Tag Archives: spain

…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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The Most Useful Blog in the World

My Friends,  
   I am in Rota, Spain right now. I left Cadiz this morning on the ferry and met up with Ricky, who reached out to me over couchsurfing.net yesterday. He must have seen what a standup guy I was (you can see too: ) and been moved by my blog entry, “Hostel California” (4 Oct 2011). In any event, he invited me to take the ferry to Rota and crash at his place, which I did after considering that I was less than thrilled with my accommodations in Cadiz and also that he is a fellow member of NATO.
I arrived in Rota just before one, and after getting him on the phone we met up at Castillo de Luna, which is an old castle that has been turned into a municipal building here in Rota. Some of my loyal readership may remember my 16 August 2011 entry, entitled “I Used to Like Meeting New People,” where I detailed my encounter with Rob, am overly social senior who balanced out incredibly interesting life stories with incredibly mundane ones. Well, I mentioned that he had been in a coma and he fell into that coma here in Rota in the 1960s disarming sea mines left over from World War 2.

“Wow, that is soo interesting; please tell me more.”

Perhaps if I run into him again I will have something to contribute to the conversation now before he goes on at length for an hour.
Back to the situation at hand, my host, Ricky, has been very welcoming. He showed me around the house and basically told me to make myself at home while he headed back to work. Finally being in a position where I have access to a computer that not only has a mic and camera, but also no other travelers waiting to use it, I have made the most of my time, first catching up on “Arby & the Chief,” a youtube series I like, then doing a little bit of vlogging. My clothes are performing well; just showered with them yesterday and I am smelling good. I realized they needed washing yesterday when I woke up and all I could smell was myself (ps, salt waterswimming is no substitute for a shower). Anyway, me and some friends ended up going to Torre Tavira to see the camera obscura

and all I could think the whole time we watched the demonstration was “oh man, I hope these people can’t smell me.” Now, no such problems: smellin good and feelin good. Gonna crush a shower tonight and that should keep me agreeable with people’s olfactory glands for the next few days while I visit Tarifa, Gibraltar and Malaga.
Speaking of which, as it looks now I dont think I will be heading to Munich for Oktoberfest. Its not a definite no but the chances are looking slim, in spite of the drunken post I made the other night (see “The Best Drunken Idea of My Life,” 2 Oct 2011). If I do go, that will be great and will definitely provide me with lots of blog fodder. If not, I will have to make my own adventure, hitchiking, dehydrating, starving, and generally suffering as I hitchike up the arid east coast of Spain. I’m up for the challenge so I hope you’re up for reading about it.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Hostel California

My Friends,
   I am still in Cadiz.  It is a beautiful city with fantastic beaches and the people at my hostel are friendly so I am enjoying myself. I will be looking to exit the city soon however; either by flying out to Munich on Friday or leaving with some new Dutch friends for Gibraltar before then.  But for now, I wait.  Living at this hostel is cheap (10 Euros per night to sleep on the terrace) so I can justify staying here with my budget, but the little things are getting to me, perhaps a sign that I need to hit the road again soon.
   Like many hostels, this one has areas which close around midnight; the terrace patio closes so that the people sleeping in hammocks on the roof can go to bed, and the kitchen and lounge close so that the neighbours are not disturbed by excess noise.  The problem is then that no place is left to share the company of friends after a certain time.  We found this out the hard way last night when one of the hostel employees told us to basically pack up our shit and get out.  When I asked where paying patrons of the hostel were supposed top go to hang out, he suggested to come go to the beach or come to the bar.
   I have been to enough hostels to know that this is some old bullshit.  Not everyone wants to go to the bar and if someone doesn’t want to go to the beach, what option are they left with?  Perhaps I am being too picky and perhaps I should also have read the fine print when I checked in.  I had entertained the idea of checking out this morning and searching for accommodation elsewhere but I realised that I had grown comfortable here and chummy with my fellow guests, whom I had also made travel plans with.  Checking out now would throw a wrench in these plans.  So for better or worse I have decided to stay put with the knowledge that party-time ends at midnight.  Somehow I will manage.
Stay Thirsty

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The Best Drunken Idea of my Life

