My Life as a Rolling Stone
Coastal cruising, Peru. The last 7 days have been a marathon pace of travel, point A to point B movement continuous. The finish line of my 9 month crusade of culture and Castellano is actually in sight, and I am not messing around with the 3.5 weeks I have left.
7 day stretch starting on Sunday, October the 14th:
Sunday the 14th-Arequipa. Jaw jackingly beautiful, host to throngs of Gringo star struck muchachas, and stunning colonial castles backdropped by snow capped volcanoes. Arriving lazy and late to the bus station around 8pm Sunday night in search of a night bus heading north, I had to pay 80 soles for my ride. Absolute highway robbery. (Woman serving the passengers on the bus was the same woman working on the bus I rode in May while in transit between Argentina and Ecuador). Night on bus. Monday the 15th-Nazca. Desert highway town, slowly burgeoning. It had one plaza, one main drag. Made it to the mysterious Lineas de Nazca (similar to crop circles) and the Necropolis de Chauchilla, a burial site with millenia under its belt for mummified corpses. The site is amidst a plain of sun baked sand where bleaching human bones are literally littered everywhere, open for shock or viewing pleasure. Night in Nazca.
Tuesday the 16th-Huacachina. Bussed from Nazca north around 1pm and arrived in Huacachina about 3 hours later. Its name actually means China Temple. It consisted of a once natural, now man made lake set like a diamond on a golden band in the middle of swiftly rising sand dunes. There was one circular road on the border of the lake which was the size of a football field, and a handful of old paint chipped restaurants and hostals were scattered along its stretch. Upon asking for a map, the hostal worker answered with "porque?" or why? Night in Huacachina.
Wednesday the 17th-Haucachina todavía. Sandboarding in desert sand, in desert heat. In the pm, caught a bus off the street for Lima, 4 hours north. Because I am planning on staying in Lima for a few days at the end of my trip, I arrived, and immediately caught another (night bus) for Huaraz, about 8 hours north. Night on bus.
Thursday the 18th-Huaraz. Arrived around 5am in Peruvian darkness. Took a day of rest including laundry, emailing, street food paroozing, and wandering South American food markets (now one of my favorite activities in the world despite the sess pool smell they usually carry). Night in Huaraz.
Friday the 19th-Huaraz. Day of bussing. Caught the Chavin tour express 3 hours inland to the ruins Chavin Hauntar, arriving at 4pm. I had around 1.5 hours to explore the underground maze-like tunnels and sacrifical terrace to allow myself enough time to get back to Huaraz for my 9pm night bus to Trujillo. Bargained my way into the luggage space of a station wagon taxi for 15 soles from the ruins back to the city of Huaraz. 9pm night bus north, recorded on camera by a group of 13 year old girls while in my bus seat for being a Gringo all-star. During the ride they played Beetlejuice in Spanish. Night on bus.
Saturday the 20th-Trujillo. Arrived around 8am, while getting my wardrobe in a backpack, took a picture with each one of the traveling pack of 13 year old girls, who were apparently on some kind of field trip. I think they confused me with marky mark out of sleepy confusion. Later that day met two Peruvian "primos" or dudes at the open air market, Luis and Fabio, all around hilarious and sketchy, and we then turned the party out in Trujillo until the early Sunday morning hours. One of the most fast paced and travel intensive weeks of my life...fitting quite nicely in my life as a rolling stone. I am looking forward to an anchored week in Mancora, where I will be taking in a professional womans surfing tournament and Cuba libres until American GIs come home...make it sooner rather than later Family.
¶ 6:21 PM73 comments
Friday, October 19, 2007
No Pants Dance?
Curious, a little afraid, a little hellbent on recklessness, I follow the sounds of 80´s pop that is pulsing from the hotel room at the end of the hall. Palpable engergy issues forth from the open doorway, along with a random spray of lights, and a hellish circus of human and stereo produced noise. I can only think of two possible scenarios taking place inside that two star hotel room capable of causing such an assault on the senses:
1. A battle of two bands, playing at the same time, one headed by God, the other headed by the horned and cloven hooved beast.
