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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

last travel update from Paraguay

Saludos a Todos,
So I am ready to go. This is my last letter from Paraguay. I am leaving tomorrow, quite early. I have a flight in the morning at 7:05. So therefore, I must be at the airport at 5:00 in the morning. Oh lovely. I must take a taxi because the buses are unreliable so early. Interesting that the taxi will cost about 100,000 Guarani for a journey of 30 minutes. The bus from Villarica to Asuncion, a journey of 200 km that lasts 4 hours costs 20,000 guarani. The taxi to the airport is 5 times more expensive and 1/5 the distance!
Taxi travel is the most expensive mode of travel to get from "Point A" to "Point B" anywhere on the Planet. I usually avoid using taxi as if I were avoiding military service, but sometimes...well you've got to do what you've got to do. I don't mean join the army, I mean take a cab!!
The last update I sent was written in the beautiful Granja de Roble. The organic farm and guest ranch I stayed in near Concepcion. I stayed there for 17 days. It was a little above my normal budget but worth the price. I spent just under $23.00 per day with beer, rum, a poquito ganja, mosquito repellant, side trips etc. all included. I had a private cabin and the price included full board which was rather necessary since It was an isolated location and it would have been a terrible drag to have to buy food and go to and from the market. The food was prepared fresh daily and it was truly excellent. Like a rustic gourmet holiday. While I was there I discovered a lovely little beverage called CAIPIRINHA.
A CAIPIRINHA is the national cocktail of Brazil (who knew?!?) It is prepared like this:
you get a cold beer mug out of the refrigerator. Cut 1+1/2 or 2 limes into chunks and put them into the mug with two good spoons of sugar. With a mortar, you crush the lime sugar mixture up real well then add crushed ice to fill the glass up. Then you put in as much rum as you can fit. Stir well and drink that baby down! By Golly she tastes like lemonade! Potent and delicious. I am a big fan of this concoction. If you want to add a bunch of mint leaves you can but then it is called a mojito.
My time was spent at the Granja (farm) de Roble (oak tree) in a very relaxing way. Most days I did absolutely nothing! Well, if you consider meditating in the morning before a 6 km walk. Reading and floating around a lake in an inner tube in the afternoon, and drinking Caipirinhas and listening to and telling stories at night doing nothing one could say I did nothing!
Finally my time came to split that scene and Peter drove me to the "port" in beautiful downtown Concepcion where I boarded the River boat "Luz de Maria" for an 11 hour float down the Rio Paraguay. The boat ride was very easy going. No waves, no problems. mostly the boat hauls cargo and only a few passengers. Along the way the boat stops at many estancias (large ranchs) and drops off or picks up cargo and sometimes a few passengers.
I felt a little like Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer as I drifted gently past acres of floating water hyacinth plants with beautiful purple flowers. We left at 8:30a.m. and finally arrived in Antequera (the last stop) at 7:30 p.m. From there I took a bus to San Pedro 20 minutes away and stayed overnight in the mellow hospedaje Victorino. Cheap Quiet and clean, what more can you ask for?
The following morning I took an early bus to Coronel Oveido bus terminal where 5 minutes later I took another bus to Villarica. I stayed there for 3 days and 3 nights at the equally mellow hospedaje (guest house) La Guairana, owned by Alicia Gonzalez, a retired chef and proud mother of 3 children who are grown and gone. She turned the old family home into this guest house and has been running it for about 7 years.
We had some great and funny talks about the chefly life and being retired. About how being a chef gave us both fallen arches and flat feet. She was very helpful in giving me directions on how to get to nice places in town and where to go and what to see.
I visited a number of very nice parks in the town, walked around a lot and kind of re-adjusted my self to the pace of being back in "civilization" after the two and a half weeks at la Granja.
So like I was saying, 3 days later, I got on another bus and returned to a warm welcome at the home of Emilio and Lili in Asuncion, which was 5 days ago and it is from here that I am writing this update.
Asuncion is not famous for turism or for being particularly safe or mellow but for me staying with my friends, it has been a really nice time. The downside of Asuncion at this time is the rampant outbreak of Dengue Fever. All the hospitals are full to over flowing and quite a few folks have lost their lives. I am always wearing long pants and using "OFF" mosquito repellent and burning the anti-insect coils. I seem to be alright but if I am infected I will not know for 5 or 6 days, but I think I am okay...besides, what the wahh-hay! I am too old to die young !!
Wow! It is so odd to know that this time tomorrow I will be "home again" in USA. I have been in Latin America now since September 29, 2009. In a few hours I will be back in the land of my birth. No more bus riding. No more river boats. No more speaking Spanish. No more being a strange foreigner. Although I feel something like a stranger there when I go back. I have been traveling now for 7 1/2 years. I still think of USA as home, but thats not the way I feel. It is odd to have this disconnect between the way I feel and the way I think. The truth is what it is. I have become a stranger in my own country. Que raro!)
