LSD Trip in the Wild Coast, South Africa

Yesterday, we rode over 450 kilometers mostly under the rain. In the last 5 hours of the ride we got fog, enough rain to get us wet to the bone and the temperature dropped down enough to make us shiver in cold. The roads have gotten much worse which required full concentration at all times. The paved roads had potholes the size of small craters and the dirt roads had mud, gravel and big ruts. I will not list the variety of animals on the road…

Yesterday’s ride has been the hardest one in the last 3,000+ Km that we have ridden in South Africa. We got really scared when a black goat jumped in front of us on the highway. I’m not sure who was more scared, the goat or us, but luckily he jumped back where he came from just seconds before we hit it.  In the last hour of the ride it was dark; the road became very technical with a mix of sections of gravel, mud, animals, rain and fog, with steep up hills and down hill. We did not expect or plan for the ride to be so long, difficult and exhausting.

As I write, we are in the Wild Coast of South Africa. Our lodge is south of Coffee Bay on top of a beautiful hill overseeing the Indian Ocean. The waves are breaking loudly against the cliff and the full moon rays are struggling to come through the dark clouds.  Only the thunders allow us to get glimpses of our magical surroundings.

The Wild Coast is one of South Africa’s most remote stretches of shoreline. The scenery is surreal, the energy around us is paradisiac and after a delicious meal this is the perfect time to reflect on the experiences we have had in the last few weeks. As we look back we realize that the past few days have been a Look, See and Decide (LSD) trip.  We will let the pictures narrate the trip:

Riding_with_Johan

When we arrived in South Africa we did not know what to expect. We were excited to be arriving into this wild continent and at the same time scared from all the stories we hear on the news. On our arrival Johan in the picture above picked us up at the airport and for the next few days he was our guardian angel. He and his family looked after us, provided guidance on our trip and helped us get organized. The most amazing thing was that we have never met Johan before our arrival and we connected with him through a motorcycle forum.

garden_road_south_africa

We rode our first 1,000 Kilometers in the area around Cape Town and we could have easily ridden much more as you can appreciate from the picture above.

Cape_Agulhas_South_Africa_T_n_S

After a week in the Cape Town area we headed to Cape Agulhas the southernmost point in Africa where the Indian Ocean meets with the Atlantic Ocean. A sense of happiness and achievement surrounded us.  Finally we felt that we were in Africa in a once in a lifetime adventure.

cango_caves_oudtshoornFrom Cape Agulhas we headed inland to Oudtshoorn to visit the Cango Caves. We did the adventure tour that required climbing and sliding across narrow holes under the grounds. The smallest passage was just under 30cm high at the exit! The cave system of tunnels and chambers was impressive to say the least and the picture above does not do justice to the beauty of the caves.

Plettenberg_Bay_Diamond

 

From Oudtshoorn we went to Plettenberg Bay. We stayed in Brian’s house (identity hidden) shown in the picture above. Brian is an ex-diamond smuggler. He made a small fortune in the 80’s going to Namibia and buying diamonds that were stolen from the diamond beaches.  Brian told us that in Namibia there are beaches that are full of diamonds and you can pick them up from the sand. These are not large diamonds but they are big enough for wedding rings. Anyway, Brian was a very interesting character with a lot of great stories.

view_head_knysna

While in Plettenberg Bay, we went to Knysna for the day. The views of “the Heads” where spectacular and the food amazing. It was a good day!

Addo_Elephant_Park

From Plettenberg Bay we headed to Addo to see the Elephant National Park. It is one of the few places if not the only place in South Africa where you get to see so many elephants together in one place. The elephants provided a lot of food for thought. It reminded us of the Indian God Ganesh and our time in Asia. It reminded us that we are in Africa. It reminded us that this animals are being killed for their ivory tusks.

