What Latin America has done to me

I got a lot of money offered just not to go. I got family, friends, university, a boyfriend, my dog, … the life most of us wants. None of the above mentioned believed I would dare to go that far. But then I got a visa stamped on my passport and a ticket with my name on it.

My mother just waived once at the airport, my boyfriend hated me, my poor dog didn´t understand, university was due to few months, my friends judging me… I still boarded that plane. Maybe people around me finally accepted and put the hope in my return ticket, in 4 months.

I never made that plane back. I never made the second plane back neither. The only explanation given to my family was: ” don´t wait at the airport tomorrow, I am not coming”. I probably had so many things to explain to everyone, but they would have not understood anyways.

Colombia on mapI went to Colombia. A foreign land I never showed interest in before, a shape I probably didn´t know where to place on the American continent, a country so distant from my origins.

Meanwhile, back in Europe everyone thought I would die, or in better case, become  a drug dealer, I actually had time of my life over there. I had to work, I had to rely only on myself. I payed my own rent, I cooked my own food, I had to build everything from zero. But above all this, independence was probably not the biggest achievement. It was more about realizations and discoveries.

In Colombia I realized how privileged I am in front of others, just because I am coming from Europe. Who knew, there is anyone fascinated by Europeans and wants to become one of us with any price. Well now I know.

In Colombia I discovered how many unfortunate people can´t even afford dreaming about what I have, and have no access to basic needs of life; children never went out of their barrio, people who don´t know how many opportunities they could have. People who were living in misery, but would never complain. People, whom instead of wasting time, still work for the minimum, just to support their loved ones.

In Colombia I met him. Probably one of the first persons I met there, and remained fascinated ever since. He was everything I could never have in Europe. Someone humble enough to admit the reality going on. Honest enough to open up about the struggles he went through and grateful for what he had. He would´t complain, discriminate nor judge. Despite what he went through he had that spark in the eyes. The spark that made him overcome difficulties and keep the passion in his heart. He was just so simple in his way, yet fascinating by his personality. Probably the simplicity and the passion he was demonstrating made me feel the way I felt. Probably because I hoped all the others would be like him, but no one else turned out to be, made him so special. But all stories have an ending, so does this.

In Colombia I realized there are no good or bad decisions. Its just a choice we make, and we are the only responsible making it a good or bad one. And most importantly, one has to make his own decisions, but please follow your brain, that one last neuron you still have, because one heart is stupid as hell. Furthermore, ignore all the judgement you will receive after making your decision. Humanity is degenerated, selfish, full of pride and hate. Leave them behind, because as soon as they see you happy, they will try to steal your happiness. Immunity on humanity is sometimes a good choice. (Not always though).

In Colombia I realized that life is today. Not tomorrow, not next week. It is now, and one has to live for the now.  Probably the main reason I left Europe, is because we are so focused on building tomorrow by working 24/7, we are in a competition with time and in constant need of power and materials. Then, later on, we forget to live. We forget about today. And that´s why Colombia is special to me. It is remarkable how people understand the meaning of life, focus on the moment and just live it with all the passion they can put in it. You don´t hear anyone bitching about ” I am too tired to  this now”. It is fascinating how they scream, fight, walk, breath, work, love and dance. Ahh, the way they dance…  It is a beauty in every random thing they do. And that´s because it is full of life, passion and emotions.

In Mexico I probably learned what family is. Being “adopted” by a random Mexican family for 2 months was a brand new experience. Probably made me reflect on how many barriers I have built between me and my family. How many mistakes we have done that have led to where we are now. On a happier note, I probably discovered that after Eastern European cheese, Mexican food is the best one you will ever eat! But Mexico is not just about food. It is an other country ruined by bad reputation. So many point at it, ignore it, laugh about it, but how could one judge without seeing it for real. But, well, you already got my point of view about current society.

Panama was the place I never planned to go. I don´t know why and how did I go there, but it was a good choice. I was surprised to discover a new world. One world, that is actually well developed and has so much hidden treasure. Not to mention I literally landed in the middle of the jungle, saw alligators in the wild, and off course, how could I miss it, the great, one and only Panama Canal, linking two different sides of the world.

Curacao. If you are not a travel geek, from the Caribbean region or dutch, I bet you are already researching a map because you have no idea where that is. Well, so did my friends. Never heard of it. Well, the less you know the better it is, so I can keep it all for myself, because it is just too perfect. The story behind this amazing island is a random decision, as most of my life is. Not knowing where to go on a break, you just type ” everywhere” in skyscanner and the first option you get, just take it. It was my first time in the Caribbean, and I know you are expecting me to say how amazed I was by the landscape, which I was, indeed, though I will go for an other one here. The reason Curacao was a memorable experience is because of the people I met. It is amazing the feeling when you just meet someone on a random island in the Caribbean, and out of nothing you just click. It is like catching up a lifetime of friendship in a few days. Try it!

