We caught the 8:30a ferry. Unfortunately the buquebus.com company didn’t take Argentina Pesos and we had to use our credit card. So, that mean the fare went from around $90 to $121. They do ask you to get there a bit early, which gave us time to sit and have a coffee and get through immigration.
Apparently Colonia only has 27,000 people and everyone loves living there. Carlos from our lunch restaurant mentioned that it reminded him of California in the 50s.
Take the bus tour
We were going to try and make our own way, but since the bus tour was only $25 it was hard to say no. Not only did it include a 1.5 hour bus tour, but also a walking tour. Later we could have lunch or jump on other buses for free if we wanted to revisit something we had seen.
On the Playa Ferrando one review that I read said the water looked like “poo.” Yes the water is brown but that is because of the iron in the water and not because of pollution.
Prostitution is still legal
Lighthouse (Faro de Colonia del Sacramento)
Cathedral (Convento de San Francisco)
Eat at Casa Grande
Again looking at another menu we had no idea what to order. So, we asked “what is the favorite of the region.” Here it was Chevito which is magic for a carnivore: eggs, bacon, fries, steak, etc.
Tell a friend where you are
One of my good friends Lauren spend a good bit of time in Uruguay. Right after I returned home I had to tell her where I was and got a reaction from someone who really wants to go back.
Can you believe that I was able to fly business class for the majority of my flights. I don’t like direct flights anywhere because it gives me the opportunity to layover in another county on my bucket list without paying to travel there. Con: longer flights. Pro: sleeping pods.
Always have a backup plan
I arrived at 7:30am and my check-in for Pacheco de Melo 2095 8C wasn’t until 2pm. I got a message from my traveling buddy Kathy that I couldn’t check-in early so I found a hotel down the street called Lion D’or. Their check-in was a bit earlier, 12, and luckily they had a room available for 360 pesos (roughly 28.91 black market rate / $40 official rate).
Go to the oldest coffee shop in the world
I was advised Angel who works at one of my favorite pizza place Mob Town to go to Cafe Tortoni. Established in 1858. Pure history.
Drink a Malbec
Take a walking tour
Not only was http://www.bafreetour.com/english-buenos-aires-free-city-tour a great tour but it was Free. How can that be? Well, they tell you that it is free and you can give them a donation if you like it. The smartest thing our tour guide did was give us a range of what a tour “like this” would normally cost. But, we can pay as much or as little as we like. There are a lot of activities that I come across and the price often disqualifies me from going. So, not only was it amazing and a wonderful way to get the lay of the land but we paid after out expectations were fulfilled.
Ask where to eat
Many places were recommended to us for steak (which apparently is the thing to eat). After walking for what seemed like days we finally stumbled upon one of our favorite places El Sanjuanino. A huge cut of meat was about $15, and was much better than some of the more tourist places that charge $100 per steak.
The other favorite of the trip was Los Pinos and their steak lunch special was only $9.
Change money on the black market
As I mentioned above, trading in currency is extremely hard. I try and exchange some currency at the outgoing airport (the exchange rate was about 9 PESOS to $1 USD). Because the country is very unstable and we were told that inflation can be around 40% most locals change their money on the black market (12.45 PESOS to $1 USD). Our tour guide gave us a (vague) location and we headed there after lunch. The instructions were to 1) look for a landscape painting, 2) press a button, 3) wait, 4) go in when the buzzer rings. We happened to go right when the police were outside which made the experience extra exciting. We had so much fun that we had to go twice.
Go see tango
Check-in with home
Vibe seems to be one of the easiest ways to communicate with people back home. You can text, call and video chat for free over WIFI. I remember 15 years ago when we had to pay $0.50 a minute and the internet was dial-up. How things have changed…
Hailing a taxi
If a sign says “libre” you are good to go. If it doesn’t say “Radio Taxi” it may not be an official taxi. But, even if it says Radio Taxi we were told to watch the meter to see if it was running extra fast. There are also premiums if you call ahead and have it arrive at your hotel or if you hail it directly from the port. Walking just a few feet saves you about 120 pesos (about $10).
Always lock suitcase
Somewhere in the trip my travel buddy and I both noticed that we lost a few hundred dollars. Safes are confusing, but when you are away from home, you are away from home. Your safety is your priority and I have learned that travel locks go along way for piece of mind.
Hold onto your passport
I lost my passport and later found out that it was returned by our taxi driver. After going through my bag I saw that my wallet was a little light in bills. A new passport would have been much more expensive than what the driver took, but now I know why he didn’t want a tip; he already took one.
