Tag Archives: yoga

Do the Evolution: Mycology and Applied Chiropractics

“It’s evolution, baby!”
-Pearl Jam

Friends,

I enjoy me some mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms and Amanita Muscarias have been responsible for some of my most powerful moments of self discovery.

Allow me if you please to tell you about the most transcendent experiences I have had, how they are all connected and what exciting new possibilities I am exploring as a result.

MY FIRST MUSHROOM TRIP by FISHER-PRICE (AGES 5+)

Having done low-doses of Psilocybin mushrooms a smattering of times throughout my tenure as a young adult, I did my first proper trip (5 grams on an empty stomach) one morning in September 2016, a few scant weeks before embarking on my #worldwasonfire tour of the Southern U.S. and Latin America. The trip was wild and rivaled my most powerful experiences with ayahuasca which I had done a couple of times a few months earlier in February 2016 while in Ecuador. I saw trails and ‘breathing’ solids. I saw the green cogs and gears which made up the nature I could see from my balcony.  And I saw something else: The absolute necessity, if not inevitability of complete surrender, which I understood incompletely at the time (More on that in a sec…).

I also laughed. Oh how I laughed.

Easily in Top 5 favourite FB profile pics…..that’s 300+ pics!!

I laughed at the absurdity of it all, at how tired I was, and at my hopes of salvation through a return to nature.

What was it like? Imagine a musky, brown organic/fungal horn or trumpet growing out of the ground in the forest emitting a constant, out of tune, spore-filled drone from the lungs of the forest itself -that was the character of my trip.

I walked away from that experience with a sense that I had undergone something powerful, and only a marginal understanding of this idea of surrender; an understanding which reductively centered around anal penetration.

That was an uncomfortable one for me to wrap my brain around. As a guy, that was my conception of what ultimate surrender meant; allowing yourself to be penetrated. Incidentally, this interpretation may also have been informed by some cult research I had conducted that summer.

Just an altogether really culty kind of summer -You ever have one of those?
(Photo Credit: Steve Haining)

Thelema in particular, whose higher degrees mandate sexual surrender for followers seemed worth researching at that time. In any event, though I never said it in so many words, I walked away thinking “The path to enlightenment is somehow up my ass.”

A connection had been made somewhere in my brain.

2017: ODYSSEY TWO

Fast forward a few months and I was well into my adventures in the south-western U.S., specifically Arizona. From late December 2016 to early January 2017 I was living on the rim (lol) of the Tohono O’odham reserve west of Tucson with a shaman named Tim. Me and Tim spent many days on the reserve meditating, reading from The Kybalion and smoking terrific cannabis. Our diet too, was healthy as (sic.) with no alcohol consumption and reverent, healthful ingestion of fish, simple grains and vegetables. For talk, TIm would talk mostly -he had a powerful connection to eh universe and he could constantly make wild connections bewtween the most disparate things and offer new perspective (he couldn’t turn it off though). As for physical activity, I maintained a rudimentary fitness regimen which included running and calisthenics,

and we often climbed the nearby mountains in the remote stretch of desert that was primarily grazing land for ranchers.

Tim burning a bush on the mountaintop.

After about a week of this regimen, Tim took me through my first and thus far only Amanita Muscaria trip (Video HERE). For anyone who hasn’t done A. Muscaria, it was (at the time and possibly even now) the most powerful trip I have ever done. For those who have tried it but haven’t felt anything (like me in my subsequent attempts), I truly believe that Amanitas require preparation (the aforementioned diet/meditation/fitness regimen) of a kind that Psilocybin mushrooms do not. The secrets of the Amanitas are just not given up so easily it would seem.

I won’t labor you with too many details of the trip -you can watch the video for those- but essentially I moved to a higher dimension. Better yet, I took control of my higher dimensional body and was able to travel anywhere in the universe, real or fictional, and in so doing I managed to completely release, at least temporarily, painful and limiting impingement in the neck and shoulders of my lower dimensional body.

I felt completely free and loose in a way that I hadn’t in years. It was amazing.