My Friends,

   In Cadiz, Spain.  Canadian dude at this hostel recommended hitting Oktoberfest in Munich for the last wknd its on.  The more I drank, the better it sounded.  So I will be saying “fuck Gibraltar” for the time being and heading north-east to Munich to crush some fancy beer and eat animals.  That is all.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Resting my Fitted-Cap on Jupiter

My Friends,
   I left Lisboa (finally) Friday morning and took the long ass four hour train to Faro.  I got to Faro and walked around a bit, but I decided there was progress to be made so made my exit for the town post haste with only the vague goal of reaching Espanha.  I proceeded east barefoot (I knew I was going east because the setting sun silhouetted me on the ground in front of me: suck on that fucker who stole my compass among many other things) and reached then passed Olhau.  Iit was around this point that I decided I would hitch because my feets were sore and my flippy floppys arent the best for walking in, they tend to rub the foot raw.  However, it being after dark and Portuguese people being fuckers, nobody was picking a pimp up.  It was during this unsuccessful bout of trying to find a ride that traipsed ( I traipse a lot btw) into a small little hamlet called Fuseta.  There was nothing noteworthy about the town save for the loud voice I heard coming over speakers in emphatic Portuguese.  I figured it was either a DJ or a Bingo but as I got closer I noticed there was a prevalence of “espiritus” and “dios” being dropped.  Could it be?  Had I found a Portuguese evangelical?  I had
   I wandered closer and these little kids tried to wave me in as a caught of Portuguese Elvis waxing theological from the pulpit.  I debated having a Borat moment and letting them save me.

Hell Heck, religious people are great for wandering types (read: potential converts) like me: you never know how far they will go to show you how righteous they are, as I found out in Australia when I was shown great hospitality by a couple who were 7th Day Adventists (they let me crash in their spare room after I disavowed the theory of evolution).  However, I decided in my tired and fragile state that I might in fact be susceptible to their cult programming and walked leaving them to their God.

“Good Riddance, more Jesus for us!”

Back on the road, I was all in “fuck that, Ill walk til someone picks me up” mode for a while but the yawns became more freqent and I spotted a nice little flat spot that I wanted right on some dudes property.  So I asked him if I could crash.  In the no English he had, he was emphatic that I make “no problem,” but after talking to his wife they let me crash in their garage and even brought me inside for some coffee, wine bread and sardines (midnight snack of champions).
   The next morning (today) I was on a hot streak.  I got three rides in the morning, and although noone took me far I managed to get to Villa Real do San Antonio when it was all said and done.  Once there, I crushed a ferry ride into the Spanish town of Ayamonte, saying goodbye to Portugal until round two sometime in the future.

“IMMA FUCK YOU TIL YOU LOVE ME, PORTUGAL!!”

   It took me a while to get my bearings in Spain but once I did I wound up hiking this baja trail for a while before I found the highway east to Lepe and Huelva.  The hitching again slowed although it was beautiful country_side to walk through: lots of orchards and vineyards and it smelled great.  I stopped in a roadside restaurant for water and the proprietor broke a pimp off some bottles of water when I would have been satisfied with the tap.  I grabbed an espresso and brandy (truly up there with beer and pizza, shrimp and white wine, or Dom Perignon and chicken wings, as one of the dopest pairings).  It was my second of the day, but fuck it, I wasnt driving.  I entertained the notion of offering this guy a few hours of labour for an authentic Spanish meal, but work was slow so I made my way but to the highway for what I was sure would be hours of fruitless hitchhiking.  Not the case!  Samuel picked me up with his two kids and took me to Lepe, but then I guess he realized how much he enjoyed my company and said hed take me all the way to Huelva.  For those no in the know, this is what is known to a hitchhiker as “dope as fuck.”
   In Huelva, I sighstseed a bit (its truly a nice town and someday Ill come back with my pet midget) until I caught the bus to Seville, which Samuel informed me was the hub of south-west Spain.  So here I am, feeling very old in a hostel that is evidently party central for the city.  While this place would have been right up my alley five years ago in Australia, Im so old now that I dont even want to go check out the rooftop patio.  God, when did I become so lame?
   Anyhow, I had a churro for the first time on the way here (ps I messes wit fried dough!) and I think I will go find out what a tapa is.before heading to Cadiz tomorrow.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre

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