Slow Travel

Sounds extreme? Considering most of us have limited amount of time and budget for vacations, slow travel is as ilogical as throwing money down the toilet.

We have been programmed to think that those days should be squeezed to the last minute. Use them to cross out as many landmarks and tourist attractions as possible, sleep less – because is more expensive sleeping in a hotel. Eat fast. Go from one point to the next as efficiently as possible –hopefully soon there will be drones for that. We have all packed our energy drinks and drank lots of coffee to get our mission accomplished.

But it’s funny how, by the end of the trip many times I have forgotten were I’ve being. Don’t get me wrong, I have felt proud for months from looking at my “To Do and See Lists” filled with accomplishments. My bucket list shortened also makes me constantly repeat to my self: “Great job, great trip!”

Slow travel is not like that. Maybe it isn’t for everybody. Travel with out a list and a plan, could be terrifying for some. In fact I know a few people that would run for their life’s just hearing about it.

On the other hand, slow traveling offers some interesting ideas. It’s quality versus quantity. It’s allowing your self to get to know deeply a place and it’s culture. Trying the local food and restaurants. Talking to people. Visiting authentic non touristic spots and share activities with the locals. Slow Travel requires studying the place beforehand to be able to soak all it has to offer. Researching it’s history, geography and art. It means overcoming the mental barrier from going to see statues and landmarks, to getting to know people and their culture. Implies taking time to make friends, look around, enjoy every single bite, ask questions, walk a lot, get lost, immerse and get swept away by all of it.

Even though slow travel is an attitude, here are a few suggestions to take in consideration:

  • Walk around and ride a bike.
  • Stay longer.
  • Learn about local art, music, sports, politics, etc.
  • Make friends.
  • Participate in communitary activities, enroll in clases, etc.
  • Use alternative ways of accomodations like apartment rentals, vacation homes, etc.

 

In the end, deciding whether slow travel is or not for you, requieres choosing if you you want to be a traveler or remain being a tourist.

Paris I love You

For Victor Hugo and Antoine Saint Exupery. For Balzac. For Flaubert and his wonderful “ Madame Bovary”.

For Teilhard de Chardin and his progressive mind and heart. For Descartes and his method. Because Voltaire was french. For Focault and his Queer Theory. For Pascal and Irigaray. For Jean Paul and Simone’s love. For existentialism. For so much wisdom. For curiosity.

For Cezzane and his immense influence. For Degas. For Matisse, Monet and Renoir. For the Duchamps, and my admiration for them.

For the overturn of the Emperors and what that taught us. For the French Revolution and the Human Rights Declaration. For May of 68. For the spirit of freedom that you injected to the world.

Because you are the City of Lights and that will never change. For the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. For the Rhin. For Le Marais. For the Grand Palais and Louvre. For the colorful Pompidou. For Champs Elysees and Versalles.

For Givenchy and Coco. For Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. For Yves Saint Laurent. For Louis Vuitton.

For The Pink Panther and the Little Prince…for Cyrano de Bergerac. For Martin Romaña and Octavia de Cadiz. For Inés del Alma Mía.

For Lumiere and his cinematographer.

For Jean Luc Godard and Truffault.

For Bridgitte Bardot and Alain Delon. For Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardeu. For Marion Cotillard.

For “Leon” and “Nikita”. And for “Of Gods and Men”. For “Amelie”. For all french cinema and of course for the Cannes Festival.

For Alain Duccaisse and Pierre Hermes. For Laduree.

For champagne and for wine too.

For the fallen.

For those who died defending their truth even when I don’t share it.

For my friends.

For all the ones that I am forgetting.

For those who were heroes and those who couldn’t be.

For the ones who left and the ones are not here yet.

For all of us who are crying.

For the fear that they can’t ingrain on us.

 

 

 

Changing the world little by little…(or at least trying)

All of us, each of us, have the power to change the world.  It isn’t necessary  to become a hero or a saint, there is no need to be powerful, or rich. It would be enough to do all the ordinary things, even the boring and insignificant ones with extraordinary love, as Mother Teresa suggested. I try my best, not always can, many times lazyness or moodiness gets the best of me, but I know I must to keep trying.

Just the act of recognizing the existence of the other, as a sentient human being, makes a difference in their self-esteem. It is not possible to solve everybody’s problems but we can make them feel human, important, alive and loved.

