Do epic shit

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It was a Friday night, 2 weeks ago. My housemate was having a bad day. She was chugging the beer she had bought for a party that never happened. She offered me some, I passed; it was warm beer, yucks. After 3 refusals, I agreed to half a glass, mostly to keep her company. Half a glass of beer turned into (6 beers) buying tickets from Bali, Indonesia to Perth, Australia to go see Queens of the Stone Age’s gig. It is not budget smart AT ALL but she offered to pay for the concert tickets and accommodation as an early birthday present for me. AND it’s Queens of the fucking Stone Age! Favorite band. And it’s this crazy shit we allow ourselves to do that will make up the best memories and stories and will make us smile whenever we look back on them.

Ps: the gig was awesome; fourth time seeing them live, first one seeing them in a close venue so I was blown away by the sound. And to top it all off, I got to see Nine inch Nails live for the first time. I’m not really a fan but hats off to those guys, they put on a great show!

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Of toy bikes and bridges and beautiful beaches

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After the diving debacle of my first day in Nusa Lembongan I switched from diver to explorer mode, earth-bound explorer.
My friend and I decided to rent a bike (got a toy bike, more on this ahead), get to the “pier”, which is actually just the beach, leave the bike there and get a boat to get us over to Nusa Penida. So off we went.
Even though Lembongan has developed into a diving village with everything you might need in hand, the roads didn’t keep up with the growth: they suck. Road signage is pretty much non-existent, so adventure was awaiting. We started our journey to the pier/beach taking the wrong way. So we had to turn around since basically there are no roads that would take you across the island, just around it. After a few ups and downs through hills and astonishing views, we got to the beach near Ceningan bridge. We parked our bike next to the beach and hopped on a boat. The trip to Nusa Penida took about 20 minutes. I wish it took longer since the surroundings were absolutely beautiful; emerald-green ocean reflecting the trees, smooth little waves glittering thanks to the sun, fishermen boats sprinkled across the horizon.

In Nusa Penida, we rented anooooother scooter for the day. We had been told there was a temple in a cave and we decided to head there first since it was a bit far and we didn’t want to miss it. It was scorching hot so we had to stop for hydration at a lovely spot.

Lounging locals

Lounging locals

A recurring image kept popping up along the way: seaweed farms in the ocean. We learned that 85% of Nusa Lembongan and Penida’s population makes a living from these farms.

Lovely seaweed farmer. She was shy and tried to hide, but we got her and her great smile!

Lovely seaweed farmer. She was shy and tried to hide, but we got her and her great smile!

After a while driving through the coastal road up north we got to the cave temple, Goa Giri Putri. We climbed some stairs and looked for the way in. Nothing here, nothing there… until one of the men there pointed a very narrow hole in the ground: that way. Hmmm… Ok… I sent my friend in first, cause I’m a coward and a horrible friend and went after her. You have to crawl a couple of meters and suddenly you can see this huge dark cave filled with bats and dripping water. A path has been built, so we just followed it and after a few meters we saw a temple inside all that amazing craziness. This is the only decent picture we have. Light was scarce and we couldn’t get a proper shot. Christie managed to get this one though!

Temple in Cave

Temple in Cave

Chatting in the shadows on our way out.

Chatting in the shadows on our way out.

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around and stopping for pictures and a quick dip in the ocean.

We decided to leave the island when the threat of the perfect storm showed up in the sky. We left the bike behind (just there, on the road, cause the owner was not there! I love that aspect of small and tight communities) hopped on the boat and prayed for our lives. We managed to get to Lembongan on the dry side. That didn’t last long since it started pouring as soon as we got on the bike.
The driving was so stressful (I need to find some kind of excuse!) that we indulged in a massage, my first full body massage ever actually. Yes, I swear. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this!!! Freaking awesome, super relaxing and your skin glows afterwards. If you hadn’t had one yet, put everything down and GO! Yes, NOW!
We had an early night with wine and friends (this sounds very wanky, but it’s actually true!); I was out to explore Lembongan itself and Ceningan the next day.

Hopped on the toy bike again.

Toy bike: Red, tiny and fragile motorbike that made rattling noises every second it was in use. Brakes not working, mirrors moving, horn not making a sound unless you reaaaally pushed it. I’m kind of tall so the whole experience felt weird.

