Friday, December 9, 2011


Porto, Portugal

I boarded my 3 pm flight from Marrakech to Porto and said goodbye to the red soil of Morocco as I flew away to begin another journey.
A gypsy-soulmate-yogi that I met in India was galavanting around Portugal in his van. We decided to meet up.

I departed the plane and flew through Portuguese customs. It was raining. I was wearing Rainbow sandals (my favorite travel companion), jeans, a white tee shirt, Moroccan cashmere shawl, and a henna hand tattoo. My friend and I had not seen each other since India, last February, after we spent a 5-week intensive, teacher-training course together. A car horn sounded as a white and red van pulled up alongside the curb where I stood. Inside, a recognizable head of blonde rastas sat in the British driver's seat. It always amazes me how much a familiar hug can instantly make you feel at home again.

I boarded my new home for the week and we drove into the city. Being the true gypsy he is (much longer than I have been), his van is his home when it needs to be - a toothbrush surrounded by pencils and pens in the cup holder, a peacock feather and sexwax on the sill, stickers of Shiva and Ganesha on either window, a Tibetan Love & Kindness mantra taped to the dashboard (the one we were both given in our training. Mine is in my bag.) 
We found a parking spot next to the river in the Historical District of Porto. And stayed for 4 days....

India- February

 Flashback February 2011: I had been sleeping in a tiny hut in Gokarna for 2 weeks by myself before traveling north to Goa for my awaited 5 week training. I entered the retreat center, my linen pants glued to my legs with sweat from 10 hours on Indian public transit. Walking to my room, I passed the pool, and standing at the edge of the pool was a merman. We became instant friends and sidekicks. Pulling out meditation cushions from beneath one another during 5 am pranayama class, just to lighten up the mood. Pouring hot candle wax on each others feet during late night kirtan. Or just organizing heavily competitive synchronized swimming routines in-between asana classes. Anything to keep each other laughing and playing while climbing high on a spiritual journey. Mint tea each night while we chatted about what "enlightenment" tastes like..... and recounting all the longing flavors of a cold beer and juicy grilled red meat that we were very much missing.
We knew then that we are in fact soul mates. Not the "we are gonna run off and get married and live on an island, making beautiful yogi-babies" kinda soul mates. We are, in fact, the kind of soul mates that can and will make amazing things happen around us. And a pair of soul-full, soul mates that can understand one another, and only when necessary, use words.

Our reunion in Porto was a bit of a spiritual and alcohol bender, in fact. We did practice yoga alongside one another once again, in lonely Portuguese parks and beaches, bundled up from the winter winds - our breath count completely in-sync. As it was in India. The nights of Portugal were spent with hands wrapped around a glass of port wine, and grilled sardines to cure hangovers still lingering from the night before. We chatted about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. What it really means to live yogically, and "should we switch over to cava now? Or hit up a late night regae bar?..... one more round of sardines, please. Obrigado." By day four of sleeping in a van, down by the river, not showering and aching kidneys, I decided enough was enough.... so we drove away from our headaches and into the mountains.

Up in a tiny village near Guara, Portugal. Not far from the boarder of EspaƱa. We were guided by his teacher for 2 hours each day in a led asana and meditation, created by her, and derived from Sufi poems. Collecting chestnuts on their quinta property during the day, and making soups each night with potatoes and kale from the neighbors garden. With the hangovers far behind me now, I was now filled with inspiration for the power of soul and practice.

I left Portugal, my gypsy-man-friend, and my latest movable home for Spain on the 7th day.

Elephant rock above the quinta. Sign of wealth and luck. 

Weeks later and I am still brushing out the rastas that formed in my hair. The thought of port wine brings a smile to my face..... and an instant headache. And my practice each morning is re-vamped in a reminder to connect with the soul, through asana, and through memories of Portugal.

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