¨We don´t cry for men, we cry for Jiu Jitsu¨ Marcy

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back to Canada

Back in Canada in my own room, in my very own bed with my Costa Rican flag spread across the frame! Brazilian flag is on the other side ;) 
My wild journey had come to an end when I ran completely out of money while traveling. Thankfully I had some great friends looking out for me back in Costa Rica feeding me and giving me a place to crash before my final flight back to Ottawa. My last night I had big plans to go out, see everyone and give away all the hugs I had left in me! Unfortunately after a dinner with Clint and Marcy I passed right out on the sofa too exhausted to be bothered to go out on the town. At that...none of us had set an alarm clock so as usual it was me and Marcy in a race to get to the airport on time- half asleep. We were singing "Give me everything tonight" -pitbull it had been our pump up song for 6 months virtually, to work out, to get ready for a night out, to dance, to wake up too. We attached such awesome memories to it. We said our goodbyes and parted ways (hopefully not for long..my rastas!!)

I literally tore through the airport after my 3rd or 4th flight landing in Toronto, security was stopping me at every corner asking why I was in such a rush and checking my passport and asking me if I had an illegal substances...jesus!! Until the moment I'd been waiting for, after the longest journey of my life to count, I got to jump into my dad's arms and that was the moment I could finally relax, feel comfortable and stop being super woman. I could be Jess the kid for a moment and it was priceless. I saw my sister again too which was awesome. Around the end of August she came to visit me in Costa Rica for 2 weeks and that was a cool experience. Basically I ran out of money at a perfect time and was eating a turkey dinner with my mom (who cried like a baby seeing me again :) ) on Christmas day.

I've been home almost 2 months and time has really flown. It was anything but easy transitioning back into life here. I wouldn't say I have fully transitioned or that I ever will again. I'm changed, life's different for me now. I saw things, felt things, experienced life in a magical way while I was gone and I won't ever lose the way I look at the world. Sure I had about 7 bucks in my bank account when I got home, and I still don't have much..constantly looking for jobs and doing whatever I can do make a buck, but I am happy. I don't need much so I feel pretty fortunate to have a roof over my head and food in my belly every day not to mention being able to train whenever I want at oama and it's 5 minutes walk from my house.

I won't be able to say it enough but thanks to everyone who helped along the way. Friends, Family, those of you I met a day and will continue to keep in touch with until our time is up! All the couches, beds, floors, hammocks and cushions, hotels that were offered for me to sleep on. All of the home cooked meals you invited me to eat in on or treated me too (Deb you make the best soup I've ever tasted!) You guys all supported and believed in me the whole way through. All of the academies who taught me a little something here and there I broke through some walls when I was traveling and this will always be a part of who I am. I have never laughed as hard, seen such beauty or felt so crazy in my entire life. Can't wait to do more in the future!!

Costa Rica

C A N A D A.... 2012 is going to be a big year!
New Years back in Canada with my sis

We've all got dreams, big or small. We all have the power to make them a reality. When I say I felt crazy on my trip I mean that. I felt like I had the power to get what I wanted because I was so positive and spread so much love which was all shared right back at me. The laws of attraction...smile as much as possible, laugh til you're cramping, hug people, kiss people, show the people you love some affection. AND if you're not laughing enough in a day...get someone to tickle you-it's as simple as that.

xo  besos y abrazos por todos!
favorite shot of clint! 
AA girls represent! Rasta Marcy Gabby!
Marcy me and Pri pura vida
One of my favorites with Deb, Becky and Marcy! xo

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Dennis Asche 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The best place to connect!


From Floripa, Brazil I said my farewells to a few friends. Popped back an anti-anxiety pill and got ready to board my plane to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a short flight but I didn't want to have to worry at all; and I definitely had no issues at all :)  Of course I was      madly ripped off by the taxi service but there are better ways to    go about getting to Connection Rio. Dennis Asche can set up a ride where you'll pay nearly half the "gringo rate" IF you have a pretty straight forward itinerary with your dates and times. For me I was all over the place and actually a few weeks late arriving so I said screw it I'll just get there however I can.