Carry a map
Not knowing where you are going is really scary. I tried to remember directions to a market just four blocks away and felt very intimidated. Not only does it get dark in the “winter” season around 5pm and light around 8am, but when you don’t know where you are it just throws you off. We were staying at an apartment, but priority #1 when going to a new area should be grabbing one of those total tourist maps. Google Maps seems to work offline (learned that on day 5) and there are other apps if you add “offline” to the search.
Have the address written down in english as well as Spanish (since I was in Argentina)
No one understood my “Spanish” accent, and just showing the address from my phone went a long way. I use Evernote religiously but sometimes it doesn’t cache a note for offline usage. Taking a screenshot seemed to solve that problem.
“Medio” is not “medium” when ordering a steak. But, when you use Google Translator that is exactly what you get. So, download a phrase book.
My travel buddy Kathy told me that “if you don’t ask the answer is always ‘no.’” Great advice. You never saw two more confused people than the pair of us when we were handed a Spanish menu; and without pictures. But, we finally asked for help and said “do you have one in English.” Each time we had no problems. If we ever did find one that wasn’t translated a waiter who could speak English game over.
Everyone in Argentina seemed to and “ist” (or form of) to the end of everything. For example, “is this the best restaurant for steak?” The answer was of course “yes.” We were also told that the Argentinian people claimed that the avenue that runs down the center of the city is the “biggest.” Another “ist” that was just challenged by one in Brazil. What does this mean about the people? They have great pride in their city.
Act like a tourist (once)
Yes I did the ultimate tourist activity; have a Starbucks.
During the Great Recession I learned a number of skills that helped me survive. Being able to tolerate 16 hour days, working 7 days a week, for little money, and delaying all gratification were just a few of them.
Fast forward to 2014 I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “Spiritual Atrophy” (credit to my good friend Mark Reid for helping me define it).
In looking at vitality, it all makes sense. I build up “one muscle” and lost another.
So, yes… Shakabuku.
Committing to something is just the first step in a journey. After I said the words to Lindon that I was making a commitment all of the problems started to show up.
How am I going to afford this? What am I going to do about my business? Since my lease is going to expire in a few months where am I going to live? Who is going to take care of my dogs? If I left would I miss my friends?
Notice all the “ya’buts?”
All of the reasons that this journey wouldn’t work had just began showing up. The question was whether or not the “ya’buts” would win.
Even just one of these is enough to get overwhelmed. So, I started with the first excuse: “my dogs.”
My parents Winter in California but leave each May. They have also chosen to stay near me, which has been an unbelievable help. If I want to get away I know that their is someone who loves and cares about my two dogs Bailey and Madison as much as I do. So, my first question to my parents was “if I go to South America in June would you be open to taking care of them?” Being that they are great parents they said “yes” and I could cross that excuse off the list.
Now the next problem… If my parents wouldn’t be in California, how do I get my dogs to them? I have never taken my dogs in an airplane and have heard plenty of horror stories. My solution in the past has been to drive the 1,400 miles from California to South Dakota and chose this as my strategy.
In the back of my mind a potential problem was brewing… But, ended up being a huge opportunity: What do I do about my lease? If my parents won’t be in California, and my dogs will be with them in South Dakota, and I will have to get them to South Dakota, why should I keep my lease? I have lived in South Orange County since 2008 and have liked, not loved living there. About a year prior I came across a quote on Word Porn that said:
“I aways wonder why
in the same place
when they can fly
anywhere on earth.
Then I ask myself
the same questions.
Where should I go then if not stay here? This question was just too large to answer and I told myself that I could focus on that later.
But, the problem still existed: how do I get from February to May? The answer was to sell my landlord on the idea.
On 12/1/2014 I wrote:
John, Would you be open to extend my lease from Feb to May 1st?
The next day he responded: Thanks for the e-mail Adam. I need to discuss w/ my wife as we need to figure out what our next step is with regards to the condo. During the past year, our loan on the condo changed from interest only to amortizing, which effectively doubled our debt service. With that being said, my wife and I have discussed the thought of putting the condo on the market for sale next year, as continuing to rent the unit out doesn’t make fiscal sense for us in the long-term. We are still sorting through timing of when we would like to put the condo on the market, but just wanted to give you a heads-up, so that you knew what our hesitation is at the moment. I will get back to you once we decide which direction we would like to take.
