Ask yourself a question for me. Are you a good friend?
Yes? Ok…ask yourself why?
Now ask yourself another question. Do you have a lot of friends?
Yes? Ok…ask yourself how many of them are really your friends? More importantly ask yourself, how many of them are you a real friend to?
It used to be so easy to count your friends. The number always directly coincided with the amount of birthday invitations you handed out. Now we gauge our ability to make friends by how many followers we have on twitter or a number on our facebook page. Does pressing the “like” button, or throwing out a “Happy Birthday, hope its a good one.” whenever you get a notification really make you a good friend? Heck, does it even make you friends at all? Can you consider that person a true friend if that’s the extent of your interaction?
I guess it all depends on your interpretation of the word friend.
Nothing is wrong with wanting to live an easy life. Keeping things simple and stress free is a sure fire way to make it through the day without letting off a round of bullets into the nearest shopping mall. But how fufilling is it? Are you making a diffrence in the lives of the people closest to you? Does having 1,000 friends on facbook really mean anything if you have no one to count on and nobody can count on you. It’s not enough to say your somebodys friend. In order to earn that title, you have to BE a friend.
Being a true friend takes work. Just because you lift at the same gym, drink at the same bar, or “hang with the same crew”, it doesn’t make you friends. Even if you do all three of the aforementioned things and even share a meaningful conversation from time to time, it still doesn’t make you friends. Being friends doesn’t stop with the pleasantries; it begins where they end.
A friend checks in no matter the distance. Friendships don’t cease when the plane takes off, or the car pulls away. A friend isn’t a convenience. You don’t turn them on like a switch when you need light casted on a problem and shut them off when you’ve turned a corner. A friend takes a healthy interest in their friends lives and learns from them. They gain new perspectives and impart knowledge just the same. A friend isn’t a leverage tool. You don’t ever judge a friend by their job, social status or what they might be able to “do” for you in the future.
People say you that you are who you surround yourself with. I say you are the sum of your actions towards the people who surround you. The people we love are going to fuck up and they are going to succeed. They are going to come from all walks of life and have all sorts of beliefs. Religion, politics, jobs, backgrounds; all different. They’ll make mistakes, sometimes small and sometimes so big they’ll push us to the limit. Sometimes we’ll wonder why we were ever friends with them in the first place. Sometimes; the next day, they’ll be wondering the exact same thing about us. The difference between someone who is in it for the minute and a significant friend, is that at the end of it all, they’re still there. Not because you asked them to be, but because, if they’re a true friend you’ll never have to ask them in the first place.
You may be sucessful at making friends, but that doesn’t mean you’re a sucessful at being one.
In order to be a sucess you first need to be significant.
It’s not necessarily always recipical, but if you’re keeping track then maybe you need to ask yourself again: Am I a good friend?
Although I’m not in the video (the school was closed the day I went to shoot) I was luck enough to obtain some video of Hugo and his friends. A special thanks to Swing Latino for letting me watch them practice!
Ahhhh home again again. The final stretch. No more travelling, no more borders, no more buses, no more planes. Just me, my hometown and a desire to finish this thing once and for all. The only thing standing in my way….a lot of goals in a little time. Getting this done by Jan 31st in nothing short of impossible. I admit it, I’ll take it between the legs on this one. I fucked myself. Just so we’re clear I really have a lot on my plate 🙂 I have to dunk a basketball with two hands, bench press 300 pnds, do the splits, perform a planche pushup, run a marathon, do a backflip on a snowboard, audition for acting work, perform in front of a crowd, shoot a forty foot gap on a motopowered machine, set a world record, and help someone else acheive a goal…all before I call this journey a sucess. I’ve travelled over 100,000 miles and touched down in over 20 different countries on 6 different continents, but I haven’t ran the gamut until I make my way to the end of the list. If I don’t, this is all a failure. I’m giving myself till I leave on Vacation, the first week of March to get as far as I can. It’ll be exactly 1.5 years. I never thought it would be this hard…and God knows this last 5 weeks will be nothing short of gut wrenching, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if I have the inner strength to finally finish what I started.
Fresh out of the Amazon I was facing another time crunch. I was back in Quito, Ecuador and had 5 days to realize my dreams of becoming a salsa dancer and wedding my Colombian teacher. The odds were stacked against me. It was my last task (6 out of 7 I might add if I accomplished it ) in South America though, so it was time to move one last time. I hopped on what was supposed to be my second last bus trip and headed across the border into Colombia. Knowing I was almost to my last hostel made having to stand in the aisle for the first three hours somewhat bareable.
I crossed the border with little to no complications, jumped into a shared cab and headed to Ipiales to board my LAST bus. I was on my way to Bogota for my last four days and was SO excited at the thought of no more road trips for the forseeable future. Well, as luck with have it, the stars had other plans for me on that fateful night.
