El Camino, PSU and Major

Final Thoughts:


Through these blogs I kinda realized that I am passionate about people. I have always been curious about the way people act and why. Since I was young my parents stressed the importance of travel. For the longest time we lived in a cozy modest home but we always traveled when we could. By the age of 10 I had been to at least 5 different countries. I thought i wanted to be an anthropologist because I am interested in the human footprint. I loved going to archaeological sites like Pompeii and Herculano. Even now I am mind blown by the remains. But I enjoy a response, interaction and complexity of two different people exchanging ideas through conversation. Many things have birthed my interest in people.

I am a middle-class bilingual Hispanic from the Midwest, not quite comfortable in any of these identities. I am also a “medio gringo” – a term that my father uses to refer to U.S. Hispanics who have assimilated, linguistically and culturally, and “grown distant” from a homeland, though strictly speaking was never ours. I am not an immigrant. My family has moved from Colombia to Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, following different jobs until settling in northern Indiana. I speak Spanish with my parents and English with my brothers. I am a Hispanic Pittsburgian-Nashvillian-Hoosier living in South Bend, right in the middle of “Gringoland.” This “In-between-ness”—just as my belonging to an immigrant family—has been strength in my life: it has trained me to embrace change and challenges. I believe this has something to do with my interest in people and things that are complex.

Two summers ago I walk 500+ miles with my family on the Camino De Santiago in northern Spain. It was damn hard but I loved every second of it. I met so many people and I felt like I had accomplished something grand. I think this also developed my interest in people and culture. I met people all over the world and we shared a common interest. Pretty cool huh?

I found a pretty an interesting perspective on the Camino from someone who has good and bad things too say about it (although I only have good things). It came from: http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-Trails/10-Reasons-Why-El-Camino-Santiago-Sucks


10 benefits of El Camino de Santiago

  1. You can take a shower and sleep in a bed every day for just $5/day.
  2. You don’t need to carry any food because you’ll have access to cooked restaurant meals every few hours.
  3. You don’t even need to carry water! You cross a piped water about every 45 minutes. You won’t need to purify it either.
  4. No need to carry your trash with you for days since you’ll pass a trash can about every 10 minutes.
  5. As a result of all this, your backpack could be as light as 1 kg (2.2 pounds). To compare, my ultralight backpack on the CDT weighed 3 kg. However, many pilgrims prefer to lug around all sorts of luxuries and end up with heavy backpacks of 10 kg (22 pounds) or more.
  6. You don’t need a map or navigation skills because the route is well marked.
  7. The wide path lets you walk side-by-side with your companion(s), making for easy conversation.
  8. You’ll never have to bushwhack.
  9. You’ll never have to hitchhike to resupply.
  10. It’s flat, easy hiking nearly everywhere, with occasional gentle climbs/descents. It is graded for cars/bikes (which is even easier than equestrian trails.)


10 reasons why El Camino de Santiago sucks

  1. Only about 1% of El Camino is a narrow (1-meter wide) dirt trail; 99% is a road (either a dirt road, 2-track road, paved road with little traffic, or a busy highway). It’s almost never a narrow footpath where pilgrims are forced to walk in a single file.
  2. About half the time you’re on a paved road or on a dirt path right next to a paved road. Some of the paved roads have little traffic, but others are quite busy.


  1. Because you’re on a paved road so often, by the end of the day your feet may feel like they’ve been put through a meat tenderizer. Although I’ve hiked over 65 km in one day in steep mountains, I found it harder to do 65 km in one day on the flat Camino. My feet just ached too much from all paved roads.
  2. About 95% of the time, car traffic is within earshot. El Camino often gives you the illusion that cars aren’t near because you sometimes can’t see the nearby paved road which may have infrequent traffic. However, it takes just one car to remind you that there is indeed a road nearby.
  3. Amenities distract from any spiritual mission you may have. With endless bars, restaurants, hotels, vending machines, tour groups, you’re hardly removed from the “real world.” This defeats much of the purpose of living primitively in a search for a deeper meaning or understanding of life. On the other hand, it’s nice to have easy access to ice cream.
  4. The scenery is monotonous. It’s endless pastoral farmland everywhere you look. Far in the horizon, you might glimpse some real mountains. The most photogenic places are the towns and villages; since you can drive (or bike) to all of them, there’s no practical need to walk between them.
  5. It’s a skin cancer magnet. Infrequent trees means that a brutal sun is hammering you most of the day. In the summer, it’s hard to tolerate.
  6. Unfriendly commercialism. El Camino has become a big business, where the locals are sometimes unfriendly and seem to just care about getting your money.
  7. It’s a cacophony of sounds. Rumbling 18-wheel trucks, ear-splitting motorcycles, angry barking dogs, blaring music from cafes, honking horns, and ringing cell phones. El Camino assaults your eardrums. At least, there were no jack-hammers. Oh, wait. I walked by one of those too.
  8. It’s hard to take a piss. There’s little privacy. Cars and pilgrims are constantly passing you by. After 3 p.m. most pilgrims retire to their albergues (huts) and you’ll get more privacy to do your business. Nevertheless, at 7 p.m. one jogger still managed to catch me with my pants down.