In Peru I have understood and felt what is freedom. And freedom does not come cheap. There is a price to pay. Not Euros, nor US dollars. You pay it with your existence. You might think freedom is just the simple fact of not being behind bars and do the things of your choice. How wrong you are buddy! Absolute freedom is when there is not one single thing on your mind, no duties you need to accomplish, no plans for tomorrow, no money to burn, no one to call or to be called, careless about the food you will eat and the things you will do. Absolute freedom is leaving your bills behind, forgetting your daily routine, escape somewhere nobody can find you, do all random things you always wanted to do, and enjoy the breath you take, because that is the smell of freedom. That is the moment when you feel independent, so strong but still so lost in this world, you are dismissed from any charges and you only live for yourself. That is the moment when you feel like you can fly without wings and you can move mountains without power. This is freedom.

In Brazil I cried. I cried the most honest and happiest tears of my life. In the same time, I felt the proudest and most accomplished  person in the world. Have you ever dreamt about something your whole life? Have you ever had a passion you were living for? Have you ever waited 25 years for something to happen? Well, if so, you know the feeling I am talking about. Despite all the crap people around me keep pulling, the judgement, discouragement, risks, sacrifices, and others´mediocrity, I did made my lifetime dream come true, and with my hand on my heart, I can say, it was worth dreaming and fighting. It was an adventure that payed off, and taught me one thing: Whatever people say, you just go, and never stop until you are there. Never stop until you are not done.

Argentina. Paraguay. Barbados. Not one interest I have ever shown for these countries, yet I ended up there. Legally, illegally, randomly, they all have their stories. But the lesson these 3 actually carry, is the fact that whoever invented the concept of “travel planning” did the biggest eff-up!  I have several places visited by choice and plan, yet the majority were never planned or expected, yet, these are the ones that gave me the greatest adventures, experiences and memories. So what have I learned from this lesson? Screw your plans, rip the paper, pack a bag and just hit the road one day. The random things are the best and regardless how challenging and sometimes upsetting feels not having a plan, by the end of the day, there is always something that makes you laugh and leaves you speechless.

Bolivia. Uhmm well, haven´t been there, but now you know whats next! 😀

The storytelling.

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Probably the most annoying time of the last 2 years is about to come. Why, you wonder?

Well, I am also wondering about lots of things, but the answer for this question is pretty easy, but still, I need a story to tell.

After an absence of 2 years, I am about to go back to the not-so-cute-place where I was born. And off course, all the people who are suddenly interested in me, want to meet me. (hold your unicorns, no souvenirs). Well, you´ve got already the main reason why so excited about me. Off course, few, minimal exceptions exist.

And then, for those non exception cases, here is the awkward scenario of our meeting, while they will say/ask me  these:

Them: ¨OMG, you are here! You came back?!¨

Me: ¨No bitch, I didn´t, what you see in front of your eyes is a ghost actually.¨

Them: ¨How are you, tell me everything!¨

Me: (what I want to say) ¨I am exhausted after travelling for 2 days and changing several planes. I am stressed because I have 8765985 things on my mind. I am sick, because I just arrived from 20 degrees to -10. I feel weird and happy in the same time. I have concerning thoughts in my head. Ive been gone for 2 years, I have changed, people don´t know who am I now, they don´t know what I have been through. I am thinking if I would be able to adapt again, or do I even want to adapt?  …but you wont understand any of these..¨

Me(what I actually say) : ¨Good , how are you?¨

Them: ¨Ahh, great, so happy you are back! And you are alive! I heard South America is so dangerous! Nothing happened to you?¨

Me: (what I want to say)  ¨If you would log out from Facebook and turn your TV off, you would be so much smarter. Maybe also, stop depending on your parents and perhaps, get out a little bit in the world, you would sound so much more educated and aware of the real things happening in the world.¨

Me: (what I actually say) ¨No.¨ (-about to slap you-)

Them: ¨So, it was enough right? You are not going back there!¨

Me: (what I want to say) ¨Just because I came for a few days it doesn´t mean that something bad happened and I had to leave, and because of that I returned here. You do not have to imagine so much non sense, since you have no idea actually what have I done there and why did I decide to change the environment. One has the right to move freely across the globe and change locations as many times one wishes. But what do you know…¨

Me: (what I actually say) ¨I will return.¨

Them: ¨So, I imagine you got a bunch of souvenirs now from all around the world and tried some new stuff.¨

