Tag Archives: molly aigner

Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA

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My latest mural you can see at Rotten City Pizza in Emeryville, California. The wall is a stucco, concrete 45 foot by 4-16 feet in some places. The mural wraps around the building, taking over parts of two walls.

The entire process has taken me about 1 month and over 100 hours. An element I wanted to add to this piece was video. It was my first time using a GoPro to film my work with a time lapse. I wanted to engage viewers in a new way. I took a shot every three seconds and created a one minute video after a month of painting. The mural was a special one, as my first day of painting was on the 10 year anniversary of my mother, Cindy Keen’s passing. She was creative and energetic and has been my artistic inspiration for my murals. In honor of her, I sign my work M. Keen with her maiden name. So, enjoy the time-lapse.

The Mural:

I have been riding my bicycle by Rotten City for a couple years now and it was not until last year, that I realized it was a pizza place. I stumbled upon it and had an incredibly delicious slice of pizza. Every time since that experience I felt like the building needed more flare and movement to attract people without using a sign or with traditional ways. I have been looking and dreaming about this wall for about a year now. Jonas, the owner of the business and the building agreed to meet me after I sent him an inquiry. We met twice and I showed him different sketches and we spoke about the history of the business and what he wanted to convey to the neighborhood. I was excited to start painting and after three hours in the paint store, selecting colors and day dreaming about the process, I purchased a couple quarts of paint and was ready to start!

Above is the logo of Rotten City, and inspiration for the mural. Elements of the imagery are further discussed at the end of the post. Gambling chips, pizza, a monkey (yes, a monkey) riding a gray hound, palm trees, playing cards, wine barrels, wine bottles, beer and the cityscape behind.

Here is a look at the preliminary sketches.

The mural is 45 feet wide and like a pyramid, at some points reaches 16 feet and at the low points each about 4 feet. The mural is painted with high quality Sherwin-Williams paint, acrylic latex, exterior satin sheen. It is mold proof and water proof, it was super important that I invested in the paints to get the longevity for the mural.

The mural took a total of about 1 month and 70 hours to paint. I found the stucco a bit hard to paint on, and honestly I enjoyed painting and was not concerned about the hours, but more about the process and the quality. I love to paint, it makes me excited and is what I want to do with my life. So I was excited to spend as much time possible on the piece.

The contrast of painting in Latin America V. U.S.

This is my first outdoor mural in the United States and has been an incredible experience, as with the overwhelming amount of love from passerby and cars that want to scream how they feel about the mural with joy and good intention. I was surprised by this and thought about the contrast of painting in Latin America versus the United States. In Latin America, people would sit and watch me. They would bring me treats and things to drink, and not necessarily talk to me, but just enjoy the process and watching me.  Most of my murals reside in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

Studio V. Street Art 

I have painted in quiet community studios and also painted in busy streets, jungles, beaches, and other outdoor locations. I absolutely love being outside and engaging with the community. I love to get to know people and have them ask me questions. Street art is definitely more my style and I love when people are interested in what I am doing, or I am the first live artist they have ever seen painting a mural.

Tons of people approached me and asked the same questions. Sometimes they would just blurt out whatever they were thinking. Here are the top 5 commentsL

1. How long will this take you?

2. Is it just you painting?

3. That is a lot of work.

4. Good job!

5. You get paid, right?

People have definitely expressed their feelings toward the mural more than I would have ever imagined.

History of Rotten City, and Emeryville, CA: 

History is important to me, especially when I am adding to the aesthetic of a neighborhood and spending a lot of time outside getting to know the people that walk by the mural every day. In this location, 66th and Hollis in Emeryville, there is a man who sells hot dogs and chips across the street. The main road, Hollis is full of busy fast cars, which make it difficult for pedestrians to cross. I have seen three accidents in the month it took me to paint the mural. I have had the pleasure of meeting other artists, families, and neighbors from homes and businesses around.

Emeryville was originally Ohlone land where the Natives would fish for clams, oysters and use the acorns of the oak tree for trade and to eat! After the Spanish colonized in 1776 they created factories and Emeryville became known for industrial wealth. Specifically meat packaging plants, and paint companies (Sherwin-Williams). Shell Oil Company started in Emeryville and moved to Houston, Texas in the 1970’s.

As the town of Emeryville grew, it became known as “Rotten City”, “E’Ville” as it became a sort of Wild West where you could find brothels, places to gamble and drink.  There were even greyhound races, hence the logo of the rotten city, the racing monkey upon a greyhound. It was its own city in the midst of San Francisco and Oakland. Hence the imagery of the Rotten City logo: gambling chips, alcohol and racing monkey on the back of a greyhound.

The city is small, about 2 square miles and most of that is bordering the Bay of San Francisco. There is an incredible marina, and public parks to enjoy. The views of San Francisco are stunning from Emeryville. The city has just started a Mural Arts Committee that is seeking out more muralists to paint walls in the city.

I feel so lucky to have bene apart of this project! The staff at Rotten City were incredible and super accommodating. The owner Jonas I want to thank for his trust in me and because of that, my creative and artistic flow was able to come through. Thank you!

 

Bellingham to Vancouver

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We made it to Canada! Check out the above photo of the 4 bands with a burning man sculpture that was used 20 years ago and is pedaled by solar energy! Canada was epic and we are so happy to be traveling now around the islands and B.C. We love this place!

  

What a beautiful ride we had to get into Canda! Crossing the border from United States to Canada was a breeze, we had to ride on the I-5 to cross but it was relatively easy. We only had 33 miles to ride this day, so we swam, took lots of breaks (as we always do) and arrived to Vancouver to the house of Adley’s brother, Chris. Chris let us stay in his back yard and was so gracious with his home. There are now 16 of us, three more joined us in Canada. Craig, our drummer, Dara an amazing writer and experienced cyclist that took a group across the U.S. with a theatre group the Agile Rascals and then Mega, who juggles, sings and dances. She has ridden with the crew before in previous bike tours.

  

We stayed a total of 4 nights and played a gig at the Vancouver Art Gallery in conjunction with eatArt that helped us with the burning man sculpture. We had a beer garden and a dance floor. There was also tricycle bikes they brought that people could test ride that we pretty amazing.

    
It was an incredible show as we played on the steps of the gorgeous gallery.

   

The show was incredible. I was pulling people from the street with my stilts and our sound was incredible. It was a sunny and beautiful day. It was great to relax and take time in one city. Vancouver is gorgeous right on the water and at the edge of huge mountains and glorious hiking. I was so excited to get to know the area and to get to celebrate Canada day! July 1st, they celebrate the joining of three colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Providence of  Canada into a single dominion within the British Empire. This all happened on July 1, 1867 .

  
We are in good high spirits and excited to continue the tour, meeting beautiful people and playing a lot of music. Have you gotten a chance to hear all the musicians on tour with us yet?

Check out the links below!

