Wednesday 15 April 2020

Welcome to El Mundo Di Marco

Below you can access the links to my 3 blogs depending on which part of the world your keen on discovering.

My most recent Blog below is about my year long Backpacking adventure through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, India, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

My prior blog goes further, 40 countries on 4 continents that I travelled to for work . In addition, you will find some funny stories of how difficult it was to first get set up in London with only £200GBP.

My first and original blog, where my extreme traveling and desire to see the world all began, 20 years ago. You will find interesting posts about the places, events and cultures as well as some amazing photos from the tip of South America all the way up to Mexico/U.S border.

A bit about me

In a nutshell, I've spent far too many years working for multinationals, from 9-6pm, Monday to Friday, in the usual routine job trap. A slave to alarm clocks, never-ending emails, pointless meetings and yearly tax returns, awaiting only to escape for holidays and year long sabbaticals/trips to live ''la Vida Loca''.

Since 2015, I have been a Freelancer, a consultant, tourist guide and language teacher, striving to stay on my mission, fighting for a flexible work-life balance, for the freedom to negotiate and to choose when/how and for whom to work. The persuit of not being enslaved to the typical job has not been easy but managable until in 2020 when COVID19 hit us, challenging all the above, the struggle, fragility of freedom and dependence on systems becomes ever more real, but I still have not given up and only time will tell what the future holds .

The usually simple but in my case difficult question, where are you from. Well, 

I have several nationalities, passports and resendencies, a  true global citizen of the world with a complicated story. To simplify, most of my family come from Argentina, Uruguay or France, I was born in the U.S where I lived, on and off for a total of 13 years and have lived in 8 countries which overall has been a wonderful education.

Firstly, my parents are not diplomats, nonethless I've lived abroad as an expat most of my life. Whether seeing endless strikes of the French complaining as teen living in Paris,  witnessing Mandela's rise to power and the transformations of it 
attnding highschool in Joburg, South Africa or feeling the tragedy of 9/11 and living in a subarban matrix while at University in Califorina, i needed to continue the trend.

Hence after finishing school I took my 
first sabbatical which started in the old world, working the summer season in Italy and Greece ( sun, lovely food and warm people), went east until Turkey, after exploring most of Central & South America I then moved to  the most cosmopolitan city I could find, London
 again more bombings). After a few years I spent 7 years in tibet (actually just joking), I returned to South America. Finally, I ended up in Spain, for a better lifestyle at of course a cost, a very limited job market and much much lower salaries.

Past Travel

Living in South America until 2015, without a doubt was the most fun and exciting experience and place I ever lived. One the best decisions I ever made and it has changed me, for better or worst. 

Prior to that, while based in London from 2004-2007, I made regular short getaways to France, Spain and Italy and visited Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland and the Ukraine. 

In 2006, I landed the most amazing job whereby I was sent all over the world, spending 85% of my time in over 50 countries on business. I stayed in luxury hotels, ate in up-scale restaurants, while directing a global quality control project for Pepsi where life and experiences changed dramatically. If Pepsi in India was not perfect, I am partially to blame...

In 2002, I completed my Bachelors in Business in California (and after a doing a few Euro trips and visiting Israel/Sinai, Turkey and Mexico) my blog starts here, the first sabbatical, an adventure traveling for two years non-stop, from London to Turkey and then from Argentina up to Mexico. Mostly overland by bus, train, hitch-hiking or cargo boat. 

I started my my trip in Europe and within few months, stopped to work in Sorrento, Italy for an Irish bar called the Merry Monk , learnt Italian in a matter of months,  jumped ship to Greece, finding the Island of IOS where I worked in a restaurant [as well as a movie extra (dillo con parole mie) and later as bar promoter & bouncer (Amadeus)].  I  finshed my Euro trip after exploring to Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic before returning to South and Central America for 18  more months of backpacking.


Back to today, I have spent more than five years of my life backpacking around the world living in hostels and another two years traveling full time with PEPSI while based in London. I have no solid travel plans, as I prefer to visit freinds and revisit countries I really like, but perhaps a visit to Japan, or to one day take the tran-siberian express to china with a bottle of vodka in one hand a spanish guitar in the other.

Passions include: 

Adventurous independant travel, languages, culture &philosophy, cooking & gastronomie, music, Latin dance, surfing, guitar, photography, healthy living, yoga and sport.

"La felicidad es un trayecto, no un destino" 

"Happiness is a journey not a destination"

Friday 22 April 2011

Living in Buenos Aires, Argentina 2010-11

Living in Brazil for almost 2 years was an amazing experience and after just returning for a short visit I miss it dearly but at the same time remember many of the reasons I left.

Buenos Aires is Immense! It`s full of countless places to discover and has so much culture and things to see and do it can be overwhelming. I still feel lost! BA has great Italian ice cream, dances like tango, cumbia, cuarteto and folclore and so much more.

I have been taking loads of classes such as yoga, lambada-zouk, tango, and on occasion dance salsa and go see live Brazilian Forro, Samba and MPB bands.