I have been re-reading a lot of stuff by Thich Nhat Hanh.I feel and believe that he is truly one of the greatest living buddhas. I have never met this wonderful man, yet I think of him as one of my personal teachers. He writes stuff like"In modern society most of us don't want to be in touch with ourselves; we want to be in touch with other things like religion, sports, politics, a book - we want to forget ourselves. Anytime we have leisure, we want to invite something else to enter us, opening ourselves to the television and telling the television to come and colonize us." I am not so sure anymore If I sound like Thich or if Thich sounds like me. When I read stuff like this, I am ingratiated because I feel less alone. I feel like there are other people who feel the way I do. I am not (maybe) as weird as I sometimes think I am.
Many of you have heard my rantings about TV and the horrible impact I perceive that it has on us. I use the word TV but really I mean the whole modern Entertainment media. Media does not represent or illustrate the world. Media creates the world. If we alllow enough exposure to the media we become part of the world it creates.
All these movies about war. About heroes (people who kill and cripple thousands of their "enemys"), about achieving success in the eyes of your peers. About achieving some kind of success. All a distraction. We internalize the distraction and we become trapped in some one else's dream. We dream of anything to take our attention off our own inner world. Our being. We dream of becoming a hero. A hero is something we do. We dream of becoming a success. A success is something we do. A Ph.d. is something you do. What about what we are? Why do we not dream of being like we are? I used to dream of being like what I have become. I used to dream of being like I am now. An un-employed homeless traveller.
Why is General George S. Patton, Napoleon, Stalin, Julius Ceaser, Netanyahu, and all the other "Great" war makers of history more famous than Thich Nhat Hahn? Why do we idolize and look up to those types of power mad, murdering ego maniacs? When will it all stop? We feed our selves lies and hate and fear and grow up to be lying hateful cowards. Sleeping with a pistol on the night stand. Alarm systems and doors with 3 locks. We never come to love and trust our own selves, and so we hate and fear each other. Why are we surrounded by enemies instead of friends? Why do we feel this way?
Why is that? Why do we have all the money we need to buy guided missile and not enough to pay for health care and education? Why is that? Why do we borrow billions of dollars to buy nuclear submarines and helicoptor gun ships and cancel and close down womens health clinics? Why is that? Why do we have money to bomb Gadafi but no money to send kids to after school day care centers? Why is that? Today i read that the USA has spent 608 million dollars bombing Libya, not including the F-15 Fighter jet shot down or crashed. Why wasn't that money spent on something positive?
I believe in a fear of the unknown. I believe we each harbor a great unknown within our own hearts minds and bodies. To look within, to meditate, to just be quiet in a quiet place is how we come to know your own self. We then transform the inner real self the into a known entity. We stop questioning whether we have a soul and realize we are a soul. To know your own self is to love your self. To love your self is to love the world. We are afraid to know our self because we think we will not like what we find. I think it is like a boy with a crush on some girl in school who is afraid to ask her for a date for fear of rejection.
I think that we, each of us, have a false-ego self that we think is really us. We believe that we are this fake entity, this fantasy self. Made up primarily of Stuff that is not truly us. Stuff that the media spews out and we internalize. We look to be something that we are not. We look to be like the characters in the movies, on the TV, on the concert stage, on the football field. We look to the world outside to define our selves instead of looking within to find our self.
We are never successful in our search for self, in our search for life's true meaning because we look without instead of within. To become our own self we seek to obtain stuff. The better our stuff, the better we are. Wine collections. Art. Job titles. Pilot licenses. Guitars. Cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, lovers, vacations, lower golf handicaps, new bowling balls, laker tickets, swimming pools, muscles-from-the-gym, every kind of ego extension every kind of ego attachment we can find, anything we can "get" or "achieve" to be something, anything except what we truly are. Is it only me? Am I the only one? Shhahh I think not.I read Thich Nhat Hahn, Gurdjieff and Tolle and I know I am not alone.
I know what I am talking about because I lived the life of the compulsive ego. I saw where I was at and I threw my TV out the window ( well figuratively! ) . I gave up my golf game. I drank my wine. I quit living from Laker game to Laker game. I have found the real me and I feel pretty darned good about it.
I will be in USA for 5 weeks then I fly to Europe for a month and then I will hopefully go through Russia on the trans siberian rail road. If the Putin Federation will issue me a visa. I will be travelling as I am. I will be travelling as myself. I will be happy and content to have nothing but two changes of clothes, a cheap ticket, a seat with a view, and me. if you want to come, let me know.
Peace and love to all of you
Roberto Mochilero aka Rambling Robert

"Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time."C. S. Lewis
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."John Lennon
"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." Thich Nhat Hanh