A Travellerspoint blog

"I hate my brother. He is a stupid idiot!"

It has become apparent that some people think that Dave and I would like to live on a free loving hippie commune. This may be true but come on, Reiki? Here are a few of the comments from the more gullible amongst us. They will remain anonymous, except of course for one which is not that anonymous at all.

"You had me totally fooled. I read the blog with increasing astonishment and glee...good for Audrey and Dave...what about the kids...will they home school...quit their jobs...oh my god...what will their parents think. And then I phoned Bonnie. You can imagine her reaction...it is a Cult!! They've been sucked in...Oh no. Dave and Audrey are not the types to get sucked in...it's just pure hippie hedonism...free love tooooo!... Then it turns out to be an April fool's joke. Too bad."

Dave's mom forwarded the message to a few people. Here are their replies.

"Hi Jan, he had me totally believing him--when he described the Reikie I was feeling jealous and wondered why I never feel anything like it when my sister -in-law (who does "Healing Touch", similar to Reikie) practice on me."

"OK Jan. I was on the verge of believing it 'til I got to the "all in the same bed" business! Then, I looked up the date of the letter."

"I am not surprised that David and Audrey are moving away from the industrialized world to one of simplicity. I hope their dreams come true and they find the way of living that suits their philosophy of life. Blessings on their heads!"

"I (Jan) forwarded your latest entry to several people, saying "Check out the latest plans of the McNouyes!" And guess who left me a message with panic on our answering machine today? Your sister Jill! She was worried about how we were coping with the news, and she too was very concerned. Then, minutes later, another message. "I hate my brother. He's a stupid idiot! I can't believe I am so gullible!"

Posted by McNouye 20:09 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

The real truth comes out

This one is written by both of us. I think you'll figure out who wrote which part.

I suppose that our life is exciting enough that we don't need to make up stories. But it was really fun! Happy April Fools Day! Here the real truth about what we've been up to for the past few weeks.

So... how's the surf? It's great, thanks for asking. I suppose it's not surprising that my surfing has improved vastly since September. At the start of our trip I stood out as a bit of a newbie on a board, and I now don't stand out at all, I blend in with the crowd. Which is a nice feeling since surfing is one of the most challenging things I have taken up.

Most sports you can teach someone in a week or so and they are pretty competent; not so with surfing. Put someone in a kayak, on a snowboard, on water skis, or most other sports and they wont be great in a week but they will have the general knack down and not look like a fool. Maybe it is because there are so many aspects to surfing in order learn it.

As any beginner surfer can tell you, the most challenging thing to learn first is paddling out. If the waves are anything but small you need to have the strength to paddle, the skill to dive under the waves with your board as they come crashing down on you and the endurance to go through several of these waves in order to get outside the break. On days with bigger waves simply paddling out can be exhausting so that once you are in position to catch a wave you need to spend a couple minutes catching your breath.

Once in position the next step is to actually catch a wave. This takes a lot of practice in both spotting waves well before they break and the timing of when to paddling and kick your way onto a wave just before it breaks. The timing is critical since if you are too early the wave won't be steep enough and you can not get enough speed to catch the wave; too late and you will not have time to stand up before the wave breaks crashing you over the top of your board tumbling toward shore. This is affectionately referred to as going “over the falls” and happens to be how I broke my board in Costa Rica. Missing the wave often puts you back in front of the breaking waves forcing you to, again, paddle back out through the breaking waves.

Now that you've caught the wave you can actually stand up and do some surfing. Depending on the wave you just caught this could be a nice easy slow breaking wave that gives you lots of time for turns up and down the face of the wave. It could also be a fast breaking steep wave that you can just barely stay on your board for as you hear the crashing of the wave just behind you. The wrong angle on a wave like this and that that nice hollow barrel comes crashing down right on top of you making you feel like a rag doll being shaken by a pit bull.

Is it fun? Hell ya! I've caught some waves that are around 8 or 9 feet tall that I came screaming down the face of for a few short seconds. I've also been on some 4 foot waves that seem to go on for hours. It is a beautiful feeling.


So... how are the people?

Playa Venao has been an amazing experience in terms of meeting people. Before I go on, I should tell you that all of the people mentioned in this blog post (including Gar) are friends from New York so it feels like we just helicoptered into a fab circle of New Yorkers much like our friends at home.

During our three week stay at Playa Venoa, we bounced around a bit in terms of housing. We spent our first few days staying in the hostel, then we moved uptown and spent our next week at Casa Mango which we shared with Tahiti, Noah and their son Ruvane. Kiyoshi and Ruvane proved to become very special friend. I would go so far as to say that Ruvane was Kiyoshi's first real friend. Since we have been traveling for so long, Kiyoshi hasn't made friends with any other children. It would be nice to see these two keep in touch as they were both born on the same day (August 15, 2007) only 12 hours apart. Not only that we had a wonderful week with Tahiti and Noah. They spoke so highly of Brooklyn that we are keen to hopefully visit them one day.

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Uptown living at the Casa Mango

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Photography compliments of Kiyoshi

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Kiyoshi and Ruvane

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We've spent all our money on yoga, surfing and beer so we can't afford a sun hat for Kiyoshi. Please send donations to our poor deprived child.