Me: (what I want to say) ¨We all know where is this question going. Don´t even try! For 2 years you have barely talked to me, showed no interest in me or in my life and now you dare asking for such thing? How about no! Also, travelling and living abroad is not about collecting souvenirs so you can put them on the fridge and show all your visitors where have you been, even when they just don´t give one single eff, but is about learning new things, eating new food, meeting people and learning from them, experience feelings you have never felt before, push your limits, train your survival skills, blend into a new culture…but once again, what do you know…¨

Me: (what I actually say) ¨Ahh well, uumm, you know, I didn´t have enough space to carry such things.¨

Them: ¨But then tell me more, what you have been doing?¨

Me : (what I want to say) : ¨The question itself is wrong. If you want to know, you need to ask step by step, where have I been, how did I get there, why did I go there, whom I met there, what did I learn, what did I love/hate there, how was the experience looking back… There are so many wise questions you could ask, and there are so many awesome things I could share with you, not just to brag, but to show you how many great things you could also do, but when your level of interest and experience reflects such a limitation, you just don´t know what to ask, and I barely know what to answer.¨

Me: (what I actually say) ¨It is a long story…¨

After this basic ¨update session¨, is when they will start telling me how everyone got married, finished university, got kids, a car, a new IPhone, and we reach the conclusion how weird my priorities are for them, and I probably won´t have a future if I continue this lifestyle blaablablablla… and also this is the moment when I will also suddenly have to go.

The thing that makes me actually happy, is seeing my dogs and sleeping in my own bed. They don´t  ask questions.

F from Freedom

– noun,

the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved -said Google.

What is it for real, for each individual, you can not name it, until you don´t feel it on your own skin.

….walking before sunrise on the streets of Rio, climbing to the Machu Pichu sometimes in the morning, lunch at the border of Paraguay, siesta on the beach in Barbados, just sitting in the dark in Ipanema… but when exactly?

Probably you don´t know. Neither do I.

I look at my watch, it says 6 a.m., later on, I see 6:27 p.m., then midnight, and so on. I see bunch of numbers but none of them mean anything. Regardless when, the only thing I slightly notice perhaps, if it is daylight or dark.

Couldn´t tell if it is noon, or already 2, maybe I can nail it down to a time frame between Tuesday and  Friday. What date? Well, for sure 2016!  We are in 2016, right?

But then let´s go tomorrow at 7 to the beach! No. Let´s go explore, and eventually we will end up there. Who knows what time… I don´t have an appointment, nor anyone to report to. I have all the time I want. No one to ask where am I going, what time would I return, why have I been so late, what will I do next? No, no one.

And then the best of all, I can walk wherever I want, without anyone calling me next day, reporting that I have been seen wearing trashy clothes, eating a muffin  with chocolate on my face, and definitely flirting with a tall stranger.  I can walk with the relieving thought that nobody knows me there, nobody cares who I am or what am I doing. No one would point or look at me.

I can sit down whenever I want and just stare into the wild, smile under the sunset or just lay on the beach like a lazy fish (one that can survive on land 😀 ) and no one would interrupt me. No one can call me because my roaming probably doesn´t work, social media might be far since there might be no wi-fi, and for sure I am out of mobile data. Probably the annoying  vendors have moved further after I pretended I don´t speak their language, and I have no idea what they want.

I don´t know the time, the day, the people, I don´t know what will happen tomorrow, and I am not even interested in it. The only thing I have is right there. It is the present moment, the view I have in front of me, the backpack I am carrying and the memories in my pocket. I don´t know, and I refuse to care if tomorrow will rain or not, if the bus will come or not.

I don´t mind if I step in the mud, if the wind is tangling with my hair, or the sun is about to burn my face while climbing up 200 stairs. I don´t mind if my shoes get dirty, my hoodie gets a few holes or my knee is full of scratches because of trekking in the jungle.  I don´t mind if my feet are literally bleeding after so much walk, I need to keep moving until I reach destination. I don´t mind freezing in the snow or sweating in Amazonia. Nobody cares. No one will remark anything, because all those unknown people surrounding me are thinking the same, doing the same and seeking the same thing: freedom.

Freedom as it is, not defined by a dictionary, but as you feel it by yourself. Freedom as I feel it when I land somewhere new, when I get off the train, when I get lost in the most unexpected moment, and when I know whatever I do or say, no one will question me.

Freedom is when I know I got there by myself and with my hard work. Freedom is when I escape from the everyday routine and sometimes I escape so far that friends or family have no idea on which continent am I. Freedom is when I know I don´t have to return, I am not on a tight schedule, tomorrow may or may not  come, and each day I might wake up in a different country.