On the 3rd I responded:
Great. I appreciate the followup. Think you will be able to get back to me by weeks end? Don’t want to be pushy but I am working on some travel plans over the summer and just need to figure out where I am departing from
Realizing that I left the point in his court I thought I could do more to influence my position:
John, Had another thought that I forgot to tack onto my last email. One of the things I was reflecting on is that if we do extend until May than that gives you a enough time to do any final improvements before listing the property in June. When I sold my home in Laguna Hills, I listed at that time and caught the market at it’s high cycle into July and finished up the escrow around August. So, this timing might really benefit you. Lastly, it seems like last Summer Crestline got a lot of activity and properties changed hands over the summer whereas it was quite over the other months. I can also assist in any way possible during those last few months so if you want to do any changes I can make sure the girls are out when you are needing to come in.
Six days later I heard back:
Thanks for the email. My wife and I have talked, and we would love to retain you as our tenant through May. I will circulate an amendment to the lease formalizing the same in the next few weeks. All the best –
Success and another “excuse” checked off the list!
Getting my lease extended opened up an opportunity to pay for my trip with what I could have spent on a lease. $2,000 per month would equal an $8,000 savings because if I am going to South Dakota I will stay until at least August so I can experience the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Bike Rally. With an agenda starting to form, money being saved, everything was now moving in the right direction.
A hard part for me is the endless possibilities that come next:
1. How long to I want to spend in South America
2. Should I get a storage unit
3. What do I do with my business
Luckily each one started to be solved.
A friend of mine from Vietnam wanted to go on the same Machu Picchu trip and suggested Argentina. Never been and don’t have any reason why not so that was planned. I could then buy the first part of my plane tickets.
After sharing the upcoming trips with others I was suggested to go to the Galapagos and rainforest afterwards. So, I set that in motion remembering to build in layovers along the way to see more without adding additional cost. One surprise was that on my way home I will stop in Panama which will allow me to check another wonder of the world off my list: the Panama Canal.
From March on I started practicing the 365 Day Rule that I learned from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYhtKE-oEEM&feature=youtu.be. I have heard variations of this over the years that “if you don’t use something for three months get rid of it.” Sounds really easy but is quite hard to put into play. The reason is that things can have an emotional connection. One of my favorite movies is “Fight Club” and ever since 1999 have resonated with Tyler Durdan’s speech that “the things you own end up owning you.”
Even though some things had that connection I followed the steps:
1) Stop shopping
2) Only buy things that can replace 2 purposes
3) Be honest with self
4) Digitize everything possible
5) Prioritize joy
6) Get zen
I took a plastic storage shelf, put it in the second bedroom and started filling it. On the opposite side of the house I used a storage closet to start putting things that I could take with me to South Dakota that I needed more time to go through or were keepsakes.
For my clothes, I turned my hangers around (thanks Jon) and when I wore the close turned the the other way. After about a month I took the clothes not worn and put them away.
The things, clothes, etc, that I used on a regular basis were starting to get few and far between. The things that were out-of-sight were out-of-mind.
After Machu Picchu
Back in September of 2014 a friend who works at Google recommended that I watch the Tiny Documentary on Netflix.
I was hooked.
I was sold on the idea of smaller but didn’t know how just yet. Not only did my Dad find me a tiny house convention in Vegas to attend but on the way back from seeing my relatives in Arizona he asked me if I ever thought of an Airstream trailer.
I was pretty set on the fantasy of building my own house like in the documentary but remained open to the idea of other possibilities. The conversation was around the form tiny would take but the reality was that I was looking for a solution to move around and see different places. If I wanted to stay somewhere for a week, or a year, a tiny house or a trailer would achieve that. One would take 2 years to build and the other would take more money.
I committed to the idea that whatever I could buy once I could buy again. I must have spent months finding the perfect recliner ( https://www.ashleyfurniturehomestore.com/p/fort-logan-durablend-recliner/4540025/ ) and it started to peal within a year. This helped me value getting lighter than storing furniture I don’t even like or need. I have a king sized bed mostly so that my two dogs have room to sleep with me where I hug the corner. More stuff with partial purpose and none of it joyful to me.
2) Ask everyone if they are interested:
On April 2nd I moved everything downstairs that I wanted to sell except my bed. That week we had my washer and dryer picked up (they were rentals), and I learned my second lesson about selling from my mom. She asked the person picking up the units if they were interested in furniture. He said yes, and mentioned he wanted everything. Jackpot, right? Wrong…
The next day we made arrangements for him to pickup everything and he didn’t bring a truck and by the time he made it to South County all the U-Haul locations were closed. He wanted to at least take the bed, and I mentioned he might not be able to fit it all. My mistake here was if someone is motivated, let them use that motivation to complete the sale. I was “looking out for his best interests” and he went dark.
