Skype Me and Train! ...or Facetime

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Buy One Get One Free. Yes we are in-between semesters but that doesn't mean you can't train with us!!
Right now until January 1st 2015 you get an hour free when you purchase 1 skype session with me! Yay! We can also facetime!
If you want to get some corrections on your taiiquan or saber form, get yourself a holiday qigong program, do some taijiball or kettle bell drills; I'm here to work. You? Email me and let's do some meditation or qigong!

In other news that's not so "other"...

I would like to introduce you to a program that I have devised. It combines Pushing Hands training with Qigong Massage training. It's designed to build sensitivity and relaxed awareness. Feel free to give me some feedback. I give you...

Tuishou massage

Supplemental Training
"The actions of the sword are considered a reflection of one's mind." Ancient swords-men of Japan discovered that supplementing their study with the art of calligraphy improved their over-all skill. If you have never tried a brush stroke you might not grasp the relevance of subtlety.

Tuishou Massage combines qigong massage and pushing hands in just this way. When you take this course you will grasp the subtly of listening jing in harmony with the hands and the mind.
By training these programs together we build new connections in our brain which deepens our understanding of the theory. Further, this understanding is reinforced and manifested in real-time.

Teachers benefit
Even if one is versed in Taijiquan theory, expresses jing effectively, and balances substantial with insubstantial movement; one may still benefit from this program by learning a new way of teaching the concepts which build the fabric for internal training.
Just as ancient sword masters supplemented their training with the art of calligraphy, the push hand players of the future will be supplementing their training with qigong massage. You can be a part of this movement by booking a workshop with Javier.

Often when training pushing hands, it's difficult for people to see the benefit of a relaxed-mind and soft-hand approach. In addition, to effectively apply Taijiquan jing theory one must keep one's own center regulated. Only when this is achieved can one begin to place one's hands on another, whether it's for massage or push hands. This is where the importance of meditation enters, so one can see how a regular meditation practice can be crucial.
By training massage with pushing hands technique, one is forced to use a soft and tactful approach that does not disrupt the experience for the patient. This induces a state of relaxed awareness which begins to build a foundation for safe, effective martial training.

A pushing hands match can be chaotic and the mind tends to go into flight or fight mode. This makes the mind chaotic and raises the energy out of the persons root. As the root becomes compromised the body seizes, and fills with tension, which is the apposite of soft and relaxed. With the mind not centered, the energy not in control, and the body locked up; the practitioner is unable to respond effectively.
By training pushing drills with massage mentality, we bypass the mind and body's initial response to fight and tense-up. In this way we take a back door-approach, in the mind, to circumvent the tendency to fight and push back.

Life Skills
We must always look to apply our training into our lives. As we take this approach to learning, we facilitate an environment of awareness and observation. We train ourselves to relax and to respond gracefully to all situations that life presents. When we train this way we provide a service to ourselves and to the the world.

So there you have it. I am going to start teaching within this framework. Whether it's taiji ball, hard/soft white crane, even meditation; it gives context to all of the things that we train on a daily basis.

That's it for now. Skype me! Let's train.

Semi Sleep Paralysis

I have to write this down (like... asap) before I forget the details. Technically I already forgot the event once, but more about that later.

There really is no way of "warming you up" so I'm just going to dive right in. First I pose the questions: Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to find that you cannot move your body? Upon waking have you ever literally had no control of your arms, legs, face? Have you ever heard of Sleep Paralysis? It's quite frightening.

So we are sitting in the sauna, the evening of Thanksgiving; and one of the current guests, at the time, casually mentions my meditation article... found on ymaa.com... http://ymaa.com/articles/2013/12/meditation-techniques-at-ymaa-retreat-center-part-1 "></a> ...shameless plug.

This article is lengthy and, to me, convoluted. I am currently devising a program of logical progressions for meditation, but more on that another day.

I mention to this guest that, in my opinion the trick to our meditation system is the semi-sleep state. As soon as I said that a flood of memories came racing back from the night before in which I experienced an episode of Sleep Paralysis.

As these visions were entering back into my mind, I was kicking myself in my head for forgetting all about this profound experience that I am about to tell you about.

Here's the thing. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I can still remember waking up in the cabin one night - this was about 3 or 4 years ago - and when I become conscious I try to roll over. However this terrible fear comes over me as I realize that I have no control over by body.

