Thursday, March 15, 2012

Redirection to!

Hello all.

As some of you are probably aware, I have another blog which I use during my travels. That blog is

Although it is indeed more focused on travel stories, I think it's a bit silly maintaining a blog for different phases of my life. Imagine having one for my thoughts, one for my travels, one for my photographs (I do., one for my dinners, one for my pets, one for the traffic lights I cross.... It's ridiculous.

Therefore, I have decided to merge the two and maintain just the blog. Besides, it's prettier, more interesting, happier and has much more content. Plus, the posts of this blog have been copied over to that one, so you're not missing out on anything.

So, it's over and out from this page and you should all follow the link below to visit and register with the other one (if you're not registered already. As I said, it's not new.)

See you there! :)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Day Beyond Measure!

I just came back from attending the annual TEDx Austin event. If you don't know what a TED event is, read up on it now. No, seriously. Now! Stop reading the crap I write and get on it. Trust me, it will change your life for the better.

Anyway, my brain right now hurts from a very long day of inspiring, intense speeches and I need a while to let everything sink in. However, I will leave you with the following quote that I feel is as related as it can be.

Today is your day.
Your mountain is waiting so get on your way!
Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98¾% guaranteed.)

This is a quote from Dr. Seuss's book titled "Oh, The Places You'll Go!". If the quote inspires you, find the book and read it. (After you do your research on TED. Priorities!!)


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Can you find me?

It doesn't take much for me to get addicted to any new activity I may be introduced to. If I enjoy it, I will go neck-deep into it. Extra points if it involves interaction with other people on any level. Furthermore, if it challenges my skills and my wits, it'll instantly become more important to me than breathing.

My latest discovery is called Geocaching. First time I heard about it was only a week ago and I'm already hooked. It has all the necessary ingredients for guaranteed success. It involves the use of technology, exploring the outdoors, a sense of adventure, thinking outside the box, learning about the place you're visiting and plugging into other people's brains. How can you not love such a thing?

The excitement of finding my first geocache!

In a nutshell, Geocaching is a global treasure hunt. By using GPS technology, geocachers seek items hidden at any location you can possibly imagine by other members of the community. You don't really win anything, other than the satisfaction of having solved a puzzle and having found the "treasure". Amazing thing is, this game is available all over the world. There are millions of caches hidden in every corner of the world, waiting for you to discover them! Watch the short video below to get a few more details about how this works.

Some people think it's very nerdy. Others do not see any beauty in it and consider it silly and pointless. To me, it has *so* many elements I love, I couldn't possibly think of a more fun activity. (Ok, so maybe I can. But let's be honest. In its category it most definitely ranks very high.) I've already looked for a few caches and regardless whether I found them or not, it was a lot of fun. Especially with urban geocaching (within city limits), it's pretty damn funny visiting places where people normally walk by without knowing that there's a tiny, hidden treasure just a few feet from their path. Going to the park late at night with a friend, equipped with a digital compass and a flashlight is something I've never gotten to experience before. There we are, walking through the woods, looking for something that is cleverly hidden. Sometimes we're successful, others we fail. For some of these, a riddle needs to be solved in order for the correct coordinates to be found and that's when the challenge becomes even more interesting.

Geocaching at night!

Hidden in a fake pinecone! How friggin genius is that?!?! (Please ignore my idiotic face.)

The beauty of this activity lies in its primary principle. Geocachers create adventure and challenges in the most unexpected of locations. More importantly, they don't create it for themselves. They create it for others to find and enjoy. Who would have thought that the road sign we drive by every single day on the way to work has a tiny magnetic box hidden behind it, with a little gift inside waiting to be exchanged for something else? Or that the lonely tree in the park behind your house has a beautiful message written on a piece of paper, hanging from one of its branches. Daily routine does not need to be monotonous. Try to find ways to spice things up. Make the trip to work and back a whole different adventure every day. Life is more exciting that way!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's not all about me.

A year and a half ago I had invested in printing, mat-boarding and framing a number of photographs. The purpose of that was to setup a booth at some of the art markets around town and sell my photos there. This was far from my ideal situation of what I would consider as a successful step in my career and progress as a photographer, but I had to make ends meet somehow and, at least, I was not stuck in a depressing office, being a pencil pusher. This seemed like a good idea and I wanted to give it a try.