But it wasn’t a hallucination; something real happened there and when I saw I was traveling throughout the universe, I don’t mean that I was pretending to go through space. Understand: My lower dimensional body never left the chair in Tim’s kitchen but consciousness did. Instead, my lower-dimensional body, stuck in that precise time and place, received the condensed-to-the-level-of matter counterpart experience to what was going on in the higher dimension -kind of like in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, when you do things in Hyrule and they have effects in the Dark World and vice versa.

In this case the effect I felt was tiny cables stretching from my right shoulder to my upper neck snapping one by one as I came to closer and closer approximations of what I was there to learn. When I finally came to the realization the last string SNAPPED! and I screamed out what I realized twice in ecstasy.

All in all, unique and very different from the character/conceptual mechanism of later healing as you will see…

Speaking of Tim, I noticed at intervals when I came back to the kitchen, that he had two demons hovering about him. They had the superficial appearance of ferrets or weasels made of shadow and they were whipping furiously around his torso as if chasing each other’s tails. I mentioned this to him and, non-plussed, he told me he was aware of them.

Awesome!

Flashback Sequence

After a few more days in Arizona I left for Nicaragua in the second week of January. The rest of 2017 passed mostly without another such divine psychadelic experience. One exception would be a party I attended in San Juan del Sur

Another exception would be in Utila, Honduras sometime around July or August when, having taken (too?) much “space-cake,” I lay in bed spooning my girlfriend, meditating and hallucinating. Having someone else so close to me while I was in the throes of an ecstatically heightened activation really flavoured my ruminations in a heretofore unprecedented way. I thought about how spooning was the benevolent counterpart to buggery. You see when you spoon someone, there is a way in which they are submitting to you -in MMA it’s called getting someone’s back. From the spooning position you can easily choke someone out, immobilize their limbs or, if so inclined, sodomize them.

But that’s only half the story, because when you spoon someone you can also protect them, keep them warm and make them feel loved. So the question to me became: “When I achieve power, how do I want to treat those who submit to me? Spoon or sodomize?”

In retrospect, this meditation was a continuation and elaboration of the take-away from my Psilocybin trip the previous September regarding ultimate surrender. This experience didn’t have any effect on my spine though, and at the time, it all seemed separate.

What Brought All of these Realizations Together?

My next divine, “spine-greasing” experience on mushrooms would be another 5 gram Psilocybin trip (McKenna’s ‘heroic dose’)in Berlin’s Tiergarten this past spring (2018). I started out down by a small stream, and that shady, cool, isolated bit of the park became a surrogate womb for me. I spent some time there in that safe place as my perceptions got mashed up and my thoughts darkened somewhat. When I was ready and felt like I couldn’t stay in that dark, cool place any longer, I stumbled into the sun and, looking up at the sky I could see the geometry of everything; a kaleidoscope of faintly colourful geometric shapes rotating independently and yet symmetrically against a large, illuminated pale sapphire. It has the character of stained glass, like I was in a giant, atmosphere sized non-denominational cathedral. Yet impressive though it was, my mind was elsewhere; something about my own history seemed opaque to me and I meditated on it, lying in the crucible of sun-baked grass.

In my reverie, a goose approached me. Now a fondness for geese was never an affliction I suffered from and you could say my adult life has been nothing if not a rejection of the most goose-like aspects of myself -I see that now as I was writing that last sentence. In any event, far from the usual hissing of our typical encounters, this meeting was peaceful and bespoke coexistence, and I was convinced that the goose was somehow my spirit animal. Maybe this is what Carl Jung meant by “incorporating your shadow”.

Am I the embodiment of the things I hate? Seems poetic and so it must be at least somewhat true.

After my goose realization, my spot by the stream seemed used up; it was time to move. So, fledgling toddler that I was, I picked up my guitar and began wandering until I reached a spacious and lovely biergarten (yes, a biergarten in Tiergarten) situated on a pond. Setting up two benches together for a more spacious seating platform, I crossed my legs into lotus and began stretching as I leaned forward over the front of the bench toward the ground. In this position, thoughts of surrender came back to me. I thought of my father and mother, divorced since I was 2. I always took their divorce for granted, not really knowing any other existence, and I grew up split between my mother and stepfather on one side and my father and stepmother on the other. In my expanded state I saw the way that this had stunted my development and had made me “less” of a man than I could ultimately have become in this life. I panicked at the thought and then I became angry at them for sabotaging my life and potential so needlessly.