When we got dropped off at the bus station it was apparent that something was wrong. There were tons of people outside and all the major bus kiosks were closed down. Speaking little to no Spanish, I had no clue what was going on, so thankfully the fellow I shared the cab with was a local boy who spoke enough english to help me undertsand the situation.
Lanslide. BIG LANDSLIDE.
The road to Bogota was completely shut down and it would be another 5-6 days until it would be open again. HAHAHA…ofcourse. Why would things be easy in the final days?
I watched on as my cab buddy hustled between local Vans and automobile abled opportunists trying to find us a viable option to get where we needed to go. After about half and hour the options didn’t look all that promising. I had two possible scenarios:
1. Take a cab to the landslide, get out, walk an hour or two over top of it and look for a local motorcyclist on the other side taking on passengers. Then go with him to the next town and jump on a bus to Bogota.
2. Jump in a van (family van) with 9 other people and head to Cali; thirteen hours out of the way and jump on a bus from there to Bogota.
Neither option was quick, but what they lacked in comfort, they more for made up with adventure.
Well, misery loves company, so I chose option number 2 and all ten of us (At 2am) jumped in the minivan and headed for Cali. Although it was thirteen hours out of the way, I felt compelled to give Cali my attention one last time. Colombia, being the salsa captial of the world and Cali being the pulse that keeps its blood pumping, something was pulling me back there. My first impression wasn’t great, but I couldn’t justify going straight to Bogota without putting my finger on that pulse and checking it one last time.
If there’s ont hing to be said about the driving in Colombia (And south America for that matter) you get where you’re going in a hurry. We were flying through the mountains at break neck speed. And considering we were dragging 10 people and all of our cargo, this was no small feat.
About five hours in, our driver presented us with th option of taking a dirt road up and over the mountain rather than around the base. He said it would save us about 5 hours and we all jumped on the choice. I think most of us were ready to chew a leg off just to create a some extra space. The road was sketchy to say the least, reminding me instantly of my time on the “death road”. The only difference was this time it was raining and our driver was channeling the likes of a professional rally race driver. To say it was epic would be an under statement. We were smashing our way up this mountain, fish tailing the corners, hammering through the mudlines, it was awesome…..right up until the last 5k. Thats when we hit the oncoming traffic. And by traffic I mean 2 Semi’s stuck in the mud. Shit. We were about 10,000 feet above sea level on a ten foot wide dirt road and there were two freaking cargo truck leaning sideways in about 3 feet of mud! At this point things started to get interesting. Traffic began to back up in both directions behind and in front of these bohemouths with little hope of any sort of progression. On one side of us, a sheer cliff down and the other, a sheer cliff up. Slowly a crowd formed and eventually planned attempts to rectify the situation began to amount. We pushed, we dug, we pulled and we screamed, with little to no effect. The crowd began to grow over time and there had to be close to a hundred people. Soon the merchants from the nearby town had caught word and sent their kids and friends out to make good on the situation. Tea, coffee, soda and chips were being sold up and down the frozen line of vehicals, with the only ones actually having sucess being the bikers, who were slipping and sliding there way through the crowds. As soon as we got one truck out another would slip into the steadily worsening(?) mud and we would have to start all over again. At one point we had to unload and entire truck of flour to lighten the load enough for it to actually be freed form the mud. At the end of it all I think we had to save 7 trucks. I WISH my camera was chagred! I had never seen anything like this before and surpisingly; given that mudslides and road closures are comoon in Colombia, my travel buddies hadn’t either. But like most things…thankfully, after eight hours of pushing, pulling, swearing and mudding we were on our way and the adventure had come to an end.
Now what does this have to do with Salsa you ask? Well, it turns out that Hugo, who happened to be a fellow van man had a few connections in Cali and offered to help me out once we arrived there if I chose to stick around. After such a long day in the mud I was considering just heading straight for the Capital. But when we were finally dropped off at the bus terminal, Hugo sweetened the pot.
“Scott, please come stay at my families home. We will rest tonight and tomorrow I will bring you to a few Salsa schools and we will find you a suitable teacher. You just tell me the price you are comfortable with and I will help you out.”
Really? I knew Hugo for less than a day and he was welcoming me into his home? I love it! How can you pass something like this up? I didn’t hesitate. and I’m SOOOOOO glad I decided to take him up on his offer.
