The Invisible People

 

 

We’ve all seen them… sometimes.

I’ve named them “The Invisible People”, they really aren’t, but even though they occupy a space, and their shape, weight and form is perceptible by our senses…we don’t always see them.  Human nature and it’s mysteries.

 

Parenthesis.

Once while watching a very predictable movie – no offense to Jennifer Lopez, but less than perfect performance, she is a goddess on the stage, but not quite there yet as an actress – I realized the existence and the concept of the “Invisible People”. J.LO was a cleaning lady at a Manhattan hotel and her boss warned her to do her job while being invisible to the guests. Because the movie was nothing but a soap opera for the big screen, what happened next was exactly the opposite, and the leading actor falls totally in love with her. Message of the Movie: Don’t ask Jennifer Lopez to go unnoticed.

Parenthesis Closed.

The invisible are not exclusive to hotels, they are everywhere: around a cities’s streets, parks, restaurants, coffee shops, airports, train stations, subways, even our homes. Now that I am aware of their existence I see them often.

They usually work hard and perform with extreme humility jobs that no one else wants: clean public toilets, swipe floors, recycle, wash dishes, clean houses, build bridges or expressways, pick up the garbage… I would say in general their job is to make our lives easier, nicer, cleaner. But we hardly notice.

Second parenthesis…..

This post’s purpose is not to make anybody feel guilty – for me guilt isn’t a valuable feeling, the real reason behind change should always be love – as a matter of fact, I don’t think the reason for not noticing them is a lack of moral values, I don’t think is because we are evil, we are just distracted with our own selves.

Second parenthesis is closed.

A while ago talking to a dear friend, who’s dedicated his life to serving others, he told me how difficult it was for people who have this kind of jobs to have a good self-esteem. Because their jobs aren’t valued by society their self worth fades, even their dignity as human beings is affected. That is definitely a very important reason to notice and greet them. This same friend, told me: “you can’t always solve all their problems, but you can always make them feel human and worthy”

If when we attend a concert we applaud the musicians, and at the theater we give a standing ovation to the performers. I love to think that one day there will be an ovation at an airport’s toilet. A public round of applause on the middle of the street at the plumber who cleans the sewers, a “ high five” to the park gardeners… would be such an extravagance it will appear in the newspapers.

Summing it all up –thank you for reading all my rambling– next time we are wandering around a city, lets notice them. Lets look them in their eyes and thank them. Lets greet and say goodbye. Sounds useless, but trust me it is not. In my experience every “ Hello” has been received as an applause, and every “Thank You” like a kind an unexpected gift.

That, in my opinion is the best attitude a traveler and a citizen of the world can have.

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My Madrid, for you…

To be honest, Madrid isn’t a city that mesmerized me at first, wasn’t love at first sight, but it’s appeal has grown a lot since then.  All my trips were nice, of course, but I didn’t find it charming as others. Nonetheless, in my last couple of visits  I found the vibrant and energetic city that people are so fond of. I discovered the kindness of spaniards, the food, and of course the night life.

With all that said, I want to leave in writing -sort of my official apologies – a few suggestions of places to visit, hoping you might find them interesting and enjoyable as I did.

 

  1. Matadero Madrid: In Aranzuela,  what used to be a slaughter house is now a center for contemporary art, with theaters, cinemas, coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants.
  2. Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales:  Cloistered nuns still live and walk around barefoot here. Other than being a oasis of peace in the middle of Madrid, it’s a place to see beautiful art by Titian, Hans de Beken and others.
  3. Argensola Street: Located in the Salamanca Neighbourhood, it’s the place to go shopping for local products and independent designer stores.
  4. El Ganso: Also at the Salamanca Neighborhood ( Serrano 47) it’s my favorite store in that area particularly to shop for clothes and shoes.
  5. Federica and Co: It’s a tiny open mall hidden at Hermosilla 26. There you will find a great selection of antique china, furniture and delicate knits.
  6. Barrio de las Letras: The neighborhood where Cervantes and Lope de Vega lived, in it’s narrow streets you will find today art galleries and vintage shops.
  7. El Corte Ingles: The most famous department store in Spain and probably a mandatory stop for everyone. My recommendation is to go to the one located in Plaza del Callao, the fourth floor is a foodies heaven, besides the perfect place to buy edible presents and souveniers.
  8. La Portegna: For travelers and wanderlusts like me, this is a beautiful store that specializes in luggage and briefcases all handmade in Andalucia.

 

Food and drinks are highly appreciated in Madrid’s culture.  It’s been hard to make a list of the good restaurants because all of them are excelent. So instead here is a list of the more memorable ones for me:

 

  1. Ten con Ten: My favorite in Madrid and perhaps in the world. Everything on the menu is extraordinary.  My recommendations are the Broiled Octopus (Pulpo Pedreiro), the Potatoes with shrimps and the Risotto with Truffles. The ambiance reflects the essence of Madrid’s nightlife, the bar, the drinks and the DJ are the perfect combination for a great night out. restaurantetenconten.com

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  1. Paraguas: The perfect place to enjoy a long meal, with great wine. The specialty is seafood but there are delicious dishes for meat lovers too, like the burger with foie. My choice is the Black Cod with Broiled Apple’s Sauce. elparaguas.com

 

  1. Arzabal: Is the place where chefs eat when they want authentic spanish food perfectly prepared. Best bets are the Ham Croquettes and the Truffled Eggs.  arzabal.com

 

 

  1. Arriba:  Chef Ramon Freixa’s new restaurant. It occupies and old  cinema that has been redecorated in a clubby style. Very popular with the younger crowd.  restaurantearriba.com

 

 

  1. Bosco de Lobos: Located in Barrio La Chueca, by chefs Tomas Tarruella and Perico Cortés, the restaurant is beautifully decorated with floor to ceeling windows and light wood tables. The menú offers a wide selection of dishes. ecompaniadelobos.com

 

 

  1. Taberna La Carmencita: The original ceramic tiles are still part of the deccor – it was a tabern during the 19th century.  By the acclaimed chef Carlos Zamora who is famous for restaurants like Deluz and El Machi, serves traditional dishes with a twist and prepared with organic ingredients. tabernalacarmencita.es

As it happens with the beloved, Madrid was mine, is mine…I am taking it with me, and also giving it to you…

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Some Place Remote – for your Bucket List.