When I came to Penn State I thought I wanted to be an anthropologist but I realized that I think I want to be in Hospitality. I loved to travel and I love people. I would like to make someone’s trip worthwhile just like many hospice’s I stayed at did. Many of the places we stayed were free or donation and included a meal. I mean that is pretty cool. That is the essence of hospitality. Making someone feel like they are home when they are many miles away.

A Friend from the past

Kayla is something else to put it simply. That is probably what draws me to her: her unpredictability, stubbornness, intelligence, and mysterious nature. Kayla and I have been all over the spectrum I could tell you how selfish she is sometimes but I could also tell you how she genuinely cares about those around her. To those who do not know her she is probably a seemingly insecure high school girl, but to me she is something else. I have seen her grow and change, taking control of her own life. I have seen her make mistakes and learn from it, I have also seen her make mistakes and repeat it. People place a negative connotation to “change” but change is a natural and inevitable part of development.


Kayla and I have argued and discussed moral and ethical questions in normal conversation. She is an intelligent woman with the ability to voice her opinion with a solid and coherent argument. She is sophisticated. She can enjoy art, movies, and books and find intellectual value in them. On the other hand, she is a procrastinator which in terms of academic performance hinders her from her potential. Additionally she is stubborn, which also hinders her potential in the high school academic setting because she will do (study) only what she thinks is important. Although it sounds like a flaw it is not. She will be very successful because she wholeheartedly dedicates herself to what she holds dearest and places value on. And for this reason Kayla takes ownership and responsibility over her actions. In addition, she is is independent. She does not need validation from people for happiness which allows her to make sure she is acting in a way that is right for her and her development as a young woman.


Kayla has trouble showing her emotions. As person that cares about her this is frustrating. I hate to use a cliche but she bottles in her emotions until they burst out in reactionary and sometimes aggressive ways. Kayla by nature is not aggressive but I have been yelled at, pushed away, and ignored at times. The thing is, she only acts this way because she cares so much. I think she bottles the emotions in to avoid confrontation and conflict. But on the other hand when she lashes out it can be unexpected and of a higher magnitude for the pertaining situation because it is the build up of emotions.


Kayla is also unpretentious. This is one of her best qualities. She does not need to be around people with money. She does not need an outing with friends to be extravagant. One of my most memorable times with Kayla is when we were just walking through a forest in search of a spot to sit down, eat, talk, and make a project with an apple. It was not anything luxurious or super exciting on its own but Kayla’s presence made it that way for me. This is just one example, of many, to show her down to earth nature and captivating aura.
Kayla is a person you can trust, confide in, argue with, laugh with, and rely on. She is a person with strong values. But she is definitely a handful (or two). Kayla is something else.

Passionate about the people I surround myself with

Parice has a charismatic personality. Everything he does is with enthusiasm, dedication and confidence. Everyday during lunch he is either applying for scholarships, schools, programs or studying. It’s easy to forget Parice’s serious unwavering work ethic because it is shadowed by his active social life. Let me explain this sentence, I do not mean to say that Parice places his social life over the acquisition of knowledge and sophistication but that it is commendable how he is able to balance the two.


Like any college student at times his social life will take over and hisl studies suffer. I say studies and not education because Parice tackles social situations like he attacks his search for knowledge, with enthusiasm, dedication and confidence. I thus believe that because of the way he approaches his social life, it is an instrumental part of his education.


