Tag Archives: Molly Keen

Barcelona Mural

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Check out the mural that I completed in January in Barcelona in 2018 at Hostel Primavera. What a wonderful experience as I met the most beautiful people and was able to spend a lot of time with my friends who live in the city. 

Where: Barcelona, Spain

What: The hostel is called Primavera Hostel, which in Spanish, means Spring! The mural felt appropriate to have flowers, blossoms, and colors the represent spring.

What I learned: This was the first time that I painted a ceiling and it came with a lot of problems. When you put a lot of paint on the brush or even the smallest amount of water, the drops will most definitely end up on your face or in your mouth! That is probably why I have paint on my face for most of the shots!

I love painting in different countries to experience the process of buying paint. Every country is pretty different. In Barcelona, I selected colors from a color wheel and drank an afternoon beer while waiting. The colors were mixed with a machine and the price for a quart of acrylic paint was only 4 euro which is almost 1/3 of the price in the states.

In Barcelona, the streets are designed all very similar and the mural that painted was located on the inside of one of these tall buildings. One of the neighbors watched my process of painting. I am so impressed with the city and the way that people live. Such a high quality of life.


I always sign my work M. Keen in honor of my mother. From now on I am thinking about just Molly Keen. What do you think? Thanks for reading, and looking forward to the next mural that I have already started in Portugal!

Thank you again to Guy, Pam and the rest of the family at Primavera Hostel. They were a wonderful place to stay and will soon have a newly remodeled second part of the hostel. Maybe I should go back and paint some more?

Welcome to the “Flying Colors Mural Project”

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The Flying Colors Mural Project tour is in full swing! I arrived at my first leg and the first mural in Barcelona and will start painting this week at Primavera Bed and Breakfast!

I’ve been working on this project for some time now and it was inspired by my experience painting murals in South America. I wanted to create a project that was interactive, mural based and community centered. I want to share this project with you as it is near and dear to me.

Mission:

The Flying Colors Mural Project seeks to create murals with youth and adult to create a more approachable, collaborative, and interactive connection where the focus is on the development of creative and personal skills through painting, hands-on workshops, and community gatherings. 

History:

Created in 2017, the project began after lead Artist, Molly Keen, spent two years painting over 28 murals throughout Cartagena, Colombia, Palomino Colombia, Salento Colombia, Tena Ecuador, Cabanaconde Peru, Puerto Maldanado Peru, Sucre Bolivia, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Punta Arenas Chile, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Chicen Itza Mexico, and San Qintin Mexico. 

Keen quickly saw the impact of female street artists throughout Latin America who were inspirational to their country and the world. She quickly realized the lack of attention and focus on these female artists and encouragement of women to start painting at a larger scale. Women such as Colombian Street Artists Gleo, Zurik, Bastardilla and Ledania as well as Argentinan Muralista Fio Silva represented art and activism creating a remarkable memory in the creative mind of Keen. They created works that were large in size and importance in content.

Goal:

With the project, Keen seeks to utilize her skills as an art mentor to past summer camps, vision as a creative independent artist to show that anyone can paint and even more, we can do it together. The long-term goal of the tour is that it will start in Europe and circle back to Oakland in May where throughout the summer community murals will take places at family camps of festivals, youth summer camps, schools, and various locations.  

The project seeks to unlock the spirit of one’s creativity to experience the world in a way that develops color, new ways to live, and a creative way to self-express.

The tour will start on January 17th in Barcelona and head to Lagos Portugal, Porto Portugal, Dubrovnik Croatia, Germany, and the Netherlands totaling over 3.5 months and 6-7 murals.

In Conclusion…

My blog “Painting Molly”  is over 6 years old now, can you believe that? I have designed it for you to get a closer and more intimate, behind the scenes look, into the mural-making process and travel adventuring. Traveling can sound romantic and intangible but the reality is that it is hard, requires an incredible amount of energy and the ability to leave your home and get outside of your comfort zone.

