Saturday, December 23, 2006

Felices Fiestas!

Long time without posting... good reason is my mother has arrived! So I have really enjoyed this year's holydays!!! It has been so great to have my mom here, after one year and a half since I went back to Colombia last summer, and share so many things with her, talking, laughing, hugging, walking, etc... It is so different when you live by yourself... and I had actually forgotten how close was I with my mom, so it is really really great to have this almost three months she will stay here to be together. I have to plan a lot of things, and start studying for the tests and final works in January so that I can go around with her. We plan to go to Taiwan in February and to Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) after that... by the time March arrives I think I will be so used to hung with my mom all the time that it will feel really lonely after she leaves... But for now I dont want to think about it, just enjoy everyday I have!



My mother brought lots of nice Colombian things for my room, and as gifts for my friends, but for now she just made my teddy-dog become hippie with all the bracelets and things :p and the one below is a really nice puppet of an Arhuaco indian.


Hallacas!!! from Venezuela! I was really worried about whether they would be able to make it all the way to Japan, or some of the police in America will end up eating it :p Below, Candle Night at my Campus the next night after my mom came.


Around Ueno Park

Christmas (Vegan) Chocolate Cake! cooked using the rice-cooker.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Long weekends = long post

This semester I dont have classes on friday, so I have three days weekend every week... :D But I hadn't do so many things in just one weekend as this one. Thursday night I did a presentation about Colombia in the Universal Festival at my university, dancing included. :p I was really nervous of dancing alone in front of everyone but there was not so many people and I just followed the music... Dancing is definitely great!

After finishing the presentation we had some cultural exchange with the people who had come to see the festival, and I was asked by two or three cultural exchange group if I would be willing to talk about my country in an event organized by them... so, you cannot say no just like that, so just gave them my email, and hopefully they won't write me, or I'll have to get busy for the time they tell me to do it... jaja just kidding, but yeah, it is not so nice if you have to talk about your country all by yourself.

After that we waited for everyone to finish changing and all, and after a long wait and hungry, we went with Madoka, Andrew, Hui (You? Andrew wrote "you" but I call him Hui... so dont know :s), and an Indonesian (Dera), to an Indian restaurant next to the university. It was my second time there, my first time being the first or second day I was here in Chiba... How many time has passed since I came here... ... ... so many people has come, and go... not really getting to know all of them very well, but anyhow, missing them. I had this Curry rice, or something like that, really nice with nuts, uvas pasas, and vegetables in it, and had a really nice time chatting. It is definitely nice to eat with someone, enjoying your food, chatting, and laughing. I guess I dont usually do it here in Matsudo with my classmates, so its really nice when I get the chance to.

Anyway
... this will be a long post I guess.
On Friday, I was meeting Jane, an Australian girl I met through "Hospitality Club" and who is travelling around Japan during this holydays. We had have some nice chats by email, and I was really looking forward to m
eet her and talk to her. We walked from Nippori, all through Yanak-reien (a really nice and quiet cemetery), and then to Ueno park (I just figured out most foreigners will visit Shibuya, Shinjuku, etc... so wanted to show her some quiets places in Tokyo), and then we went to Kinshicho to "It's Vegetable", one of my favorite restaurants here ('cause it has Taiwanese veggie food buffet lunch for ¥980). After that we went to Ginza, to see some Kabuki, because she had seen it on TV and kind of liked her, so we bought some tickets for just two scenes. It was much more interesting than I thought it would be, not so slow as they show it in the TV, and pretty much a normal theather play, but with Japanese "jokes", and dances. After that we just scroll around, not really knowing where to go. End up going to a Cafe, then entered this small Rice museum they had, with a nice display of pics in a room in the middle where we chat for a while, before going to have dinner at Bagel&Bagel (one of my favorite shops as well... cause, well they have Bagels! :p), and they had vegetarian sandwich! yeah! with chick-peas cream (humus), really nice, and Jane had brought some Vegemite (an Australian spread) that she wanted me to try, and even brought a small jar for me! thanks! she told me many people didnt like it, but its not that bad... its better than natto anyway, and I can eat natto already, so.

