eat, pray, laugh

it was Wednesday 12 of June when I set off for a new adventure, something completely unknown to me: meditation.

I took the train from Chapel Street to get to Lilydale. the ride was silent, and I was just thinking that I had no idea what to expect from the course I was about to begin…

just for you to know, I will not be telling what the course is about… I think it’s something everyone has to experience for themselves and not through my very personal opinion of it.

I got to Lilydale, had some lunch, and then waited in line to take the bus to Woori Yallock. when I was in front of the bus driver, I asked him if he could tell me when we reached the stop I needed to get off at… another girl was about to ask the same, so she looked at me and asked “Vipassana?” and I said “yes”.

her name is Elmina. we sat together and started talking… I didn’t want to start any conversation with someone that was doing the course as well… you see, Vipassana is a ten day meditation course in silence, and I thought that if I made friends in the beginning I would not be able to keep my silence vows… but she was just too nice, and we talked and laugh all the way. it was the first time we did something like this, and we had so many things in common…

there was another girl on the bus doing the course for the third time. her name is Michelle, from Hong Kong… she told us that Vipassana changed her life, and that she had actually served in this centre just ten days ago… she’s a traveller, just like me, so that made me feel good somehow… apparently I’m not the only one on the other side of the world doing crazy stuff like this!

we waited at the bus stop to get picked up by someone… Michelle left first, so while we waited we met Lorraine who was in the same bus as us an had overheard our conversation.

we arrived at the centre, and there we had to fill a form where we solemnly swore we would not leave the course before it is over. we had to give up our cellphones, pens, books, cameras, iPods… anything we had that could distract us or the others… and so we did… or so it seemed to.
the staff had already arranged our bed places, I was in room 1a and Elmina in room 3a, which was good… we both knew (and in fact we laughed about it) that if we were in the same room, things would be difficult…

we were able to talk until the first meditation at 6 pm, that’s when the silence began, and it was not only silence, you can’t make any eye contact or any sort of gesture… so after making my bed, and presenting myself to my roommates, Chrissy and Hana, I went to Elmina’s room along with my new friends.

she was staying in a room with Lorraine and two other people, Jo and another girl who’s name I can’t remember. the six of us (the girl who’s name I don’t remember left) talked, laughed, and finally group hugged encouraging each other before setting off for dinner.

it was the last proper dinner we would have… we sat together appreciating every moment we had to talk and make jokes… then, off we were for my first meditation ever…

the staff had arranged our sitting spots as well.
I was surprised to enter the meditation hall and see that I could actually SEE the boys… I thought we were supposed to be completely isolated from each other… I was sure that if we shared meditation time and place with the guys, there surely had to be a wall or something to divide us completely… guess they do trust us after all…

we all started with a small mat and one cushion provided by the centre. I saw how people that have meditated before had their special cushions to sit on and their own beautiful coloured blankets… that seemed like a good idea, I was freezing during my first meditation, so I would grab one of those blue blankets the centre provides for next time.

silence begun, and with it the feeling of wanting to search for people’s gaze, the feeling of wanting to laugh with someone about something I found funny, the feeling of getting to know my new friends better…

days started passing… and they seemed like months.
I started crying every evening because I felt angry all the time… I didn’t understand why I was there, and why my new friends would not look at me when I was trying so desperately to look at them, to have a feeling of reassurance that I was not alone, that I was not the only one having a terrible time.

every evening we had beautiful sunsets, and I hated not having my camera with me… every day I saw all kinds of beautiful birds near me, and again I hated not having my camera.

the whole thing of sharing bathrooms, the vegetarian food, the change of routine and eating hours, the being on your ass all day made me (and, apparently, everyone else as well) unable to go to the toilet “properly”… so we were all taking these strange leaves they have as a natural laxative (seems like we are not the first ones on the history of vipassana that are constipated)… when the leaves started doing their job (by day three or four), it was useless… being on your ass all day makes your back and muffin area so sore that you cannot push adequately, so you cannot “adequately” shit…

by day three I started noticing how hot the male manager was, but I was not the only one… every time he walked to the back of the hall I could see some heads following him… I had decided to live a hippie week, so you can imagine the hippie chimp I was becoming, and I could NOT go and talk to him like this on day ten… I was horrified by the idea.

