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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Travel update from Lithuania

Hello everyone,
So here I am and I am here. Just Breathing in calmness and breathing out happiness. I left USA on 20 May and arrived mid day 21 May in London. I took a nice comfortable train from Gatwick airport to Harrow Wealdstone which is an outlying neighborhood of London and stayed 2 nights at Buddhamaya Suburbananda's Harrow Ashram. Nice place to meditate. Myself and Louis and a woman named Blan were the only ones there. Also there is a resident "Zen Master" who has taken the life form of a beautiful multicolored cat named Seamless. I sat by the koi pond and listened to the sound of the water circulating in the pond and the wind in the garden, ate vegetarian food and spoke to Louis about the meaning of enlightenment. All in all a very satisfying couple of days. A great way to get my head out of "life in America" and back to life on the path of the heart...
On 23 May I arrived in Kaunas Lithuania. This is the country where my grandparents on my fathers side and my great grandparents on my mothers side came from before they emigrated to the USA. My ancestral homeland as it were. Lithuania is the 65th country I have been to.
Kaunas is a lovely city. Clean safe and lots of cool stuff to do and see. It is the second largest city in Lithuania.I stayed at a hostel called "R hostel" which was immaculately clean. The staff all spoke English (it seems almost everyone in Lithuania under 30 years old speaks English) so it was really easy to get along there. They were among the friendliest and most professional Hostel staffs i have experienced in almost 8 years of travel. I would gladly stay in that Hostel again! I only wish the kitchen were a little bigger, but restaurant food there is quite cheap and there are of course many fruit and veg stands around the city as well as a lot of supermarkets so one can self cater easily enough. the small kitchen is not a problem if I am only staying a few nights. I stayed there for 4 nights total and i ate at a restaurant one time. The other meals were cheese and beautiful brown bread from the bake shops, and ready made salads from the supermarkets and Trader Joe's organic crunchy peanut butter sandwiches. i always stock up on TJ's peanut butter while in USA.
The MK Ciurlionis museum was a big highlight. This man is not so well known in the west. He was a composer of classical music and a painter in the early twentieth century. The majority of the pictures were beautiful soft pastels on paper and something called tempur on cardboard. Most impressive indeed. He was in the habit of composing music to go along with his art work so it was a multi-media experience.
After 4 days I took a nice modern fast train to Vilnius, the capitol and largest city of Lithuania. In Vilnius I had arranged to couch surf with Vaiva D, a 45 year old office manager who lives in a very nice and spacious apartment a few kilometers outside the center of the city.
She was an excelent host. She introduced me to a lot of her friends. Our first night together we went to a night club and saw a very good band. Actually more like a rhythm and blues "orchestra" There were over 20 musicians and 9 female singers! They started the night with an old Temptations song, "Papa was a Rolling Stone" and I was immediatly taken in by them!
They played all great old R&B songs and a Stevie Wonder medley starting with "For the city" and ending with "Superstition". Of course I got right up and tried to dance and use the cool steps my Estelita has taught me, but it was so crowded I hardly had any room to shake my booty!
There is lots of efficient cheap transportation to get around but, we did not need it as she had a car, so going around was very easy indeed... Next day we hit all the turist hot spots, saw the castels, government buildings and cathedrals, and walked around old town.
Ultimately we went to KGB museum of Genocide which was, as one would expect, a rather grim museum. The exhibits there cover the 52 years of Nazi and Soviet occupation period and the resulting resistance. I do not feel like going into details in this letter. I reckon most of you know pretty much of the history of this sad time.
What a peculiar species we human beings are. The price we pay to be and remain unconsious, and asleep is enormous, yet "we" refuse to take the necessary steps to change. We refuse to give up the false belief that through violence we can eventually end violence.
So through the "ego made Self" we, as a race, to this day, continue to produce pointless suffering unknown among any other species on our lovely green planet. We create reality. Our "attachment" to violence and the means to ensure our mutual destruction, prevents us seeing through the illusion of "heros" and "victory".
We Humans are so proud of our military might. Our "advanced technologies" our bombs, guns and ships, tanks and fighting jets. Our SeAL team commandos and our suicide martyrs. So it is and so it goes. Half a league, Half a league, Half a league, onward into the valley of death we march on and on until the dragon of war eventually devours its own head...
Sunday was a rain soaked day, but during a break in the off and on showers, we zipped off to visit Traika castel, about 25 km outside the city of Vilnius, in a lovely village of the same name. This is the lake district. The 16th century castel is built on a small island in a beautifully picturesque lake. It cost $USD 6.00 to enter and there was a very informative self guided tour in 7 or 8 languages. I recommend this place to any of you considering a visit to Lithuania.
Tomorrow, the journey continues!! I will take a train to Klaipeda, a beach town on the Baltic sea. I will write again soon. Below are some iteresting quotes to consider until then.
Peace and love to all who read this,
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls." Anais Nin "He who wants little always has enough." Zimmerman
"All I want is to stand in a field and to smell green, to taste air, to feel the earth want me, Without all this concrete hating me." Phillip Pulfrey