Working a booth at an outdoor market and trying to sell products to passer-bys had its pros and cons. I was out in the open, I spent my day socializing and meeting people, I would get to talk about my photos and my adventures... Unfortunately, the biggest disadvantage was a crucial one. Sales were not going as well as I hoped for. I managed to push some pieces, but not enough for me to have a sufficient income that would justify this "business" venture. Due to that, I had no choice but to stop doing the market booths and get a full time job instead.

Fast forward to today (well, 3-4 days ago) and I am stuck with a pretty big stock of prints, mat-boarded and/or framed. You see, I began my venture very ambitiously and didn't even consider the possibility that my work may not be as commercially appealing as I anticipated... I thought of organizing some sort of an artistic yard sale and try to give all remaining pieces away for whatever prices people were willing to pay. Unfortunately, that takes time and has absolutely zero guarantees (mainly given the fact that if it's not a cute, cheesy shirt for $3, people won't buy it at a yard sale).

Instead of desperately trying to make some money back from my investment, I decided to cut my losses and donate all my work to a worthwhile cause. I I looked around Austin, trying to find a non-profit that does fundraising auctions and after a brief search, I picked the Austin Humane Society, a shelter for abandoned dogs and cats. I contacted them, they said it would be a huge help to them, so that's how it was going to be.

(This is Seamus. He already has a home, but is adorable enough to earn a mention in a dog-shelter-related post.)

A couple of days later, I found myself loading up dozens of framed photographs into my car. I only kept a few that I are already on the walls of my apartment and some more that I wanted to give to friends as gifts. As I loaded all those frames in the car, I couldn't help thinking I had partially failed. I tried selling my art and I failed. I felt disappointed with myself and did not like the idea of giving up. At the same time, I knew at this point I had no choice, so I tried suppressing all those feelings and just cut my losses.

Soon after, I found myself at the administration office of the Humane Society and that's when it all suddenly changed. I saw the impressively maintained facilities they have, the numerous passionate volunteers working on-site and the excitement and gratitude with which the lady at the office received my photographs. Thanks to all this, I felt good about myself again. I may not be making any monetary profit out of those art pieces, but it doesn't matter. I donated them towards a cause I believe in and I know they will make a difference. In the end, they did serve a purpose far more important than getting a few extra bucks in my pocket. I could just have them sitting in my spare room, hoping that one day an Arab tycoon would knock on my door asking to purchase all my artwork. Instead, they will now make their way towards various homes in and around Austin and the proceeds will assist people who devote a lot of their time and energy in a cause they believe in but don't get anything in return.

This thought made it all worthwhile. Maybe it is slightly egoistic. Maybe I feel better about not having made any profit out of those simply because I now feel good about myself. Or perhaps, I am genuinely excited by the thought that items that could not provide me with what I needed have now become someone else's treasure. The circle of life of an inanimate object. Whatever the case, it doesn't matter. This feels right and nothing bad can come out of it. Reasoning and hypothetical scenarios have no place in one's joy.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Musical Cabbie

Only in Austin would a cab driver send a text message to a client of his at a completely random moment of the day, mentioning that his band will be playing at a downtown venue the following night!



P.S.: This is the first entry of the "Only In..." series. It dawned to me today that I often witness wacky moments that are very typical occurrences in a given city and would, most likely, not be seen elsewhere. Those moments may be taken for granted in their respective locations, but when it is pointed out how unique they are, compared to the rest of the world, they become hilarious.
Look out for more of these as they happen around me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On to bigger and better things!

It's the 2nd of January and I'm pretty sure you can already guess what this post will be about. I was thinking of posting this yesterday or the day before, but I decided against that. There are already hundreds of other posts talking about love, light, prosperity, fertility, hangover and whatever else, either as a reflection towards the departing 2011, or as hope towards the newly-born 2012. The facet of the internet explored by the average user (a.k.a. The Procrastinator) is usually inundated by pointless videos of cute cats, babies doing baby stuff, silly stories that may or may not result in a giggle and reports of brainless individuals having outdone themselves once again. Yet, for just one day a year, everyone diverts their focus from all these things and talks about how terrible the previous year was and how much better the next one will be. I'm not sure if I feel relieved or nauseous...

