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10/18/2010
Clear Line

Llegué a Ghana una mañana lluviosa. Mi estancia no iba a ser muy larga. Tomé un taxi que me llevaría al hotel dónde dejaría mis cosas para poder ir a recorrer Accra, la capital del país.  Camino al hotel me dediqué a platicar con el taxista. Hablamos, sobre todo, de la familia. El conductor era un hombre casado con dos hijos. Según él su familia es la fuente de su felicidad y es la que hace que, día a día, salga a la calle a trabajar largas jornadas en su taxi. Al poco tiempo nos dijimos adiós y me dejó en el hotel. Contacté a un guía turístico para que me llevara a algún lugar dónde pudiera encontrar tradiciones únicas en la ciudad. Mi guía, Michael, me llevó al puerto dónde se congregan los pescadores. Allí, gracias a su labor cómo intérprete pude conocer de las tradiciones de los pescadores y de su modo de vida. Uno de ellos me dijo que una de las cosas que más felices los hace es cuándo regresan de pescar con bastantes pescados. Una buena pesca implica cosas buenas para ellos y para sus familias. Michael me llevó a distintos  lugares en mi corta estancia pero una de las cosas que compartió conmigo fue la siguiente: la gente en Ghana le tiende la mano hasta a los extraños e, inclusive, ayudan al extranjero si éste necesita ayuda. Ghana es un país pacífico, dónde la gente está orgullosa de poder llevar una vida así y procuran tratar de la mejor manera tanto a conocidos cómo a extraños.



10/10/2010
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Tajikistan beauty

We're in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. We headed up this hill that offers a view of the whole city. It's a very peaceful place. You can hear the laughter of children playing in the hills as the sun sets behind the mountains.

While we were in Tajikistan we had a really cool experience. Being a Central Asian country sometimes it’s kind of hard for you to find someone you can speak in English with. This is not a complain whatsoever but we don’t how to speak Russian (and I can tell you: we would love to learn Russian to have the chance to communicate in such a cool and interesting language). So after going to a couple of places and enjoying the magnificent landscapes the country has to offer we were starving so we looked for a place where we could sit down, watch the sunset and eat something. We managed to find a cozy outdoors restaurant that was on a hill. The place had the overview of the city of Dushanbe. By this point we were really hungry. After a couple of minutes our waitress came and she didn’t speak English.

The menu was on Cyrillic so we were basically lost in translation. However Tony started making sounds and gestures asking for some food. Our waitress was laughing and we were as well. Finally, after a couple of attempts, the three of us made the sound and gestures of a cow. Our waitress laughed and nodded. Beef was one of the things on the menu. A couple of minutes later we were eating some skewers and a salad (yeah, we even managed to get a salad, how cool is that?). Part of the happiness of travelling is managing to communicate with others (regardless the language barrier) and having a big smile on your face.   


10/03/2010
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When we arrived in Nepal I got the feeling that we just traveled to a different time. As we were driving from the airport to the hotel, Tony was taking pictures, Kelly was looking through the window and I was watching the reality that was unfolding in front of us. Sure you’re going to find lots of modern things in Nepal but, somehow, you can feel how the traditions prevail there. Nepalese people are really proud of their traditions but not only that, they’re really eager to share their traditions and their culture with you. However, they’re at the same time really eager to know about you: “Where do you come from? How is your home country? What do you like? Are you sure you’re not Nepalese? Because you look Nepalese! [haha]”: may be some of the questions or comments you might get while traveling through Nepal. That’s a really cool experience: to be welcomed and greeted with such enthusiasm and curiosity while your interlocutors have a big genuine smile on their faces.