Sunday, May 22, 2011

travel update Leaving USA

Hello Everyone,
At the time of the last update, I was still in the thick of getting my visas sorted out for the great Trans Siberian adventure to unfold this summer. All is now well and complete. I now have both visas in my passport and I am ready to go. I had to lay down a lot of dollars for visas, from China and especially from Russia. These are reciprocal fees, imposed on American citizens in retaliation for USA demanding fees from the citizens of Russia and China in order to apply for travel visa to come to USA.
Wow, one thing that I have observed throughout my life is that all humans seem to have in common , is how all of us hate to wait in line. It seems to me that any time or place I have ever had to deal with a government employee of any kind I had first to wait in line. Embassies and consulates are no exception. I had to go to each consulate and wait in a long line to drop off my passport and applications for visa and then return some days later to wait in another long line to retrieve my passport and visa.
Both countries have a consulate in New York, and both consulates refuse to accept visa applications by mail or commercial courier. They must be hand delivered by the applicant or a travel agency. Agencies charge about $100 to go and wait in line for you. I saved $200 by going in my self.
All in all, besides transportation, I had to pay $140 to the Chinese and about $320 to Russia. I needed to expedite my application for Russia due to time constraints so paid $250 instead of $140. I also was required to purchase travel insurance ($40) and purchase a "letter of invitation" for $30. All this for a 30 day single entry tourist visa. All I can say is I am glad it is over and I am once again able to enjoy the illusion of freedom to travel.
New York City, remains, for me, the worlds greatest city. I am not entirely what you might call a city person. I enjoy city life up to a point. I can only stay in the big crowded, mind made jungle of concrete for a few weeks at a time before the Reality of the human world becomes too much for me and I begin to yearn for fresher air and honest actuality. Think about it.
"Actuality" is what is happening in nature, in the Universe, at this moment in time. "Reality" is "Actuality" plus our ideas feelings thoughts and opinions about it. Reality is "Self" Created. The Ego (Greek word for self) creates reality. Nature creates Actuality. There are lies in Reality. Everyone knows that people lie, that we ourselves have lied and been lied to. It is part of reality. In Actuality, there is only truth.
In the reality that I have created for my self, New York is the worlds greatest city. I love this city. My parents were born there. I have been coming to New York ever since i was a baby. So now when I come, I mainly visit friends who live there, while being together with them in the now, we still reminisce about the past or share dreams of the future. Cool to see how we have changed from our pasts to our nows and where we all hope to get to.
I got to see a few very dear friends from my child hood days. Charlie, Morty and Neil have been my friends for over 40 years. For me to see them and for them to see me is a real treat. I feel like I get a more clear "image" of myself when reflected off the mirror of an old friend. I see my self and my friends from a long time, point of view.
Being in New York is like being in any other city but on some sort of mind enhancing or experience enhancing drug! The food tastes better, the music sounds better, the air is more electric, the colors are some how brighter. The people are more expressive. Most of the folks I run into here in USA are all dressed in blue, grey or black. Drab colors and "follow the leader" styles. In New York it seems many (not all) of them are out of uniform. They wear all sorts of clothes, not just the standard jeans and tee shirt uniform, in all shades of colors.
The food experience in New York is the greatest in the world as far as I have experienced. It is a vegetarian wonderland. Truly the easiest place in USA to be a vegetarian and still enjoy a "gourmet" life style. Another thing that strikes me about this city is how well the people mix. People of every size, shape, color, nationality, race and creed all live and play together. This is my impression. This is why I am always grateful to have the chance to go to New York and visit there.
My last few days in USA were spent with my brothers and their wives and kids in New Jersey which is my place of birth. In fact, my elder brother still lives in the home where we lived as children! For my niece and nephews I was uncle Robert, which is one of my favorite life roles. For me kids are like big cities, I really enjoy them...up to a point! On the one hand, I thank Buddha that I am childless! On the other hand, I really enjoy spending some time with children and especially my brothers, or my friends kids.
I was a "show and tell" item in 3 classrooms for them. I went to the school class of Harry, Margaret and Mark to talk to thier 9 and/or 10 year old classmates about my life as a traveler. They asked many good questions and I really had fun talking to them and seeing my brothers kids be proud of me.
As i finish this travel update, I feel again, the little tightness of the belly I always feel when I have packed my backpack and am ready to go! Always a mixture of aprehension and excitement. I always get an amazing sense of aliveness when at last my time comes and I hoist up my pack and strap it on and head for the door marked "To forever: this way please!"
I am looking at about two months in North East Europe followed by about 3 or 4 months in Asia, before heading back to Ecuador. Life is a journey we all must travel, each in his own way, his own time, his own reality. For me, here now, breathing in calm and breathing out smiles...the road leads on forever and the journey never stops...