I was welcomed by a few of the guys staying at the house and showed to my room. I was quite out of it still since my flight was only 1 hour, the effects of that pill hadn't even come close to wearing off haha. The night is still somewhat of a blur but I passed out nicely on my top bunk. In the morning I woke up, showered, got myself somewhat put together and the guys invited me to come along and watch a BJJ competition. The day couldn't have been any better. I show up in Rio de Janeiro and on my first day I not only get to watch the Brazilians go at it, but as well some of the guys from Connection Rio fight. 

At one point Nye Oakly (one of the guys who invited me along) came back to the tournament and as he was talking to me I remember looking at his lips and thinking, wow he's got purple lips, and about a second after he'd finished his sentence I asked "were you eating Acai?" Of course it was haha so he pointed me in the direction and I set out to grab some for myself.  Nye had quite the interesting background as well. He had been signed in a band called Lexington Bridge as well he was a professional Rugby player! He was recovering from a few serious injuries but decided to go ahead with his dreams which led him to Connection Rio. The idea he has is pretty wicked, he's going to practice a few different martial arts all around the world. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Brazil, Muay Thai in Thailand, he has plans of going to New York and I'm sure a whole list that I'm forgetting here. He's going to focus hard on each art and see how it comes together in the end where..who knows we might see him in the MMA scene one of these days!

Off to get some Acai.....that's where I met Stuart Cooper, the slowest eater of life. As odd as it was I honestly took a lot out of that 30ish minutes (or more). He'd obviously had a lot of patience, set his own pace, was relaxed and enjoyed the moment at hand and it spoke a lot to me. Little did I know he'd taken an interest in filming as a hobbie a while back...which it turns out he happens to have some unreal talent. We'll get to his work in a little bit.

The day passed pretty quickly and everyone had talked about going out that night (saturday evening) I rested and got myself ready for a night on the town and came downstairs where Nye set me up with a vodka and I was introduced to an extremely interesting character Joey Kuna..hahaha I still just smile when I think about all the crazy shit he does. He set me up with some pasta and a bizarre "doing the laundry dance"...What first caught me about Joey I think to be honest were his massive eyebrows...which look great on him, but otherwise it was the fact that literally in MID sentence while I was talking to him, he just burst out laughing....!!! and said sorry sorry..continue. I was so thrown off and from that moment I realized 1 very important thing from him. Here is a guy who makes himself laugh at whatever, he's a goofball and is going to have an amazing life for those simple qualities. The ability to laugh at yourself and keep yourself entertained are incredibly important. You just don't get the opportunity to meet someone like that everyday, and thankfully I had my chance.

Everyone I was meeting at the house had their stories. Everyone was so interesting and that's just it. The house attracted the craziest people from all over the world, everyone with different goals, plans and ideas of  how they were going to make the most of the trip. For me it was a bit of a strange time. I had just traveled for 9 months, visited 9 countries, this was my last destination and I had a bit of mixed emotions dealing with the fact that it was all coming to an end. I put all those worries in the back of my head but I mean to get to Connection Rio with 10 days left...it's bittersweet..it was a little heartbreaking! I had SUCH an amazing time and met INCREDIBLE people and knew i'd be on another plane saying goodbye to this great group.
A few other amazing guys and girls to name...Olga, Alexandra and Martina, Corey, Freddie, Rory, Allan, Santos, James, Nial, I'll put up a few links to some great work by Hywel Teague as well!, 2 of the best Polish fighters, Maciej Polok and Marcin Held, the unforgettable Camron Couch and his famous word "YEDDDDIRRRR" that spread through the house like nothing I've ever seen, Toly, Jeremy. I wish you all the best of luck this year, you've all got the power to turn dreams into reality so make it a big year with whatever you have in mind!! spread the love!

We'll start out with a few of the links for Stuart Cooper
The day we climbed Pedra de Gavea, sadly I did not make it to the top I had a bad freak out haha but I gave it a fair shot..and still managed to have my breath taken away by the views as well as the work out.

A day we spent going to the Christo Redemtor statue in Rio de Janeiro

After I'd left, the boys heading out for a day of surf xmas eve!

