Random thoughts

It’s funny I have no clue whether anyone ever reads this thing since I don’t have the monitoring application installed on my iPad so it basically feels like I’m writing a journal to leave in public and it’s weird but cool. It’s probably better to not have immediate feedback as with Instagram ‘likes’ or such – def not New Yorker material here but whether you’re still reading or not it’s all good. Doing something for it’s own sake is the best way to be happy and I really think that in some ways it’s a shame that we tie work to money, entangling livelihood with passion.

There are many thoughts that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis and writing is often the best way for me to work out those thoughts – there is time to reflect and re-read to see if I’m making a logical argument or just full of shit. It’s a struggle particularly because a lot of what I believe is outside of the mainstream and talking about it almost comes off as an insult or idiocy to those who embody the ideas I challenge which is not my intention at all. I think it’s important not to get caught up with classifying ideas as good or bad, right or wrong. Most things truly are subjective and if people didn’t have right to challenge them, well we might as well be in North Korea. In an age of political correctness, I think in many situations we are limiting our expression in order to appease folks who like neat little boxes for everything or are just overly sensitive. Maybe also a product of our culture is our need for a rapid-fire response as opposed to a delayed, thoughtful one. Question, clarify, challenge, provoke!

It’s been greatly inspiring and motivating meeting so many people during the last 7 weeks here who are doing their own thing; others in my peer group who like me have chosen not to settle but instead explore; families who are motivated to travel and expose their children to other cultures; retired folks who have many detailed adventures behind them and are yet collecting more. To all I owe much gratitude for helping ease my mind about my own decisions and thoughts. It feels right and I’m constantly inspired by others who are living unique lives, pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box. I’ve been surrounded by others whose values resonate with my own; others who coincidentally have interests in the same things; repeat my thoughts but aloud in the following moment. This is synchronicity and I’ll take it as my guide. Get rid of all desires, fears, and most of all ego and I believe synchronicity will find you and catch you in its current. It’s true we have to get out of our own way before we can let it but your fate is yours once you accept it.

I still struggle however with the idea of carrying the shit from “real life”. I admire those who follow politics or business or even certain tidbits of pop culture but a part of me can’t help feeling it is more or less meaningless. It’s nice to know what’s going on in the world but to what end is it useful other than in conversation? Through our political vote? I’m not so sure…If we all chose to check out, the system would be a farce. It currently is a farce but we play along giving it merit. Systems and institutions don’t give a shit about people – people have nuanced circumstances and responses, the system has rules and procedures; people often follow tit-for-tat rules of engagement but in the system you’re expected to keep doing right even when you are wronged time after time; systems pitch ideas that are ineffectively filtered and accepted by people because our filters have been warped by it. I sure we wouldn’t make the same choices if the other options were clear.

Our deepest impact and responsibility is first with ourselves. How hard do we work to make ourselves better people? Not better as in better looking or having more economic value but better as in more trustworthy, more reliable, more self-sufficient, more generous, more sympathetic. We look to other people and things to add value to our lives but we haven’t given all we can to ourselves, internally. We can’t affect change in other people, and likewise other people won’t be able to help us, we can only become less of a burden by taking care of ourselves. Independence is a gift; a gift to ourselves and a gift to those with whom we have relationships because love is truer when it is not based on dependence.

I know I constantly risk sounding like an ignorant fool and I’ll admit to an extent that I am (though I wouldn’t say blissfully so). I am to my core a pragmatist and if there is no immediate utility to something, it will be lost on me. I’m observing from an obtuse angle; I try to consider more critically the conditions of people as a whole. I can’t live in a blind state because at some point I embrace my own frustration as a sign which leads me to question and analyze. I’m blessed for that though it might sound like the opposite.

Anyway, on to the next…my time at La Mariposa, as mentioned, has been really great from beginning to end. Next I’ll be on to the island of Ometepe for about a week then my next 3 weeks are booked for a permaculture design & herbalist course which I’m super excited for!!