Let the journey unfolds anew! I leave you all for now, with a couple of quotes to ponder.
Peace and Love,

"Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- ’WOW, what a ride!!! " Anonymous
"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."Miriam Beard
"To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future it is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future." Thich Nhat Hahn

Saturday, May 07, 2011

travel update from New Jersey USA

Hello Everyone,

Well folks, I am here and it is now. I am breathing in calm and breathing out smiles. Tehre are some places in this lovely planet where it is easier to breathe in calm and breathe out smiles. New Jersey is not one of them. This is not what one would call a calm mellow little place. It is quiete densely populated. Like one little city (suburb) running directly into the next. One big large urban sprawl.

If on the other hand you have grown up here and you know where to look, and if you have a car, there are many wonderfully wooded parks and recreation areas where one can take long relaxing walks or hikes and be far from the madness. Well, it is just my luck that one of my brothers (the younger) is very enthusiastic walker and knows many lovely nature trails where we can hike, some quite close to his home and others a short distance from here by car. I am most grateful that he likes to go to these places and he likes to take me along!

I come here to be with my family and to visit some old friends. I do not like to be here except for that. The chief characteristic about this place, one notices immediately, is TRAFFIC. The highways are always full of many many cars speeding along and manuevering in and around one another to try to gain a little advantage, to try to "get ahead".

Without a car, It is very difficult to get around here. USA is designed as a car country. "Without wheels you are nobody". Over the last several decades, the US Department of Transportation has been influenced greatly by big car companies and big oil companies and there is practically no affordable alternative to the car culture. In certain ancient African cultures a young man proved himself by going out naked into the wilderness with only a spear and hunting down a lion. Here the right of passage has to do with obtaining a driving license.

It takes about 20 or 30 minutes to get to Manhattan ,New York City, by bus. It costs $7.50 each way. The bus station is along the freeway literally miles from anywhere. There is no bus to the bus station. One must drive ones car to get the bus. Or get ones brother or sister-in-law to drive one. As I write this update, my passport and the relevant paperwork are at the Chinese consulate in Manhattan. I must return there on Monday morning ot fetch back my passport with its visa and then go to the Russian consulate and leave my passport there to get my visa from Russia.

The Firts two weeks I arrived in America I was staying in Boynton Beach. Which is located in South East Florida. This part of America is quite unique. It is inhabited by a vast minority of senior citizens. For about 30 or 40 years wealthy Americans from the Northeast have been purchasing "retirement homes" in Florida. They come there because they like the weather. Other than the weather it is a mirror image of New Jersey which is a mirror image of Los Angeles. Vitually impossible to get around without a car. Many 6 or 8 lane roads filled with cars. Here a huge percentage of the drivers are over 70 and many are in their 80s or 90s. These folks should not be driving at all! They are really scarey! But there is no other way to get anywhere.

People reading this from other countries will think I am esagerating but alas it is as I have described it.

I will be heading off to Europe in 2 weeks. If all goes according to plan I will have my Russian and Chinese visas and soon will be taking the trans siberian rail road from St.Petersburg to Mongolia. I will sppend the whole summer in Asia and hope to be back in Ecuador in December. I believe a new phase of my life is about to begin. But I never really know. I do not like to assume anything because nothing ever turns out like I think it will. But have no fear, I will keep you all posted! Here are a couple of quotes to ponder until the next update!

Peace and love,


"Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out nto an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle."Annie Besant

"It is preoccupation with possessions,more than anything else,that prevents us from living freely and nobly."Bertrand Russell

"My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants."

J. Brotherton