The term “remote” is relative to one’s location, but remote also means “isolated”. Considering that most of us live in urban areas overwhelmed by noise and traffic, I think is important for a change  to  experience some place “isolated” this coming 2016.

With that in mind, I have made a list of the 10 best places that can offer you a life changing experience –or at least some peace and quiet time.

1.Iceland: because it’s the land of Fire and Ice, of Aurora Borealis, the Blue Lagoon and so much more.

2.Palau: Famous among divers, but plenty to do also if you  aren’t one. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/palau/travel-tips-and-articles/exploring-palau-what-to-do-when-youre-not-diving#ixzz3vdenksn0

3. Galapagos Island and Amazonian Jungle, Ecuador: You might think I am bias on this one, but it’s hard to compete with a country that offers two life changing experiences in such a short distance between one and the other.

@bucketlistec

4. Madagascar: One word, BAOBABS –if you read The Little Prince you’ll know– and that is just the beginning of it.

5. St. Helena Island: Right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – the island where Napoleon was exiled and died – will finally have an operating airport on 2016.

6. Montana, USA: Yes, its possible to feel peace and quiet in a country inhabited by 300 million people.

7. Perito Moreno and Ushuaia, Argentina: The beauty of this glacier and town will leave you speechless.

 

8. Bhutan and Nepal: Both offer the experience of a lifetime, and its better to visit them before they become flooded by hotel chains and tourists.

9. Svalbard, Norway: One of Europe’s last great wildernesses, an inhabited by more polar bears than people, it’s a wonderful place to explore and hike.

10.Exumas, Bahamas:  Bahamas doesn’t sound like a secluded, remote place, but Exumas is.  You will enjoy raw nature and unspoiled beaches at it’s best. No casinos, no buffet lines, just white sand and turquoise water.

 

 

The philosophy behind the Run Away Party

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”                                                                                                     Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

That quote changed me. Not immediately though, but the sound of it pounded in my head for months… or years. I turned it around, analyzed it over and over, and in that process I changed, because my daily decisions changed.

If we are essentially spiritual beings, if that is our quintessential quality. If we are alive only for a short period of time, and this time is supposed to be used for growth, trough human experiences and material life. Why impair it? Why demonize the human condition? Why condemn others for their flaws? Why forbid living fully? Why avoid pleasurable experiences? Isn’t beauty food for the soul? Why did we understand that only suffering causes the spirit to grow?. Of course the enjoyment should be a generous, empathetic and compassionate one. There is no joy in injustice. True happiness only exists when it’s shared, understanding that is fundamental for fully experiencing. It’s about an honest joy, a fair joy, without  the  intention to harm or hurt. A joy that is a product of harmony and integration, a consequence of understanding that others happiness, is basic for mine too.

Suffering is a reality, is part of life. It’s inevitable. Good byes, physical pain, death, endings, are going to cause suffering to all of us. We don’t need to go looking for them. Pain will come and teach us all what we allow ourselves to learn. The spirit will enrich from that learning. Nobody doubts it. Fabricating suffering, I don’t understand.

Happiness will come too, will knock on our doors softly a few times per day. We will let them go, without inviting them to come in, because we have programmed ourselves to feel they are frivolous, banal and vane, and to value only suffering and sacrifice.  All that happiness lost forever….. Isn’t that a extreme case of vanity? Aren’t we lacking the necessary humility to accept that mundane and simple things are good for us? Are fear and guilt ruling our lifes? Isn’t that lack of love? For ourselves for starters… Aren’t we throwing away the divine gift of human experience?

If our spirits only get one chance. If being alive is an exception. If this is the only chance to understand how complex the human experience is, how difficult accepting our flaws, how humbling the failures, how brave the good byes, how fragile it all feels. How contradictory.  Shouldn’t we stop listening to that voice that is always interrupting?

 

Run Away Party

I called this experience “ Run Away Party”, because all of us are haunted by a “little voice” that constantly reminds uso of the past, worries us about the future, judges, and terrorizes us. Life and its miracles goes by while we are distracted tending to that opinionated voice.

The proposal wasn’t to escape from life or it’s problems. It wasn’t an invitation to live irresponsibly, but to live in the present with mindfulness, to keep the eyes and the heart opened and curiosity alive.

With that attitude in mind, I wanted you to offer you an imaginary city in my backyard. One with a coffee shop, a flower cart, a bar, market, museum and  a park, so that you could stroll around at your own pace.

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And also rescue, a few dying habits like shopping for treasures at a flea market; writing a postcard and sending it using the Post Office; or visiting a shoe maker that by hand elaborates every single pair.

For me the most wonderful part of the experience was getting to spend time with all of the attendants. So many talented and inspiring people together wanting to make this country and the world a more positive place.

Thank you all so much for coming!