Festival of Lights

Hello journal, again sorry for my delay in entries. I was without internet for about 2 weeks. So heres the news.

Festival of Lights. A 3-day long firework competition between differant countries. First was China, then Spain, and last was Canada. Ill cover all three in this entry.

As you know this time of year is huge for tourists, so I went to English Bay to get a spot 4 hours early. The beach was already packed blanket to blanket with people the sand and grass areas were both covered. Accept for the tiny patch of tall scratchy weeds that seperated the two. I spread my big pouffy comforter Id brought over the patch. Perfect spot. Without a pouffy blanket it would be a horrible spot but it kind of made a big puffy soft nest with my comforter, there was a small drop down in front to the sand, so it was kind of like front row balcony seating, it was directly in ftont of the ship that the fireworks were going to be shot off, and behind us was the sidewalk there street musicians performed. We unpacked the books and picnic Diego had brought as people would pass by and comment on our nice setup.

Needless to say this was our spot the following 2 nights aswell, due to the fact that noone else would haul a huge ass blanket all the way there 🙂

So day one, China. It wasent a very clear night, there were gray clouds and it was sprinkling on and off. Luckily Id also brought my huge umbrellia. Diego headed out and came back with popcorn, a big bag of cotton candy, and Nayeli. Shortly after it began to pour. We mde an umbrellia tent and tucked the bottom of the blanket over our feet as everyone around us got soaked.

Me and Nayeli in our fireworks spot

Shortly after we were joined by Caro as the rain went down and a stunt plane flew right over our heads for attention to his upcomming show. He twirled and spun and flew his plane upside down. Took a fall from the sky and turned the engine back on right before hitting the water. It was awesome and afterward added to my bucket list 🙂

At 10:00 the fireworks began. Fireworks here are differant then the ones back home which kind of bored me. Here Canada puts on an amazing show, and this night China put on the best fireworks show Ive ever seen.
It started with colorful sparks pouring off the sides of the ship like a waterfall of fire, Then from every inch of the length of the ship fireworks were shot off. Spirals, smileys, rockets, and massive explosions that filled the sky, and if yo include the reflection, the water too. Amazing, adreniline rush of a show.
Waterfall of sparks flowing off the sides of the ship
Smileys
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 We stayed in our spot as most people rushed to leave afterwards. Thousands of people trying to leave through one entrence …
We packed up as it started to rain again. I gave caro and Nayeli the umbrella and I bundled up in te giant blanket, looking like a walking marshmellow, we made our way to my appartment.
 
Day two Spain:
So the second day in the competition was Spain. We got the same spot, and we set out our picnic of strawberries and cheesecake dip, fruit, tea, sandwiches, and such. It was a nice day, unlike the last night. We were later joined by Rosa. Behind us was a jamacian group playing music, and two guys performing sideshow circus skills. Great spot.
Not long after we heard the familiar trumpet and cymbals, and turned to see the Hare Krishnas chanting their way down the side walk. They stopped by the Jamacian band and began a fusion of music. It was  good combo.
 
More friends joined us. Nayeli, Caro,and Vanessa. We sat on the blanket and waited for the fireworks, Eating cupcakes.
 
Cupcakes

 
 
Spains show was Beautiful. One of the performers behind us had a radio to play the music that went with the fireworks show. They shot off pretty sparkling fireworks to the opera soundtrack. Ive never felt like crying at a fireworks show. They switched to spanish music and ended with Alegria, a song from cirque du soleil. Beautiful beautiful show. With a downside being it was extra smokey.

 

Third and final day: Canada

Today was the busiest show. One it was on a saturdat, 2 It was the final day and 3 it was canada. We grabbed our spot early and brought a chessboard. We were joined by Megan, Nayeli, Grady, and Caro. Grady described our spot as  ” a fine peice of realistate.” How right he is. As we sat playing Chess the bodypainter from a nearby stand asked if she could paint me, for free because she was bored, and I showed alot of skin.

My body painting

I traded her a hemp bracelet. 🙂

Canada show was a mix of the other two, slow pretty fireworks to Imagine by john lennon, as well as the huge fill the sky explosions. My favorite were arrow shaped ones that would go strait up, then down then up again, switching directions twice. A friend of Diegos joined on our blanket with a bongo drum, as well as Megans parents who had just flew in from switzerland.
It was a great 3 days. and tough competition. I think my favorite might have been China, but Im not too sure.
Soooo yep sorry for the delay in entries, Ill try to keep up 🙂
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Blueberry picking

Hello online journal, Im sorry its been awhile, Ill try to catch you up.

