Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Time flies.

I feel like yesterday when I was eating a baleada with Dario and his family. Or going out for one with Andre in Tulum. Or getting drunk with two beers with Wim, Katrien and other friends in Hasselt just coming out of the airport, jetlagged and exhausted. But fucking fun! This was last year, more than 6 months ago!

I survived the winter in Estonia. I survived the season I avoided successfully two years ago. When I left the first time I knew I was coming back. 

It's been two months since I moved to the country side. Doing almost a bit of everything. The thing I like the most is that I get to use some really cool machines. Well, at least they're cool to me as I never ever before used or even touched them! 

Living with Rauno & Anne's family has given me the chance to experience Estonia like never before. I went to Anne's mum's house once and ate grandmother's food! You know that grandma's food is the best! Not that I didn't like living in a hostel, I loved it by the way, except the snoring.

The other day we went to oil eggs of this aquatic bird. Its overpopulation is altering the ecosystem. What we did was cover the eggs with ink mixed with oil so the birds won't go back to the nest, alas controlling the birthrate. I have never seen so many nests in my entire life. Never seen so many birds at the same time before. Never seen a chick in the wild in my life before. I've never been soaking wet onboard a dinghy when it's 10C before. But it was worth it.
Actually getting to those two islands was quite an adventure. We didn't have any kind of navigation system. Ok, we had a GPS but I don't know if it worked Ok or not. I thought of myself I was onboard the Andrea Gail... hoping that we wouldn't end up like the Andrea Gail! I'm writing this so we didn't. Unlucky you, I will still write crap :-)

The long days of summer are finally here. Not the warm weather tho. It's supposed to be warm. Sometimes it's hot but it's windy. Sometimes it's not warm and it's raining... Spring, you're drunk! The other day I was looking outside the window and it was not dark nor bright. It was like when the sun is going down but also it was like when the sun is coming up. I began to think what was really happening: is the sun going down or coming up. Ron, you're drunk! No, I'm not! if I was drunk the sun would going around in circles over my head. Maybe the sun is going sideways... Sun, you're drunk! I know it's not the midnight sun but I'm not that North. I think I saw a glimpse of the midnight sun when I was in Iceland in 2010.  There is a movie that the main character is affected by the lack of darkness (can you say this: lack of darkness?) Ron, you're drunk! No, I'm not! I'm sleepy but I can't go to sleep because I don't know if the sun is going down or coming up! The sun is the one that is drunk, not me!
The movie I was thinking about is actually a Northamerican remake of a Norwegian movie. I would like to see both. The last Norwegian movie I saw was crap, I hope this won't be.

Ok, I better go to sleep and stop writing crap. I should get up early tomorrow... eeer, today. In a few hours. No, tomorrow! my friend Annika says that is "tomorrow" because you still haven't gone to bed. Ok, so I better go to sleep because tomorrow I have to wake up early.

My birthday lands on midsummers. Even Estonia celebrates my birthday! Don't know what I'm going to do for it. Probably nothing. Or get drunk. Or try to get laid. Naah, most likely nothing. Or most likely I will get drunk and jump into the cold river and have my testicles up to my throat!

Now I should really go to bed. I'm writing nonsense. But I can't seem to stop. But I should. Should I? Yes, I should. 

Head ööd. Or tere hommikust. Whatever. Choose which ever you want. I don't care. Ta ta!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Don Luis

My dad is one of the greatest people I have ever known. He was not perfect but who is? He was extremely smart, ahead of his time. He was a computer geek, ever since I have memory there was a not only one but a couple of computers around home. He had some ideas that later on became successful, unfortunately he shared those ideas with some not nice people and they were stolen. He was one of the first people that started to used (the now non-existent I think) Palm PDAs.  I still remember that he gave me one to take on my first trip to Europe... I looked smart! But I'm not even half smart of what my dad was.

Like I said, he was a computer geek and he worked in banks. He was the man in charge of setting up the first 100% real time chain of bank machines in Central America in the early 80s. Working in IT took him to almost every country in the Americas. He traveled so often to the States that some cities he knew like his own, no GPS or maps or whatever. Me? well, even with a GPS I get lost.

He was a good dad. Sometimes he spoiled me but of course I didn't care! Like having a nice BMX that the same price of a scooter. Although I always wanted a scooter but to my mum's relief that I never got it. Once, I was very close to get it but didn't happened.

Not that I need some things to remember him but sometimes I go to places or see things that reminds me of him. He always wanted to go to Lake Tahoe, not sure why he didn't take my mum there when they were in San Francisco. He was still alive when I was there. His favorite cologne was actually that one, the original eau de Cologne, 4711. It was special for me to go to Köln (Cologne).

He was the one that encourage me the most to start travelling.  He loved to travel. When he was working for this bank in Guatemala sometimes he was out 3 weeks out of the month travelling on business. He always chose to fly out and in on weekend so he could enjoy the city he was going and not just work like a robot. Once we were in Miami and I'm still asking myself why my mum and I didn't want to go on that cruise to the Bahamas. I was young and stupid. I'm not young anymore...

