Posted by: Mo | May 5, 2011

Ramblings

Being away from the ocean is being away from the energy that seems to imbue me with some undefinable vibrations. The air stagnates further into the city, but this creates a restlessness. The streets and houses climb up the hill, the favelas tower, overlooking all those who pass underneath. And the streets do seeth with activity. Every corner has items to purchase, the pedestrians move more aggressively, less patient in making their destination; to finally see a friend and achieve some pleasure after a day of toil. Is this better than mixing with the classes of leisure? It’s dead there in a different way because that’s what safety looks like: visible wealth, segregated garbage, manicured streets.

And that’s the struggle with travel: readjusting and transitioning to the different levels and kinds of energy; learning to appreciate all things for the thing in itself and not denigrate its difference. During this trip I’ve avoided more remote areas because I’ve been worried about being bored. But it’s really just a matter of positioning yourself so you’re receptive. And it’s hard to make these constant transitions, since we’re so often stuck in our singular mode of perception/reception that we often miss things, but it’s not just observation. It’s not just missing seeing that child peeing out of a car window. We miss the feeling of a place, we miss the scent of a place, the way it sounds. The ubiquity of the camera, the encouragement by the ever present snapshot on a postcard is leading to a certain degree of sensual retardation. When or why did this geometrical mimicry become the mode of “capturing” experience. As though we should desire something so static; me by a monument is one of the more creepy images I could take from my trip. I don’t like this isolated image of my trip because it transforms it into something banal, perishable, subject (and gaining meaning only in its ability to please) to the fickle attention spans of an overstimulated public. And maybe I’m missing the striving in the photograph, the movement, the life. I don’t intend to say it isn’t there, but the camera has become a despot. Kodak has created a tyranny over the other senses– the other modes of reception no longer seem practiced or of value. It’s harder to own smell, how could they know? The photograph seems a neutral presentation, a democratic platform to display your experience in a way that someone else can similarly experience the moment in the way you were experiencing it at that time. Seeing me in the desert at least partially captures how it was in the desert. What it looked like, even if the image cheapens to totality of the experience. But how can someone even begin to know what a city smells like in a morning? Or what it sounds like?

My gritty skin, texturized by my visits to the beach; will I remember this? Will this feel like Brazil to me or will it lose this specificity and whore itself to some other location, some new memory? I wonder if I’ll continue to be stared at when I get back home. But maybe that’s why photography is appealing: because the memory is unique, even if artificially presented. Because what is it, but artifice? This picture of Thailand will only remind me of Thailand. The waves sound like the waves in Arica, which sound like the waves in Hawaii, which sound like the waves in Rio. The aural memory is no longer specific, but that might be permissible. Is it really better to “capture” memories or let them organically blend from experience to experience, since the medium of perception– my brain– is still present in all these circumstances. It should be able to borrow. Will this gritty spoon remind me of Lapa when I encounter another gritty spoon? Or will this fibrous mango shake become Ipanema for me or will I block this out?

Will I remember these kids practicing futbol on the beach at sunset? The beach at sunset? This profound feeling of happiness and gratitude? When I experience tears of joy again, will a part of this moment in Ipanema come back? When I watch footage of Vidigal will my beach experience deepen the resonation?

The beach resounds with “Acai!” “Limonata mate!” Will I remember this? When I have Açai in the future will this come back? Or will my memory let it go? Or is the experience of memory not so clear? The past shouldn’t be expected to be presented as a replica. The experience fades– the visual image of it– but maybe the feeling of the experience, the absorption of the surrounding energy remains as it was even then. And remains a part of us. We don’t lose any of it, even as its new form no longer resembles the way it was first experienced. Because how can we really expect a present moment to be accurately captured and preserved in a past moment? When has the future come to us as the future we are imagining in the present? It’s always mildly altered, usually for our benefit since we can’t ever seem to wish for things in a realistic sense (“be careful what you wish for” comes to mind).

I’m jumbled. My brain hasn’t had the sleep it needs in order to actually process thoughts or communicate them in any sort of poetic way. I’ll be off for the time being. As it is.

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Posted by: Mo | May 5, 2011

God, how I hate all this– the things in the shop windows, the obtuse face of merchandise, and above all, the ceremonial of transaction, the exchange of cloying compliments before and after. And those lowered lashes of modest price . . . the nobility of the discount… the altruisms of advertisements… and all of this nasty imitation of good, which has a strange way of drawing in good people.

Posted by: Mo | May 5, 2011

“Thank you, my land; for your remotest
Most cruel mist my thanks are due.
By you possessed, by you unnoticed,
unto myself I speak of you
And in these talks somnambules
My inmost being hardly knows
If it’s my clemency that rambles
Or your own melody that grows”

Posted by: Mo | May 5, 2011

“Love, to put it simply, repeats at the last parting the musical theme of shyness that precedes its first avowal.”