In this state the only thing that you can do is scream at the top of your lungs - which I did - and hope someone comes and helps you wake up.

This is how I awoke in the middle of the night, prior to this sauna session. However, the ways in which this experience differed from the past continues rattle my shell.

This is how it went down. I woke up in my tent and, again, it is Sleep Paralysis. I tried to move. I tried to throw a punch (why? I dunno probably cuz that's what I do all day) and I just couldn't move my arm. This is when the awareness the paralysis enters, but this time I'm conscious enough to tell myself not to panic.

I say to myself, "Ok, why don't I just stay in this space and observe it for as long as I can."

How can I explain this feeling? If I was presumed dead and woke up to find myself 6 feet underground this is how it would feel. Does that make sense?

As I said before, this has happened to me before and this time I was aware and quite curious. I observed the feeling of this space between my body and... I guess my center of consciousness; like being in a cocoon.

Here's where it gets crazy. The next thing I notice is that I can hear voices from outside of my tent, and here is how my thought processing went - still in sleep paralysis, mind you:

"Holy crap, who is outside of my tent at this hour? I am in the woods, away from the house, so why would there be anyone out here making such a ruckus? Don't they know I am here trying to sleep? Wait... everyone else is asleep too! So what are these whispers outside my tent?

I know what I will do! I will creep to my tent door, open the zipper really fast, and scare them all away! Wait... I can't move my body! I have no control over my body!

Enter a profound feeling of vulnerability and fear. I was now somewhere I have never been before, and the same terrifying feeling of that first episode of Sleep Paralysis takes over. I am completely helpless and I cannot defend myself.

I thinking, "I have to protect my space! If I cannot protect myself in the physical plane, I must protect my energy space. I need to create some kind of barrier so that they know they are not aloud within this space. It became apparent that they were from the spirit-realm. It was like the movie insidious.

So I in my mind, I sink my weight and start circling. I put my hands up to guard and I start spinning as fast as I can. I even throw some punches and kicks and I think to myself, "I'm doing Kung Fu? I'm doing Kung Fu ...and I'm in the spirit realm!"

Sensory Deprivation

"I just felt like I had slept for a couple of days," a woman said. Another person said, "Oh, I make sure to float once a week." Finally, one person complained, "It smelled when I went. It's over-rated," while my friend exclaimed, "No way, I don't want to be alone with my mind for so long."

Alright, so here's all about my first "floating" experience. I realize now that I went in expecting too much, so after the session I felt a bit disappointed. Truthfully, I went looking for the "psychedelic trip" because of how Joe Rogan described the float tank. Watch the vid to see what he has to say.

So you can see how I might have high expectations. Yes I was a bit disappointed, however, it has been more than a week since, and I DO notice that there is something different now in my meditation. What's different? I feel a little more lightness, my energy body wants to expand more, and I have a better sense of my aura or consciousness (not quite sure yet) in terms of expansion. I'll explain why.

It was also in Torrence and Venice beach that I inquired about floating, but those places were booked at least a month in advance. I "floated" for one hour at http://www.floattherapy.net/ for $45. It's in Marysville just outside of Sacramento, located in a small old-historic building. Yet it's been renovated and looks like a modern-day spa.

It's called sensory deprivation. So I'm there laying in 2 feet-deep water mixed with 1300 pounds of Epsom salt, and I can't see or hear anything.

You have to be able to release as much tension as you can, laying there in the water. I knew, prior, that this would be key so I immediately used my breath to go into a deep, relaxed state. Right off the bat I took note the feeling of zero-gravity, and the feeling of being suspended. In my mind this equated to having no root (martial arts lingo). Other circles say, "Not being grounded." This concerned me because, keep in mind, I was expecting a psychedelic experience. I knew that my mind would have to stay highly aware so that I didn't find myself somewhere that was foreign. In other words I didn't want a "bad trip." On one hand my body was free to relax completely, on the other hand my mind was not. I thought it safer that I not allow my mind to expand beyond my control.

I approached this experience like I do within my daily meditation practice - induce a semi-sleeping state.The ability to feel and release tension was an effective skill in this instance. Throughout most of the session I was constantly self evaluating my mental state - basically self assessing to see if I was "still in Kansas." While necessary, observing the experience takes you OUT of the experience momentarily, and when this happens you have to start from the beginning and then go back in.

