this is a dump. if you could look to the right, which you can´t, but if you could, you would see the caribbean sea about 30 meters away. the trash is removed from cities and put in places like this, surrounded by monkeys and buzzards that eat this stuff and become diseased. previously green, now no longer clean. sad, yes. true, also yes.
it was sort of a hobby. i'd go to airports unnecessarily early. and i would check the computer screens and go to wherever the next flight was landing just to see people exit their planes, but mainly to see people, who also had people waiting for them, exit their planes and to watch the reactions, especially the expression of the face over the shoulder that can't be seen by the one getting hugged, because that face, that is truth.
how do you define yourself to others? by what you do to make money? by what you do to obtain happiness? by how many kids you have and their ages? by what you'd like to do? by where you live? i mean, when someone says, tell me about yourself, how do you begin? i ask, because all i am and have been lately is a guy who rides his bike. that is how i am defined by others, because the evidence is between my legs and anything i try to say in addition to the fact that, yes, i ride my bike, seems to pale in terms of being interesting. i mean, i'd like to tell them some other things, but it's always dismissed.
this is a monkey in a national park in costa rica. cute little feller. until you realize that all he wants is your food and then he becomes more like a rat or a mosquito or that commerical jingle you just can´t shake from your mind. this guy is eating a granola bar that, no, i did not give to him.
one of the most useless things one can do is to want to do something. i hear it all the time. and i can see easy ways that the wanting can be transformed into doing. extremely simple ways. but people don't want to hear that. in fact, they often get mad when they hear that. it's like they want to convince themselves that although they want to do whatever it is they want to do, they can't actually do it because of reasons beyond their control or something like this. but nothing is beyond your control, as long as you take just that. and when you realize this, you are free. the most often mentioned reason of prevention is money. but i can see gazillions of ways people can save more than enough to do whatever that thing is they want to do. don't get haircuts, don't buy name brands, don't worry about what year your car is or don't buy a car and just get a bike, don't buy clothes, have one pair of shoes, buy blackened bananas, keep your house cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer, hang your clothes to dry, use less toothpaste, you don't need a sheet below you and a sheet above you and a blanket above that and a comforter that matches some nearby item of other needless expense, don't sterilize your dishes after every use, never buy wrapping paper, make your own envelopes out of paper, never eat out, don't buy razors, you only need one knife, look in trashcans (you'll be amazed), jewelry is unnecessary, ride a bike to go there, use your fingers rather than combs and brushes, just use normal pens, remember that money isn't impressive, never buy trashbags, just drink water. i could go on and on. and yes, adjustments will have to be made to your lifestyle, and maybe there will be times that you will be a bit uncomfortable, but i say, if you really want to do it, you will beat the addiction to comfortableness that we all, to different degrees, suffer from, and you will do what you want to do and that is all i am trying to say. is that people should do what they want to do. why on earth would you do anything else?
but i´m not in china...but someday i may be...or maybe i won´t be...haven´t decided yet...
i fell in love at the grocery store and this time it was real, seriously, because this girl, her name was jasmine (she didn't tell me but i mean she had a nametag and all or otherwise i'm sure she would have told me) and she was my cashier and she told me the total was $6.75 and i gave her $7 and first of all just to show you it wasn't just me who was in love, check this out, because she asked if i wanted a quarter or two dimes and a nickel, and then, just to keep her on her toes and all, i said, actually, i'd like one nickel, ten pennies, and a dime, and you should have seen her smile and then, just in case you're not convinced, when she handed my money back she left her fingers in my palm for way too long to the point where i was looking around and thinking good lord what if people are watching, you know, and so anyway i thanked her for heeding my request for change, just to prolong and keep our relationship going and she said it wasn't a problem at all and that actually, she had too many pennies anyhow and was glad to get rid of some of them, and then i said, real cool like and all, seriously, that it wasn't a problem at all and that if she really wanted, i could change my dime and nickel for fifteen more pennies, and i think she was just about to until this really rude guy behind me in line started audibly exhaling and looking up into his skull as if he owned the entire world, you know the kind, and so then i had to leave jasmine but i mean by this point we had already shared so much, i guess it was time to anyhow.