Posted by: Mo | April 28, 2011

Feeling the embrace of Christo

I’ve made it to Brazil and despite my constant attempts to compose another email, I seem to keep being foiled. Sitting under the air conditioner, thus giving myself hypothermia, putting too much wasabi on my chicken breast and then inhaling it and proceeding to suffer a massive coughing attack right across from some unlucky Brazilian woman who made the mistake of sitting by me at the cafeteria style tables; so many things occupy my time. The Brazilian woman was so nice before I did that. I’m not doing a very good job of making friends. That’s a lie. No one can resist the charm of a woman drinking vodka on ice through a straw. No one. The charm abounds.

It’s mostly that I keep being distracted by the desire to watch R& B videos. It can’t be helped, I’m surrounded by gyrating pelvises and quivering butt cheeks everywhere I turn. How the fuck am I supposed to resist jams that bootys like to groove to? Damn, Brazil.

Brazil is magical place. The butts might be full of silicone, but the dreams are real. Just this morning I watched a taxi driver drop a plastic bag full of piss out the door. No time to piss when there is action to find. This was only to be topped by the man riding a bike with a parrot on his shoulder.

The hostel has been a mix of good and really fucking annoying people. A French woman who “lives in Ireland” just checked in today. She begins this morning by coming downstairs, “Excuse me!” literally yelling. Just now she yelled from her chair because she couldn’t be fucked to get up, “Excuse me! Mr. Reception man!” Huh? I thought French people were refined Europeans. She just walked up to me after I’d been on the computer for maybe 5 minutes and was like, “Excuse me, are you going to be on here long?” I’m sorry miss, you were on the computer for literally 2 1/2 hours last night. It’s my time now, bitch. Anyone who talks that loudly in the morning is on my shit list. Yo, people are trying to get used to being alive for another day. Check yo self.

But, the alternative to this is that there was a group of a (good example) of Americans trying to book a hotel room on Easter Weekend. Everything was booked so there were trying to book this love motel (of which there are dozens in Rio). There were 4 of them, so they used Google translator to translate into Portugese so night security could ask the hotel operator how many people were allowed in a room. Four people was not going to be allowed. Only two. Some love motel.

Easter weekend was eventful. I had to stay out in Lapa, which is the nightclub/pickpocket district. Because it’s so full of nightclubs (I’m sure you could assume this from the previous description), the hostel was full of Brazilians. Full, like waiting in line to take a shower (like I need any obstacle beyond myself to get here). I had to wait in line to get my cocoa puffs (!!!!!). But, I guess it was good the supply wasn’t limitless because my only ability to say “No” came when the box was done. Jacked up on sugar only leads to me crashing and getting grumpy around 12 PM. This is what happens when Mom isn’t here to save me from myself.

But staying in Lapa left me easily able to get to the Lapa street party. This “party” consists of dozens of Caipirihinia stands, grilling meats, and entrepreneurial spirits who mill about with whatever bottle of alcohol they have bought for the day and tiny plastic shot glasses. Take your pick. I want this guy to come home. Legal street shot drinking? Yes, thank you. It is of course better that this isn’t allowed back home. While it’s glamorous to puke out the window of taxi vans here where I’ll never see anyone again, I think back home it’s called embarassing. The street party was fun, aside from making the mistake of thinking a group of girls drinking Smirnoff was going to be fun. Questions like, “Don’t all Americans talk loud?” as two Americans are sitting there talking quietly. Don’t only fucking idiot girls drink Smirnoff Ice? How old are you anyway? Anyway, this group decided a pool hall was going to be a fun idea. ALWAYS a terrible idea. Great, let’s stand around and watch people a group of people who don’t really know how to play pool hit the ball around. I never realized prior to this how annoying it is to watch shitty pool. Fuck. An hour of coitus interruptus. So, I stopped smiling and unfortunately my green eyes have a default dead expression and non smiling face looks like a pissed Russian. So, I really brought the party down. Sorry. This isn’t fun though, I’m not going to pretend I like watching shitty pool. Bye. No robbery there though, so I’m psyched.