… and the absolute freedom is when you find a place that you probably never thought of, never considered visiting, or didn´t even know until yesterday that exists. It is a place off the grid, a choice that you make randomly, or don´t even pick it, just arrive there and it makes you feel in a certain way. Which certain way? When you feel it, you know it! But where do you have to go for it? You never know!

Same, as I have done, looking for it so hard and motivated, and when searching, never felt it. I always planned to go perhaps to Asia, to catch my breath, relax, meditate, find myself, and the peaceful freedom I always wanted.  I ended up in Bali, hoping the right treat would be there. Eventhough, Bali was breathtaking, it didn´t happen as I planned. But then 2 days later, after returning from Asia, I went to backpack in South America, with final destination Rio de Janeiro.

As first stop, Peru was the spot I picked from the map. And there, somewhere hidden, in the endless mountains of the Andes range, there is one city  reaching to the skies at 3.400m, the one city called Cusco. You probably have heard about it in a ¨Machu Pichu context¨, because it is the transit city everyone stops by, before heading to the Inka site. Myself thought the same, as it would be just the small stop before witnessing something so marvellous like the Machu Pichu.

But while sitting on the main square of Cusco, facing against the vague sunshines, on the time travelled steps of the cathedral, suddenly waves of thoughts and feelings started lining up inside me: ¨who knew one day I would be here. Who knew I would be here, up in the mountains, with no way out or possibility to escape, but in the same time feeling like I escaped already. After all my efforts of the last 2 years, hard work pays off and I ended up on a good ¨therapy¨. It feels like I am lost somewhere at the end of the world, meanwhile I am just one country away from my homeland, Colombia. After such long time, I feel like something clicks and activates a button in my had. I feel free and achieved, complete and alive, joyful and  truly happy. I feel like happiness is raising me so high, I could fly everywhere without a single wing.  As my eyes sharply faces the sun fighting back from the hills, a tremendous breath of freedom invades me, I finally feel the change I was waiting for so long time, finally I feel my own feelings, I feel the smell of the wind, I feel the touch of the raindrops, I feel the taste of the food, I feel the peace of mind relieving me from all the burden I was carrying on my shoulders.¨

…and probably that was the moment when I felt as free as I never did before, when I absolutely didn´t care about thirst or hunger, if tomorrow would come or not, if I have money or not, if I am good enough or not. That moment was just about me in that moment of the present, with no regrets, tasks, plans, dreams, material things, nothing on my mind. It was me, able to spread my wings as I always wanted to do, be the person I always wanted to be, and live every minute, until the last second with the greatest happiness human could ever have.

¨F ¨ will always stand for Freedom.

The spoiled child

Spotted! On the airport of Barcelona. One girl, in a pencil skirt from Guess, shirt from Marks & Spencer, covered by a Dolce & Gabbana blazer, accompanied by a pair of simple black ballerinas from Lefties.

On her wrist there is a sparkly D&G watch, with a set of bracelet- necklace from Mario Minati`s collection, received as a graduation gift. On her arm there is a Speedy 25 Monogram bag, from the only Louis Vuitton, matched with a pair of aviator sunglasses from RayBan.

As you walk next to her you can feel the flower scent of her, because she has on a few drops of Flora, signed by Gucci. Except a pink lip gloss from Channel, and a random eye liner, she is not wearing make up. Her skin is glowing in a beautiful tan. She recently came back from Ibiza.

Conclusion: in an outfit  worth of 3, maybe 4 digits price, one random girl landing on the airport. Nobody knows, nobody cares, no one bats an eye. It is so natural and common. Why would anyone stare or judge?

Investing in a pair of jeans of 60 Dollars, or a high quality leather bag worth of 500 Euros, that will last for ages, or having a certain fascination for quality, high standards and taste, travelling with the purpose of exploring but not vacationing, being free and brave, trying different things as often as you can, going off limits, believing in something different than others do…. it doesn`t mean you are spoiled.

But who pays for all this? Parents, you think, huhh? Because it is super easy to just say how great is to do and buy things, when your parents are paying for it. Please feel free to contact my parents and ask how many thousands of Euros are they giving me each month!

Hard work. You might have heard of this concept, but not sure if you also applied it. I suggest it. It pays off. Look at that Prada I have waiting for me at home and stamps in my passport. It payed for all. You might think you need a presidential salary for all this, but no. If you work, whatever that would be, save, think, and invest wisely, you can actually get great things from little.