I traveled almost all over Guatemala from 2008 until I left in 2009. He encouraged me by covering for me in my English class. He loved to teach. He was a university professor for a couple of years. He encouraged me to start travelling and never to come back. From the day I left until he couldn't talk anymore we talked every other day. Then he was so sick that he barely could talk.

He wanted me to be happy, I am. Ok, I had my moments but hopefully that won't happen again, soon. The last words he said to me in person were "I'm never going to see you again...". Those words came true this day three years ago.

I love you dad. I miss you.

Rest in peace Don Luis.

Luis Felipe Navas Perez
Father, entrepreneur, mentor, inspiration, counselor. 
18.01.1941 - 05.05.2010
These travels are for you

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"My life has taken an interesting curve"

Indeed it has.

Having been born and raised in the tropics, when I think of a beach the first thing that comes to my mind are palm trees. Black sand beaches (Guatemala's Pacific coast is all made of volcanic origin black sand). The sound of the waves breaking up right in front of the beach. Watching the sun coming up from the water and at the end of the day watching it going deep into the mighty waters (this can happen given to Guatemala's particular coast line) and try to see the last (green I think) ray of light before the sun continues its path of warming up us earthlings. Wow... did I just had an homesick attack? no, probably not but it was nice to remember the sunset in Monterrico. At least the last time I saw was last summer.

Then I traveled abroad for the first time, I was 9 when I went for the first time to the States and for the first time I saw white sand. Later I found out that Guatemala has also white sand beaches in the Caribbean coast. For me palm trees are something that had been part of my life that I even found it funny when I was told by the person I was travelling with in Colombia that it was her first time looking (and touching) a palm tree. I just couldn't believe it, but it was true.

When I think about a sea (or ocean) I think about warm weather and warm (more or less) waters. Me wearing shorts and showing off my spaghetti legs.  Seagulls and pelicans and other aquatic birds flying around and shitting everywhere. First time I came to Europe I was in shock: I chose Norway in the winter! Sea level but no palm trees, no sand, snow everywhere and no warmth! It was strange for me to be at sea level and being that cold. One other thing that shocked me were the very short days: about 4-5 hours of sunlight! 

Now, I'm in different latitudes. I'm about 800 kilometers from the Arctic circle. Let me put it this way, a beach is different around here. Instead of palm trees there are pine trees! Instead coconuts you see birches. Instead of, ok not instead but aside from seagulls you see woodpeckers and herons. Instead of stray dogs if you're lucky you could see a bear or a deer!

"Life has taken an interesting curve" as I'm living a different life now. Healthier. I'm breathing the purest air. Every time I wake up I can hear the sound of hundreds birds singing but ok I could also hear them when I was in Panama City. I'm actually gaining weight for the first time since I lived with my auntie in early 2010 (not counting my time in mummy's house) which wasn't a lot. I thought about working out but then realized that all the work I was doing was worth the work out! I was asking myself today why I haven't gone to the beach and see the sunset, I've seen it from Linnahall twice, why not the beach near by away from everything and everybody? Maybe unconsciously I'm waiting for someone to go with...

In a few weeks I will move to Tallinn and live on board a boat but I'm coming back often to the country side. It's going to be nice, switching back and forth two completely different and opposite places.

I was walking the other day when I was in Tallinn and realized that it has been almost two years since I walked in its street without snow! It's very nice although I miss the sound the snow makes when you're walking over it. It's funny how accustomed to weather I am now, it's 14C and I working in shorts and a tshirt, which actually was the first time in more than half a year that I was able to wear shorts outside! The last time I did that was when I was in Mexico last year. The other day it was 9C and I was only wearing a polar. Ok, standing on the road when it's windy it's not very wise but in the city was fine.

My iPod was stolen the other night. Shit!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

10 Essential Tips to Improve Your Hitchhiking Game

Exactly 3 years and 11 months ago I posted this in my facebook page. At the time I was only hitchhiking in Guatemala where most of these rules don't apply. Just put your shit in front of you to look like a traveler, ok you are traveler so just put your shit in front of you and people will stop. I mean don't imagine that you will have 10 cars queueing to pick you up but cars will stop... eventually. Although it doesn't work as well as you could wish for, specially when it's raining. Once I was hitchhiking to Lake Atitlan with my friend Frida (Swedish and blonde) and we ended up taking the chicken bus because it was raining and no one picked us up.

Back to the point of this post. As much as I would like to say that I came up with this list, I didn't. I took it from somewhere else, maybe someone posted it in the HHers forum, or maybe from Autostop Argentina?  Maybe not this one, I copied the list in English and this website is in Spanish.'

Anyways, if you're starting to hitchhike and want some tips or just want to improve your chances in getting a ride you might find these tips helpful.

Safe and fast rides!