Started off looking for the bridge that allows you to cross to Ceningan, a little island between Lembongan and Penida. Got lost a couple of times, no biggie. Eventually got there and crossed the bridge; I felt like Indiana Jones or something. Cool and scary.

Ceningan is small and beautiful in a rugged kind of way. The roads are one big pot hole and that made it a little stressful for me to drive around, specially on the toy bike. But it offers great views of Lembongan, fishermen and seaweed farmers. I think it’s totally worth going.
I went back to Lembongan and attempted to visit the mangrove forest. I was wearing flip-flops and was on my own… suddenly it didn’t look like such a good idea, so I skipped it. Visited Mushroom bay, dream beach and sunset beach, all of them are gorgeous, little intimate stretches of white sand and turquoise sea.

Mushroom Bay

Mushroom Bay

Dream Beach

Dream Beach

cute dog living the beach bum life

cute dog living the beach bum life

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

I kept driving around and stopped to take a picture of a temple surrounded by trees when it happened. A loud noise. Before knowing, I knew. The bloody toy bike screwed me over. That little bitch fell to its side while being parked. One of the mirrors came out. Fuck shit fuuuuuuck! Ok, crisis management, need super glue! Got it, tried to stick it back, no luck. I let it be and confessed my crime to the owner of the bike. She made me pay for half the cost of the mirror. I hated her back then, but I recognize I over reacted. I think I got a fair deal. Note to self: never accept a toy bike again.

Diving 1 – Anto 1

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I did my open water diving course while in Koh Tao, Thailand. It was one of my biggest challenges and achievements. It was stressful and I wanted to quit several times. Each day.
I was born in a city by the ocean and from early on I was taught not to fear but to respect the ocean. And so I did. I never had issues with water and to this day, being 31 years of age I sometimes pretend I’m a mermaid every time I’m in the ocean. Furthermore, I believe I developed a kind of spiritual relationship with the ocean; its vastness, the immensity. I believe it cleanses every soul that needs something washed away.
But the breathing underwater thing scared me. I knew I would have equipment and instruction, but it just sounded weird, unnatural. I was lucky to have an amazing and crazy instructor who just wouldn’t let me quit and basically pulled me down the water the first time I jumped in and immediately freaked out.
This was 3 months and a half ago. I knew I had to get back in the water, fast, or all my previous fears would come to get me again. So, Nusa Lembongan sounded like the perfect place to go and dive again. I’ve heard amazing things about it: you can see turtles, manta rays and incredibly colorful ocean flora (I’m not sure it’s said this way but it sounds science-y). So off I went.
I travelled with my housemate, Christie. She arranged for us to stay at the diving resort where she did her open water course. She was going to do her advance course. I just wanted to do some fun dives. We gathered Saturday morning, 8 am to get our equipment ready. I was a little anxious, but nothing major. After 30 minutes, we got to our first diving point. We could see the different currents in the ocean but didn’t make much of it. I got all my gear on and went in the water by sitting on the side of the boat and letting go backwards, first time for me, had done it jumping forward or backwards but never from a sitting position. So far so good, I put the regulator (the breathing thingy) in my mouth and started deflating my BC (floating device) so that I could go under water. Nothing happened, I couldn’t get down! The other divers along with the instructor were way down and I was still there, floating, trying to get their attention. I didn’t have enough weights on my belt so I just floated there. The dive master guiding the dive urged me to make a decision, “up or down?” The situation made me panic and I decided to sit this diving out. Got back on the boat and waited for everyone to come up. Turns out the currents where crazy down there and I was better off not being there being I only had 5 dives under my belt.
So off to the next diving site we go. I put my gear back on, definitely sure I would get it right that time with the correct weights and all. Back on the water, I started going down and as soon as my head is under water I started hyperventilating and breathing like a maniac. As Dr Gonzo very accurately puts it in Fear and Loathing in Vegas:

“I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the fear.”

I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. Again, time was against me, “coming or staying?” Panic was back. Are you, my dear reader, hoping for a sudden courageous epiphany? Not gonna happen. I chickened out and got back on the boat, frustrated and disappointed at myself. Sad, just sad.
I snorkeled and was happy to see purple starfishes for the first time ever. But the feeling of failure still haunted me. It took me a couple of days to let go of that feeling and actually appreciate the fact that despite the fear I went back in the water to try again after the first time didn’t quite work out.
I’m gonna have to get my little panicky lungs back to Thailand and do some dives there in the pool-like oceans and with a patient instructor to take me step by step again. I am not giving up, not yet, at least!