rumour has it that if you get to day four, it is very likely you will stay the whole ten days… and on day four a miracle happened… on the midday break a girl started swirling around the garden like a crazy patient on a mental hospital… it was HILARIOUS! luckily, Jo had seen that too! we both started laughing… we kept on walking to get away from there and we were just laughing our asses off. and after that, every time we met somewhere we would look in the eye and laugh.
that made things a lot better, the feeling of losing my mind faded.
after dinner I got closer to Jo when no one was around, and told her “I need to talk”, and she replied “so do I”… we went to hide behind the bushes like high school girls hiding to smoke… I just needed to let the whole swirling thing out of my system, and it worked, I was not laughing anymore when I met Jo, and it all helped me get through the next days as well.

on day five Jo came to tell me Elmina had left (and then we were five), and that she was thinking of doing the same… for a moment I froze… “fuck! how could she leave? and… her email? number? how am I supposed to ever find her? we were going to have breakfast together on Sunday!!!” luckily (or rather smartly) Elmina had given Jo her phone number, so, following her steps, Jo and I went to find a pen to exchange numbers as well.
back in the room I had to tell Chrissy this… and so we exchanged numbers too… just in case someone left earlier.

Jo left… and then we were four…

several things happened the next days… people where starting to look at each other, making eye contact, smiling, sometimes even whispering, my guess is, we all felt as though losing our minds, and we all needed some sort of comfort… Hana had her iPhone with her the whole time, and it actually rang once IN the meditation hall… one girl passed out during meditation and it freaked me (and others) out… I borrowed a pen to start writing what had happened each day… Chrissy sort of asked me to leave the course because I had a pen (apparently it was way worst than having an iPhone), and then she changed room… I started talking with my neighbour Lisa… I was able to borrow a pair of tweezers from her, but… THE HOT MALE MANAGER LEFT!!!… guys started looking at the “girl’s menu” on day nine…

then day ten came, and after the morning meditation we were allowed to talk… and although I had been talking since day four, it was a relief to talk out loud!

we were all talking nonstop, of how funny the chants were, and how the teacher had been very strict, of funny things that had happened… we were all letting ourselves go, laughing, crying, complaining, appreciating…
we all started exchanging numbers and phones as well.

in the 1 pm meditation someone’s stomach started growling BADLY! and, well… I started laughing BADLY as well… I just couldn’t stop… but the worst part was that people were laughing with me, so that made it difficult for me to stop… and I’m sure I heard one of the servers laughing hard and turning it into a cough! haha… I started biting my lips, didn’t work… then I started biting my fingers, didn’t work either… so I stood up and left the meditation hall for the first time… of course, the manager came after me, but when I showed her my bleeding fingers she understood and let me stay out to calm myself down.

of course, by the next meditation I had to improvise and put some paper tissue in my ears… when I ever felt like laughing, or if I accidentally heard someone’s stomach or laughter, I started scratching my earplugs to just listen to that and distract my mind… I never thought I would have to endure one hour like that! but, we were all happy, cause even guys were laughing, and that was a nice feeling for a change!

at night I visited Chrissy in her room, and we talked for hours.

the next day we had to clean our rooms and some other area of our election from the centre, after that we were released from Meditation Bootcamp (as Lisa called it) and able to go back home… which was a shocking experience but I will tell you about that in another story…
Chrissy took a whole group back to Melbourne, and we all said goodbye for “until next time”…

now, here I’m going to list some things that I think are good for you to know if you are thinking about taking the ten day course.
first of all, do not rely on my experience to make a decision… everyone is unique (or so they say), and therefore everyone’s experience will be different in so many ways.


– they will not give you dinner. if you are a new student they will give you a fruit… of course you can drink all the water you want.

– you’ll be sitting for A LONG TIME every day.

– if you get through day four, it is likely you’ll get through the whole ten days.


– it’s supposed to be Buddha’s original and unspoiled method to reach enlightenment.

– try to talk the minimum necessary the first day, and it’s better if you do it with older people, not people your age.

– I do recommend to stick to noble silence. and though its something difficult because you feel terrible, I honestly would’ve liked to meet my demons…

– bring your water bottle

– you can ask for the discourse to be played to you in any language

– if you are a traveller without any bedding stuff, do not worry, it is likely they’ll have things you can borrow… just ask before you go.

