Homeschool

So along with the exchange of my coffin (my hammock) i now want to change myself and my way of thinking, its time to settle and be focused; buying a car, paying off my debt, and eventually get my own studio for my photography. I also want to start going to school take online classes and be determined to own my life back. 

I’m halfway to getting my dream studio. And the environment couldn’t get any better. I found a very reputable job in Vegas and there are so much opportunity around.

I’m a barstool

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I threw my mattress away

This is my room. I have been living here for 3 months now. 

Everything i own is in that makeshift closet. Also if you’ved noticed, I chucked out my mattress and replaced it with my hammock

This is my hammock. I bought this in Amazon. I love it! I have been single for awhile, so I just gave up looking and turned to the hammock hahaha. I’m kidding. I bought the fabric from Santa Marta, Colombia. Aside from being single, the reason why is because of back pain. Every night whenever I would sleep in any mattress, I would always wake up and turn a side and because the pain feels like someone had beaten my lower back. When I slept in a hammock in one of my excursions in Colombia, I felt refreshed! Like the devil has left my poor spine and gave me relief. 

So i went to my trusty google and asked “is sleeping in hammocks is good for you?” Many YouTubers have claimed positive feedbacks and there were studies done but we’re plausible. Regardless, I bought a frame for $70 slept in it. The very first day waking up from the hammock felt like my body was relaxed. It has been a week since I’ve bought the hammock and I’ve been sleeping longer. If something or someone wakes me up, I would feel as if I have never slept at all. Like an instant attention and I had so much energy, that it felt like I was ready to go to a war! 

Here are my photo gear ready to go!

A long update part 3; Workawaying in Manta

Over the weekend of my 3 days off in Montañita, I was able to hang out with the Germans who passed so quickly. They were headed to Puerto Cayo while I returned to Jipijapa. I had one week left and it was all work. My friend Liam left the day after I arrived on Tuesday while 2 more Germans came and worked in the kitchen. I was told to help build the house and work in the fields where I transported heavy bamboos to a truck to relocate to the new volunteer houses. A week later, I too had left the farm.

31838225001_7014287cb0_o.jpgI’ve packed by bags and went off to Manta. I was hungry so I found a pizzaria that was owned by an half Italian and Ecuadorian. There, I checked workaway website for another volunteering job.

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Manta looked very developed beachy area. Most major cruise ships go there. And later when I settled, I met a vendor lady and asked me if I was Filipino. To my surprise, she guessed it right! She told me there are many Filipinos that work in cruise ships that stop in Manta to replenish their supply. Their main necessity was rice. I thought it was amusing.

An email responded to my request by the name of Taylor. She was very kind and accepted me into their community, Donkey Den, where I have stayed for 6 weeks.

15 minutes from South of Manta is a small beach community called Santa Marianita. A sign in bold with different colors that stood in front of the beach. There were large crumbling cliffs and had very low wind that buffered our feet as I stood gazing at the horizon.

A few houses from the main entrance was the hostel called Donkey Den. 31932400646_7bbcd97a4c_o.jpg
I was always greeted by this loved dog named Dulce!31930781631_586d060454_o.jpgThese are the beds that we volunteers have made for our guests. Look at those butterfly towels!

31852186561_f482df4512_o.jpgSanta Marianita isn’t very well known to tourists which is great because we can own the long sandy beach all to ourselves!

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There are kite surfing competitions all year long. My friend Mike had taken some lessons and eventually got on the waves the 3rd day. Well done Mike!

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Kittens from all colors hang around and chill out at the beach.

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Most nights we spend and enjoy each others cuisines from all over the world!