And, anyway, I needed to make it back so I could be well rested to wake up to a giant Brazilian lesbian sleeping naked. When she’s not coughing out Portugese and trying to set me up with Brazilians named, “Gabriel” she’s snoring with a ferocity I could only expect from a notoriously passionate people. Fortunately she didn’t completely drown out the speakers blasting classic rock jams at 8 in the morning. If I hadn’t been jacked up on Cocoa puffs, I could have feigned some anger. Instead I got on the bus and got thrown around a bit. Oh, Brazilian bus drivers. I could swear that your wage depends on how much time it takes you to get from one end of the route to the next. Otherwise, I can’t think of why you’re in such a hurry all the time. Like, do we need to be going so fast that we Ferris Bueller style fly over the hills? I don’t mind, ultimately, but I also don’t mind that I only wash my hair once a week, so I don’t know what my opinion means. Safety, schmafety. If you’re not smacked in the face by a beach chair, then you’re not in Rio. You’re also not on public transportation if a night ride doesn’t include a wasted man singing in Portugese with a beer in each hand. Somehow he didn’t get thrown out of his chair, a miracle I can attribute only to Christ the Redeemer’s embrace over the city.

These frequent bus rides left me fully prepared to find my way back from the Favela the other day. Left the club early, despite being completely impressed by the funk beats. I managed to hold my dancing for a moment, but then….

There’s a weiner dog distracting me right now. It’s doing the leg shake. Can’t stop petting when that’s going on.

…. That final caipirhinia I didn’t need kicked in. So, I left and found the taxi vans going to Lapa. My drunken confidence was astounding. And apparently irresistible to the Brazilian sitting next to me as he continually tried to make out with me. He soon left and despite an invitation I remained in the van. After occupying a few minutes puking out the window of the van, I started to become worried that I’d missed my stop. But, soon I came upon this building lit up by a rainbow of lights I remembered from my previous bus rides. I soon knew where I was, much to the surprise of the guy taking the fare in the van. Frequent questions of where I was going was met with me finally saying, “Pare, alli” and getting out to walk a block to my hostel. Did I make good choices that night?

Probably not. I blame the fact that I was laughing instead of “realizing how drunk I was and would soon reach a limit.” And that I don’t know much Portugese and ended up ordering a glass of vodka with ice in it and a straw. This led to bad ends. (!!!!!) The waiter was shocked as I was ordering. I had no idea why. I just wanted a shot. Is that so crazy? But, how do you drink a caipirhinia slowly. I’m drunk! I forgot how to do this responsibly. Wooooooooooo.

My brain is losing steam and I need to wash my armpits. Today I’m feeling like I’m finally less sick (fingers crossed). Drugs all night, alcohol, and not sleeping in Bolivia apparently lowered my immune system. The phlegm of my bad decisions continues to haunt me and clog my life.

More soon, Brazil hates it when I’m on the computer and my snot hates it when I think, so emails are more complicated.

xx

Posted by: Mo | April 5, 2011

Keep it poppin

Woke up this morning, stepped out of the door to some guy leaving his room for the bathroom with a grand old case of morning wood. Dorm life. Lack of privacy. Just a weird form of prison. A prison where you´ve bribed all the guards so it´s actually kind of fun, even if you have to go to designated areas to eat food and designated areas to watch tv and the beds still aren´t Four Seasons standard. The men still stalk around, hungry for female flesh, the females who visit, play up their assets, and people still frown on fighting. I just wonder if the people working there have tasers or if they´d have to break a bar stool to use as a make shift night stick. I don´t really think about this, but I thought about it. The difference is subtle.

The first tour around La Paz was interesting. People dressed up in full zebra outfits, not a shred of human skin exposed. This is promising. The traffic is hectic and the lack of busses careening into me I can only assumed is an act of divine intervention. Buses trundle by and packed mini vans putter along while someone shouts from the interior where the van is headed. Sometimes I think of jumping in, just so I can see what Bolivian body odor smells like. I already know all the others. I haven´t yet. Still have three more days.

The streets are a mess of tracks clinging to the mountain sides. The greenery is impaled by the towering rock formations attempting to deliver a deadly wound in the blue sky. In the distance ominous mountain peaks loom. And as much as I want to admire the scenery, I find myself continually interrupted by myself ragdolling as I stumble over the uneven streets. After several instances, I have decided to get back to the basics of walking and look where I´m going. It doesn´t help that the Bolivians are like tiny linebackers powering through the city streets as though each person ahead is a member of the offensive line. Their stature does not suggest the force by which they practice their locomotion. I´ve been nearly taken out on several occasions and this is only the first day. I´m starting to feel like a runningback. I should start painting black under my eyes.

Bolivians don´t seem to give a shit about gringos. No cat calls, no stares, just an occasional street vendor asking you to inspect their wares. And they do offer a diversity of products.