This was cool: As I felt myself going from semi-sleep to deep sleep, I could feel my energy body expanding; but when my mind became just a little uncomfortable with how far I had expanded, my energy came racing back into my body. I got a sense that if I fell asleep completely that my energy might expand too far. What lies beyond? Who knows?

For the physical body, floating is very effective. My body was so relaxed that I counted 7-10 "releases," which are characterized by the twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles. This is quite significant in comparison to other modalities of healing like massage. It is different for everyone but just to give you an idea about what I'm talking about, a healer or masseur might spend 30 - 45 minutes guiding a patient to a state of deep relaxation, inducing this "release" from the body; and when it finally happens there might be, at most, 3 releases. I had close to 10. A large one actually jolted me so hard that it created quite the ripple effect, and had my body bobbing there for a minute.

The closet thing to a psychedelic experience that I had was watching some very interesting light patterns forming in front of me. It's pitch-black in there. I need to go back to gather more information. I think I would like to try it once a month for at least 6 months to note any significant effects.

After the session I passed out for almost 3 hours. I'm not sure if this is attributed to the Epsom salt. It could be that my body needed the recovery given the intensity-level of daily training.

Hope you enjoyed. Any questions? What's was your floating experience like?

Ninja Secrets

"You get out what you put in." Have you ever heard that one?? I'm sure you have. That's what it's like training here. Without harmful chemicals or drugs I'm always looking to improve performance and recovery. In this entry I share the latest products I'm using. I'm going to add these to my Pinterest-Ninja-Secrets-board. Click the links for more info.

Pre-slash-Post-Workout drink

I refer to these drinks as "real" fast-food, as in this is the only "fast food" you'd catch me eating; or this is the only "fast food" I would recommend... just saying. I'm just now looking at the label after using it for about a month, and they pack so much nutrition. The product was given to me as a gift... I know what you're thinking - why would I ingest something without looking at the label? Well in my defense the product came from a reputable source. Any-who I have two kinds: Vanilla Spiced Chai and Chocolate Cacoa. In terms of flavor I definitely recommend the chocolate one. I was reading some reviews, some people make shakes because they don't care for the texture or the flavor. I guess I'm "Spartan" like that cuz I just mix with water, post-workout.

Bed-time Rub

I have been really putting this stuff to the test and it's awesome. For some reason I have been really injury-prone lately. Among other things I clashed my knee on someone's shin and I can't stop jamming my right thumb. Topricin helps me maintain the thumb issue and I'm not sure how many days my knee would have been out of commission without this stuff. The first time I used it was on my Sciatica and the next morning I woke up feeling a lot better. Don't quote me but I would definitely choose this over dit da jao. What do you use for injuries? http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dit_da_jow

Energy cleanser

I started using Palo Santo a year ago after we had a... let's call it a "spooky" experience around the mountain. I was soon to be alone to watch the property for about two weeks and some of the guests were concerned for my... "spiritual" safety (thank you guys) so it was suggested I burn sage and Palo Santo. I took to the Holy Wood instantly. If you like incense I recommend it. The smell took me back to my early twenties when I lived in Orlando Florida and I would frequent this new-age book store quite often. So I have been using it almost daily before laying my head down, with the intention of clearing the air.

Saturday is the new Monday; and Friday never comes

I just got back after a week-long Texas trip and year 6 begins on Monday. But I hate this down-time right before the start of a sememster. It drives me "cray cray." I just want to skip to the inevitable: the torture. Thankfully, NOW I can see past the torture to expect progress and growth. So that's what I patiently wait for. I suppose that comes with experience because for the first few years I used to feel a lot of anxiety on my way back to the mountain. Institutionalized I guess.

I think I'm still on a high from the summer seminars. Some will say it was the best summer-seminar-season to date and I think I would agree with that. I saw a lot of great camaraderie and willingingness to "empty one's cup." Don't get me wrong the work load is demanding but there are moments of light to keep me trucking-on. A BIG thanks to those who show appreciation and those who step in to help us out. The summer is six weeks of back-to-back-back seminars where people fly in and out on Fridays with a new topic starting every Saturday. It screws with the head if you're used to a Monday-Friday work week. That's why I say that in the summer Saturday is the new Monday and Friday never comes.