My apologies for so much rambling but thanks for reading!! ❤❤❤✌🏼

Local vs. Global

This week we had the opportunity to visit a number of family operations, each making their own artisanal products for local sale. Amongst them, a baker, sweets (cajetas) maker, furniture maker and potter. The processes involved with making each product was fascinating specifically coming from family operations, mostly manual with few and small tools (often recycled materials). The pride on the faces of the families was also heartwarming and really nice to see.

All items were made in the homes of the families. Food items came from decent conditions but not what would be considered acceptable under North American standards. It appeared liberated of standards and regulations which often unnecessarily complicate production operations (in my opinion). Some people might worry about sanitation but I’m sure each family takes precautions to maintain their reputation for quality. Moreover comparing the severity of common food-borne illnesses against the restrictions on our freedoms to produce and sell, not surprisingly I would choose freedom. Of course there should be common best practices and some checks in place for more serious concerns, but all-in-all freedom fosters morals, trust and responsibility, reputation-building. Laws foster rule-following and obedience for avoidance of usually financial consequences. Laws might be useful but I think only because we lack a more personal or community response.

Local production is also a lot more attuned to local demand and sensitive to environmental resources available. Inventory does not need to be plentiful and there is a lot more incentive for small-scale operations to not be wasteful. How many manufacturing companies can say they don’t create much waste or that their production is closely aligned with demand. I often wonder in shopping malls what happens to all the excesses of clothes once they go out of fashion or all the trendy, seasonal/festive items that will be fashionably expired by the following year. So much waste!!

More and more, I am convinced that buying locally-sourced sustainably-made/grown products is the only thing that will save our world which is currently being drained of its resources oh so rapidly. If you ask me, globalization has done more harm than good. Again I think of the deforested mountains where monoculture crops of pineapples and dragonfruit are grown here in Nicaragua for export hundreds to thousands of miles away by earth-unfriendly trucks to other countries. We say that health is more important than wealth yet everyday we make choices that contradict that belief. And I think it’s important to add that the health of our planet is no less important than our own personal health. An obvious example: buying cheap, non-organic, non-local produce from the grocery store is just as bad for the environment as it is for our bodies. We choose mass-market fashion over sustainably-made or recycled clothes. We don’t think twice about where the materials for our furniture comes from.

I’m guilty of many of these choices myself and my habits will definitely change going forward but I think it’s important for everybody to think about – really reflect on – the consequences of each decision we make, each vote with our hard-earned dollars, every inch of destruction we cause to the environment that we are leaving for the next generation (do it for the kids!). I think if we can’t say where or how or what exactly our purchases come from, then they are probably not the right purchases to be making.

Anyways, ponder on!

Aprender

Learn, learn, learn. Feels like my Spanish is on par with (if not better than) my French right now which is crazy because I spent about 5 years in middle/secondary school learning French. But I’ll testify as many do, that immersion in the culture and language is the way to go.

Volunteering with different projects is also a great way to learn new skills and practice Spanish. I am grateful that this opportunity exists.

It’s a shame that our schooling system doesn’t incorporate more of a learn and work approach by including hands-on training in real-world skills. Glue, paper and crayons can go a long way but not much farther than the age of 10. Real work often takes a degree of observation, precision, and feedback which I’m not sure is present in other youth activities unless they are extracurricular. Not advocating for child labour, I just believe practical knowledge and a sense of self-sufficiency are much needed in our culture.

Educación es importante. There are many habits that we inherit and seem like common sense or a given to us however we happen to come from an informed culture and things like daily dental hygiene and the importance of general cleanliness are a result of that. On the flipside our culture often skews or exploits many practices, setting the bar higher and higher and companies bank on our desire for aesthetics. Fresh-to-death clothes, sparkly whitened teeth, fingernails did. It’s nice but it’s also nice to live free of it 😉

One more month at La Mariposa and I’m contemplating how to get the most out of my time here. As mentioned, I’m enjoying the approach of learning and working so I’m planning on more of it as I continue my travels.