– lunch is always different, don’t think you’ll be living of tofu every day.

– they provide you with all necessary blankets and cushions to meditate but, if you can, bring a very comfortable cushion to sit on.

with old friends

after a four hour flight, I arrived in Melbourne…

there’s a two hour difference with NZ, and it was around 9 am when I came out of the airport to take the bus to Southern Cross Station, where I was meeting with my high school friend Sandra.

Sandra and Glaudio have been married and living in Melbourne for three years. both Mexican, they came here for her to study her masters, and they were able to stay longer because of his job.

so, Sandra came to pick me up, she had taken the day off to be with me. it was so nice to se an old familiar face. we took the tram to go home… I was hungry, stinky, and tired… so she cooked me some breakfast while I took a shower.

we took the tram back to the city, she toured me around the CBD, showing me where the important things are, and what’s worth visiting… I will be staying a total of six weeks in Melbourne, so there was really no rush in going to see all this places at once, or that day… we took it easy.

we had lunch at Nando’s in front of the public library. there I texted another old friend from Mexico, Luis, who is studying his masters there as well. it turned out that he lives right in front of where we were, so he came to catch up with us.

the three of us walked a little bit more, and then we stopped at a beautiful bar called Section 8, where I had my first mulled wine ever… DELICIOUS!


it was a bright, sunny day… but I was SO tired… I didn’t sleep the night before, and though the clock there pointed 5 pm, for me it was 7 pm zombie-mode.

so after one drink, we went back home… I tried to stay awake to greet Glaudio, but couldn’t, and went to sleep (like a proper Kiwi) at 9 pm.

next day I stayed at home… it was the first time I was able to actually get installed in one place… I had my own room with my own closet! it was so nice to be able to unpack all and put it on shelves!

the apartment is located in a beautiful neighbourhood called St Kilda. the tram station is near, the beach is near… it’s just perfect!

at around 6 pm I went to the CBD to meet up with Gianluca (yes! my Italian friend from Mount Cook). we had a quick coffee, a little talk, and then we both had to run… I was meeting Sandra near by to go to a conference imparted by the creator of

after the conference, we went to a girls night out with two other Mexicans, Ale and Oli. first we stopped at Asian Beer Cafe in Melbourne Central to have dinner and a couple of beers, and from there we went to another bar where we were joined by one of Ale’s coworkers, a cute Kiwi guy they wanted to introduce me.

we then went back home, and Glaudio hadn’t arrived, so for the second consecutive night, I hadn’t had the chance to greet the man of the house.

next morning I finally saw Glaudio. we had breakfast and then walked to Oli and Marcel’s (her boyfriend) house to take one of their cars to have it for the weekend.

we went to the Good Food and Wine Expo that evening and bought loads of delicious stuff… some kind of Nutella, chocolates, sauces… we also ate a lot there, just trying the stuff they were selling… pretty good!

in the evening we went to a bar called “father’s office” to celebrate a Mexican girl’s birthday. there I met part of my friends’ Mexican “family”… a group of paisanos of all ages, students and residents, all united by one thing in common: taco blood.

next morning we drove to Daylesford to spend the rest of the weekend. it was Queen’s Birthday Weekend now in Australia, so Sandra and Glaudio had Monday free.

we arrived at a nice little house where a Colombian couple lives.
Gonzalo and Edna are friends of Glaudio and Sandra. Edna’s sister and her husband were staying there too, so we were seven people in one house.


we went to the farmer’s market, and then to have lunch at a very nice place that had incredible pizzas. after that, we went to a chocolate factory where they make this delicious hot chocolate with chilli powder and cardamom… AMAZING!


we then went to a pub to have dinner, drink beer, and dance at the beats of the eighties with some 60 year old chopper gang members.

back in the house we lit a fire in the fireplace, cooked some marshmallows and sausages, drank some champaign, and ate cake…

of course, we all had food comma after all this food in just ONE day.

next morning we had breakfast at home, and then we went to a lavender farm where they have an amazing lemon with lavender ice cream.




we went back home to pick up our stuff and say goodbye to everyone.

and off we were to see the Hanging Rocks. this is a very peculiar rock formation near the town of Woodend.



on the way back we stopped at a hotel/restaurant/pub to eat, and I had an amazing BLT with chips.

on Tuesday I stayed in the neighbourhood all day, walking around Chapel Street to buy all the stuff I needed for my ten day meditation course that was starting the very next day.

at night the three of us had dinner together, and we said goodbye laughing about my situation for the next days, and them wishing me to find myself in this new adventure.

family moments

I arrived in Wellington’s airport later than it was planned because there was a huge delay in the taking off part in Chch.

my Kiwi mom, Ali, came to pick me up.