Traveling has become a dream for me and I am full of excitement to be able to share this experience here, with you!

Oh, and if you know of cities, towns or locations in need of a  mural within the route in Europe, feel free to reach out! Also, a special thank you to Chris Gallen who recently helped me to create my new logo! What do you think? Thank you, Chris, for this incredible gift! You can click on his name for a link to his website. Amazing!

Full Moon – Art Auction

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This fall at the Joshua Tree Music Festival I participated in the Art Auction that donates half of the proceeds to the Joshua Tree Living Arts Foundation which supports and encourages youth to make art. The 12′ x 12′ piece was inspired by the full moon that came up bright and orange during the 8.5-hour drive to the festival from Oakland to Joshua Tree. I made a timelapse of the experience, love to support the festival and participate in the auction.

The 2018 May Joshua Tree Music Festival will feature the bicycle touring band that I traveled the west coast from Vancouver B.C. to Oakland, Bicicletas Por La Paz, click this link for their music page. I recently participated in a music video with them you can check out here:

Painting in Joshua Tree

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Twice a year, the Joshua Tree Music Festival happens in the desert of Southern California making up the Mojave and Colorado desert. Its stunning, the size of Rhode Island and one of my places to gather to meet other artists, listen to international music and get to know more about Joshua Tree.

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This is my third festival with them. This year I decided to be apart of the Art Auction where 21 artists get together to do live painting throughout the festival. At the end, the pieces are put on display for a silent art auction where half the proceeds go to the music education fund in Joshua Tree. Its an amazing way to engage artists and the community. I love that the festival puts such value on the visual arts.

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This year I decided to listen to some music and enjoy the festival before I immediately started painting. Last festival I had to paint an 8 foot by 6 foot piece so I was a bit more stressed out. This year it was 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet and I could carry it with me wherever I wanted. There was shade, thank goodness and I could actually listen to all the live music and I met a lot of people because they would enjoy the progress of my piece throughout the festival.

   

Here are some process shots of how I painted the murals. Of course the background first, then slowly deciding where I wanted to put people and the parts of the festival. I walked around with my board for this part and just sketching in front of what I was painting. This was one of my favorite parts because people were super intrigued with this process. This also came with sticky notes so I could play with the composition and make sure I had room for the entire festival and all the things that made it so special.

I spent most of my time shaded in the “Bowl” that included 3 musical stages and performances from 10am-11:30 pm with artists rotating almost every 1.5 hours. I listened to almost every set of music that was played. Quality music and painting combined made for a dreamy weekend. Below you can also see the silent art auction and how they set it up for us on the sunny Sunday morning of the festival. People could go around and write on the clip board how much they wanted to bid. I was a little nervous!


   

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of people seeing my artwork before its done, let alone when it’s just in the planning stage and many people ask if it’s done. That is why I like the festival, to push myself and get out of my comfort zone of a studio or a blank wall inside alone. Music, friends, food, art, and workshops this festival was a great way to connect with the community and introduce art at the same time.

 

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was getting to interact with people who were speaking about my painting, and then I was able to paint them into my piece. I loved the children getting excited about their cartoon character coming to life. My painting was a hit with children as the same children would sneak back to my painting about once an hour to make sure they were still in the painting. They were so engaged and it was incredible to make them feel included and excited about something creative.

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In particular one girl, Chloe stood out to me as she was more than an admirer, she was an assistant. This beautiful 6-year-old gave me advice about what things she wanted to see in the festival, composition, and she even got to paint a little of it with me. I appreciated her excitement and loyalty to the piece. She helped me out, and I enjoyed the company. Her family, all featured in the piece, ended up purchasing the piece through the auction and I could not be happier about it. Pretty special and it was a great experience.

  

Until next festival, Joshua Tree, hope to see you all in May!

