Philly Spring Clean Up

It happened by accident.  As I was eating cereal on Saturday morning, I looked out the window and saw a rush of neighbors at the basketball court.  There was a Blue Recycle Big Giveaway for Philly Spring Clean Up.  I got my bin and then hung around because the people doing the giveaway were cool.

We cleaned up the neighborhood.  I got a broom and gloves and I swept up the trash on the streets.  It felt really good — sounds odd.  Pete saw me being good and he came out to help too.

There I am sweeping in front of my car.  Although the trash is back out on the street, I hope I set a good example for my neighbors.  I’ll probably sweep up again another day when it’s nice out and I feel like doing something active and helpful.

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Bogota: Julian and Falkon

My CouchSurfing host in Bogota, Julian, preferred to go by Falkon. He told me that he used to be a professional gamer and Falkon was his gaming name.

Falkon’s apartment was great. It definitely looked like a bachelor pad — guitars, video games, big tv, sound system.  I feel like there should have been a glass-top table somewhere. Falkon also had a spare bedroom; he said his roommate had just moved out and that I could sleep in there. 🙂

I enjoyed hanging out with Falkon and doing regular things for a few days — including playing Rock Band! ;P Whenever we got food, a drink, or a taxi, he insisted on paying. When I tried to chip in, he’d say, “But you’re my guest.” As a fellow guy, it feels weird saying it, but Falkon is a Sweet Guy. He even treated me to a Strawberry Shish Kabob dipped in White Chocolate! I got him back though; I treated him to McDonald’s. Apparently in Colombia, McDonald’s is a nice restaurant — kind of fancy and different. McDonald’s would even be considered a pretty good place for a date.

Falkon told me about how his last CS guest, Hali, and his old roommate, Carlos, fell in love. Hali, who’s from New Zealand, arrived with her big personality. Colorful clothes and bright pink hair — a modern day Punky Bruster. Carlos was charmed by her, and soon CouchSurfing became a serious, romantic affair.

Hali came by to hang out when Falkon’s other CS guest, Meredith, arrived. Meredith was a Plain Jane from the Boston area. She had spent some time “living” in Buenos Aires (people love saying that they “lived abroad”) and she’s a vegetarian. Buenos Aires is the Beef Capital of the World. If you’re vegetarian in Buenos Aires, you’re missing out on Culture — you need to relax your rules if you go there.

Meredith told us about how she lost her ATM card and that she was running out of money. This sounded like bad news to me. She also seemed pretty sloppy — not a good mix with super-neat Falkon. Lazy Meredith slopping around on the couch all day moping about being broke. I heard later from Falkon that he had treated her to lots of meals and she didn’t show too much gratitude. Falkon got tired of her sloppiness and he finally had to ask her to leave. Loser CouchSurfer.

Two Notable Moments with Hali:

  • She felt the urge to let me know that she has no interest in visiting the United States.
  • Although my Spanish is pretty pathetic, she was helpless. When Hali and I were in a shop, she wanted to buy some jewelry, so I helped her bargain for a better price. I got the storekeeper to drop the price a bit, and Hali bought it. As we left the store, Hali said, “If I had a real local helping me buy it, I would have gotten a much better price.”

Masculinity:

I noticed that masculinity is a little different in Colombia. Guys are more loving and caring with their guy friends. In the US, guys show affection to other guys by making fun of each other — bonding through bashing. Hali told me that when Carlos was living with Falkon, he would make Falkon breakfast each morning and bring it up to him in bed, and many times Carlos wouldn’t even eat. Guys in Colombia aren’t afraid to be sweet.

My Pathetic Clothes:


It was cold in Bogota since it’s up in the mountains. Being on a bike tour, my wardrobe was very limited, especially for cold weather. I wore the same damn maroon plaid shirt and black jeans every day. Falkon felt bad for me in my wrinkled shirt, and kept suggesting that I borrow some of his clothes. He was probably embarrassed of me — same-clothes American with patchy facial hair.

One night when we were going out, I was wearing the same tired maroon plaid shirt. Falkon told me I should take one of his sweaters since it would be cold. I put on a striped one that I thought would look cool, but when he saw me, he didn’t look pleased. Falkon suggested I get a different one. I complied, but I didn’t know why, so I asked. In private, Falkon looked at me with concern and said, “The colors clash.”

Life Purpose: Excitement

I read The 4-Hour Workweek a while ago, and what I really liked was how the general life purpose of Happiness was clarified.  What we should ask ourselves is “What excites me?” Activities causing excitement will align with purpose.