I had only two nights to spend with my beautiful Kiwi family, and that made me feel very sad. I enjoy every moment with them, and besides, I was going to miss Jesse’s farewell party on Saturday…

since the last time I saw them, they moved to a big and beautiful house just two blocks from where they were staying. this house is owned by one of Ali’s coworkers, and she decided to lend them the house while theirs is being fixed.

so here they all fitted perfectly, everyone had their own room… even me…

the first night we had dinner all together in the lounge, then I showed them some of the photos I took in my travels, and then off to bed.

on Wednesday I had breakfast at home, cooked by my sister Tasarla.
after taking a shower I had a skype conversation with a friend of mine in Dublin (who happens to be a hairdresser), and he told me I needed a makeover… more like a fringe… so while skyping, he was directing me, and this is the result…


then, when everyone had left to do their chores, I went off as well to the Te Papa museum to see the Andy Warhol exhibition there… simply BRILLIANT!

after that I strolled around the city until, after lunchtime, I went to Ali’s office to meet up with her and have coffee.

sculpture by Weta Cave

sculpture by Weta Cave

I came back home to repack my stuff and get ready for dinner… this night: Tacos, at New Zealand’s best Mexican restaurant “Viva Mexico“.

if you are ever on the search for genuine (or closest to genuine) Mexican food in Wellington, “Viva Mexico” is the place! they have tacos, tortas (these are NOT cakes, as most Latin Americans call them), tamales… just beautiful food! they are located in two spots. the original on Left Bank (perpendicular to Cuba Street Mall), and another one in Newtown.

we all had dinner there (except for Jesse who was working), and we had a round of mezcal shots… then the owner gave us a round of tequila shots! so nice of him!


after this we went to a bar called The Library, which is a cocktail bar full of books… the whole environment is amazing…

and after that, we went back home… it was pretty late and I had to leave the house at 4am to get to the airport.

but of course, I didn’t sleep at all… with the shots of tequila and mezcal in my system, along with a couple of beers and a cocktail, I was bound to miss my flight… and that thought kept me awake.

Ali had offered me a ride to the airport (which I tried to refuse… 4 am is no fun for anyone), and she actually woke up before to take me there…she’s amazing!
I know my mom or dad would do the same back home, which is why I completely feel like part of this family… when you care for someone and that someone cares the same about you, that’s when you know… and I know that I will always be their Mexican daughter, and they will be my Kiwi family forever!

more goodbyes…

the drive from Queenstown to Christchurch was amazing! I was completely alone, doing whatever I wanted (speeding, obviously), with no worries about having another life in the car to look after…
the weather, on the other hand, was not as pleasant… the closer I got to Christchurch, the worse the weather turned (Mother Nature seemed to be reading my mood change and putting it right on my face)… gloomy, rainy, windy…

482 km

482 km


I wanted to stay with Mark and Kristo, but unfortunately they were hosting a German guy… I tried to get a couch with some of the couch surfers I met at the weekly meetings, no success… since I had to pay one more day for the car (because even by speeding I didn’t get on time to return it) I decided to call the YHA to see if they had parking and a bed for the night… they did, and so I drove there…

in the common room I met a very nice guy called Sam (UK/Australia), we were talking about the shitty movies they were playing on TV, then another guy called Scott (USA) and his friend Niklas (Germany) joined our sarcastic little talk… the four of us were making fun of everything on TV, so it was nice.

