Please NO More Plastic Water Bottles

There is so much to see and appreciate in this world. So many wonders, eye opening and spiritually changing places that help you to appreciate this world that we live in and realize how connected we truly are. This world is a place we need to take better care of and love. However we were put here, whatever you believe I will respect, but I think that humans need to come to the realization that we NEED to start taking better care of our Earth. It was a gift to us and we are treating it like a giant trash can. We need to start taking better care of this place we call home and thinking about how we want to leave it for future generations. Everywhere that I have traveled I have seen mounds, piles, walls of trash…plastic bottles mostly. Some from locals, some from shores far away that is not the locals’ fault. I beg of you, please stop. We are having such a negative affect by doing things like purchasing plastic water bottles and thinking they are being disposed of properly. They are not! Buy a water filter, buy a canteen. Stop buying plastic bottles. I wish you could see these mounds of trash that we are leaving for our children and our children’s children. To watch a tortoise pop his head up next to an empty water bottle is not a sight that I want for future generations. Let’s start taking little steps!!! Let’s start by not buying little bottles of water. Let’s buy a filter, or at least buy a 5 gallon bottle. I hope that if I can reach even one person I can make a difference…now you reach one person.

PS

Building Business Relaitions in Northern Belize

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Lionfish jewelry

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These wonderful women are learning to make different styles of jewelry from the fins and spines of lion fish and recycled materials. Most of their husbands are fishermen who are gone for weeks at a time and catch a lot of lionfish. The jewelry crafting helps teach the women entrepreneurial skills, allows them to contribute to the family’s income, and gives them self-empowerment. It also helps keep the invasive lion fish species at bay and restores balance to the marine life. The jewelry income will add additional value to the lionfish and therefore support the familys’ financial well being. We will be selling their jewelry on our website when we are through with our trip and post more details about their crafts and cause.

Crossing From Belize to Mexico

Crossing the border from Belize to Mexico has many different options and price ranges. Depending on where in Belize you are you can take either buses or ferries to Mexico, all of which of course include the border check point process. We were in Sarteneja, Belize when we decided to cross to Chetumal, Mexico. The cheaper option is about $12BZE on bus to Orange Walk (leaving very early in the mornings) and then from Orange Walk to Corozal is another bus. We chose the 4pm (there’s also a 7:30am) ferry option from Sarteneja to Corozal, about $25BZE, which is much faster and allowed us to enjoy a cool ocean breeze which was a nice change from humid jungle temps. Once we docked at Corozal we met up with two other couples to fill a small taxi van which could take us across the border; about a 15-20 minute drive. It is much cheaper doing things in large numbers, especially when it seemed a taxi was the only option to cross the border. The whole process of getting into Mexico included two stops, a bridge crossing and a bus ride. The first stop was customs leaving Belize. The cost for foreigners leaving Belize is $37.50BZE posted on an official government sign. They do not have change or an ATM so be prepared to pay that exact amount. The taxi will wait for you to pass through Belize customs and then drop you off before the Mexican border town of Chetumal at a bridge where there is the Mexican customs. It is not necessary to take a taxi through Mexican customs because you can walk 200 meters over the bridge, do the paper work and passport stamping, and then catch a public bus right there into Chetumal city center. The bus ride was only about $2MNX pesos, which I imagine is immensely cheaper than a 15min cab ride. The entire process from getting off the ferry at Corozal to stepping off the bus in Chetumal city center was about one hour. There are hostels and hotels within a 15min walk of the bus station that are anywhere from $9-$15USD. Beware of booking online through hostelbooking.com as there are processing fees (even though they advertise as not having any) and the hostel we stayed at did not have breakfast included or a gym like it said on the booking website. Overall, the process of getting from Sarteneja to Chetumal was not too stressful of a process and took in total about three hours.