#1: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Clean shaven, clean clothes, and no traces of blood (yes, really) or sweat on your skin. I suppose lack of facial hair is open to debate, but I have a suspicion drivers are more likely to pick up men who look like they’re on their way to officer training school rather than those who emulate ZZ Top.
Not entirely agree with the beard part of this one. Why? Not sure if you know but I've been wearing a beard since 2008. True, I tried to keep it neat and trimmed. Also I have a few piercing in my face. And when I hitchhiked with Joachim to Turkey, he looked like one of the guys from ZZTop.
#2: Lose the Sunglasses
Whether you’re sporting a cheap pair of frames you purchased an hour ago from a shady character downtown or a trendy set of Oakleys, it’s best to set them aside and let motorists see your face.
I wear prescription glasses but in Latin America when it's so fucking sunny it's valid. I've done it.

#3: Be Neighborly
This tip depends on the living situation, of course, but if you happen to be residing and hitchhiking in the same area, take heed of your presence in the community. Do you ever go for walks or runs in the morning or evening? Wave at motorists as they pass; perhaps they’ll remember you if you need a ride to the bus station later on.

#4: Limit One Bag Per Person
Try not to carry more than one piece of luggage. If you can’t travel without a full 60L backpack so be it, but the ideal hitchhiker is supporting a simple day pack, or none at all. Saves the driver the hassle of clearing out the back seat or popping the trunk – you can just rest it on your knees.
I always travel with two backpacks, unfortunately. The big one with all my shit and the small one, my important backpack as I call it with all my important stuff.
#5: Have a Creative Approach
I’ve seen all kinds here – people wearing fake casts on their arms and legs; dressing up in costume; girls showing off their legs (classic); some physical gimmick like chasing after cars that hesitate or performing some gymnastic stunts. If you think anything will help you to stand out, even the absurd, then go for it.
Not long ago with Katrin we were dancing tango when we were trying to get a ride in a service station in Austria. I carriedy her on my shoulder. Another time I used a sign "no mordemos" (we don't bite) when I hitchhiked with Tine in Spain; also used the german version in Austria.

#6: Choose Your Location Wisely
If you need to start your journey from a major metropolitan area, consider walking or arranging transportation for the first 20-30 kilometers, ensuring you’re delivered in a rural area and less likely to catch people running errands and going to work.
Motorists need room to pull over; don’t assume they’ll just stop in their lane and halt incoming traffic to pick you up.
Check local hitchhiking laws. For instance, it’s illegal to hitchhike on the motorways of New Zealand (though not highly enforced).
Very true. I always check hitchwiki before leaving. Once I was leaving Gent going to Brussel and I was following hitchwiki's advice but I saw a sign in one corner. I decided to  follow it... bad decision. Not only I walked a lot, the place was terrible. Had to walk back and went to where the website said, within 10 min I found a ride.
#7: Make a Sign
Fifty-fifty shot here. Carrying a cardboard sign with your destination written in sharp bold letters might make it easier to find one driver willing to take you the full distance, but could also discourage those going only a few kilometers from making the effort to stop.
If you’re traveling in a foreign country where English is not the native language, it would definitely be a good idea to write “I can speak ____” in the local tongue. Drivers might want more than simply “Roma? Ok, ok … (3 hours later) here … bye bye.”
This depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel like using a sign, sometimes I don't. If I'm using one and I'm not getting anywhere I stop using it, or viceversa. In Latin America I think I've only used a sign three or four times, in Panama and Colombia.

#8: Consider the Time of Day
Rush hour traffic (7-9 AM, 4-6 PM) can leave you aggravated even if you’re not stuck behind two hundred cars and a construction zone. A parent who might enjoy conversation with a traveler in the middle of the day is less likely to let a stranger enter her car with her 10-year-old son, fresh from school. Blue and white collar workers usually want to get home and chill immediately following a long day of stress.

#9: Looking Pathetic Helps
Somewhat of an exception to the luggage and cleanliness rules is playing the proper role of a hitchhiker – a traveler displaced and alone in this uncertain world of ours. Now imagine such a character in the pouring rain. Along a rural highway in the dead of night. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts when the outside temperature reaches zero degrees Celsius. A combination of the three would be ideal. Pity rides are all too common in the world of hitchhiking.
It was raining and I indeed looked like I was having a rough day but it worked the first time I hitchhiked from Berlin.
#10: You Are Not Special
Finally - never, never assume you are entitled to a ride. I know it can be frustrating to sit outside for hours in the rain or glaring sun watching car after car after truck … after horse-drawn carriage pass you by. However, if you start thinking “Why didn’t she pick me up? She’s going the same direction, and her passenger seat was empty,” then that resentment will simply build until you lose hope of making it to your destination, stop wearing a smile, and only stick out your thumb at every fifth vehicle. Strangers grant you a privilege by taking the time out of their busy day and escorting you further down the open road. Don’t forget it.
But sometimes you cannot help it, specially when you've been stuck for hours.