Thanks everyone who read and digest my blogs! 🙂

A long update Part 2: Montañita

I was really excited and eager to work and learn how to plant and grow cacao, a seed that is the main ingredient for chocolate. There were a few volunteers that I have met who started working there. But as soon after a few days, they all had left due to how far the city was. Also, there were some questionable issues with the owner’s decisions how the volunteers were accomodated. But I didn’t really care. All I focused on was how beautiful planting seeds were. I worked in the morning starting at 6-7am and start preparing breakfast. At 8, I would be told to help other volunteers firstly removing the seeds from the cacao fruits. Then, we would start washing the seeds and putting them in water. The seeds would then be dried in the sun. At 12, we would start to water the plants that are arranged in rows. We would weed out unwanted baggies that didnt grow. After, we would finish around 2PM for lunch. It was a very easy and honest work I have ever done. DSCF3028.JPG

A week into farming, 2 of the volunteers have left and it was just me and Liam, a good friend from Portland(?) who was working. On the 7th day afternoon, I asked when my colleague when my next days off are going to be. To my suprise it was tomorrow and gave me 1 day bonus. I was given 3 days off to go and explore the city. I was told by a good friend named Juan, that 2 hours away was a beach party called Montañita. I packed by bags and left immediately before the sun went down. I arrived in Montañita at 8-9pm in the evening. And guess who I saw there? The two volunteers who worked at the farm! They invited me for some pizza and we talked about the obvious, why did they chose to leave? “Accomodation” was the theme to the answer. We split after the dinner.

Montañita was set up to be a hella party town. There were music at every restaurant and at every venue. I looked around and saw alot of street vendors selling marijuana paraphenilas, shirts, figurines and a bunch of touristy stuff that you would get from a giftshop. But one thing that caught my eye was a $2USD burger. I told myself, I shouldnt eat meat. But the temptation was there and it was strong. Unfortunately, I lost.

I sat down and waited for my burger to arrive. I took out my guitar and I started playing at a yellow dimmly lit area. A man from a distance threw a thumbs up at me and I gave him a nod. Several minutes later the burger was served…including the man who threw his thumbs lol. He asked if he can take a seat and look at my guitar. He really liked the sound of it and played some snazzy songs. He was very vibrant and he too was a musician. Kirk was his name. He was travelling all over America touring with his band from the UK. I remember him telling me that he has a brother also named Glenn.DSCF3041.JPG

Two or three into his melody, I finally had a bite. It was the best meat I have ever tasted. My heart sang as I took the second one. I was in heaven. A new bud who sang for me while I ate meat for the very first time in weeks, what could possibly beat this? A man came up to us and told me its one of his buddies. We pulled up a chair for him and we listened to his music. Kirk went off to buy a bottle of rum and plastic shot glass. We all started drinking and singing song together.  We sang our hearts out with conviction and as soon as I looked at the time, I thankfully found an urgency to find a hostel, otherwise I’d be stuck in the streets. I googled a hostel near by and I remember Elvira, my colleague that theres a hostel I needed to go to. Hidden Hostel. And there I went.

The hostel radiated music from the gates. Christmas lights was hanging on the trees. I knew I was in a very backpacker friendly hostel. I checked in and the receptionist took me to the dormitory of 8. $12 per night. The beds was equipped with towels and a mosquito net. Thank god right?

There were people outside who were gathered around a table occupied in their wooden bamboo couches. I took a shower and headed to bed.

The morning was gloomy and rainy. The mosquitoes were relentless as they sneakly pinch their snouts from hell into the skin. The “beach party” was in an all time low. Nothing seemed nice.

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I took a little walk but came back because there was nothing of interest. Took out my guitar and started playing. As soon as I took it out, I know that I cant play for too long because it was soo humid! But as soon as I started playing, there were people who started to gather and I eventually started playing for people. Eventually, someone openly asked me if I wanted to go to Los Frailes National Park. I happily agreed 🙂

We left the hostel and more suprises came. There were a group of random Germans who crossed the road at I recognized them! Elena and Kai who volunteered with Morgan from Mancora. They were looking for the Hidden hostel and pointed the way. I told them what was happening and we all agreed to meet up later when I came back from the Park.

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And so the little hidden beach is there waiting to be explored another day 🙂

Thanks for reading!

A long update.

Im still alive! thank goodness. I thought I wasnt going to make it. This may be an awkward way to break silence. But I guess I could start here. And if you are here, thank you so much for reading this!

