Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Evolution of a Yogini

Zenning out in the Trinity Alps
I first discovered yoga when I was about 6 years-old. To little me, yoga meant sitting in lotus pose and chanting “ommmmmmm”. When I reached high school, yoga simply meant stretching. Then, in college, I finally took a yoga class and realized that yoga meant.... sleep. My middle-aged hippie yoga instructor feared that mid-semester her over-stressed students would prioritize studying over doing yoga and would inevitably drop the class. Her solution was pure genius - give students credit just for showing up even if they didn’t do a single downward dog. She set up a relaxation station in the dark back corner of the room with pillows and blankets and my fellow students and I curled up listening to tribal drum beats and our own breath. 

Fast forward to late 2009. There I was, dealing with another failing relationship, and in a moment of profound clarity I realized that yoga was the answer to all my problems! So I shopped around for a yoga studio and teacher that I could relate to. I took classes all over town based on friends’ recommendations and they were all duds. Freezing rooms to boiling roomjs, barking nazi-drill-sergeant Bikram instructors to instructors sans personality, community centers, health clubs, gyms, yoga/zumba/pilates studios.... NOTHING resonated with me. Until one fateful day. My friend Lorelle’s husband’s colleague’s wife had just opened up a yoga studio in town and she was raving about it. Lorelle had led me astray before in my mission to find the perfect yoga class so I was a bit reticent, but nevertheless I showed up. POW! It was like the stars had aligned and I was bestowed upon the power of zen-state exercise. My teacher was AMAZING - funny, yet grounded.

Warrior 2
The style is a Power Vinyasa inspired by Baron Baptiste. The room is heated to 92 degrees and it’s a quick-paced flow. Each class incorporates different poses (unlike Bikram), but overall it’s the same general sequence. It’s definitely a workout - both cardio and strengthening. But for me, it’s the fast pace flow that really “zens me out”. You’re moving so quickly that there isn’t time for thoughts to creep in. If they do, you’ll fall over. So you focus on your body on that exact moment and your mind will clear.   

I started going about once a week and it slowly increased over time. It took one whole year before I could FINALLY touch my toes! Now I do yoga almost every day and I feel amazing! When I returned from South America, my teacher gave me a job in the studio working a few hours a week. I arrive around 6am every day to open the studio and greet folks with a smile as they drag in their half-awake bodies for some early morning yoga . Sure, waking up at 5:30am every day is brutal, but I love working there. Endorphins and positivity fills the air and I am immersed.

Next step in the evolution of this yogini: attend a yoga teacher certification program.  :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Girl Anachronism

In downtown Santa Rosa, abandoned train tracks slowly deteriorate through a fallow lot adjacent to the bustling Railroad Square historic district. The county has passed a measure to develop a passenger rail system through this area, but due to budget shortfalls, this goal has not been realized. So for over a decade the empty lot just stood still, waiting. Until 2008, when a few locals dreamed up the idea of building early 20th century style handcars and racing them down the tracks. Coupled with a festival featuring victorian/steampunk costumes, local bands, and Burning Man style art pieces, they called this event The Great Handcar Regatta. Now in it's fourth year, Handcar Regatta has become a symbol of art and creativity in Santa Rosa.

So yesterday, I yet again dug through my costume bin searching for the perfect regatta outfit and I am quite pleased with what I came up with. P.S. I LOVE dressing in costume.

Being that the regatta is one of the biggest social events of the year with thousands of people attending, I had no trouble locating friends. Together we watched uniquely designed handcars race down the tracks, spectated the oddities, and complimented each others outfits. There is a rumor that the passenger rail will begin being built in 2012 so it may be that The Great Handcar Regatta will cease to exist and slowly fade into myth. But I'm going to be optimistic and hope that's not the case!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sprichst du Deutsche?

La Casa de Avila
When I arrived in Peru I knew very little Spanish. I knew the basics: hola, adios, yo quiero taco bell, etc. I communicated with taxi drivers by pointing out my intended destination in the Lonely Planet guide book. Communication was sub-par and loneliness ensued until those glorious days in Arequipa when I participated in a 1.5-week Spanish immersion program with La Casa de Avila. Then, poof! Three years of high school Spanish lessons flooded back and I could speak! It’s like when Ariel got her voice back and could finally express her love to Prince Eric.

P.S. I LOVE The Little Mermaid.

Learning a new language opens the door to a wider range of experiences both at home and away. Not only can I tell the spanish-speaking exterminator where the dead rats are (hay una rata muerta en la cocina), I can also fake people out and pretend I’m from a different country. This is great way to avoid awkward situations. Commit a faux pas? Why, simply string a couple sentences together about how you don’t speak English or understand the local customs! Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t work so well with Spanish in California since the majority of people have a basic understanding of the language. That is why I pretend to be German.