Proyecto de Pedaleo – Collaboration Mural

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This is one of my most favorite projects I have ever done. The murals that keeps painting itself…

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Baja California

The Inspiration: As many of you know, I am not a stranger to staying on peoples couches, floors, back yards of anywhere I can with a tent. My journeys have been filled with hospitable and beautiful humans who have treated me like a family member. Among the many Lupita and Gabino from San Quintin stand out to me as shiny examples of this. Parents to daughter, Stephanie, they have welcomed hundreds of travelers yearly who bicycle down the Baja Mexico. They took me in for almost a week!

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They are made me feel like I was apart of their family and took care of me in ways that parents would. I met them at a hard time in my travels and they made me feel that I was not alone. Lupita and Gabino have so many travelers stay with them, they made a guest book and started having people write entries. Then it turned into a map where people would pin where they started their travels from. The day that I first stayed with Lupita and Gabino they were full of excitement for me to mark with a tiny tack where I traveled from. They led me to a large map that was covered in plastic lamenant and many different colored pins all over the map of the world.  It was incredible to see these physical pins from so many people. Connecting the world to make it seem smaller and that we are all the same. I was so inspired.

I knew this idea would come up again. And sure enough, three weeks later I was able to make it happen at the “Casa de Cyclista” in San Ignacio, Baja Mexico

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The Process: I ask to use some paints from the surrounding neighbors in Mexico and many of them laughed at me and then watched me paint from the street. They had no idea why I would want to borrow paint from them. Sure enough I found green, blue and white. The only colors we found. It was enough though and after one day of sketching (I typically don’t sketch but figured I had to in order to get the world perspective right) that I was underway painting.

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How long: It took me almost 4 days to paint. I had a little helper with me who got me coffee, and sharpened my pencil. He also just watched in awe as I painted. He would even help me erase my pencil lines. What a beauty this little helper was!

The exchange: Free stay and food for the mural.

The Location: San Igancio, Mexico at the Casa de Cyclistas. Click here for the Casa de Cyclistas Website. Thank you to Casa de Cylistas and thank you to Lupita and Gabino, ustedes tienen un lugar especial en mi corazón!

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York, Maine

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Welcome to York, Maine settled in 1624 and right on the Atlantic Ocean!

     

York, Maine is known to be a summer vacation town, just South of Portland, Maine. Took us a day to bike and Ian had some friends that he knew in town. It was a beautiful couple that were musicians and artists who had two young boys. We ended up staying in their barn for a week!

   
  

We took the boys out for their first long ride. Actually you could call it a tour, because we spent the night at their grandparents house in the back yard. It was a pretty wild experience teaching the boys how to ride. It wasn’t a simple ride either, a lot if it is what I do while touring. Incredible time!
   
  

Above is the barn room that we stayed in. Joyce, the mother and incredible musician was such a fun time to hang out with. A beautiful soul and I feel so wonderful and appreciative that she let me stay with them for the week.

    
    

We stayed a night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as well. We ended up staying with a man, Jeremy that had Ian had already stayed him. Pretty funny, we ran into him on the street. We stayed in his back yard and set up a tent.

     
   

We met some friends, went to an art party and then ended up camping on the beach. What an experience as there were trucks that drove through where we were camping in the middle of the night.

   

Mexico Flashback

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Here is a photo from a friend of mine who is still in Mexico and he just it sent my way.  Uno is his name. It gives great perspective and look into the Lumerian Embassy Mural I painted in the Yucutan in May. As winter, rain and cold are approacing in Seattle, I am thinking a lot about travelling again. Maybe a Mexico Bike Touring trip?! More painting and perfoming to come! However here in Seattle I am now working on a project for Couth Buzzard Books up in North Seattle, Greenwood area and also working on some new pieces for my upcoming show at Ballard Kiss Cafe in January. More to come!

mural for Mexico

New Molly Keen Studio at Gasworks Gallery, Seattle

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This month of September I opened a studio space to create artwork. The space is in the community of Gasworks Gallery where artists have separate creative spaces to work in. It is super important for me to separate my work space and my daily life as it creates a different flow and motivation. I am excited to see what will come out of this new studio!

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The space I selected has four large windows, tons of light, storage space, is on the second floor and has great energy for making new work! It is an old warehouse building, located just next to Lake Union and the Ivars on the water.

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Here is me carrying canvas to the studio. I dont have a car and as an artist, I thought I would invest in a rental car company like ZipCar or Car2Go but really I was determined to get canvas squared away just by bike and it is totally possible. Well, for now anyway. I do want to get a little bit bigger in my work so it will be interesting how that works in rain and with a 5 foot canvas!

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Stay Tuned for new works and shows!

Seattle Wedding Piece

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Did I mention custom paintings that make great wedding gifts? I also do special pieces if you want to give a gift of art to a friend getting married!

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To celebrate the marriage of my good friend Peter Ackley and Jessica Burke I custom made this piece. The wedding was in Chelan, Washington and I couldn’t buy a gift for the couple do instead I made a Seattle inspired acrylic on canvas piece.

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It is 20″ X 24″ in size and was a treat to paint. More to come with Seattle inspired pieces and a studio opening soon in Seattle! Stay tuned!

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Yoga Teacher Training, Mazunte, Mexico

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Welcome to Mazunte home of lushious beaches, skinny palm trees, liters of organ juice, sultry surfing, vortex magnetic sunsets, star gazing dream, yogi lifestyle, live music rocking han sessions, fry hot heat loving, mediation haven, kind of place. Mazunte is a small beach town on the Pacific coast of Mexico which is in the Southern part of Mexico. Its famous for a gorgeous place to relax, the turtles and, fishing.

Here, I started my journey with my love for Yoga and for the purpose of connecting my mind with my body through being present. After such a long time of traveling I felt like my body had been pushed to the side. In Argentina it was all meat and potatoes and in Chile it was fish and more meat and potatoes. Being a vegetarian it was difficult sometimes to find healthy food to eat and just let myself eat what was convienant. This past month and teach training really has transformed the way that I look at food, my body, and my relationship to time.

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Here is the meditation shala where we woke up everyday 6am for hour mediation with a constant soundtrack of roosters and ocean waves. The other is of us practicing partner yoga.

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The course was held at Om Shanti Yogashala that is apart of a hostel and there is another community Om Shanti Community nearby where we all slept and cooked food together. The same community also helps run a resteraunt “Prasad”, a vegetarian that is next to the Yogashala. It is a lot of work, but its a nice network the three places and people working and coming in and out of these spaces.

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Here is a little bit of what our schedule was everyday:

5:30 am Wake up

6:00 am – 7:15 am Meditation

7: 15-8:00 am Pranayama (breathing exercises) for 1 hour (every other day)

8:00-9:00am Communal breakfast

9:00-11:30 am Open to the public yoga class

11:30-1:30 pm Free time or Cooking if your team has to cook

1:30-5:00 pm Lunch and Free Time and Personal Study Practice

5:00-7:30 pm Classes that changed depending on the day

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The schedule was pretty laid back but after 1 month it was a lot, and depending on which day it was sometimes we were practicing 4-5 hours of yoga in one day. The town here is so hot sometimes 90-100 degrees F and for this its hard to stay motivated the whole day, especially when you wake up so early. BUT after getting into a routine I found that actually practicing the Yoga Asanas and Pranayama breathing I has sustaining energy and wouldn’t get tired.