next morning I payed for another night in the hostel. I felt alone in Chch, I was supposed to have a lot of friends there, but I felt completely alone… I didn’t want to bother Mark and Lizzie again, I was going to see them one of this nights to catch up and pick up the stuff I left behind, and maybe that was enough for them… I didn’t want to push it. I had already contacted Mark and Kristo, and I didn’t want to be a pain. I didn’t feel like calling Claudio either because I thought that if he knew about my hostel and loneliness situation, he would have offered his house and all his attentions in order for me to feel better, and I think that would have made me feel like I’m using him or something. my friend Didier was not helping at all either, I didn’t feel any signs of a welcoming person towards me. and the other people I knew, I felt as if I didn’t know them THAT well as to call them and see if they wanted to have a coffee with me…

so, alone I was…

I saw Sam again during breakfast, and we took the car to go buy some groceries… drove back to the hostel to leave them… then I drove to return the car to the agency, and walked back to the hostel… there, while skyping with Citlalli, one of my friends from home, Scott appeared behind me with just a towel around his waist… he had left his key inside his room… so, my friend saw him, he got closer to chat and explain why he was almost naked, and, well… long story short… the three of us skyped all afternoon (Scott dressed of course), and we became: a family!

we skyped every day with Citlalli from that moment on. I got so attached to Scotty that I stayed in the hostel for two more nights. he became my Little Brother – as I called him.

image image

and we would hang every night until late with Nik and Phillip (another German) too.

I caught up with Mark, Lizzie, and Didier on Tuesday night. after having dinner in the hostel, Didier picked me up to go visit our friends, and then he and I went to a bar to have a beer and talk about my travels.

I sent a couch surfing request to Julia, one of the kiwi girls that go to the weekly meetings at Smash Palace. she usually doesn’t host during weekdays and not more than two or three nights, but since I’ve met her before, and she hosted Jon, she made an exception, and we settled that she would pick me up on Thursday night.

so Wednesday was my last night at the YHA… in the morning I went to deliver some CV’s and introduce myself in different architecture firms. no success, I couldn’t talk to any of the CEO’s in any of the three firms I visited. so I went back to the hostel. unfortunately, Scotty was working that night until late. so Phillip, Sandra (a German girl we met that morning) and I went to buy some beers to be prepared when Scott came home. when he did, we started playing happy king… when we were beyond soberness, we decided to call Citlalli via Skype…




next morning I went to the other two firms I had yet to visit. the second one was my favourite of them all, and, lucky me, one of the CEO’s was actually the one to greet me the moment I entered. we then had a little chat about my background and why I was there. he told me they were not looking for anyone at the moment, but that I should give him a call when I come back from Australia to see how things are going!
I went back to the hostel with a great grin on my face!
I didn’t see Scott that evening, so sadly I couldn’t say goodbye to him properly, and at night Julia picked me up to take me to her house where she lives with her flatmate Jacek, from Poland.

after a little chat, a couple of cigarettes, and some wine, we went to a couch surfing meeting that she organises at Revival. there I met some of her expat friends, among them, a Spanish girl called Lucia.

her story and mine are very similar. we come from spanish speaking countries, we are around the same age, we both came to NZ to apply for the working holiday visa, both our countries only have 200 places and release them once a year, we both didn’t get it for the same reasons, we are both architects, and we are trying to apply for architecture jobs in Chch… the only thing I’m missing is a German boyfriend and then we would be identical.

Julia and I organised a Mexican night at her house for Friday night, so she invited some of this friends I met.

so next day I woke up, cleaned the house (here comes the Mexican maid again…), Julia then picked me up in the afternoon and we went to the supermarket to buy all we needed for the reunion that night. got back home and started cooking.

Julia’s friends started arriving. Lucia with Björn (her boyfriend), a girl from The States, Arjan from Holland, another guy from Iran, a French girl named Fleur (I think), and of course Jacek and Julia.

the night went smoothly and the food was a success – in case you are wondering, I prepared tinga de pollo and molletes! yum!

next day I went to the library to have some free wifi. I then ate at a place called Samurai Bowl (which btw is pretty good). I received a call from Yin telling me that she was in Chch, so we decided to see each other on Sunday and go to the beach.

I met with Arjan at the restart mall that evening. we went to the Earthquake City, an exhibition where they have some of the region’s history on earth tremors. we then walked to a bar to have a couple of beers. there we met two of his ex-coworkers, one from South Africa and the other one from The States called Albert.