Sarteneja Belize stole our hearts…

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IMG_1940Arriving in Sarteneja from Belize City was a bumpy and dusty trip. Tree branches thrashed through the school bus windows and the driver made sharp jolting turns to avoid pot holes in the dirt road. After three and a half hours of rum drinking and holding on tight we were dropped off on a dark jungle road at the Backpacker’s Paradise Hostel, owned by a French couple. A delightful woman named Elisa checked us into our cabana with simply a bed and shelf for belongings. Hostels in Belize usually range from $10-$20 USD depending on the type of room you are looking for. This cabana was about $22 USD total which wasn’t too bad split between two people and after paying higher prices in other parts of Belize and compared to the $50 USD the hotels in town charge. The hostel was very fun with a jungle setting but beware of bugs and definitely bring a mosquito net for your hammock, cabana or tent. What I liked most about this hostel was how helpful and friendly the staff was, bike rental for the day was available to ride into town, and that mangos fall fresh from the trees for a sweet morning feast.

Sarteneja itself is a small gem hidden in northern Belize. It is not completely off the beaten path because we met plenty of other travelers, however, it is slightly tougher to get too and small in population so it tends to be overlooked to other places. Mosquitos aside, Sarteneja is a quaint little fishing town with crystal calm turquoise water and people willing and wanting to help you find your way around. Spanish is more prevalent here than English, unlike other parts of Belize, so be prepared to practice your bilingual skills or elaborate hand gestures for communication. There are a couple of modest cenotes and small Mayan ruin outside of town you can bike to with help from a local. Otherwise enjoy some fresh sea food from a local fisherman, a home-baked cinnamon roll from the bakers at Lopez Bakery, or just lounge with a Belikin beer on one of the small beaches or public docs and let the sea breeze wipe your worries away. If you are in Northern Belize and want a place where life slows way down, people are friendly and typical Caribbean water, I highly recommend a quick trip to Sarteneja.

Writing Exercise. Meta Writing

 

Are these the KNOWN things that we’re describing?

 

Describe how we describe.

With this exercise we were asked to describe our own writing and this is how I described it. 

The descriptions tend to be somewhat emotional linking sights with emotion and feeling. There is also a basic vocabulary which needs to expand and become more descriptive and vibrant to bring the words to life. This is where I have the opportunity to look at and explain things from a completely different point of view. I guess this is just me trying to find my voice. I am quite loud and comical (to myself at least) in the real world but have somewhat of a difficult time putting that on the page. How do I place myself on the page? I guess this is the challenge. Hopefully I will learn to let go and let it flow. I’ve learned to let go with my mouth quite well often times not having a filter, which can get me into trouble. Hopefully I can lose this filter with my writing as well instead of feeling at times like I’m holding something back. This will probably also, get me into trouble. Maybe a filter is good. Backspace backspace.
Paul Sorensen

Free Tibet!

Dharamsala is where Tibetan refugees are able to live and practice their culture freely, without Chinese oppression. Therefore, the town is a mix of Indian and Tibetan people. You can find monks, beggars, Indian artisans, Tibetan artisans, many Westerners, and natural healing medicines here. They work too! Its a very interesting place. Anyway, I wrote about the Tibetan thing because we went to see a documentary the other night on the Tibetan struggle in China right now and it made a huge impact on me. This is what I wrote in my journal entry that night, so I thought I would share it with you all. Please keep in mind that this in no way reflects the Chinese people as a whole nor represents my view of Chinese people. This is the government we’re talking about. Much different than the general public who lives there. Just the corrupt government:

Resources, really? Is that the most viable reason China could come up with to occupy Tibet? because they want their resources? No, no. There’s no reason worthy or legitimate enough to ever oppress, detain, murder, or strip the culture of any human being. ever. At least 6 million Tibetans have lost their identity, freedom to choose anything, and ability to have a family of more than three persons who are able to live free of political , religious and cultural prosecution. They live in a cultural genocide. Of the 5 million in Tibet who have not mysteriously disappeared, fled the country or have been killed, not one Tibetan is able to have freedom of the Self. they are not able to choose who they are, wish to be, or what they believe in. Nor can they give their children (or one child) the option to grow up discovering and interpreting the world as they wish. They are controlled, all of them, by powerful, oppressive tyrants who force order and obedience to their liking.
No one will ever know, however, how suffering and constant fear of waking up surviving through each day fell like. No one will ever know that Tibetans are arrested, tortured with iron rids and wet electrical prods for saying “free Tibet” of speaking to foreigners about their situation. No one will ever know the atrocities the Chinese government has committed against nomadic and urban Tibetans. Until you are able to do research and be a conscious member of our worldly society, I will inform you of what I know so far:
-There is 1 Chinese soldier to every 15-20 Tibetans on the street.
-In one uprising (non-violent on the Tibetan side), over 1– Tibetans were gunned down.
-Chinese torture methods include:
*electrocution (wet and dry)
*hanging from ceiling in handcuffs until hands rip off (eventually leads to death from blood loss)
*water boarding
*beatings with iron rods
*chain whippings
*hanging from ceiling in cuffs with toes touching the floor as to not let the person die from severed limbs, but to force them to endure pain beyond a reason for living
*and any other methods which are inhumane, unjust, and cause a lifetime of psychological trauma
-Chinese government use Tibetans as factory workers to manufacture goods such as toy fish. If they do not meet their quota, they are beaten and tortured.
-Six students in Lhasa University were detained and haven’t been seen since for passing out pro-Tibet fliers on campus.
-It is against the law to possess a Tibetan flag or photo of the Dalai Lama. I think we are all starting to understand what the punishment of that would be….
-Nomadic herders of the Tibetan grasslands have been relocated to camps (or reservations) and are not able to ever return to their native land or lifestyle. Without this ability to live as they have for generations and be confined to a smaller plot of land, means that resources are limited, everyone is starving and poor. There are no medical clinics or schools set up for them and people’s desperation has lead to alcoholism and stealing. Let’s see, the government takes land away from natives in order to hoard the resources and confine them to reservations for which family life turns into harsh survival and they suffer from delinquency and social marginalization. This situation reminds me of exactly what happened (and is happening) in our country with our Natives. Cultural Genocide. It is an academic term used in Ethnic Studies courses (and hopefully more) in universities to describe Indigenous struggle and persecution around the world. It is taking a race, or Peoples, and killing them at the roots. Basically and elimination of a culture. The most important things which define the People is terminated. For example, their land, the right to be autonomous beings, right to choose what to believe in and practice it, right to have individuality, the right to have your own form of government and economic policies, etc. The list could go on forever. Basically, the right to Be. The scariest part is when actually human lives are taken or preemptively discontinued in order to eliminate a culture. Let me go into more detail.
Tibetans are forced to abide to China’s One Child Policy. There is an unattainable fee if a woman has more than one child and if she can not pay it, she is forced to have her Fallopian tubes ripped from their roots. No drugs, anesthesia, or rehab (psychological and physical) is given and some women are left handicapped or permanently injured, not to mention, emotionally scared. If a woman gets pregnant and the government finds out, a forced abortion will be inflicted on them which could lead to dangerous consequences. The (not so funny) thing is, the Chinese government says this policy doesn’t apply to Tibetans. This obviously is not true since the Chinese government’s main objective is to assimilate the Tibetan people and culture into theirs and to get their resources. Attaining all the land would be easier without the Tibetans in their way. Sounds like what happened/s with our Natives!
The forced assimilation and elimination of a People and living in daily terror are the main reasons Tibetans risk their lives and their family’s to flee Tibet. They also want to spread the word to the world of their situation since they have no voice inside Tibet. It is worth dying to many to educate the world on what’s actually happening in Tibet, not what the Chinese governments tricks us into thinking. Until their holy leader, the Dalai Lama, their land, culture, and freedom are returned, the exodus across a treacherous 1-3 month journey will continue. It is worth trekking through 20,000 foot peaks with the possibility of being shot by Chinese military hidden on the ridges to live a more liberated life and share the stories of their current situation. Some refugees get frostbite so bad that they must amputate feet and hands. Food is limited and many can only sneak through with the help of an expensive guide (like Mexican “coyotes”) or lucky help from someone who supports them. Some spend many years salaries to do this trip.
The struggle Tibetan people endure to survive, much less communicate to the outside world, is a violation of human rights everyone must be aware of. The Chinese government creates a facade of reciprocity and cooperation between the Tibetans and Chinese government, when in reality they pay off (big time) high-end monks to stay quiet and create human rights laws which they do not follow. They corrupt at all levels. Any media (people and records) which has tried to document then truth has either “disappeared” or escaped with luck. The misrepresentation of the Tibetan-Chinese relationship is costing Tibetans peace and freedom, two important concepts of their identity. It is also hiding the fact that the nomads are not happy in their new “homes” and are grieving at the dams in their rivers and soon-to-be drilling of their land. I only assume the latter because there is 14 trillion dollars worth of oil on Tibetan land. The Chinese government pays compensation to these people for the land they take from them, but make it illegal to refuse the bribe. Is that forced corruption? Either way, they are screwed. Something must be done to stop the greed that overlooks the basic human elements of compassion, tolerance, and respect. Resources do not justify the elimination of a culture, socially, politically and physically. Since when does wealth and power outweigh the value of a human life and their right to live?