09/22/2010
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Partimos de Costa de Marfil rumbo a Sierra Leone. Hicimos escala en Ghana. Una vez en el aeropuerto, mientras estábamos haciendo la conexión, nos pidieron la visa para entrar a Sierra Leone. La información que teníamos era que podíamos obtener una visa al llegar al aeropuerto de Sierra Leone pero al parecer no era así. Tampoco teníamos una visa para permanecer en Ghana: así que en muy poco tiempo tuvimos qué decidir qué haríamos. No podíamos quedarnos en Ghana (ni siquiera salir del aeropuerto) y no podíamos ir a Sierra Leone. Así que tratando de seguir nuestra ruta lo más acorde al plan tomamos el siguiente vuelo que se dirigía a Londres, puesto que después de Sierra Leone partiríamos hacia Londres para hacer escala con rumbo a Dinamarca. Así es la vida del viajero: siempre hay momentos que ponen a prueba el buen humor y la paciencia. Sin embargo al encontrarse con gente dispuesta a ayudarte a lo largo del camino todo se hace más sencillo. Ah: y sonreírle a las situaciones por más complicadas que se muestren también es muy importante. Es una lección que hemos tenido la fortuna de aprender a través de muchas personas de África. Esperamos poder visitar Sierra Leone más tarde este año.



09/06/2010
Clear Line
"Una de las cosas que nos brinda felicidad aquí [Andorra] es nuestra comida; es parte de nuestra cultura y nos encanta". Dicho esto le pregunté cuál era uno de sus restaurantes favoritos y qué debería comer allí. "No debes perderte el bacalao" dijo. Emprendí camino hacia el restaurante y comí lo que se ve en esta foto: una ensalada con queso de cabra y bacalao con salsa de ajo quemado. Tras terminar de comer no se me hizo difícil entender porqué es que la comida es tan importante como lo es para la gente de aquí. Cuál es su comida favorita?

El camino de Barcelona a Andorra es sencillamente hermoso.  El viaje por carretera es de las pocas maneras por las que uno puede llegar a Andorra pero puedo decirles, señoras y señores, que vale completamente la pena. Andorra es un país muy pequeño dónde la gente lleva una vida muy tranquila. Debido a su relativamente pequeña población no se encuentran aquellas cosas que estresan tanto en la gente en las grandes ciudades. Así la población de Andorra lleva una vida moderna con unas dinámicas mucho más tranquilas que las que encontramos en las grandes urbes. Sin embargo una de las cosas que más disfrutan es de sus tradiciones: y entre ellas se encuentra su comida, su gastronomía. Caminando por la ciudad y después de platicar con algunas personas llegué a la conclusión de que debía probar alguno de los platillos tradicionales. Decidí preguntarle a la siguiente persona con la que platicara cuál era su platillo favorito y en qué lugar debía comerlo. Dicho y hecho así lo hice. Unas horas más tarde me encontraba en un pequeño restaurante que, por su atmósfera, me transportaba a otros tiempos. Mientras disfrutaba de una deliciosa ensalada y un delicioso bacalao pensaba para mis adentros: ahora entiendo por qué es que todos en Andorra hablan con semejante gusto de su comida y se llenan de felicidad sólo de pensar en ella.

Andorra

"Una de las cosas que nos brinda felicidad aquí [Andorra] es nuestra comida; es parte de nuestra cultura y nos encanta". Dicho esto le pregunté cuál era uno de sus restaurantes favoritos y qué debería comer allí. "No debes perderte el bacalao" dijo. Emprendí camino hacia el restaurante y comí lo que se ve en esta foto: una ensalada con queso de cabra y bacalao con salsa de ajo quemado. Tras terminar de comer no se me hizo difícil entender porqué es que la comida es tan importante como lo es para la gente de aquí. Cuál es su comida favorita? 


08/23/2010
Clear Line

Llegamos a St. Martin tarde una noche de agosto. Salimos del aeropuerto para disfrutar del aire fresco de la noche. Buscamos un taxi que nos llevara al hotel. Conocimos a un taxista con el que empezamos a platicar. Nos preguntó de dónde éramos, qué estábamos haciendo en la isla y si era la primera vez que visitábamos su país. Estuvimos platicando un rato con él y nos dijo que una de las cosas que más disfrutaba en la vida era de ir a bailar con sus amigos. La música está muy presente por todos lados en la isla y bailar es una de las cosas que pone una sonrisa en su cara. Al día siguiente nos fuimos a caminar por la isla, a compartir con la gente y a disfrutar de la atmósfera de relajación que se vive en el lugar. Después de platicar con varias personas, conocí a Thomas, un joven de mi edad con quien platiqué de muchas cosas. Una de las cosas que más le hace feliz es el buen clima que hay en la isla y, sobre todo, algo que siente muy común en su país: que la gente al ir caminando por la calle te saluda sin importar si eres un conocido o no. Y es que, sin lugar a dudas, entre lo paradisíaco de su naturaleza y la amabilidad de su gente, St. Martin es un lugar especial.