John_Orange_Elephant_Backpackers

In Addo we were guest of John the owner of Orange Elephant Backpackers. John is a motorcyclist who read about our trip and wanted to support us along our way north. It was great to meet him and we were very thankful for his help!

road_hole_in_the_wall_wild_coast

From Addo we came to Coffee Bay. Yesterday due to the rain our camera drowned and we were not able to take pictures. The picture above and below are from today’s ride to Hole In The Wall a few kilometers south of Coffee Bay.

wild_coast_south_africa_beach

The beaches in the Wild Coast are just unbelievable!  It was nice to see the sun after a long day riding under the rain.

hole_in_the_whole_wild_coast_south_africa

The famous Hole In the Wall.

white_clays_coffee_bay

The picture above is where we are currently writing this blog post. On the right is our small hut overseeing the Indian Ocean. As we Look back we realize that we have Seen much more than we expected and it will be challenging to Decide what to do after the Trip.  Maybe it is just better not to think about it and do what my father told Tarci: “Go with the flow and just keep both wheels in balance”.

A More Spiritual View of Bali

It has been about 5 months since we started our trip. Originally we had planned to visit Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines in these last few weeks of our Asia journey. We will definitely visit these countries one day but we felt that it would be more important to stop for some time to consolidate our knowledge obtained so far and finish our preparation for Africa. We chose to return to Ubud because the food, the energy and the people are great!

We spent the first few days in Bali at the beach. We visited one of Bali’s sea temples in Uluwatu. Although it is a small temple, it sits on top of a fascinating cliff.

Bali_Uluwatu temple_Trip We Love

It is interesting how we looked at Bali differently this time. We were more curious to learn about local rituals and to visit spiritual places. It seems we became more sensitive to energy than we used to.  For the first time in our lives we chanted a mantra at the beach for almost 2 hours! It is one of our favorite mantras, called Shaanti Path, and it is a mantra for Peace, Harmony and Happiness.


Bali_Mantras at Dreamland Beach_Trip We Love

 

This was the longest Salva’s bear has ever been! Tarci convinced him to trim it a bit now that it is hot.

We send all of you Peace, Harmony and Happiness through this beautiful sunset at Dreamland Beach… May all your dreams come true!

 

Bali_Dreamland Beach Sunset_Trip We Love

Yoga Training in Nepal

We arrived in Kathmandu on September 21st, about 1 week before our training. At the airport the immigration process was very manual but it went by rapidly. We could get the visa on arrival for up to 3 months.  Outside of the airport we got a phone chip and had to get our fingerprints for that (not with a biometric reader but by sticking our fingers in ink). We had a recommended driver to pick us up. The car was so tiny, almost like Mr. Bean’s car, and had only 4 gears. All other cars looked old and most of the streets were under construction due to a road expansion project. It felt like we had travelled back in time!

A simple country with simple people and SO MUCH to teach us! We stayed at Budhanilkantha, north of Kathmandu, at a peaceful Cottage on top of the mountains with a beautiful view.

 

Shivapuri Mountains_Budanikantha_Nepal

In the village of Budhanilkantha lies a 5 meter tall sleeping Vishnu (a popular Hindu God) in the middle of a small pond. The sculpture from the 5th century represents Vishnu sleeping in the cosmic ocean while resting on Ananta Sesa the thousand headed snake.

Vishnu Temple_Kathmandu_Nepal

Salva was blessed by the sadhu (holy man) dressed in white on the right
Yogi_Sadhu_Vishnu Temple Nepal 

On September 29th we headed to the house where we would spend our next 6 weeks in our 320h Yoga Teacher Training & 50h Thai Massage Certification.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means to connect or join.  That is why Yoga is commonly understood as body, mind & soul union, or matter with higher consciousness or self with Divine. The most important thing is that Yoga is a powerful means to an end. In Yogic tradition, the ultimate goal of all human pursuits is moksha, or liberation. Liberation from insecurities, desires, and limitations; freedom from all that separates us from the Divine. The end of all human pursuits is everlasting peace, happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Yoga helps to cleanse and purify the mind, which in turn prepares us to know our true Self.