Following our wonderful week with Tahiti and Noah, we moved in with Vince and Libba. They moved to Panama with their two kids, Henry (seven) and Francis (three), almost a year ago. Libba is the yoga instructor and is chasing her dream to run yoga retreats on a beach. Vince is working at Eco Venao being an all around handyman and managing construction projects. They live in a large yellow six bedroom house overlooking the beach and use this to put people up in conjunction with Eco Venao during yoga retreats.

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The view from our Yogini house balcony

I'm not sure who was more excited at the prospect of moving into their house, Taro or I. When we told Taro that we were all moving in with Henry, he threw his arms around Henry and beamed, “I love you Henry!” Poor Henry stood there with his arms at his side and looked terribly uncomfortable with Taro clinging to him like a parasite. Though I didn't throw my arms around Libba and profess my love for her, I too was really excited to move in with them.

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Kiyoshi tried his hardest to keep up with the big boys

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Kiyoshi, Taro and Frances

Given the size of their place it really became ground zero for group meals and evening activities. It was an amazing place to stay and we spent many hours in their hammocks and drinking Panama beer.

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Uncle Gar eating at the kid's table

And finally....the yoga

Were I trying to construct my perfect vacation, it would have paled in comparison to our last few weeks in Playa Venao. I'll get right to the point and say that the yoga instructor Libba is quite possibly the best yoga instructor I will ever meet and I took one of her classes every single day. During our last week at Playa Venao Libba taught a workshop. Yoga – three hours a day for seven days. You may think that that sounds like a long time, but I never once thought to myself, “like when is this class going to be over.” In fact, Libba was so inspiring that I often did some warm up yoga before our three hour class and then practiced more handstands and back-bends on the beach after yoga.

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Yoga before yoga and yoga after yoga

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Here's a shot of the yoga deck right on the beach

There were two other yoga instructors Alison and Sarah who joined us from the States for a week. Here are a couple of shots of us goofing around on the beach.
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Tree pose
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At the workshop, I learned that there are 8 different limbs to yoga. What we know as yoga is only one part of a whole package that also includes breathing exercises and meditation etc. I can also tell you that yoga does not “make you feel like a rag doll being shaken by a pit bull.” But for anyone who thinks that yoga is for lightweights, you try holding your leg out with one hand and holding a beer in the other.

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Once we were done with yoga and surfing, we spent a considerable amount of time drinking beer at a restaurant on the beach.

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Poor kids had to fend for themselves for hours on end while their parents were too busy drinking beer at the bar

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Taro had to drive us home sometimes when we got too drunk to drive. You can tell he is very disappointed in us.

All in all our three weeks at Playa Venao were magical. We're now off to a hostel named the Lost and Found which is in the jungle of Panama and gets us closer to Nicaragua, our final destination.

Posted by McNouye 19:01 Archived in Panama Comments (2)

A new beginning

semi-overcast

Who knew that being on the road with the kids would be such an amazing experience. When we left Canada nearly seven months ago with two young kids we had a vague idea of what we were getting into, but if you've been reading our blog you know that we have been having an amazing time. It's also hard when you meet so many people that have moved to places like Panama to not think about doing the same thing.

The problem is that we have first world jobs, make first world wages and spend it in the developing world. This makes for a distorted financial picture that would be hard to sustain if you were living here. Then you see many people living abroad earning less than they would in America, but still making enough to make ends meet, support their kids, and enjoy life.

One of the few ways that one can make money abroad is to teach yoga to foreigners since foreigners are willing to pay close to first world money to learn yoga. Not coincidentally Audrey has just started a yoga instructor course here in the jungles of Panama. It's a rather long intensive course that will make her a yoga instructor certified by YOYO (Yogis and Yoginis Of the World) the most recognized yoga instructor certification body. All I would need to do is to find a skill that would complement Audrey's yoga instruction and we would be set. No more winters, no more snow suits, and a nice warm place for family and friends to come visit us.

For those of you that you know me I am a bit of a skeptic. Until you show me some tangible proof that what you are saying is true I'm probably going to be a disbeliever. So when we met Jennifer and she offered to introduce us to some of her spiritual hocus pocus, I was pretty skeptical. But what the hell, one Reiki treatment was only $10 for an hour.

For those of you that don't know, Reiki is used to align the energy in ones body without touching the patient. The Reiki practitioner merely uses the energy in their body to harmonize the the energy in the body of the patient. The word Reiki is made up of two Japanese words, rei meaning spiritual intelligence and ki meaning life energy. The practice has been know to cure many ailments such as headaches, back pain, stress, insomnia, and anxiety.

So, Mr. Skeptical goes and gets his first Reiki treatment. At first Jennifer had me lay down on a table then she placed her hands just above my shoulders and began moving the energy from the outer part of my body to the center. Initially this felt something like a massage, with tension I didn't even know was there, slowly receding from my shoulders. Once she was done with my shoulders and outer back the electrical energy was concentrated in my spine putting my body into a state of frenzied yet peaceful tension. She left me this way for a few minutes before finally forcing the energy out the top my head leaving me in a condition I can only describe as nirvana. While I struggle to describe it, my first Reiki experience was the most mind blowing experience I have ever had.