Priorities. Some people have a passion for cars and invest everything they can in them. Some people like to eat out and always have their meals from restaurants. Some  people like to drink every weekend for 3 days. Some people are collecting different things. Some people want to have a giant fancy house with a pool and a tennis court. Some people like to gamble. Some of them likes diamonds. And that is okay. We are different with different needs. But priorities are a choice. A choice made by each and  every one of us. I made mines, and you made yours. And this defines us, but doesn`t give the right to judge someone. Especially not after appearances. Behind each choice, their is a reason. Behind each person there is a story.

One of the reasons I left Europe, was the feeling of money attracting people to me. The  golden girl who had everything but always wanted more and went through everything and everyone just to get what she wanted. Then I moved to South America, with the hope of finding modesty, simplicity, to learn to appreciate what I have and to strive for more just with the purpose of improving but not possessing.

Funny story: things turned out differently. Here I realized money are actually creating a gap between me and lot of people. I don`t think it is hate or envy.No. It is the bad habit of people judging blindly the surface, the cover, the appearance. And this is how the “spoiled child” was born. One concept I barely used or heard my entire life, but, voila, I had to go to the other side of the world to add a new concept to my vocabulary.

It is super annoying, frustrating, challenging and mostly sad. Deeply sad how humanity better prefers to judge and classify in the easier way, rather than opening that book, reading through those pages, explore, learn and in the end, understand and appreciate.

…but well, there is a price for (on) everything.

 

23.

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I turned 23 yesterday, but I am already turning 24 tomorrow.How is that possible? Old, old, I`m getting old.  We are all getting old. We are so busy with our daily routine that we don`t even notice how time flies by.

It`s amazing  how people admit that they need more time to live, to focus on themselves, but then, few minutes later, they all go back to the same routine, and go on with the chase of money, time, material goods…

You wake up at 6, go to work, to the gym or do your thing, come home, eat,  exhausted, watch a movie/read the news, then go sleep, so tomorrow you can start all over again.

…20 years later, when you will be asked what have you been doing on 11th of April, 2016, what will you say? It has been a normal day, work, gym, home, nothing interesting. And on the 10th? Ahh, well, same thing. Oh no, I was just chilling, it was Sunday, so I didn`t have to go to work. And so on, this is how your days go on. And what have you done for your self?

So in  20 years, when you will look back, and evaluate what have you done so far, what you will conclude is that  you have spent your life with the same routine, and probably with the great purpose of earning as much money as possible. How great! You have a fortune, you could by everything you want, because you worked for it, and because you deserve it. You buy it, you consume it, end of story. It is all temporary.  Then one day you die. According to the average size of a coffin, the only thing that fits in it, is just your breathless body.  Your car will not fit, your house, your books, your jewelry (maybe :D), your expensive clothes, your bags, your computer, your phone… none of them will go with you.  You have struggled a lifetime to have all these, but in the end, your possessions will remain behind, and the one gone alone, with empty pocket, an empty heart and an empty mind, is you.

… Maybe 20 years before you should have thought about it. Maybe, instead of listening to others, chasing money and power, running against time, collecting materials, you should have done something else. Maybe 20 years before you should have questioned yourself, “do I have a story to tell, do I have memories to remember? ”

People judge, people point, people talk without thinking, they will always do. That`s what makes them mediocre. But mediocrity is a choice. If you are willing to go behind the material things and people`s commentaries, you have better choices.

I have spent 23 years of my life not listening to anyone, not hearing all the critics given, not letting myself to be driven by something or someone I didn`t believe in. By instinct, I refuse doing something I don`t like, I refuse  to be in places I don`t like, with the people I don`t like.

Now let me try without the triple negative.

By instinct, I believe, competing against money and time is not a life. I believe going against the waves, doing scary things, risking everything, thinking of the weirdest things, threatening your comfort and dreaming further than humans usually do, is the way you can actually live your life.

There has been so many foolish things I have done, that maybe I would not do it again, but I still do not regret them, because at the given time, it was what I wanted, good or bad, they taught me a lesson.  I have been through ups and downs, but nothing ever stopped me to go after what I want, so 23 years later, I am questioning myself: ” Do I have a story to tell, do I have memories to share?”

While having a deep love for my passport and a  “rare condition”of “burning feet”  that took me to four continents, more than 30 countries and walked me through more than 100 cities around the world, now I can see the map of the world when I close my eyes, I know by heart he majority of the airport codes and I can give you directions. But behind this, behind what the world sees, as a spoiled child travelling around because she has too much money to spend, I have learned, seen, experienced and discovered so many things.   I have realized how powerful the nature is, how to cruise on a ship, feeling free, and then again powerless when you see the huge waves coming, and you loose control of everything, understanding that humanity is control freak, but in reality we are all powerless, and we can`t control this world. (though some of us are giving a pretty good shot )