Completion of Bike Tour- 1,500 Miles Canada to Oakland

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PleasantRevolutionIn June 2016 the start of summer, I rode the Amtrack train to Seattle, Washington from Berkeley, California. 24 hours by train with my bicycle panniers and an extracycle bicycle that I had boxed and ready for shipping. From Seattle, I joined with 12 other cyclists and we started out on a journey that would last 2.5 months and over 1,500 miles of pure cycling. We organized over 31 human powered festivals with the 4 bands on bicycles. We are called the Pleasant Revolution and put on Biketopia Music Festivals all over the world.

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We each had loads on our bicycles consisting of microphone stands, stilts, food, stove, pots and pans, 2 amps, a subwoofer (80 pounds made into a trailer), cables and more! At the end of the tour, I personalized the people that went on the entire tour into a drawing.

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We all had large bicycles making it possible to pull anywhere between 100-180 pounds. What is so challenging about bike touring? It forces you to slow down. If you need to ride 45 miles (which would normally take an average cyclist 5 hours to bike) in a group, it takes three times that amount. So you are slower, there is no destination because if you focused on that you would constantly be stressed and worried about getting there. In this specific community, you had to let go and enjoy. Swim, eat, talk, play music, and let things go with the flow. Sound easy? It was life changing, but with all that down time and time on a bicycle makes for some great reflection and inner work. I love cycling alone but with other people, it’s immensely powerful. I think its something that everyone could benefit from. You have to be strong physically but even more important, mentally. Balanced and rationale and put the group first.

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Here you can see the humans pedaling/making the electricity for the music. The bicycles have individual generators on the back wheel that are connected to a utility box designed by Rock the Bike in Oakland. From the utility box, you have output to the speakers and microphones. Pretty incredible!

The tour was incredible. The bike tour is so much more than cycling especially with the power of community and riding with a large group of friends with similar values and mission. Below are the group agreements created by the 2016 Pleasant Revolution west coast tour:

  • Slow is beautiful- take a breath, slow down, and pedal
  • Leave no trace.  Become a steward of the earth-  pack it in pack it out, clean up after others, dig a hole when you poo, gather wood in a considerate manner.
  • Be an active guest- consolidate your belongings, do a chore, cook a meal, give a gift.  Make your impact on someone’s space neutral or better than when you came.
  • We offer the highest musical and performance content.
  • To change the world, we must change our own consciousness and lifestyle, the bicycle liberates
  • Use music and performance as a political platform whenever possible.
  • We work to uplift the feminine in all of us to move beyond the patriarchs well as the binary to create balance in our group and ultimately in society.  We work to embody nurturing, supportive, loving energy among us.
  •  We respect to act in the highest regard for the webs of all life.
  • We operate on modified consensus- everyone’s voice matters and we won’t move forward on a decision if some have a strong block, however, if one is willing to stand aside even if the decision being made is not their preference the group will move forward with the decision.
  • Hold a culture which allows folks to speak any discomforts and work to address it right away
  • We work to educate and inspire the communities we travel through on fossil fuel alternatives.  We work to be a living example of sustainable living.
  • Everyone should strive for direct heart centered communication.  We should address conflict on a person to person basis, if the group needs to be called in we will facilitate that.  Take it to the source.
  • Everyone should be emotionally responsible for themselves, able to employ de-escalation skills on themselves when necessary.  
  • This is a Group lead tour- every person is a working part and doing their part. This is truly living interdependence.  We all have the opportunity to lead and be led.
  • We work to uplift everyone’s strength while also challenging growth in each individual.
  • Always do your best and have fun!

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    Here is the extra cycle Novara bicycle I rode for the tour. You can see the frame is extended backwards making the bicycle into a cargo bicycle. Her name is Gunther! Can you find the stilts?

We are talking about a 2018 6 month Europe tour that we already have a solid group of 20 cyclists for and I am already planning on making some murals for the tour and getting funding to make community art projects happen. Why do we start planning something almost 2 years away? We need funding, sponsorship, grants and more. It is  great timing for booking festivals and for planning out the route and logistics. I look forward to it.