In our journey to learn about different holistic healing therapies in Asia and to realize our svadharmas (true purpose in life), a training in Yoga felt like the right path. Before the training we were required to read 3 classical Yoga books: The Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. We highly recommend these readings. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what is yoga and several people are starting to believe that physical excercises is all to this practice.

During our training we learned about the history of yoga, the different branches, the eight limbs of yoga (yama, niyama, asana,pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi), anatomy, subtle-anatomy, prana, koshas, vayus, chakras, mantras, mudras, bandhas… basically we were introduced to a whole new language, world and lifestyle of Yoga.

We were 9 students from all over the world training and living together in a house – ashram style. We woke up around 5am, daily activities started at 6am and ended at 8:30pm. Sunday was free.

This was our first day at the house after the Initiation Ceremony

Nepal_Yoga Teacher Training_Initiation Ceremony_Trip We Love

Our Yogi-Nomad teachers kept us on a tight schedule but also gave us their hearts during our training. We feel grateful to have been part of such a beautiful group.

Our teacher Yogatara (founder of Isha Center) teaching Yoga Nidra, a technique which we loved!


Nepal_Yoga Nidra_Trip We Love

Tarci & Salva Teaching Yoga Classes

Nepal_Tarci Teaching Baddha Konasana_Trip we Love


Nepal_Salva Teaching Navasana_Trip we Love

Besides the Yoga training, as part of our course we also learned Thai Massage. The theoretical foundation of this spiritual practice is based on the concept of invisible energy lines running through the body. Working on these energy lines can break blockages, stimulate the flow of energy and help to restore well-being. An Indian physician called Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, who used to be a friend of the Buddha, is the founder of this healing technique. The giving of Thai massage is a physical application of loving kindness.

Tarci & Salva giving and receiving Thai Massage from each other

Nepal_Salva Blind Thai Massage_Trip We Love


Nepal_Tarci Thai Massage_Trip We Love

At the end of 4 weeks our teachers organized a 3-day “field trip” to visit some of the most sacred places around Kathmandu.

View of Himalayas after sunrise

Nepal_Nagarkot_Himalayas View_Trip We Love
 

The picture above was taken at Nagarkot, which is a village part of Bhaktapur district. It is about 2,200m above sea level and is renowned for its sunrise view of the Himalaya (including Mount Everest), as well as other snow-caped peaks. It was worth waking up early in the cold to see this sunrise!

On our way to the temples and villages that we visited we were lucky to meet very interesting holy men, like the one in the picture below.

Nepal_Baba_Trip we Love

This is a beautiful family we met at a local village

Nepal_Beautiful Family at Village_Trip we Love

We visited a charming medieval town called Bhaktapur, which means “City of Devotees”, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and artwork. 

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Nepal_Bhaktapur Durbar Square_Trip We Love

On October 31st, Tarci’s Dad birthday, we visited one of our favorite places due to its powerful energy, the Boudhanath stupa. It is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is said that anything you wish for comes true as long as it is aligned with your svadharma (purpose in life). We prayed and lit candles for the birthday Dad, our families and friends.

 Boudhanath Stupa

Nepal_Boudhanath Stupa_Trip We Love

In the last 2 weeks of training we had to give a one-hour and a one-hour and a half yoga class. We also had to give a Thai massage blind-folded. These were all experiences we will never forget. It was beautiful to see the growth of our classmates, our own development and to share an important part of our lives with such special souls.

Our wonderful group!

Nepal_Yoga Training Class Nov 2012_Trip We Love

After the training it was harder to unwind than we imagined. We kept waking up early, chanting mantras and practicing every day. It did not take long for us to realize that we had not only gotten a diploma but a complete change in lifestyle.

