a lot of melbourne

the day I arrived home after the meditation course, Sandra and Glaudio were waiting for me. it was Sunday.

the moment I came in my cellphone started making all kinds of noises… I had heaps of emails, messages, and notifications now that I had wifi again… I was overwhelmed! my heart was, for some reason, pounding heavily and I just couldn’t manage to respond to every message easily… I had a lot of trouble and I just wanted to throw the damn thing away…

after having lunch my friends took me to the market and supermarket to do the groceries for the week. my reintegration to society after being in Meditation Bootcamp was becoming a difficult task. I could not stand being surrounded by people. first I was following my friend like a child behind mamma’s skirt, then I just gave up and stood in the corner waiting for her… I was not talking much and, again, I felt overwhelmed and my heart was pounding.

that day I called Elmina. we were chatting a lot, laughing and talking about why she left and what had happened the days she missed.
she was back in Adelaide, where she lives, and since I still had a month in Australia before going back to NZ, I considered going for a weekend to visit her. unfortunately, the plane tickets were somewhat expensive, and I couldn’t find a ride share or anything similar to get there. so I didn’t see her again.

so the month I had, I spent it in Melbourne.

first week: catching-up with friends.

on monday I rested – from not moving a finger in meditation.

on tuesday I saw Jo… we met in Fed Square to go grab a cup of coffee and walk around the CBD. I updated her on all that had happened in the course since she left, and she told me what had happened when she left. it was very nice to see her again, she was a joyful person in the course and helped me keep going in the beginning of it… and of course she was the same joyful person outside of it.
then I saw Gianluca because he was leaving soon, so we met for coffee and then did a little walk along the river.
at night Glaudio, Sandra and I went to a birthday dinner at a nice Spanish restaurant and then back home.


next day I met with Luis, he was with a Mexican girl that had just moved to Melbourne to study one semester, Jimena. the three of us met with Jesús, another friend from architecture that is also studying there. we had lunch at a great sandwich restaurant and then walked along the river… we stopped at a bar that is under a pedestrian bridge called Ponyfish Island, and then we went to Jesús’ end of semester party with his classmates.



next evening I met with Sandra to go see a movie from the Spanish Film Festival, and then we had dinner with her boss (who happened to be in the movies) at a GREAT genuine Italian place called Pellegrinis Bar… highly recommended!


on Friday Sandra and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. we got to Acland Street, in St Kilda, where we came across a tattoo shop… and I just had to do it (sorry mom). I wanted a reminder of what I had learnt in my ten-intensive-day meditation course: anicca
so while my new tattoo artist named Jack got ready, we went to have some vegetarian at an awesome place with an awesome philosophy called Lentil As Anything.
then back to the studio to have this done… to be honest I was nervous, though it’s not my first tattoo the fact that it was going to be done, like we say in Mexico, en caliente (or straight away) made me feel very anxious… but I just had to do it!

then we walked back home along the beach, and detouring a little bit on the pier, having this amazing sunset:



at night we went to Don Fernando’s Pizza & Tacos to celebrate their first anniversary, so it was nice to be with all the Mexican family again.

on Saturday I met up with Luis and Jimena to have lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in Fitzroy, but, since it was closed, we decided to go to Brother Burger… why not… from leaf to beef… and then we ended the evening with a chocolate beverage from San Churro.
Jimena went back home, and Luis and I walked back to his place, touring around the area.
at night I had some drinks at Mesa Verde (a “Mexican” bar) with the group of Australian architects I met back in Mexico about a year ago thanks to Sandra. we were meeting near Luis’ apartment, so I basically killed time with him, and then went off at 7:50pm (Luis had stuff to do as well) with the big risk of being the only one on time for the appointment, which was at 8pm.
and just as predicted, I got a call from Drew saying he would be like an hour late because his plane had been delayed… and no sign from the rest of the Aussies. I was waiting for an hour, but was very well taken care of by the gorgeous bartender, who spoiled me with some of his favourite tequila and I introduced him to mezcal.
Kris and Katie arrived… we started talking, remembering those days in Mexico. we talked about what has been happening in our lives, you know… the usual catch-up.
then Drew came and I was so happy to see him! no offence if someone else is reading this, but it was with Drew and Josh with whom I had deeper conversations and bonding experience in Mexico. unfortunately Josh had to work that evening, so seeing him would have to wait until Wednesday, when Drew was having dinner with some friends, and Josh and I were invited.
then Max came with some friends, and he was the last of the group of architects to come… I honestly would’ve liked to see more faces, but, oh well…


after mezcales and cervezas we were quite drunk (ish), and at 2am they turned on the lights and basically kicked us out of the place… I had enough courage (or alcohol) to write my name and number on a piece of paper (along with a “xx”, courtesy of Drew) to hand it to the bartender… after he opened it, I had to read his lips saying “I have a girlfriend”… embarrassed I turned around and asked the rest of the group if we could leave NOW… and we did, without turning back…

on Sunday I had a very relaxed day with Sandra and Glaudio, walking around some parks and eating fantastic Thai food at the iSpicy, then watching movies back home…

second week: a little bit of everything

I did some of the touristic stuff, like visiting the Shrine of Remembrance, the National Gallery of Victoria, walking the bridge over the Yarra River…


I visited Luis a couple of times in his apartment, we went to the movies to see Despicable Me with Nils (his flatmate) and Jimena… sometimes he would visit me in my neighbourhood! we also went to have dinner with Jesus and his cousin at a great Vietnamese restaurant in the CBD to say goodbye to them because they were travelling in Asia soon and I wouldn’t see them again.