Firstly hello new subscriber, thanks for taking interest in the crap I write about 🙂 Hope you like it.

So my last blog entry reguarding the Krishna temple was featured on a Krishna website called dandavats.com so thats awesome, thank you to whoever found it and entered it, and thanks to Leslie for pointing it out to me.

Ok Blueberry picking…

Id always had it in the back of my mind that it would be cool to be a berry picker, not forever but just at some point of my life while in a differant country. Craigslist helped me out with this. Because I live in the center of a big city there are obviously no farms close to here, so I found one, alot actually in Langley.

I didnt realize untill the night before when I looked up directions that it would take me over 3 hours to get there… and I had to be there at 8 am.

So I wont go too far into my trip there, but it started at 4 am, caught the first skytrain, rode it to the end of the line to Surrey, transfered to a bus which broke down, so I had to transfer two other times. I knew it would take awhile so I figured Id catch up on reading. I brought Water for Elephants…

When I was dropped off at the bus stop I began the walk, which according to google maps would only be 33 more minutes. I walked and walked. Langley is nice, all horses, and 5 christmas tree farms, 3 strawberry farms, an apple orchard, a japaneese maple tree farm, 2 other blueberry farms, a few mixed berry farms, fields of free range chickens with brown eggs for sale, cornfeilds, and big beautiful country houses. All the farms and surrounding areas were neat and clean. It was just like a picturebook countryside. The road was narrow and had no sidewalks. At least I had a nice view for the 2 HOUR walk.

Apple orchard

 After another winding rolling road I finally found it at the top of the hill.

Rows and rows of blueberry bushes as far as I could see, and a massive house in the center. I walked up was handed a basket and told to only pick the blue ones, not purple or green.

blueberry bushes

 So I got pickin. The man assigned to the other side of my row was my conversation for the day. His name was jon, he is from Ghana. We passed the day talking about travel, berry picking, and laughing at the old Indian man that wandered the feilds joking with each person in a cute crazy old guy type way, he kept repeating the same thing to each person, sometimes more than once to the same person on a second trip around. A little forgetful, he was like the Indian Santa clause. Jon told me last year there was a boy from germany around my age that use to pitch a tent on the corner of the property and stayed there for 3 weeks picking every day untill he had the money to get back to europe.

So the Blueberries… They grew in bunches like grapes, but bc they wernt all ripe yet I couldnt just strip the vine, I had to pick around the green and purple ones. But the ripe ones were huge, deep blue and so ripe they just fell off in your hand. The taste was sweet and the jucey berries almost melted in your mouth, nothing like the small bitter ones Ive bought at the store.

blueberries

About halfway through the day I sat in the feild to eat lunch that diego packed the night before, Id been filling my basket then emptying it into flats at the end of the row all day. Luckily It wasent too sunny out. My back wasnt too happy with me though.

By the end of the day I went in to weigh what Id picked. 65 lbs. :/ ill get more once they ripen.
I got a ride and didnt have to walk back
So there was my day as a blueberry picker 🙂

Inside the Hare Krishna Temple

So today, being sunday we decided to go visit the Hare Krishna temple.

Ive heard mixed things about this religion, so I decided to investigate it for myself. So around 5pm me, Diego, and a friend of his named Mamo, took a bus out to burnaby. We saw the sign marking the road that read Iskcon Krishna Community. We followed the gravel driveway to the bottom of the hill.

There I saw it, rising up from the trees, huge whiteish pink towers that faced up looking similar to a lotus flower or tulip. It was surrounded by a massive beautiful garden, with pathways, trees, fountains, huge religious statues, and tons of flowers. As we approached the building I was surrounded by the smell of insence, and the sound of loud festive singing accompanied by drums and cymbols. This would be interesting.

Unsure of where to go in we ran into a Krishna monk in the garden, whos name I couldnt spell even if I could remember it, His head was shaved, and he wore solid orange robes, similar to those worn by buddhist monks. His forhead was marked with an upsidedown golden triangle with lines that reached the top of his forehead. He welcomed us, told us alittle bit about the order of events and explained the set up of the temple, then brought us to the back door.

Shoes are taken off at the door, as in most eastern culture, there is a tiny gift shop inside that sold prayer beads, religious figures, and the sheet things that turn into pants when wraped the right way. They also sold vegetarian cookboks. I noticed that about 90% of the community was Indian, Which made since to me, Hare Krishna is a branch of Hinduism. In fact Krishna is one of the Hindu gods. The temple and beliefs of the two arnt too much differant. Accept Krishnas are a little more monotheistic, as opposed to the thousands of Hindu gods, and Slightly more western in the fact that men or women can be religious leaders, Which only men are allowed in Hinduism. We walked through the large wooden doors into the Temple.

