couple of nights

There is also another website I used while on Cordoba, only because I was traveling with a cyclist. It’s only for people who travel with a bicycle and its called warm showers. Warmshowers.org is the same as couch surfing just exclusive for cyclists.

I stayed with my cyclist friend Lukas and we joined up with Luciano and Sole who are from the Cordoba county and they are artists. They both own a company called Cassiopeia Ceramics and make beautiful cups, vases, tea sets, hanging pots, bowls, and more. They have a tiny khelm and make all the work in their house.

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When we arrived they were hosting a Ferria (art show) and they had all their friends over, good food, mate to drink, and group dinners. It lasted the whole weekend and they were still so willing to host Lukas and I. I am so constantly blown away at how willing the people are to take care of foreigners. I’ve never experienced this kind of trust and hospitality. Cooking food for us, treating us like a old friend with such love and respect. Makes me think twice about all that I have and how sharing makes everything better. Such a wonderful lesson.

Luciano every other Wednesday goes to one of the local radio stations and draws while the radio announcer sings. Once a week Sole teaches a pottery class in their house and loves to teach people. I feel so inspired by this couple and they do all because they love to, not because they have to.
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While in Cordoba for 5 days we went to parks, cooked a lot, made some ceramics, went to the river, attended art fairs in the streets, and walked all around the city.

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The two will be off with their bicycles next month north through South America and Central America. I wish them nothing but the best and feel so grateful for such light and inspiration.

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Vipassana Retreat at Dolores, Argentina

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Oh the beautiful country side and valley outside of Cordoba, Argentina.  Skin-crackling dry, scattered-spotted playful rivers, lovely local artisan stores selling olives, honey & olive oil, and friendly people all with the infamous Argentina accent (which I am finally getting used to).

In this region I went to the small pueblo of Dolores for yet another dose of Vipasana Meditation. This time is was three days instead of ten but the same rigarous schedule of meditating 12 hours of a day 4am-9:30pm with no talking, no writing, no reading and no contact with the outside world or others. What a beautiful inward journey to spend time alone in silence. You would be surprised how much is revealed whilst meditating.

Many people think meditation is about not thinking, when in fact, it’s just the opposite. Your mind is almost impossible to keep quiet as our daily lives provide stress an responsibilities. Our society has programmed into our conscious little voices that remind us constantly, “be productive,” and “you should be doing something!”. Essentially mediation is looking at the way the brain functions and thinks and learning how to control the reaction to the thoughts rather than the thoughts themselves. That comes with time and isn’t the goal. The goal is to let everything happen naturally, observe and not react.

In fact, meditation is a lot of thinking, constantly judging and craving for outside things and material objects. In a way, we have forgotten how to live in the moment. Meditation provides our minds with a tool in order to remain calm and harmonious with all that our brain conjures up. If you have a “to do” list type brain then through meditation you learn to be confident in the process rather than the ultimate “check off” at the end. If you always have to be moving and can never sit still, you learn how to become peaceful and embrace this over-active part. You start to become a master of your own energy and of that around you. You thought learn how powerful we really are. The best part about it all, are that all the answers that you’ve ever pondered or wanted to know are inside you. We just have to remember how to listen.

When I tell people about meditation they respond always along the lines of “Sitting and meditating that long? I could never do that!” And I respond the same, “Well then you of course you cant and never could, with that attitude!”

It’s simple. All is simple yet we make it complicated. You say you aren’t good enough, then you are not good enough. You say you can’t do it, well of course you can’t. You say you hate your job, why would you expect to love it? When we create simple thoughts in our brains they manifest themselves throughout our life. Be careful what you think and how you spend your time. If you meditated over it for more than 12 hours you would come to realise as a experiential truth that a single thought can transform into a reality.

There are so many things in this life that are dull an full of suffering with oozing negativity. Those things will always exist, all our job here is to do is to focus on the positive. Life will always be negative if you see it that way. But there is always positivity that is waiting to be tapped into, it’s just a matter of choosing to come out of our own misery that we have created. We created it, and we are the only ones that can come out of it. No one else can do it for us. It’s just a matter of our free will and choosing to accept the responsibility.

I don’t think anyone is really ever “ready” to do this course. Just like we can’t prepare perfectly for traveling the world or for death, you are never really be “ready”. But that’s what’s so wonderful about life, you never will be perfect enough, ready enough, sufficiently prepared. All you can do is be who you are and accept every part of that. In this way all the truth will come to you and all the things you do and encounter will become bliss rather than misery. It’s a choice to make!

If your interested in attending a course it’s all run by volunteers and there are courses in every country almost once a month. Free food, bed, and course. They are based on donations and thy require you to stay the full 10 days. Think you could be ready to start listening to yourself on a deeper level? 10 days and your whole world could change.

What the heck is Vipasana? Click Here for more information

Dharma Vipasana Website

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