Celebrating Christmas in the middle of the Heat

When people think of Christmas, they usually imagine a Snowy postcard image, with Reindeers, snowmen, and people wearing winter clothes. Even if you look for Christmas clothes, you’ll find they are always sweaters – like the infamous ugly Christmas sweater -, scarfs, beanies, etc. It is not as you can find tank tops or flip flops with Christmassy designs.

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As you already know, there is a South hemisphere that will have a very sunny and in-the-middle of summer Christmas. This geolocalization does not ruin Christmas for us. We still pretend to put fake snow around our trees and Christmas decorations. There are still polyethylene foam snowmen decorating the main squares and parks of the city.

However, this Holiday Season has been different in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The city where I live. We’ve experienced one of the worst droughts ever. And water shortage has been the biggest concern of our lives. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t literally pray and wish for rain. It has indeed rained a couple of times this month, but it has not been enough. Valleys and rivers are drying. Wild animals and crops are dying as a consequence. The local government is trying to pull off a couple of solutions, but nobody knows if these projects (dams and tunnels built to bring water from other places) will be sustainable solutions in the long term. We need the rain. Global warming is a fact, and we’re experimenting the consequences.

For Cochabambinos – people from my city – appreciating this resource has become part of our lives. We’ve learned the lesson. We try to save as much as we can and spend as less as possible. I take showers as fast as possible. I don’t let water be wasted. I only wash the necessary clothes and only when needed.  Most Cochabambinos cannot bear seeing people wasting water: like car washers that don’t recycle water or other unneeded uses of water.

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I had relatives visiting a couple of weeks:  my aunt and my uncle, both from Santa Cruz, a city in Bolivia that has no problems with water. Although, they are aware of the shortage of water in this city, their behavior towards water is different from ours. You don’t wash a dish in several minutes, you do it fast. If you buy fruit, you don’t clean them one by one, you save water from the tap by washing them all at once. Of course, it is not their fault, but my aunt and uncle will be far from understanding the meaning of saving water, unless they move over here.

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Unfortunately, you learn to appreciate a natural resource only when there is a lack or shortage of it. When probably it is too late. And similar to my aunt and uncle who only live a city away from mine, other people in the world won’t be able to understand this problem until they experiment it. Whoever that does not pay attention to Climate change is really lost.

This is Christmas. It is nice. But if it were raining, it would be the best Christmas ever for me.

 

 

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What good is to travel?

When I first started writing this blog (2 years already! can’t believe it), my main objective was to build a traveling blog. I’d been following a couple of travel blogs (Barcelona Blonde, Nomadic Matt, and others) that had been fueling my desire for traveling the world and writing about it. But Money and other personal issues made me put a halt to these intentions, settle in one place, and start blogging about something else. I regret nothing. Thanks to this change in plans, I started writing fiction and blogging about it. What a memorable experience it has been.

But I still travel. I may not be able to sail the world, visit all its continents, and be “on the move” constantly, but I’ve managed to travel quite a bit (18 countries, 44 cities, until now). My travel bucket list ranks high in my life priorities. And since there are some continents that I’ve never been too yet (Asia, Africa, and Oceania – Australia! why are you so far?), my eagerness remains intact. But I can’t complain. If I die tomorrow, I’ve done my fair share of traveling. I couldn’t be most thankful.

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Traveling is a life-enriching experience, unmatchable to any other. And when you write, there’s nothing better to broaden your horizons. And though, I don’t travel as much as I did before, I still try to save as much as possible to do one nice trip per year.

But what exactly have I learned from traveling?

  • People are the same everywhere. They all struggle; they all do their best. Nobody anywhere is better than somebody elsewhere.
  • There’s nothing better than learning other languages. Even if you don’t master them. It feels nice to say “hello” and “thanks” in many languages. It doesn’t matter if those are the only words you learn. People appreciate when you make an effort to learn at least tiny bits to communicate with them. Keep in mind that they’re in no obligation to know your language.
  • Society restrictions are just that “society restrictions.” Those awful closed-minded standards by which your society apparently rules, end there, in that small circle of your town. When you travel, you realized that nothing of that matters, that you’re limited only by your own convictions.
  • Globalization is here to stay. You can be whatever you want wherever you are.

What other lessons do you think can be learned from traveling?

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Feeling empowered…

I´ve never felt more empowered, let me tell you how this happened:

I was discussing with my family about the reasons of why I had desisted to go to an end-of-the-year trip to Istanbul and Dubai (personal reasons nothing to do with the beauty of these cities which I will visit but in another opportunity) and why I should consider other possible destinations instead. I came with the same strong opinions from my family: why do I waste money on trips instead of saving to buy a house, a car, or anything? And I my answer was more or less like this one:

“Because I don´t want to get a loan to buy something that is going to torment me for years until I pay my debt. I don´t want to live like that, I want to be able to enjoy life as if I was going to die tomorrow. I don´t have personal obligations yet, children or other dependents and I want to be able to take advantage of that while I can.”