The Temple, with out people of the chair and statue in the middle

Wow. that Temple was amazing. It was small, Not as huge and spacey as a Christian church, or as bright, But sooo beautiful. the walls were shimmery gold arabian style arches, Inside each was a brightly colored stained glass window with images of peacocks or lotus flowers. The celing was painted blue with clouds and blue indian gods. We were handed cushions and lead by the monk to the front of the temple. An altar was at the head of the room, With the Krishna playing a flute and his female counterpart Radha. They wore gold, and live carnation flower chains hung from their neck. they were surrounded by smaller decorated figures, and photos of gurus and tons of fresh flowers. Above it hung a turkish chandeler. The altar seemed to glow in the slightly dark temple. From the altar there was a carpet that ran through the center of the room to a large Golden chair with a statue of Srila Prabhupada sat. He, I was informed, brought this faith to the western world. Noone sits on the carpet bc it blocks his view of the altar.

Krishna

So anyway he gave us a space to set our cushions on the right side of the carpet, as we sat there for awhile listening to the presentation, I looked around and noticed, that Diego and Mamo were the only males on the right side of the room. Men sat on the left, women sat on the right. The monk probally didnt want to split us up. I figured Id ask him about it later. The women were all dressed in beautiful colorful silk saris, with golden accesories. Men wore thoes pants made out of the sheet thing, or street clothes. Some people held prayer beads, some also had the same gold marking on their forehead as the monk.

About half way through the presentation he came in and asked if we would like a tour of the grounds. So we quietly left. The man in orange robes lead us to the garden, there were a few tiny building structures throughout the garden. He took us to one, a small greenhouse which held about five 7′ trees. He explained that They are Tulsi trees. A sacred tree in India, but its not nativly grown in Vancouver, so it needs these special conditions. He told me that 6 meals a day are cooked for Krishna and Radha, and placed on the altar. Radha wont accept food that unless its offered with Tulsi leaves. We continued walking over the bridge that crossed the lotus pond he showed Diego how to chant the Maha-Mantra on prayer beads, said that men and women sit seprate just out of tradition, but if we wanted to sit together towards the back noone minds. The washrooms are in a little outdoor building. He lead us back inside where the chanting, and dancing had started accompanied by the drums and cymbols, and sweets were eaten, that were first offered to Krishna of course.

Afterwards they asked who was celebrating with them for the first time. Us and about 3 other people raised out hands and they came to us with Hindu magazeens, upcomming events, and yoga meditation prayer booklets. And then…. The Vegetarian Feast.

We sat in rows on our cushions. I was expecting mabey pita bread, rice and mabey lentils at most, not an eight course meal with 3 differant drinks and seconds offered. We were each handed two large plates and 3 cups. Then a man in a beautiful indian outfit came down the rows with a big silver pot and a ladle. He gave a huge mountain of yellow rice that tasted like lemon mixed with herbs, behind him a woman in a bright blue sari with an identical silver pot. She flooded the rice with what I think was lentils, A minute after was a man serving what seemed like soup with spices and alot of peas, added to it. from there was a thick pile of spicy veggies, the only thing I reconized was broccili, Then a man giving piles of pita bread to each of us, at this point my second plate was almost overflowing, but they kept comming. A huge ladle of a type of yogert with cilantro, peas, and sweet pepper. The first of the drinks came down, a thick yellow liquid, that reminded me of eggnog accept really really really sweet. We ate for awhile, and the second I had a clear spot on one plate the next server piled a wet looking type of salad onto my plate. The second drink, which was more like a dessert came by and filled my second cup. It looked kind of like a lumpy milkshake with strawberries, I asked an old indian man sitting next to me what it was and he said sweet rice. The lumps of the milkshake thing were rice and also strawberries. Each previous server came back offering seconds. After that we were each given a peice of friut and the final cup was filled with hot spiced sweet tea.

Wow.

Amazing.

