The World of Nations Celebration

Last weekend Asa and I and Asa’s mom, Merrill, went to the World of Nations Celebration here in Jacksonville. The festival has been in existence for a good 20 years and is a great place to go and experience some 30 different international cultures. Each country was set up in their own tent where they displayed crafts and doo-dads for sale, sold authentic (for the most part) food, and stamped passport documents given to each visitor. A main stage central to all the countries exhibited entertainment and ceremonies from each country and local stages had live bands or dancing.

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Each year the World of Nations Celebration is open on thursday and friday for elementary and middle school students to come learn about different cultures. Asa fondly remembers going to the celebration when he was a little tyke.

We had a great time wandering around, sampling local cuisine, and people watching. We even got to sample some empanadas from Colombia which were very different from the ones we had in Uruguay.

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Some fun facts we learned:

– The Ethiopian calendar follows the Julian calendar which has 12 months of thirty days each and a 13th month of 5 days. The calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Western calendar.

– The Taj Mahal only took 17 years to build with workmen working every single day.

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– Nollywood is what Nigeria’s booming film industry is called.

– The South Korean flag has a representation of yin and yang surrounded by depictions of the four elements: heaven, earth, fire and water.

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– Angel Falls in Venezuela is 19 times the height of Niagara Falls.

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Matt’s 2012 in Review

A Year of Uncertainty and Adventure

In January 2012, I left my job, sold almost all of my belongings, and said bye to family and friends to embark on a journey that I had no clue where it would take me.

In January 2013, I’m still on that journey, living on the opposite side of the world. This journey is transforming into a way of life, and different way of seeing the world.

We’re at a point in time that the internet allows us to create our own jobs, live anywhere in the world and work whoever we choose.¬†Luckily, I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends and family online no matter where I’m at in the World. Skype, Google Hangout, social media, and this blog have been great at helping us keep in touch. PS: Thanks Randi for writing so much and pushing Asa and I to write a couple posts! ūüôā

Here it is…

January was a month of getting rid of the last of my belongings (thanks to advice from Joshua and Ryan) and saying bye to friends, family, my job, most hobbies. Luckily, friends are always willing to throw a party, especially if it means it’s the last time they’ll see you in many months if not years.

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Thanks for the yummy cookie cake Michelle

I moved down to Palermo, Uruguay with Asa and Randi. They were pretty much the main reason I’m doing this. If they didn’t decide it would be alright for me to join them, I might have never made the trip. Asa and Randi, I owe you guys the World. You guys freakin’ rock! I hope you will come visit one day!

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This is a good hair day!

I became conversational in spanish down there. We could have probably been fluent in spanish in 3 months, but making fun of each other in English was so much fun.

I was bad at taking pictures in South America. I’m blaming it on the fact that I didn’t have a working camera most of the time since the lens’ dinner of choice was sand.

Carnival in Uruguay!!

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Candle Festival in Montevideo, Uruguay. They send boats with candles, flowers, and decorations into the water for good luck.

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I met Carlos, JuanMa, and Maru in Palermo after finding out there was ultimate frisbee in Uruguay. Luckily they spoke enough English to communicate with us.

12-hour travel to play in the Bahia Blanca Beach hat tourney

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I sang karaoke with 4 others in front of hundreds (it was the US National Anthem)

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Champions!

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I wrestled an alligator (crocodile)

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Hey Mom! I’m a foreign TV star… in 2 countries!

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I played in 4 Ultimate Frisbee tournaments outside of the US

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In the voice of 300 Spartans…¬†This is CIMARRON!

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The AFDC and Spin Ultimate made it possible to donate 80 discs and jerseys to help South America further Ultimate Frisbee as a sport

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I learned to salsa in Argentina at 4am. (I wouldn’t call it learning, more like drunken wobbling side to side)

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We played fun tournament games

I learned how to play the piano… with my feet!

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I had another going away party. This time it was for leaving Uruguay.

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Viva Las Vegas!

I got back together with the family in Vegas. I went to my Sister’s and Blake’s (now brother-in-law!) wedding. It was a gorgeous and awesome wedding. It was a lot of fun. I lost money at poker (it was overdue) but had a blast with Derek, Blake’s family and my family! So many good times and fun things happened.

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Yum! In-N-Out Burger with a creeper in the background.

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Ziplining with Dad in Vegas!