I have learned 6 languages and realized how lack of communication is affecting all of us, meanwhile language barriers are easier to break, than we think. I`ve seen lands of paradise and hell, poverty and wealth, well being and misery, I understood what security means, I have been led and I`ve been a leader, I volunteered, I moved alone, I turned strangers into friends, friends into strangers, I created haters and admirers, I was alone, I turned my back to people and found true leaders to follow, I become independent, I fell in love than broke my heart ,  I took trips I never dreamed about, I ate and drink things I never imagined before, I felt that I am alive, I felt free, I understood that without acceptance and empathy you can loose people close to you, compassion can save lives, I am stronger than my fears and embarrassment, regrets are my fault, hope is endless just like the world, hostility and paranoia are creations of our minds, boredom equals routine,  and the list goes on with a story behind everything….

But the most important story I have, is the story of freedom, passion and dreams. The story that confirms that we are the prisoners of the limits we have created for ourselves by the daily routine.  The lack of self confidence, low standards and excuses are cool for a life of chasing money and materials, but for a life worth to be written about,  you perhaps have to break the rules, run away sometimes, then come back, then go again, and probably never return to your old habits.

23 is awesome.

Tacos. Chile. Tequila.

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… yes, you were close enough, it`s Mexico. But I have no intention of talking about none of these, since Mexico is so much more .

Mexico is about people, about life, about colors, about food and amazing places! As a proud, “adopted” child of a Mexican family, with my hand on my heart, I can say, it is one of the best places to be!

Why so special? Because when you randomly decide to go to a random country with the only expectations of getting drunk with tequila, eat tacos and burn your mouth with chile, but you end up returning with your heart full of amazing people, incredible experiences and so many lessons learned, it is mind blowing.

Firstly, the people.  I have been in lots of places, I have seen lots people, and I have friends from all over the world, but, for sure, Mexicans are one of the friendliest nation I have ever met. Statements to support? The sentence I most heard during my stay “mi casa, tu casa” is just heart melting.  A Mexican family adopting me, and treating me like I was one of them, lots of friends I have made there, are enough to support this.

The food. Snap! Each country/region has something traditional and specific, but Mexico takes this to different level. Starting from fruits, vegetables and meat, to dishes, sweets and spices, each village/ city has it`s own very specific ingredient. They have so many specific dishes, that my family was keeping track of what I have eaten so far, so I can try other food also. At a certain point I was taking pictures and writing a list of my daily menu so I could keep in mind what have I tried. Than I woke up with an entire foodie album. The best ones?

Nopales. This one is easy. It`s cactus. Never eaten it before, but in salad it is amazing. Super weird for me, but delicious.20151209_215629

Mole. I just call it “chocolate -chili”. This is a sauce based on chili,  made by over 30 ingredients in some regions, such as tomatoes, sesame, garlic, many others and chocolate in the end. The powder or paste is mixed with water until it turns into a sauce and always served then, with meat or accompanied by something else. mole

Enchiladas: these are rolled, corn tortillas, filled with vegetables, meat, beans, cheese, potatoes, and off course, served with a chili based sauce. 20151205_145746

Posole. Traditional soup made of hominy (form of field corn),pork, onion, chile, radishes, avocado, cabbage and limes. 20160101_173832

Gorditas. Baked, small, corn cake, filled with cheese and meat, or other various ingredients. It is sort of a  “street food” .32bd8c39b77a0a73725f8fefe4d452fc

Quesadilla. Tortilla filled with mainly cheese and vegetables, often cooked and then folded.

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Pambazo. This yummy one is a “white bread” filled with chorizo and potatoes.pamnbs

Guacamole. This is popular in the entire American region, but in the end, it is a Mexican, avocado based dipping, with tomato, garlic, onion, basil, coriander, pepper and additional seasonings

.guaca

Polvoron. (Powder in translation) It is a delicious and easy to make shortbread, produced mostly in  Andalusia, but better the Mexican one 😀polvoron

Mezcal. Distilled alcoholic beverage, made of maguey, mostly in the region of Oaxaca. Has a strong smoky flavor, with a worm on the bottom of the bottle. And guess who got the last shot? 😀

mezcal

Atole. Hot corn based beverage, a “masa” mixed with water and cinnamon sticks, and different flavors. It`s a cozy Christmas-ish drink.20151219_202002

Agua de Jamaica. Simplest and healthiest drink! Boiling water pored on the hibiscus flower and served when cold. Healthy and easy to make.jamaica

Ahh, there is so much more to eat and drink in Mexico, from the delicious cheeses, to 89463536587637 types of tacos,  great variety of chile, tequila, leche quemada, limon relleno con coco, ice cream with tequila and chile, mango with chile, cana with chile, taco dorado, tamarindo, tamales, alegrias…well, everything there is an “alegria” (“happiness” in translation).