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Santa Rosa to the San Francisco

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We made it back home! Can you believe it? All the way from Seattle to Bellingham, Vancouver, Salt Spring, Victoria, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Whidbey Island, Bainbridge Island, Seattle again, Olympia, Portland, Eugene, Brownsville, Coos Bay, Florence, Fort Bragg, Jenner, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Oakland! 

 

The last couple of days were wonderful, annoying the last moments. We ended up staying at a geodesic dome in Sebastopol with a pool for Nates birthday. We had a beautiful brunch in the morning to celebrate and rode a couple miles to our Petaluma to play our Farmers Market show.

 

The show was incredible, we were overwhelmed with all of the food that we were gifted to the crew and we loved playing!

On our way home, we were lucky enough to go by Yuba Bicycles headquarters in Petaluma and get a tour and talk to the people that work there. We test rode some bicycles. Two of our 10 extra cycles were from Yuba so we were happy to provide feedback and hang out with them.

 

For the final 20 miles, we decided to take a ferry into San Francisco. We were able to fit all of our bicycles and it was my first time to get into San Francisco that way. We were all so excited to see the city and it felt so weird to see that familiar city skyline. It had not really sunk in until that moment for me. We are home. My bed is close by. We are not sleeping in tents anymore! It was a very strange feeling I can not quite describe it.

  

BUT! Our shows were still not over, we had two more to play and decided to stay together as a group at night to not end the energy or disperse. We played a Friday night gig at Oakland’s art walk called “First Fridays” and we had a 10 bicycle system instead of our typical 4. There was also a huge double decker bicycle called “El Arbol” or “The Tree” that lights up and is also a generator bicycle as well. It was a beautiful show and we had an incredible turnout.

  

The second and final show that we had was at PLACE for sustainability where we had all the acts of the tour players, and I even got to sing a song. It was a blast and we spent the night all together to keep the tour going! The next day, it was hard to part and felt very odd. I still can feel the feeling but not quite put it into words. Pedaling away from everyone after almost 3 months of being together anywhere from 10-2o people at one time. We really loved the tour, hanging out with each other all the time and playing music with one another. We are even talking about riding 6 months and playing shows in Europe 2018 summer and there are still more plans in the work for the future of the tour! Thanks for reading and following. This tour has been a blast BUT there is more to come so stay tuned.

Jenner to Santa Rosa

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Leaving the coast was a much needed break from hills and from the dew filled air. The coast has such a dramatically different feel than even 5-10 miles inland. Jenner was beautiful, we met a man that owned the community center, and he let us stay at it. Everyone in the town of a population 136 were so nice and welcoming. The town lays at the mouth of the Russian River and is on the Pacific Ocean. The state route highway 1 runs through it, as well as the 116.

 

Typically heading inland there are a lot of hills, but to our surprise we didn’t hit any! We passed through Gurneville and had a beautiful dip into the Russian River and had some lunch before hitting into Santa Rosa, wine country and lots of traffic and cars!

Santa Rosa was amazing, we got to stay with Carolyn’s brother, Sean. He had a house and he let us stay in his driveway with our tents. We played a show at the Santa Rosa farmers market. It was amazing, we had a lot o participation and her brother came as well. We did a little wine tasting, a lot of riding and the anticipation of arriving at home is at the forefront of our thoughts! We are really trying to enjoy every moment. Less than a week left!

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.

   

Bahia de Los Angelos, North Baja California Mexico

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This magical bay of Los Angleos, Baja California deserves a post of its own for the inspiration it left me and for the beauty and screnity of its location.

 

The past month since arriving in Meixico we have had one road the entire way. It is called the “One” and you don’t need maps and you don’t need to worry about getting lost. You can see it above in the yellow line. From the one there are many roads that lead to the sea of Cortez and they are a good 66-120 kilometers of a detour.   You can can also see in the photo above the one road and then where the pin is dropped. We didn’t want to miss out on all these beautiful places.