so i'm walking down this street at night and i see this lady grilling up chicken and when i walk by the smell hits me and immediately i'm nine years old in my freshly cut backyard in georgia backed by what seemed at the time to be infinite acres of woods but what are now just more and more houses, and i'm standing next to my dad, grilling, and he is putting some brush strokes of his delicious secret recipe bbq sauce on my finger for a taste, and i am licking my finger clean anticipating a great summer meal. i love smell-induced memories. and i love the fact that i have happy memories of my life, though i don't delude myself trying to convince myself that there wasn't sadness. but anyhow, this chicken, the thing was that it smelled pretty good. i tried to convince myself, as i often do, that is was only the sauce that smelled good, but i do have an inkling that it was also the chicken that had me salivating. so does this make me a villainous vegetarian? a closet carnivore?
that´s me crossing from costa rica into panama which is not only a sweet van halen song but also a pretty cool country. one time, i was at a friend's house, and his sister was there, and i had this cassette walkman, and i was listening to van halen, and i remember air-guitaring panama with my eyes closed, because i mean, the music was moving me and all, and i thought it might impress my friend's sister. i was money then; i am money now.
i fell in love another time too and i was going to tell you about it so one day i was running and i think i was looking pretty good because i had on these totally money sunglasses and a pink shirt and so anyhow i started wondering what time it was because i mean sometimes i have no idea because i'm just running and thinking about how many times i've been in love and all and sometimes time just goes by and i don't even know it so i figured i needed to know what time it was but the problem was i couldn't just rotate my wrist because i don't have a watch so i figured i'd just ask the next person, and it wasn't too long before i saw the next person and she just happened to be the most beautiful girl in the world, seriously, and she was walking her dog and she and her dog were going the opposite way as me so she had plenty of time to check me out, which, come on, let's face it, we all know she was, and so when i got right near here i slowed down a little bit and i wasn't even the least bit winded so i know that impressed her and then i said, "good morning, do you happen to have the time," and i thought it was better to say it like that rather than "what time is it," it just sounds better or something, and then, and here's the proof she loved me too, she said, "it's 8:30," and then there was this little pause and then with this smile that confirmed it for me, she said, "exactly," and i mean, come on, who says "exactly" when you give the time, even if it is exactly, you just don't say that unless you love the person, and i said thanks but for some reason the way she was coming on to me so strongly with the whole exactly thing and all, i was turned off so i just said thanks and turned around and continued my run.
pleasantries just kill me and i overheard this one:
where are you flying to?
oh, really? i think tampa would be a nice place to live. (and she was just saying this as a pleasantry, something like, how are you, where you know it's the thing to say and so you say it without even thinking at all, but you don't really mean it, you just say it because the situation dictates that you contribute some syllables to the dialogue)
and so then this guy starts in like this:
oh it is. but if you ever move there, you should move to the southeast side of tampa. it used to be a poor area, but it's being revitalized now. i live there and i love it. blah blah blah
and this testament to tampa bay just kept going on and on and i'm thinking, oh man, this lady must be hating this, because she was just giving a pleasantry and now she's being fed information she cares nothing about, and time, the most important thing in the world, is being wasted, but the thing was, she, who i can almost guarantee will never move or even go to tampa, seemed to be interested and this just killed me so maybe i was wrong about the whole thing.
when you buy your water, which this isn´t mine, you can see that you don´t have to worry about getting more than 100 std´s which is a relief.
i am waiting for a day that will never come. when i can go back with someone to where they used to live and they say something like, "my god, this place has changed, there used to be all this development here, 4-lane highways, overpasses, underpasses, bridges, etc and now it's all gone. it's just trees and actual distinguishable homes and quaint little streets." but you see, this day will never happen. this day is nothing but a nice little dream. and the whole point of this is, look around, smell the bulldozers, check out the horizontal trees, and ask yourself: when will it stop?
i sometimes wonder if it's the event itself or the anticipation of the event that is what it's all about. and i need to elaborate on this but can't find the words now but hopefully will later.
this sort of bugs me when people say, "oh, such and such a country is so cheap because it's like 37 whatevers equal just one of our dollars!" because, all that means, or at least what i've found, is that the stuff in that country is about 37 times more expensive.
this snake, when it was pointed out to me by some very concerned children, was about 30 cm from my left foot. can you tell me if it would have killed me had it struck? these are things i need to know.