But was it needless?

“We needed a lot of needless suffering.”
-Me, waxing philosophical on ayahuasca in Nuevo
Rocafuerte, Ecuador (February 2016)

I mean, said suffering had brought me to this point, and this point seemed meaningful and important enough to exist for so perhaps the suffering wasn’t so needless.

Instead, maybe my father and mother had accrued such damage in their lives as to make their coming together more of a collision than a union, and so perhaps their divorce was a near inevitability instead of a choice. In this regard, perhaps I am less a victim of their callousness and moreso the inheritor of their suffering. And of course, to their credit, they tried. They really tried. They tried to insulate me from further pain after realizing how much of their own pain they allowed to pass to the next generation.

If only my parents had numchuks….

I realized that I was stuck with this pain; the legacy they had handed off to me like a baton; the generational suffering which had been passed to them by their parents. I saw how inexorably inescapable it was for me. I saw that by not having acknowledged it sooner, it had atrophied my spirit and made certain of my potentials unreachable for the rest of this life. I saw that I was a broken human form cast into a gloomy swamp engulfed by a yellow haze; blind, crying in shock (as if something dear had been suddenly ripped from the centre of my being…like a baby from my womb..), unloved, pathetic, choking, unable to speak, humbled, in pain, with so long to go, such a heavy burden to carry, and no guarantee that I would make it.

Mine is a sorry lot indeed I realized, and I can’t describe the feeling of dull, throbbing emptiness I felt in my heart and abdomen and existence when I realized this. My posture reflected this -head hung low, dangling in the vicinity of my knees (I had at some point uncrossed my legs and put my bare feet on the ground like the filthy, provincial peasant-spawn I was.

A funny thing happened then, a realization along the lines of “Better luck next time!” came to me. And it comforted me.

Let me explain:

I view life as a series or set of games. Every interaction, every society I’m part of, every social group and every culture represents a different game. Some are (perceptibly) separate from others and some games exist nested within games within games within the biggest game of all (at least to me), my life (Look up “Games People Play” or relevant talks by Jordan Peterson). But I have also incorporated the hermetic wisdom of The Kybalion and its principles, particularly “The Principle of Correspondence” (‘As above, so below; as below, so above’) in this case. It’s the idea that things scale up and down to infinity and that the same mechanics are at work in corresponding ways at every level. So it makes/made no sense to view my life as the ultimate (doomed) iteration; according to the principle of correspondence it is but one iteration of my meta-life -I just happened to be struggling this round.
On a more experiential, perhaps more relatable level, knowing that I had inherited pain from previous generations and that I could quite conceivably pass on that pain to others in the future made me feel immortal insofar as I saw that I was part of an enduring process and that my actions mattered.
Also, as per “The Principle of Vibration,” if I want the impulse that I am to gain greater and greater amplitude, animating even higher forms of matter with life-essence throughout the duration of my meta-life, I must stay in a place of resonance. Nothing seemed so anti-resonance to me as falling into a bottomless pit of despair. Is this life going to be a ‘snake down to’ or a ‘ladder up to’ the next iteration? If a ladder, I have to carry my burden with strength, dignity and humility, bringing happiness to those around me or at least minimizing their suffering, suffering though I may be myself. After all, it’s just a game…

This realization saved me from the despair I was trapped in and as I inhaled and rose up from my posture of surrender and wretchedness, an amazing thing happened: I brought something up with me. It’s hard to explain what exactly, and I will use esoteric terms to describe it, so forgive me, students of the new age who use more refined nomenclature: As I rose, an energy rose up from my root (chakra) and traveled all the way up my spine/kundalini. As it rose, it flushed out all the blockages existing within the uppermost portions of my spinal column -again giving me that free mobility I had experienced after my Amanita trip the previous January in Arizona. As a visualization, imagine the cleansing energy was like one of those drain-clearing graphics from Drano commercials in the 90s.