“Love through kindness is my religion”

-His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Turkey 2014

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Last spring I enrolled in a class at University Nevada Reno through Continuing Education as a graduate student. It was an amazing and challenging trip that changed my life in many ways. Everyday we had to write a journal entry at the end of the day. This is the last one I wrote. When I track down the other hand-written ones I will post those as well!

Today we rode bikes around Princess Island. It was very beautiful and was great day of bonding for all of us. On the Island I got to see life slow down (compared to Istanbul) and locals work hard how I do during the summer in touristy Tahoe. The streets were swarming with tourists, horse buggies and filled with the smell of sea breeze and flowers. This reminded me of Tahoe in summer-tourist insanity and busyness but still so beautiful and fun.
This day summarized my trip well. After the final, my heart was pained with the oppression and bullshit the people of Turkey have to deal with, but also filled with all the love and smiles I received here. Some people in Istanbul, appeared impatient and judgmental to me, but in reality once I gave them a chance to see me and look at me in the eye, they opened up and the guard came down. I am not from a city, but I feel like cities in general create unnecessary tension and stress in one’s life. Everything moves faster, life is more about money and consumerism, and you are always in a rush to get somewhere. Istanbul is specifically an interesting city to keep your insanity in because of all the political division and military tension. On the Islands, although still busy, life slowed down to a pace I see more fit for Turkish people, and myself. The Islands, like southern Turkey, bring out the authentic Turkish character I related so well with.

The Turkish people I have had the pleasure of conversing with and becoming friends with have been nothing but helpful, accepting, and loving. Very hospitable in nature, Turks are curious about Americans and our lives, always asking questions and wanting to go to America to “have more freedoms.” Like every trip I’ve taken in the word, I will come back home with a profound gratitude for where I came from and the life I have. If only we could see our lives how Turks see them, we would be so grateful every day and be so full of love. Once I break through the shell that oppressed, urban Turks shield themselves with, I see someone who is the same as me; a mere reflection of myself. I thank Turkey for putting me through emotional turmoil and making me aware (again) of the daily struggles many people have to deal with, but most of all, for reigniting the love of life I should have every day for everyone.

Meta Writing

In this exercise we were asked to describe our own writing. This is how I described my stories.

 

Are these the KNOWN things that we’re describing?

 

Describe how we describe.

 

The descriptions tend to be somewhat emotional linking sights with emotion and feeling. There is also a basic vocabulary which needs to expand and become more descriptive and vibrant to bring the words to life. This is where I have the opportunity to look at and explain things from a completely different point of view. I guess this is just me trying to find my voice. I am quite loud and comical (to myself at least) in the real world but have somewhat of a difficult time putting that on the page. How do I place myself on the page? I guess this is the challenge. Hopefully I will learn to let go and let it flow. I’ve learned to let go with my mouth quite well often times not having a filter, which can get me into trouble. Hopefully I can lose this filter with my writing as well instead of feeling at times like I’m holding something back. This will probably also, get me into trouble. Maybe a filter is good. Backspace backspace.

