Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flying high

From Turkey to Chile; August, 2005.

It was one of those crazy schedule issues where I had to be in two places, pretty much at the same time. It was not like having to go to the office downtown and also meet a client at the other side of the city, or having to attend a conference call while e-mailing a report. It was, well, like having to be in Santiago de Chile for one week, then in Usak, Turkey for the next two weeks, then back to Santiago for another week…and so I did.

I was able to find a somehow direct way of getting there, flying from Santiago to Madrid- Frankfurt-Izmir, then drive for almost 3 hours to the small town of Usak – a mining community on the Aegean sea.

After two weeks of working my way in a totally different culture, sometimes lost in translation and felt somehow second guessed just for being a foreign WOMAN trying to tell them how to do the same things they were used to perform their own way, I was ready to head back to Chile, tired, recently adjusted to the time and food difference and not really looking forward for the trip ahead; a super early 3 hour drive to Izmir, to catch a flight to Istanbul, with a 6 hour layover before continuing to Madrid and then an overseas flight to Santiago; overall, almost 2-day worth of traveling.

When I finally boarded the Istanbul-Madrid flight, it was almost 6 PM; I had a window seat and was able to see a spectacular sunset painting the whole city with a golden light; the black sea was glowing and framing the well defined shape of a radiant city. Ancient mosques and their elaborate domes contrasting with red shingled roofs, delicately being kissed by gray velvet clouds. It was the most romantic view, quiet and calming. That was the last ray of light I was going to see for a long period of time, and it was magical.

I got to Madrid to catch the red eye flight to Santiago. Luckily I had a good comfy sit to spend the next 12 hours eating, watching movies, eating again, reading and finally, sleeping…the kind of light sleep where you can hear everything yet you can’t open your eyes; my legs feeling numbed so I had to stretch and move constantly, but eyes still closed and half-consciously drifting at 36,000 feet. I lost track of time and didn’t realize I was truly sleep when I turned to my side, towards the window: the shades were open so I opened my eyes only to find the soft pink and orange colors of an early morning sun light hugging slowly the grand Andes Range – fully covered in white snow, right there, at my level, nothing in between …I could almost touch them. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and the loud sound of silence. It was the most overwhelming sensation, waking up to it…not expecting it…I couldn’t help to feel grateful. In what felt like a blink of an eye, I was lucky to see the sunset over the black sea and the sunrise across the Andes. I was moved… it marked my life for good. Right there and then I knew it: every day is different, it can bring you unexpected things, sometimes hidden in between your pet peeves or your morning pains or the longest work trip. Just be open to receive them, enjoy them while they last and keep moving towards the chance of the next small thing that will make your day… only if you want.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life according to me, lesson 14

There are days to feel sad and days to feel angry. You can’t be up and shining all the time. That’s why you have to make the most of your sad day, feel the saddest you can be, knowing it is the only chance you are giving to yourself to stop trying. Next day should be better.

Previous lesson

Saturday, February 13, 2010

El arte de compartir

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Enero 20, 2010

Ritual del mate

Primero que nada, para hacer un buen mate, se requiere buena yerba (de preferencia con el perfecto balance entre palo y polvo y si es de la región de Iguazú, mucho mejor), bombilla y mate o porongo, que es cuestión de gusto y de preferencia, ya que el mate es de madera o de hueso y el porongo de calabaza; previamente el mate debe haber sido curado, ya sea con la misma yerba o con azúcar caramelizada.

Cebar el mate
"El buen cebador sabe que debe utilizar agua caliente a 83 grados centígrados... e identifica la temperatura a puro olfato" explica con la certeza de un matero de corazón. Se llena el mate a 3/4 de su capacidad con la yerba, se le agrega azúcar o miel, se introduce la bombilla tapando la boquilla hasta que toque el fondo, y se va poniendo agua caliente que debemos tener en un termo; no se llena de agua, se pone la medida justa para tomar. El buen cebador sabe cuanta agua es suficiente y, si esta en su punto, el sabor de la yerba resalta sin quemarse. El buen cebador también toma el primer trago de mate, que por lo general se escupe al venir medianamente tibio; es el mate de los tontos, que no se debe compartir.