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Off to Puerto Galera

After too much excitement in Vegas, I headed out to Puerto Galera, Philippines to get together with a bunch of people from the DC¬†and the TropicalMBA. Joining the DC was probably the biggest game changer this year as far as business is concerned. I won’t talk about that now.

In Puerto Galera, I caught some amazing sunrises, had a birthday applechicken with the crew at Badladz and tried to swim with Dolphins.

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Birthday chicken apple lunch!!

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Taking a short break from work!

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Beautiful view of Puerto Galera from the top of the jungle trek

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Rented a villa with 2 friends for half a week in Puerto Galera. Our Dive master picked us up from our dock!

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Survived a water buffalo ride!

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The crew chillin on the beach

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Tuk tuk transportation

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Trying to swim with some dolphins

After this, I headed back to Manila for a few days to meet with some friends.

I slept on a boat in Manila

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Enjoyed the Manila Skyline at night

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Off to Bangkok, Thailand!

After the Philippines, I flew over to Bangkok for a big meetup of about 70-80 Dynamite Circle members from all around the World.

This was my view for three days in Bangkok.

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We met for three days in a convention center. I met people who hide from the public, well-known influencers, people just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey, and established ballers who are all living the lifestyle of their choice from wherever they want around the World.

I was bad at taking pictures here.

In Chiang Mai

Posing at a temple

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Words of wisdom at a temple

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Met up with Joel within my first few weeks in Chiang Mai. I was introduce to Melina and Orn then, two awesome people. Robert was laughing so hard he forgot to open his eyes.

Sick mustache, Joel.

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Marvin was traveling through so we went to the sticky waters where you can climb them. We decided some sort of Yoga pose would be best.

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Cliff jumping in Chiang Mai.

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Lantern release – sending bad thoughts away. Bringing in good thoughts.

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Thousands of lanterns released at Yi Peng lantern festival during Loi Krathong. This moment was incredible. At one point in time, I couldn’t even see the sky there were so many lanterns right above my head.

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Celebrating Turkey day with Apple Pie Shots

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Temple in Chiang Mai

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Manila Spirits 2012

Cabs R Here losing the 3rd place game to Derek Ramsey in Rock-Paper-Scissors

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Was introduced through a Sam to Sam. Played with him in Manila

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Dancing with the Aussies and Canadian!

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Photobomb #1 – Beer me!

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Photobomb #2 – epic makeout scene

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Photobomb #3 – Like a Boss

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Surviving the Mayan Apocalypse in style!

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Taking pictures of myself… as always

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Cabs R Here!!!

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What the Deuce in Chiang Mai’s first ultimate frisbee league.

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Family sent me awesome christmas presents!!

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White elephant present – awesome Thailand Tshirt

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Meeting up with cousins Jimmy and Janie and friend Sandy after their domination runs in Chiang Mai.

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Coffee at Ristr8o with the #DCCM crew on Christmas day

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White elephant gift exchange

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Christmas day street food dinner with cousins Jimmy and Janie!

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Some lessons learned:

People all around you have a strong influence on who you are as a person. Surround yourself with people you look up.

Different cultures around the World can take a while to adapt to. By having a strong core, open eyes and ears, and the ability to see other’s points of view, you can go extremely far in life and be extremely successful (no matter what “success” means to you).

When you let yourself be open to opportunity, doors start showing up in front of you and you just have to choose which ones your going to open and which path your going to go down.

Learning a language is hard, but you’ll get a lot more respect and your stay will be easier if you learn some basic language and show you’re trying. You’ll also get good mental benefits from learning to speak a new language.

Leverage your hobbies to create strong and lasting friendships wherever you go.

There is something unique about Ultimate Frisbee and spirit of the game. If you play ultimate frisbee, make sure to look for ultimate everywhere you go. You will instantly create awesome friends and people all around. I have made so many friends this past year through ultimate and everyone is awesome in their own way. Whether I was partying in Uruguay at 6am with you, dancing/drinking in Argentina, surviving the Apocalypse with the Aussies in Manila, or playing league in Chiang Mai, you guys have been freaking awesome!

This journey would not be the same without ultimate and all the people I’ve met playing ultimate along the way. If there is anything I can ever do for you guys, you know where to contact me!

The same can be said for anyone in the DC. #DCCM, you guys rock! I’ve had a blast in Chiang Mai. Now, it’s time to move it to #DCPai and get more serious about health, fitness, work, and productivity.