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In the end we taught a final class and I feel so lucky to be apart of the whole process, what a gift!

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Also as an end to the course we had a community celebration with live music, face painting, yoga for children, free food and dancing. It was wonderful to see the community come together and really a nice goodbye and send off to the whole community.

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We had a weekend retreat with the Yoga Team at a place maybe 3 hours from Mazunte where there were endless rivers flowing, waterfalls, peace, and love. It was truly beautiful and the perfect get away to cleanse and soak in my transition from Chile to Mexico.

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At our community at Om Shanti we adopted a kitten just 2 weeks old and were fortunate to watch him grow up before our eyes. What a lover and what a treat it was to take care of such a beauty!

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Punta Cometa was a little pennunsula that sticks out from the shoreline and is considered a sacred place and the best place for watching sunrises and sunsets as both are posible to see from here. You can actually sun gaze staring at the sun 45 minutes to an hour before it sets and watching it change from bright white to magenta and fades away slowly beyond the horizon. Super powerful place. Not to mention it is an important stopping place for migratory birds and mammals like whales!

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The town was the most pefect place to do yoga, it was super challenging for me, but worth all the up and downs. It was great to get into a healthy routine and enjoy a different way of life. I now can teach a class and practice alone. It’s been worth all of it. Now off to the next journey! Heading south! I love Mexico!

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6 Points to Remember while Traveling.

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1.) Find out the Truth for yourself.

If a fellow traveler tells you about their experience visiting  a place, hostel, excursion, or something to do, take it with an open mind and filtered lens. You will only know the truth once you experience it for yourself. Too many times someone had told me so and so is a bad city there is nothing to do there, and then I go and discover it is one of my favourite places! Listen to them fully and then put your own rationality into it and find out the truth for yourself!

2.) Let go.

Let go of time, seasons, worry and fear. When you let go you are able to not think about the past and memories you once had. You will stop thinking about the future planning and organizing. You will find that when you let go of all, you fall into the present and there infinity exists because there is no longer time. When this happens everything will flow, people, places to stay, food to eat, everything will fall into place. Easier said than done, but just do it!

3.) Always Carry Toilet Paper, Always.

4.) Take up a new Talent.

You are never too young or too old to start something new or learn something new. From language to bracelet making, to guitar playing to cooking to traveling just do it! But its wonderful to pick a hobby/talent that you can easily do while traveling because there is so much down time. Waiting for buses, hanging out with down time because you are tired, or just laying hanging out on the beach, something accessible. Traveling makes you have time for these talents that in a “normal routine life” you may not have time for! Oh and it takes a little bit of commitment too but all is possible.

5.) Learn how to to Cook Healthy Local Food.

Travel with spices and food so that you have no excuse to cook healthy. Maybe a little curry, coriander, pepper flakes, mustard seeds, garlic and or favourite cooking ingredients. Healthy means good food for the body and for the mind, there is no excuse to be eating out all the time and not eating healthy when you travel. The local food also makes this exercise more fun because you can experiment.

I always try and cook local of course, which sometimes is hard in places that are hard to grow fruits and veggies but local is the most important. There are always bug convenient supermarkets that have everything you could possibly want in one place, but many of these stores put small shops that are run by local families out of business. So I would encourage travelers to get comfortable knocking on their neighbors gate and asking if they sell cheese or who does, so that they buy straight from the people and not from the big stores!

6.) Hitchhike

You can learn a new language and interact with local people. Hitchhiking provides a free way to travel and a cultural experience as well. Go to gas stations and ask people by knocking on their windows. This way you can look into their eyes and decide if you want to get in the car. And you are more likely to get a ride by asking first and not just with your thumb. Say you don’t have the courage or you are traveling alone? No worries because many people will say no to you, so you will have a lot of practice and can learn patience and new people skills! My travels were much brighter because of Hitching.

Goodbye South America

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Today I started a new adventure. I left South America for a different America. No, not quite the States but I am in Mexico where I will receive a 300 hour yoga training course in a beautiful community and with my lovely friend Carolyn from California.

It makes me sad to leave so soon, even though its been over 15 months. The memories I’ve shared in each country have provided me with enough love, inspiration, hospitality, motivation and respect for a growth and appreciation.

I can’t stress enough how precious life truly is. How important family is and how simple life can be. Somewhere along the way we’ve complicated things by comparing and contrasting, by working too hard or by going to fast. I do it too, thinking I need things when they complicate thins or I don’t need them. There is happiness in simplicity and there is value in being present and being nice to everyone you meet.

The way the people of South America have treated me is as if I was one of their family members. Open arms, open house, and so willing to go out of their way to help me.

Many have taught me that every person matters and every person you meet can be a chance to learn something. You can turn someone’s day around just by asking their name and smiling. It’s incredible how human connection really can connect as one. However we must open our hearts and mind to it.

Thank you South America, this definitely is not the last time I say goodbye! I guess I have to change the address of my blog name huh?

A Mural at The Gottardinis Finca en Tupungato, Mendoza Region

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The Weeping Willow Mural, Tupungato, Argentina.

Welcome to the Gottardini’s, the farm of love and care!

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What: A large mural of a “arbol saucey” which means willow tree in English. Inspired by the energy the actual tree they had on their property it was reminded me of my childhood on vashon island because we had a willow tree with a swing on it. I loved that tree.

Nestled at the base of Volcano Tupungato in the Midsts of the Andes Mountain range, flowing tinkering rivers, hot sweaty heat, delicious fresh food and good company!  This mural stands out to me and came at a perfect time for my last weeks in South America.

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The Gottardinis, an Argentian family full of enthusiasm and love. They welcomed me and my friend Jimmy with open arms and love.

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Here is Orlando the owner and one of the wisest loving men I have ever met. Enthusiastic about everything he taught me important lessons including how to stay true to yourself, love family and enjoy life.

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The ride to Tupungato was incredible you cross from Chile through the Andes and into Argentin. Literally when we got off the bus at the bus station we were greeted with family, dogs, a stop for coffee and milk and then before you know it we met uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews and father in laws and friends.

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We made homemade pear jam that we picked from the trees and ate meals together. What a lovely treat!

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Here is the shower, you fill it up with water (the bucket) with a hose and then it gets connected to a plug to be heated. Amazingly funcational and sustainable. I want one whenever or if I get a house!

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We got a little carried away with paint one night but life on the farm was simple. We went swimming in a little lake by day and cooked together by night. Beautiful life!

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We also attempted to sun dry tomatoes. Here is Orlando above with the tractor. He said that he would rather just work with one process of the wine process as its important to keep things simple and be passionate and really good at one thing. I respect him for that.

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It is a quaint town, super friendly people. We arrived in great timing as summer season is harvest season in Mendoza Region. The first two weeks of march are called Videmia which celebrates the “cosecha” or harvest. It’s the largest and most important celebration in the region and thy even had a beauty pageant declaring queen of the videmia! All the orchards were busy with workers picking “uvas” or grapes.