On April 26th I hadn’t heard back from the appliance delivery person and started posted ads on Craigslist. April 27th it rained and no one called or showed. That night emails started coming in about the big ticket items (my tv, computer monitor, kitchen tables, etc).
3) Don’t count on one person
I ended up selling a shelf from Ikea for $10 that was scratched on one side that retailed for $70 and had 15 people asking for it. Some driving as car as Corona to pick it up. I also learned that people say that they want something, I would wait, and they wouldn’t show up. So, I tried to stack one or two people in case they would no show.
Opposite of that I would always let people know if an item was no longer available.
4) Don’t sell just one item
Everyone wanted a deal. I didn’t know the response so I listed most items as “or best offer.” One person wanted my sound bar and asked if I was flexible. I told him we could discuss it when he gets here (see next rule) and when it came to price told him that I have other people interested and can’t discount the price. But, I could throw in a chair or a table. These were going to Good Will anyway and I killed two birds (got full price and liquidated two items at once).
5) Get them there
People don’t know what they are going to get or want. Showing people the value of an item is the role of a salesperson and I was able to move items that people weren’t looking for once they were there. For example I sold my Apple TV by bundling it with another item because it was something that someone “might” want.
6) Delay telling the price
I asked how much someone was willing to pay for an item and let them suggest the value. I was going to sell the item for $60 and ended up getting $300.
7) Be ready to sell something
Someone was willing to buy my chairs but I wasn’t ready to get rid of them. I need up losing that sale because they were motivated and I wasn’t ready. If you are going to sell something don’t turn back.
One person went dark for a month. I kept texting him and a day before my move out he came and purchased the last item, my bed, that I couldn’t move.
9) Don’t “have” to sell
One person wanted to low ball me. I told him “no.” from my negotiation book that my friend Scott recommended and made an annoying noise from “Secrets of Power Negotiating” by Roger Dawson. I then waited and he came up $20. I said the least I would go down would be $10 and he accepted.
10) You never know what people will want
Items that I thought people would love ended up being the ones I couldn’t move like an XBOX, recliners, etc. But, my kitchen table was a star. Timing also was important being that I sold my surfboard in April ahead of the season instead of after.
11) Take inventory
All said and done I cleared about $2,000 in sales. The money obstacle that I mentioned earlier now had another solution.
The only items I still have: one recliner, one chair that started the friendship with Scott Sorrell, an earth quake kit, tools… That is it.
So what else had an emotional connection? My backpacks. In total I had about 20 bags some with the tags still on them. But, I adhered to my rule. If I hadn’t used them then I probably won’t. It was more about the possibilities and how cool they looked. I know… Weird to have this as an obsession, but it has probably been cheaper over the years than some shared by women: shoes, purses, etc. And, I easily made them back over Ebay:
What was a bit shocking was that there were numerous items that still had the tags on them and had never been worn. While some of these items were about a year old, most retailers accepted the items back in return for store credit.
REI has to be my favorite place. One of the duffels that I bought back in 2008 was damaged and REI returned it because it was covered by their guarantee. I had a pair of shoes that I never wore as well as some backpacks. The lesson here was if an item is damaged try and take advantage of a warranty.
I have been working from home for years and can still work from an airport or coffee shops. Not being tied to a geographic location. But even though I don’t have to be “anywhere” I have set expectations with some clients that I would exceed expectations by being in office weekly. This was my mistake and was one of the largest points of resistance along the way. I remember an awkward conversation hearing that “your services may not work anymore” when I mentioned that I would be gone for the entire Summer. Fear set in immediately but I said “traveling is what is important to me and gives me fuel. If you wish to support me then you will support what I want to do.”
This is where I remind myself that if I lose my clients that I have built them up from nothing and can do it again.
Opening Up Space
I have heard that when you give up that you can receive. A friend of mine who I met at a class in one’s Mission texted me out of the blue and had said:
Danielle: Hoping all is well with you. Me: Today is sell all my things day so it has been a long one. How are you? Danielle: Wow are you having emotions?
The truth was I looked around my empty place and saw what was important to my: my dogs. What I couldn’t see was my journey that was the reason for selling all my things. Deposit
I adopted my dogs after owning my condo. Many landlords disqualified my application when I needed to move and I told my current landlord that I would leave his place in better condition than I found it. Thanks to my Mom’s help we did that. Even with two dogs the carpet was left in the original condition, it was clean and didn’t smell like there were two dogs living there. Not only did I get my full deposit back but he was willing to write me a letter of recommendation.