Today involved a visit to the gringo proclaimed, “Witches market.” It wasn´t as exciting as I´d pictured, but I attribute this more to the fact that fantasy is difficult to fully manifest into reality. There was no castle with a giant thunder cloud raining down thunder bolts, or bubbling cauldrons, or children hog tied above bubbling cauldrons. I guess family is important here. But what it lacked in my projections, it made up for in dried toads, dried out baby llamas, “Honey Love” tinctures and other items to arouse the “totally love” of another. There are ice cream shops, but no supermarkets. Just leathery women in bowler hats touting various items of produce. I did my first try of random mystery produce today. I think it was cactus fruit.

I didn´t like it. It was bright magenta with hundreds of little seeds inside. Or about 50. Or they were insect larvae, but I didn´t inspect that closely. And, besides, I´ve eaten dozens of insects while I´ve been here, so I don´t see why I should be prejudiced against the Bolivian ones. And so far, 8 hours later, no diarrhea, so I´m feeling like a stronger woman for it. I also feel remarkably better than I did yesterday. It is possible because I wasn´t killed in the street protest this morning or because I´m jacked up on coca tea and coffee or because I slept like a corpse last night. A beer, exhaustion, lack of oxygen, ear plugs, and some Tylenol pm and I´m out until 9 hours later. I managed to throw plenty off of my top bunk, despite near total paralysis, so, “Lo siento” to my dorm compadres. I´m sure they were drunk anyway. Or I´m an asshole and pelted them with shit. Either is feasible.

And just as an aside because I just thought of this and I´m a pervert. But, I wonder if the lack of oxygen leads to better orgasms, something akin to that autoerotic asphyxiation business. Hm. And, aptly, someone´s phone just started playing, Britney Spear´s “3” song. I´m dying.

Anyway, the rest of the city was more congestion, more horns blaring, or bleeting, more police men with huge guns and mace bottles guarding bank doors. And security men with tasers at the ready in their hands. Just normal stuff. So after another captiulation to the those goddamn ubiquitous gelato stands, it was back to the hostel. How I managed to avoid buying one of those llama ponchos, I am not sure. Tomorrow is another day though.

So I decided to get all gussied up after finding a store that sold some conditioner in a pretty purple bottle. Scorching my scalp in Arica is making me look like I need a fucking zamboni to wade through the mess of scalp detritus laying waste to my hair. But I power through, glamour has never been one of my strong points.

A troop of girls just walked in with matching llama sweaters and llama leg warmers. It strikes me a little like wearing the band´s t shirt at the concert. Oh, you went to the market and saw the “Real Bolivia” today. I am, of course, the asshole sitting alone in the corner scribbling in a notebook jacked up on coca tea, so my opinions aren´t all that valuable. Just the mad ravings of a monomaniac. The hump on my back doesn´t show while I´m slumped in this awkward shaped couch, so I´m able to feign normalcy and hide my troll nature for a few minutes more.

Don´t mind me, Ms. Sally Normal over here, I´m just minding my business and loving these cushions beat to shit by 4 years of abuse by geeked out travellers exchanging amorous caresses through the night. If I get up for another cup of coca tea, the ruse will be over. Fuck, it might be worth it.

I actually spent the day walking around with other people. Proving that I do talk to other people, but the nice ones never provide enough material to write about. But, travelling with others makes everything a monumental decision. Do we eat? What? Do we turn down this street? Nothing is a relfex anymore.

The perpetual abuse by alcoholics is causing this couch to rebel and send reverberations through my tail bone. I hurt. I suffer. And so I must create….

Update: getting up did reveal me for the freak that I am. My outfit looks like something I picked out of the donation box in a small town food bank. Yeah, take that llama sweater. I don´t want to wear one item of clothing for warmth. What if I´m caught somewhere high up, but with a window and the only method of escape is if I make a rope out of the several items of clothing I´m wearing? I bet you never think about that when you´re getting dressed. But I do. Cuz I´m a fucking survivor, man. My hair is getting long, but it´s not Rapunzel length. And if I tie my hair to climb down, I´m going to have to saw it off in the end, 127 hours style and I´m just not ready to do that yet. It´s practically like a limb now. Or a little pet squirrel I´ve nurtured to health all these years. Just in case you were asking why I didn´t make a rope from my hair and stop dressing like a bag lady. I answered your fucking jibes of incredulity.

I´ve also just realized that the nail polish has mostly washed off of my hands, so I no longer look like a prop in a bad haunted house. For better or worse. If I drink anymore of this tea I´m going to start wearing all white and screaming “Disco is not dead!” while demanding Chaka Khan be played on loop. I´m already getting shifty eyes. I´m lying! No, I´m not. I don´t want to blow my load before Ladies Night starts. I am being given the opportunity to puke for less money tonight. And I know when to answer when opportunity is knocking.