It’s not as easy as it seems…

Going out and traveling sure does seem like fun, but there are a lot things that make it difficult. In the beginning, you have to give up on a lot of things like going out and drinking with friends a lot, skipping over to another country for fun, doing expensive dinners. You really have to be the boring friend sometimes who sits inside on a Friday evening and throughout the weekend getting the work done. Your good friends will understand, but most won’t.

Whatever you do, just make sure you follow Derek Sivers’ motto: it’s either “HELL Yeah! or no.”

Most people won’t understand what you do. They see the great pictures, the travel, the fun, but they don’t understand the struggles and the work you do.

Leaving friends is hard. Sure, I’ve made great friends along the way, but with everyday I make a new friend, that’s a day that’s passed that I haven’t seen an old friend from backhome.

The hardest part is probably leaving family. Luckily I can video chat and skype with my family back home, but it’s definitely hard celebrating birthdays, holidays, especially Christmas without the family. Technology doesn’t always work and frustrating times come along that. You just have to accept the fact that s#!@ happens sometimes and there will be another time to say hi!

You have to be like water in a stream, flowing over and around the rocks, the hard times. I think there’s a Chinese proverb about that.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this whole trip, and it’s something I knew and learned from Mo, quality relationships are pretty much the most important things in life. Without trust, friendship, support, prodding, and pushing from peers, mentors, mentees, friends, family, others, life can be A LOT harder than it has to be.

Go out and create great relationships. Keep in touch, help others, and connect people when you can! Be good to others.

I could write this post about business stuff, finances, etc, but the most important thing to me is connecting, helping, and having fun with people.

2012 was a year of travel and creating incredible friendships. 

I’m looking forward to 2013 to be a year of creating and deepening relationships and fine tuning my habits and rituals to be more productive and grow my business efforts this year.¬†
Don’t worry, Mom! I’ll work on taking more and better pictures and keeping everyone updated!

2013 is a year for shipping. Get your work out! Go big or go home (going home isn’t an option here). Do something that matters and the world will reward you for it.

Jacksonville Light Parade

This year Asa and I were privileged to be a part of the Light Parade here in Jacksonville. It is a festival of sorts where local boat owners decorate their boats with lights and parade them around the St. Johns River in downtown JAX. The parade of boats is then followed by one of the best fireworks shows of the year. There are competitions for a variety of boat classes to see who will take home the prize. Rumor has it that in past years the prizes consisted of boat motor oil. While not a very glamorous prize, it certainly is practical!

Anyway, Asa and I were commandeered to help out in the boat of a family friend. She ingeniously decorated her boat in lights shaped like an octopus and needed help moving legs (yes a lot of legs!) and changing colors of the remarkably large octopus body.

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It was certainly a site to behold from the dock and close up on the boat, but was even more astounding in videos taken from the shore.

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“Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles was also on repeat and blaring from speakers on the deck of the boat, hopefully loud enough for those on the shore to enjoy.

Check out this awesome video of the light parade on youtube!

After we made our two mandatory loops around the downtown area, we settled in at a local dock nestled between two of the downtown bridges to enjoy the fireworks. We had the perfect spot to enjoy the “waterfalls” of fireworks set off from both bridges during the firework finale.

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It was a fantastic night out on the water! Oh yeah, the octopus won first place in the sailboat category!

Wedding Weekend

I went up to the Santa Cruz area this weekend for the wedding of a good friend! Despite the awkwardness of showing up to a wedding alone, and not knowing any of the other guests, I had a wonderful time.

The wedding was set up in the backyard of a close family friend. There was a grassy area for the ceremony, a nice patio with adjacent fish pond, a vegetable garden and storage shed, and terraced walking paths and sitting areas. The day was fabulous, without a cloud in the sky and a perfect 70 degrees F.

There were drinks and snacks before the ceremony. The bride and groom brewed the beer themselves, all six choices! There was a very pleasant blue grass band playing before and after the ceremony and lucky for the guests, the bride and groom’s other friends are fairly musical (i.e. can sing fantastically).

The taco truck was a great addition to the after-ceremony festivities, and the pie was a nice alternative to a traditional wedding cake. All in all, I had a great time and am super excited for my friends and their journey through life together. I can’t wait to see the creativeness coming out of that marriage!

TIMEBOMB! La Bomba De Tiempo

To me, traveling isn’t about seeing the super touristy stuff and leaving. It’s about experiencing the culture, meeting people, and having great adventures.

As part of my time in Buenos Aires, I was trying to find fun things to do that aren’t super touristy.¬†I’m not a fan of going to look at a building, taking a picture, and then walking to the next one (it doesn’t mean I haven’t done that, but it doesn’t really excite me).