08/10/2010
Clear Line

A very special welcome awaited us the airport of Papeete. Some Polynesian dancers gave us a great show. The girls swing their hips so fast it looks like their buttocks have a mind of their own.

Welcome to Tahiti

As is the custom in many of the Pacific islands, the welcoming of visitors is very important. We were honored by a traditional dance show at the airport. We then found out we were not staying at a hotel this time but in the guest house of a world renowned Tahitian surfer called Raimana. 

Tahitians are crazy about water sports. Surfing, sailing, jet skiing... Anything that happens on or in the sea. And with a sea as great as this it's quite normal. We got to try out some 'paddling' which basically consists standing on a board (not as easy as it looks cos its hard to keep your balance) with a paddle. In a typical family house you will find boards and paddles of all shapes and sizes.

Paddling in Tahiti

Raimana was keen on showing us Teahupoo, also called ‘The Big Wave’. Eager to find out what this was all about we set out bright and early on his boat. Unfortunately the rain was pouring down but it didn’t spoil our fun. As we got to the spot he took each of us one by one on a jet ski to get closer to the wave. He would wait for a big one and turn around to almost ride the wave just like you would on a surfboard. Sitting on a jet ski in the pouring rain being chased by a huge wave, now THAT’s exihilirating.

Atfer more jet ski fun we headed back to his house situated right at the water. We had a lunch with his family and a whole bunch of people that just seemed to show up from nowhere. This is the Tahitian way. People are very open and welcoming. 


Everyone we spoke to told us how their only happiness is their family. Everything else is extra. 


08/03/2010
Clear Line

Welcome to the worlds smallest independent republic. With a coastline of 30km, Nauru is the smallest country we have visited so far. To give you an idea, the airport is so small that the actual airport manager is the one that organized our visas and chatted with us while we waited for our luggage. He said the country is so small that people on the other side of the island usually know what you had for breakfast!

The island is mainly known for its phosphate mines. There is much more to the place though, as we were soon to find out.

Capelle, the main store and Coke retailer hosted us. They took us to a school where the minister of education had prompted the students to give as a real Nauruan welcome. At first the kids were very shy. We were told that this is a typical Nauruan trait. The first performers had to literally be dragged to the stage. Soon though they realized we weren’t going to bite and were crazy enough to join them in their dances, so they started to feel more comfortable. 

We were invited to a school where the kids gave us a wonderful welcome. They performed for us and even composed their own Coca-Cola song for us. It goes something like :"Coca-Cola is our favorite drink, we love Coca-Cola" The people here tend to be very shy. They had to drag the first performers out. But after a while they grew more comfortable with us and were keen on sharing their culture and many talents. We had a lot of fun!

   A Nauru welcome 

We enjoyed watching them dance and sing for us. I particularly enjoyed the typical Nauruan dances and Antonio couldn’t get enough of the hip-hop performances. In the end, Antonio and I tried one last push against the shyness by trying to get the crowd to go crazy for a few second. This did not work well… But then Antonio turned to the DJ for help. As soon as the music started something amazing happened. All the kids in the school created a huge circle and started taking turns leaping in the center to show off some moves. We couldn’t believe these were the same kids who were almost too shy to say hello! All you need is some music and some good vibes. We reluctantly left with a grin plastered over our faces as the kids waved goodbye and ran behind us for pictures with us.

What I will remember of Nauru?  The friendliness of the people (there is no such thing as crime here!), the tight-knit community (you will always find someone to help you) and the amazing potential of those kids from a tiny island lost in the Pacific.


07/28/2010
Clear Line

Arrivée sur l’île, je ne savais pas grand chose sur cette île du Pacifique. Je savais qu’on y parlait français mais c’est à peu près tout. Je ne m’attendais pas à une grande ville développée avec, à côté, des plages de sable blanc.

