Saturday, 26 August 2017

Moving again

After a short blogging stint here, I settled in for a bit (yes, took a break from being nomadic) and started a new adventure in data analysis and visualisation! To follow adventurerachel's adventures in data, please visit vizteriousgirl.wordpress.com.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Everything is Capoeira

Visited Alemar Capoeira Bucharest yesterday for their roda de angola session. Had a grand time. The roda is a bit of home anywhere in the world.

I have a habit of meditating and reflecting in the roda. The music and the axe puts me into a bit of a trance sometimes. Often it takes me back to Battersea and Chelsea in 2006, when I first started training.

Everything is capoeira. Reflecting recent on learning statistics made me think how much it is like learning capoeira. I suppose there are (at least) two ways of learning something new - one would be "understanding" it by connecting it to something you already know, building on that knowledge, those fundamentals, and making sense of it as things fall into place. The other way would be "accepting" it. It is a new idea, it does not bear too much resemblance to much that you have done before. You get used to the idea. It becomes, in time, a foundation itself for new learning. After more time, it becomes old hat, second nature. This second way is how I felt towards learning statistics nearly two decades ago. It is how I felt towards learning the language of capoeira a little over a decade ago. Today, much of the basic movements and sequences don't take much thought on their own and I can instead think about when I would use them, or how improvise on them, or how to counter-attack someone using them.

QOTN: "The pandeiro is for making music. Not for making noise." - Professor Minhoca Alemar

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Travel bad luck!

It all started when I tried to leave Sao Paulo back on Wednesday (not the most recent one, the one before). My flight to London (via Casablanca) was delayed by 4 hours. Which would have been nice (hey, 4 extra hours in Brazil, before I'd left to the airport!) but it was a rainy and cold four hours (preparing me for UK weather).

I also noted that this would result in me missing my connecting flight to Gatwick.

When I arrived at Sao Paulo airport, I couldn't find a check-in desk (in spite of arriving 2 hours before my flight), then subsequently after running round the airport with luggage for a while, managed to find someone from my airline (Royal Air Maroc) who proceeded to tick me off for not having been there THREE hours before my flight. I pointed out that the SMS they'd sent me said that the check-in desk would still be open until ONE hour before my flight. So where was it? (And where was everyone else who was supposed to check in on that flight? It was quite strange.)

They managed to check me in and I got on board, and there was a crazy man on board who seemed quite aggressive and I was surprised they let him stay on board, but it made me quite nervous. I was also just nervous about flying that path (I know it's silly as loads of planes fly that route all the time, but just still distressed by all those poor people whose plane fell out of the air between Brazil and France years back).

I was happy to have landed safely in Casablanca, but due to my missed connection, the next available flight was only 20 hours later. And as I was travelling on a Malaysian passport, I was unable to leave the airport without a visa! So that was a long stay and I felt like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

I was also concerned about any further delays, as I was rushing back for a wedding on the Saturday, and the bride and groom were already coming out of their way to Gatwick to pick me up and whisk me off to the wedding, which was in Bristol, and I was already delaying their plans.

Fortunately, no further delays in reaching Gatwick (after an uncomfortable night at Casablanca airport), but they did manage to lose my check in luggage.

So nothing to wear to the wedding.

I was saved again by the generosity of those around me, and I ended up seemingly confused about who was really getting married, as I did end up wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and yes, something blue.

Then at wedding dinner, I ordered pork belly with crackling and managed to chip a front tooth (incisor) on the crackling, resulting in an expensive trip to the dentist.

Too much drink, a dodgy club, a hangover, and the next day, my friend, who I was sharing a room with, went back to Birmingham earlier than I felt fit to get out of bed. She took all her belongings with her, including the handbag she'd lent me. Unfortunately she did not check its contents before reclaiming it, and after she'd hit the motorway, we realised she'd taken my purse with her, including all my cards and cash (except for the £5 I'd squirrelled away somewhere else). Again, the generosity of friends saved me.

Upon arriving back in Watford (where bride and groom live and are putting me up... I think they've adopted me), my luggage was there (yay!) and the following day, my purse arrived, and I was able to go to the dentist, so all seemed right again for me to get on with my life. Except the next day I caught the flu.

Still recovering now (a week after returning to the UK), but hopefully no further mishaps!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Top tips (mostly transport based) from first month in Bogota!

Don't use taxis. I've had terrible experiences, they ripped me off every time. Uber much better. Need data for that so I recommend Virgin mobile for cheapest data plan if you don't already have a local sim.

I've been walking a lot. I was never advised not to walk, just not to go alone out after dark. You see families with children out walking, so it can't be that bad. Just take the usual precautions: stay in busy areas, don't carry your original passport or loads of money or jewellery (though I often go out with my watch), be very aware of your surroundings.

I love carrera 7. My first escape from la candelaria was to get on kr 7 on a nice day with plenty of hours of daylight left and just walk down it until legs got tired just to see where it took me. (Then uber back.) Incidentally, it is also all pedestrianised for ciclovia (Sundays and public holidays when the main arteries are closed to motorised traffic until 2 pm) up to around calle 116 so it is possible to explore that way too.