‘With Regular Use’ indeed…

But that’s not all! As the energy continued moving upward, it EXPLODED out of my crown like an ethereal ejaculation which shot up into the air above -some no doubt finding the proverbial egg which would precipitate my conception into a new universe- but much of it inevitably scattering short of the mark, making an absolute mess of the other patrons.

Yes, in a metaphysical sense, I ejaculated onto the people around me.

Their pets too!

I think they liked it though. Seeing me rise up, one guy at the next table asked me to play guitar. I was/am still learning and I was newer then than I am now. I did have some songs in my repertoire but I was also tripping balls and so perhaps not the best man to perform.

But then, ‘So fucking what?‘ When was it ever a good time to make others happy? Optimus Prime said, “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing,” and as a novice rock-star, I had no hope of escaping that yellowish swamp of despair beyond picking up that guitar and putting smiles on some faces.

Was I amazing? No. I was decidedly not. But I didn’t have to be. I focused on playing the pentatonic and blues scales which I had recently learned, nice and slow. With my head and neck craned left looking down over the fingerboard with a newfound mobility and the up-close care and attention of a jeweler setting a stone, I played these universal forms, discoveries more than inventions, set down by the earliest musicians. I realized that their subtle, immutable rules provided me a security that relished in my fragmented state. As I played them I got faster, I got better, I got inventive, I got cocky, I fucked up, but when I did I could always come back to the transcendent original form and begin the process over again.

Just keep playing…

I played these scales sadly while weeping ecstatic tears and worked through the minutiae of loose ends left behind in the wake of my larger, earlier realization. In military terms, it could have been considered “mop-up” after a larger offensive. At length, the man who asked me to play gave me a few Euros and left with his family, probably not sure what to make of the ruefully countenanced troubador and his minstrelsy which tilted disproportionately to emotion over skill.

Still I played, and when I got up to get a coffee and treat myself to a pastry (which I ate slowly and mindfully) I walked straighter, more deliberately and more powerfully than any other time I can remember off the top of my head.

People were looking at me. More than usual. Such was my radiance.

One final point on this trip which ties this experience closer to that initial, earlier idea of surrender. Remember I joked that the path to enlightenment was up my ass? Well, in this scenario, I brought something up from a primordial place, from my root chakra, which, as the survival/fight or flight energy centre, is located squarely in the anal region. Similar to how I have pulled universal energy down to me through my crown, I brought universal energy’s as-yet-unnamed (at least to me) earthly counterpart up through my root.

I knew it was up my ass all along 🙂

“Knowing is not enough; We must apply” -Bruce Lee

I did two back to back trips over two days about two weeks ago. The first one was a similar 5 gram (‘there goes my hero..’) trip starting and ending in the same locations in Tiergarten. (This time I jazzed up the mushrooms with maple syrup to increase their palatablity). My guitar playing was better-ish, and while I didn’t necessarily have a unique new breakthrough, I did cement certain ideas from the previous trips -particularly the yellow hazy swamp of despair and the primordial hum which my wretched self hummed like a slave hymn as I feebly fumbled my way out of there.

No geese though.

The next day I took my girlfriend through her first trip -two grams for her and 3 for me in our apartment. Setting a very strong intention to be a guide, the onset of the darkness I saw didn’t manifest until she had already gone through the worst of her trip and was smiling and laughing at the things being revealed to her. As she saw that I was looking a little morose at that later point, she was able to coach me and tell me the things I needed to hear, and in that regard it was a beautifully synergistic experience. But prior to me tripping I was able to help her find balance with breathing exercises and humming that same primordial hum that had served me on my previous trip.

As an aside, I have used hums, mantras and “Oms” only a handful of times in meditation and yoga, but never enough to realize their power. This hum I was doing seemed to send some resonant frequency through my body which…..loosened things up?