And a further update on myself, I can almost nibble on the ends of my bangs now. I recognize some people here, so I´m going to keep staring until it doesn´t come to me why I recognize them and then have to retreat to the den of bean bag chairs to save face. I already drooled down my arm today, so there´s a strike against me. Still peeing in the toilet though. Still peeing in the toilet. I´m practically the Queen of fucking England with this level of class and manners. Feel free to start peeing in the toilet, I will not take credit for this trend.

Now if I can just avoid lip licker tonight at Ladies Night, things will be gravy.

I´m not sure that I have any more non sequitors up my sleeve, so I shall depart for another day. xx.

Posted by: Mo | April 5, 2011

Those batting velvet lashes

It all started beautifully. I smelled the strong smell of acetone as I started to inspect my bag. Me thinks my nail polish may have spilled. And so I go to inspect and see that I am correct. And my solution was to take the bottle out and start wiping it with my hand. This certainly solved the problem of the bottle being covered with nail polish. No it´s just my hands. Covered in red nail polish. I count myself lucky that red is so sexy.

But, generally the bus ride was uneventful. In the bad sense. The bus smelled terrible, but I only had to pee once and brought my own food, so I didn´t really suffer. I arrived and was able to exchange money and get a cab to the hostel. No robbery. No harassment. I forget to give myself credit sometimes. I´ve arrived in so many cities, that by now I at least kind of know what it´s like. And it was still light out, so that paranoia was unfounded.

La Paz is a city built in a bowl surrounded by craggy snow capped mountains. As you enter the city, you wind down to the bottom of the valley through the twisting streets built up the steep mountain sides. It´s a city at 13,000 feet, so the impoverished are located further up the mountains where the air is poorer and the rich are located near the bottom, where there is at least a modicum of extra oxygen. I arrived feeling pretty light headed and tired. Not the greatest feeling in world. And despite warnings to the contrary, I cracked open a beer, feeling it the only thing that was going to at least mentally comfort me, even if I physically continued to feel like shit. But that seems to be the standard when you´re travelling. Something always seems to be going wrong with the body, whether fatigue, being hungover, food poisoning, general malfunction, cuts, bruises, cigarette burns… The list goes on. And I suppose it doesn´t help that I don´t have a center and have spent the last two months sharing rooms with total strangers. My privacy consists of the short showers and pee breaks I take throughout the day. And these don´t even feel completely private. Sometimes the stalls are in the larger shared bathroom, or it always seems someone is watching you go in and out. At times it´s feeling like I´m just a pawn in 1984.

But, back to the bus ride. I went from Arica in Northern Chile to La Paz in Bolivia. La Paz is located on the altiplano amidst the dusted Andes mountains. Arica is the driest city in the world. Literally. So I went from an ocean side desert with absolutely no vegetation, just piles of dust accumulated after years and years of no rain and eternal spring. Winding through the dust mountains, we got to a national park where the vicuñas hang out. These are little cousins of llamas and are so fucking cute I actually squealed with delight. Luckily I´m white and the only gringo on the bus, so people expected strange behavior. And also didn´t give a shit, unable to peel their eyes away from the spanish dubbed Jackie Chan movies. But the soft lashes and fur of those little buddies hopping through the hills. So adorable. And it only got better as the bus made the border crossing from Chile to Bolivia, sandwiched between two volcanes around 10,000 feet, I couldn´t have asked for a more scenic way to shell over $135 to the Bolivian government. They were luckily nice and the bus steward made sure I got to the front of the line of Bolivians running to be first to get stamped out of Chile. Lines are nothing here. It´s all about pushing and making sure the gringo is last. The fact that I tower over everyone only makes the situation more difficult: I either don´t see them or feel bad pushing a ´5 1″ older woman in order to get the turn I´ve already waited for. But, I have nothing but time and work too hard to keep patience to sacrifice it on some person who´s apparently got somewhere to be. Or thinks his or her time is more precious.

Cross over into Bolivia and all of a sudden the mountains turn red. With streams flowing and the most lush greenery just popping out of the red dirt. The sky is the most vivid azure and the clouds seem so close at this high of an altitude. In the distance you can see ominous snow covered peaks hididing behind the clouds. The colors. I´m still wowed. And to think all I paid was $15 and 8 hours of my time. I´m so happy I took this route. Maybe I would have seen something similar coming from the desert, but I like to have the different story. I always want to go the route that I haven´t heard everyone take. Which, they probably see amazing things, but for some reason I can´t bring myself to do it. This led to be taking an 18 hour hell bus through the Laotian highlands instead of a booze soaked boat trip down the Mekong. Which is better? I´m not sure, but going with my gut has always seemed the best thing to do.