Albert was born in The States, but his mom is Kiwi and his dad Mexican, so therefore he is a “chikiwi” (as in Chicano and Kiwi)… we were laughing all night! he’s such a FUN person. in the end he and his mate left to go to another bar near their hostel, but we exchanged numbers because he lives in Napier, and when I come back from Australia I will go there and I surely want to hang with him.

after that, Arjan and I went to Revival to meet up with Julia and some other friends. I then took Julia’s car back home because I was tired and she was taking a cab.

next morning I met with Yin at the library and we took the bus to Sumner. from there we hitchhiked (for the first time in our travels) to get to Taylor’s Mistake.


this is a very beautiful beach, Mark and Lizzie’s favourite. we sat there for a moment, had our little picnic, and then walked up the hill following the trail… but we didn’t do the whole thing… we were to lazy so we just sat off the trail, near a cliff.


we then walked down and started our way back to Sumner.


back in the CBD we went to have something at the Samurai Bowl… and, like it always happens with Yin, we had food comma.

at night I received a message from Didier asking me if I want to have lunch with him on Monday.

so on Monday I took it easy, doing nothing really, and I went to meet him at a deli place 5 blocks from where I was staying.
we talked a little bit about my plans and what he was going to do next weekend. it was going to be Queen’s Birthday Weekend and we had said before my road trip that we might do something together, but in the end he was going with some friends to do some mountain biking, which was perfect because I really wanted to stay in Chch to sort everything for my departure to Wellington and then to Australia.

he offered me a ride to the CBD, and when we said goodbye he said “safe travels” when I still had a week or so in Chch… “fine!” I thought, and I just had to laugh inside my head… after all the time we spent together he says goodbye with a “safe travels” and almost putting his two thumbs up.

so, after that I went to the library… again (I know, I sound like a bookworm), and there I saw Yin, which was a very nice surprise. we talked a little bit, and said goodbye… she is travelling a bit more and then she goes to The States, so I was not going to see her again.

on Tuesday Joel told me that he was coming to Chch for the weekend.
at night I had planned to have dinner with the Latin American community. I had a few days left now that Joel was coming, so I had to say my goodbyes to my friends… so we went to this fantastic place where we had been before when I was staying with Claudio, Chopsticks!
some friends of this group were out of NZ, so only Javier (Mexico) and his brother Rodrigo, along with Claudio were able to come… still it was very nice to hang with them and speak some proper Spanish (with the Mexicans)!


on Wednesday I did nothing interesting… at night I went to Mark and Kristo’s house to have dinner… Kristo made this BEAUTIFUL pizzas, with salmon and sweet chilli sauce… they were just amazing! we talked about what’s been happening in our lives, their jobs, my travels… they offered me to stay with them my last night in Chch, and Mark even offered me a ride to the airport! so I happily said yes!

the next day I stayed home all day reading The Alchemist, a book recommended by Jon, and that I borrowed from Lizzie… and honestly, I highly recommend it as well! it’s interesting, entertaining, easy to read… I finished it in one day…
later that day I said goodbye to my beautiful hosts… I will be moving to a hostel for the next three nights.


Friday came, and with it laundry and Joel…

Saturday morning we had breakfast and went to the Farmers Market in Riccarton, went to the supermarket, and then we had lunch at a noodle place near by.

at night I took him to CBD Bar and Pizzeria (to not break the tradition), and after that we went to Revival to meet up with Julia, Jacek, and the rest of the gang… there I said goodbye to all, I will no longer see them unless I get a job offer in Chch and need to fly back after Australia…

next day we went to a town called Lyttelton, which is the port town of Chch and where the English disembarked when they started moving to NZ. it’s a cute little town, and there are several ways of getting there, one through the tunnel built under the mountain; the other is up the mountain (my favourite), where you can see Christchurch from above on one side, and the peninsula on the other.


we got there, walked around and then stopped at a little caffe shop to have some dessert and coffee.


then we headed back home through the tunnel, and we cooked a beautiful dinner!


next morning we packed our stuff. Joel gave me a ride to Mark and Kristo’s house and we said goodbye for good… I honestly don’t think I will see him again, at least in NZ… but who knows, really.

I spent all day with Kristo, talking and watching TV. then in the evening Claudio picked me up and we went to have a cup of coffee to talk and say goodbye for good as well.

next day Mark took me to the airport at noon, where my flight was delayed almost two hours… and I was off to Wellington…