I sat with the boys, monk and a woman named Leslie, who I was introduced to, and found out shes a Bikrams Yoga instructor. They asked where where from, school, plans, ect. Diego asked how he became a monk. And I learned this…

Hare Krishnas dont smoke, drink alcohol, gamble, do any form of drugs, eat meat, and they try to obstain from sex. They are vegetarian because eating meat is bad karma, animals are gods creatures as well, and the violent act of slaughtering an animal is bad for your consciousness and its bad energy can lead to violent thoughts and behavior. Monks that wear white are married, monks that wear orange have taken complete vows and dont have sex. The marking on their forehead symbolizes the entrance to the body as a temple. Their chanting is a spiritual form of yoga, not the physical and mental yoga that is more commonly recognized as yoga, but both kinds are still practiced. Most of the members of the community are not Krishnas, but Hindus, Buddhists, and agnostic that enjoy the spirituallity, chanting, meditation and energy. The gatherings indulge all the sences, through dance, singing, incence, food, music, nature and beautiful setting.

We chatted for awhile then began to head home, Leslie said she owns many saris, if you hang around long enough the women just give them. Also the monk informed us that we can bring containers to take home food. all thats left ofer is donated to a local homeless shelter.

So theres my experience. I have no intention in converting, as I dont connect myself to any organized religion. I find aspects of each that I agree with and believe what I believe. I found nothing strange about this religion, no weird rituals, its a form of Hinduism. In all honesty ive found stranger rituals in the bible and christian religion than ive seen today. I dont believe it has anything to do with a cult, mabey at one time there was a group that took things the wrong way and gave the whole group an incorrect reputation. In the same way Suicide bombers in no way represent the Islamic faith, I have no negative feelings, and see this as nothing more than a ligitamite eastern religion.

Bollywood dance

Today began the Indian Summer festival.

A festival held at SFU with film, music, food, literature, and yoga. But unfortunately it was expencive. We however were excited because they offered free Bollywood dance classes 🙂

These classes were put on by Shiamak Davar, a dance choreographer for Bollywood films, and his school of performers. This was the most intence hour of my life. It was soo much fun but for a first class, it moved quickly, and every step had 5 parts, arms, feet, hips, hands, and head. Alot to think about. He taught us ‘Indian hands’ and ‘Peacock hands’ steps, then a routine then put it to really fast Indian music.

I was impressed by the dancers, I never thought shoulder shimmies could look manly until I saw how awesome the guys teaching looked while dancing. Bollywood has moved to my number one favorite type of dance. Once my financial situation is in place Id like to take it on full time. Unfortunately I dont have pictures, I was kind of busy dancing my ass off, but there were photographers there, and mabey ill get some pictures at the next class. For attending the first class we recieved school shirts and fliers for their school.

From there I rushed to my next class. Poledance. Why am I taking pole dance? Because it looked fun, its on my bucket list, Its a block from my appartment, and Its something I dont know how to do yet.

The studio (I wasent really suppost to be taking pictures)

The class was fun, It was mostly gay guys (because its located in Davie Village, on the second floor of Celebrities gay niteclub) and women in their 30’s. I want to learn cool flippy tricks, but the instructor was more Into sexy type moves. I dont do sexy. I do cool flippy trick things. Dammit. I learned a few basics. Diego had gone with the day I signed up and asked If boys could take classes too, “Only If youre gay”

Sooo theres my day

Bikrams Yoga College of India

Today I began class at Bikrams. And in all honesty it kicked my ass…

First Ill give you the background to this particular type of yoga. Its founder Bikram Choudhury, in India, had suffered a severe leg injury at the age of 17. After examination doctors told him he would be unable to walk again. Not ready to accept this he sought the opinion of a yogi guru. This Yogi gave him 26 postures that would increase his circulation, improve his strength, balance and flexability as well at physical and mental health. He practiced these postures in the heat of India and in 6 weeks his leg was healed. From there he began teaching the postures in classes around India, which gained such popularity that it was expanded outside of India. Including Vancouver.

Bikram

So my class…. I was told to be equipped with water, two towels and a yoga mat. We went in and swiped out key cards. After changing and putting our things in the locker, Diego and I walked into the dark very hot yoga room, where our class mates lay on the floor ajusting to the heat.

The tempature in the room was 105 F.
Our instructor came in and started to direct us through the 26 postures.
It was intense. Deep stretching added to the heat. About halfway through the class my clothes, hair and towel that covered my mat were soaked, dripping like Id gone swimming.
I got a little lightheaded half way through too. The class lasted 90 minutes.
Toward the end we had breathing exercizes. Until the lights went off and out instructor ended with a “Namaste.”
There was time for meditation in the dark room.
After i headed to the shower room to wash of the pools of sweat.
The walls of the hallway are covered with meditating pictures of Bikram and yoga photography. Its a nice place. Afterward when I stepped outside I could breath so easily. It felt like cold fresh air since I had done breathing exercises in the humid 105 deg. room.
Sooo yep.
🙂
Namaste
 
 

 

Kokoro Dance

Sooo i have yet another naked hippi story to tell you.

