Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bogota Second Part: Doing a Bit of Tourism

We arrived in Bogotá just 2 days before the World Championship, trying to have at least one day for recovering from the jet lag. The other Spanish players were arriving or the same day or the day after, some of them went few days to places like Cartagena de Indias before the Championship (smart people!) ;)

So, actually Topo and I will have just 1 morning for doing tourism due we´ll participate in a Tourney that will start the afternoon before the Championship day.

We went to the Salt Mines in Zipaquirá, in a tour, with more Scrabble people. We went in a micro bus, so it was just our group.

The visit at the mines was really nice. They even have a Cathedral and a theater there.

Going back to Bogotá, as part of the tour, we went to an emeralds factory and then we went back to the hotel, but we can go walking from there, enjoying part of the tourist area of Bogotá, but some of us had the Nations Cup that will start that afternoon.

The day after we had some free hours, so Alvaro, Topo and I went to a mall with 3 objectives: mine: to buy a pin at the Hard Rock Caffe :P (yeap, I collect them), Alvaro´s one: to taste the best Colombian coffee and to find out a toys´ store with the Scrabble travel version :D (but I´m afraid we didn´t found it).

We went by taxi and it was quite interesting to see the things that made Topo and Alvaro to be curious about. It was their first experience in a Latin American Country and things like traffic, old cars, old trucks, black smoke from cars, old and crowded, really crowded buses, the color of the houses, the way people dress; impacted them both.

The special part was about how to know where to find the best Colombian coffee… so, I asked to a shop assistant on one of the visited stores and he tell us the best place was right there at the lobby of the mall, a Juan Valdez coffee shop! I should say it was the first time I heard about Juan Valdez coffee… but was funny due right after coming back to Madrid, I found out a lot of them! :D (Really no idea if they were there before, but if that´s the case, it means I less observant of what I thought I was! :$ ).

(To be continued).

Bogota First Part: Going There

In September 2007 took place the XI Scrabble in Spanish World Championship in Bogotá, Colombia.

For representing a country at the World Championship, you should be classified, due there´s a specific number of participants from each country. That year the representatives of Spain should be 8. On a first sight, I shouldn´t have a chance to go as representative, but a lot of people with a better position at the table than me can´t go… so! There I was! :D In the list of representatives of Spain!

By coincidence I was in the same flight than Topo, just that he was coming from Barcelona, I arrived in Madrid, but we were lucky and had the chance to get sited together. It was the first time going to a Scrabble World Championship for both of us, and we were so excited about that.

I think every “professional” Scrabble player that prides oneself on being it, wouldn´t ever miss the chance of playing if is travelling with another one. And that´s exactly what we did as much as we can! We had a scale in Miami and Topo was quite wondered about the arrogance of the authorities at the airport with foreigners. (So sweet!) ;)

We arrived in Bogotá with 1 hour of delay, so, the taxi we had arranged to pick up us at the airport wasn´t anymore there. We had been prevented about not taking taxis out there (that´s a normal prevention in any Latin American country). At the other side of the outside door, a lot of people in a noisy and semi chaotic way were waiting for passengers some, others trying to buy/sell dollars… I mean, a normal Latin American country airport activity… but that could seem frighten for Europeans if it´s the first time. It wasn´t possible to stay inside the airport at that stage and anyway, there wasn´t anything that could help us, so, I told Topo to wait me outside till I try to find a way to take a secure taxi. He should wait me taking care of the bags (1 big bag and 1 trolley each one), but in the moment we went out, a lot of people at the same time came to us offering us whatever. Topo´s face was saying he was scared, Im afraid! :) But he defended the bags quite good! Hehehe ;P

I went to search the taxi again, but no one with our names waiting us, so, there were some people from hotels waiting passengers and I thought they could understand my position as tourist and give me the best recommendation of what to do… and it was so simple! There was an specific taxis office with a fixed price for taking you to the different hotels! :)

So, after several flight hours, finally we were arriving at the hotel… and immediately we felt at home! A lot of Scrabble players from all over the world were already at the lobby with their boards, playing! :D

(To be continued)

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I also enjoy writing. That´s why the idea of having a blog was really nice for me. I started when I was a child. I wrote a lot of poetry and also tried to start 2 books.