The next night after these two back to back trips,  my girl drove me to the jobsite I was working at and we slept in a teepee. I smoked cannabis with my coworkers before bed and then when I joined her for sleep, fortune conspired to fortuitously have me sleeping on a wooden platform with no air mattress. I realized that the wood wasn’t uncomfortable in any absolute sense, it simply didn’t cushion, and thus it inhibited frivolous sleeping positions. Pillows and mattresses, for all of the comfort they provide, do tend to enable our bad sleeping habits. For example, I tend to sleep in semi-fetal position. Why? Why do I do that? Well, it’s comfortable and when I ‘lock in,’ I can sleep incredibly deeply. But am I a baby? No; I am a man and I should sleep like a man, on my back, sleeping deeply but never so deeply that I wake up groggy. Or worse, so deeply that I don’t awake when something goes bump in the night. Sleeping on your back leads to easier wake-ups, and as it would happen, its the most comfortable position to lie in on a flat hard surface.

Also, as I learned this particular evening, lying on your back on a hard surface with some friction allows you to stretch your back in ways that a mattress and silky sheets do not, and as I began exploring these stretches, I used my hands to manually manipulate my head,; lifting it, pulling it back to find length in the spine, and then resting it down on the board so that the weight was on the base of my skull and just below, with my chin tucked into my upper chest. This had a two-fold benefit: 1) With my chin tucked into my chest and my jaw unable to open, it was impossible for me to snore -a constant problem with sleeping on my back, and 2) I had isolated my lingering persistent neck stiffness (it tends to come back after being cleared during a mushroom trip) to a vertebrae in my neck (somewhere in the 30th to 33rd vicinity) and this position put that vertebrae in traction.

What a feeling! I had been hard-pressed to find a way to effectively address and stretch this compression or herniation (not sure the proper term) and here and now I was exerting positive pressure on it simply by lying still.

But I wasn’t just lying still; having done two trips in the previous two days I am guessing I had some latent psilocybin in my spinal fluid and it was reactivated by the cannabis and the deep, restful, meditative  breaths I was taking. I began drawing energy into my being from the universe through my crown, down the length of my spine/kundalini, and then when it hit the bottom I began channeling it back up achieving a less potent version of that “Drano feeling” I had experienced earlier. But channeling it down and up is not simply a mental or visualization matter -my body was actually moving and my spine seemed to be fluctuating in a wave pattern.

The eggplant is a bit misleading, as it would be a better stand-in for the sacral chakra *wink wink*

I thought that perhaps a Sine wave or cosine, etc. could, universally fundamental as they are, be optimal patterns for spinal movement when attempting to channel universal energies. Speaking a little out of school here, but perhaps if the right frequency, the resonant frequency of spinal motion could be found and adhered to through training, it could precipitate greater conductivity to universal energy by shaking loose impingements through increasing amplitude.
What impingements? The build-ups and the gradual ossification that take place as a consequence of aging, the blockages which come as a result of our vices and habits and the general calcification we experience in this polluted physical realm. As I breathed and moved with my breath, visualizing this wave (great back workout btw) I came to a point in my spinal waveform where my weight and the energy I was channeling were lined up at that vertebrae in my neck. I held here for a moment and I felt a movement. It was as if something compressed slowly, partially gave way with a groan and a grind. A groan and a grind may not sound healthy, especially when we’re dealing with the spine. but I was and still am working on opening a door that has been closed a long time, and that creak gave me hope and assurance that I was onto something.

I am still working at this impingement and I am certain I will get it soon, but in the meantime I am looking to procure some more medicine as my spinal reservoir of psilocybin seems to be depleted. Also, with regards to the back workout mentioned above, my back was sore as (sic.) the next day as I had used the finer muscles along my spine that don’t get used to that extent so often. I want to keep training those muscles and over time get to the point where I have such fine control that I can manipulate each vertebrae individually. We all gotta have goals, right?

Wow! Sounds GREAT! But What’s the Rub?