It`s been interesting to see a few traditional penas, colombian bands and new age musica nortena. Am still looking into theater.

Did some volunteering in ``las villas`` with poor underprivilaged kids , almost got shot on the train near Ramos on my way to a party and had a few amazing steaks :)

Argeninta is a place where I feel like a local.

I have the right to vote, in fact it´s required by law..., I have papers to work legally and am an Argentine national with Bank accounts and other little things that were complicated not having in Brazil.

Culturally, I also feel at home in many ways!

But I do miss some European customs, especially when it comes to making plans, people doing what they say they will do, cancellations, and direct communication.

I can confirm that in BA you can find everything and it is hard to generalize .. BUT many Argentines are more than dramatic, they are hysterical!!! Yes, the men too and especially the women!

So many ´´ vueltas´´ or circles, so many no´s before a yes, so much complication for things that should be simple and natural.

They have expressions like ´´colgarse´´ to get lost, essentially when they are to busy or forget and ´´ no sabes´´ which means you have no idea, as an Argentine knows all...:)

South Americans overall are very friendly but I was pleasantly surprised with how generous, helpful and solidary Argentinians can be.

Since, I have arrived so many people have gone out of there way to be kind and helpful.

After more than a year, I can say allof my close freinds, I met abroad outside of Argentina or though freinds. I am still working on my social networks which is not easy, perhaps as BA is a large city ?

I was really lucky to have met some amazing Argentines in my travels (some as far back as my first trips to Italy in 2002 (Lula and Roge) and Brazil in 2003(Juan) and others more recently in Asia 2007 (Hernan) and Colombia and Brazil 2008 ( Fernando y Juan Pablo).

I have family in various parts of the city, although it would be nice to have more contact with them, I don´t see them very often. However it`s nice to know, occasionally we will catch up for a holiday.

Finding work was not as easy as I imagined. The job sites online and newspapers were an absolute waste of time, and my family were not able to help. I spent a few months looking but in Argentina it`s all is about who you know!

I want to thank everyone who helped me correct my CV which I re-did at least 50 times! Thanks for all who were kind and thoughtful enough to spend a moment to send on my CV to a relative, friends or their HR department. I got lucky in the end when a travel mate from Asia connected me with a friend who`s sister hired me.

It was just at the right and most desperate time having only 300 pesos left (around 70$ ).

I`m working as a headhunter for a US Multi-national consulting firm for specialized positions in Brazil. It´s not for me but allows me to live comfortably for the time being, developing my professional written skills in Portuguese and Spanish. In 1-2 months they will be promoting me into a lead training role which will be more interesting. Anyways, it was a neccesary step to entering the Argentine system, to better understand the market, make contacts, more friends and find my place in this city.

My days of long distance travel have been humbled by my new currency the Argentine peso, which seems decrease in value consistantly. At the same time inflation rises dimisnishing my buying power locally, hence making a visit tothe US or Europe and impossibility to finance!

At least I can spend a weekend in Uruguay, Rosario and make the occasional trips to Brazil or Barioloche to Ski.

Next update in 2012:)

Friday 13 March 2009

Back to South America!

From Living in Rio

It´s been some time since I have last written, as I have stopped traveling and settled in Rio for now.

After more than a year traveling through Asia and several more months traveling in Western Europe and North America (visiting friends and family), I finally returned to my America Latina!

From Living in Rio

In all my travels, South America is where my fondest memories lie. It is where some of my most extreme experiences and most profound connections have taken place .In fact, much of the direction I have taken in the last 7 years has been influenced or was as a result of, my first encounter with South America.

Although, I´ve been back several times with work , it has been 5 years since I´ve spent a good amount of time on the continent. Although I have found again, so many of the things I enjoy, in many ways it has changed .

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

Colombia is still an amazing place. Even with it´s tragic history of violence, and its long struggle between gorillas, paramilitaries, governments and drug cartels Colombians are still very warm and accommodating. Since my last visit in 2004, Colombia has become a lot safer and much more expensive.

The people are still lovely and the natural beauties vast. Green valleys, tropical islands, coffee plantations, mountain peaks, deserted beaches, jungle and loads of wild life....

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

The culinary traditions of the Arepa, la Bandera Paisa, good coffee, and exotic fruit juice (in particular Mora-blackberry), and of course the excess drinking of Rum and Aguardiente.

To the cultural root of corruption, drugs, cheap plastic surgery (ever so popular in Medellin and Cali) and amazing nightlife with the pulsating Latin rhythms of Salsa, Meringue, regaton and Bayanato, not to mention so many attractive women...Colombia is a hard place to leave indeed.

Venezuela is very different and feels much more dodgy to travel through for one.

Filled with military checkpoints,corrupt police, day to day petty robbery and the occasional Bus hijackings (still in 2009), there are a lot of reasons not to go.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

In contrast it has some amazing natural beauty with many national parks, full of peaks, savannas, the infamous Angel falls (The highest waterfall in the world) and some very famous hikes for the more adventurous.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

The food very average. Rum , beer, baseball, Arepas and Miss World Beauty Queens are the national pastimes.