It was such a great day, we talked about so many things, from simple things, up to global warming, people, being veg, free hugs, people disconnection to each other and to earth, Japan, commerce, life experiences, it was just amazing how much I could talk with someone I just met. Probably so much more than I have talked with people I have know for many years. And just felt so comfortable talking to her, sharing thoughs, experiences, and even secrets... It made me feel so relaxed, and happy at the end of the day. I hope I can meet her again when she comes back to Tokyo, before going back to Australia.

... my fingers are getting tired... so I think I will just write about my weekend shortly...

On Saturday, after remembering the night before that I had "baito" (part-time work), I woke up, and under the rain ride to the school where I'm working as a tutor in a science experiment class for kids.
After finishing there at 12' I headed to Kinshicho to meet Madoka and Andrew, to have lunch at "It's Vegetable" (again! :p), who wanted to try it after hearing about it on Thursday night. We had a really nice lunch, chatting with the owners (a really nice couple who already know me :p) and a Chinese lady sitting beside us. After Lunch we went walking around a shopping center, playing with the furniture, kids clothes, accesories, toys, etc... at different stores. :D that's what I love about shopping centers when having good company, that you can just go around "window shopping", having fun, laughing, chatting, with no need to spend your money, or hearing people screaming "iraccccchaiimasseeeeee!!!!!" everytime you enter somewhere. ;)
Something I also realized last week as well when I went to Lalaport in Toyosu with Johana and Javier, after the Colomb
ian Christmas party, and we where trying to explain Javier what we ment when we said there is not many shopping centers here in Japan.

On Sunday! yeah! free hugs again :p (more on that later... I just have to say it was a really incredible, amazing, and happy day)
so... here it goes: We met around 12 with Arina (a girl who we had hug the first day we went out giving free-hugs, and who decided to try it with some friends), her friends, and two other guys who had joined. And then we met with Tomoko and Tatsuya (my free-hugger fellow friends :p they are so nice, I am really happy I met them!), and we went around Yoyogi park, first hugging a young woman with her child who told us she had seen the video, then we hug a group of Japanese people who were eating and drinking in the grass, and who were ashame to hug us at the beginning but after we hug them they were so happy and hugging each other! :p
We went after that to a flea market that was being held in the park, so there was lots of people, and though most just looked at us with strange eyes, there was quite a few people who came closer for a hug! and there was this man who stayed for sometime taking pics, and talking to us.

Then we went to Harajuku, which is probably the perfect spot for free-hugging (at least in the quantity level), because most foreigners will come here to take pics of the crazy dressing people (who I've realized are so nice people as well!). So there we hugged with a lot of foreigners, japanese young people who doubt before hugging us, this human-statue guy also came for a hug in his break :p, and we end up being around 20 persons giving out free-hugs. There was even a group of four japanese dressed up who had "free hugs" written in their hands (see the pic) who joined us, they were so funny!
There was also this lady who saw us, and was so touched that she started crying while she was hugging us... it was really touching, she just kept saying "ganbatte! ganbatte!". Now, that i think about it, I should have tried to talk to her, actually I asked her if she wanted to talk, but she just said thank you, and "ganbatte"... It is so nice to know that there is people that really feel moved by this kind of free acts of love, peace and connection.


An Inconvenient TRUTH Trailer (you can see the whole movie in Youtube)

Love...



Love Sees No Color by Nassiri

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

BPE - Heidelberg

Aug 27...
After an eventful morning, we got to Heidelberg where we were going to meet my brother and cousin... it's really incredible to meet your family out there somewhere you dont even know. :p
Heidelberg is a really nice town, with a big castle next to a river, and a really nice view!
I think I'm becoming too lazy to write a lot about the trip now... :)






Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shelter (Sarah McLachlan)



Crowded into the smallest spaces
While outside all of nature cries
It’s known to be cruel and unfair but there is no place to hide
I’ve seen a part of people that I ever really wanna share
Oh I’ve seen a part of people that I never knew was there

Shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming storm)
Give them shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming storm)

I can’t sleep I’m haunted by their faces
The sadness in their eyes
It hurts so much to see them helpless
It makes me want to cry
But still there is so much left unanswered
For so many innocent lives
But close the door and I’ll let in nobody
And only the strong will survive

Shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming sstorm)
Give them shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming storm)

I’ve seen the anger and I’ve seen all the dreams
Watched their existence torn apart at the seams
Though I may seem helpless I will do all that I can do
I’ve seen a part of people that I ever really wanna share
Oh I’ve seen a part of people that I never knew was there

Shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming storm)
Give them shelter
(Give them shelter from the coming storm)

Embrace the World~

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tiger

I was looking around about the Chinese New Year, because I still dont know if I should go to Taiwan during that season, or after that, but anyway, I ended up looking about my Chinese zodiac and I found this...
I would like to have your comments about it...
maybe I should become a travel writer??? :p or a explorer? or a restaurant manager? no, animal/social activist is ok for me... :)
you see, I guess thats what they mean by "reluctance to make up their minds"~
jaja

Years of the Tiger
1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Tiger personality traits
One of the most dynamic signs in the Chinese zodiac, Tigers are by turns fascinating, commanding, and exasperating.

They are patient but short-tempered, calm but rebellious, petty but noble, fearsome but affectionate, free spirits but fiercely territorial.

With their many & various personality traits, Tigers are also - not surprisingly - noted for a marked reluctance to make up their minds.

What makes them magnetic and commanding figures is the absolute loyalty and affection they show for those they love. With a natural air of authority, Tigers easily earn the respect and admiration of those who love them in return.

While domesticated Tigers are quite happy among familiar surroundings, they are just as apt to fly off on an adventure at a moment's notice. Unpredictable and emotional, they can become quite fearless when standing up for themselves or others, and often hold definitive views on how to right the wrongs of society.

At work, Tigers show natural leadership ability, but prefer to work alone. They usually excel as business managers, social activists, explorers, or travel writers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

BPE - Bremen

Aug 25~26...
The musicians of Bremen! It is one of those images that had been in my mind since I was a child and I saw the pictures of the time when my family lived in Germany for two years before I was born... really!

So, after leaving Amsterdam... by train (we actually tried hitching for around an hour, but we were in the center of the city, and it started to rain, so not good conditions for getting a lift...), we got to Bremen, where we stayed at the Galleti's place where my sister had stayed for a month to study German...
We got there around 10 pm but no one was there... the mother and the kids were travelling, and the father was still working... :s we waited for some time, went to eat at a Turkish restaurant a falafel roll :p , and went back and still no-one there... so, we decided to stay in the back of the house as it was cold, and then my sister remembered about some key they keeped in somewhere, and when we looked for it, it was there... we were in another person's house, no-one inside, but we had the keys, and it was cold and late... so, even when my sister didnt really want to, we entered the house, and went to sleep at the room my sister had been sleeping at... and wake up next morning to say hi to Angelo! :p ok, he knew we were coming so he wasnt so shock, but we had forgotten to close the back door, so he kind of suspected something had happened during the night... :s :p

Next day, we went around Bremen, the Schnoor (a really nice place with small streets), visited the musicians, asked for a wish, and then went around the city (town?) by bike... They had this island in the middle of the city where they divided the land into small "gardens" were people grow vegetables, fruits, or simply spend their free time... that was quite peculiar...



this is a really nice fountain... bottom~dogs, middle~horses, top~birds

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Earthlings



Please watch the first 10 minutes of this movie (until the 1st Part - Pets)... and when you have time please watch all of it (90 minutes)...

So, yesterday I watched part of this movie, I hadn't see videos about Factory farms, or fur, since quite a long time ago (maybe 6 months), and I was thinking that I didnt really want to see it anymore, but yesterday I just felt that I needed to...

I guess after going travelling, having fun, and all, I could see why so many people just tend to ignore cruelty towards animals... I mean you dont see anything like that when you go out... you dont need to go to a slaughterhouse when you buy meat, and you dont need to go pass factory farms on your way to school, or watch how animals are raised and kill for fur before you buy a fur jacket or anything... and even when you can imagine that it must be terrible and cruel, you just dont want to know... why bother?

