Culture. Shock.

Sometimes while traveling you come to a point where you realize that the world is upside down. In a good or bad way you feel different and you notice the difference you just got into. As if you traveled in a time machine, you step into a new world…. Hallo culture shock!

I experienced my last culture shock when I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after living in Cuba for two months. What a difference in architecture, transportation, people and life style. The moment I entered a grocery store I suddenly realized it… First of all I was in shock of all the food, the variety of brands and all the choices you have based on prices. Compared with Cuba it was strange to see a full stocked store and I even had a choice of brands, quality and prices for everything I wanted to buy. First I felt as a kid in a candy shop but a moment later I couldn’t decide out of 30 types of toothpaste which one I should buy. Too many choices is not good for me, I didn’t feel happy at all, it was too hard. And so I left the store without toothpaste….

People in Argentina are at first sight much more frio (cold) and super serious. Walking down the street without hearing music or people telling me “mami”, “chica” or something else was strange… I figured out that many Argentinos are very nice and friendly but the further south I came the lesser warm hearted and happy they seem.

In Argentina and especially Buenos Aires, a lot is modern and similar to Europe. But at the same time there are things that are less developed; the roads, many poor people, corruption, an unstable currency and a lot of robbery and even violence. I was a bit confused because it felt as walking down a European city but I should be much more careful about myself and my belongings, difficult! To compare this with Cuba it is in some cases better (the roads), there are a lot things the same (poverty, corruption) but a very important thing is different; in Cuba I feel so much more safe. Of course there is some violence but in general Cuba is such a super safe country to be, live or travel in.

When in Cuba I got used hearing music everywhere; on the street, in the houses, in cafes, in taxis etc. This also means that people are dancing in many public places too. Here in Argentina it is just like Amsterdam; in general it is quiet, very quiet. After ‘only’ spending two months in Cuba that is a thing I really miss and I would love to keep on hearing music everywhere I go. Music can makes such a big different in how people feel, act and react. For me personally it keeps me feeling so happy and energetic. I can’t live without music anymore.

Experiencing a culture shock, even a small one, opens your eyes. It makes you realize things that remind you of your own culture and behavior. It is super interesting and mainly caused by traveling between countries (hint hint). So let’s keep on traveling in our time machines and learn from every culture (shock)!

#yesterdaygetsjealous

Veggie. Hari.

A lot of people know the term Hare Krishna or they’ve heard about it. In Amsterdam they are walking and chanting in the city center on Saturdays; I never knew what they really did…

Until now. The Eco Yoga Park near Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a Bhakti yoga ashram as well; Hare Krishna is the word for people who practice Bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga means there is a connection between you, god and the loving relationship. They learn what love is and how you can love everything and everyone in this life. Therefore they live their lives with devotional service.

The community lives at a beautiful tranquil place, away from the big city. When you enter the property you can not avoid the big white temple, here they chant and meditate a few times a day. They build their own houses, yoga studio/cinema and kitchen with ‘restaurant’ and of course the huge vegetable garden!

So far, everyone is very friendly and open to share whatever you have questions about. It is interesting to see how devoted they are and that they learn to love everything and not wanting to have things for themselves because everything is for god. I believe there is some truth in their practice but at the same time I think it is okay that you do sometimes treat yourself. Some people are already open hearted and give a lot, even they can’t have something for them self?!

While helping in the kitchen I learned the “Yoga of the kitchen”. Before you start you clean your hands and mouth. You can not eat or drink while working in the kitchen; very hard when you see and smell fresh baked bread or your favorite veggies… During cooking you try to meditate and focus on the things you do. That way you give a lot of love to your food and you can taste that. The food that they provide is amazing, colorful and tasty! And they use as much as possible from the garden, how great!

The yoga classes they give is the purest form of yoga; hatha yoga. We start with meditation and chanting the Maha mantra of Hare Krishna. During class we focus more on the internal than external body, a whole new experience for me! You become more aware of your sentiment and energy flows. It is a bit slower than the style I like but definitely not easier…

I am only halfway my stay, so I wonder what more I will learn… Conclusion after one week at the argentinan Hare Krishna’s;
– love the people and things around you in a non selfish way
– Eat more veggies than you already did, your body appriciates that
– Take some quiet time once in a while, it helps you to think things through
– Practicing yoga, meditation and chanting is key
– You don’t need much to be happy
– Cold showers are not that bad; actually quiet good for the blood circulation

I must say that this slowly healthy life style works very well for my body but at the other hand I can not leave Argentina without eating a good steak…. Sorry Hari!