2. A mothership has landed quite literally inside the room, and the newcomers are being hailed in frenzied worship by their faithful.
Either case, I have to know, I have to see, I have to partake. Reaching the open doorway, throat parched, tongue thick in my mouth from nervous anticipation. The smell of hot human sweat mixed with beer and stagnant air hit me like a truck as my eye balls sit stunned. Not by the sight of scenario 1 or 2, but simply by the dancefloor dozen in the hot grip of drunken self expression between those 15´x 20´walls splashed a lime shade of green. Those Peace Corp Volunteers are dancing with the antithesis of rhythm like an electrical current is being applied to their primary motor cortices resulting in limbs and appendages flailing this way and that.
An inebriated smile crawls across my face at the degree of both behavioral and clothing liberation. Even in that slightly blurred haze of party lust, these people still strike me as the queerest things I have seen in a fortnight. After a seconds hesitation, I dive into the frenzied cyclone of dance moves and am momentarily lost to the world and my pants. This is my kinda of party, fueled by an appetite not so much for destruction, but furious liberation. Keep doing what you do Peace Corp Bolivia, nos vemos pronto.
That Silver SpoonEl Espino. It means the spine or the thorn in English. Deep in the Bolivian Chaco or frontier wilderness. I have experienced some extreme living situations when considering things like lack of electricity, showering in waterfalls on a daily basis, and being surrounded by Amazonian monkeys. However El Espino, or the Speen as James (Peace Corp Volunteer to the stars), Todd and I came to affectionately call it, pushed extreme living to all new levels.
So we arrive in the dusty pueblito that James has been calling home for 14 months. Its around the beginning of October. There is currently one school, maybe 30 families, two soccer fields, one water tank and one doctor. There is most likely an equal number of donkeys, pigs, and cows in comparison to the human population. Arriving at James´ housing compound we quickly discover there are about 4 Bolivians currently crashing in his kitchen...his building belongs to the town, and is free to roaming Bs. Setting about preparing the first meal, I gathered the sparse amount of dishes from a counter so covered in dirt I could write J.Peso in it. Dishes in hand, I took them for cleaning to the water source not far from the house. The water source consisted of a pipe extending 2ft out of the ground with a nozzle at the end. While the water was clear, James said it wasnt chlorinated and no doubt host to intestinal terrors. It was a first in my life of using a kitchen without running water equipped, and we had to simply swallow fears of using untreated water to clean utensils. It was an easy task after 8 months of travel, and a bottle of Purel hand sanatizer brings about childish giggles of glee. However had the Speen been in the beginning of my travels, my nerves and digestive track would have been wrought with anxiety. Thankfully, for toilet papers sake, it wasnt and my stomach in this moment is tougher than Chuck Norris.
Fears aside, the meal was a satisfying combo of lentil and garlic bean soup salted to a power of infinty and my own special papas fritas. It was as romantic a meal between three hardcore dudes could get, broke back mountain cowboys everywhere ate their hearts out. Adding to our merry company were a handful of roaming pigs, dogs, and donkeys, all looking longingly at our freshly prepared gruel. The donkeys of which, as a side note, could be heard EEOOR-ING in excitement at all times of the day and night, in happy pursuit of their mate. It was apparently mating season in the Speen, and whenever one of those horny gutteral noises was heard, we dropped everything (beer, guitar, bag of coca leaves) and came running to see the gruesome yet awe inspiring site. We basically had alot of time to fill.
As our meals came to an end and our stomachs approached a satisfying level of satiation, the last rays of the sun retreated behind an unknown mountain range. The Speen was momentarily painted in magenta and orange hues, reminiscent of island sunsets in Thailand. As the fiery light made its exit, we put our plates down, picked our beverages up, and spent the remainder of the night hammock lounging and guitar jamming. Todd is actually a very talented musician and the sweet sounds of his guitar playing drifted to a boarding house full of students, of course attracting them. At one point our porch was surrounded by dark, silent and ominous little shapes all taking joy in the listen. It wasnt until the 2am hour that we climbed into our respective mosquito/TICK nets in James´ room, and sank into dark sleeps.