As I was looking for fun things to experience, a¬†friend told me about this party/concert/rave every monday night with drums that was called “La Bomba de Tiempo” which means, Timebomb. Since I’m a drummer at heart and I love good rhythm and a funky beat, I thought it would be awesome and decided to do.

It was at this place called Konex. They play every Monday, but sometimes they play indoors and sometimes they play outdoors.

We went with a group from Couch Surfing that Matias, a local guys who plays Ultimate Frisbee puts together. We went to the meet up spot across the street and waited. Slowly, about 10 people showed up from Couch Surfing. They were from Brazil, USA, Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, England and Argentina. When enough people showed up, we went inside. Tickets were $50 Argentina Pesos each (about US$12).

Once you were in, you can show them your ticket stub and get a pass for next week to be 50% off in case you want to go again.

The show started with some really cool solos and group drumming instructed by a few different people. About 30 minutes into the show, they invited two guitarists onto stage and played a lot of awesome rhythms behind the guitars and vocals. They started getting the crowd jumping around. Some songs, the crowd would chill out, stay planted and just sway side to side. Some songs would be so full of energy that the crowd would end up jumping up and down, clapping to the beat, and dancing around.

La Bomba de Tiempo Drummers

They look a little like Mario on stage in red and black outfits.

There were three distinct segments of the crowd:

  • The back. This is where the people were standing around drinking and socializing more than paying attention to the music
  • The front right (looking at the stage). This is where people were really only paying attention to the music, but a little too scared to let loose, jump around, and dance.
  • The front left (looking at the stage). This is where the party animals went. The people wanting to let loose, jump around, maybe form a mosh-pit, and go a little crazy. Just like any rock concert, this is where the crazies and the fun is at.

So where did we go? ¬†We started at the front right and inched towards the front left. Near the very end, I made my way into the mosh-pit after being warned to guard my wallet and cell phone in my pockets…

 
 
Here comes the rant…

This seems like a normal thing in Buenos Aires. Nothing is safe. The general idea is that everyone, everywhere is trying to steal stuff from you. I’m all for being smart about where I am, how I dress, and what people see I have, but I couldn’t live in fear everyday. If you have a backpack on, you wear it in front of you. Not because it’s better for your back (is it?), but because people are going to open it and take your stuff in under 2 seconds.

You don’t speak english out loud at night when you’re not in large groups (it’s not so bad since there are a lot of tourists and expats in Buenos Aires). When you are out in public, you’re constantly observing everyone around you the whole time because you’re scared someone is watching you, waiting for you to let your guard down.

The whole time I was in Buenos Aires, people were trying to be nice and warn me, but it was always “watch your stuff”, “are you trying to stand out?”, “don’t walk¬†near them”, etc…

Thanks for the advice, maybe I’ll just stay away from Buenos Aires and go somewhere else like Bali or the Philippines.

A lot of people say it’s not as bad everyone makes it out to seem, but I know two people that were robbed the week while I was in Buenos Aires. One on the subway and one in the busy streets at night.

I know there are problems everywhere, but even in Columbia, friends said the main cities there are safer than the main city of Buenos Aires.

…okok, I’m ending my rant about Buenos Aires. Back to the drums!

 
 

So, I worked my way towards the front left. Small steps turned into larger steps, larger steps turned into dancing with the people around me, and the dancing turned into jumping. Jumping/dancing, whatever you want to call it with cute girls from London and New Zealand.  The show was da bomb! Literally.

Here’s a video clip someone else took of them. I don’t feel like it does it justice because if they took this video on the night I went, most of the crowd in front of them would be going crazy.


 
 
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For more of Buenos Aires, check out Randi’s posts around the city: Walkabout Buenos Aires and Wandering Alone in a Huge City.
 

Desfile de Las Llamadas

Translated as the Parade of Calls. This is one of the main events of the carnival season in Montevideo and happens every February. It consists of two nights (last thurs and fri) in which candombe drum groups parade down one of the main streets in Palermo (our neighborhood) from 9 pm until about 3 am. People from all over the city converge on a 10 block area, carrying with them bottles of beer and boxes of wine. The candombe drum tradition originates from an african migrant call to gather, and sometimes uses a complex call and response pattern of drumming.