If out on the bike after 2 pm and don't want to chance scary Bogota traffic, Uber offers an option called "uber bici" where your uber will show up with a bike rack!

Other flavours of uber that I've first encountered here are uber English (where the driver has passed a certain test of English proficiency), and uber Angel, which is where an uber driver shows up to drive you home in your own car if you've been out drinking and want to get home.

While I hesitate to say with my one month's experience that Bogotá isn't as dangerous as they say, I'd say it's OK to explore with caution.

Ciclovia map available here. In La Candelaria, bike rental is available on kr 3 #12-72 at Bogotá Bike Tours. They may prefer not to rent you a bike until after the bike tour has gone, however. Prices are reasonable, and they also offer great daily walking tours (maybe twice a day?)

There is a twice-daily graffiti (walking) tour from la plaza de periodistas near Las Aguas transmilenio station.

Museo de Oro is supposedly the best museum in Bogota (everyone raves about it). Free admission on Sundays, but only COP 3000 on other days anyway, with English tours at least twice daily (11 am and 4 pm, and sometimes maybe one at 2 pm or 2:30 pm, but that's not guaranteed, unlike the other two).

Museo de Bogota also highly recommended, but I have not yet had a chance to visit.

Best sushi I've found in South America was at Sushi Rail at Atlantis mall on Calle 81, in Zona Rosa.

Decent ramen at Tokyo Ramen on Carrera 11 and Calle 98, overlooking the little park.

Capoeira

Best time to randomly discover rodas is probably just before noon on a Sunday morning. Many groups will have training and/or rodas in parks including Parkway, Parque Nasional, and random street corners in Chapinero. These may be closed to outsiders, however, and only for group members.

I found a regular open roda in the pit right next to Museo Botero and opposite Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango on calle 11 and carrera 4. It's held fortnightly on Saturdays from around 4pm to around 5:30 or 6 pm. It's called the roda de tres and most people show up in street clothes.


Monday, 7 December 2015

Mirroring

Colombia is in a nationwide drought (though up here in the mountains we have been getting some drizzle). Yet another reminder than 2015 is an El Niño year. All the way along my route, I've been hearing of strange weather. The absence of winter this year in South America. Drought in South America and Indonesia affecting farmers and crops.

Travelling up across South America and learning about the earthquakes and volcano, I've also been reminded that I'm still in the Pacific Ring of Fire. It's like a mirror of Indonesia. The other side of the pond.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bogota: Beautiful and Badass

I've arrived in Bogota, where I'll be settling for a couple of months. Hopefully this will give me time to catch up on some backdated blog posts as well!

Been here just over 24 hours now and it's a huge and beautiful city situated in the Andes. The parts I've seen are very hilly, and the official elevation is 2640 metres. Therefore, although it is in the tropics (and therefore has no seasons), it is colder than I had expected!

I am also apprehensive, as I keep getting warnings about crime here (and this place does have a reputation!)

Overall, one of the more overwhelming things about being here is the surprising lack of familiarity, the difficulty in finding my feet. In spite of having spent the last 1.5 months in other parts of Latin America (all of which felt more comfortable), I find myself missing points of reference. That may be because I've mostly been in more touristy parts of LatAm to date (although I am currently residing right in the heart of Bogota's backpacker district, apparently). It's hard to put my finger on it, exactly....

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The End of the World (Fin del Mundo) and the end of this blog (kind of)

Hello hello dearies,

I do realise it's been a while since my last update.

I'm reporting live from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (though separated from the rest of Argentina by Chile or water). Ushuaia calls itself the "end of the world" and its claim to fame is that it is officially the southernmost city in the world. I am near Antartica, New Zealand, etc. They don't seem to like Brits much here, but that's another story.

I'm travelling with my parents and sister, and we arrived here a couple of nights ago, in the snow (in late spring) following a 20 hour bus ride which involved two tedious, slow, messy border crossings (into Chile and then back out again, because that's efficient) and a ride on a ferry. Also, the buses on this route only run once a day, starting at 3 am and there's a stopover at another town (Rio Gallegos) about 4 hours in. Good fun!

Yesterday we went on an educational (and cold) 4 hour catamaran trip down the Beagle Channel, visiting an island of sea lions, an island of not-penguins (though they were black and white birds who often got mistaken for penguins, they flew, which penguins do not), a cool lighthouse and interesting islands, and finally an island of (for real) penguins (2 different kinds!)

It is not our first visit to the penguins on this trip. We also saw a large colony near Puerto Madryn (500,000 strong).

I've clearly not been updating this blog frequently, and I've realised that when I have time to blog, I don't have much to say (because I'm not travelling) and when I am travelling, there isn't time to blog (I don't know how all those travel bloggers do it) and therefore I've made the decision to close down this blog due to lack of resources.

In reality, I'll continue to update with random thoughts when the muse bites me, but it may not be regular at all. I recommend subscribing to the mailing list in the side bar on the right if you'd like to continue to be updated on goings-on in my life.

Thanks for reading!