Anyway, my goal here is not to be cynical, for a change. Or perhaps I should. Because in all honesty, I fall within that exact category of people that I listed earlier. The procrastinator who wastes his time sharing and reading pages about stupid kitten videos and now reports on how great 2012 will be, compared to 2011 that sucked arse!

This past year really did suck in many ways. In order to balance that out and avoid killing myself by overdosing on the most horrible food in the history of teeth, I incorporated various new elements that brightened my life. I ran triathlons, I got heavily involved with improv, I got a job... So yes, overall I had lots of good things going on for me and I'm not going to complain. But there were other facets of my life that were not what you would call pleasant and I'm not looking forward to reliving them.

As for this new year... I'm not going to sit down by the fire and tell you how 2012 will be filled with beautiful stories of unicorns, laughing children and pink bunnies in green fields. I couldn't possibly know. Do you think my toast on January 1st 2011 was: "Here's to a year filled with shitty situations, followed by partially redeeming excitement and joy."? Allow me to save you the trouble of playing the guessing game and tell you that no, that was not my toast.
All I aim to achieve in 2012 is to experience new moments. I want to meet people that will inspire me. I want to walk on paths that I have never visited before. I want to learn a new language. I want to practice a new art. By the end of the year, I want to have created a new snapshot of me, just as I did the year before and the year before that and so on.

Where does this leave me? Once again, not knowing what's going to come my way. I have ideas and desires and I'm certainly going to try and make things happen. But at the end of the day, I have no clue what I'll end up facing this year. Everything will be a surprise I prepare for myself and this really excites me. Blindfolding myself and running forward as fast as I can makes me feel exhilarated and alive. Believe me, it's worth trying!

I only know one thing for sure. My time in the US is reaching its epilogue. I don't know what/where/when, but I do know that the end of 2012 will not find me in the same continent. Other than that, the upcoming pages of my book are utterly blank. I'm looking forward to see what's in stock for me. Whatever it is, good or bad, I will embrace it with all my heart and turn it into the fuel I need to keep on going.

So here's to another 365 days that are guaranteed, once again, to surprise the shit out of me.

Happy new year!


P.S. I wanted to leave you with a song, but I couldn't come up with one that I considered suitable. What is one song you would associate with inspiration for things to come?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


A friend recently reminded me of an excerpt from Victor Hugo's book, Les Miserables.

"What did he do during the trip?
What was he thinking about?
As in the morning, he looked at the trees, the thatched roofs, the plowed fields, and the diversities of a landscape which every turn in the road changed as he passed. What is more melancholy and more profound than to see a thousand different objects for the first and last time? This is a form of contemplation which sometimes suffices the soul and almost does away with the necessity of thought.

To travel is to be born and to die at every moment!"

I can relate to this last phrase 100%. I feel it to the depths of my soul. Traveling throws me out of whack at any given moment. I lose myself and find myself in every step. The experiences, the laughter and the tears, the beauty and the discomfort, the confusion and the discovery... I love everything about being on the road.

Because I never know what's going to happen next.
Because the rain tastes differently.
Because even a building in shambles is beautiful.
Because I can never know in what or in whom I will find inspiration.
Because I allow myself to spend half an hour observing the rain drops striking the corner of a rock.
Because the adventure of struggling to communicate with somebody who does not speak my language fascinates me!
Because I eat and drink something new!
Because I overtake a police car, while doing 90mph and nobody cares!
Because holding my passport in my hand feels better than holding a trophy.
Because I love seeing photos of far-away places and thinking "I've walked through there!".
Because following a pattern annoys the hell out of me!
Because it always cracks me up seeing people wear their sunglasses inside an airplane.
Because having nowhere to go, means being able to go anywhere!
Because carrying my world on my back is freedom.
Because the road taught me that extreme sadness can be turned into indescribable happiness!
Because a 90 year old man's smile tells more stories than any book I could ever pick up.
Because the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
Because admiring the breathtaking photo of a beautiful waterfall cannot compare to bathing in it!

Once you taste freedom, no wealth in the world can replace that feeling.

This is what defines me! This is what makes every cell in my body smile!
Dying... And being born again...