He will oppose an idea he thinks is wrong. At times he has aggressively opposed a person’s stance on a situation. Parice’s passion, although it drives him to be successful, is also a source of frustration not only for him but for others. Parice for the most part is a calm and collected person that is able to respectfully oppose others ideas but when he becomes passionate about a topic he can be aggressive. Aggressive truly is not the correct term. I don’t mean aggressive in the sense that he attacks the person but that he tests their beliefs with a coherent, logical and factual argument. He has learned and enhanced his education by his approach to his social life.


Parice is an occult person. It is difficult to know what is going on through his head. Although this may sound like a flaw it is not. It is important to be able to separate one’s academic, social and personal life. Not only is it good now as a high school student because it limits drama but it is also crucial in a professional setting.


Parice gets frustrated by others inability, incompetence, and poor personal representation. He will directly tell the person without beating around the bush. He takes a very forward approach which is good but then again there is a right and wrong way to approach these situations. Now in a high school setting it is not a big deal but it will be an issue in the future. Parice does not do this out of malice but rather out of impatience. This is rooted in Parice’s personal drive that is so central to everything he does. He has room to learn and grow in this area. I am confident that he can and will, because of its importance in a professional setting.
Parice is trustworthy. I can confide in him with anything. I think he does this not only out of respect for me but also out of respect for his own moral values which he, like everything else in his life, implements with enthusiasm, dedication, and confidence.

Jason’s Deli

I went to a company presentation of a hospitality group based in the south. I was surprised to see that the students were better dressed than the presenters. I was also surprised when the presenter said “I was expecting two people so I did not prepare too much.” That being said, the presentation was straight to the point and enticing. I must say I was impressed by what Jason’s Deli was about. Jason’s Deli is a fast casual restaurant and catering service that is proud of their family atmosphere and fresh food. The catering sector of Jason’s Deli is about as profitable as the restaurant. About 30-40% of their revenue comes from corporate catering.

They pride themselves in creating a family dynamic for the customers and employees. This is backed up by their impressive employee retention. Many have worked their for 10+ years. They care about the essential component of hospitality which, for me, is the importance of an interaction between two people. Jason’s Deli strives for “Out of this world hospitality.” But isn’t that what all business in hospitality say? Jason’s Deli struck me as different. There is complimentary ice cream at all their stores which they admitted was a money loser. They drive fresh produce to the stores six days a week. They are making everything in house. They only use natural and wholesome ingredients. Again, the pride themselves on making connections. They don’t trust other companies to provide them with their ingredients (they have their own distribution centers).

This is a company I am interested in a lot. It is a fast growing company. They put up 10-15 stores a year, they hire within first, they care about people, and they care about being the best. What is not to like? Jason’s Deli is on my radar and I will go and see them again next year. Although I liked the presentation, I was not as impressed as Flik.


My notes from the presentation:


(a) the kinds of business the company is in

  1. Restaurant and catering
  2. Fast casual sector (like panera)

(b) interesting things you found out about them

  1. Long retention rate of employees
  2. Everything is made in house
  3. Natural food and ingredients
  4. Started in Texas but grow into the midwest
  5. Fast growing company (10-15 stores a year)
  6. They care about their employees—> did some research about how they felt. Hired people to conduct interviews to see how they felt about Jason’s Deli
    1. Manager video: “Family feel,” “they care that you succeed personally,” “we are a family business that happens to sell sandwiches”
    2. Hourly employees: “Care about employees,” employment retention, very accommodating, appreciative
    3. “Out of this world hospitality”
    4. Highest quality food (most proud of)
  7. Uniqueness
    1. Corporate Catering (30-40% of business)
    2. The “Freshness”
    3. All locations have a free soft served ice cream
  8. Looking for people who want to grow
    1. Paid Internship (rising senior summer) with free housing
      1. Learn EVERY position (4 weeks)
      2. Catering systems (week 5)
      3. Management (week 6-10)
    2. Privately owned (most holidays off)

Air BnB vs Hotel

For fun I decided to plan two trips to Jamaica (one using airbnb and hotel). Recently there has been big controversy about the two services much like the conflict with Uber and taxi. Below you will find a chart with all expenses for a trip to Jamaica. The final totals (highlighted) reflect the cost of the whole trip with a hotel in comparison to a trip done with a fast growing competition to hotels called Airbnb.