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Orlando was kind enough to take us on a tour of the area, including a look at some of the harvesting, wine tasting and a visit to the river. He collected bugs by hand and then tried to fish for trout. This guy is great!

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At the farm there were Walnut trees, olives, cherries, watermelon, corn, apples etc. and we were welcomed to pick and eat or cook with whatever we desired. I was in heaven.

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We camped the whole week, fell asleep to crickets and moonlight and would have tranquil days enjoying the sunshine on bike rides, drinking beers in town, and hanging out with the family durin asados!

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Here is Teresa, such a joy to have connected with her. This is her first painting that she made with courage! It was done with oils on the outside of the house. She is from Italy and we spoke only spanish. Just 19 years old can you belive it, pretty incredible lady!

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Where: Tupungato, Argentina. It’s located about 2 hours from famous wine capital Mendoza. Tupungato is Known for its quality wines and friendly people.

Accommodation: Fresh veggies and fruits and nuts and beer and we had our own little house and kitchen. I camped at night but by choice it was such a beautiful place underneath walnut trees in an orchard.

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What I learned: Family is important. The way this family would spend time together, have asados (BBQs) was inspiring. I learned that walnuts have two shells, that the Andes are a beautiful mountain range and that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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Here are some murals I found in Santiago that I loved! Just a side note!

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Sailing around Cabo de Hornos, Cape Horn.

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Rivers of ink tell the tale of Cabo de hornos, Cape Horn with silent witness of tragedies, victories and illusions. Modern boats, strong tides and weather forecast help present day sailors to round the infamous rock in relative tranquility. The way there can be long and tough with thousands of miles of rough waters and shifting winds, faraway harbors and far from the trades with easy routes. The barren and windswept rock is one of the highest symbols of mans challenge to the unknown.

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Here is the city of Ushuaia, Argentina from the sailboat.

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Again I found myself on yacht Northanger, about to embark on a 7 day sailing adventure with the goal of sailing around Cape Horn, the most Southern tip of South America and known to many as the true “the end of the world”. Many explorers and adventurers have died while trying to round it throughout the last and now boats have more technology and weather knowledge to be able to easier predict the forecast.

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On January 22 Captain Greg and I met up with clients at 8:00am at the docks with luggage. We proceeded to check out of Ushuaia, Argentina to head to Puerto Williams, Chile. This requires a bit of paperwork and passports. Five hours worth of sailing through the Beagle Canal and we reaches Puerto Williams and had to check the Chilean Armada.

This took a little while so we decided to stay in Puerto Williams for the night.

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On January 23 we left early at 5:30 am into the Beagle Canal and sailed till 8 pm. This was the first time I felt sick but when you are heading into fierce winds only moving sometimes 2 or 3 knots against huge swells I’ve never experienced before. Didn’t ever get sick but definitely the pounding pressure hour after hour made me feel crazy. You literally always have to keep a hand on something otherwise you can really hurt yourself. On deck we had a harness and were clipped onto a line because the deck is slippery and the weather unpredictable.

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This part also had a passage with no land. I prefer the coast but this sailing day was different than all I knew.

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We eventually anchored in Caleta Martial, which was the most strong I have ever experienced wind in my life. Apparently in the cove it got up to 60 mph and around the horn the same day to 80 mph. The wind was so strong it was creating whitecaps only 100 meters off shore where the wind was blowing from behind the mountains. The boat next to us in the cove “commitment” actually has their anchor drag about midnight and were sent into a 5-6 mayhem trying to keep the boat safe in unbelievable winds. If the anchor drags you could potentially be thrown into rocks or roll. It’s also hard to navigate as the wind makes it hard to breathe and the winds create a white mist making it hard to see. Boy was the wind impressive that night and made me really respect it. Northanger was on a night watch in case the anchor was to drag. Scary stuff you have to be super careful.

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The wind has a fierce potent punch with unbelievable noises. However the energy I found to be cleansing and healing the land. This is a different world here.

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The next day, January 25 I felt a little seasick over the big swells that later much longer than the waves I was used to. We went around the horn this day and it was rather calm wind-wise with huge swells from the wind the night before. Rounding the horn was a great experience but not as incredible for me as some thee places in the channel. The clients we were with enjoyed it and was essentially why some of them came to Patagonia. But for me, they were rather barren, sharp rocks, and not a lot d beauty. Nonetheless I feel super grateful for the experience. We found a different cove to anchor that night.

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The next day January 26 we took it easy and went for a hike and met the little armada post which had a Chilean family and a pet king penguin. The children were super cute and it was good for me to speak Spanish again after two weeks of English. The hike was gorgeous and the cove made for a great place to relax.

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The next morning January 27 we left on a 50 km sail for Puerto Williams. Had some wind against us and we had to stop in a cove for lunch and wait for it to die down a bit. We made it to Puerto Williams about 7 at night.

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January 28
We headed for Ushuaia Argentina with a 5 hour sail and competed the full circle.

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In Patagonia for the most part there are charter boats which offer tourists and visitors a chance to experience the area and they get paid for taking them. Then there are private boats that typically are travellers themselves maybe making a first time trip to Antarctica or sailing around the world. It makes for lovely conversations on the docks and you meet about every type of person. This is one if my favourite parts of sailing, making these relationships.

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Sailing Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams

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Boat rocking cradle-like in sea of tranquility. The sea comes with a switch to an instant storm with gusts of wind and rain. There is a battlefield of albatross attacking seals and wind blowing waves forcing the sailboat dead into the wind at a standstill. Coves, bays, channels and passages lined beautifully with jagged mountains varying in colour, shape and snowfall. As nighttime falls, it gently grips me into a deep healing sleep as the neon black sky light up the stars to shine enough for vision.

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Life is all around and untouched by humans leaving a pure sense of energy and peaceful reflection.

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Stillness, rivers talking, full moon glowing and tiny droplets of aguaditas steaming my face gracefully playing with my sensations. Crispy cold fresh air yet I am warm as I am swarmed with a deep sense of connection. These glimpses of untouched land give me a sense what explorers must have felt when they first chartered these untameable waters. Fierce joy in the wind, music in its touch, twirling, spiralling, and running through my mind and entire body. It is cleansing.

Time lasts for eternity yet creeps into existence as the sky changes from dirty pink electric sherbet to soft jet navy lined with a twist of light blue.

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We sailed from Punta Arenas, Chile to Puerto Williams, Chile, through the stretch of Magellanes and Beagle Canal on the boat called “Northanger“. Northanger is a 54 foot Damien II, lifting keel, steel ketch New Zealand owned.

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The strait of Magallanes is “the stretch links the pacific and Atlantic ocean through an S-Shaped 310 miles cut through the South American continent. It’s waters give access to countless channels, inlets, and bays, a unique feature of the area. The stretch is a feature cut in the Andean Range, the vertebrae backbone of the S.A. Continent. Deep cuts were created by result of the last ice age 20,000 years ago, with effects still lasting another 10,000 years. Before the area was covered a huge ice cap more than 1,000 meters thick in places countered on the cordillera Darwin. From here a long series ice tongues spread in all directions downwards into the ocean giving birth to the wide and deep glacial valleys and rolling hills of Patagonia. The big last change happened 15,000 years ago when the ice caps began to melt, there were tons of sediments, rocks and deposits shifting the land into Tierra del Fuego. As time passed and water eroded the natural forming dams and opened the valley to ocean waters thus creating the large Tierra del Fuego.” (Rolfo and Ardrizzi).