If you have never seen the movie Waking Life, get it and watch it. When I experience those few moments of light I feel like I am that kid in the movie. He just floats from scene to scene and has these insane, colorfull, thought-provoking conversations with random strangers. So I like to float around when I get a chance because many of the guests that visit are professionals in there own fields. If I want to learn something I go right up and ask.

People's interest in training at the Retreat Center just seems to grow and grow each year. 30 people have reserved spots for next summer seminars; and for the regular training period (fall and spring) people are wanting to sign up for a year at a time - that's new to us because most stay for a couple of weeks to a month.

Note: those wanting to live and train here for a full year are encouraged to come for a month to test it out. Then it's suggested they make a more-informed decision within that time.

Enjoy this scene from Waking Life

more to come



"Being a poet is a condition not a profession" Robert Frost

When I was a child I never thought about how I would "use" my Karate training. I just really liked it. I enjoyed training and I appreciated the moral principles we strived to adhere to.

Fast forward twenty something years. People ask me, "What are you going to do when you graduate from the program?"

I have to ask myself: Where will I fit in? What role can I play? What skills have I developed that are useful in society? In this day and age what is the relevance for learning what many consider out-dated self defense systems?

When I told people that I wanted to pursue the ten year program they were like, “Wow, that sounds great. It’s a big commitment. What are you going to do with that when you're done?”

It's a legitamate question. I wonder though, will my training ever be complete? There is this notion that my training will finish, a chapter will close in my life, and I will move on to the next chapter. But what if I want to continue training and learning. What if I want to delve deeper? To be honest I feel like I'm just beginning to build momentum as I complete five years.

We are trying to impose a modern mode of thinking to a something that is better characterized as a lifestyle slash relationship between teacher and apprentice. In my field however, according to Dr. Yang a student needs at least ten years of training, every day mind you; and that is referring to a child, who's body is supposed to grow with the training. Further, that is just a starting point - a beginning.

The easy answer when people ask what I will do is, "Well, teach." And granted I did take an oath to pass down the knowledge to future generations, but you can't just "teach" martial arts these days.

So I have been pondering this for a while among other things and I have been writing a lot of ideas down. I hope they help...well...me to find my place, my purpose. Either way I will certainly continue to share what is going on in this brain of mine.


What!? An Update?!?

..Yea that's right. Coming atcha with an update here.

Where do I start????????

The biggest thing for me is the return of my health after my ruptured appendix. It happened in September (2012). It was the first week of the semester and I was gunning to hard. I'm pretty sure that my appendix ruptured while I was doing pushups. "Ya see, what had happened was: I had someone pushing down on me for resistance and I was just... trying to accomplish too much too quickly." There's probably a health professional out there saying that you can't rupture your appendix with a pushup but hey that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

jav hospital

This March (2014) marked 18 months since the surgery. That's how long my doctor said it would take to fully recover because he had to do a partial Cecum-eptomy after the infection had spread. So I have brought back a lot of body conditioning these passed three months. I had still been doing some conditioning throughout my recovery but I hadn't added rigorous strength conditioning similar to that of my first year here.

When I returned to the mountain from the hospital I was weighing just over 130 lbs. and now I am weighing just over 150 lbs. I have added a lot of things into my diet that I had never been exposed to prior to my surgery: probiotics (I make my own kombucha), flax and chia seeds, maca root powder, FIBER, and there's quite a bit more (check out my Pinterest Ninja-secrets-board). There were a lot of people that helped me throughout my recover. Thank you all so much.

Good things are coming and more updates are coming. I will still be here conquering those demons. Here are a couple of recent videos of me continuing to accomplish goals.

Muscles-up. Getting that strength back. (5.2014)

The is actually a belated birthday present to myself: the Back Hand Spring- 3 years of blood, sweat, and tears for this... but it's just the beginning. (5.2014)


Newsletter from Dr. Yang

Hi all. I'm back from vacay. I cut it down this winter to two and a half weeks. It was great to relax and spend time with my family. I'm back on the mountain getting ready for the next semester. It's cold and wet here. Just yesterday we had about an inch of snow in the morning. The following is an update from Dr. Yang about the Retreat Center. Check out the new Skype Seminars we are offering!!