So we decided we wanted to hitchhike and not back track and with three bikes we knew we had to be patient. We see maybe one car every half hour but we were patient, ate lunch and waited about 1.5 hours before some cars came along. 2 cars, one with a man made trailor from half a truck cut in half already stocked high with things, and another suburban with a sailboat hitched behind. We were kindly offered a ride and put all our bikes on top of the trailor in the classic bike stack.

 

It was only 66 miles and unfortunately got to sit in the suburban and chat with a family from La, a father and two kids the same  age as my brother James (11) and sister Melina (14). They were on spring break (lots of tourists from the states in Baja). Anyways we arrive in Bahia and seeing the water truly make you appreciate it more and want to jump right in. But we had to find a place first.

Well as soon as we were packing our bags on the side of the road a lovely couple in a dune buggy came zipping by merrily and asked us what we were doing etc. They kindly and warmly offered their back porch for us to stay and it was a divine meeting! They were very excited to meet us and were just finishing up a week long stay there and did not mind if we joined them for the end of it.

The couple, from Lauguna beach, Don and Susie met when they were bike touring in the states. They ironically were going separate directions but ended up riding together for 4 hours. They didn’t get together till much later but it was a blissful meeting!

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Dons parents, Joyce and Wally were one of the first Americans to build a home in Bahia in 1972. Mind you there are virtually no houses in 1950 this town is relatively new. Anyways Joyce and Wally build a gorgeous home. Simple, filled with joy and love, and looking out onto the water. They used to fly their airplane down to Bahia LA and would sometimes bring chickens and apples and fruits for the local people.

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 So the house was constructed in the states by Joyce where she put the house together to make sure it worked properly and  then took it apart, loaded it in a truck and constructed it for a second time in Bahia. Such an amazing story I love it. The two of them seemed like a happy couple and really you could tell from the energy of the home. Unfortunately Joyce passed away last year and Wally 5 years ago but their legacy lives on. We even were fortunate enough to listen to some of their Cds!

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So we all agreed to stay one night, which turned into two, which turned into three! What a wonderful time. We took out the boat and got a wonderful tour of the islands around the bay. Beautiful clear water, tons of little islands, red rocks, jumping fish, white sandy beaches, and plethora of birds and sea lions! So many islands to explore and we even got to hike to the top of a little hill on an island to see an osprey nest. Papa Bob and Joe I always think about you two when I see any birds from our days birdwatching in the arboretum!

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So there were 5 of us, plus a dog, skipper that went whale watching. Susie made sandwiches and we got to see Finnback whales! So beautiful at one point we saw 3 of them right in front of us coming up to breathe at the same time. So beautiful they are the second largest whale! They can grow up to 90 feet long! The whale is long and slender, grey blue in color, They are super fast and can pass the fastest ocean steamship! They are not very fond of humans so the way that we would find them was to stop the motor, listen for their breathe which is easy to hear.

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I still can’t believe these amazing animals that are so large in size eat such small plankton. I also learned that some of the whales are now a generation away from the whales that were whaled and killed meaning that the new generation has no memory of fear of humans. We are meeting many tourists who actually take boats and pet the whales because they are so curious and friendly. While this is more about the grey whale, the finnbacks are not into people at all. The would always swim away from us but you could get close to see them breathe and then you could fell when they dove high and can swim up to 20 mph. What a lovely experience!

We are so thankful to have met Don and Susie. I have stayed with many people over the last 2 months and I never had a hard time saying goodbye to any of them as I wanted to continue the journey but for some reason these two have still been in my thoughts and I didn’t want them to leave! I will have to visit them in Laguna Beach!

Valle de Los circos -Socorrito to Catavinya

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Lanky waving Dr. Seuss cactus, bright liquid blue sky saluting, puffy cotton cloud drifting, excruciating intense heat riding, melted deteriorating pavement has been consuming my reality these last couple days. It’s been truly incredible but the desert has been challenging. It has been a couple of weeks since I have wrote, so this post is almost 3 weeks worth of travel. A lot, a lot, a lot of desert. So many cactus and so much dust and sunshine! No shade! Ah!