One of the days with Connection Rio, Stuart and Hywel were doing some filming for the Real Rio Show as well as getting some footage for a film done on Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares  Here is the finished product!! http://vimeo.com/34626967 

Stuart & Me
Also one of Stuart's best video's with an amazing track to tie it all together was his work on this ADCC 2011 video that has spread worldwide!! I still get chills when I watch it!


Here's a quick link as well to Stuart's work and info http://www.grapplevideos.com/

The man behind the camera Stuart Cooper
Before our hike up Pedra de Gavea, basically our backyard

Connection Rio house goes out to watch UFC
Christo Redemptor
Learning Zouk with Joey!

Dennis Asche teaches the Connection Rio house @ Gordo Jiu Jitsu!

Great place to keep your Gi fresh
Anywhere to dry your Gi
Cam with sneaky polish assassin behind him!
Marcin Held Polish fighter amazing BJJ practitioner
Group with Dennis Asche outside of one of 2 CR houses

Stuart on the way up to the Christ statue

Freddie, Stu and Joey

These are a few of the moments captured..what went on in my short 10 days was just too amazing to properly explain. 

Connection Rio
Cam with Celsinho Venicius- house guest while we were there, awesome to spend some time with him and practice Portuguese!
Pimienta the house cat
Joey and Cam 
I came across a nice review of Connection Rio on Camron's hometown BJJ forum and it's the best way to get a real visual of just how you'd spend your time in Rio at Connection Rio.


check it out, it really is worth while to read.

In my own personal opinion...Connection Rio really hit home for me. I was explaining to Dennis how appreciative I am to him; to have found a place where not only do you get to enjoy rolling with "family" on the mats which are 30 seconds around the corner at the Gordo Jiu Jitsu school where Dennis also gave awesome classes..on top of that you come home and your there with everyone all over again. Whether it be cooking meals together, checking out funny videos or fighting footage on youtube, taking walks to local Acai restaurants, visiting the beaches, going out at night, or relaxing by the pool there are a 1001 ways to spend your time wonderfully at Connection Rio with the best of company. 

I had my fair share of crazy fun with Joey...playing BJJ games on the beam with the jiu jitsu belts hanging for our swings, hanging out side by side for 10 days straight laughing our heads off and doing the most ridiculous and simple activities to get a rise out of each other...

To have such a talented film maker at your side to make fantastic memories was just incredible it also helped that he was an amazing guy, and really good on the mats- a strong purple belt in the competition scene.. Thank you again Stuart for those videos they'll be with us forever and for dragging my ass for tooooo many bowls of Acai...so awesome! see you at the comps :)

That's the thing, you meet amazing people from all over the world. Some come to improve their BJJ game, some are just starting out, some people are even just there to chill and meet people...get to know Brazil ;) 

Here's a page from the Connection Rio website if you haven't taken a look check it out!!


“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: “I am with you kid. Let’s go.” – Maya Angelou
Founded by Dennis Asche, an American black belt who has been living in Rio for close to ten years, Connection Rio helps visiting jiu-jitsu practitioners get the most out of their stay.
“I started Connection Rio because I knew first-hand how hard it could be to get everything straight,” says Dennis, who first visited Rio in 2003. “Back when I first came here, things were very different. The city has changed a lot and it’s a lot more accessible to visitors, but it’s still a crazy place sometimes. Connection Rio offers a helping hand to people looking to come to Rio, from accommodation and training to local experiences and expert inside knowledge of the city.”

Connection Rio founder Dennis Asche
“Some are really serious and just want to train twice a day for a few weeks, while others want to enjoy their stay as much as possible and see the city. We try to accommodate everyone and the living arrangements we offer seem to suit all needs, from professional fighters to two-week tourists.
The people behind the scenes at Connection Rio know exactly what visitors to Rio need because they’ve been in their shoes too. Connection Rio is unique because it’s a long-standing Brazilian company, but owned and manned by a diverse group of multinationals with a common interest in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, all of whom speak some level of Portuguese.
“You can guarantee, almost anything that someone wants or needs, we’ve been there too,” says Dennis. “We had to find it out the hard way, but now we’re in a position to help others out, and it makes everyone’s lives so much easier.”
From hooking guests up with hang gliding flights, steering them in the direction of the sight seeing spots, or leading the way to the top of the stunning nearby mountain Pedra da Gavea, the knowledgeable team are always on hand and able to help point visitors in the right direction.

