Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

travel update from el granja de roble paraguay

Saludos a todos,
Paraguay is not a cheap country for travelers. It is a cheap country to live in I think but not to travel in. Food is not any cheaper than in Argentina or Uruguay (also not particularly cheap countries). Nor is ground transportation. The big problem however is lodging. It is almost impossible to find a cheap place to stay. As far as I can tell there are only 2 hostels in the whole country, and both of them cost more than anyplace I stayed in Uruguay or Argentina. Okay, there is a place in Asuncion called Residencia de Silva which is essentially a hostel and it is only about $11.00 or !2.00 USD (50,000guarani). So there are maybe 3. The black cat Hostel in Asuncion charges $16.00USD for a dorm bed!!! About double the prices for Ecuador or Peru or most central American countries. More than anything I have seen on the net for Lithuania Latvia and Estonia. South America should not cost more than Europe!!
Normally Restaurant dining costs about triple (usually) what it would cost to eat at home. there is some okay street food here. empanadas are about 50cents each 3 would be a good meal, Whole roasted chicken with some manioc is 6 USD enough for 3 or 4 meals I would guess. I ate a meal of Arroz con Pollo sold by some old women in a park in Asuncion that cost about 2.50 USD. The problem is there is nothing healthy or vegetarian to buy cheap in the street. You could make sandwiches or salads in your hotel room to save money. I did that in Encarnacion. just eat raw fruit for a meal or two per day is another option cheap, healthy and delicious.
For me my time here has been very inexpensive thanks to the warm and gracious hospitality of Emilio and Lili who have refused to take any money for letting me stay at their house. If not for this, I would not be able to stay within my budget.
I do not understand countries that do not have any infrastructure for budget travel. Even as an American where we do not have any either, I fail to understand it. It seems like a good money making industry that would benefit the host country in many ways. I believe that to open a hostel would be a good money making proposition, yet there arent any. you can lease a big old house and put 3 bunk beds in each bedroom and charge 30 or 35,000guarani (7 or 8 USDollars) per bed.While a cheap hotel room here are about 50 or 60,000 per night (12 or 14 USD), but they offer no kitchen access.
My first two weeks in Paraguay were very quiet for me internally. I just was being here. it is sort of what i have been striving for for many years but the change is so subtle, that it is hard to tell if it is really happening or not.
Now I am here. I am in a little farm called Ganja el Roble. It is owned by Peter and his wife Andresa. he is German she is Paraguayan. they have 3 children age 11(nestor) 9 Hanibal and 6 (ameli). There is also a way cool german guy who is working here called Chris. Chris was a social worker in Germany for about 15 years. Then he got tired of it and started a taxi minibus busintess. It specialized in takeing old sick people to and fromthe doctors office. Then the German gov-vomit decided that it costs too much to subsidize transportation for old sick people to go to the doctor (bush Gingrich and Palin must be smiling now as they read this) so they stopped. Told the old fogies to hitch hike or walk or just die. They needed the money for the war on terrorism in Afganistan...So anyway Chris decided to come to Paraguay. He has been here for a year. he works about half the day and gets room and board and 300,000Guarani a month.($60.00USD) it is enough.
As i write this letter I have been here at this peaceful organic farm for about 10 days. i am loving it except there are a lot of mosquitos. Peter is an avid acquarium guy and he has 6 large ponds where he raises food fish to sell. he also keeps milk cows, chickens and hogs. the chickens lay eggs but being totally free range, they can never find them!! His wife Andresa is an excellent cook and she has been getting sauce making lessons from me in return for bread making lessons from her. A coupleo of backpackers come through from time to time but mostly there is almost no turism here is Paraguay. It is real quiet and tranquil and i am really enjoying myself.