During our last 3 days in Nepal we stayed at Isha Center and met Darshana, a sannyasa who is continuing her yoga studies at the Bihar School in India. On November 11th she took us back to the Pashupatinath Temple, which is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We had been there before in our tour with the group but this time she showed us the more local side of the temple. We stood in front of the entrance to the main temple (which is forbidden to enter for Non-Hindus) while we made our offering and received and amazing energy! We also walked by the cremations on the riverbank, had prasad (holy food offering) with a Baba in his cave and found a hidden Ganesh temple where his mouse showed up to greet us! A lot of auspicious encounters. We had wished to celebrate our anniversary in a more spiritual way, but we had nothing planned. That was the best gift the universe could have given us!

Tiger Baba preparing prasad in his cave

Nepal_Tiger Baba in Cave_Trip We Love

 Tarci with Darshana at the hidden Ganesh cave in Pashupatinath Temple

Nepal_Pashupatinath Temple_Hidden Ganesh cave_Trip We Love

After Nepal, instead of continuing to explore different places and cultures, we decided to stop for some time to process what we have learned, brainstorm new ventures and prepare for Africa.

Visiting Family in Hong Kong

Our trip in Asia would not be complete without a visit to Carla, Salvador’s sister.  Carla has lived in China for about 7 years and is now living in one of her favorite cities, Hong Kong. We arrived one day before her birthday and were lucky to find a delicious raw chocolate cake to celebrate.

Hong Kong_Soho_Carla Birthday_Trip We Love

Besides invading her cozy mansion we also took all of her free time to tour us around! Carla showed us her office, the beautiful Hong Kong view at night, took us to nice restaurants around Soho, crossed the border during the weekend to show us Shenzhen (where she used to live) and even spoiled us with a reflexology massage in a local Chinese spa.  We were happy to see a bit of Carla’s life, impressed with her Chinese skills and proud to hear all the stories of what she has lived through.

Hong Kong_View of Bay_Trip We Love

After being surrounded by so many buildings and experience so much city life we already missed nature.  We decided to go to Cheung Chau beach, which is about 30 minutes from Hong Kong by boat. There is a nice park around the ocean which is great for breathing in fresh air. The water is not the best for bathing because there are too many boats close by but it was relaxing to be by the sea.

China_Cheung Chau_Beach View_Trip we Love

It was  hard to say goodbye to our favorite “Asian” host. We really enjoyed our stay with Carla and we look forward to meeting her again for Christmas in Bali!!!

Ubud, the Holistic Healing Center of Bali

Bali is one of the more than 13,000 islands of Indonesia. We decided to spend 10 days in the cultural and holistic healing center of the island, Ubud. The town was originally an important source of medicinal herbs and plants so it was named after the Balinese word ubad, which means medicine.

We arrived during one of the most important religious ceremonies in the country, Galungan. It is said that the spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. It was nice to see the decoration and happy people in the streets celebrating. It actually felt a little auspicious because we arrived on the first day and left on the last!

Beautiful lotus pond in front of a temple

Ubud_Bali_White_Lotus_Restaurant_Trip_We_Love

Kids celebrating Galungan
Ubud_Bali_Galungan
Our “backyard”
Ubud_Bali_Trip_Love_Love_River
Outdoors in Ubud
We tried several healthy vegetarian and raw food restaurants and spent a lot of time reading and enjoying the beautiful surrounding
Ubud_bali_restaurant_rice_fields
We loved Bali so much that we plan to go back very soon…

Home Away From Home in Thailand

Home_Chiang_Mai

Nowadays, you can find pretty much anything on the internet including great deals on housing. We are using airbnb to search for places to stay and found this gorgeous two-floor small apartment within a Spa in northern Thailand for less than 30 USD/per night. In the picture above you can see the roof (the one of the far right) of our current home.

The benefits of staying within a Spa are many as you can imagine but we enjoy the most being able to have a delicious healthy meal outdoors in the restaurant while we plan our next destination.

Break_Fast_Chang_Mai

Another benefit that we are enjoying tremendously is that we are far away from major cities and within walking distance we can visit villages and watch the local farmers while they plant the rice fields.

Rice_Fields_Chiang_Mai

Finally, waking up with an amazing view is a priceless experience. Our bedroom view in the mornings in pictured below.

Room_View_Chang_Mail

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