If anyone out there has any diving stories of overcoming fear, or not, I’d love to not feel so alone!

At least I got a picture in the water!

At least I got a picture in the water!

El tiempo no para

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Dejo Bali en poco más de un mes. El tiempo empieza a correr nuevamente. Tanto que ver aún. No hay tiempo que perder; tengo que mirar a la aventura a los ojos.

Hace poco más de 15 días que ando en moto. Miedosa. De ir sola. Miedosa. De llevar copiloto. El tiempo corre, no hay ni lugar ni segundos para el miedo. Con copiloto incluído, nos fuimos de una punta a la otra de Bali, 3 horas de ida, 3 de vuelta, por terrazas de arrozales, subidas, bajadas, curvas, gallinas, pequeños pueblos, tráfico loco, lluvia, viento, mar, palmeras y sol. Sol enorme que nos acompañó todo el día.

El destino? Pura Lempuyang, 10 km al este de Tirta Gangga, al noreste de Bali. No sé cómo apareció en mi cabeza, pero desde que lo hizo, no se fue más. Así que convencí a dos ávidas aventureras y lectoras de mapas para que guíen el trayecto, y allá fuimos, 4 locas juntadas por los vientos de Ubud.

Después de haber visto más de 20 templos, empezaba a pensar que ya ninguno me iba a sorprender. Por suerte, estaba equivocada. Una puerta al cielo toda para nosotras. Vista privilegiada de un volcán. Vista privilegiada del mar. Vista privilegiada. Y punto.

Y para terminar el día, gracias al apoyo emocional y logístico de mi amiga-compañera de casa, bajé, subí, me perdí, volví a bajar y volví a subir por un camino de mi actual barrio que me aterrorizaba. Y ya está, un miedo menos y un pendiente que ya no existe.

Feliz, como nunca y como siempre.

coco loco time!

coco loco time!

Playita! Candidasa

Playita! Candidasa

mar igual amor

mar igual amor

Jump!

Jump!

Acá estoy!!

Acá estoy!!

wow upalalá

wow upalalá

Christie in the sky gate

Christie in the sky gate

Las aventureras lectoras de mapas + Wayan Bon Jovi (sic)

Las aventureras lectoras de mapas + Wayan Bon Jovi (sic)

Gateway to heaven

Gateway to heaven

Felicidad es… / Happiness is…

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La felicidad de hoy vino en forma de… Chaturanga!

Chaturanga Dandasana es una de las posiciones en la secuencia de saludo al sol que se practica en yoga
/chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna/
chatur = cuatro
anga = extremidades
danda = columna, soporte del cuerpo
asana = posición
(hay una fotito más abajo. No, no soy yo)
Siendo pariente del primo sin huesos de “La vaca y el pollito” cualquier actividad que requiera fuerza en los brazos es un gran desafío para mi.
Después de un mes y medio de casi romperme los dientes contra el piso varias veces, logré hacer la pose como corresponde! iupiiiii!
Y fui feliz! 🙂

Qué te hizo feliz hoy?

Today’s happiness came as… Chaturanga!
Chaturanga is one of the postures in the sun salutation sequence practiced in yoga.
/chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna/
chatur = four
anga = limb
danda = staff (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body)

Being a close relative of “Cow and chicken”‘s boneless cousin, any activity that requires upper body strength is a big challenge for me.
After a month and a half of almost falling on my face several times, I finally got it right!! woohoo!
And that made me very happy 🙂

You can learn more about this pose here

What made YOU happy today?

Oh Bali, where art thou?

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There’s a phrase in Spanish that claims: “el que quiere celeste, que le cueste”, which translates into something like, “if you want to get to paradise, you’re gonna suffer… muahahaha!”.

In the past 3 days we’ve only slept 8 hours, which is nothing for a sloth like me.

We are sitting on the side of the road, under the blazing indo sun, waiting for the bus that will take us to paradise: Bali, here we come!

They told us the bus would come in 20 minutes. An hour later, here it comes. Confirmed: we’ve been tricked, to say it politely. 100,000 Indonesian Rupiahs for this??

