Anit-gravity yoga shorts?…6 months on the road


Yesterday, December 17th, marked my 6 month anniversary of being on the road. In celebration I created a small film encompassing my journey between Murrieta, CA and Omisalj, Hrvatska. Looking back, I reflect on a series of ups and downs, mostly attributed to the illness and bad weather. However the hardest days were not spent climbing steep mountains (Norway, Slovakia and the road to Fuzine, Croatia) or digging holes in the middle of the night for waste (Poland), but rather being overcome with sadness and uncertainty when I said goodbye to my Mother and family at the start of the journey in California. I have since felt that family can exist outside of the general term, and have found my way into the hearts of many strangers. The theme of this trip was so easily verbalized by a Brazilian I met in Alaska last year, “the hardest part about traveling is leaving”.

My first attempt at homemade Pita, baked cheese, vege roll

My Croatian baking skills are advancing, this Pita ( baked cheese, vege roll) was well received

Teaching Ashtanga yoga to a class of Croatians was a bit like of what I expected. Many of the students had never done a sun salute or even a downward dog before, and I took it upon me to give as much instruction on each pose as possible. After asking the class if English was understood, (I should have given a written test), I proceeded with some basic Kundalini breathing exercises and deep stretches. All went according to plan until I the sun salutations.Trying to advise the class on proper alignment in down dog and cobra, I instructed the class to watch as I demonstrated each pose, however instead of observing, everyone just followed my movements and got into each pose. The minute I stopped doing the sun salutes and tried to work with individual students everyone in the class would stop and stare at me. When I tried to teach the class what not to do in a pose and demonstrated the “wrong” way, they would all follow along and do the pose the “wrong” way. The mirror effect! I should be teaching dance, not yoga! Crank up the Gloria Estefan! I thought to myself, “if the class is so good at following along… I should introduce a few arm balances”, a few shrieks and gasps later I learned this was a bad idea. A lady in front said that her doctor advised her against balancing poses, hmm ok, but the other poses are alright? A few other students actually thought I had a pair of anti gravity yoga shorts on, and because of this futuristic technology I was able to lift into the arm balances. All in all class went well, but I received many complaints about difficulty.

SONY DSC

Anti gravity yoga shorts in action

Ljuba and Nino planted an apricot tree in my honor

Ljuba and Nino planted an apricot tree in my honor, I am told to come back and visit with my wife and tator tots.

I have recently developed a fascination with theology, especially early Christianity (pre-Constantine). My excitement is focused mostly on the Lost Gospels (the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt) and the Dead Sea scrolls (found in western Jordan). The translations of these texts have painted a new picture of early Christianity and Judaism to me and have inspired me to make a detour to the promise land. My overall route will not deviate but on February 1st, I will fly from Sarajevo, Bosnia to Sharm el Sheikh in the land of the Exodus (Egyptian Sinai). I will then cycle to St. Catherine’s to see the epic Mt. Sinai (location of the burning bush and where Moses received the Ten Commandment tablets) and proceed along the Red Sea into Jordan. Once in Jordan, I hope to cross the desert into Petra and see the ancient Nabataea caves, as well as traveling 400 meters below sea level to the dead sea. From there it will be a several days ride Israel where I hope continue the pilgrimage in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Hebron and Galilee. Please let me know if there are any places in this region that you recommend!

Panniers of Holiday Jam

City lights across the Mediterranean

City lights across the Mediterranean

I find my mind drifting and wandering to the far corners of the globe, and feel the insuperable urge to continue down the vast road. Staying in one place, a small island of about 400 square km, has proven quite challenging. Spending my days wandering about, and cycling familiar roads does not conduct the same current in veins. I have acquired a few acquaintances, and have ridden long single track to remote villages. I continue to be greeted with praise, and am often offered cheese, bread, Rakija and dried figs from the island. am frequently told the same Croatia proverb, that in order to see and travel the world one must wait for “the wind to pick the vegetables from ones garden, and blow the olives from tree”… But if “one has no garden and no trees then there is no need to wait”.

Sunset beach lounging

Sunset beach lounging

“the only wait is for the sun to greet me each day”

Icy waters near forested shores

Icy waters near forested shores

I have become quite popular in the weekly community yoga classes and the attendance has grown to around 15. I have been asked repeatedly to teach and Monday will be my first Croatia yoga class. Many students think that because I am so flexible I have some sort of “secret” practice that if taught to them, will enable them too to grab their heels in a forward bend.

Lots of dirt roads waiting to be explored

Lots of quiet roads to be explored

Keeping strong in my days off the road, I have filled my panniers full of festive Croatia Jam, which is made all over the island. Each pannier can fit close to 5 litters of the sweet topping, and it makes for a good snack at the top of the steep hills.
Omisalj is decorated in Christmas lights, and the local church choir have started practicing in the evenings. I have started to learn Croatian baking and will soon be a master at making “burek” and apple strudel.

Old ruins, waiting to be excavated

Old ruins, waiting to be excavated