Even though I am not an expert on this subject, I have put together a list of simple activities that we can all do in our everyday life to make a difference:

  • Recycle: It’s quite easy actually. Just buy two extra garbage bins  and advice the members of the family to separate in one plastics/glass and in the other one paper/carton. This little effort, not only helps the planet, but saves all the families that make a living from recycling of the unpleasant and often risky job of going trough our garbage.
  • Be an Informed and Responsible Consumer: Ask questions. Knowing the way our products are    fabricated is the best way to do it. As consumers we have the power to support those companies that work with social and enviromental conscience. One good example is to look for  the “Fair Trade” seal, stamped on the product or visibly displayed on the establishment. This certifies that the company pays for the farmers the fair price for their supplies.  When we buy this products we help support and assure the well being  of millions of families.

 IMG_6941_2

  • Give Away what You don’t Use: Two rules of thumb in my house: 1) If we haven’t used in 6 months, donate. 2) If we buy one new, we donate one of the same.
  • Expose Your Kids to Art: Sounds irrelevant but it is not. Art is food for the soul, it opens doors to a world o satisfaction, enriches our lives in the most amazing ways. An art lover has much more chance to enjoy life without needing violence or money. Art expands our minds, makes us more tolerant, respectful and flexible. Read to them, watch with them good cinema, visit museums or just make them notice the architecture of your city all of these will plant the seed of curiosity on them for ever.
  • Donate Money or Time:  Soon I will post on the blog some links of different organizations that do amazing work and could benefit from our support.

 

Road Trip with Edward Hopper

Untitled 1925

We had a very important event to go to. The address was 100 Lyme St, Old Lyme, Connecticut. According to our search, the journey by car would be 2hrs14min, from our place in New York.

Since I was a little girl, it happens to me that images of paintings, movies or books hunt me. My mom used to call me “absent minded” or “wanderer” because of that, as a matter of fact she still does.

Our car was equipped with GPS, which limited my copilot responsibilities to look outside the window and snack on the cookies we brought along for the ride. So it was inevitable for Hopper and Baudelaire to seize my mind.

It wasn’t by chance really, we had been the day before at the Whitney Museum and seen many of Edward’s Hopper pictures there. I also had read recently Baudelaire’s biography, and Hopper was a big fan of him. It’s Baudelaire’s poetry who inspired the american painter to take six moths per year for road trips around USA looking for scenes he would later paint.

On the other hand, Baudelaire*, was a frustrated traveler, you can tell it from his poems. He was never comfortable living in France, any other place in the world was more appealing to him since he was a child. He dreamt of leaving his country and moving to another distant place, somewhere far away so it wouldn’t remind him of his daily routines.

“Carriage, take me away with you! Ship, steal me away from here!

Take me far, far away. Here the mud is made of our tears!”

 As an artist, Hopper was always painting about traveling related situations and capturing the state of mind that travelers are usually in. His characters embody hope and sadness at the same time. His paintings perceive and reflect the idea that when people are in transit become both vulnerable and clearer. As if transitions helped us gain perspective. Don’t you feel airports and train stations have a particular energy?

My wandering was interrupted for a little while, when we stopped for gas. Since I wasn’t hungry, I stayed in the car gazing trough the window at the gas station and the people having lunch inside. The gas station was stunning, pure Americana style, totally worthy of an Ed Ruscha or Hopper painting. I took a pic.

I went inside the service plaza, and each corner seemed like a painting. Almost 100 years later, and in another century, the face expressions of the travelers where still there. At one table a lady, with a huge Coca Cola, was bitting the straw while playing distracted with her car keys, I tried to think where was she headed, was she happy to go there or had she just had a goodbye filled with sorrow. The lightly blurred faces that Hopper painted –quite critiziced– where so revealing of the feelings of lonelyness, anxiety and excitement of travelers, and they were there right in front of me, having Mc Donalds for lunch. Four tables behind, was a young man, dressed with what seemed like a DHL uniform. I thought that being on the road was probably his way of life. He probably drove many hours a day and this was his recess. I wasn’t able to make out from his face his state of mind, maybe he was tired. Maybe hopeful. All of them deserved a painting from Hoppe. I felt so sorry to not have any of his talent! I kept the images in my mind, so I could describe them to you to the best of my abilities.

I took a few more pictures, trying to portray with them at least a bit of the inspiration I received from that genious.

We resumed our journey and the gas station was left behind, so where Hopper, Ruscha and Baudelaire. We didn’t know it then, but in Old Lyme was waiting for us Pablo Neruda.

 

*Now that I think about it, Flaubert was also a renegade, he hated living in France and everything    french… Was there a histeria epidemic in France during the XIX century or just coincidence?

On our way to Old LYme

 

 

 

Travel Guide: 24 hrs in Guayaquil

Unknown-1

It’s my first written guide for an app, you can check it here

www.townske.com/guide/7340/24-hrs-in-guayaquil