I enrolled in Deutsche 1 at the local junior college in July while I was spending an immense amount of time with The Austrian. Why of course I would want to learn his mother-tongue! Now it seems ridiculous to have chosen German, a language that very few people in my country speak, that is until last night. I met up with some friends at the local brewery. It was late in the evening and we’d been enjoying the warm summer night on the patio, sipping beers and laughing loudly. The group of guys next to us got up to leave, but one lagged behind and announced to the others, “Hey, wait up! I need to tell this girl she is beautiful before we leave!”, and then he approached ME. He said hello. Unsure about how to handle the situation, with a big smile I responded with, “Guten Abend! Wie geht’s? Sprichst du Deutsche?” Flabbergasted, he mumbled something about Nuremberg and only speaking a little German and ran off. “Auf Wiederhesen!” I called waving goodbye to him and the awkward situation that I’d dodged.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is it Heaven? Or is it Mancora?

"Warm beach with a slight breeze, sitting at a cafe on the sand eating inexpensive ceviche and drinking amazing fruit juice. I think I found heaven....
 I've often wondered what heaven would be like, and I think I found it in Mancora. Beautiful white sand beach with weather that doesn't seem to get too cold or too hot either! A perfect ocean breeze rustles through the palm trees outside my bungalow where I lie in a bed shrouded with white mosquito netting. I feel like a jungle princess. There is incredible tropical fruit and ceviche everywhere. My roommate is a very handsome Austrian man. This evening we did yoga followed by dancing salsa and cha cha cha on the lawn outside our bungalow. Later we shared a giant papaya and he made me an avocado and tomato sandwich. Afterwards we lay in hammocks beneath the night sky while playing guitar and performing sing-alongs. I have found paradise."   ---Me, July 7, 2011

I love comparing this journal entry with the last one (see previous post). The drastic differences from one day to the next. Miserable one second, ecstatic the next. It reminds us that everyday is a gift and that we must embrace it fully. Live every day like it may be your last. No regrets. It is with this mindset that I intend to dedicate this blog to everyday adventures. You don't need to leave the country to have unique experiences. Nor do you need to live vicariously through world travelers. Just open the door and look outside; there is a whole world to be explored!

Trapped in Piura

flight to Piura
"Sometimes while traveling you get stuck in a place where you don't necessarily want to be. In this case it's because my flight arrived too late and the buses don't go to Mancora at this time of night. That is how I found myself in the dingy 5th floor room (or should I say "cell") of a central Piura hospedaje.
Not being able to inspect the city in daylight, I feel uncomfortable venturing into the busy city streets alone at night. What a strange time it is: 8:30pm - too early to sleep yet too late to go exploring alone. However, I must think of the perks: 1) it's warm, 2) there's a window, 3) it only costs 15 soles for the night. I need to think of this as part of the adventure. There is a reason why I have been placed in Piura and why I will arrive in Mancora tomorrow as opposed to today. There is also a reason I lost my hat - perhaps it is warming the head of a homeless person who needed the hat way more than I did. I wonder where I am going to end up?"  ----Me, July 6, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Yesterday I started a new part-time job. This isn't super surprising since I've worked for at least 4 different companies in the last month since I returned home. But by far, this one is the most random... even more so than the week I worked construction. So here it is... wait for it.... I'm working at.... a motorcycle repair shop! And I build engine parts.

The company, Thunderstruck Motors, is actually pretty cool. They (I) build these boxes which convert gas engines into electric. My tasks entail stripping wires, soldering, and crimping the parts together. The tasks are monotonous but I'm try to remind myself that at least I have work. Plus it's a beautiful 45-minute bike commute along a trail!

So how does an unemployed Ecologist find herself working in a motorcycle shop? Basically my strategy for finding work is this: beg friends for jobs. I've put it out there that I will do and can do anything to pay the bills (aside from porn & prostitution of course!). The strategy as so far proved successful, although I would really love to find a job that I'm passionate about in my field.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Back!

Hello my friends. I have returned. Yes, I realize that in order to have a successful blog, one should not post irregularly and then disappear for three months. The problem with maintaining a travel blog is this: if you don't have a device that connects to the internet it is extremely difficult to post! The last time I traveled (in 2006), internet cafes were ubiquitous and most hostels had computers for guests to use. It was extremely rare to see someone dragging around a heavy laptop. However now, with the advent of netbooks and "smart" phones (I use quotations because I doubt the intelligence of this inanimate object) most hostels and public transportation hubs offered.... wifi! Alas, aside from a camera and ipod nano, I was free from technology during the 2.5 months I spent in South America.

I'm not going to give a complete recap of my travel experience right now, rather I will refer back to certain events along the way as they relate to my current life trying to adjust back into society. In a nutshell, in Peru I learned how to be ME again, to live in the moment, and how to love. In Ecuador I encountered disaster after disaster and learned to have patience (a difficult endeavor). And in Costa Rica, I finally felt inner peace and equanimity and was fully able to embrace the now.

And now I'm back! I arrived back in Northern California in mid-August and I'm trying to find work. I feel the effects of the recession as I try to look for jobs. Formerly paid jobs are now unpaid internships, and competition is extremely high among jobs that I'm overqualified for anyway. So I've been picking up odd-jobs. Yeah, I make next to nothing and have hardly any hours a week, but I'm happy. I have no regrets about quitting my financially stable career at a desk where I was miserable so I could travel the world. Even though I'm home, every day continues to be an adventure.
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