Where did we left off?

Ah yes! Peru. (has it been that long?) The last blog post was about things but never have I posted anything travel journaling.

Peru.

So much has happened the rest of the journey after the 6 week volunteering in Paracas 360 Ecolodge! Like trekking Huaraz, going to a small beach in Huanchaco, the dune city in Trujillo, and meeting a crazy, friendly dude from Idaho in Mancora, the most northern parts of Peru where I have stayed in for a couple of days. I also had reunited with good friends Morgan and Nacho whom were my mates back in Paracas where we volunteered.
For $45USD an 18 hour bus ride from Lima to Mancora.

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Ecuador

And from there, I went on forward to Ecuador. For $15.00 USD, a 6 hour bus ride can take you from Mancora, Peru, all the way up to Guayaquil. I immediately felt the temperature change. Its suprisingly much more warmer than Peru. Signifcantly. As soon as I got off a music blasting party bus filled with dormant people, I felt my hair curled.

Approximately 2 days before I decided to go to Ecuador, I emailed a farm in Ecuador where I can volunteer and farm. Also my visa is almost ending. My next stop is Jipijapa which is 2 and half hours from Guayaquil.

I remember the journey being very tiring. Still with the music that my body has forcefully hibernated, I was able to wake up before my bus exceededly drive through my small and unknown destination, Jipijapa. It was 2 A.M. 3 taxi cabs who were waiting for passerby to step out the bus at the lonely, barely lit stop. They came to me asking where I was going. At that point, I don’t know where I was. I dont know how I was able to find a hostel. But when I asked for them to take me to Montanita, they told me its $40USD and it takes 2 hours to get there. I didn’t have that much money in my pocket. So I asked for the center and nearest hostel and Ill take it. The man drove me 15 minutes before arriving to a hostel. He knew just the place. When we arrived, he banged on the yellow painted door, he had woken a kid who have let me in. Asked for my name and passport, $10 for a night. He gave me a password to the WIFI. I have paid $3USD to taxi driver for the ride and thanked him for the ride. I remember upon entering their humble apartment complex, there was a smell i couldnt pin point. I passed out.

The morning came with the honking of trucks and the people chattering just outside. I remember the room being so small when I came in the night. I saw large wooden beams. The bathrooms are always arranged in an awkward way. I packed, got ready for the day, I noticed that I had lost my sandals and my sweater. I really liked those. It was my 1st day in Ecuador. my surroundings was filled with high cieling colonial houses much like giant storage rooms that are occupied with street food vendors. I was famished and came across a lady who was selling something non-breakfasty. She had a large wok with prepared hot oil with some yellow balls that is already cooking. She had a tub that have green plantains smashed in order to mold into giant ball of edible. I was up for it. She added cubes of queso into the mixture and dipped it into the boiling oil. After 5 minutes of sizzling crisp, she added thin slices of panchetta. I took it in for a greasy bite and told her it was good. It was greasy.

At the center, passed the square park, was a large gathering. A festival. I curiously went through a crowd and saw a woman in a uniform and 3 girls in a school dress, and they seem to be reading a poem or some sort. I walked through the stalls and I immediately saw food. A familiar food that looked exactly like ceviche. But this time, with avocados. Very interesting. Down through a few other stalls was students with their creation recycled plastic bottle caps. I finally have found out that this was a some sort of recyling festival from what I have gathered! There were models of the city on how to conserve energy. Like solar powered lights and some mechanical devices that turned these small machines on and off.

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DSCF2911.JPGThese are cacao fruits! 🙂DSCF2797.JPG

My friend Liam tending the farm above.

I emailed my boss whom I will be working for very soon. She had told me to come in a few days. And there in Jipijapa, I stayed in until I get a word from them.

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This is a cacao seed20161006_152351.jpg

These are Cacao saplings that are going to be planted once they have been fully grown20161006_152326.jpg

Thanks for reading guys! 🙂

Comfort; Whats in my backpack?