it's like i want to do everything. and then it's the impossibility of that. i want more than this life. i want heaven, but i want it on my terms and yes, how arrogant is that? i want to return a couple of times just to have that opportunity to do it better and to employ what i have learned. you know, before the permanence of utopia sets in. because the more i think about utopia the more i wonder if i really want it. because, and i mean really think about it, it could be boring and all. i mean, it's one of those things that sounds good in concept, but it may be one of those anticipation things, like we're looking forward to it all our lives, and then suddenly we're there, getting smacked in the face by utopia, and there is no such thing as conflict, and we realize that we kind of thrived on conflict and that without it, it's sort of tedious. maybe utopia is like when you write in a note to some friends that they should drop by anytime they're in the area, but the reality of utopia might just be when you're sitting at your computer and feeling machine gun bullets exit your body through your fingertips of chewed nails and then the doorbell rings and inspection reveals a concavity of slightly familiar smiles that, not never, but at that time, are the last things you want to see. but i mean, you said in your note, drop by anytime, and they're doing just what you told them. i mean, it's not like you don't appreciate those faces, and it's not like you never want to see them or spend time with them, but at that particular moment, it's the last thing you ever wanted, and it's not like you curse yourself for writing "drop by anytime" in that nice little card you got for them, but the timing's just not right. it's just not right. and you just have to remember not to ever let that sort of thing never not be right. and maybe this is the definition of utopia. the ink covering the rollerball and coming out of the pen as you write, "hope you're doing well, everything's fine here, if you're ever in the area, drop on by, i'd love to see you." that right there might be utopia. because as you're doing it you get one of those i-want-to-hug-myself feelings, and as some of the adhesive is transfered to your tongue, you think, yes, this is a good idea to send this, and as you double check the zip code, there are only further confirmations of this, and when the red flag is no longer up and you pull out a wad of demands for money that you really shouldn't have spent, you comfort yourself knowing that the letter you wrote is indeed on its way. and that's what utopia is, a feeling that you get now, but that later might not be all it was cracked up to be in your mind at the time. because alot of times, i think we crack many things up in our mind, but when they actually happen, it's kind of like, that's it?
and so the guy next to me on a plane, composing emails later to be sent and to contribute to the stress of the recepient's day, hesitates at the drop down menu, and, pondering the message's priority, sets it as high.
why not paint them? i´m sure they´ll be cut down soon enough anyhow...
so i'm sitting on this couch at this hostel and this girl, who happens to be gorgeous, comes in and says, "so you will be sleeping with me?" despite a quivering bottom lip, i manage my cool (it's hard for me not to do this), and i'm thinking what kind of hostel is this? but i kind of spread out my arms on the back of the couch and stretch out my legs, and i'm wishing i had this other shirt on that makes me look money'er, but when a moment like this comes along, it's not exactly like you can run up and change your shirt and then try to re-establish it. so i'm still in this pretty sweet pose, and i say, really cool, somewhat indifferent but also indicating interest, "well, what do you mean?" because, i mean, i've got to hear what she's going to say, because, let's face it, you don't hear stuff, or at least i don't, like this everyday. so she says, "are you the one, are you the one i will be sleeping with?" at this point, i kind of lose my cool (very rare, but i mean, come on). so then i'm like, what do i say to this? i considered this, "yes, yes indeed, i am the one." then i considered the same sentence, but without the "indeed" and the double "yes." but it just wasn't flowing for me, and, i just couldn't shake that there had to be some mistake. i mean, don't get me wrong, i am money, really, i am, but not even the most money person in the world, which may in fact be me, could maintain his money'ness in this situation. so anyhow, to make a long story longer, as it turns out, she meant, was i the one that was sharing the hostel room with her, and english wasn't her first language, hence the way she initially phrased it. after all this, i thought about asking her if she'd join me for a bowl of cornflakes and bananas and granola, you know, just to see where things would go, but then i saw her leave the hostel with several people and since being around more than one person often makes me anxious and quite uncomfortable, i let her, too, like so many, slip though my fingers.
there were many days of rain. many days of rain causes flooding. it is the dry season here. does anything make sense these days?
