Simple Comforts: Southern No Longer
Hey Joe, how is home? ask cherished cheek busting friends and fam...usually within the first 15 seconds of conversation. I respond, "home is....is good, its great to be back," through a brimming smile that Im pretty sure is genuine. Roughly 10 days ago I was dangling my Timbaland booted feet over ruins on Weynu Picchu (Young Mountain) while taking in the spell binding view of Machu Picchu (Old Mountain); and now, at this very moment I'm sitting in my parents house, watching my dad watch Gardening with Cisco, listening to whispers of words like "job" echo off walls and minds, hearing phrases from mami Greenberg like "you know the green MnM is supposed to make you horny?" Things are still in their fresh phase, and I am revelling in those situations described above and the company of all faces that I have known longer than two weeks.
Coming back has been thought provoking and relaxing in a hot tub kind of way; I thoroughly enjoy dwelling on those little things so easily taken for granted in American life. Bathrooms. American bathrooms hold a plethora of tiny things or cositas
that were at first missed, but after a short time there absences weren't felt and actually added to an over inflated air of ruggedness building beneath my skins surface. A few examples include toilets, thier seats, TP, hand soap, running water you didn't have to collect and pour yourself, functional locking mechanisms stopping Korean tourist girl from busting in like a S.W.A.T. team member to take you and all your pantless warm ankled glory in. I really didn't miss those things after too long, and now that I am back in the lap of super luxury, American bathrooms have a cold, sterile, fragile and fluorescent museum feel. Maybe I should just go to Tacoma....and its really something that this paragraph was dedicated to banos in its entirety.
Home is beautiful of course. Its beauty can be found in the following things that reek of comfort and simplicity: a room with a view whose price doesn't have to be bartered. Sharing a bed with a wonderfully fat feline who snores louder than most. Having access to a refrigerator stocked with more abdominal 6-pack shattering food than I could imagine, and I can sadly imagine it could probably feed five families in some places I had the opportunity to visit. Road and noise regulations. Pedestrians having the Goddamned right of way as I almost ate bumper and died so many times from the wheel of reckless drivers that it IS funny. God bless pedestrians and their rights of ways everywhere. Having more to my life than my back pack and its 30lbs of contents. Knowing things. Like where the beer is in the Westgate QFC and not having to ask directions every 30 meters after changing cities every 4 days. Maybe resting a little easier (now that I am home) that my folks can rest a little easier knowing I'm not wondering some dark alley or jungle path, walking along the brink of some treacherous fate just waiting to befall me. Of those priceless things that South America bore like the exotic fruit of some rare tree I will not talk; in this moment I simply choose to savor those tiny details that define familiarity and make home what it is. If I know your name and you're a North American, I will probably be seein you soon.
Reflections of a Machine Gun Nature
Hard to concentrate with the noise of the street, a lit carribe in my hand, already sweating the days heat away in Tarapoto. Getting my backpack together in my hotel room, I was greeted by a baby lizard of some kind crawling out, hopefully the first and last. I look back on the week of lost and aimless travel with a mixture of grimaced regret. Yet it slowly gives way to thankfulness. Thankfulness for the amount of time available for 1pm beers and reflection....on my trip, of my life....where will all of this fit in? Will I look back upon these last two or so years as The ones of gold? Of insane, ridiculous, grinding adventure like some fairy tale of tropics and icebergs, of angels and demons? Demons hardly.
It sucks worse than a famished leech that I have been cameraless, but now after two weeks the sting of shame or verguenza
of getting worked over has subsided. After 8.5 months of travel I thought I was immune, invincible, with an impenatrable shield of knowledge on how to maintain on the South American road. All it took was two smooth criminals, gelling and smoother than butter in 90 degree humid heat. One of them I didnt even get the pleasure of seeing. With my head turned for half a second, the camera, where once sitting on the restaurant table where it shouldnt have been, was gone. I hope its sale on the black market went to feed a family, and the hand of the thief who snatched it decays into an arthritic claw that he cant even pleasure himself with, the bastard.
I rode back to Tarapoto in an coombi or mini bus yesterday from Yurimaguas, the place where ferries are caught and ridden for 3 days to Iquitos. Iquitos (big past tense) WAS on my agenda because its stories of jungle boom and beautiful indigenous women who starve for more than just food permiate every Peruvian pore and sector. Due to time constraints, it is on my agenda for next time, and I will say no more about the fabled jungle place. The ride back was through a baby mountain range shrouded in tropical folliage. The road was still being completed, at this point completely unpaved and choppier than drunken footsteps. As the light of Mondays sun escaped, the surrounding jungle and its shreds of ghostlike white mist were put in contrast to the black sillohettes of my roughly 10 other Peruvian passengers. Despite a few words here and there, I really did not make an attempt to talk with any of them; yet still a strange connection was felt in that small, hot space, as we sat there together for about 4 hours, heads and shoulders bobbing with the ebbs and flows of that violent dirt road whose color was that of rusty blood.
Shit, maybe its just my sentimentality finding the surface of my skin at the end of this journey. Early last year, while taking what would be the last look at my parents for 8 months through the other side of an airport metal detector, I seem to have developed a touching or sickening reservoire of sentimentality. A reservoir built to spill. Blessing or curse, trendy, cool, gay or not, I really dont care, I just like being able to feel it. And I usually feel it after doing something altogether good and character building, and then having to leave it. My cherished America Del Sur, this is me trusting in all things temporary, and holding to blind confidence that someday will hold the promise of return. A plane is waiting for me on the tarmac, and gonna be flying Pablo Escobar style over the most dangerous part of the country in terms of coca leaf growing. Im out.
Culturally and digestively interesting discovery: Cev(or b)iche. A salty and crunchy blend of roasted corn kernels (soft) and banana chips. Coupled with the tender consistency of fresh fish of which kind I cannot be certain; drenched in a spicy lime sauce accented
with slices of purple onion. A simply delicious grand slam in the pallete stadium of my mouth. Like nothing else I have ever tasted. It has been 36 hours since my departure from Mancora, and I already fiercely miss the summer for life oasis straddling the Pan American highway in northern Peru. I am currently in Tarapoto, amidst a huge traveling blunder that has cost me at least 30 hours, most of which spent on a bus. ¡MALDICION DEL CHANCHO!