there is no TV here and the internet connection is very bad. I am hoping to mail this as soon as I finish but last few days that was impossible. A small price to pay for being out here in such a tranquil environment, I have been reading some Gore Vidal books and some Eckhardt Tolle books. They both have a much more optimistic outlook on the future than i do. although Gore Vidal is a little...Well, he has good points and is well researched but his diagnosis is that America is a very sick child. It is a little depressing. I can not recommend either of these two authors enough. they are both brilliant.
I was surfing the web in Posadas Argentina, looking for a picture of Maitreya. The buddha of the future. He is sometimes thought of as a boddhisatva. In statues and art he is always depicted as seated on a strait backed chair, not with his feet crossed as Gotama Sidhartha (the guy most people refer to as Buddha) is normally depicted.
A lot of people also confuse buddha with budhai, the smiling fat guy with the little cloth sack and prayer beads. Budai is a chinese diety. In Japan he is called Hotei,which means cloth bag he is the god of contentment and happiness, guardian of children, and patron of bartenders. He is not buddha. but Some Buddhist traditions consider him a Buddha or a boddhisatva, sometimes he is thought of or rather confused with the future buddha, Mairtreya.
The primary story that concerns Budai in Zen budhism (Zen started in Japan and means concentration) goes like this: Budai is said to go around traveling and giving candy to poor kids for free , but asking a penny from Zen monks or lay practitioners he meets. One day a monk goes up to him and asks, "What is the meaning of Zen?" Budai drops his bag. So then he asks "How does one realize Zen?" . Budai then took up his bag and continued on his way. This little story is sometimes used as a teaching riddle or koan. I feel that Budhism has a certain afinity with backpackers. Do you know what I mean?
Well, I found some references to Pacceka Buddhas as well. I have a special afinity with Pacceka Buddha. Pacceka Budha is an enlightened being (According to Ajahn Cha ) who has achieved enlightenment without benefit of a teacher. The independent path. Somebody who meditates on his/her own and does his own thing and finds the truth that lies behind the universal illusion of the material world. I think if I am going to get enlightened in this lifetime, this might be the path for me.
Gurdjieff called his way the way of the clever man or the way of the sly man. Stating that the sly man "steals his enlightenment". The way of the outlaw, may be to steal your enlightenment, I think of my way as the way of the outlaw. I have an outlaw spirit. i have never been very good at taking orders (or unfortunately) even advice and have always had disdain for virtually all authority figures.
A Pacceka (Pah-check-ah) Buddha can not teach. He may know but he may not tell. He has no disciples or followers. he is NOT a bodhisatvah who wants to help others, but he is a seeker of truth interested first and foremost in his own liberation, his own awakening . I think of the announcement on the airplanes. "In the unlikely event of cabin decompression put on your won oxygen mask BEFORE you assist your neighbor." Gurdjieff used to say "the best thing you can do for your fellow man is to work on yourself"
A monk without a monastery. A king without a throne. I love my independence so much. I do not enjoy being dependent upon or being depended upon by others. Perhaps I am on the path of the Pacceka Buddha.
So anyway, here are a couple of quotes you may want to think about until the next update.
Peace and love to all of you,
Roberto Mochilero
"While I can not prove this, I think not having a TV, or at least not watching it, is a big factor when it comes to choosing unconventional paths. Naturally, there’s this popular idea that TV feeds the masses with certain values, but I believe this is exaggerated. Most programming offers fairly reticent opinions and is quite free of content. The great beauty of TV is therefore not so much that it acts as a form of active propaganda steering people towards certain goals, but that it keeps people from having goals in the first place." Jacob Lund Fisker
"If fighting is inconsistent with an ideal society, then fighting will not bring the ideal society. A spiritual result is produced by spiritual means and a material result by material means. If war is evil, as almost everyone admits, then it can not be the right way to produce a good result." Howard Brinton