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My journey started before the water, while the boat was still on land in Punta Arenas which is about 116,000 in population, pretty industrial. I worked a couple weeks preparing the boat, cleaning and making the boat come to life after 8 months of sitting in the ship yard. The boat was located 8 km outside of town so we did a lot of hitchhiking back and fourth.

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Here is Duncan and Renee who helped prepare the boat with us. They were visiting form Newfounladn, Canada and had some time to spare to help! We enjoyed making food and drinking coffee together. I am glad they joined the journey.

The Armada or “navy” of Chile is quite controlling and specific about sailing on the waters and makes all boats fill out paper work and check in everyday via radio. You must go to the port captain to get cleared to leave and once stamped you have to wait for approval. This became quite the process.

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Finally on January 11th we moved the boat from from its cradle with the big boat moving machine (never found out the proper name for it) and ready to be moved into the water. We had one more night until it was going to happen.

There I met Eduardo had a tiny machine linked around his neck that he loved being in control of. He was telling me to stay in Chile and work with him at the ship yard, I passed.

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We went “provisioning” which means getting all food and things necessary for sailing a week. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and cans. There is one thing for sure since being on Northanger and its that I had never ever been hungry. We eat delicious vegetarian food and are always trying new recipes and eating together. I’ve really come to appreciate and love the simple act of eating a meal with others. It doesn’t take too much time but the quality of life improves and you are in charge of what is put into your body. I’ve been vegetarian for almost a year now and since then, I love to cook!

On January 12th we launched the boat into the water at night, 10:30 pm from the cradle with a big rope and greased planks as Eduardo and his team pushed it off the stand and shot it into the water as we all stood on deck. Eduardo shouted to me a couple time to stay with him in Punta arenas saying “no te vayas!” Which means, ¨don’t go!¨ Funny. Greg had his friends in the dinghy the whole process ready to dive or help out in case anything happened.

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We anchored in the port Punta Arenas and I have to admit the boat transformed into a different creature as it slide into the water. The waterline surprised me the most, as it was within reach of the deck. I was surrounded by water on all sides and willingly forced into a subtle back and forth motion that gives me sea legs when I go to land. The hatch that we had to go through to get to the galley reminded me of the TV series ¨Lost¨ everytime. Could not get over it. Above was my bunk!

On January 13 there was wind, wind and more wind; I had never seen wind in Punta Arenas like that. We took the dinghy to land and can’t believe how the strong breeze can make one fall over into your Neighbor and not have enough time to say excuse me because you are trying to not be blown away. The navy closed the ports because it was so strong but this didn’t make sense as outside of the ports were much safer for us to be in then in. In this time I learned how to tie some knots- clove hitch, stopper knots and the bowline. We ultimately decided to wait another day before heading south.

 On January 14 at we motored to Cabo Froward against the wind to almost a stand still and had to turn around as it was too rough. We anchored at Sani Ciedro in Aguila Bahia (Eagle bay). The bay was named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville after her ship “L Algile”. We encountered three Israeli guys on the beach who flagged us down. They were on the well known Cabo Froward trek and needed help because own guy was super sick. Wasn’t much we could do but I think they thought we were going to rescue them or something.

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On January 15 what a windy night! We waited till the wind was to doe down by visiting the lighthouse where I had previously been before. There we met the beautiful couple living there that made us coffee and big doughnut type treats. Rosita even put my name in one of them!

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My friend Marcello radioed us to give us a weather report and say hello as he sailed past us in the strait. The boating/sailing world is surprisingly small and can be a comforting place where other boats soon become friends and you look after each one another.

We went for a hike through the muddy forest and onto beaches lines with whale bones showing remnant of a processing plant for whale oil. The plant was open from 1906-1907 and just in that year killed over 449 whales.

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We took off at 5:30 pm and sailed through San Pedro Canal. Mind you here it is summer so the light starts at 4am and lasts till sometimes 11:39 pm. The canal is named after Pedro Sarmientro de gamble who sailed his ship called “our mother of waiting” in 1580. We put out our first shorelines to the beach around trees in the most calm water I have seen yet. We anchored in “Caltea Cluedo¨ a large long bay on Isla Clarence opposite of Isla seabrook and we collected water from a waterfall in the cove via practicing driving the zodiac.

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I practiced driving the zodiac going fast and reversing as a brake when you get to a certain spot and holding it long enough for someone to tie a line. This has become one of my highlights of sailing. I got to take it out to get water from the waterfall near by!

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We went for a hike later that night, it was raining but it was beautiful! Saw the lake where the waterfall came from and this is where I wrote the entry for the blog. If I had to chose a favorite spot this would of been it.

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On  January 16 it was the birthday of one of the woman on the boat, Renee. We made a pancake, plantain and fruit smoothie breakfast while along the way sailing. We did have to motor a bit because there was no wind at all, leaving a reflection of the landscape on the water mirror like. Above is a shot of the sky on the water and below is the panoramic view we had, just like a calm lake.

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Sailing is turning out to be much more tranquil and slow paced than I imagine. The boat only goes 3-7 knots an hour so you’re not flying any means. It forces you to be present and really take in the scenery. Sometimes you can see a mountain and and hour later still be staring at the same range and horizon. I can’t imagine what it’s like to sail in the middle of the ocean without the landscape. The land you greet sailing really for me is one of the best parts. We sailed through San Pedro passage and Canal Acwalisnan (Paso o Ryan).

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On our arrival to the cove where we were to anchor there were. 1, then 2, 4, 6, 8 dolphins that played with us dancing and moving friskily through the jetting water off the boat. They are called ¨Peale¨ Dolphins.

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On January 17 we sailed all day 10am to 10pm.There were dolphins all the day again this type is called a Peale dolphin which are known to be slow and quite playful with the boat. Grey with a white underside. Oh how I love the dolphins! We had dinner late and on the way I made lentil burgers with honey Dijon mustard!

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We anchored at Caltea Laguna (Lake Cove) with again, shorelines. This day I learned how to the steering works on the boat, practicing zig zags and circles getting a feel for it.

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On  January 18 we were in the Beagle Canal, full on 7am-5pm sailing day. The Cordillera Darwin Mountains show signs of the once melting ice cap through fingers of glaciers. The range towers to the North at elevation of 2,000 meters (6,574 ft). Rivers, ice crumbling into the sea and electric neon pastel glaciers named Roncagli, Bove, llaha, and Frances.

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You could see storms roll in far away and when the catch up with you how the energy changes and becomes alive. I learned how to take down the anchor and at night we anchored in Caleta Olla (Wave Cove).

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On January 19th we left at 10am from the cove and came out into the beagle canal. Passes through the town of Ushuaia where we saw cars and planes for the first time in a week. East winds and sails were up. I learned how to drive while putting a sail up, timing it into the wind and holding it while the sail rises. I learned how to make some homemade bread!