Here’s an excerpt from The Project Mojave blog on the same subject of Excitement vs. Happiness:

Many societally conditionally goals — such as “get out of debt,” “buy a new car,” and “create a college fund,” — can be fine and noble, but they often do not make us come alive.  What would really make your day, I mean, if you could do anything? Think about that for a second.

If you dig deep within to answer this question, I bet your answer might be something a little different than the average idea of a “great day.” If you really answer this question from your soul, you’ll discover aspirations that really move you. Here are a few of mine:

  • Ski down a killer slope in Park City, Utah
  • Take a Tantra class
  • Read a great novel for the first time
  • Go on a group meditation or retreat
  • Play music with others, lose track of time, and get lost in sound

You see, when all our goals revolve around efficiency, money, looks, networking, etc., we lose track of why we wanted these things in the first place. Indeed, we often envision such goals because we want more time and energy to do things that truly excite us and bring deep fulfilling happiness. I challenge you to incorporate goals and aspirations that really excite and move you. Don’t get caught up in mundane, socially acceptable goals. Find out what really inspires you and make a commitment to live your life with a deeper level of satisfaction starting today.

Bogota: Search for Accommodation

When I made it into Bogota, I went to find my CouchSurfing host’s place. I was attracted to FALKON’s profile since he seemed high-energy. I contacted him about a three-night stay, and he replied, “We’re gonna have a blast, mark my words!” Falkon instructed me that when I get to his place, I’ll need to tell the doorman that I’m there to see “Julian (you-lee-an… I know, sounds gay in English, just call me Falkon).” I got to his place way too early, at around 1pm. I had 8 hours to kill.

Jessica was arriving in a few days. She was freaking out about accommodation. She didn’t want to CouchSurf, and she wanted to reserve a private room in a hostel — no bunking in dorms. Jessica had been searching for rooms online and found that some of these places had no more availability. I told her it was fine; Bogota’s a huge city with lots of options. I’d be arriving in the city a few days before she was arriving so there’d be lots of time for me to find us a humble place without a web presence — which would be cheaper. That didn’t ease her mind. We agreed that she can make a reservation for a private room for the first night, and then we would go somewhere else, based on my findings.

So I decided to use this time before I met up with Falkon to look for accommodation. Getting around on my loaded bike attracted a lot of attention. A businessman stopped me on the street and asked me in English if I needed help. I asked about accommodation, and he had specific ideas on where I shouldn’t go. He seemed genuinely concerned for my safety — white freak with little Spanish-speaking ability — and got all hung up on finding me a map. He seemed deeply sorry that he didn’t have a map to give me; he spent a lot of time thinking of where we could walk together to get one, and spent more time drawing a crappy one out for me, as I kept trying to reassure him that I’d be fine. It’s a good example of how sweet Colombians are to tourists.

I found a couple of low-cost accommodation options. $10 per night for two lumpy beds in a private room and a shared bathroom without hot water; a TV with very limited channel selection would be a little extra. I liked it, but I had a disappointing feeling that the presentation wasn’t right for Jessica.

Knee pads and Roller blades

Killing time in a square, I asked some people where the nearest panaderia was. They corrected me on my pronunciation, followed up with some questions about my bike and where I was from, and after a while of talking, I was invited to hang out later, and to come to a party at the weekend. The loaded bike is a great conversation piece, and I feel like I’m a sociable, friendly guy. Later, I learned that I was in the gay section of town.

$100 Red Light Camera Ticket: Caught Turning on Red

I got a $100 traffic ticket in the mail.  Photo evidence of me breaking the law.  There’s a lot of “No Turn On Red” signs in Philadelphia, and I usually see them and follow the rule, but I must have felt in a rush, or I didn’t see the sign.

I was considering requesting a hearing to fight this, but I don’t know what I would say to contest it.  The photo’s pretty clear.

And what sucks is that I pretty much never drive the car, but I had gotten a flat tire.  I had put on the spare tire and was driving to get the flat one repaired.  Pretty shitty — only using the car to try to keep it maintained and then getting a $100 ticket.  I should have just left it flat.

There’s an online payment system, but I’m mailing in my $100 check because I don’t want to pay the convenience fee.

Boots

I need boots since it’s been snowy for my first Winter in Philadelphia, so I ordered these Timberland Earthkeepers from UrbanOutfitters.com.

I got them today, and they make me look strange.  Large, odd feet.  I think they’re a half-size too big, but I’ve also never worn boots, so my mind probably needs time to adjust.  Whatever though, I’m gonna return them because of weird foot.

These Palladium Baggy Brown Leather boots look pretty cool.

Can I pull it off?\