I guess I needed to understand this, because after watching this things for the first time I was so shocked, and felt so sad and mad with the whole system that sometimes I forgot the most important thing... people dont know this, and havent seen it. They dont continue to eat meat because they dont care and they want to torture animals, we simply were raised doing this, and thinking of it as normal, and somehow we think it cant be so bad, and it is necessary so there is nothing we can do about it. and more than anything, we think it is troublesome and difficult to do something to stop this cruelty, either eating less animal products, or becominng veg.

Watching this movie again made me realize many things, and the importance of people watching by themselves the way animals are treated... and question their own prejudices.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

BPE - Holland

Aug 24...
After going around Amsterdam, we wanted to see Holland's countryside, typical landscapes, and of course, its windmills!!!
the best way to do that in Holland is, of course, by bike! it is amazing the road network system they have for bikes all around the country! they even have signs for the bikes telling you which direction to take and how far is it till next town... they have numbers for each road and all... even without a map, we could make it all the way to Alkmaar and back home!
So we rented our bikes in the camping site, and we headed north... the landscapes were amazing, the birds, the water canals around the fields, the cows and sheep eating grass happily, the power windmills in the background... saying hi to other fellow bike travelers, and the people who lived in the towns we passed through...





Sunday, November 12, 2006

Free Hugging!


Wow! I think Hugs are addictive... :p I have been watching at videos of Free Hugs Campaign all around the world (from Argentina to Japan, from China to Turkey, but there is no Colombia...), and feel like going out-there and hug someone!!! :p

So, yesterday I did my first Free Hugging in Shinjuku! It was so great, see the people's smile when they got a hug, people running after us, joining us to give free hugs... even in Japan, there was more people than I thought getting hugs from us, and more than half of them were not foreigners but Japanese!

We started doing it in Shinjuku Park with two friends, and then we went out to the streets of Shinjuku (Tokyo), were there was lots of people but most of them just ignored us, or looked us like "what is that???", or just took pictures of us... I mean, in Japan people almost never hug eachother (maybe only with their boy/girlfriends and not in public places...), the people is so closed-up to themselves, and pretty much everyone is considered a stranger, so yeah, its difficult to do it here, but there is always people that need a hug, and are really happy to get one!

but there is something I thought while doing it... if you really want to change such a closed society as the Japanese one, make people notice that all those other strangers are people just like them, and make someone happy, what better way than by giving free hugs to strangers?

Something really funny about doing it in Japan is the fact that there is no good translation for "FREE HUGS"... first of all there is no word for "HUGS", well, there is "抱擁" which is to formal, and there is "抱きしめる" which is used mostly by couples... so the only way to say it is "ハグ" or in english... so we have to be very creative to make people understand... the ones we used were...
"FREE HUGS"
"気ままにハグ"
"今日はハグの日" (this means "today it is Hug's day" and then to those who asked us wether it was really the Hug's day, we answered "everyday is Hug's day" :p)
and an explanation of what "FREE HUGS" means...

Once again, Thanks Juan Mann for inspiring so many people to go out there, make someone happy, and change the world one hug at a time! :p

pd: the video doesnt have so many "hugs moments" because well, I was giving hugs so I couldn't take video... but I will put more pics when my friend sends them to me.

and dont forget... Hug a stranger!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fast Food Nation


Wow! I am really looking forward to see this movie after watching some of the behind the scenes... and I will actually try to read the book as well (if I find it in English in some library...), actually I would like to read about the situation in Japan as well, but reading in Japanese is not something I really like, so...
I just know that here in Japan the term for slaughterhouse (屠殺場) is actually considered discriminatory (I still cant really understand why, but it has to do something with the people who works there I think), and so they cannot use it in TV or broadcasts... kind of weird isn't it?

This movie seems to be not actually a documentary (like Super size me which I also liked a lot), but more of a narrative, but still it is really good that they put this up in the cinemas for people to think more about where their food is coming from, and all what it involves... in this movie they focus a lot on other aspects other than animal cruelty, like workers rights, marketing, environment, etc... have to see it before saying anything else about it...
Oh, and Avril Lavigne, and Catalina Sandino (a Colombian actress) act in this film as well... :)

Another movie I really want to see is An Inconvenient Truth, guess I'll rent it when it comes out in dvd...