The Kokoro Dance, aka Dancing naked mud people. So around noon we made out way once again to The One and Only Wreck Beach, once at the bottom of the stairs we took trail No. 4 to the right of the beach, through the rocky shore and trees to a small clearing near the water where 10 naked dancers were painting themselves white.

I see Albino peopleee

 So It was very strange. They started as a group on the shoreline slowly stomping in the mud, slowly backing up into the waves, which would slowly knock them down one at a time untill they were all floating. Thet floated in the water for what felt like forever, then slowly rolled and flopped on the shore, where They began to twitch and flop like fish out of water.

It was at this point Diego and I kind of interpreted their dance as evolution, Comming from the sea and progressively evolving.

Stomping in the mud

The flopping on the shore progressed to a body dragging crawl as limbs started to appear. They lay face down in the mud, breathing heavily. What was cool about this was because they were naked and solid colored the expansion of their ribs as they breathed was very dramatic. Like a reptile.

Frog hopping followed. The people who just began to watch the show were very confused as they walked across the beach and saw a group of naked mud people hopping around the beach like frogs and people watching. haha
Wings followed, to crawling, and walking upright.
(I Think our theory on its story was right)
The dance was very slow and went on for awhile, untill the final stage of humans came into form.
 

To show Humanity, each male was matched with a female, they showed couples, love, and prayer.

The dance ended in the sea where it began. And thats just about as good as I can explain it.

The Dancers say the performance, which is done every year on wreck beach, is a collaboration with Mother Nature, Who supplise the sets, costumes and lighting. After the show is done we walked back to the beach area to lay out a blanket and picnic.

The rest of out day consisted of taking in the sun writting, picnicing, swimmig and such to the bongo music played by a circle of Jamacians near us. Again to the forest of brightly colored gypsy clothing on lines. I found the perfect esmerelda dress and a white mexican style dress with puffy short sleeves that were off the sholder. Diego said i needed a straw hat and a basket of bread to go with it.

I liked them all but could only pick one. Sooo it was a shimmery deep blueish purple pair of knee length harem pants 🙂

 

Carnaval del Sol

Hello again. Im happy to report that the sunshine finally came out for the Carnaval del Sol (Carnival of the Sun)  Latin festival.

Although it was the biggest event of the day, what id like to talk about first truly inspired me.

 On our way down Robson we stopped at the Robson Square Artisan Market, a market where local artists sell their work. I was drawn to some beautiful photography. There I met Tracey Tomtene. A Travel Photographer.

I asked where her photos were taken and she said she had spent the last year traveling around Southeast Asia, Thailand, and New Zealand. Her photographs portraied small villages and their local natives. Lanscapes, children and little old toothless women. She also had a photo of Katut, The medicine man from Eat,Pray,Love in Bali. She told me extensively about Bali, which is quickly climbing my list of places to visit first.

After about an hour of talking I was off to the carnival.

Dancers

The Festival was huge. 5 blocks of spanish vendors, food, soccer, dancing, music, and travel.

The food was awesomee. Mexican tacos, empanadas, churros, rice and beans, you get the idea, and we ate everythinggg.
Starting with churros, fried paistries filled with jellies and rolled in cinnimon sugar. mmmm
 

 

Churros in cinnimon sugar

After that we had Mexican tacos. In Mexico, I was informed tacos are very small, and the ones we had were very authentic.

Mine had beans, salsa, parsley, green hot pepper sauce, and lime juice. Each taco had two slices of lime on the side.
Then came the Empanadas, I got a sweetcorn one.
at this time Caro and Nayeli met up with us too.
EMPANADAS! with Caro

Oh yes i forgot to introduce you to Caro. I met her my 2nd month here. At her housewarming party, which I attended with Megan who had met her at the Cambie the night before. She is from Ecuador, and has since become one of my best friends here.

There was a travel booth for each Latin American country, with pictures and information fliers to visit that country. More stuff for my dream wall.
There was a main stage with singers, dancers, and speakers, some good some… not so much.
 

 

Salsa dancers

 

 

 

It was very fun and festive, but also extreamly hot and crowded, toward the end we met up with Diegos twin brother Cesar and his wife Andrea and went to their appartment for dinner and Luna (one of their dogs) Birthday. It was a nice night, and end to a busy day.

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