Sunday, March 13, 2011

travel update from Asuncion Paraguay

Hello Everyone,
Paraguay is one of the places that few travelers ever go. On the one hand, it is cool to go off the beaten track or the gringo trail. On the other hand there is often a rather good reason travelers and tourists go to certain places. I mean who goes to USA and spends a week exploring Newark N.J.? But as for me, well it just seemed like the thing to do at the time!
After all this travelling and rambling one accumulates acquaintences. I am staying here in Asuncion Py. with Dr Emilio and Professor Lili at their home. They have graciously invited me to stay here for the couple of weeks I am going to be in Asuncion. They are marvellous folks. i am so glad to know them. We have excellent chats each evening on topics as far reaching as the holy trinity, to why all governments fail ( Paraguayanos know all about failed government) to how to avoid dengue fever.
Lili taught me how to make the Paraguay classic dish called chipa guazu. i tried it in the huge Mercado cuatro downtown the other day and really loved it and wanted to learn to make it. We made it together.She was the chef I was the clean up committee. It is a vegetarian dream on a plate. As all truly great recipes it is so easy a 6 year old could make it yet complex in taste and texture enough for any one to ruin it!! ( write back if you want a recipe.)
Dengue fever is endemic here. This means that there is enough of it in the survivors blood that it does not need to be brought in from new sources. it just is here. Sometimes it seems to be more contagious than others and now there is an outbreak. It is on the news at night how people are dying in hospital. Aye Zukes!! Freaking me out man! This is why I always say "I like cockroaches more than mosquitos". Cockroaches eat bedbugs and leave people alone. All they do is help clean up the mess we make. Plus they are like China. That is, they are very numerous and soon when humans die of their own greed and mess, they will take over the world. First the chinese and then the cucarachas. Just my opinion.
I bought an e-tick this morning on kayak.com I will fly from newark to london including all tax, fees and luggage for under 300 USD. first leg of this summers travel on siberian railroad. the plan is to fly to london. get on a cheap ryan air flight to the baltics. have a week in each of lithuania latvia estonia and then cheap ferry boat to finland for a week. See my traveling friend Samuel and then train from helsinki to st petersburg. from st pete to moscow. trans siberian from moscow to mongolia. mongolia to china. china to nepal. nepal to god knows where!!! Wanna come?
I sure get upset when the dollar takes a down tick. When international monetary markets whack off big chunks of my savings by devaluing the dollar. Easy to forget that the observer is the observed. The government is devaluing the dollar. they have no value for the dollar. they think it is worthless. That is why they spend billions of them as if it were nothing. because it is nothing to them. Do you devalue the dollar? Is it nothing to you?
do you treat your hard earned dollars (euros, pesos, pounds, whatever...) as if they were worthless? $500.00 watches? $75.00 shirts? $90.00 hotel rooms? $20.00 pizzas? $500 Bar B Que Machine? New car every 3 years?
Do not complain when the government acts like you do. Americans complain the government is not fiscally responsible. We say they borrow tons of money and spend it without a care. What Do you do? do you borrow and spend? Do you have credit card debt? do you think of your consumer goods as investments? A bond is a debt. The walls of the prison are made of bonds. Living in debt is living in bondage. I have no debt. i am free of debt, I live in freedom.
The word mortgage comes from the french language. It means death lock. I aint making this up. If you want to be free all you have to do is say no. Don't spend money on stuff you dont need. Life is for living not for working and collecting stuff.
The American government spends more money on guns than any other government. The american people spend more money on guns than any other people. Are you safer? do you feel safe having that big army? the closet full of guns? Is it nice to know your government has enough money to buy and mnaintain 5,000 nuclear war heads but insufficient funds to give you free health care? makes me feel all warm and comfy inside.
I am in a place with all the internet access I want for free and so I have been reading on the net about the terrible destruction in Japan. Many of you who recieve this will remember i predicted that japan was gathering terrible karma for continuing to hunt whales. I said their greed would anger Mother Ocean. Well look here now...Still my heart aches for those poor people but also for the poor whales they kill for to satisfy their greed.
Below is a link to the next place i will be staying. It sure seems like a cool place to me. I am enjoying my time at home of Emilio and Lili. They are so kind to me. Lili and I cook together almost every evening. She is more or less a vegetarian and so am I. More or less! Emilio is just enjoying the nice things coming out of the kitchen!
I will close out here and leave you all with a couple of quotes from people i admire.
Love and Peace to all of you,
Roberto Mochilero
Tel. (595) - 0985898446
"A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy." -Aldous Huxley -