 

 

San Quintin was an experience I will never forget staying with the Gomez family for one week! they treated me like a daughter and really became my family! I feel so grateful for people like Gabino and Lupita!

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I ended up painting some hummingbirds in their kitchen and a little bike mural in the garage! Adley  and I even got to play a little concert for a family gathering!

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Leaving San Quintin with a new riding partner was by far the worst ride we have experienced yet! I have a new friend, Maud from France who is riding from LA to Peru alone. We decided to ride together and our first experience was in 107 degree weather and incredible side winds creating a tornado of dust and rocks and making it quite dangerous when riding alongside trucks and cars that block the wind and then suck you in near their wheels as they unblock the wind from you. We only made it 30 km when Maud felt sick and we paused on the side of the road. Here we were stopped by a green truck where a Mexican American Alejandro appeared like an angel.

  

 

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He offered us a place to stay for he night and maud and I desperately needed a place to hide away from the wind and heat. His house sits alongside the ocean and he provides us with food and beds and was so welcoming and amazing to us. He cycles himself and was excited to have us. We actually ended up staying 3 nights there as maud got better and we met some amazing friends on the beach. Some American boys from La traveling by van and surfing and two American girls who were road tripping and celebrating their 30th birthdays. We had a camp fire and swapped travel stories. So much fun and exactly what we a needed!

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So we were off on the road again and into the desert. We camped a couple nights in the desert and then I got sick darn it. Probably the same thing Maud had. Really traveling is amazing but it can be hard! I was so sick and riding a bike through the desert in 100 degree F heat, cooking on and in the sand, cactus camping and so badly wanting the comforts of a home when not feeling well. Not to mention we are not even close to being out of the desert, not even close!

This uneasy feeling must easily be accepted or you will not have a pleasant time. These roads bring into the reality of death and peace. The cars pass now every 10-30 minutes and it’s much more tranquil of a ride.

You can enjoy the wind and the smell of the native plants that remind me of sage. Their scent fills the warm air. Here kilometer markings are signs of our progress and I count each one knowing that soon we will reach a town with water. We must bring enough water and food for a 3 nights stay. 10 liters of water adds a lot to the weight of the already heavy pack. I would guess my head now weighs 60 pounds.

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One day we were riding through the desert exhausted and with unbearable heat and flagged down 5 cars for water. 4/5 cars were American and gifted us water, Gatorade and one person even had Halloween bags of candy for us ha. People are very generous on the road. Then we continued 30 km more to the closest town Katayina where we were in awe of the change of scenery from desert nothing to huge giant boulders and enormous towering cactus. Here they call the town an oasis and there are petroglyphs still preserved you can walk right up to and a river! We took a whole day off and swam in the river and enjoyed the oasis while we had it. That was our first rinse in 4 days! While Maud, my friend and I were checking out the petroglyphs high up in a cave we saw from way below a tiny figure with a bike! Another cyclist!

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We met a 25 year old cyclists Cameron from New York who had just finished a cross US country tour this last year and is now cycling with us. How cool! And what a fun way to meet someone! We set up camp near the side of the 1 highway and then a Canadian motor bike slowed down near us and asked if we needed help. We replied no and invited him to camp with us. So from 2 to 4 we camped 2 nights and made some new friends! We shared meals together and had a fun sharing stories. Below is some of the petroglyph and the trailer that Ramon lives in who let us camp in his yard.

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As far as riding, we never know how many kilometers we will do each day, where we will sleep or who we will meet a long the way. Sometimes we meet people like Eugene whose grandparents created the town of rancho Calamata. It’s a town with the population of two buildings, 5-6 people, 20 cows, 3 horses, 20 chickens, 2 peacocks, 3 dogs and 1 kitten. The only have solar panels and make money from truckers and having a restaurant. Eugene continues to tell us the story of his father in 1925 who met the governor or Mexico who actually came to meet the father and telling him news that they were going to build a road through Baja. The father was not pleased and continued to tell the governor that he wouldn’t live to see the day that happened. Well a couple decades later and sure enough the road was built and the father was greeted by the governor again but this time with the first car he had ever seen in his life a ford from the states. He ended up driving the car and accepting that the road was built. Eugene tells the story with such “animo” or enthusiasm that it makes you want to make a film out of the stories he tells. What a crazy bunch of people in that town we spent one night there and he gifted us coffee and water which was essential for our voyage.