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Comfort is one of the most important things about traveling. I am not talking about how ergonomic our backpack is or how thin our laptops or how light our cameras are. Comfort as in, feeling at home, a small thin layer of bubble that we surround ourselves especially in the unknown worlds(although, for some, being in the unknown that makes them comfortable, it is their home). Sometimes, its not the need that truly protects us from insanity but the novelty of these anchors us back home and lets us breathe and relax through the journey. This is true if you’re staying in one place for a long time, you will want some kind of comfort that you’re used to at home. 

Lets start off with..

Journal/Pen

I have been using moleskin brand Journals due to its beautiful soft leather covers and premium made papers. I write most of my useless ideas and drawings. Before this blog began, most of my ideas about travel and photography was written, pasted in several differnt journals over the course of 8 years. Paper was my medium. Writing on this journal is a gave me a sophisticated experience. I love these journals. Pick one up here (here)

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The pen that I used was the Pilot Hi-Tech 0.3mm due to its sheer thin lines. I enjoyed writing on any paper. Especially on the Moleskin Journal. Find it on Amazon here.

Pants.

One of the things we don’t really think or over think about when were traveling are pants. They are half part of our body and the pants that I carry and love are the Bullheads’ Joggers. I love these pants, I have two pairs of them and they are the most comfortable, stylish pants I have ever worn. I bought one from Pacsun back in 2013 and I immediately felt like a new pair of legs were installed on my waist(and buttocks, they make your butt look tight). They are professional looking enough to wear to work, going out to a club or a date, being casual and I even used it when jogging or playing basketball. All in all, these pants were the ultimate joggers I ever worn. Thank the Gods of pants and Bullhead.

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Pick one up from Pacsun or Bullhead website for $50 (http://www.pacsun.com/bullhead-denim-co./solid-knee-dart-jogger-pants-0133436750129.html)

Travel Guitar

There are a handful of travel guitars in the world. I currently own a beautiful BT1 Taylor Travel Guitar thats approximately 2 years old that I have been traveling with for 6 months. I has made it through the cold winters of Bolivia, Peru and the 100% humidity of the Pacific and the heat in most Northern areas of Colombia. I have taken care of this guitar only with a large multi tool scarf. After my careless handles on this guitar, it has survived with me like a champ. 

I recently found a guitar that made so much sense when traveling. Below is a picture of KLŌS Travel guitar. It weighs almost nothing(2.8lbs about two large sized burritos from Chipotle). The neck collapses for portability and have been tested in water, ice, a baseball throw. I mean this guitar is  unbelievable. No more hassle when going to the airport and getting your guitar checked because it isn’t small enough to be a carry on. And when you do get your bag checked after the x-ray, TSA is going to be like, “is that a collapsible guitar?!” Saves you money from checked in baggage and time at the baggage claim. Also when you’re traveling by bus and don’t want to stow your guitar in other strangers bags(some may even steal your guitar). The guitar may be even small enough to fit inside a locker, when you’re on the go, and want to leave it in a hostel/hotel. I want one badly

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(Photo credits from: http://www.klosguitars.com/) Pick one up for $599.99 

Notebook 

The notebook I carry at the moment is an 11in. 2014 MacbookAir. Simple, fast quick and easy and reliable Operating System. Everything is ready when I open the computer. There’s no hassle in turning on or off the computer, it can be on hibernation mode for days and it wont drain the battery, or . Less vulnerable to virus compared to Microsoft. Battery charges as fast as it is closed. 0-100% in less than 90 minutes. Wifi connectivity is top notch which means it can connect 50% farther than most Microsoft laptops.

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Cropper

This one you will never find it online.  A unique photographer, Mijonju inspired me to make a cropper, He is a Japanese photographer who shoots film. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pfnwc285z4) One of my inspirations why I picked up a camera. You can buy a Cropper here (http://toycamera.co.kr/index.html) Below is my homemade version of it. If you look through this you’ll see a normal world turned interesting. How? When you focus on one eye through the window, it eliminates the space outside it. 