 

The. Beauty. Of. Traveling.

Saying goodbye is always difficult when you leave the people you love behind. You know that there will be moments you desperately want your family or friends around you; for a hug, to share a moment with or just to laugh about something or to find comfort. The other side is when you open your heart, you meet new people and get to know other culture. They tell you about their country and show you the real life.

It is interesting to see that it won’t take long before you can become really good friends or even ‘family’ with someone. The moment you open your heart you will see that there is enough room in your heart or life for other people. You can share moments with them and within an hour, day or week you have new friends from all around the world.

More intense is the experience when you’re with 30 people in an beautiful but isolated resort in the jungle for a yoga training. Throughout the training you are fully aware of your body through the practice of yoga and meditation. Beside your body you also invest time in your mind and soul so it becomes also a mentally and spiritually journey. One of the first days we had to do an exercise in pairs of two; look each other in the eye and tell the other person who you really are and how you feel at that moment. It seems easy but telling your story and keep looking them in the eye is actually quiet difficult. By doing this we trusted each other and we made a connection. My baby girl Madison will always be in my heart!

To feel the energy of a whole group of people who take care of each other is amazing. Many times I felt connected to all of them, only by holding hands or chanting “Om” you feel the energy and good vibrations. We all have our own personality and that makes a group so vibrant and beautiful. During the super moon (full moon) we had an ceremony outside around a bonfire. All these lovely people are now family and we definitely meet again.

While writing this I am on my way to Cuba and next to me a friendly girl from Costa Rica. She turn out to practice yoga too and she’s on a holiday to Cuba to find her inner peace again. The people you meet have crossed your path and all of them are precious. I wonder what Cuba will bring me this time….

Pura. Vida.

When you wake up at 3 am and it’s not because of your jetlag but of the haul monkeys in the nearby rain forrest it suddenly isn’t that bad. I sneaked out the room as my roommate Cassie was still asleep, and saw the beautiful green garden and hammocks. How could I be cranky waking up this time of hour when your at a location like this!

A few hours later I set foot on the trail of the National Park to discover the forrest by myself. This despite of the rastafaris at the entrance who loved to be my guide…too bad! Along the way I met Marcos, a local painter who stopped working because it was ‘muy calor’. He loves the parks flora & fauna and without asking he turns out to be my guide and showed me sloths, monkeys, birds, lots of antz, crabs and a snake. The scout inside me (for those who don’t know; yes that’s true) is intense happy.

This village is exactly what I needed; nature, slow pace, laidback culture, reggae music and friendly people. My Yoga Teacher Training starts today and I’m so ready for it. But before the meditation, anatomy class, yoga and the vegetarian diet begins…. I enjoy my cheat meal: a chocolate crêpe.

As the Costa Ricans say: PURA VIDA

His. Name. Was. Pablo.

As you could guess this is a story about a small Costa Rican guy. I met him on my first day in San Jose, after I left the hotel with a lovely breakfast in my tummy and after I was dropped off at the wrong bus station. I was told there were no buses today to Cahuita, the place I wanted to go to…. So my new best friend offered me to help out by dropping me off at another bus station so I could still go to Cahuita. That sounded good to me!

As we drove off he told me everything about the coffee and banana plantations, the organic farms and the youth jails we were passing. I was enchated by the beautiful nature of this country ~ we just left the capital city ~ with all the misty mountains and vulcanos. Suddenly I realized we were driving into the rain forrest! Of course I could think of tons of worse places to be, but wasn’t I on my way to the nearest bus station?

Rain forrest

Yes I was, obviously Gualipes was not in or near San Jose but it is a village on 67 km distance! This friendly amigo taught me a good lesson and reminded me not to agree on anything without knowing all the details…

Palm tree

After sitting in two buses for another 4 hours, around 5 pm I was finally in the tranquilo town of Cahuita where the people are laidback and friendly. The Hakuna Matata hostel helped me to have “no worries” not even after I got scammed for 80.000 Colones ~ that’s 160 euros!

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Follow. Your. Heart.

These three words changed my world…. By listening to my heart I decided to invest in myself in all kind of ways. Not knowing what to do exactly I quitted my job and kept my eyes wide open for every opportunity that crossed my path.

After a while it was clear to me I want to do more things that really makes me happy ~ average is not enough! Getting out my daily routine and open up for new, positive and fresh ideas, people and places. Traveling is the cure!

My journey starts in Costa Rica, I will do my Yoga Teacher Training in a beautiful retreat center surrounded by nature. Curious as I am will I step in the world of yoga, anatomy and meditation…

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