It was more or less like that, and it is not the first time I use a similar answer to the members of my family but to friends as well. It seems that I´m surrounded by what I call: “negative traveling souls” and I really hate that!

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Then we discussed with my family about my way of thinking, etc., etc. and I won´t tell you the details but let’s say that my way of thinking is miles different from them.

But I felt empowered, because I love the way I am, and I feel so proud that I´m able to think like I do, even if I mistaken, because it just feels right in my heart. And at the end, it is all about being content with your heart, right? Would I be happy being a slave of my work knowing that I have to work for years in order to pay a mortgage? No, definitely no.

I don’t want to think that much in any financial difficulties that could come when I´m old (as my mother points out), because maybe I won´t get that far!!! And I know many of you will say “how irresponsible way of thinking”. But I think that I´m actually very realistic, I know life is a gift meant to be lived as it were the last you were going to receive, and that people is realistic!

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I don´t dream of living forever, I don´t dream of saving until one day I become wealthy and then can travel the world. Even if you become wealthy with your savings in years from now, who guarantees that you´re going to be physical able to travel?.

I feel more real than ever, doing what I like, living how I want. How many people can say that? I feel empowered by accepting and being who I am…. Damn I feel so good!

 

From Nomadic Matt blog: How to Deal with Unsupportive Friends and Family

From Nomadic Matt blog: How to Deal with Unsupportive Friends and Family

This time I would like to post this “post” from Nomadic Matt blog, one of the coolest guys I´ve ever read on the online travel community. This post “got me” so bad because I know that most of the people who want to have a nomadic life style, like myself,  won´t always have the support from their friends or family. So please enjoy, click on the title above and read it!

10 reasons why loners should travel

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    1. They can choose where they always wanted to go without consulting somebody else…
    2. Hotels and other preferences depend only on the traveller …If you want to spend on a fancy hotel with all the commodities you always like it’s your money and nobody else can persuade you from the contrary. On the other hand, if you want to stay at a very budget accommodation because you’d rather indulge yourself in other travelling expenses
      (maybe good restaurants, or shopping) you can also do it! Nobody will tell you:  “ How come you choose this dump?”
    3. If you feel tired on your journey and you just want to stay and oversleep at the hotel until you feel you have the energy you need for your adventure, you can do it too! Nobody else will be bothering you about getting ready to go outside. Or, if you are and early bird and want to leave the hotel early and embark on your adventures first thing in the morning, you will have the chance to do it without insisting somebody else to hurry up.
    4. You feel hungry at 11 in the morning and you want to eat already because you’re starving and you need to gather your energies to continue your trip, guess what? You won’t have to agree with anybody else about going somewhere else before taking a break for food.  And on the contrary, you’d rather hit all the touristic crowded places first and no bother about breaks and food until you are done with them , you’ll have the chance to do it too, it’s after all just after you. You control when to eat and that believe me is such an advantage! since every one of us is different from one another and metabolism varies a huge deal between us travellers.
    5. Talking about food, you’d rather choose a very nice, indulging, relaxing and a little bit expensive restaurant over a fast food place? Don’t worry you’ll do as you want.
    6. You love going to outdoor spaces and parks rather than museums? Of you’d rather learn the culture by visiting all the museums of a city? It’s up to you; you’ll get to do as you wish because, you’re the master of your destiny in your trip.
    7. You’d rather walk than take the public transportation? Or maybe you want to be as efficient as possible, because time is money, and you’d rather spend on a taxi? I must tell you, nobody will argue with you about this, it will be all peace and tranquillity.
    8. You love shopping when you travel? You skip shopping because you’d rather spend time on other things when you travel? No more hard decisions and no more sacrificing your travelling time accompanying somebody else to shopping while you’d rather go elsewhere. Or maybe no more wandering around touristic attractions while you’d rather be shopping at those gorgeous shops you saw when you arrived.
    9. You want to book everything from hotels, tickets to attractions and everything else one year or six months in advance but you have to wait until the other person decides if he or she is going to travel with you or not. Usually by the time they decide all fares will have gone up to the sky.  Or maybe you don’t want to book anything in advance, perhaps you are free spirit and you want to let things happen when you arrive to the place… guess again? you will have the chance to do it! without any pressure from anybody…such a relief right?
    10. Finally, you want to spend the money you want and travel wherever and whenever you want and can? What are you waiting? It’s your money! You don’t need to get advice/agreement or even permission from somebody else!  Loners are so lucky when travelling is concerned…what are you waiting?