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20 miles later and we arrived in Puerto Williams that had a nice yacht club with bar and maybe 20 sailboats. Met lovely people and got to stretch my legs! I never thought I would of made it this far south, let alone in a Sailboat. Its been a special experaince. You can also see the picture above is of a little Seal friend. There were many of them who met the boat along the way, so curious.

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Below you can see the view of Puerto Williams from us pulling in, it is super small. The mountain range is called ¨Navarino de los dientes¨ and is a well known trek you can do for a couple of days.

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What a stunning journey. Couldn’t of asked for a better trip! It was full of beauty, challenges, new experiences, and constant lessons to be learned. I feel super grateful to Greg and Northanger for letting me come along. It created a reality I didn’t know to exist and I feel fortunate.

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I want to give credit to a book I received tons of information from that was on board of Northanger called “Patagonia Tierra del Fuego” by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi. I paraphrase a lot of their information in this post but it’s a phenomenal book about the channels. If it wasn’t for their book I wouldn’t of been able to understand all the history of Tierra del Fuego or the specifics to each anchoring.

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Learning to Sail in Patagonia – Chile and Argentina

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Fierce windy breezes, stratus clouds moving rapidly, crispy cold air with glimpses and sprinkles or rain, glimpses of sunshine with dolphins prancing in and out of the water, the sound of banging tools and buzzing machines. The start of the Sailing season in Punta Arenas. We are preparing.

I am currently in the thick of the sailing summer season which starts right around Christmas and tappers off around March. Early January is when most of the prime time weather kicks in for many trips to Antarctica. Summer is in the air, yet with the weather we have here in Patagonia, you would never know it.

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The boat I have been working in is called “Northanger” (above, and we are about to put it in the water in 2 days) owned by pair Greg Landreth (New Zealand) and Kerri Pashuk (Ontario, Canada). For this trip Greg with be the Captain while Kerri is on their other boat called Saoirse. She is currently sailing in the from the Bahamas down to Punta Arenas. Her blog is great, she blogs about cooking and apparently she makes some delicious brownies. I can not wait to meet her. You can check out both of their websites, the couple has been around these waters for a long time and have tons of knowledge and experience. I have a lot to learn from them.

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Above is more or less what we will set off to do. Puerto Williams is actually the Southern most city of South America which is lower than Ushuaia. The Cabo de Hornos, Cape Horn, is a trip we will make twice after Williams. You are looking at the most Southern tip of South America. The lower part where you see a big line, is the border. Argentina is to the right and Chile to the left. Ironically you can not cross from Southern Argentina to Northern Argentina without crossing through Chile. The roads in between the borders are also all dirt filled windy pothole roads. They have quite the history and relationship but more on that later.

We will be setting sail from Punta arenas, Chile – and making our way trough glaciers, Magellan straight, into the beagle canal to Puerto Williams.

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The 7 day trip and a fully hands on experience. I will be setting off with a couple Rene and Duncan from Newfoundland, Canada as well. I also found a friend to come along from Germany! It is looking like a good trip. It will be my first long sailing trip!

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We have less than 4 days before heading out onto the Magellan to go 7 days to Puerto Williams. So far most of my tasks on Northanger have involved cleaning the bilge (the part of the underneath side of the boat, filled with grease and water), cooking delicious veggie meals, revarnishing the food drawers, and helping out with miscellaneous tasks.

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As an introduction when I first arrived to Punta Arenas to the Magellan and Patagonian waters, my friend Jimmy (Missouri, USA) who I met at Erratic Rock introduced me to a wonderful man Marcello who took us on quite the adventure. We took a zodiac boat right out into the straight of Magellan that took 8 hours on a zodiac going against the currents and around the most Southern Tip famously called “Cabo Froward”.

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The destination was an island called Carlos Tercero where Marcello had an organization called “Whale sound”. Pretty amazing Organization that’s works on the preservation and continuation of the families of whales who migrate to the Carlos Terceo waters to feed before going back up the pacific coast to Colombia to breed. They have identified over 150 consistent whales that keep coming back every yet. They can tell what whale is which by the fin and the marks on the tail. They have a whole binder filled with 150 whales and names and identification pictures. Then it took us another 6 hours back to Punta Arenas, but fortunately with the winds.

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Marcello bravely makes the Punta Arenas zodiac journey twice a week. He was generous to let us go with him and experience the process. It was a wonderful introduction and I can confidently say my body took quite the beating from that trip.

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Working on a boat is quite the process and ironically reminds me of painting (like everything in my life does). The process and lifestyle of sailing are much apart of sailing as the actual water experience.

Like painting, when you want to paint a picture, for example a rose; there is also a lengthy process. Buying paints, cutting wood, stretching the canvas, preparing work space, mixing colors, creating a vibrant work space, setting up the picture and then finally you paint the background that takes hours and you learn that painting the rose only takes 1 minute. It’s all about process and steps to get to the final piece. That is what is so beautiful about art, sailing and life.

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We are constantly in a process of changing, growing and learning. A process that will never stop. The more we think about life once we finish that rose, once we get a perfect job, or once we become the perfect person, then we lose sight of what life is all about.

We are only here in the moment, and that’s the life we are creating. Tomorrow and next year will come when they come so why not focus on this moment instead?

Process is important, and what I believe defines a persons. I want to see people for who they are in the moment and not by the outcome of who or what they become but rather by how they got there.

One of my not favorite questions to ask people (preferably older people) is what was your first job? I love the question, and it’s one that I think people get more excited about then if you ask them what they do right now. Why do we have to be nostalgic about something we want to be doing, or dreaming of? The reality is that we can all be making it come true right now. If you can dream it, you can manifest it.

With tangible analogies like sailing and painting a flower, I am able to see this representation of the way that I want to live my life. It’s not slow, it’s present. It’s not fast, it’s absorbent and meaningful. It’s not comparable, it’s just unique and has its own breathe.

I have learned so much from this sailing world already I can’t wait to actually get out on the water. However now I will work. And the work and wait will be just as fabulous as when we start to sail.

Mural Making in Punta Arenas, Chile

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Where: Punta Arenas, a buzzing city that is just four hours south of Puerto Natales on the Magellan Straight in Patagonia, Chile. Filled with cruises, sailboats, murals, sculpture, wildlife and high pitch windy shores.

I found a homey Chilean restaurant called ¨La Marmita¨ which means the cooking pits owned by Lorena and Alfredo.They immediately took warmly to me and this was the first time as well that I was marketing myself in person as opposed to using email.I told them I would be around for two weeks, showed them my images of my work on my phone, and told them for food and money we could do an exchange. 3 days later and I got a call from them saying that they would love me to paint a border around a blackboard for them. I agreed, seemed reasonably small and after I took a look at their vegetarian menu we had a deal.

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The exchange: 10 hours of work for $60USD, and meals from the restaurant (included desserts, juices, and coffee). I ended up taking showers there and using their WIFI as well because I was camping or staying on a sailboat and did not have an access to those luxuries!