I have been searching for some way to rationalize this experience with my scientific mind, but the reality is I can't. If any of you have had a “life changing” experience, you'll know what I mean. For those of you that have not, I can't describe it any better than for me, this has been life changing; a paradigm shift in my thinking.

Sparked my my new love for Reiki, I have talked Jennifer into spending some time teaching me her art. She says that within two years I should be a Master Reiki Practitioner, but that she can only teach me for the next 3 months. It is going to be a long road but with my dedication and her spiritual guidance I'm off to a great start. Reiki also dovetails very well with my background in electrical engineering as they both involve the manipulation and containment of electrical fields.

Now that Audrey is on her way to becoming a yoga instructor and I a Reiki Master, we are on the road to being self sufficient outside Canada. We have been so inspired lately to keep up this lifestyle that we have moved in with a group of like minded people living off the grid here in the jungles of Panama. Several years ago four of them hiked up a mountain built, some buildings and this growing community has been living under the radar screens of the government. Slowly the group has been cultivating their alternative lifestyle of self sufficiency and spiritual empowerment ever since.

We have been very much welcomed into the group. All activities and worldly possessions are shared by the group and we all eat together, sleep in the same bed and teach the children the things they need to know to live here. The lodgings here are simple and the thirty or so of us are really compatible. I never thought I would be a member in a group that has such a huge diversity of backgrounds and is so free sexually.

When will we be back in Canada? Truth be told, we have no idea. We have both put in our notices at work, but at some point one of us will need to come back to sell our houses; we don't need them and community really could use the money.

Neither of us is really sure what the future holds, but our children are happy, our souls fulfilled, and we look forward to an interesting future. We hope you are enjoying this first day of April as much as we are.

Peace and Love,
The Mcnouyes ;)

Posted by McNouye 09:53 Archived in Panama Comments (13)

And then came Gar...

By Dave

sunny 34 °C
View Bali,Thailand, Canada, Costa Rica, Columbia on McNouye's travel map.

Eco Venao, the place we have called home for the last two weeks is a peaceful, tranquil place. People are up early for surfing, in bed just after sundown, and surfing, eating or doing yoga in between. As I mentioned before it seems like most people know the owner, Oliver, and it really makes the place feel less like a backpacker hangout and more like a private place you've somehow stumbled upon and managed to swing an invite to.

We have been spending a lot of time with the yoga teacher, Libba, her husband Vince and their two children Henry (six) and Francis (three), as well as Noah, Tahiti and their two year old son Ruvane with whom we are sharing house. They are all from New York and know many of the same people from home and are regularly playing “who do you know” in the evenings over beer.

It was a quiet place where siestas in hammocks are common to escape the mid day heat and had a very nice down tempo surf/yoga vibe in the air. And then came Gar.

Gar is a late 30s bachelor that also calls New York home and knows everyone I just mentioned. He is also friends with Oliver and has been to Panama something like eleven times before and all he has seen is Panama City and Eco Venao. To say that he walks around like he owns the place would be a bit of an overstatement, but not much of one. He has a bit of a reputation around the place and gets blamed by Nico, the manager, for pretty much everything and anything that goes wrong around the place. Beer bottles left out? Must be Gar. Flower planter knocked over? Gar. Key to the shed broken? It's gotta be Gar. And by the way who the hell borrowed the truck?
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I'm ready for yoga. Are you?

Apparently Nico has laid out a special set of rules for Gar around the place and told him specifically not to drink before a certain time and only in certain designated areas. This naturally led me walk up to Gar when then two of them were standing together and ask “where's your beer? Every time I've seen you today you've been carrying one!” Yes, I am a shit disturber.
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There were no locks on the door before Gar got here. Coincidence? I think not!

Upon arriving Gar spent a good portion of the day attempting to set up his tent (which he has yet to sleep in) then proceeded to inform me in his boisterous New York accent that Libba, his friend, yoga teacher and acupuncturist, would “whip his ass into shape” whether he wanted to or not over the coming weeks.

When I bumped into the two of them in the bar on the beach the next morning at ten Gar was well into his second beer and had undoubtedly gone through a number of Marlboros as well. I guess she was really whipping him into shape.
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Inspired by the Gar

Before I give you the wrong impression, Gar is great. He really livens up the place. He loves kids and has probably spent as much time with our kids as I have since he arrived, which is a blessing since I am trying to surf a couple times a day. He doesn't smoke around them and although he often has a drink in his hand he certainly isn't drunk all the time. Libba's yoga class features into his daily routine, and he has just added a 7am surf. Beer and cigarettes included, he is definitely getting whipped into shape.

You know one of those smart, slightly abrasive people that have their quirks but are pleasure to be around? That's Gar. Nico's set of Gar rules might have an undertone of truth but he is mostly just taking the piss out of Gar. Mostly.

Let's just say it's great to have him around.

Posted by McNouye 12:16 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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