I found something I wrote several years ago and I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you in my blog:

It´s always nice to see you again. To contemplate your smile, to hear again that voice that makes me to tremble. You had changed the cut of your hair. Still wearing that T-shirt. This soft touch when you greats me, still melts me. If you would know! ¡That in my mind I had already enjoyed your pleasures thousand times! That in my mind my tongue had already tasted your secrets with no mercy! I vibrate feeling your glance. I could bet it. You feel the same. And so what if I know it? This won´t ever be! I give you back an intense glance, carrying my desires. I can feel the force of my heart pumping up in my intimacy. But there´s nothing we can do. Again we should be satisfied just exchanging sensations by distance, with coquettish smiles, with hungry glances, with heady energy. I just turn on for going out there, you hold my arm and I stop on a dime, with my head hanging down. We don´t say a word, we stay like that, freeze. I just feel the touch of your hand that is losing force, understanding. I turn back. We see each other. The corridor gets fill with our silent glances. We share a sad smile without talking at all. I left. Actually I escape. Before one of us tells what we shouldn´t. Have a marvelous life! Even if it´s not at my side.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A SPA day at the Hotel Habakuk, Slovenia

In September 2005 I had to go, due work, to Slovenia. (Oh yeah! 2005 was a great travelling year! Just I´m afraid it also meant a loooot of work as well!).

I had been 1 week in Maribor, giving training to a mix group from several East European countries. The training itself was a quite interesting experience, learning a lot about several ex-communist countries that were working hard to become into capitalism competitive ones. We had been talking also about the mafia and how in some countries is quite difficult to fight against it due it´s involving powerful people.

Eating costumes is also something interesting when you travel. In Europe there´s a standard about breakfast and having a good combination of proteins, vegetables and something sweet as desert at midday. The dinner and the timeframe to do the different meals are when you can find deep differences, as well at the condiments and the most used food.

Time to time I have interesting surprises due where I really don´t think I´ll find something that reminds me Guatemalan food, I do! That was the case with something specific in Slovenia, the pumpkin seed oil. They use it with the salads. In Guatemala we have a condiment that is powder of roasted pumpkin seeds and we use it for eating things like orange or green mangos with salt and lemon… that in some way are a bit like a salad! :) No, we don´t eat that as salad, it´s more like a snack actually. So, was a great discovery the pumpkin seed oil, also gave me the idea that I can use the pumpkin seed powder for salads!

We had a hard working week there, but anyway we had a bit of time to meet Maribor.

As usual, I took care of having a free day in Maribor, and one girl of the staff suggested me to have a SPA day at Habakuk hotel… oh yes! It was a great idea! :D

The surroundings are really nice, a lot of green, birds signing, wood constructions, a peaceful place.

The hotel, nice one, 5 stars, but not exactly with a design that makes it to be, just due the design, in my list of favorite ones.

Nice swimming pull with Jacuzzis.

The hotel´s restaurant was ok. Nothing worth to talk about.

But what made it an unforgettable experience was the pack I took. I´m afraid I don´t remember the name, but it consisted in having first a mud bath, then a massage (A) and then a time in a Whirlpool tub (B), that was special due the masseuse turned out the lights and at the ceiling they had small lights simulating stars, candles at the floor and of course, relaxing music at the background.

When the masseuse came back, I was almost sleeping, she had prepared the bed (C ) and left me there, with a tea, telling me I could stay there the time I wish, keeping the stars at the ceiling and the relaxing music… WOW! What a relaxing experience! OOOOOOOOHHHHHMMMMMM!! :D

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Mystic Experience: Lamas in Beijing Final Part

During the dinner different artists had been singing and playing Tibetan instruments, wearing as well typical cloth.

When we were finishing our dinner, someone of the staff was with a lot of white neckerchiefs and started to distribute them to the clients.