The bus finally makes it to La Paz. I´m so excited to think that the whole trip went without one break down. Right before I left Arica, one of the men who worked at the hostel was telling me I picked the worst bus line. He complained about the food and bathrooms (which were terrible) but I could understand if he was saying anything that was bad, as he was telling me in spanish. As long as the buses were going to make it, I didn´t really care. And I was even able to use the bathroom and not pee on myself, in spite of choosing the most jostling time to empty my bladder. I managed to hold the swinging door shut and aim, all while the bus sped up and passed some truck that was apparently going too slow for the bus drivers liking.

The bus rounds the corner to reveal the coliseum of a city. It´s such a difference form the flat cities I´ve seen so far. The streets wind, people are dressed in the exact traditional outfits théy´re always depicted in. This does feel like the South America you imagine. Complete with a not being able to drink the water warning. I brushed my teeth last night, wondering if I was about to inject myself with a nice dose of traveller´s diarrhea in the name of dental hygiene. I didn´t care. I was too tired. And if I can brush my teeth with the water in Cambodia, I don´t think Bolivia is going to take me under. Knock on wood. But, really, damn this altitude. I was so tired. I couldn´t even read. My brain was a complete mush. I slept last night and am feeling better today. As I walk by the oxygen tanks, I don´t feel like I´m going to need them anytime soon.

And so far I´m undecided about this hostel. I think it will be fun, but I was so overwhelmed yesterday. The hostel is massive and known for it´s parties, which usually means a younger crowd. And being that I´m more prone to being curmudgeonly, this doesn´t always jive well. But I can do it. Even if it has a room full of bean bag chairs and people wearing Beer Chang shirts from their gap year trip to Thailand. I´m not an asshole and everyone has something of value to teach. Sometimes the experiences just seem so diametically opposed. Or experience. The few years difference lends so much to the general bank of wisdom or things survived and of interest. I´ll get wasted and stupid and have no opinions whatsoever. The beds are incredibly comfortable and free coffee. The breakfast leaves much to be desired. I hate standing in line for food with everyone´s hungry eyes and feigned civility. You are one step away from just pushing through and tearing into those rolls. I can´t handle it. I feel like I´m being herded. And for what? I sacrifice this dignity of humanity for a free roll of white bread? I said this once already, but it makes me feel like an 18th century french peasant, waiting for the limited handouts. I will kill the person next to me for that modicum of food and nutrition.

Well, I think people are likely waiting for the computers and I have yet to experience La Paz today. Plus I´m getting high off what smells like Kerosene fumes in this computer room. One more quick note: I know I´m going to get really annoyed in a place when people leave shit lying around everyone. Empty boxes of cigarettes, glassware. As though other people are responsible for their shit. Drives me nuts and is such evidence of youthful naitivete.

This is a bit garbled and probably rife with mispellings, as my reliance on broken english and broken spanish has caused my general vocabulary to devolve at a rapid pace. Hope you all are well and miss you terribly.

Posted by: Mo | March 27, 2011

The alternatives to things I do and mistakes I make are likely not as ideal as I make them out to be in hindsight. Whenever I make a decision that fucks some plan I made up, I like to indulge in those mental acrobatics of alternative directions and choices I could have made. For some reason cultivating regret is the only logical step I can take after I realized I fucked up. “Was it worth it?” I always ask myself. But, the answer to this question is contingent upon some hypothetical, something that hasn´t even happened or maybe would have never even been possible. I shouldn´t have gone out last night, I should have gone to bed. And my idealized version involves me getting a great night´s sleep, waking up, catching my flight, meeting amazing people in this new city, having great conversations and many other beautiful things. But, was this really ever an option of happening? No, because it didn´t happen. How can I compare what I actually did with something I made up? And then hold myself accountable and berate myself for picking the choice that has now become my life over choosing a fantasy I created? But, I always do it. I always pretend this fantasy was as equally real as what I had happen. I may as well say, Why didn´t I hang out with Neil Young last night instead? Why did I have to go to that house party and get really drunk and sleep through my alarm? It´s no less possible than saying I was going to wake up for my alarm. With as tired as I was last night, I may have slept through it without the sedative effect of alcohol. Who fucking knows? I´m trying to let it go. I´ve made expensive mistakes on this trip. But, I think this small mistake is going to save me from the bigger mistake of missing my flight in La Paz. I now know that I can´t party the night before I have a flight. Especially if I´m having an international flight. But, when I went to San Francisco, I almost missed my flight because I was drunk and nearly slept through my alarm. I was still drunk as I rode on the light rail to the airport. And somehow this knowledge completely escaped me last night as I thought that I would just catch an hour of shut eye before I had to get up for my flight.