BPE - Amsterdam

Aug 23...
After packing our tent, we had to wait for a long time before someone gave us a lift... He was a really nice Holland guy, heading to work, but he had some time left, so he actually tried to take us to see some windmills, but he got lost so he end up taking us to a river to look around... we had a really nice chat with him, and then he dropped us close to Rotterdam, where a man who worked in Amsterdam airport picked us up, and took us to the airport from where we could take the train to the center of the city. And from there we went to the camping site by tram, pitched our tent and went back to visit the city...




Amsterdam was a place I really wanted to know, I mean it is the capital of Holland, famous for its landscapes, windmills, flowers, etc... but more than that it is so "open-minded" to say it someway... it's the only country were marihuana is legal, and it is famous for its red light district. Neither of these two things are something I actually agree with, I havent really think about it anyway, but somehow I wanted to actually see it... just like the guy who gave us a lift told us, it is something you have to see to think by yourself about these things.

One of the things I really wondered after seeing all the "Coffee shops" around Amsterdam, was about where did the marijuana they sell comes from... I mean coming from a country that is "famous" for producing cocaine and other drugs, I actually had no idea of the difference between marijuana, cannabis, coca, cocaine, amapola, etc... and with my sister we kind of wondered wether the pot that is "legally" consumed in Amsterdam (mostly by tourists btw) is "illegally" imported from other countries... I am still wondering about that...

And then we kind of try to think of wether legalizing drugs in Colombia will be good or bad for the country... and wether it is actually possible (having the USA on top of us...) but didnt got a conclusion about that, its just too complicated... but for now, I still think that all the people who use drugs and think of Colombia as the drug paradise should first stop to think of the real consequences drug traffic has in Colombia's society, in the people who live in the countryside, that are either forced to join the guerrilla or paramilitaries, forced to leave their home and run-away to the cities, or otherwise killed... of all the poor people that end up working as "mulas" trying to take drugs into America and Europe, and well, all the problems that Colombia is facing because there is people willing to pay for the drugs, and support a business that gives money to the guerrilla and the paramilitaries to continue doing what they do, and all the war we have in Colombia.

Famours for its flowers... and its leaves??? well, as long as they grow it themselves I guess I have no problem with that...



After walking around the city, we were thinking of going back to the campsite... we kind of wanted to see the "Red Light District", but we didnt know where it was, and we didnt want to see it that much... but then on our way back, we first saw some bars, with "dancing-girls" signs, and then some roads ahead we started seeing the Neon-lighted windows... Seeing women behind a glass trying to "sell" themselves was completely weird... and I actually wondered wether people would actually go there to get their "services" (or as Sue calls it, "window shopping" :p), but then as my sis told me, I guess they dont really care about people looking at them. So, the only thing I have to say is it is probably much better this way thant the usual dark, dangerous, illegal way of doing it in other countries, as long as they are doing it willingly, but still not something I can really understand, or think as normal... (I was just reading, and it seems that even in Amsterdam, it is not really controlled, and there is a lot of human trafficking as well... :s)

sorry, I've got no pics of the neon girls... I was kind of scared of wether I could actually take pics or no...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BPE - Belgium

Aug 21-22...
After a lot of rain during our stay in Paris, we had to wake up really early (still dark), clean the tent, pack our things, and head to the terminal to take the bus to Brussels. Where the weather was still not helping us... we had a really nice lunch after buying a just baked Moroccan bread with corn in it (yummy!), and (canned) stuffed tomatoes (from UAE).
We continued our way to the center of the city and the plaza, but we were completely wet by the time we reach the plaza, We were planning of going on our way that day, but we decided to stay at a hostel, and let our clothes and things dry.





The next day we took the train toward the north of Brussels to see the Atom building, take capoeristic pictures, and then take our way (hitching) towards Netherlands...
We got a ride from a man from Yugoslavia who couldnt speak English... :s he tooks us to Antwerp, but then he dropped us in the middle of the highway... where the cars and trucks went really fast and would never stop... :s so we had to walk up to the road, and then start walking through parks for quite a long time, until we got to a road that lead to Holland, and after some time waiting a woman picked us up, and dropped us at Breda, in the south of Holland (it so amazing that you can go from one country to another and not even notice the border!!!) where we decided to pitch our tent in a small park... and be part of the neighborhood for one night. ;)