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What: A mural border around a ¨to be¨ chalkboard which will showcase the specials for the day. My instructions were limited and the direction was rather free. Lorena said she wanted a colorful border with birds and flowers and that she trusted me. I love when clients trust me, it makes for such better work. She gave me a lot of space, and freedom to do what I needed to do. Very accommodating.

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What I learned: Never take for granted the love and support someone gives you. Accept kindness and let love in. The couple really made me feel at home. They always told me to treat the restaurant like my own house, made me lunches with their 9 year old son an just treated me with love and respect. I learned how to accept all of it and be present with them every time I was at the restaurant. Acceptance.

Psychedelic Car Mural in Puerto Natales, Chile

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A new mural in Puerto Natales, Chile and it is my first piece in this beautiful country. It also marks the start of something special for my mural making path. I tried spray paint for the first time and on a car for my first time as well. I had a lot of chances and time to experiment with the new medium. But first a little about Puerto Natales because the energy of the city really inspired and influenced the way I painted the car.

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Puerto Natales, Chile is where the sunsets at 11:30pm for the start of summer begins here. The mysterious glimpses of light disappear not too long after 12:30pm. The crisp air looms wisely amongst the mountains that are landscaped over a cold windy lake. Here the tony black and neon birds play and flutter together.

The town is small. The people here know each other and you are never too far away from meeting another adventure seeker. Beyond the super touristy mask of Natales and away from the boardwalk or Main Street is a lifestyle of tranquility, oozing with peace, long gorgeous trekking, rock climbing and a clean energy.

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Where: Erratic Rock Hostel, owned by Bill native of Salem, Oregon who has lived in Natales 15 years. The hostel has simply a wonderful vibe, homey energy as the Erratic family definitely knows how to make a person feel welcomed. With a limitless supply of classic movies on VHS, a cozy gas fireplaces, homemade bread and peanut butter, Sunday brunches and a wonderful network of interns who work and commit to helping out in the hostel for a couple months a year make the place a unique home that just happens to be a hostel. It’s a special place.

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Here is everyone that volunteers and helps out at the hostel, we took a lovely bike ride against the wind near the coast. Just stunning views, good people, and the outdoors. While my stay at Erratic Rock we went biking, I learned how to crochete, and we never went without an empty stomach or cup of black coffee.

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Side note, I was able to paint a guitar while staying the the hostel as well for a friend. Here is a little peek.SAM_2178

The Mural – Progress Shots and Process

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I was super nervous to start painting, more nervous than I have ever been to start a piece just simply because it was a new medium and a new canvas. Here you can see the hesitation, and just me learning how to use a can. But I knew that I had to keep moving with the piece and not think too much! Here above is when I first just started the piece and I washing the car on the side walk. The police were upset and came to tell me to move the car and wash it in the river. Go figure.

The story of how I got the van gig: I was renting gear for the Torres del Pine trek at Base Camp which is a rental store just next to Erratic. It is actually owned by Paul, Bill’s younger brother. So the rental store wast open at 10am on a Saturday so I had to wait for them to open.

I was walking away from the rental shop when I saw a friend I had made in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. He waved and signalled me to come into the hostel. The first thing I was greeted with was the manager Julie, also from Oregon who said “Want a cup of coffee? You can’t have a real Sunday morning without black coffee.” I immediately was intrigued. Well after 1 hour of playing cards and chatting with one of the employees, Ruth, she mentioned that they had just bought a van needed someone to paint it. I volunteered immediately and made plans to stay at Erratic after my 5 day trek into the national park. It was seemingly simple and effortless. !

Accommodation: Mural in exchange for a bed, food and rental gear. I rented quite a few things from the owners brother, Paul, next door called “Base Camp”. It is a great little business: a bar and rental store which is super successful and a nice pairing to his brothers hostel.

What I learned: How to use spray paint, and more importantly how to use it effectively in the Patagonia wind. What an experience. Because the wind was so strong and it rained quite a bit it was quite the challenge or maybe an excuse to stay longer. The first couple of layers were hard as I was experimenting and getting used to the medium. Once I got rolling and more comfortable it was fast, so much faster than painting and in a different. The concepts of color, content and design are the same, but the process is different and there were shortcuts and tricks I learned.

At first, I kept wanting to put my fingers on the car and change the outcome but the paint dries almost immediately and this was hard to get used to. I realized how much I love using my hands. This is why I like painting so much. The paint brushes and the way the bristols move.

Anyways, with spray you just use a finger, nothing more. Maybe some stencils if you want. Literally my pointer finger and my thumb on my right hand were super sore after the third day painting. Pretty crazy to think that’s what created the whole piece. Just my finger!

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Length of time: Almost 2 weeks including 5 days where I went trekking through Patagonia to get experience. I painted maybe 2-3 hours every other day or so. I will return to Erratic for Christmas. My second Christmas away from home and today marks the first day of Sumer here in Southern Patagonia in Chile and Argentina. Pretty crazy how South I am!

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After I painted the van, and ironically on my last night we got to take the van out (me and some of the volunteers) to go camping. We ended up driving to Lake Sofia, about 45 minutes out of town and I got to sleep in the car. I was so happy that I was able to get into the car, and experaince the van outside of Puerto Natales and on the road. What a gift!

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I feel super fortunate for the experiance. I love all the people that I have met from Erratic and feel super special to be apart of the family there in Puerto and for those friends who live all over the world. Thank you Erratic and watch out for more spray painting murals coming soon! I even went back to Erratic Rock for Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

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The ¨W¨ Trek, Patagonia Chile

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The ¨W Trek¨ of Patagonia in Chile is home to the most special landscape that I have ever experienced in my life.

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This trip to the National Park of Torres del Paine was full of growing glowing blue glaciers, wise tall majestical mountains, roaring snowy peaks, tiny crunchy pebbles, rocky paths, crisp fresh stream drinking water, granite climbing, rock diving, 70 mile an hour winds knocking you off your feet blowing, sleeping on bare cold earth dreamy, pasta with soup and squished bread eating, awe inspiring energy filled 5 day trek. The trip gave me a new backdrop for my dreams.

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The Cordillera del Paine mountains soar above 3,050 meters above sea level and you can feel how large they are because the paths are at the base of these massive mountains. You can literally understand what a mountain that large feels like. These mountains also join with the Curenos del Paine and well known lakes – Grey Lake, Pehoe Lake, Sarimiento Lake and Nordenskiold Lake. The colors of these lakes ranging from deep dark blue to grey silvery turquoise.

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The park in total is 181,000 hectares and is located about 112 kilometers from Puerto Natales. It was easy for me to get to the park by hitch hiking and avoiding the $30 USD bus that takes twice as long. Only 3 Chileans cars picked me up but I met a farmer, a dentist and a park ranger who were able to drive me. I never waited more than 5 minutes for a ride in the blistering wind. It was absolutely worth it.

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The park rangers dropped us off at the pay station where we discovered was the eastern side (the side less travelled to start the trek) and we were off to start trekking. $36 USD for the park entrance fee and we headed into the Mountains towards the first free campsite which was 6 hours up hill.