Since I was last in Venezuela, (5 years ago) prices have sky-rocketed. Inflation is outrageous and costs have at least trebled.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

The people in general I found dis-interested, unfriendly and at times quite aggressive. Perhaps due to the tense situation that has been brought on by Chavism?

Of course, I met some very friendly people as well. Yet coming from Colombia and then going to Brazil, I felt quite a difference.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

In proportion to the amount of Miss worlds coming from Venezuela, I was surprised not to have seen more beautiful women. Am guessing the more attractive Venezuelans are confined to the posh clubs , expensive restaurants and Shopping malls of Caracas and Isla Margarita( Venezuelan´s main holiday spot).

I do remember on many occasions seeing women aged 20-30 with dental-braces and silicon implants, a funny combination indeed.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

The society overall seems very shallow and capitalistic, solely there to consume. In addition life has very little value. Cheap contract rates (to hire some one to kill on your behalf) only costs about 60 bolivars(30us$).

Should you want to kill anyone who has not paid your debts or said something you did´nt like. To add, Chaves and the police are quite aware of these mass contract killings. Yet they seem to be ignored.

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

Brazil was a refreshing change full of smiles, music and dance. The 6 day boat ride via the Amazon, was less eventful than I imagined but still nice.

After re-visiting many places that I searched for on my prior trips, ie ( that were bit off the beaten track, not in guidebooks, not touristy) have been spoilt!

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

Bigger and better hotels, Internet cafes, shops etc.. Tourism and costs in Brazil have exploded. Especially in high season. (December- March and holidays)

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

From Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 2008

While the rest of the world was worrying about the ´´Crisis, Brazilians were on package holidays spending.

Aside from Careva in Bahia my small fisherman villages and desolate beaches are no more. Perhaps in the off season they are somewhat like they were?

It made my arrival in Rio that much better. Rio aside from becoming more expensive has not changed at all. I still love the energy in Rio.

But my timing was off, it was tough arriving in Rio just before Carnival.

From Living in Rio

From Living in Rio

From Living in Rio

It made getting a long term flat and work almost impossible. Nothing can be done until after Carnival.

From Living in Rio

In the end I got lucky. I found friends of friends to sleep at for a week until, I found a studio flat which I split. Its amazing how sometimes people you have known for a few days will go out if there way to be kind and help. Somtimes the kindness of stramgers is perhaps more what you recieve from people you have known for years.

From Living in Rio

After Carnival, I found another flat by literally knocking on doors as Internet is not as common of a resource in Brazil. Jobs were more complicated, especially with out of Visa. I started teaching English privately to make ends meet. The money has run out unfortunately! But who am I to complain, its been more than a year and half since I last worked.

On the whole, things have been great.

From Living in Rio

I have met a lot of good people in Rio thus far (many International).I am learning to dance Samba, bettering my Forro and hope soon to learn Lambada Zouk. Getting in a bit of surf in the mornings and weekends, thanks to Friends who were kind enough to lend me their surfboards (Obrigado Felipe e Charles).

From Living in Rio

As an English teacher I can´t yet afford such luxury´s, at least for a few more months. Am slowly getting back into Capoeira, the ritual of exercise and Yoga.

Soon, I would love to learn some Bossa Nova and MPB. In regards to nightlife, it´s fantastic! I am out almost every night dancing or drinking. There are still so many places to discover.

From Living in Rio

My diet has gotten a lot better. Am not exactly a vegan, but living off fruit and veggies for the most part. I have never eaten so much fruit. At least 7-10 different types (mostly exotic) daily, with a weekly churrasco to satisfy my protein needs on the weekend. To add, almost zero junk food aside from the occasional churro or french pastry.

I live a block from the beach in Copacabana getting my daily need of Vitamin D from the sun and the sunsets and views from most hills in Rio are stunning.

From Living in Rio

The quality of life here has really been amazing so far. Its going to be hard to leave for Buenos Aires next year.

So what about the negatives? It can´t all be good right? There are quite a few fortunately they don´t effect me too much.

From Living in Rio

Essentially, Brazil is a country of extremes. Things are extremely good or extremely bad. Aside from the obvious dangers, The difficulty of working, visas, endless cues and waiting, and other bureaucratic issues such as the inability for anything to get accomplished, and the gross amount of in-efficieincy...

I also have a hard time digesting the differences between rich and poor, the lack of education, ignorance, The police and how corrupt and dangerous they can be, the class discrimination, the extreme surperficial culture of many many Brazilians cultivating only their bodies and not their minds, etc...

Lovely bodies indeed though...

From Living in Rio

Aside from going home to Paris in September and spending a week in Argentina in May, I should be here at least through New years if you fancy a visit let me know, and I wil show you the best of Rio.

Abrazo grande!

From Living in Rio

From Living in Rio