"It's no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
Jiddu Krishnamurti

"If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law."
Winston Churchill

Monday, March 07, 2011

travel update from Asuncion Paraguay

¡Hola Amigos!
So, back in 2005, when I was in Argentina the first time, lots of people told me how nice Cordoba was. So I went and stayed a couple of days and honestly, I just did not get it. It was not bad but did not really love the city. So this time I went back and I still do not get it. It is just not my city, I guess. I stayed 3 uneventful days and left, wondering why I stayed 3 days and why everyone loves this place so much.
I took an overnight bus to Resistencia, the city of statues. I could not find a cheap place to stay. So I got a room at hotel Alfil and it cost 80 pesos, $20.00 USD with no breakfast, no internet, no kitchen, no pool, there is air conditioning but it costs 10 pesos extra. Previously the most money I had payed to stay in Argentina was 41 pesos. I walked all around the town and decided it was not worth the cost of the room to remain here ( though I must say the room was very nice ) and decided to leave the next day and go to Posadas. There are truly a lot of statues but they were not interesting enough for me to justify the expense of staying.
I got a dorm bed at hostel "Vuela el Pez". They are friendly and they have a good kitchen to use and a nice, small swimming pool and free internet. The place over looks the Parana river and has an excellent view. On the other side of the river is Encarnacion Paraguay. I am planning to enter Paraguay, from here taking the international bus service over the bridge on Wednesday, which happens to be my birthday.
Posadas has a certain charm and (who would guess??) a number of excellent statues scattered around the town. There was one that was really rather remarkable. A very large work ( obra grande ) of a man drinking hierba mate (yayrba mah-tay). The piece is made entirely of old propane gas canisters cut up and welded together. Very beautiful. I thought I would only be in Posadas overnight but I was quite relaxed and I still had a few Argentina pesos left so I decided to stay a little longer.
So my third day in Posadas I have been lounging around in my swimming costume alternately getting hot in the sun and diving into the pool to cool off. I am seated on a comfortable arm chair and drinking hierba mate. When I first tried this stuff, I sure did not like it. I remembered my experience in Malaysia with Drurian Fruit and how my cool Australian traveling buddy, Colin, promised if I tried it a few times I would get the point and begin to really enjoy it. He was right!
Colin is an organic gardener from Australia who had cancer, and still had it after surgery and the prognosis was bad and he cured himself by fasting on certain herbal teas.
We hired a guide together and trekked in the Sumatra jungle looking for Raflesia flowers.
I can not help but to reflect on what a sweet life I have had. What a sweet life I have still. I am so lucky to have been so blessed. I have a loving supportive family and great friends. There is wonderful and patient woman who loves me and is waiting for me in Vilcabamba.I have been lucky enough to have traveled all over this lovely planet meeting cool and fascinating people, eating drurian fruit and drinking hierba mate.
Okay. So now it is a week later. I am in Asunsion. I crossed into Paraguy and stayed in Encarnacion for 2 nights. Decent hotel but I was molested and attacked by the dreaded chinches de cama (bed bugs). I went to trinidad for a day trip to see Jesuit Ruins. this is the area around which the film "The Mission" starring Robert De Niro was made. the film was about the missions here. Good movie as I recall. it must be about 20 years old now.
The ruins were interesting. Not the best of ruins but interesting none the less.
I left Encarnacion on 5 March and took a bus to Asuncion, which is where I am writing from. I am a guest of Dr.Emilio (a pediatrician) and his wife Lili (a professor of English, who also speaks french latin and spanish). I met them at their daughters wedding in Capilla del Monte. We liked each other and they invited me to visit and "make myself at home" at their house in Asuncion. So it is and it is so. We have been having good times and I expect to be here a couple of weeks. Yesterday, Emilio and I went to the birthday party of his uncle who is now 85.
Great Party! A MOUNTAIN of really tasty foods!! Cold beers, really happy people. Lots of kids and dogs running around playing. I have tried 4 of the beers here now. I like Shnieder the best so far. There is another one called Baviera which I have not yet tried, but I have lots of time. This is the hottest country in south America, so the people drink more beer than any other intoxicant. Paraguay is S. America second largest grower of marijuana but so far I havent tasted any of that here. It is very plentiful in Uruguay and Argentina and here too, I am sure, but Emilio and Lili do not indulge.
I tried the famous sopa Paraguayana at the party which is like a cornbread, baked in a wood oven. Fantastic! There were many tasty salads and of course manioc (yuca) which is served here with every meal and is extremely popular. Not my favorite. It tastes like candle wax. Estelita in Vilcabamba has a lot of really good recipes for it but other than her kitchen I do not like it too much. I am also really enjoying the Chipa too. They are little breads sometimes made with manioc or corn or peanuts. they sell them in the streets everywhere. Cheap and delicious. The salads were all good but my favorite was one of beet root and potatoes. Later there was a good home made cake.
I ate too much. It was a great party and I am grateful to have been abel to go. Most of the time, travelers do not get to experience the true life of the people that live in the country where they are visiting. So This was a real treat.
I must be very careful here. There is quite a lot of Dengue fever. this is transmitted by mosquitos. I bought a jar of "OFF" repelent and I am applying it to my person daily. the really dangerous times for dengue is between 6am and 11am. It is a deadly disease that kills many people, children and adults. High fevers and terribly painful. the only treatment is bed rest, alcohol baths and paracetemal. Aspirin makes it worse. there is no vacine. Dr. Emilio has had it twice! This is amazing as the mortality rate for the second infection is very high. He is truly lucky to be alive. I am being careful and wearing long pants all morning. Well that is all for now. Next update in a couple of weeks when i leave asuncion.
Peace and love to all of you,
"When we see the shadow on our images, are we seeing the time 11 minutes ago on Mars? Or are we seeing the time on Mars as observed from Earth now? It's like time travel problems in science fiction. When is now; when was then?" Bill Nye

"I don't think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there's some kind of change."Bob Dylan

"Every body's talking about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."Noam Chomsky