So, everybody should give (as far as we want), neckerchiefs to people, no matter if you knew them or not, wishing them good luck, with a special music played for that. In one of the tables were several Lama´s Monks and they were the ones that started, after the musicians went to sing specially for them. So, it became in some kind of “wishing good luck dance” with all the people at the restaurant. After exchanging the neckerchiefs, the leader of the group invited all of us to continue dancing, so, we all, including the monks, made a big circle taking the hand of people situated at both sides and started to jump-run-“dance”. I should say it was really happy and funny surrealistic moment! :D

At the end Zoe took me to the monks table to great them, so the one that was some kind of the Dalai Lama´s representative gave me a special blessing plus a signed pic of the Dalai Lama. I had been searching info about that to explain it better at this post, but I´m afraid I have no clue if it´s normal to be a Dalai Lama´s representative in Beijing, I was quite surprised of that.

(Hem... yes... he was talking by the mobile when I took this pic! ;P )

Yeaph! Was such a great experience! A Tibetan party with a lot of strangers including Lama´s monks! :D

As far as I had took some vacations days during my stay in China, I was willing to go to Tibet, but all the people I talked about it, told me it wasn´t a good idea to du such travel having just 3 days, they said the problem was that Tibet is so high and usually people get sick and need at least one day to recover at bed… a real pity!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Mystic Experience: Lamas in Beijing Second Part

As far as the Lama´s Temple was the first Temple I had visit during my days in China, I was so excited with the experience and talking about it with some of my coworkers, one of them, Zoe, told me about a Tibetan Restaurant very good where she even known part of the staff, so we went there one night.

Tibetan Restaurant

Just getting inside, was completely like travelling to another world. The decoration, the music, the cloth the staff was wearing… wow!

Guess what! At the entrance it was a Prayer Wheel! Oh yes! I made it to run! :D

To select the food was so difficult, but I always like to try the food of other cultures, so finally I just let Zoe to choose the more typical things.

The first thing I got was the Yak Chas Tea, made with yak butter, tea and salt… this is a quite typical drink in Tibet. I´m afraid I didn´t like it… maybe it´s the kind of savors you should have the custom of taste them to enjoy them, so, I´m not saying it´s not good, just that wouldn´t be something I´ll drink again.

The different dishes we had were really good, you can have an idea of them here:

As I mentioned, Zoe was friend of part of the staff, so in a moment she ask the Chef to come to our table and to explain me how to cook Tibetan food… :$ Oki, I had hear the explanation and even recorder it in a video… but no, I haven´t try to do it by my own! ;P

There it was a special food offering chest:

(To be continued)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mystic Experience: Lamas in Beijing First Part

As I explained at the post “My China – Introduction: why, how and knowing what I went” in March 2005 I had been 2 weeks in Beijing.

As someone that takes care more about news of Europe and America, and that haven´t ever being so real interested in Asia, my knowledge about China and Tibet + Lamas, was so poor, but at least I already knew about the problems between them and that the Dalai Lama was exiled in India. So, for me was a big surprise to know that there´s a Lamas´ Temple in Beijing and that there are some people representing the Dalai Lama! But I´ll go step by step!

Lama´s Temple in Beijing

I went there alone and I´m afraid it was no possible to find a guide (not a person, neither a book nor an audio item) in Spanish or English there. So, I had enjoyed the place without having explanations at all… but it was so mystic anyway… that is particularly interesting when you think about where the Temple is located… better if you watch it with your own eyes!

Neither the parking was especially inspiring…

But once inside, the smell of the incense, the view of the different buildings and the people with their rituals, makes the magic to start!

The first thing I did was to ring the bell. As you´ll see in the video, I didn´t know what it means, neither the cost and the person in charge didn´t spoke English… but well, finally I´d understand the cost for 3 attempts was 10 RMB (quite chip, btw).

I´d ask latter on about the meaning of that, seems to be for good luck. Since then, I got the custom of ringing the bell in all the Temples that it was possible! :D
You know? When I´m watching something so beautiful (could be a landscape, a place…), there´s a moment when I feel like levitating… I start to move slowly, like trying to feel with every single pore the beauty that surroundings me. Well, how to avoid feeling like that here:

Go to ImageShack® to Create your own Slideshow

Also to watch them praying was so mystic! Just a pity, again, not to know the meaning of what they did.

Walking around, I discovered something that just latter I knew it was a Prayer Wheel. I saw several people going to make them run… So I decided to do it as well!… while doing it, the thought of “would be this just for men?” crossed my mind, but nobody told me I shouldn´t… :)

There was also a room with a Buddha’s statue that even appears at the Guinness Book of Records due it was carved out of a single white Sandalwood tree, the statue is 26 mts. High.