Dear Friends,

Happy new year! I wish everybody a great 2013. Here is an update of current events to start off the new year:

YMAA Live! Online Seminars

We will be teaching online seminars at the YMAA Retreat Center this year. If you are interested, pleas sign-up or email us to see if anybody can co-host with you.

2013 YMAA South American Camp

YMAA International will be holding the first YMAA South American Summer Camp in Pucon, Chile from February 12 - 24, 2013. If you are interested in this camp, please visit the YMAA Chile website at www.ymaa.cl.

Applications Received For 5-Year Program

About 23 total people have shown serious interest in the 5-Year Program, and several of them have visited the center already. We will select the best applicants to visit the center for a Trial & Interview Period from March - June. If you wish to know more about program, please visit: http://www.ymaa-retreatcenter.org/full-time-program/5-year. Although we are past the official deadline for submitting an application, we will still consider applicants who visit the center to train with us (minimum 1-month) and to submit the application in person. Visiting information is here.

Summer Seminars 2013

We had a great turnout for last summer's seminars and are looking forward to this year. Here are the seminars that will be offered for 2013:

July 5th-12thTraditional Taijiquan/Taiji Sword (Please Choose One)
July 12th-19thTaiji Pushing Hands and Applications
July 19th-26thQigong-1 (Qigong Theory and Spine Qigong)
July 26th-Aug. 2ndQigong-2 (Medical Qigong)
August 2nd-9thQigong-8 (Muscle/Tendon Changing, Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong and Grand Circulation)

The maximum number of participants per seminar is 21, so try to register ASAP. Lodging also fills up fast. Please see the attached PDF for current lodging availability. Please also be aware:
  1. We are unable to accommodate very specific dietary needs and meals, although though we can provide some vegetarian meals.
  2. You should arrive on a Friday and depart on a Friday. Friday is the reserved arrival and departure day, so there are no seminar activities then.
  3. Payments should be made by sending a check (USA only) or using PayPal. PayPal payments should be sent to paypal@ymaa-retreatcenter.org. If you register for a free PayPal account, you can send money through PayPal using a credit card. More information at www.paypal.com. Please email us if you have any difficulty.
  4. There are two prearranged pickup times at the Eureka/Arcata (ACV) airport. If you are able to arrive at the airport at either 3:00pm or 7:00pm, the round-trip transportation fee is $50 per person. If you are unable to arrive for a 3:00pm or 7:00pm pickup, you can arrange a different pickup time with us, but the round-trip fee will be $100 per person. We would like to encourage carpooling as much as possible to save on gas and reduce pollution, so please try to make the prearranged pickup times. The drive to the center is roughly 90 minutes from the airport.
  5. If you have to cancel your registration, here is the policy:
    • Refund:
      Before January 1st ---------------- 100% Refund ($50 Service Fee will be Deducted)
      Before February 28th -------------- 90% Refund ($50 Service Fee will be Deducted)
      Before March 31st ------------------ 80% Refund ($50 Service Fee will be Deducted)
      Before April 30th ------------------- 70% Refund ($50 Service Fee will be Deducted)
      Before May 31st -------------------- 60 % Refund ($50 Service Fee will be Deducted)
      After May 31st ---------------------- No Refund

    • Transfer to Next Seminar (Effective Only One Year):
      Before March 31st ------------------ 100% Transfer
      Before April 30th ------------------- 80% Transfer
      Before May 31st -------------------- 60 % Transfer
      After May 31st ---------------------- 50% Transfer
Visit the following pages for full details and registration:

California Seminars 2013
(July 5th – August 9th)

You are also always welcome to come and train with the disciples during non-seminar times as well:

California Regular Training
(September 1st – December 15th; January 16th – June 30th)

Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best for 2013.

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

Message to the candidates

When I first came here I was all gung-ho. “I got this” was my mantra. It was fun…until it became work. Dr Yang calls this the honeymoon period. It’s easy to be excited for the first few months. The will is there and the spirit is there, and this allows you to endure a lot, but those feelings are superficial and temporary. They will eventually fade.