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Day 1: When you start off trekking your backpack is super heavy and you think that you cannot even hike up a steep in grade. However, after an hour or two you get warmed up and it gets easier. Really you start to think about the things you have on your back and what you really need versus what you really want. It puts things into a healthy perspective. That same day we found the free campsite, went to bed early.

Day 2: We woke up at 4:00 am the next day for the famous ¨Tower Sunrise¨ where you can see the Towers of the park. They are three pillars that stand high on the mountainside overlooking a blue and green lake. It’s a 1 hour morning climb straight up to the highest part of the whole circuit.

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It was well worth it as until 7 am we watched the sunrise and then the sunlight hit the towers.  We got super lucky as they say, there are four seasons in one day in Patagonia so we were expecting the worse, and head there was a lot of rain and wine. We had no rain and no wind; it was perfectly sunny, a little chilly but so still that the water made a reflection of the towers perfectly for us, just unbelievably beautiful.

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One of my favorite parts about this trek is that you can drink the water from the streams that you stumble upon at least every 30 minutes. You don’t need to have the heaviness of water because you can just fill up as your go and the water tastes so refreshing and wonderfully amazing.

That same day we continued to trek 13 hours in the hot hot heat, which is unusual to have such good weather in the park. I got sun burnt and we had a fabulous lucky day for the long way.

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We trekked to the next free park. We passed through fields of singing birds, wild flowers I’ve never seen, and gigantic mountains with wise and enormous energy just radiating intensity. This part of the trek was not so famous but one of my favorite parts because it has 360 views of lakes and the 3 mountains at once. It was so peaceful and not so many people were on this path.

Later that day, again we called It an early night and cooked some pasta, drank more stream water and slept tightly in the tent with rough sleeping in the grueling wind.

Day 3: The next morning we woke up at 8am and it was raining and hailing. We were going into the French Valley and heard there were some beautiful 360 views. Unfortunately it was raining and then the rain turned into violent windy snow that would burn your face because it was cold. It was an odd balance between being cold and being warm because you have so many layers on and your core is hot because you are working out. There was a lot of exchanging of taking off clothes and putting on clothes.

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In the French valley we saw baby ducks learning how to cross the raging powerful river, fields of trees frozen in a windy blown shape from the wind, electric blue glaciers pouring off the mountains, and foggy views. The birds were still singing and the views were still incredible, even though we were not able to see everything.

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It was hard to face the cold for a long time so we didn’t enjoy it as much as we wanted to, but well worth it.

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After we got down the 6 hour hike we packed up our stuff which was hard to do as we were cold and freezing and we moved onto another 3 hour hike to the next camp where we were exhausted and called it another early night, but made some delicious hot chocolate from chocolate bars and powdered milk. Some of the camp sites even had free gas stoves and inside areas to cook.

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Day 4: The next morning we start at 8 am again and headed to the glacier! The glacier was about a 5 hour hike to the view point and then 5 hours back. I never thought I would ever see a glacier in my life. The views were incredible, the sounds were stunning, and the emotions I felt were heart melting and almost overwhelming for me.

The paths passed alongside a river where you could see the wind currents across the top of the water. Pools of mist would gather and spray you as it crossed in circles in all different directions and running off the water onto the land.

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This part of the trek really made me sad as you could tell the effects of a 2011 fire. 3 Israeli men were trekking and lit toilet paper on fire and it got out of control and set 20 percent of the National Park on fire for 3 days just devastating effects. The after effect was horrible as whole mountain sides were burnt to a crisp. However, interestingly enough there were some trees that were able to regenerate and were forming buds at the bottom of their roots, almost giving life to seeds as it was dying. This was pretty impressive.

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Now, the parks require that you only have tiny gas camp stoves and cook in certain areas that are allowed in the park. The rules for camping are quite strict as well, and for this many of the campsites are crowded because you have to park in specific parts. After trekking all day again, my body was getting sore and I was ready for bed. I did the trek in running shoes which, with a pack and extra weight, was super intense. It gave me a lot of blisters and affected my body differently than if I had strong shoes. Not to mention all of the rain, wet, and mud that I had inside my shoes. I loved it because it is what Patagonia is really like and I was enjoying just being in the middle on 70 mile an hour wind. Just beautiful.

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Then we were off to the Glaciers! I had never seen one before in my life, and I was super excited for this part of the trek. I really was not prepared for what we were about to see.

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The glacier in the park was huge named Glacier Grey. There was also Glacier Pingo, Tyndall and Geikie which along belong to the same Southern Patagonia Ice Field. This ¨Field¨ was stunning, with chunks of huge ice bergs falling off the glaciers into the cold blue waters and floating around.

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Also, last but not least, as we walked 5 hours out of the park onto the main road to hitch hike we got saw some pretty amazing animals. A private jet pilot picked us up from the road hitch hiking and we were able to see some animals from the car which was exciting because we found 3 baby foxes. I couldn’t handle all the babies we saw, because it is Spring time in Patagonia. How beautiful!

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This W Trek is really what backpacking is all about! Food for five days, sleeping bag, tent, stove, utensils, clothes for wet and dry, and whatever else you need for 5 days of 8-13 hour days of walking. It is one thing to walk 8-10 hours but with a backpack its another story! I survived and definitely am addicted I would like to do a lot more trekking in California and Washington when I get home. Maybe I will do one more in Patagonia before I leave here. For the next couple of weeks I will be painting in Puerto Natales, a hippy van of the wonderful Oregon family of Erratic Rock (erraticrock.com) and am looking forward to spending more time in Patagonia as the air is clean, the people are friendly, and the scenery is spectacular. Feeling refreshed.

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Here is a look at some of the wild flowers that I could not stop taking pictures of because I had never seen such flowers before in my life. On all the trails they had these flowers, even in the parts of the park that were affected by the forest fires had bright patches of flower life.

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Puerto Madryn Mural, Argentina

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Where: Puerto Madryn which is the start of Patagonia and known for whale watching, seals swimming, kayaking and visiting the beautiful peninsula where you can see penguins and if you are lucky orca whales (which actually are a species of dolphins and not whales) trying to attach the lazy seals on the beaches. Apparently, it is one of the only places in the world where you can see it happen. I went on a whale watching boat tour where I saw gigantic whales jumping in and out of the water and even a mother and her baby! Did you know that whales are solitary animals that only are found together the first year when a baby is born (mother and child) and when the whale’s mate (female and male). Pretty crazy, they are solitary other than that. After a year the mom just leaves the baby and they never see each other again.

The hostel was called La Casa de Tounens, owned by a young French man and filled with many travelers from all over the world.

What: A large outdoor mural, on concrete and done with acrylic latex house paint. The mural was influenced by the boat tour I took and I found the space perfect for this large whale of a tale.

The length of time: It took one week, about 4 hours a day.

Accommodation: Free food and bed. I was in a 6 person dorm. There was great hang out spaces and a movie room which was lovely to catch up on some movie time.

What I learned: Headphones and music are not always better. I have an idea that I need music to work, but here the birds were so loud and there were not too many people outside hanging out so I worked without music and found a new source of inspiration from it.

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