i am intense. at whatever i do. i am focused and driven and the source of all this is something, i don't know what, within. i detest distractions and do everything in my power to minimize them. if a term paper was assigned, due in months, even in middle school, i would begin my research on the very same day. why waste what we have so little of? when studying for an exam, i would hole myself up in the most lonely corner of a library. i kept my back to the potential of any people traffic. i studied with undeterable diligence and vigor. and it was all in an effort to get things done so that once it was done, i could, with the same unshakable determination, pursue something else, whatever else was, and there have been many elses in these dramatically differing chapters of my life. satisfied with a knowledge sufficient to earn me an "a" (once i had given up on getting a 100% on every test i ever took, a failure that i still contemplate the feasibility of today... did i sell myself short on not achieving this?) on whatever examination was next, i would pack up, relieved, and prepare to return to the world. i would pass tables, with crowded chairs and multiple people, supposedly studying, folks content to have books and notes open while conversations focused on how unfair the professor was, who was or wasn't going to be deemed admission (and an expensive one at that...) by the sorority or fraternity gods, or when the next pizza break should be. and all of this counted as credible study time to them, of course, especially when reported to parents questioning their $20,000 investment in c's and greek letters that would proudly be displayed on chests on that special certain day of the week. so in they all would go, thoroughly unprepared for any impending exam, quoting that they had studied for 6 hours last night, and then out they would all come, thoroughly content in their non-mastery, in their averageness and mediocrity, with smiles and high spirits saying things like i'm glad that's over with. you see, just letting things happen kills me. because this go with the flow attitude, which as i've mentioned before does nothing but result in going downstream to meet the stinky stagnation of a lake, is like living life by default. put a paddle in your hand and stroke. sure, it's harder, but the rewards....let me tell you......the rewards are worth it, and especially so, the failures. because to fail, you have to at least attempt something. anything. whatever it may be. it's like this one guy i met walking the appalachian trail. i will never understand this: we'd met in virginia and he got ahead of me in new england. i caught up to him one day near a small town in massachusetts. he was crying. he embraced me and told me his trip was over. i was confused and asked him why. he told me he had just gone to an atm and withdrawn the last of his money. he was broke. and unbelievably, he couldn't believe it. and so yes indeed, his trip was over because of that evil necessity we have created in our world, namely, the essentiality of money. and i tried to sympathize. and sympathy, not empathy, was all i could have for this guy, becuase i just can't see how something like that can happen. don't you see your balance dwindle? don't you know that when you see a balance of $63.00 that this means when you only have $63.00 left? how, then, can it be a surprise that when you withdraw those sixty-three dollars, that your balance is zero? this is a known. and it's indicative of ineffective planning. when you start the appalachain trail in georgia, you have "x" amount of money. if you start in georgia with the intention of going to maine, then you know that "x" must last for 2,200 miles. these are all knowns. so, really, this is simple math. not even algebra. a little division lets you know how much you can spend per mile. from here on out, iTiSuptOyOu. there are innumerable ways to stretch the dollar. so you have the choice. will you make it happen? or will you just spend whenever the mood strikes you and then be depressed and disappointed with your thumb stuck out on a lonely massachusetts road waiting for a kind soul to take you home? when you make a choice, consider every prossible ramification of that choice. when a pizza looks good but costs $12 and you could just as well get a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread for $2, what will you do? if the night before you roughly sketch out a plan for the next day but you oversleep and you can't get it all done, will you content yourself with how busy you were during your waken hours and console yourself or will your curse yourself for intially being lazy beneath sheets and covers and blankets that match your curtains and realize that you failed yourself and that, with the exception of failing someone else, there is nothing worse?
so yes, i returned to the united states for the holidays. i surprised my family and it was great. i'd booked my free frequent flyer (thank you peace corps journeys) round trip ticket back when i was passing through new mexico, and not a day went by since then that i didn't have some christmas excitement. what can i say, i'm a sucker for the holidays, and i love my family and friends. so from san jose, costa rica i hopped on a jet airliner and gloriously indifferently (not really, i rationalized it out...) polluted the planet's air, just like i do when i fart, to spend the holidays with my family, and it was perfect. i mean, it's pretty cool to be hiding in your sister's backyard with your unsuspecting family inside having just arrived, and you have a phone in your hand, and your sister pretends to be calling costa rica where you supposedly are, but really she is just calling the phone in your hand that is secretly in her backyard, and you're put on speaker phone and you're talking to your family from "costa rica" and as you are talking you are walking, ducking at the windows, making your way to the front door, and you pretend that you can't hear your family and you keep repeating, "can you hear me? i can't hear you....," and then you bust into the house with everyone around the table speaking into a speaker phone and you are standing there with open arms and you say, "can you hear me now!!??!?!" and so that was pretty sweet, and i will never forget it. and you know what the greatest feeling in the world is? knowing that those people care about you. and you know what a bad feeling is? not ever really being able to tell them because you know whatever you say will just be trite and cliche'ish. and so you just hope they know and are pretty sure they do.