Yes, I know, the pic of the Buddha is not so good, but actually it was forbidden to take pics. there.

(To be continued).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My China – Introduction: why, how and knowing what, I went.

Again due work, I had been in China for month and a half in March 2005.

Of course it was an incredible chance to meet Chinese culture face to face from an unusual perspective, as far as I was there working in normal working time, so, I had to live, for example, the experience of rush hours traffic . But let´s do it step by step!

I won´t tell the whole story, that would be so long, so I´ll do it “by chapters” in order to also have the freedom of writing about other experiences in other places in between, without leaving you with doubts about how a China´s episode had finish.


Well, I should admit Asia wasn´t one of my favorite destinations. I really can´t explain why, due I really admired things of Asian countries and cultures, so, I´m not saying I wouldn´t like to go there, actually I would love to go back to China and also to go to Japan and Thailand; just that if someone asked me to do a list of the countries I would love to visit, Asian countries wouldn´t be the first ones.

So, when my boss told me I should go to China, I was quite surprised and excited. When he told me I should go for more than a month… I was like a child with the first bicycle… on one side quite excited and wishing to go… on the other hand really scared! Would I be able to be in a so extreme different culture country, along, for more than a month? Then he told me I should go to open the office in Shanghai and to help the one that will open the office in Beijing… I got in panic! I started to think what exactly I knew about Chinese culture (something so basic if you want to do business with a culture that is different than yours)… and I started to discover that most of the things I thought I knew about China was about Japan! :& For example: paper walls or Geishas… So my real knowledge about China was: Confucius, Chinese food (that everybody says what we have in our countries is whatever but not the real Chinese food), Mao, how they became communists (but learned with small related scenes in movies) and that they all have black hair and almond eyes.

I started to investigate a bit more about Chinese culture, but most info I got was about tourism travels. At least I learned that they respect a lot the authority, they work so hard not taking care about the day of the week or the time and that everybody (out of China) was concerned about the urban legend that says that China will be in the close future the new world power. Ok, that wasn’t really a lot, but that was the only information about China culture I had with me when I travelled there.

The special complication came when just few days before travelling to China, I started with a lot of pain in my arms and finally the doctor detected me arms tendinitis… so, I had to have my left arm immobilized. :(

The adventure started at the airport… in Madrid! As far as it was an intercontinental travel and I would be there for a month and a half, mostly working but I´ll also will try to do the most of tourism as I can, plus the fact that it was winter there; I was carrying 2 bags, 20 kilos each. That´s what I knew was normal for an intercontinental travel… BUT! That wasn´t the case! I was allowed to take just 1 20 K. bag with me! :( So… there I was! In the middle of Barajas Airport, at 5.00 in the morning, with my left arm in a slim and 2 bags completely open trying to decide what would be really worth to take with me and what to leave! Thanks of God Curro went with me to the airport… otherwise I have no idea what would I do with the bag I had to left! (Taking the other bag with me would cost me 1000 euros!!!!) and how to move the things with just one hand!

Well, being at the plane, flying over the Alps… the view was that marvelous that made me think it just can be a good omen!

I had been 2 weeks in Shanghai, 2 weeks in Beijing, 3 days in Xi´an and 2 more weeks in Shanghai. Quite a lot of nice experiences to share! :)


Finally we have a woman as Spanish Champion!


Here all the winners.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Special Situation

In my last game at the Championship, at the begining, once I had my word (a Scrabble btw), I released I had 8 letters instead of 7... what to do then? We had to call the Referi, but the situation wasn´t considered at the rules... so finally the Referi decided the solution should be to put down the letters and my opponent to take out one randomly. We were agree. :)

What Scrabblers talk about when they are not playing?

About anagrams! Of course! ;)

Spain Scrabble Championship Lunchs

It´s always interesting to share lunchs with Scrabble players...

Welcome Reception - Spain Scrabble Championship

On April 30th. the Scrabble Club Zajarí prepared a nice wellcome party to all the Championship participants.

Here some pics, I´m afraid I had no flash in my i-phone! :(