The Little House is located about 2 blocks from the end of the parade route which means that we were really close when we wanted to go check stuff out, but we were also really close when we just wanted things to be quiet. In the weeks leading up to the parade, various candombe groups would practice their routines by marching through the neighborhood in the evening (usually starting around 10 pm… still haven’t figured out when Uruguyans sleep).

We decided to party it up and went out for chivitos (yummy sandwich of sorts… more on those later) before heading up to see the parade. We got there a little early (i.e. the parade had already started, but the crowds hadn’t arrived) and found a spot right up against the guard rail dividing the street from the sidewalk, and the performers from the spectators. We were at the very end of the parade route which facilitated our arrival and departure.

Some general information about the parade… We were told there were approximately 30 groups walking each night, for a total of about 60-70 groups. The groups with better costumes, prettier girls, and better drumming walk on the second night. Each group is some sort of club, with the better ones having sponsors.

Each group is lead down the street by their banner and a carried coat of arms of sorts. This is followed by various people in costume waving large flags. It seems the thing to do is to fly the flag over the spectators’ heads, allowing them to touch the silky fabric. The children, who inevitably end up in the street with the performers particularly like to play with the flags.

The flags are followed quickly by one or a couple sets of scantily-clad dancers exhibiting various levels of happiness. Having just danced their way down 10 blocks in heels, I understood some of the unhappy faces I saw. If I had to pick two words to describe the dancers I would choose “flashy” and “feathers”. They had feathers in their hair, feathers attached to their shoulders, and sequins everywhere.

Following the dancers were a couple of pairs of old “geezers”; a men and women who are suppose to represent the eldest of the community. The men usually carried canes and wore fake beards and top hats, while the women wore long skirts with petticoats underneath to make them fluff up. All the while they danced and twirled down the street. One group that we saw on thursday night had replaced their old geezer with a young geezer who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old. He still looked the part; sporting a cane, beard and top hat.

Dancing around and through the old geezers and into the candombe drums were two or three girls in more elaborate costumes. Supposedly the prettiest girls in the group were awarded this honor.

Then came the drums. Deafening, you could hear them coming from blocks away. The sounds from separate groups never ¬†mingled because the one closest was so loud it overshadowed any other sound. The ground vibrated a bit. Each group had 60-80 drummers, almost exclusively men, each playing their own drum painted in the groups’ colors. Not all drums are created equal, as some are larger or smaller and produce deeper or higher pitched sounds. The large drums seem to stick to a 4/4 rhythm while the small ones beat to a different rhythm, maybe a 7/8. It was hard to catch the beat and dance, but it was obvious that was my own unique problem.

Some of the groups would continue playing until they were well off the end of the parade route and on to the next street block. They would be followed by their family and friends and inevitably someone carrying a broken drum.

A broken candombe being pushed along the parade route in a baby stroller.

This went on and on, with groups following each other by a few minutes, until the full hours of the morning. Between groups people would come along selling things… carnival masks, light up toys, cotton candy, popcorn, and of course apples on sticks!

For more pictures, see Asa’s Flickr page at¬†http://www.flickr.com/photos/cadburynaught/sets/72157629307021283/

A taste of Lemanj√°

We took a quick trip to the beach to see what Raul had told us was a must sea event. He mentioned something about candles and that it was just up the Rambla on the beach. We later found out it was a festival for people to provide offerings for the water goddess, Lemanj√°. So, around 10:30 or so we set out.

As soon as we made it past the American Embassy, we could see that there were throngs of people hanging out near the beach. We walked up to the beach and it mostly seemed like aftermath of small boats washing ashore and hundreds of holes with lit candles inside. It was quite scenic and we were pretty happy with just that. Still we were disappointed that we had missed out on the festival. About the time we gave up hope, a group of people dressed in all white carrying a boat passed by us headed for the beach. As it turns out, the event isn’t over at all, groups pay tribute all night long.

The beach littered with candle divits and throngs of people

Generally, groups where about 20 people all dressed in white, some with tiki torches, some with candles and 6 or so people carrying a small boat (not because it’s heavy but because it’s a ritual). In front of the group, is someone ringing bells that sound something like sleigh bells. This group heads down the stairs to the beach and after some preparation (we were too far away to see what exactly) they lit the candles/tiki torches on the shore (sometimes there was even a candle on the boat) and waded out into the water about 500 yards to send the offerings out to sea.¬†The wind was blowing out to sea, so the boats that had candles and sails provided an impressive display as you could see them far out into the sea.

Raul was right, this was a pretty impressive spectacle. I’m glad we decided to follow his suggestion and head out to observe.