My body motions must have seemed like a seizure and I would guess that they were not too far from that. That’s a scary thought, but its mitigated by the fact that it was a seizure brought on by my own volition which I could end at any time I wished. I have long suspected that epilepsy might be like a short-circuiting kundalini, dangerous because there is no control to the flow of energy. Certainly it would offer at least an anecdotal and poetic explanation for why so many famous artists have been epileptic -they were simply tapping into something universal in a way that was beyond their control.
I’m not a doctor and so please dismiss the following words as the words of (well-intentioned) fringe lunatic: If you are suffering from the pain of a lifetime of bad posture and your calcified vertebrae prevent you from correcting matters, a seizure might be just the thing to straighten you out. If precipitated through meditation (and perhaps the use of psychadelics) and therefore controllable, I think it can be not all bad.

One final point on epilepsy/seizures: There was an epileptic Russian author, very possibly Dostoyevsky, who said of his seizures something to the effect of, “The quality of them was such that if I could, I would go on having them for the rest of my life.” Looking at it from the other side, if we are trying to transcend this physical realm and slough off this corporeal shell by raising our vibration (let’s assume we are), how might that look? Arguably a lot like a seizure. This is why practices like yoga and physical conditioning in general are important -with greater flexibility and strength you become better able to withstand the physical violence of intangible energy coursing up and down your spine without becoming crippled by it or dying. And the longer you can stay on this plane with that energy coursing through you the more help you can provide uplifting those around you. Like Jesus. Or Buddha.

Parkour rules apply: “Be strong to be useful.”

Some things to note:

-I am not a doctor.
-Stand up straight with you shoulders back and sit in lotus where practicable. Treat your body like a Ferrari and you won’t park it like absolute dogshit.
-Stop eating bullshit. Sugar, empty carbs, processed foods, etc… They mess your connectivity.
-Meat is ok for some people at various points in life. I am and have been on a near-keto diet for the last two trips and that hasn’t fucked with my ability to go deep into a meditative state. For me, leaning out as much as I can is most important right now and I am grateful to the animals who give their lives to provide nourishing food which keeps me healthy and vital in this transformation. That said, certain meat restrictions might be helpful on the actual day of a trip though. It’s a double-edged sword so be judicious.
-If you use alcohol, use it for a toast and then pour out the rest for your dead homies. Seriously -even if you’ve never missed a day of work or beat your wife, that shit slows you right down and holds you back in life.
-Subscribe to @psychadelicmilk on Instagram.

I hope you see some truth in this and I wish you and your spine all the best.

Namaste!

-Andre

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Filed under blog, consciousness, discussion, Health, philosophy, spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness

On the Road Again 2018

Friends,

I have been an absolute failure as a writer of late.

For the last 8 months or so I have been living in Berlin and while my intention at the outset was to spend lots time documenting the previous two years of travel, I just kinda never got around to it in earnest. So here I will provide a brief timeline of some important dates / events so that what follows will make a little more sense.

November 2015 to March 2016 -Ayahuasca pilgrimage from Texas to Ecuador (#justmightbeok, #shredradlyordietrying)

-At the tail end of this adventure I spent a month in Nicaragua where I fell in love
-Woman I fell in love with invited me to go traveling the world with here but I chose not to on account of personal responsibilities

April 2016 to November 2016 – Back in Canada
-Still very much in love but apart from the person I loved because she was traveling
-Worked a lot and became a meme lord

November 2016 to January 2017 -Hitch-hiking in Arizona (#worldwasonfire)

-Woke up hungover the morning of Trump’s election to the good news; flew to the United States that very day
-Amazing experiences with a shaman, a silversmith, a wonderful family who became dear friends and the lovely people in that lovely state
-When I left on this trip I was more sure and focused and confident than I had ever been in my life -I was going on a righteous journey to meet up with my hippie queen

January 2017 to May 2017 – Back in Nicaragua (#pimpingbutterflies)

-reunited with the woman I loved; it did not go well and by the end became very hellish for me
-Made a lot of jewelry and taught a lot of jewelry workshops as well as yoga classes
-I learned a lot about how I had been mistaken going in there with expectations and expecting to pick things up where we left off
-I had been so intent on a life I pictured for the two of us that when things didn’t go that route it really threw me for a loop

May 2017 to September 2017 – Utila, Honduras (#livinginmydreams)