And, important to note for my tequila buddies. We all have been drinking it wrong. Amigo, do not do shots. Tequila is a drink, consumed nice and slow, while in a conversation or similar. You have to explore, feel and enjoy the taste of the tequila.

Moving forward, what more is Mexico about? Those approx. 20 million visitors each year, have so many places to explore! Culture, history, nature, it`s all there!  From the iconic beaches of Acapulco, to Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Puebla, Monterrey, Taxco, Cozumel, Tulum, Pyramids of Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan, to the one and only Cancun, Mexico is nothing  but beauty everywhere.

All in all, Mexico is a country you think you now so much about, but by the end of the  journey your realize you were wrong the whole time. Mexico is the place, where after one year in Latin America I have felt the most “home”. Mexico is where people are kind and loving, regardless you are a random foreigner or not. Mexico is where I ended up without ever planning, but I will go back. Mexico is where I left a part of my heart (and stomach).

The place where I spent my first sunny-beachy Christmas, where I caught a fish for the first time with my bare hands, snorkeling, eating ( a lot!!!) , bullfights, pinatas, incredible internship, amazing friends, a new family, and lots of lessons of life… for all, I make Mexico responsible of!

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What Latin America has done to me in 8 months

About two weeks ago I should have started my last year of masters. Ahh, what a good joke, I didnt even enroll yet, meanwhile my parents`  “first-skype- question” remains unchanged : “When are you going to university? We`ll pay, just get back here! ”

Well, must admit, there was a time when they could buy me with money, because after, I could have spent them all on travelling. But things have changed since! Many things….