So, guys! If you're looking for an amazing way to connect with great people and have the experience of a lifetime; no matter what your goals are for your stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this is the way to go! Contact Dennis Asche and that's how your next adventure will begin! You can make this trip happen, no matter where you're currently located in the world..it's up to you if you want to CONNECT! 

CONNECTION RIO! Big thanks to Dennis Asche and all those who helped make my experience so wonderful. TODO BEM MUITO BOM ..muito obrigada!
http://www.connectionrio.com/ check out the website for more info as well as how to get in touch with the crew.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Finally I made it to the most anticipated country of my entire trip...BRAZIL. There were constant difficulties in getting my visa, but thank the universe for Uruguay where I was able to get it through in 48 hours. I was moving at such a fast pace that no consulate would issue the visa for me unless I was there a minimum amount of time. As well Argentina you needed to book an appointment to even talk about getting your visa..that was 3 weeks away! There were times when I had to tell myself "ok Jess you've done well and seen a ton of places, Brazil will just have to be next on the list of places to see" I was quite upset and losing hope but sure enough everything worked out perfectly as usual!

I know for sure I have unfinished business with Brazil. I would love to explore the entire coast one day. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in a few places before I completely ran out of money.

Total time in Brazil 4 weeks.

First stop; Porto Alegre, Brazil about 10 hours bus ride from Montevideo, Uruguay. I mainly trained that week..sticking to basics of eating, sleeping and training. That's where I met up with the Australians I had met in Argentina. Great bunch of guys and no shortages of laughs.

Second stop was in Florianopolis..aka Floripa Brazil where I met up with a friend I had made back in Colombia. What a beautiful place. I stayed in Backpackers Sunset and it was literally on top of a hill where it overlooked the main land, and 30 seconds walk away there you were to see the coast line. As always, beautiful scenery, beautiful people lots of surf and tons of Acai. I took the week to relax and try and get some sun. Over the 3 months in South America most of the places I was caught in rain or cooler climates. No way could I come back with next to no tan after being away 9 months. I had my fair share of fun in Floripa to say the least. A wonderful Brazilian took me around the city, enjoyed some coffee and later we put our dancing skills in action. For some reason Samba is the most difficult dance I've ever tried to do, I can't seem to catch the rhythm. At some points I had it and was all excited, 2 seconds later I was tripping over my feet. Samba is one sexy dance and I can't wait to get into some lessons here in Canada.

I have Fernando Reis from Sao Paulo to thank for my very first Portuguese lesson in Uruguay. We went over the basics which stuck well with me considering I had been virtually studying Spanish for the 8 months prior. It is always necessary to learn your numbers if you plan on traveling and training jiu jitsu. When you're doing warm up drills and it gets to you, expect to count in the language of the country...otherwise you might be the reason everyone's doing extra drills. Canadense Brasilera he still calls me because he says he can't believe I'm Canadian. It's very flattering for me when the locals think you fit right in. Everyone is so warm, passionate, hospitable and great company. My favorite of all the words on my trip is still "todo bem" It never gets old!!

Me and Teresa in Florianopolis, Brazil
Everyone at the first beach party of high season
Porto Alegre, waiting to eat with the usual crew
Hostel in Montevideo, Uruguay with Fernando Reis behind me! Best Portuguese teacher ever!
Gins the kiwi beauty! 
After a week of fun in the sun in Floripa I got a reasonable flight to Rio. My original plan was to be in Rio for about 2 months minimum to train, but while traveling you realize that you can't plan anything. I was extremely low on money and doing bare minimums to survive my last 10 days in South America. Things were tighter than tight.

My experience throughout South America was amazing. I can't wait for round two one day.

Costa Rica

Now to the cities of all cities...Rio de Janeiro, Brazil