Much love to all,

Vina

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Today is the day!!! Finally! My flight is scheduled to land in Nicaragua in the early afternoon. I’ll be picked up by one of the staff at La Mariposa Spanish School and I’m super excited. If you haven’t seen the link on my homepage, do check it out or look them up on YouTube. They have a lot of really amazing things going on there and I’m really looking forward to being a part of it for the two months that I’ll be there.

On a side-note, I want to briefly speak to some pull factors since I’ve already done a fair share of babbling on the things that have been pushing me to travel. Some things are evident without mention – warm weather, the lure of adventure, etc. – but there are a couple other reasons why. I’ve come across other stories of people who have travelled various places in the world and for some reason travels in Central/South American have piqued my interest the most. Stories relating to the people there, the connection with nature, and the culture. With some knowledge of French, I figured Spanish wouldn’t be too hard to pick up either. Secondly, I heard this quote “Don’t trust a spiritual person in a material world” which can be interpreted a number of ways but personally it resonated because I’ve found that by letting go of a lot of things in life (possessions, desires, ego, etc.) I’ve found greater peace and inner clarity – letting go of the material has allowed me to trust myself and my own instincts more. Part of my goal with travel is to continue on the spiritual path and so I’m hoping to get away from consumerist culture. Living within communities that don’t share our standard of living will be an enriching experience. I’m not being naïve or making any cultural judgements and likewise I hope folks don’t jump to the conclusion that people in third-world countries are never happy or conversely that despite living in a third-world country people are always happy. There is nuance in every circumstance and culture as there is in our own.

Back to the trip…Admittedly, I repacked my bag one last time and have added a little sewing kit, a mini tripod and rehydration salts – just in case! (I get paranoid of being dehydrated). Also a couple of bulbs of garlic to consume raw for its health benefits as well as I’ve read that it helps repel mosquitos. I also swapped my drawstring day bag for a backpack which has a little more room.

I’ll be staying with two sisters who work for La Mariposa and their 3 kids in their home in the barrio (neighbourhood) near La Mariposa which will be a great experience but naturally makes me a little nervous. I’m not sure exactly what to expect in terms of the language barrier and of course figuring out a daily routine will be an adjustment but as mentioned I have confidence that it will be a good experience. Next time I post, hopefully I’ll be settled in! Adios!

Vina

Reasons

You know the meme…that guy tossing up his papers, exclaiming “fuck this shit, it’s Friday!” – that became me. Except it was everyday. And just “fuck this shit”.

The frustration of feeling chained to a desk, dealing with problems which ultimately had no meaning, and as an adult being constrained by rules, a schedule and a lifestyle that wasn’t mine, plus all the stress and pressure of my position, it was too much. I can’t say my mind wasn’t engaged but my body and spirit were being crushed. As soon as I acknowledged that I started thinking of options and planning my escape.

A sequence of signs and events all started pointing towards travel and suddenly all the things I thought were my curses became my blessings –  being single, critical, and not career-oriented.

So why wouldn’t I choose to travel?

Giving up my condo was the hardest decision. I had worked hard, had 2 jobs and lived quite frugally to save up for it. However when I really thought about it, if I wanted to travel freely I would have to give up this thing which would otherwise loom in my mind as a  responsibility. Case closed, condo sold. And actually, I made a reasonable profit to help fund my travels.

I am really excited and definitely lucky but I would encourage anyone to always keep your mind open to possibilities. I know not everybody feels the way I do and some people are actually doing great things with meaning and are satisfied with their paths, but for those who feel uncertain or feel the nagging feeling of something not sitting right, I’d say listen to that feeling. I’ve never had a problem trying something out and then abandoning it if I’ve given it a fair shot but it’s not working out. Some people might say I’m impatient, I lack grit or that I have a fear of commitment but I would counter that I refuse to be complacent, delusional, or false in my actions. There’s nothing wrong with trial and error; with so many possibilities out there it’s unlikely to get the winning ticket on the first draw.

We have just one life and if your best years aren’t spent in a way that makes you happy, then they are wasted and haven’t been cherished for what they are. I want to live free during my 30s and worry about finding security later in life when I need it. I don’t need it right now; I am young, intelligent, I work hard and learn fast; security is often a myth anyway. I’ll take my chances 😉