-Became a SCUBA divemaster, made some great friends, got into a bit of a self-destructive spiral of marijuana and alcohol
-Met my girlfriend, Anne and we moved to Berlin together

October 2018 to Present – Berlin (#migrantcrisis)

-I had acute difficulty fitting in here at first with the onset of winter, no job and no friends
-Even as winter abated and I had a job and had made friends I felt a calling to return to Arizona and resume silversmithing and to return to Nicaragua and help my friends build the eco-project down there
-I stayed in Berlin because I wasn’t sure I could trust my own inclinations; Did I really want to go back to AZ and Nica because I felt I belonged there? Was I just chasing a good and powerful feeling I had had in the past? Was I running away from adulthood? And most importantly, was I just trying to ultimately make things work between me and my ex? When I conclusively determined that the answer to this last question was no I felt more confident about moving forward with my inclinations to get back on the road again, which brings me to….

Now (#worldwasonfire2?? #pissontheashes??)
The United States of America is calling me. It needs my help. Trump’s America is the most exciting place to be right now. So much chaos. So much change. So this fall I’m going to be leaving Germany, and after a brief stay in Canada I intend to head down to south Florida, slowly working my way north and west as it gets warmer in early 2019.

My priorities will be:
1) Developing my guitar-playing skill in the southern U.S., primarily in the Mississippi Delta region where I can learn Bluegrass. I’m gonna buy a sweet resonator guitar and slide and make some twangy as balls music
2)Developing my broader skills through workaways. I’m gonna do a lot of volunteering and living/learning through various workaways, supplementing that with couch-surfing and camping when necessary. I expect to do a lot less hitch-hiking than in the past but there may yet be some. Yoga, sailing, guitar, etc… all of these things I can develop to great extents.
3) Creating understanding through a traveling podcast interviewing representatives of various fringe groups. Whether its Antifa, the KKK, the State branch of 3%-ers, etc. I want to breate bridges of understanding. Noone is beyond redemption and I want to prove it.

I have plans to be in Nicaragua but a lot of that will depend on whether or not the political situation quiets down some there.

I am very excited about what’s ahead of me. I had some anxiety about having to end my my relationship with Anne, but we’re talking about it a lot and figuring out a way we can do this together so that’s exciting as I’ve never traveled with someone else before.

That’s all for now, but expect updates in the future as the vision crystallizes.

Best,

-Andre

“Me and my song; we’ll do it alone.”
-Big Black Delta

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…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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Light me up that cigarette; DON’T strap shoes on my feet

My Friends,
   I don’t even know where to start.  I feel like I have tons to say about my trip to New York but at the same time I am much more enthusiastic to talk about my ongoing training for bare-footing around the globe.  So first things first, I’ll talk about NYC some and get that out of the way.

I Want to Be a Part of It
 
   Most people, well some people at least, have been to Manhattan and can attest to the fact that there is enough shit to do there.  Even with no shortage of attractions to spend money on however, you can still have a good time without spending any money at all.  For example, you can…