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Above, one of the things that really disturbs me while riding (and there isn’t much that does) are the crosses that are on the sides of the roads. They are quite a literal symbol of death with names, dates, and loved ones writings etc. showing how much they miss their loves ones. Most of the accidents are truckers and most of them are at night, but still they are quite the sight to be seen. Next to the picture above is Maud’s back trailer that was stuck in the mud. What a mess, we got stuck for a little bit but also long enough for me to take a picture!

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Here in the small “town” I met a French family a dad and two boys that were traveling around the world and were on their way to southern Baja to study the whales as there are many grey whales living in the southern part of Baja. The family was truly an inspiration as they travel together and had such an array of experiences and history I really enjoyed speaking with them. This is one of my favorite parts of traveling is speaking with people, especially other travelers and hearing honest stories and different perspectives on their view of the world. Just amazing!

Below is a picture of a tire store and the sign for the shop is made out of tires and is an elephant. Can you see it?

  
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Tijuana, Playa de Mision y Ensenada, Mexico

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Never had I experienced that type of cycling as what I did in Tijuana! I’ll explain…It was an amazing city despite what many people say and I had a great time there thanks to our hosts and my cycling buddy Adley.

  

The ride was crazy from San Diego to the border maybe 15 miles of an easy ride. We took a ferry and loved chatting it up with the captain.

After the ferry you pass a couple of navy bases and it feels almost like Armageddon. There are US planes with people jumping out of them with parachutes, helicopters everywhere and guys and girls running through obstacle courses. You hear gun shots practicing  in the background and it feels almost scary.

Anyways we cross the border after exchanging money and are sent through a whirl wind of people. We pass the hundreds of people trying to get back into the states, an incredible amount of people! I couldn’t believe it. Apparently Mexico is one of the most visited borders in the world.

I received 6 months of visit from Mexico and then we were off. We had friends Liz and Elvis who live in downtown Tijuana so we were off. The problem now is that we don’t have GPS so we were sent to the streets  to ask people for directions. From experience most people you ask for directions they tell you anything they can and typically it’s not the right way. If they don’t know something they still tell you a way. There is a need to not just admit they are wrong.

After an hour of searching we found the house had an amazing time with Liz and Elvis who had experience bike touring in Europe and were just incredible people. Great conversations, good food, and wonderful hosts.

In the morning we were off by 11 and that’s when the chaos started. No bike lane and a major highway. Add in an element of being lost and we were in a crazy situation. We figured it out quick but there was a good six miles that I didn’t even change gears or think about how hard to was to ride up the hills because I was so concerned about the cars. This is a different ball game and the way the cars were driving was a wake up call to always give the right away to the car and always assume that they don’t see me. I’ve never riden like this before!

But all was fine and safe. We made it though to playa de mission almost 40 miles where we were lost again looking for a biking hostel. Those 40 miles seemed like 80 because we were just riding so hard.

We were searching for a place to sleep when suddenly we were honked at by a white Subaru that (in english) asked us where we were going. It was a woman and her friend and she invited us to stay in her guest house. It was getting dark so we jumped at it and came to a huge house on the hillside complete with food a bed and comfort all over it. Warm showers and a delicious meal later we were in biking heaven.

 

  

The next day we rode 10 miles to Ensenada when we got pulled over by a “green angel” who told us we were not allowed to ride on the toll road and that we had to go around through a mountain in order to get to Ensenada. We pleaded with him to give us a ride as we weren’t allowed to continue and he agreed to take us to enaenada. I was so happy because I really didn’t want to go around.

