Summary. Of. Travel.

Time really flies when you’re having fun… Six months flew by while traveling through Central and South America. Another valuable trip has been added to my travel list. I am very thankful I gave myself the opportunity to let everything go in Holland to go traveling with a free open mind. I made my choices well thought and that’s way I will never regret them.

It all started with my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica; a life changing experience where I learnt lots about myself and made a strong connection with all my fellow yogi sisters and brother. Blessed with the knowledge and insights my teachers gave me, I left to Cuba to teach my first classes in a beautiful resort.

The reason why I picked Cuba as my next destination was because of a sparkling personality I fell in love with earlier that year. I choose to go there and give ourselves time to get to know each other better and to find out if there was more than just a holiday fling. And there was more…! I found true love and we build a connection so strong that we created the foundation of our relationship. Two months passed by and before the end of the year I had to leave my love behind.

My next destination Argentina was waiting for me. I started 2016 in Buenos Aires where I celebrated a new year full of opportunities ahead of me. I needed to get back to my inner self and decided to join the Eco Yoga Park for two weeks. In this bhakti yoga ashram I found tranquility, learned more about yoga and made new friends from all over the world. I had an overwhelming good feeling being part of the community. Before I could leave the country I had to go to Punta Tumbo, a penguin paradise on earth. I finally saw my favorite ones in their natural habitat!

On the time I arrived in Brazil I was already 3.5 months away from home. I had to wait at the airport because my sister was coming to backpack three weeks with me! Reunited and full excitement we began our trip in Rio de Janeiro; an amazing big city with a variety of people and places. Carnaval was starting and we got the full Brazilian experience in Rio, Salvador and Itacaré. After these wild and unique parties it was time to see part of this huge country’s nature in Chapada Diamantina and the impressive Iguazú waterfalls. Both my sister and me enjoyed every second in Brazil despite the ‘negative image‘ it still has.

I wasn’t ready to go to Holland yet so I decided to go back to my second home Cuba. Together with Yunier (the boyfriend) we traveled to the eastern side of the country where we both hadn’t been. While discovering the beauty of traveling together we visited friends and family, went on adventures and shared our passion for salsa dancing. Unfortunately after five weeks reality hit me; I had to go back to Holland and leave my love and his beautiful country behind….

Writing this blog on International day of the Sun reminds me of the warm feeling, the love and kindness everyone gave to me along my trip. I learned so much and had the privilege to meet so many beautiful souls in such wonderful places. Thank you all for that!

~ namaste ~

TRAVEL FACTS
4,236 photos taken 182 travel days 5 countries
19 flights 6 currencies 12 pasport stamps
5 languages spoken 17 yoga classes given 7 birthday parties
1 yoga certificate 130 hours salsa dancing 1 “sweet 15” ceremony
2 hospital visits 1 traditional medical treatment 3 road trips
10 sunblock bottles 35 days plant based diet 50 fresh coconuts
150 days eating rice 16 açai smoothies 4 antz bites

Back. In. The. Days.

Some people wish they could escape from their stressful life and the digital world we are connected to all day long. Almost everyone has a smart phone which they use often; while traveling, at the work/school, in the gym but even worse; while you are with friends or family too. You are connected with your digital friends all the time even when you’re surrounded with people you love. Sometimes you miss (valuable) moments because you were writing your next message/tweet/post…

Do you remember how it was before the invention of the mobile phone? You scheduled to meet your friends and family and you were fully in that moment without any distractions. You did not have to check online how many likes you had because you would hear that from your friends in person. A place where it is still like this is Cuba ~ as long as the country doesn’t change. Compared with other western countries they got stucked in time. For those who want a digital getaway… Go to Cuba!

First of all there is hardly internet, only at the hotels and central parks. Then you need to log in with a prepaid card ($2 p/hr), so they make it hard and expensive to use the internet. Because there is only internet at those places, the rest of Cuba are still working with systems which are not connected to the internet. In shops you can’t pay by card, the banks handle everything by hand ~ they still use the big secured safes, you can’t Google (my best friend) wherever you want and so on…

This all brings a lot of peace to the people. Friends hanging out on the street, musicians play music and dance, a family is watching tv with all their family members and older men are playing domino. That is a typical street view in Cuba. I noticed during the last few months that I disconnecting with the digital world is not so bad, I even enjoyed it very much!

My very late new years resolution is to use my phone a little less while back at home…. See how that works out!

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….