And for all I know, it was a subconcious choice I made. I was just thinking yesterday that I started talking to people too late. And now that I was leaving, I´m hanging out and having fun with people that have been here for two weeks. So, maybe I meant to not wake up. To give myself more time in Santiago. But, now I´ll have less time in Bolivia and it´s so cheap, but what can I do? I smoked too much last night I drank more than I should have after an afternoon of eating ice cream sandwiches and stayed out later than I should have to catch a flight and I don´t think I´m regretting it. At least not until I find out I can´t get a flight or that it´s going to be way more expensive. But, maybe it will be cheaper. But, I was happy to be there with the people. My time in Santiago started to make sense. Everyone there had been in Santiago for weeks, months, years, and loved it. They didn´t like clubs and thus didn´t like Buenos Aires as much. I still liked Buenos Aires, I guess that´s not the way I wanted to phrase that, but I suppose I´ve been wondering why Santiago has resonated with me so much. I´ve been beating myself up for staying in Santiago, but have finally realized I fucking like it. And it´s perfectly acceptable to stay. Other people have done it and there is something about this city. Something about it is great. There´s a good energy.

And I saw more of the city and just interacted with different, good people. I can´t regret any choice that introduces me to the fact that there are caring, good people in the world. I really can´t because there is nothing else. And I´ve been so much in my head that it´s good to interact and also to hear from others that I seem like a good person. That sounds really stupid, I will admit that now, but I´m trying my best to be open, honest, and authentic and grateful. And it doesn´t matter if other people recognize this because I don´t need recognition or a reward for this–that would be pure arrogance– but it´s good to know that maybe I´m being effective. That I´m doing it. My efforts are not in vain.

And what else am I travelling for than to have stupid adventures and make mistakes? I have to learn some way and this is a pretty benign lesson. If it´s even a lesson. I missed my flight in Cambodia and it didn´t really teach me not to do it again. I guess it just taught me that I make expensive mistakes. Or it´s teaching me that I have to forgive myself for fucking up. That this is the major part of life. And that´s bordering on a platitude, but saying these things and recognizing them is harder to actually making manifest the idea. That I´ll finally start living this philosophy hopefully.

Off I go. I´m hungover, which leaves me little to work with in terms of coming up with ideas of what to do with the day. The travel agency is closed, so I suppose I just have to not worry about this today.

Posted by: Mo | March 23, 2011

Love after a few sights

What I think it comes down to is that I have a crush on Santiago. I can´t describe what it is about the place, but I can´t leave. I like just being around it. I can just walk around and pretend I´m hanging out with the Chileans. I have a crush on Santiago. There I said it. I´ll admit it. I have emotions. I have feelings. I can have feelings for something. I can´t come up with any other explanation for why I´ve been here for over two weeks and can´t seem to leave. I´m barely even hanging out with people. Just myself. Just ruminating. More and more and more. Maybe I don´t have a crush on Chile as much as an obsession with myself. I just like to indulge. But, I like to just walk around.

I was taking the bus back from Pucon and there was a couple, the man with one of those classic gaucho hats, smiling and waving to someone in the windows on the upper part of the bus. There was such happiness and affection there. Then the other day I was sitting in the park and a woman was sitting with her dog. And the smile she had whenever the dog came back to say hello was beautiful. Just pure affection. I was touched and I don´t even know her. Maybe this is all projection, but I like the sense of community that people seem to uphold here. When people recognize eachother on the street they say ¨Hello” and somtimes stop for a conversation. Everytime you go into a store or do anything someone says Good morning or Good afternoon. It is a polite formality, but just a beautiful recognition of humanity. I´m constantly having this outpouring of affection for random strangers. I don´t know what it is, but the observations are so fulfilling for me. I´ve been doing this everyday for almost 2 weeks now and somehow I´m not completely sick of it. And it´s opened up a whole spectrum of emotions I´ve tried to ignore or pretend I didn´t have. I suppose this is important. This has been the year of exploring how to cry again. I hadn´t done it in years and still have trouble admitting this vulnerability, but I´ve managed to let myself occasionally. I think this is all one aspect of trying to establish closer bonds with those that I love. With admitting that I have perfect contentment just being around people I love. That I don´t need more than that. And as I´ve been working with this I had a conversation with this Swede that was just right on point.

We started talking about the different structures of societies and how they gather their food. Hunter gatherers, herders, blah blah, blah. But hunter gatherers spend less time gathering food and shelter and thus have more time for socializing. There is this tribe or society in Bolivia that his professor spent time with. When asked what they wanted, the person responded that he wanted to sit by the fire with his friend. And that was enough. To be with the people that you love. That acquiring more money wasn´t necessary, or a huge house or being recognized as someone important in the world. That being a social being and connecting with people was important enough in and of itself. I´ve been thinking about this a lot in the last year. Just that creeping sense of isolation that seems so pervasive.