You see, Hugo had a little secret he wasn’t telling me. Hugo’s role in the Salsa community had been a little understated during our conversations. Hugo Osorio, the man who had taken me in was a World Champion Salsa Dancer. Not only that, he was considered by some to be the BEST Salsa choreographer in the world. What the fuck? Was he kidding me? How had he failed to mention this? It wasn’t until we entered his old Dance Studio (Home of the 5x World Champion Salsa Team) and the entire team pratically fell to his knees that I became fully aware of who I had been hanging around. It was as if his accomplishments were of little concern to him and for the next four days he barely mentioned a word of it unless I pryed it from him by way of nagging.
At any rate, for the next four days I was not only able to watch the worlds BEST SALSA team pratice, I was also given private lessons by one of the team members (Mi Lady laPeke) in Hugos home. On top of that I was brought to a premeir Salsa club with Hugos friends and watched them all do their thing. The club was AMAZING. It was something out of the old days of dance. Everyone had their own private table with bottle service and the doors were shut once the tables filled. The dance floor was always full and everyone was spectacular. And when Hugo stepped on the floor……..wow, it was a sight to be seen. As good as everyone else was (and the were GOOD) Hugo was heads and shoulders above them. Barely breaking a sweat he had every girl linging up to be his partner. It was such a beautiful thing to watch; all of them. To date it has to go down as one of the funnest club experience I have ever had, if not the very best. I even got out and had a few “spins” on the dance floor; although to be fair I looked like crap. I spent most of my time during my lessons in awe of my teachers beauty and skill that actually learning anything I could use was close to impossible.
To say the least my last few days in Colombia were amazing, between the dancing, the time with his nephews (his nephews were my daytime spanish teachers) and his mothers cooking, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to South America. Although, I didn’t end up with much Salsa in my feet and I never scored my Colombian wife ( i think the constant drooling turned my teacher off) I was leaving Colombia and S.A. on the higest note possible. Not only did I accomplish my goal, I did it in the BEST way imaginable, surrounded by amazingly talented, driven and most importantly kind and caring people.
Back home now, with 99% of my travelling behind me, I’ve still got work to do and that’s where my focus needs to be…but wow….what a way to end the trip? Right?
I wish , Oh how I wish I could sync these with the blogs, but unfortunately my personal laptop is on the fritz. This leaves me no choice but to wait and use an appropriate desktop. Anyways, here is the latest video. The Yungas Road in Bolivia : The worlds MOST DANGEROUS!
What a journey!!!! 71 hours, 5 buses, 3 countries and more crying babies and chubby snorers than most sane minds can handle. After what seemed like an enternity I arrived in Quito, Ecuador around 6 am and had nothing else on my mind but getting a room for a few hours so I could take a shower and actually stretch my legs out passed 90 degrees. With little more than a week left on the continent I needed to get my ass into the Amazon and a few hours to get there was literally all I had. Four hours later, as soon as the travel offices opened up I was back to work trying to find someone who could get me into the thick of things and deep into the Amazon. Unfortunately, given the time crunch and my ever shrinking budget my options were limited and a standard tour was my only real option. I was more than a little upset that I would be following the beaten path, but I was stuck. So with a frown on my face I handed over the cash and I was on another bus heading 9 hrs west to the mouth of a river in Cuyabeno.
To say my mood wasn’t affected by the long bus rides and my dissatisfation with my tour would be a huge lie. As I awaited the other guests, the scowl on my face was hard to hide. I wanted to be tripping balls, dancing around a fire while a shaman chanted wildly ridding me of my evil spirits NOT jumping on a boat headed for a fully equipped eco lodge.
When our driver arrived and I piled into the van headed for the river I was less than cordial. Iflashed a half hearted smile towards the three other passengers before putting on my sunglasses and going straight to sleep. I have to admit I was being a bitch. It wasn’t that I wasn’t open to an eco lodge, 3 squares a day and a guided tour, I just had something else in mind. I was also very tired and really fucking cranky.
Like most storms though, the clouds parted and after 40 winks I started turning a corner and decided to introduce myself. “Boy o boy” was I glad that I did. They were not only fasinating, they were some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
For the next 4 days we toured around the Amazon, fishing for Parana’s, searching for Anacondas and Caimins, spotting pink river dolphins, monkeys, parrots, tucans and just about every spider and insect you could think of along the way. I even got to spend time with an indigenous community and speak with a Shaman. In fact I was lucky enough that before I left he actually performed a prayer and blessed some beads for me before he sent me on my way. It may not have been me naked running through the jungle killing my own dinner with a blow gun (which I also got to try), but it had a charm all itself. Our guide had an unrivaled passion for the jungle and was more than informative. Our accomidations, were amazingly charming and the candle light dinner evey night was amazing. When I left, I actually was genuinely sad about it.
I made the mistake of not taking my own adivce and I expected too much of my Amazon journey. Had I just went with the flow from the beginning I would’ve saved myself a lot of time being such a piss head.