I feel like the trick to surviving the program is to try to find ways of prolonging your “honey-moon” period. It’s like a fire, constantly needing wood pieces to stay alive. This means finding things that get you excited or interested, because if you are not at least interested then you might as well be a robot just going through the motions. I find comfort in small improvements because they equate to progress. Each improvement whether big or small is an additional piece of wood thrown into the fire. This keeps me focused on myself and engaged in my training, in hopes of snowballing into a cycle that will keep that flame lit.

Many people are curious about what life is like here, especially those applying for the 5 year program. Some guys have been flying out here to stay with us and get a glimpse of the life. I would say that a glimpse IS better than no exposure at all. It helps in starting to paint a picture. Unfortunately you just can’t feel the WEIGHT of this place without living here for years on end. It can become like a pressure cooker. How? Responsibilities of the homestead, work, school, family and friends all pile up on one little mountain. You can’t avoid people or problems because you see the same faces every day and do the same things every day. Every emotion is not only felt but magnified due to the fact that everyone is in close proximity. I can’t stress the importance of people skills along with time-management skills.

I don’t want applicants to think that they are just going to drop their worldly possessions and escape their problems of city-life, move to the mountains to meditate and train Kung fu all day. It doesn’t work like that. Don’t think you are jumping out of the matrix because you will find that the mountain is governed by its own matrix, with its own flaws. There is no perfect system as there is no perfect person. Humans will always be human and problems will always arise at the worst moments.

My message to the candidates: You will need to find ways to keep that flame lit while not burning yourself out. You will need to tolerate others but stay true to yourself. And you will need to stay adaptable to all situations, but remain calm and focused.


That’s my two cents. Hope it helps.


Year 5 Begins.

I’m not feeling good so I’m resting and thought I would update the blog to keep my mind from the pain. Year 5 of the 10 year program has begun, but it’s my fourth year here. I came out guns blazing ready to get back to the regular routine; however I think I pushed my body to hard and made myself sick. Strange, this isn’t the first time.


So we had a good turnout for summer seminars this season. Thank you everyone. Your contribution keeps this place running during the regular seasons. A very special thanks goes out to Dale and Christine. They stayed throughout the whole seminar season and cooked bomb-ass meals day in and day out. Those reading should know that is NOT easy. So hats off to you two and thank you for taking some of our work-load.

YMAA International

I want to officially welcome Nicholas Yang (Dr. Yang’s youngest son) as he will be living and training with us throughout the program’s duration. He Jon and I have started training together. I’m stoked. He already has a ton of knowledge so it’s great to have that resource.                   

Since Nicholas is head of YMAA International this means that the Retreat Center CA is now the Headquarters for all schools. Because of our remote location it will be harder for international students to visit the headquarters but I can ensure that we are committed to refining this art so that when people do visit they have a lot to gain. Jon and Nicholas are spearheading a movement to standardize all YMAA material so that it is ALL consistent throughout the organization and subsequent schools.  

Online seminars

We are now offering Webinars from the Retreat Center. The prices are listed in the website http://ymaa-retreatcenter.org/ymaa-live-signup  This idea came about when Dr. Yang was stuck in Argentina and couldn’t make it to South Africa for a seminar. The only thing they could do was Skype but after its success he realized what a great tool it is and how it would cut down on travel costs. We hope this will be one avenue that the Retreat Center may self-sustain in the future. The Retreat Center relies heavily on Dr. Yang’s personal contribution, but he has clearly stated that once the 10 year program ends if the Center cannot support itself he will sell the land.                 

Other projects

During the seminar breaks this summer Dr. Yang encouraged people to help with his garden-makeover project. This project is still underway but so much was completed thanks to everyone who pitched in. Thanks Guys!! This lightened the work load for the disciples and allowed for some rest before the semester started. It’s a lot of hard digging and it’s often hot out but the garden is really starting to look nice. We have raised the beds from the ground which cuts down on underground critters and allows us full control of the dirt. Dr. Yang even gave me my own little section for planting.

The most recent project came after we discovered a natural water spring on the land. We are going to use this resource to fill our well hopefully ensuring that we don’t have to buy water from town anymore. There is a considerable difference in the quality of the water we have to buy and you can definitely taste it. The spring has a nice flow, about half an inch thick and it’s only the dry season, so one can only imagine how much this spring can provide during the rainy season.


Well that's it for now.
Thanks for reading