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This is how you use it.

(Pictagram: http://www.pictaram.com/media/1392175958739771005_1804568876)

One of the most used items in my bag is a headphone. This is important to solidify your bubble whether you’re in a cafe, on a bus, airplane, train or walking casually amongst the streets of the unknown city. It is a natural mood blaster, couch chiller. It enhances your travel experience by a whole lot. The current headphone I am using now is a Chinese bluetooth headphone that I don’t even know the name of. Ive ordered through Amazon this week and hopefully, I’ll get it(currently in Colombia). I would recommend buying Bose since the locals doesn’t know of this brand. Its is soft, comfortable and light to carry. I bought a very cheap can called Monoprice due to cheapness and high reviews. Here’s a youtube video for your convenience (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbSU_PqtTQ8)

What else is in my book bag.

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XTI with a 16-55 2.8 lens I bought in Colombia.

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My bandaged-up Taylor Guitar. Its not really “in” my bag but on me. The white tape is only for show. Looks broken eh?

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A birthday gift from bro. Thanks for filling my immagination sir.

Smaller trinkets I have that help me travel and do work on the go!

So you’re there. What to do?

When visiting a new city, the first thing we do is find a hostel, a restaurant, park and find a tour to go to. Here are some alternatives of what to do for those who aren’t amused of looking at museums.

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Skateparks

You’ll find a large spectrum of identifiable community which is the extreme/laid back sports of skateboarding, bmx, and scooters. You’ll often find the most easy-going, passionate people trying or have achieved tricks. The sport, one way or another, have been a part of our youth. Asking for pictures are easy and get really great shots(ask for permission first). And with a new friend, you can be inclined to ask where would be a really gnarly munchies around.

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Coffee shops and Hookah bars

One of the favorite things I do at home is dwell in a coffee shop browsing the internet/read/chat for hours with a friend. Finding a coffee shop isnt easy because we never actually sat down and immerse the feel of mediocrity. What its like just sitting and feel that time is has passed in a small corner. If I go back home, what I’ll see is a coffee shop that I have spent my time exchanging stories with my good friends. But for someone who hasn’t been to my coffee shop will think its ordinary. My suggestion is, sit down at a table with a good environment and feel the moment of passing.

The other is looking for hookah bars which also another alternative. Usually in the evening.

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Live local bands

You are in the city, looking for dinner munchies and you see people on Friday nights dressed in their best clothes and you know people are going somewhere that sounds like EDM. You know you’re tired of that and you know there are clubs playing EDM-esque or something mainstream. What do you do? go back to your hostel? YES. Go online and look up a really awesome website called (http://www.bandsintown.com). You’ll find the local bands playing in the area. You’ll find very famous artists as well as locals. Next thing you do, list all of the music venues. Google them too. Pick out which one you’d like to go to, then invite someone at the hostel you’re in and GO!

Buses

There is something about sitting on the bus for an hour and getting off at the end of the line. Knowing the edge of the city or the stop gives you the perspective of how small the city is. You think to yourself, “I could totally walk this no problem.” Along the way, you’ll turn your head and paste your eyes at a street and say, “I might wanna go there” Get off the bus and check it out! 🙂

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Top of the world(or city)

This may go underneath “finding a park” section but I feel that I should mention this. Finding the very top of the city like the side mountain in Bogotà or the sand dunes in Huacachina or the cable cars in Medellin gives you another perspective of the city. The feeling of the birds eye view and the lay out. Its like when you play GTA V and you look at the map at the top, it feels like that. Going really early in the morning or just before sunset will give you brilliant shots and another cover photo on Facebook.

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Walking around

This maybe the most easiest, most listless thing you can ever do(besides the pub) when you’re jet lagged, or had a 12 hour bus ride and don’t want to waste your day or time. Randomly walking without aim is 99% thing I do when I travel. If you have any other ideas please comment 

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to skater Santiago A. for letting me take photos of his awesome skateboarding skills!15275592_1682469925377220_8163270449166286848_n.jpg