“For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what some of all his efforts is not the fullness of life, but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self definition, they fall into complete isolation.” Dostoevsky

And I suppose this is something that I´ve been ruminating on a lot recently. I´ve spent almost 2 weeks in Santiago and haven´t really been socializing much. And I struggle with wondering if this is wrong. Or if I´m supposed to be doing something else with my travel. Whether just talking to myself is indulgent. I´ve been working a lot with avoiding boredom by just observing and appreciating the present moment. It may sound cheesy, but it´s also difficult. But a challenge I think I should take on. But, there is still that creeping worry that I´m supposed to be talking to people all the time. That that is the essence of travel: the interactions of different peoples thrown together. But, for some reason I haven´t felt like it. I suppose being in dorms and constantly being forced to be around people and all that I do observed makes me more inclined to want some privacy. Some anonymity. And also needing to depend on myself makes it harder to open up. Like there is some core that I need to maintain lest I just completely crumble. I had a breaking point the other day, but I´ve built myself back up. This is all an amazing experience and I like it, I think probably just talking to myself all the time brings forth more struggle than I would normally recognize. I´m able to analyze the many facets of all situations, so maybe I make it more complicated than it needs to be. Is there some perfect way to travel? Some model that I should be following? I was planning to go to this nearby city today and at the last minute decided I didn´t want to. So, again, I wondered if I´m doing something wrong. I didn´t want to leave. I didn´t want to go there, but felt it necessary out of some obligation. And was also trying to escape this guy who keeps talking to me. Another one of those projections of “I don´t know why, but I just want to know you better.” It seems like a line, but maybe it´s true. I hear it so much. And all the interactions so often seem predatory that I like to avoid them altogether. Maybe that´s why I´m happy being solitary. I can trust myself. Usually. Usually I try not to injure myself physically or mentally. The constant vigilance with travel can be tiresome. And even more so when you´re having to fend people off inside the makeshift “home” you create in a hostel. Just some privacy would be nice for once. Or just genuine niceness or compassion without other motives. But maybe being by myself is leading to unnecessary projections.

Because I don´t mind interaction, but I also don´t like feeling like I´m being forced. As though talking for the sake of talking is somehow better than being by yourself. What´s so wrong with this? Why does this have to be such a curiosity and something people need constantly to fix? I welcome people socializing and giving me the option, but my refusal isn´t necessarily just a negative rejection. As though I´m desperate for anything or too stuck up to talk to anyone. And, in come respects maybe I am a little stuck up. Because I don´t want to talk all the time to all people. Yes, that sounds arrogant. But, it´s easy to fatigue on the “where are you from?” conversation if the person isn´t all that funny. We´ve got to be able to have a smart ass exchange. I don´t know.

I´m too much in my head, so I´m probably making things more complicated. But I like Santiago. For some inexplicable reason. And it´s sucked me in. I´ve got to head North and see some more things. Head to Bolivia and see that. I´m just dragging my feet. Maybe part of it is out of fear. Who knows. We can´t really tell ourselves the things we´re not willing to reveal, can we?

Off I go to take some more pictures. Something I´ve been neglecting for a while. And then maybe I´ll buy a coloring book.

Posted by: Mo | March 21, 2011

Mas

I keep forgetting to mention details. I suppose filling 18 hours a day full of new and different things makes it hard to keep track of everything.

First, when mentioning culture, I forgot to add the college Freshman walking around dressed as ship wrecked drag pirates covered in oatmeal. Can´t get enough of them and have to love a city where this is the go to outfit.

I also went on a tour of the city. A tour that was supposed to reveal the local´s Santiago. On this tour I saw meat markets and fruit stuff and we went and had “coffee with legs.” There are the more open cafes that just have girls in tight clothes and short skirts serving coffee. Then there are the ones in a darker setting. These ones play techno music and have girls in bikini tops, thong bikini bottoms, with a piece of material stretched around to cover half of their butt cheeks. The bottoms hangs out to say hello, however. Not a relaxing environment to have a coffee in. And it just made me wonder why the fuck there aren´t enough shops exploiting the sex of men. I want shirtless dudes handing me a demitasse. WHAT THE FUCK?! It´s always hot barista ladies, where the fuck are the dudes? On a construction site? Boo.

And then we drank this thing called a Terremoto. It´s the “earthquake”. White wine, fernet and pineapple ice cream. It´s surprisingly not as terrible as it sounds. It gets you really drunk, so of course I liked it.

I´m off. It´s sunny out and apparently heading to Bolivia means I´m heading to winter. Boooooo. This might mean camping out in La Paz and avoiding the washed out roads. Sorry Uyuni salt flat, you might get skipped.

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