  1. I think the first aspect I have noticed is my vision about Europe. When I left it 8 months ago, I used to hate it. It has turned too usual and comfortable, despite the fact that it is, indeed, an amazing place to be. All these months after, I fell in love with Europe. I realized how many things I have there, that  some people from here can`t even dream about!
  2. Spanish!  There are 21 sovereign states claiming Spanish as their official language. Please, be sure, this doesn`t mean that if you speak Spanish, you will make yourself understood in all these countries. One cute word in a certain country, means something totally different, sometimes even the opposite in an other country. Most important: Spanish from Catalunya is the most beautiful Spanish I ever heard…. after the Venezuelan one. There is just something behind those words and accent … unexplainable.
  3. I forgot how my name sounds. There might be several people from the Balkans around here, but basically none of them from Hungary. Why Hungary? However close neighbors we would be with any country, if you are not Hungarian, you can`t spell it. You just can`t.  I teach people, they repeat it, but they will never be able to always call me according to. So it has been 8 months since I heard my name spelled as it is.
  4. “The Eurotrip”. Before leaving Europe I didn`t even know this word exists. I mean, who wants to do Eurotrip in Europe?! No one! But back in here, is the dream of almost everyone. So weird listening to people telling how much they want to go to the places I could finally escape from.
  5. Dress code. I am seriously considering to have a presentation about shorts. I am sure they heard of it, but they dont know in which context to place it. According to Colombian logic, if you wear shorts, you might be 3 things: tourist (and nobody wants to look like) , hooker (definitely nobody wants to look like) or a weirdo (most of the people don`t want to look like) . I mean, hellloooooo people!!! Wearing shorts might have other reasons too. Perhaps you are warm and sweating because there are 30 degrees out there! But no, shorts were not made for Bogota!
  6. The weather. I hate snow! I do! Maybe after broccoli and mathematics, is the third most hated thing by me. But currently I am freaked out by the image of a mild weather Christmas. Back in Europe those -25 degrees winters were not exactly my dream, but during 8 months here I keep seeing the same weather. I don`t even know what season is now. How about a scarf and Christmas tree on a Caribbean beach? Bad joke and awful sarcasm, but I have the feeling that is closer than I think.
  7. Things I cant explain back in Europe. There is arequipe and arepa I am able to describe what is it, how are they made and what is their use, but there are some things, you won`t find in Europe, and there is nothing I can compare them to. The most adorable one, Transmilenio. If there was one (and still is) cultural shock, it is this one. I could write a book about it, and it would still be the weirdest thing to Europeans! Log story short is the curse and the blessing of Bogota. The only mean of transportation of a capital of 10 million people. Insane and annoying, but somehow it actually works. Well, you need some skills for it, but it works!       Trains. No trains! The cheapest way of travelling in Europe, unfortunately is basically inexistent here. Just a memory of the past. So backpackers, hit the roads…on a bus!                                                                                                    An other thing are the “empanadas”. Omnomonmmm soo delicious! This little weird pastry is actually different types of meats, potatoes, rice and vegetable folded in bread or other type of flour and baked in oil. Well , all these combination together or just one by one. So oily and unhealthy, but too good! There are so many thing more, but there is one I must mention. Aguardiente! Ahh, this is like a bad joke! So many locals are really proud of it, claiming as a strong alcoholic drink. I am so sorry but there is no such bad alcohol in Europe, I could compare it to. It`s just bad.  And when your are from a region that makes one of the strongest and finest quality alcoholic beverages, it`s not just bad, it`s like making fun of alcohol. In the worst instance.
  8. Security. Walking with the shittiest clothes on the street on purpose (and still looking too good), holding a bag like I was holding gold, not using phone in public, not walking in the dark, always watching your back, pepper spray in pocket and so many more other security measures are on a daily basis here. Colombia is the place where I understood security has different meaning on this continent, and it can be taken to way higher levels than back in Europe.
  9. Life is short, the world is so big, and I am so small. Well, I am 1.73 , but I am still way too small. Okay, in Latin America I look actually really tall, but I am talking here about a different meaning. When I left Spain, I already had some things on my mind I wanted to see or do in the future. Then I came here. Then I have been traveling around. Then I realized I had so few things on my mind, my mind was stuck inside a limited box. There are sooo many things I would never thought about, things that became my dreams now, and there are so many of them , I am almost about to start making the bucket list I was always against of. All in all, I think Colombia taught me to not to be afraid of dreaming, because they do come true!
  10. You know what you had only when you see it going away. Netflix subscription, Starbucks, Chanel and Mercedes will become at a certain time just some abstract words, without  any meaning. So many things we are chasing and appreciating, meanwhile they are just some overpriced marketing products. We are not even appreciating it, they are more for show off. And when they go out of season we feel so sorry for them. Colombia taught me, there are so many other little pleasures and treasure of live we can enjoy. But the most important , to appreciate whatever tiny things we have, because we never know in which second they will go away or disappear. Moreover, there are so many helpless people out there who cant afford even a dream, because they don`t know if they are going to make it to the next day.
  11. America. Dear fellas from all over the world. Let`s have this clear. There is one continent of America. From the edges of Alaska and Canada, until the tip of Ushuaia in Argentina (also known as the “end of the world” ) is all America. The conception of the South or Central American continent is a false one. There is a division of North, Central and South America, but geographycally, they are not individual or separate continents. They are just geographycall subdivisions. Furthermore, there is no such country as “America” . The country you might think of, is actually The United States of America! Trust me, locals over here have strong feelings regarding this mistake people usually make.
  12. Quitting. There was a moment once, when I said “Eff this, I am going home! ” The next day I was on the airport to get my tickets for the following day! You might get homesick, (or multi home sick, when you have too many homes 😀 ), and sometimes you feel the need of the good old things you love, and sometimes might be downs or challenges, but they are not a reason to quit. And most important, quitting is not the solution. There comes a moment when you look around, see  how many awesome things you have around and realize, you have come too far to go back now!
  13. The Latino lifestyle. Hate it and love it. Sometimes I am so craving for European standards, and hate so many bad habits of Latin Americans!  I mean who can eat soup and meat for breakfast, where is coffee with milk actually milk of a bit brownie shade, how can a capital not have underground transportation, why so much  telenovelas and drama?! But, in the end I didn`t come here to spread Europe, but to live the Latin life. It is so different of everything I have seen before (and I saw a lot!) . Morning at 6 is already late, eating on the street is not weird, hat, scarves and frozen Latinos in 20 degrees, free markets everywhere, the culture of coffee, hugging and kissing everyone when meeting, partying harder on Fridays than on Saturdays, everyone born to be a dancer, beautiful skin tone, lot of rain and the Caribbean …you can`t hate any of these after 8 months. But the one I admire the most: the way they do all these things. The spirit they have it is incredible and leaves every foreigner speechless. The power of willingness, the way they love life, the passion they feel, the way they live every moment is above every European fancy standard. I would like the to mention again, the dance moves they have running in their blood, but I can`t describe them, since I am not able to find an other word than “way too hot “!

I can`t believe how fast time is running and I have spent there one of the most relevant challenging, incredible, and mind blowing 8 months of my life with amazing people around me, on a continent far from home, which pushed me to my limits, showed me things I have never seen before, questioned me and my whole existence, turned me against myself, and changed me in the end.

Latina America is land of controversies, where peace and war goes hand in hand, where people are happy and grateful living for the present. It is an amazing place, but  sometimes ruined by bad marketing and negative media. It`s not perfect though, because perfection doesn`t exist, but still, maybe the places closest to perfection are found over here.