Even though I will be returning back to California in July after my trip for a week I didn’t realize that temporary goodbyes would be so hard.
I have shared this plan with many people along the way. Everyone has been happy for me. Some have said that “you can do this, but I can’t.” I know these to be ya’buts because this hard. If it wasn’t everyone would do it, right?
When I started Toastmasters I didn’t want to form relationships with anyone and instead use them to serve my purpose of being a better speaker. But, I ended up creating great friendships. On one of my last days there Dr. Cynthia asked the room to go around and say one nice thing about me. I was embarrassed but honored by what they said about me. Change of Plans
My original plan was to leave on 4/30 and fly back for a weekend on 5/16 for a class at Productive Learning on “Vision.”
On 4/20 I received an email from my favorite band Muse:
USA! Muse are pleased to announce three shows in May: 8 May | New York, NY | Webster Hall presented by SiriusXM 9 May | New York, NY | iHeartRadio Theater 15 May | Los Angeles, CA | The Mayan presented by Guitar Center & DirecTV Los Angeles presale begins Tuesday, 21 April at 10am PDT and general on sale starts Wednesday, 22 April at 10am PDT.
In a twist my parents suggested that they take the dogs when they leave on the 3rd of May and I stay at the place they were renting until May 11th. This allowed me to stay longer, and Mark Reid was open to me staying with them until the 17th. Out of character I bought two tickets to this show instead of my normal one, which I used the opportunity to strengthen my friendship with another Muse lover Brandon.
At the show, I ended up getting a picture with Peter Billingsley who played Ralphie and was the star of my favorite Christmas movie “A Christmas Story.” That would have never happened if I wasn’t chatting with the bar tender and had he not recognized Peter going to use the restroom.
Now I have seen Muse almost 10 times since I went with Margaux to see them at Verizon Amphitheater. But those are the moments that are truly random that make it an experience.
End of Travel Day 1 Me: Made it to Wyoming 8:07 PM Mark: Good to hear, we miss you. 8:59 PM
Travel Day 2 Leisa: Hey Adam! We are already missing you! Having a Wyoming bacon breakfast Driving to South Dakota
Brandon suggested two books to help with my:
Faith in the process: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Understanding of business: Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
I felt guilty getting $300 for my bed when I was going to sell it for $60. That is one issue, but learning that I want to be a person of means so that I can experience life is helping reshape that guilt.
1. Pay Ourselves First ( “Start thy purse to fattening.”)
2. Live below our means. (“Control thy expenditures”)
3. Make our money work for us. (“Make thy gold multiply”)
4. Insurance protects our wealth. (“Guard they treasures from loss.”)
5. Our home is our biggest expense. (“Make of they dwelling a profitable investment”)
6. Have a retirement plan. (“Insure a future income.”)
7. Invest in ourselves. (“Increase thy ability to earn.”)
8. Track Our Wealth. (Know where you are and where you are going.)
Personal Legends and Omens
Quotes from “The Alchemist:”
“Love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny.”
“The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself… no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
“People are capable at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
“When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight.”
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”
“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
“Never stop dreaming.”
Omens Along the Way
Reflecting on the Experience
In toastmasters I used the word “quest” once. Another time I said I valued the word “hero” because that is someone who doesn’t back down and “shows up.” One day at Crunch gym in Lake Forest I said to myself that I don’t want to waste my life. It may have shown up because out of no where one day “Life Support” from the Rent Soundtrack came on and a line stood out that said “forget regret, your life is your’s to miss” when people were sharing all their problems at an Aids support group. That is the piece that is the “will.”
The piece that I think I was missing was that this is all a process. I may be missing that clear vision of where I am going but I know that when I am living in alignment with my mission and core values that life surprises me.
WhileI was looking for a “Shakabuku” to happen in June I think it is already happening. Nothing that I have done is “easy” and can see why people don’t change even though they know that something in their live isn’t the way they want it to be. I value my energy as much as the next person and a part of me wants to avoid conflict and unnecessary challenges.
In 1998 I fell in love with The Matrix and Mr. Anderson’s journey into “the one” know as Neo. “It is one thing to know the path and another to walk the path.” I think that is the process and faith piece that has been unfolding without even knowing it. But, I know that I want to be the…. hero of my own story.