I went to Drew’s dinner in his beautiful house in Kensington. he and his partner Cameron did this delicious dinner for some of their friends, Josh and I among them. they have this cute dog that for some reason reminded me of Jacinto, a dog I had in Mexico than now lives with a friend because I’m traveling (what one has to give up to follow her/his dreams). we had a great time, it was good to see Josh and catch-up with him, as well as to meet all this wonderful people.



on Saturday Sandra, Glaudio and I went to pick up Sandra’s new friend from Chile to take her (and me… the tourists) to Mount Dandenong.
we went to the lookout, walked around the park, visited William Ricketts Sanctuary, had lunch in one of the towns around, then visited a small place where you can feed birds, and then headed back home.



at night we had like three parties, so we started with the Colombian one… but it turned out to be so good that we stayed there the whole time. there I met Mikel from Spain, a super fun guy with whom I was joking and talking nonsense all night long.

third week: fun week (it’s simple, I did all I was about to miss if I didn’t started now)

I did a bike ride with Jimena and Luis along the beach from St Kilda to Brighton Beach, and THAT was fun! there is a track people take for running or biking, so we rode all the way to Foreshore Bay to see the little houses from a distance.

image image




I met with Mikel a couple of times to have lunch and walk around different areas of the city.


one afternoon Sandra was meeting with some of her uni friends at an Irish pub called The Cork Man, where every Thursday locals gather to play some Celtic music… it’s AMAZING to see that! there were easily like 25 people playing at the same time, all kinds of instruments playing one song. for me, that I’m a huge Celtic music fan, was just beautiful!


went to a Footy match, “Collingwood vs. Adelaide” with Sandra, Glaudio, Oli and her brother, Marcel, and Luis.



on Saturday Sandra and Glaudio took me to a Quidditch match… oh yes! you read right… QUIDDITCH!!! Harry Potter’s favourite sport became muggleized… they are basically the same rules as in the book: you need a broom and have to hold it all the time, need to score the quaffle through the hoops, there are beaters, chasers, seekers and keepers… but the funniest part of it all is that the snitch is in fact a human being running around trying not to get his ball caught!
it is simply BRILLIANT!



in the afternoon we went to the movies to see Lonely Ranger, and then to have dinner with Oli, Marcel and some of their friends. after that we went to a great pub called Open Studio where a wonderful jazz band was playing: Shirazz.

next day I met with Mikel again to have lunch and walk around St. Kilda. then to a farewell party of one of the Mexicans from my friends’ family. there I started feeling that I should’ve stayed longer in Melbourne. all their friends were asking me why was I leaving, and if I could stay longer or return soon… I felt part of that family, I was joking with all of them and feeling the Mexican love… even one of them, Fernando, offered his place to throw me a small farewell party!… I was going to miss each and every one of them.

fourth week: farewells

on Monday I had my special day with my friend Sandra.
we went to Geelong to walk around, have lunch and coffee, and just hang!




on Tuesday I went with Luis and Nils to have dinner at 1000 £ Bend to have some delicious kangaroo burgers (I know it sounds horrible, but they are in fact nice, and there are too many kangaroos in Australia).


with Nils

with Nils

on Wednesday I met with Lisa (my dear friend from vipassana… with whom I talked all the time after Jo had left). we had coffee and a GREAT long chat! it was lovely to see her again before leaving the country!


later that night I met with Sandra to have a only-girls-old-friends-night-out, meaning: just the two of us!
we started with a beautiful ice cream from Spring St Grocer, continued with an alcoholic warm beverage at Madamme Brussels, and ended with Chinese noodles!


Thursday came, and that meant my last day… we had the small party announced on Facebook with the best name and slogan ever:



it was a great night (not cold or rainy) at Don Fernando’s Pizza & Tacos. we drank and talked and ate delicious pizzas!
like always, some came and some couldn’t make it, but still I was happy to see them and sad to leave them all.
I will miss you, my new Melbourne family!


with Jo

with Jo


on Friday I was basically freaking out because I hadn’t packed my stuff… but still I had time to meet with Mark and Ali… oh yes! my Kiwi parents were in town! I was so happy to see them, and hopefully I’ll see them again when I’m back in NZ!

and then Sandra took me to the airport… with a big hug and almost tears in my eyes I said goodbye to my friend!
I am forever grateful that they had me in their house for so long!
happy times!!!

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.