…do yoga in Central Park…

…pose in front of cool shit…

…or even just say “fuck it,” and climb city infrastructure.  Sometimes you just gotta carry it like that.
   However, a lot of the attractions which are uniquely New York do cost some skrilla money.  This isn’t too much of a problem as most of the costs aren’t too prohibitive, and if you plan ahead you can even bundle together attractions with a city-pass and save some money for street meat.  However, what I found intolerable was the security associated with some of the more famous attractions.  For example, to get to the Statue of Liberty we had to go through two sets of airport-style security (one in Battery Park and the other at the base of the monument).  As well, the last time I went to NYC (August 2008) there were similar security measures to get to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, and I don’t imagine it has changed since that time.  It all seems a little much.  I realize that the city could be a potential terrorism target but is the answer really to treat tourists as suspects?  This suspicion itself does not sit well with me, but it is exacerbated by two factors: For starters, I AM ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS!!  Like for fuck sakes, I went to the ‘ghan, hunted tewwowists and worked with Americans to achieve common ends.  Can’t a pimp get exempted from the anal probe in light of services rendered?
   Second, it seems the vast majority of people in charge of making tourists jump through the hoops of security seem like well…non-persons; the kind of people who I wouldn’t give a second-glance to on the street.  But all of a sudden they are vested with arbitrary power by the state, municipality, country, whatever the fuck, etc… and they have the ability to make my trip suck.  In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Maria Remarque, the main character, Paul Bäumer muses while recalling his slave-driving sadist of a corporal during basic training, something to the effect of how “those who are most insignificant in daily life are taken the worst by the military.” (paraphrase)  I think this holds true even for security positions as these people compensate for their low prestige by flexing authority when they can.  But on the other hand, a small minority of these types I have dealt with, whether at the Statue or Liberty, the airport or border crossings do make an effort to put people at ease and process them with minimum difficulty.  So for the future I just have to hone my douche-radar and try and predict which security person will be the most amicable before I pick a line or kiosk to go through.
   So I hadn’t meant for this to be a diatribe against the stringent security measures in NYC and I have already said more about my trip than I had planned to so I’ll just fill in some pertinent details in point-form for the benefit of those who care.
-stay at the Mansfield Hotel on West 44th and 5th Avenue -awesome hotel
-eat street meat; its affordable, delicious and held to strict standards by the city
-Statue of Liberty is cool in spite of security but access to the crown requires advance booking.  When crown booking re-opens (the monument will soon be closing for maintenance) I will book a ticket there and then plan a trip around my crown booking thereafter
-If going to Brooklyn, take the Williamsburg Bridge to Bedford Avenue and head north into the neighbourhood of Williamsburg.  According to Wikitravel, Williamsburg is now what Greenwich Village used to be before yuppies and gentrification.  Definitely a cool scene; quaint and quirky with a certain charm.
-Times Square is equal parts awe-inspiring and suffocating, especially in the evening for the latter.  Worth walking through but know you’ll feel like taking a shower afterward
-Sam’s Pizza in the financial district = motherfuckin dizzope
-Signs for fallout shelters are under-publicized relics that hearken back to a more innocent time when denouncing your neighbour as a communist was an expedient method of disappearing them.  Next time I will bring a wrench so I can hopefully steal one of these bad boys off the side of a building (yes that is me professing intent to commit larceny; realtalk)

K, thats about all that comes to mind right now.  On to….

F-F-F-Fabulous Barefoot Adventures

   Since I began training last week for bare-foot walking I have noticed marked improvement.  The training has consisted thus far of daily walks, conducting my affairs around the house on my tippy-toes and routinely spreading my toes when I am am barefoot in my house (all the time now).  These last few days in New York were mostly recuperative; although I walked a ton I did it with shoes and sandals, save for the few hours I spent walking up the west side of Manhattan au naturel.  But now, back in my element with all acquired abrasions and cuts on my soles healed, I have redoubled my efforts to make up for the last 26 years of abuse my feet have suffered at the hands of my shoes.  To that end I set out barefoot today carrying my backpack, the very same one I will carry on my trip loaded to weigh 32 lbs.  The walk was difficult at first; the pitting and imperfections in the concrete were a lot more pronounced with the extra weight but once I got warmed up and made it to the wooded trail I started on last week, my feet really began to shine.  After a minute or two of acclimatization to the rocky, uneven terrain, I began to adopt a quick pace that I was able to maintain, and on the way up the final hill out of the woods (still gravel and rocks) I even managed to jog.  This was a far cry from my first foray into barefoot-land last week on the same trail where I took twice as long with no added weight.
   This significant improvement has convinced me that I want to do this trip with nothing more than my bare feet and a minimalist shoe such as the Vibram “Five Fingers.”  I was looking at a few of the different models and there does not seem to be one yet designed specifically for bearing a heavy load but the one which looks most amenable to my purposes is the KSO Trek

Made with real kangaroo skin …seriously

I think between these beasts and my bare feet I can probably traverse most of the terrain that will be thrown at me.  So now I must procure a pair to incorporate them into my training regimen.  Till then I keep at it barefoot, which is as real as it gets.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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