Paul Sorensen

Stress With a Goal is Worth it

Starting a company has been one of the most stressful, exciting, confusing, and educational experiences of my so-called “adult” life. Thank god I have someone to go through it all with. Having confidence in yourself and a good business partner are essential. Liquid Gypsy has manifested so quickly in the last three months and I have yet to see the “fun” part I envisioned of traveling the world and meeting wonderful people. All I see is emails from banks, shipping accounts, web designers, logo designers, t-shirts companies, piling and piling up. Licenses, fees, permits, you name it!

There just is no time
Work compounded on work
Let’s just drink some wine

Sometimes I get really stressed out because of finances, time, deadlines, and the fact that I’ve never actually taken a business class. But then I realize that Paul and I are learning so much and starting the coolest freaking company ever and it’s going to be amazing once it’s up and running! It’s like we are training to get back in shape and we’re in the first couple of weeks where we re-train our muscle memory and put one lead-filled leg in front of the other until they begin to feel lighter and lighter. So light that we can become sky gypsies in a hot air balloon or perhaps under a parachute, circling wind thermals with condors. Ideas is what keeps our momentum going. Our ideas of what countries to see, which demographic to reach out to, which adventures we’re crazy enough to participate in, and what positive affect we want to have on the world. If we ever stopped dreaming, Liquid Gypsy would crumble and so would our passion. Dreaming can become reality and we’re making that happen, one permit and fee after another.

Sky rocket’s in flight!
Belizean island hopping and Mayan jungle caves
Passion fuels our motivation

Island hopping in Belize is possibly going to be the most relaxed I’ve felt in a year. After Paul and I have done a fair amount of lying on the beach and drinking Caribbean rum, I promise we will muster up the courage to swim with whale sharks on a full moon and go spelunking through underground Mayan rivers in Mexico and write about all the details for you. We do need an initial period of finding our barring with our “fun” compass and meet the insiders who will guide us on unique adventures. Once we are oriented and the fun meter is set at high, then we will be blogging frequently and sharing videos, pictures and information about the wonderful local talent and beauty down there.

Balls Gone Viral

This piece of randomness was an exercise we did in our writing class to get our mind thinking. Each person in class wrote three images from their week down on a paper. Then we passed one paper (one image) to the person on our left and one to the person on the right. That way we ended up with two images that are from somebody else. We took these three images and had to somehow link them all together in a story, prose, poem, whatever. At the end we had to choose a noun, verb and place from what we wrote and create a haiku. Here’s what I got:

Three Images:
person on my left–> “The thickness of the book”
my image–> “My Mom opening an email from her brother with a picture of a man’s balls as the attachment”
Paul’s (on my right)–> “A skeleton of a man up on a wall playing piano”

A skinny lad wanted to perform his first piece of music for a crowd in the bar one night, but somehow had to muster up the courage. Therefore his friends got him piss drunk and threw him on stage. After the harmonica and guitar tunes were through he chose to tackle the jolly piano in the corner. He ripped off his shirt and with spit sailing over the crowd started to play the piano with his feet up on the wall. All skin and bones he was not ashamed to be a skeleton of a man up on a wall playing a piano. In fact, he was so confident about other regions of his body he did not mind his thin stature. He then tore his pants off and told his friends to take a picture of his package, specifically his balls. In hysterics, his mates began to send the picture out to all their friends email as a funny prank. Little did one know that he accidentally included his sister in the group email. When his sister opened her email the next morning, coffee steam still waking her nostrils, she nearly jumped out of her chair at the picture of large, hairy balls on her computer screen from her brother. Nearly laughing in disgust at the image, she said to herself, well, the balls all gross but his penis is about the thickness of the book I’m reading.

Up on the wall lad
Show your balls for all to see
Even your sister?

Drinking commences
Deep on the piano wall
Viral testicles

Coffee or liquor
Decisions become sicker
Funny ball pranksters