Nous avons été accueillis lors d’un dîner par des représentants de Coca-Cola et des gagnants d’un concours Facebook. Nous avons eu droit à une dance traditionnelle kanak (ou canaque) et un plat typique appelée le bougnia (poulet ou poisson préparée avec des légumes dans une feuille de bananier et cuit sur des braises le tout mis sous terre).

This choir from New Caledonia performed different songs for us and it was truly special. We had the chance to witness all the time, effort, energy that this group of kids put into their singing and it reminded me of how those things we love to do (singing, painting, writing, swimming... Whatever!) bring happiness to our lives. So if you haven't done that thing you love to do: go for it and do it! Do it because you're alive and you wanna celebrate life doing that thing that makes you happy.

Choir in New Caledonia

Il y a beaucoup de Français ici, certains sont implantés depuis plusieurs générations. Ceux qui l’ont découverts et forcémént y sont restés parlent de l’incroyable chance qu’ils ont de vivre dans un endroit si paradisiaque. Le tourisme n’est pas très dévéloppée en Nouvelle calédonie et les habitants en sont très contents. Un Français venu y vivre par amour m’a confié: “nous voulons protéger notre petit coin de paradis. C’est un peu notre secret à nous.”

On m'a dit qu'ici le bonheur c'est de partir en excursion le weekend avec famille et/ou amis faire le tour des îlots. Forcément nous étions obligés d'en faire l'expérience pour vivre le vrai bonheur calédonien. Un bateau, un îlot, un picnic, de la compagnie. Il n'en faut pas plus.

J'aime la Nouvelle Calédonie

J’ai appris que le bonheur ici c’est tout simplement de profiter de tout ce que l’île apporte. Le gens font des excursions les weekend et explorent les quatre coins de l’île avec amis et famille. Pour que nous en fassions l’expérience ils nous ont amenés passer un après-midi sur l’îlot Maître, l’un des multiples îlots à deux pas de la ville.

Un bateau, un picnic, un îlot et des amis; voilà la définition du bonheur en Nouvelle Calédonie. Je n’en dirais pas plus. J’ai déjà trop dévoilé du Grand Secret! 




07/27/2010
Clear Line

As we were approaching Greece an infinite sight of land and sea was intertwined in front of our eyes. The plane was about to land and everything we could see was nothing but one of the most beautiful combinations of earth-like colors and blues –from the most deep blue to certain spots of aqua blue- I’ve ever seen. Then our plane landed and we were received by our hostess, Sofia, which was going to show us around. We went to different places: we met the guys from the Special Olympics that are going to be held next year. They showed us a very positive way of looking at life. For them it doesn’t matter if life supposes, sometimes, a greater challenge. They just keep doing things and enjoying everything as much as possible; that was something that really touched us and that we appreciated as you don’t have an idea. After that we met the visual artist, Caroline, which created the commemorative bottle for Greece. She explained us about the concept behind her bottle but the coolest part was listening to her talking about what she enjoys the most in life: painting.

 

Later on we went to drink a frappe and to eat some yoghurt with honey and hazelnuts. Our hosts told me about the happiness Greeks find in sitting down for a long time enjoying a cup of coffee and sharing with their friends. The last part of the day was going to Acropolis. Greeks are very proud of their past, their history and their culture. While walking through its ruins, feeling the wind and watching the large group of tourists in the site I remembered being a 7 year old back in Mexico City and going to a huge exhibit of Greek art and thinking: “One day I have to be there”. I could did nothing else but to smile and enjoy the view that I had in front of me.

   


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Starting January 2010, three happiness ambassadors will begin an unprecedented journey to all 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold. That's 14 more countries than are represented in the United Nations! Their mission is to seek out "what makes people happy" around the world.

These "happiness ambassadors" will search for and share the optimism and happiness of Coca-Cola from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between. Their route will include some pretty amazing venues including- the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the World Cup in South Africa and the World Expo in Shanghai.

Throughout the year-long journey, these Happiness Ambassadors will be sharing their blog posts, tweets, videos, interviews and pictures so you can follow their adventures in every country along the way.

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