BnB vs Hotels

Expenses Cost
Plane $756
Hotel $280
Food $72
Spending $100
Air BnB $120
Hotel Trip Total $1,208
BnB Trip Total $1,048

Off the bat, Airbnb is cheaper. It is about a $200 difference. I did not pick the cheapest airbnb but I did choose the cheapest hotel. That goes to say Airbnb is a bang for the buck. Something to note is that there are more amenities. You are paying for a service to make your life simpler. Someone is serving you. In Airbnb, you are likely staying in someone’s home in a neighborhood. Now someone like me, who has a little adventure in them, might find this interesting. With Airbnb you get a very “authentic” experience. Meaning, I am getting the local feel as opposed to the touristy spots. I’m getting authentic food, good prices, and possibly experiencing local nightlife. It is not for everyone though and I can see the draws of the hotel. First of all, if it is a place you are not familiar with a big name like Marriott might bring comfort. Not to mention It’s fun to be at a resort type place and get all the extra “cup holder” Items like food at the ready, pool, Spa, Stores, Tour guides, and activities. A lot comes with the price you pay for at a hotel. If you choose the right one your needs our our business and they will be met and passed. In my ideal vacation I would probably do half resort and half Airbnb.

New Hospitality Passion

Flik is a premier hospitality group in the foodservice industry. Flik is a billion dollar subgroup of Compass, one of the “big three” in the foodservice industry.  You will find Flik in anywhere from a law firm to a hotel to the bears stadium. I first want to describe my first impressions of the representatives that gave the presentation and the presentation itself. All reps were well dressed and groomed. Everyone had suits and elaborate accessories such as cuff links. The presentation itself was interesting with music and interesting images that were a reflection of the creative freedom, independence, happiness and dedication Flik’s employees seem to be.

One thing I really found interesting was their mission. The last tenant states,  “The core values driving FLIK’s culture are rooted in inclusion, diversity, learning and mentoring supported by a system of praise, recognition and rewards. Each FLIK team member is looked at as a business owner and is provided with the resources, the guidance and the foundation to achieve their personal greatness.” This man named Alex Freed started the presentation by asking us if we want to be appreciated every day for the work we do. I got a sense that Flik appreciates its employees and the work they do which is why the provide many opportunities for career advancement. That was cool. Fliks seems to have a deeply rooted interest in advancing their employees careers into the next level. Something else I found interesting is that they have an incredible retention rate. Alex Freed stated that he had been there for 26 years. He mention that Flik is a place to develop a career at. It is hard not to be excited about this company it is inspiring, serious, and rewarding. Another thing that impressed me is their acknowledgement that they have a responsibility to leave a positive footprint on our environment. With a company with that much buying power they have a responsibility to stand by their values. For example, they were telling us that their pork provider was starting to inject their pigs so when Flik found out that confronted them and told them either they stop injecting or they take their business elsewhere. I think it is remarkable that they stick by their values of sustainability.

Needless to say, I left the presentation excited and inspired and am looking forward to interview with them down the line.

CIA: They Are After Me

I am 10 years old playing legos with my brother and my dad rushes into our room and says in spanish: “Hurry pack up your things into a backpack we have to go”

My brother and I, very confused but aware of the seriousness of the situation by his tone, looked out into our room and tried to decide what was important to us. I picked up my Buzz Lighteryear action figure, a clear obvious choice, and placed it into a small backpack that I judged could hold a pair of clothes and maybe 2 more toys. We got into the car and my dad explained that there was something wrong with his immigration papers and that we had to leave the country. I guess I should have explained, I am a middle-class bilingual Hispanic from the Midwest, not quite comfortable in any of these identities. I am a “medio gringo” – a term that my father uses to refer to U.S. Hispanics who have assimilated, linguistically and culturally, and “grown distant” from a homeland, though strictly speaking was never ours. But I’ll come back to this. My father explained that the reason my mom had left on a “Business trip” to Panama was actually to get things organized for us to arrive and start a new life. So many things were running through my head. My dad asked my 9 year old brother to make sure no one was tailing us. My brother conclude, after 10  minutes, that someone was in fact following us. My dad made a series of maneuvers and took a sharp turn into the movie theater. He asks us to come down and explained that he was meeting someone to gives us fake passports. So we go in and buy tickets to the next movie as a cover. He tells us to go to the theater and wait for him while he gets the passports. My brother and I go into the theater and find seats where my father could easily see us. My father walks in calm with popcorn and says nothing. The movie starts and we ask him if he got the passports. He replies in spanish “Passports? Ohhh! No, that was a joke we are just here to watch a movie.” In the moment we could not believe the far too elaborate joke my father had fabricated but with certain ease we watched the movie.