We arrived in Ensenada, fixed out bikes at a local bike shop and ate with some hilarious people who reminded us of cartoon characters and had a great time.

  

 

We stayed with a friend of glorias, daphne and stayed 2 nights as a storm hit and we didn’t want to ride in the rain! She had two children and seven and we had our hands full playing with them and being special guests in the house. We left her house just a half hour before another big storm hit. We made it out in time and even had time for some wine tasting at the oldest winery in North America San tomas!

 

Dana Point, San Diego and Ocean Beach

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image I love this part of California. Great bikes lanes, gorgeous roads and just endless amounts of cycling. I really love it. South, south, and more south we go! Off to Dana point where we stayed with a family in the hills who had 3 dogs and a very interesting story to tell. We found them through warm showers and they gave us a place to stay and a warm shower and even cooked us dinner. What a lovely experience.

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They were a couple from Houston and love to tour. They just moved to California for the husbands job which involves helping dismantle a nuclear waste site that is near the ocean. He said it takes about 30 years to do. When they retire hopefully in 5 years they want to bike tour and pretty much live on their bikes. Super nice family.

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The next day we rode about 45-50 miles to Encinitas to see my family…Amy and Matt and the kids (5 total!!!) and get to spend time catching up with them and getting to know each other all overs against. It was so great, we had dinner together and we took the golf cart out the kids and i got some snuggle time with their two puppies who are adorable. What a great nights sleep!

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 Sal gave Adley and I the grand tour where we saw the property including the wine cave (above), that we says is haunted. We saw rabbits and dogs and horses and a swimming pool! Truly a unique and beautiful house. Maddie let me sleep in her bed and Adley slept on Sal’s floor! I loved it!

Next we were off to the San Diego Ocean Beach farmers market to perform on the street. We said goodbye to the family, saw the kids off to school and were off! Beautiful warm sunshine and a lovely day in front of us!

At Ocean Beach it was an actual gig and they help us get set up with a whole sound crew. I had my first solo back up singing experience and we just had a ball! I ran into a girlfriend I met back in mazunte Mexico last year when I was getting yoga certified. Small world! Here is to growth, new challenges, new perspectives and letting go of worry. Too many times do we plan ahead or think about yesterday when the moment is here. To live now. To be content, thankful and full now. Tomorrow off to Mexico tomorrow!! Dont know if I am ready for it yet, California went by so quickly!

  

*all of these posts are posted a week after it happened! We are currently in san quintin Mexico but blogs take time and internet! Love you all!

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!

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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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Cookie Factory Mural

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Sweet smell of baking goodness fills my air as flour rises to my face and the sound of cookies dancing along the conveyor belt fill my existence. I climb high to the last step of the ladder, almost balanced and gaze at the factory high above all else. Spanish music is playing and I am put right back into my travels in Mexico. 5 days of painting and endless amounts of eating cookies, I finished a couple murals/projects for WOW Bakery Seattle company that stands for “WithOut Wheat”. The factory is based out of Kent, Washington.

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One of the main reasons that I painted for WOW was that they wanted their factory colorful and fun because they were filming for a TV show. Food Networks “How it’s made” was featuring WOW and I agreed to help make the factory a little more colorful and flowing.

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This past Friday they filmed a production TV series “How it’s made” for the cookies. The cookie factory was looking a little white and I agreed to help paint some of the walls and make the factory up with color.

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Where: WOW Bakery located in Kent, Washington United States.

What: A couple different murals, writing and cookie magic designs.

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Exchange: Paid gig now that I am back in the states. I charge based upon square footage and time.

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What I learned: What a unique experience painting among cookies being made and then being packaged. I was intimately in almost all corners of the factory painting various words, phrases and little cookies.  To watch the process start from butter and flour and then to smell the cookies being baked, watch them being cooled by fans, and then ultimately put into a little machine that spits them out into bags and then packaged and ready to go. One of my most favorite things was to watch them switch flavors and to always smell a different aroma in the air. The workers were super friendly and in fact many spoke Spanish so I was able to continue speaking.

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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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