The above account was roughly 12 hours, and we ended up staying about 2 days. Of the rest of my time in that pueblito perdido, I could go on in description and stories for paragraphs on end. I want to instead get into the substance of this entry. The people of the Speen are made strong; Much hardier folk than you and me, having adjusted to the coarse and at times candidly beautiful 3rd world way of life. They live sometimes without water, almost consistently without electricity, having to support families and livestock. They have games of soccer to look forward to, played on an unlevel sloped and cracking concrete surface which claimed James´ MCL on his first day. School teachers are a wealth of years too young, and stand to gain a wealth of knowledge still before imparting knowledge on others. I feel myself focusing on the negatives, viewing the Pimp Challis of Life as being half empty as opposed to half full. The reality is that the Speen is an up and coming extremely 3rd world place, one of many across the globe. And every time I see one in its stripped to bare bones nature of beautiful brutality, it makes me consistently think one thing: Why am I so lucky to be born with a first world silver fucking spoon in my mouth?
This not so new realization put James´volunteering effort into a clearer perspective. At the end of his service he will have donated 27 months of his life to this charming shithole of dust and donkeys, where apparently "buenos dias" issued from toothless smiles is enough to keep spirits alfoat. Besides donating those 27 months to the Speen, he will also have helped to construct water tanks for the pueblito and something like 5 surrounding communities. He will bring them and their parched livestock water in a regular supply. Water folks. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me, something you can rest your hat on a peg at the end of the day with a quiet sigh of contentment. Atta kid James, I cannot commend your use of that silver spoon enough. Get it wet in the Speen.
Estaba allí Current J. Peso location update: Puno, Peru. I crossed the Peruvian border via Bolivia about 5 days ago. This update will be valid for the next 2 hours. As in two hours I will find myself in the stuffy, stagnant smelling confines of un collectivo or bus to Arequipa, Peru.
Maybe I should do these updates more regularly, as the first question asked from family and friends is consistently, "Where the hell are you?!?!?!" As a game I try and make my mom correctly guess which country I am in, and she is successful 50% of the time. This reality of being lost to to the world is probably not the most positive of aspects; it simply arises from 1 part laziness, and 9 parts sheer lack of internet access. The last few weeks I have slept on islands living life still in the 1920s, busses blockaded from passage, lakes with titi and caca in their name, and villages that run electricity one time per week to charge cell phones and power the one original nintendo. Needless to say, my itchy little fingers have been removed from thier much needed internet interface.
Of my South American journey, I am on the last stage, in the last country, being Peru. I have roughly 4.5 more weeks of playing Indiana Jones, and about a grand left to my adventure craving and boozing habits. Giddy is my mood at arriving in Arequipa at 6am to wander the streets in search of a warm bed in a groggy eye crusted state; night buses are my election, as they save on a night of accomodation and frugality is my middle name. Off to catch a cab now to the terminal de autobus. Peace
¶ 3:35 PM0 comments
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Here it is, your (my) moment of zen
Apparently Blogger does not discriminate against movie clips depicting brainless activty with make shift Bolivian bombs. More importantly, how cool does this get up look? It makes me think of a marriage between an insect exterminator and a ghost buster. Diddy, go ahead and incorporate it into the fall line of Sean Jean. Entries of a more serious nature are soon to come. Until then, dont be like me and hold lit dynamite.
Read up on the portion of this life which I have chosen to make accessible to you. Or if it is simpler, just give me a jingle and we can shoot the breeze. Either way, forget about the time, what productivity means or anything that might be pressing and get lost in some thought and imagination.
I come from a small town north of Seattle, WA, where I learned that rain is a magical thing because it turns things green. I have had the chance to go a few places and see a few things of which all I have are pictures, memories and stories. I am currently living and learning about Los Angeles, California, and what it means to be an Angelino.