The bus is crowded. Wait, is there a word for “more than crowded”? Packed? Bursting? Cramped? All of the above? Ok, that. People are smoking like it’s their last chance ever to do so. Salesmen get on the bus every 30 meters (and I’m not exaggerating), selling mostly food and drinks. And, to make sure you see them, they put the things they’re selling in your face. Literally. IN. YOUR. FACE. It’s hotter than hot, the hottest vehicle I’ve ever been in. I stare at covered Muslim women thinking “how do they do it? I would pass out!” Hell, I’m about to pass out and I’m wearing a tank top!

We don’t find seats together, so I snuggle up to this kind-looking lady.
We do 200 meters and we get to the ferry pier to cross over from Java to Bali. Everybody gets off the bus to enjoy the AC in the top deck of the boat. We do too. But before everyone gets back to the bus we hurry and get seats together. I’m feeling guilty about it; but then I see that, not only seats aren’t assigned, but that nobody gives a damn. I just hope the nice lady doesn’t think it’s because I don’t want to seat next to her.

Anyway, 3 hours of this unbearable heat, sweating profusely while just being seated, sleepy… The only way to explain it is: stupor, that sleepy/groggy state you sink in when being extremely hot and possibly dehydrated. We quickly pass out, heads hanging and banging, with an occasional gain of consciousness for drool-cleaning, and back to passing out.

Finally, Denpasar! Let’s get our crap together and find a way to get to Ubud. Yeah, we still have a few more km to go.
We find a driver, who lies and overcharges us. But we’re so tired we don’t even care anymore. “Just get me to a shower or I’ll kill you, slowly and painfully. After I take a little nap, of course.” This is just a thought that never materializes into words, I’m a pacifist after all.

Eventually, we find our homestay, tell the driver to shove the money up his bum and crawl to the shower to get a fresh and clean start. Literally. Oh yeah, “Hello Ubud, it’s good to be here! Ready to rock?”

3 days, 2 volcanos, a trekking from hell and a death bus later, we got to Ubud, Bali

3 days, 2 volcanos, a trekking from hell and a death bus later, we got to Ubud, Bali

Lose yourself to dance

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Skimpy-clothing, ass-grabbing, head-shaking, sweat-sharing. A middle-aged Balinese man wearing tights, banging two sticks together and yelling at people’s faces to hype them up. A couple in their early thirties: he’s wearing lime-green leopard tights and a lion’s tail and ears, she’s wearing a skeleton-print bathing suit.
It’s SUNDAY MORNING, 11 am, and people are in a trance, like they are high, chemically high. But they are just high on music, on themselves, on each other. They just let themselves go, they surrender to the music in a tribal way that goes beyond reason. Eyes closed, arms in the air, on the floor, on each other, all over the place.This is not an after-party but a gathering in a beautiful open space to basically dance till you drop. “These people are insane” is a thought that keeps popping into my mind. Eventually, I notice I’m smiling. And my feet are moving to the beat. And so are my arms. Wait a minute… are my eyes closed? Damn… it’s contagious!

It’s contagious and it’s liberating. Nobody gives a damn about what the other one is doing, what the other one is wearing, how the other one looks. There’s no good or bad dancing (although, let’s be honest, you can’t help noticing that some are more flexible than others). Everybody’s dancing their asses off and with doing so, an incredible amount of sweat starts pouring and it’s ok, it’s ok to be soaking wet. Sweat it all out, as if it’s sweat therapy.
Eventually, I start to notice that other things are going on. An old man is dancing with two little kids, the three of them holding each other’s hands, smiling; they never met before this very moment. A couple resting on a long embrace, a relaxed embrace, one that doesn’t have an expiration date, they could just hold each other for the whole 2 hours this encounter lasts and no one would look at them funny. Two other strangers locked in a synced dance, no words are exchanged, it’s just… energy? Movement, gazes.

While I stop to catch my breath, I imagine some of my friends there, they coming to visit and me taking them there. They would think I’m crazy, that everyone is crazy, exactly as I did until I tried it. But this dilemma always comes to me: who are the crazy ones? People who just go and dance with strangers every Sunday for 2 hours and obviously have a fantastic time, or people who still cling to social conventions, to social expectations, to what others might think of them?

I’ve been there all of my Ubud Sundays so far, so you know what my answer is.

Music is happiness.