Compartiendo el mate

El origen del mate es gaucho, no particularmente argentino; viene de los gaúchos brasileños, luego de las pampas; se toma en Uruguay, en Argentina. Es una tradición que va más allá de la bebida. Es compartir, de un mismo mate y una misma bombilla, la experiencia de beber hasta el último sorbo de la porción asignada en cada ronda - el mate no se puede pasar hasta que la bombilla no hizo ruido al tomar, característico de cuando ya no queda más líquido. En éste proceso hay que cuidar hasta la orientación de la bombilla al estar pasando el mate, ya que si no está en la forma correcta es muestra de desprecio.
Es el lenguaje no escrito empapado de mateína y un saborcito que me recordó al tamarindo pero con menos acidez. Si al pasar el mate das las gracias, esta es la señal de que ya no quieres más, que tu ronda ha terminado. Yo lo tomé hasta hacer ruido, dí las gracias y me llené de un sudor frío y el temblor de haber sobrepasado mi límite diario de estimulantes ingeridos.

Gracias chicos...gracias por compartir. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Being a Vancouverite

Vancouver, B.C. Canada, February 6th 2010

Vancouver has always been a city with a lot of meaning for me. It was my first international travel destination, it is the city my best friend calls home and when she moved here, I came visit, sometimes just for a weekend, to be part of her setting up process; it was my honeymoon destination and a place where I feel welcome and safe.

This time I’m here on a business trip in a Vancouver almost ready to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’m staying with my friend as usual and going for work with her for ten days, weekend included. Ten days already planned based on a daily routine with a constant layout that can be summarized like this:

06:45 – wake up, brush teeth, wash face, take shower and get dressed

07:30 – finish hair and makeup – no time for mascara, take it with you

07:35 – making bed, drink my glass of water and grab cell phone and purse

07:40 – rush out to catch the bus; don’t forget the take out cup of coffee!

07:46 – taking bus to sky train station

08:05 – sky train to Burrard station; get the Metro or 24 daily papers

08:30 – get off the train, walk to the office; too crowded! Take the emergency stairs

09:00 – more coffee and oatmeal; back to desk

11:55 - lunch brake

13:05 – back from lunch

16:55 – taking off to catch sky train back

17:37 – get off on 22nd street station to catch the 410 bus

18:00 – home for dinner; eat, clean and get ready for the after work activity of the day.

And so it went, day after day; a detailed schedule, minute by minute. It was stressful for me, it was like having to make it happen or else… or so it felt. Until I realized the issue was not the plan or the activities or even commuting to work; it was the fact that I was aware of each single moment and how long every single activity took (or should I say how much time was assigned to perform each task). It was the same old things I usually do, only thoroughly documented.

I now know how long it takes to lather and repeat, or to floss and rinse, or the difference in time between a pony tale and hair half way up. I even confirmed that coffee gets cold in 37 minutes, that time goes by quickly if you are looking for 6 down based on the first letter of 6 across. That I can eat dinner in 23 minutes; that 15 minutes of reading mean 10 pages for an adult and 3 pages for a six year old; that a bridal shower can last less than an hour, cheese tray and wine drinking included.

I learned that life is full of wasted minutes we don’t really know where they were used or what for; that we are capable of managing even the smallest things if we really need or want to. It’s all about control and awareness, plans and timelines, with no room for the unplanned. It is a matter of perspective and choices. I realized that my lifestyle is different only because is mine, my own rules my own plan. The layout might not be the same but the content is.

Sometimes, I don’t want to know where time went; I like being open for the unexpected, but love the idea of making every moment count, without having to count every moment.

After having the chance of being part of the life of a Vancouverite, one thing is for sure: I admire and love my best friend even more.