Like I said, I am a Hispanic-american but you would not know that unless I told you. I was born in Pittsburgh, moved to Nashville, and then to Indiana.  I speak Spanish with my parents and English with my brothers. I am a Hispanic Pittsburgian-Nashvillian-Hoosier attending Penn State, right in the middle of “Gringoland.” If you ask me where I am from or how I identify myself, I could not tell you. But I believe that, like the story, a journey towards the truth is more important than the truth itself.

RCL Brainstorming

I have been requested to brainstorm for a couple project coming up in the next weeks. They include ideas for my “I believe” project (hopefully not corny but well thought out), ideas for my civic blog and ideas for my passion blog.

First my ideas for the “I believe” podcast and paper are:

1)”I believe in equity not equality” 2) “I believe College education is overrated/overpriced”

My ideas for Civic Issues Blog: Education and/or Identity/rights

My ideas for Passion Blog: I currently have a passion blog about music but it did not go as I had hoped. Perhaps I can do something that I do everyday. Maybe I can do short story/poem/novela reviews and personal/opinionated analysis. I am not too sure yet.

Kodak Black the Finesse Kid

Kodak Black the New Gucci?

This week I will be covering Kodak Black. Kodak Black started as an amateur soundcloud rapper. For those of you who do not know what soundcloud is, it is a forum to share music. Many artists such as Bryson Tiller and Travis Scott began on soundcloud and quickly acquired a large fan base, reaching easily into millions of listens per song. In 2012 Kodak released his first mixtape titled “Project Baby.” His distinctive voice is reminiscent of early Lil Wayne as displayed in “The Carter.” In rap the two most debated aspects are flow and rhyme. Rhyme refers to the lyrics and what the artist is actually saying where as flow refers to the sound of the artist’s voice. Although usually overlooked flow is incredibly important because the voice becomes an instrument that adds to the song. I think this aspect has progressively overshadowed the quality of lyrics produced by some artists. A perfect example is Desiigner. His lyrics are indecipherable yet people enjoy his music due to the flow of his voice paired with the beat instruments. Kodak Black uses a combination of witty lyrics and an interesting flow and high ringing sound that is different than what we are used to.

Top 3 Kodak Black:

  1. No Flockin
  2. Vibin’ in this bih
  3. Skrt

Kodak Black is awaiting trial and serving time. This, although unfortunate, will boost his importance in the rap industry. Much like Gucci Mane, where every time he is released from prison he unloads a multitude of songs and makes millions, we can expect the same from Kodak Black. Even so, Kodak has yet to reach his peak in music. I am looking forward to his development and work in the future.

Paradigm Palmer

Lynched by Seymour Lipton is a piece indicative of its time. It portrays a black man tied at the hands and ankles laying on the ground in a grotesque and lifeless position. The choice to use mahogany as the medium for this piece allowed for Lipton to give an abrasive texture to the man’s skin which, again, emphasizes brutality. It is interesting to see a white artist depict the horrors of racism in 1933 an idea, i’m sure, that was not popular. Racism towards blacks in the US was rationalized by eugenics. Instead of admitting the economic need for slaves people attempted to excuse slavery because it was “the natural order”, they were “inferior,” etc. Due to the rise in a feeling of superiority, anti-miscegenation laws arose thus prohibiting interracial marriage and/or sexual relations. It was a way to keep the white white and the black black. Truly horrifying because this extended the degree of racism. In Hispanic American these laws did not exist so the once defining line of race became hazy. I chose this peace because it focused on a social problem which I believe is still the focus of much art today including music artists. Other pieces I saw did not focus on social problems but rather focused on aspects of religion, myth, and the natural world.

The next piece is title Circle of Stefan Lochner. This is a religious music piece from the mid-15th century. It uses a music score that has some aspects of the standard one we know today but it is fundamentally different as well. This piece reflects the importance of music in religion. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, music has a way of communicating on a deeper level than spoken word.

These to art piece show a shift in focus from abstract religious concepts to very real social problems which continues to be displayed in art to this day. Most likely, this is because of the increase in freedom of expression.