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!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Secret Code: “Asnieres”

Behind any wall, any corner, any street is Asnieres. Not exactly, Asnieres is the name of the town. But for the people that conform Louis Vuitton the name of the house is “ Asnieres”, they talk about it like when spys do in a secret code.

I was oblivious to the code. When they called us to say we were invited, the complicity in Pedro’s voice was notorious, the announcement deserved all the enthusiasm that his voice reflected but even though I told him we were super grateful, I was unaware of where or what was this invitation for. – They invited us to Asnieres!– told my husband with a question mark on my forehead. I guessed it was a very special place, because every time they invite us to something is magnificent.

We arrived. The gates opened to the sight of the car. The garden. A secret garden, like others around Paris, but specially charming. We stepped out of the car. With doubtful determination walked to the front door and went inside. No one there. The house, with an english/belle-epoque decor kept intact. Art Nouveau large windows. Ceramic fire place. Books. Trunks. Flowers. A piano. Pictures of several members of the Vuitton family. Aesthetically looked like it could belong to a character from a Flaubert novel.

A distinguished blonde lady made an appearance in the living room. –I am Marguerite– she introduced her self. – Let’s speak in spanish. It’s been a while since I practice mine.–  They brought us some tea. We talked about everything.

She told us the story of a 13 year old boy, who resolved to leave his hometown in the french mountains and travel to Paris, walking. It took him 2 years to get there. His name was Louis. That same boy, many years latter, in 1859 bought this land to build a factory for the trunks and bags , that the Parisian society had come to love and value so much. The fame was well deserved, they were the best. Mr. Vuitton had develop a way to make them water proof, stackable, and lined with such great materials that lasted forever. In 1870 he built his house in that same land, and 5 generations of his family lived in the same place where I was now enjoying my cup of tea. That is the kind of situation that makes my heart skip a beat, it is like flipping around impermanence, being able to avoid the finiteness quality of life, like playing a relay race and cheat on death. It feels like saying: “ Despite your very intentions, we are still here drinking some tea.”

 

She took us around the property. Until today the trunk and bags factory functions there. They particularly manufacture all there “petite malle” bags and special orders here. We got to meet every single person that worked there. Real artists, with a level of skill, and dedication to every detail, that I have never seen before. The exact opposite of mass production. Every one of them, treats each piece as a unique masterpiece. It also impressed me how “zen” the work enviroment felt. Clean and quiet.

On our way out we visited the recently inaugurated interactive museum, I suggested them to open it to the public soon. Its filled with history and meaning.

She said goodbye showering us with presents, but we left specially flooded with the energy of the spirit of an extraordinary boy, that more than 150 years ago decided to go to Paris by foot.

 

 

Arzak is an Experience

We didn’t have reservations. My head started spinning around, how was that possible?.  Made them myself online. –Did you receive an email confirmation? – asked me the hostess. I mumbled, –I think so…don’t remember really…– my voice lowering more en each syllable.

I felt dizzy. My husband was really looking forward to our meal in Arzak. He didn’t say it but I knew he was disappointed.

We sat at in the bar stools trying to figure out what to do next, the bartender offered us a glass of champagne to drawn our sorrows.

My husband called our driver to come back for us. Resigned we waited for him at the reception couch, while trying to make a last minute reservation for another of San Sebastian restaurants. Both on the phone, didn’t noticed that one of the waiters started setting an improvised table in front of us.

–Wait a minute, don’t go! We are working something out for you.– said and left knowing that it was music for our ears. Next thing, we had two crushed cans of beer with “chistorra” and mango on top.  –These are “pinxos”– he said, –you were supposed to have them at the main dinner salon, but we are setting you a proper table so in the meanwhile enjoy them here.– Then came two tiny glass bottles filled with raspberry gazpacho and shrimp with moringa. The soup was interesting, the shrimp to die for.

Your table is ready, please come with me –said triumphant the waiter. Up some stairs, the main salon filled with guests. We sat there, people gave us a suspicious look. A new waiter came and warned us that we could order from the menu, but not the prix fix menu, because it was too late for that.

After our amazing meal Juan María Arzak appeared and asked us to follow him. He took us to the kitchen, it looked like a chemistry lab. He introduced us to his team. One of them was Ecuadorian, from Ambato, I felt thrilled and moved, like I always do when I find my people abroad.

Before leaving he gave us some chocolate made in the kitchen. We left happy. Arzak is an experience.