you know what else was really cool about returning to my family for xmas? being in america again. because, and i think, no, i know, i've been misinterpreted in the past. i do love my country. i am a patriot. i think if you try to find anything that i've said in the past to the contrary, you will have a hard time, but perhaps it is possible because sometimes i immediately forget what i write as soon as it is written. really, i do. but if it is possible to love a country but not love some of the directions its leaders take it then i am that lover. and please don't lump me in with the people who hate w. that's just too easy and lame. i mean, i'm not real fond of that guy and all that, but it's so much more than him in that he's got strings on his wrists and ankles and his upper and lower jaws. sure, he's no component to the solutions i have in mind, but he is not the total problem either. and for the record, no, i'm not a communist/socialist/democrat/republican/imperialist/independentalist. but i do strongly agree with components of all of these concepts. and i also strongly disagree with components. oh yeah and i'll go ahead and say this, i don't vote. yeah, that's right. so let me say what you want to say now. you say that because i don't vote i can't compain. but now i'll respond to what i said that you would say to me. i can compain because i do. does that make sense? how can i not do something i just did? so as a big believer in semantics let me correct what i said you would have said to me. you should have said that i shouldn't complain. that makes sense. and that's fine to state you opinion as such and now i will state my opinion and my opinion is that your opinion is wrong. and so are we cool now, now that we've had that conversation? so now i will tell you why i don't vote and it's because i cannot vote for someone that i do not support 100% on everything. for me, things like "close enough," or "almost," or "just about," those things just don't exist for me; they don't fit in with my quest for the black and white world i believe can exist. so unless i vote for myself, which of course is an option as a write-in, i can vote for no one. so what i was trying to say until you distracted me, which, for future reference, i don't really appreciate, is that i do love my country. and what i don't like about it is not just george bush. it's more along the lines of when i was walking on this path near a river and i was going under a bridge and there was this sign that said "caution - low clearance" and that's nice, you know, a sort of head's up. but you see, i just can't read a sign like that and say, oh, well that's nice. because i have to question motivations, something i hate when others do to me, but you see in my hypocrisy, i do it to things like this. and so why is that sign there? so that i don't crack my forehead, or, so that i don't crack my forehead and try to sue anyone that i possibly could claiming that the bridge is too low and discriminates against six-foot-plusers like myself and that now i'll have a scar on my brow so i also need plastic surgery. and i will also need to quantify my pain and suffering. and so this is just one example of things that kind of bug me. but i do love my country. i mean where else can you be walking around and find a bike, with one little minor piece broken, in the trash can? and where else can disputes be settled by a little fiesty lady named judge judy (whom, by the way, i think i was falling in love with)?
so this has been the most recent struggle and maybe it will be dismissed as elementary, trite, unsophisticated, whatever. regarding the miners who died in west virginia. all of these families were told that the miners were still alive when actually they were all but one dead. however, this reality of fate was unrealized, and, as a result of this unfaulted ignorance, there was rejoicing, as their should have been, because these families who had been through this great ordeal were in relief of knowing that things were probably going to be ok. and this is where the difficulties for me begin. because, these people, being the christians that they claim to be, proclaimed that the fact that their loved ones were still allive was a result of god's mercy and will. and they praised god for such clemency. however, all of this rejuvinated faith was based on misinformation, because, as we all know, the miners were actually lifeless. and then, once the real reality of the situation was realized, there was great sadness, and i can't imagine how these poor people dealt with such elation followed with such devastation, but anyhow, it was at this point, that some of these same people who had said that the fact that the miners were still alive was god's will were now saying that the fact that the miners were dead and no longer enduring such a trial as to be buried in a mine, was actually god's will. and so the question is, what was god's will, because both assumptions of such based on what appeared to be fact and what was actually fact, are in obvious and blatant contradiction to each other? and so maybe the answer is along the lines of that we are all just humans simply trying to interpret god but we will always fail because of our unshakeable flaw: human-ness. and to this, i say, ok, in fact, i would almost totally agree, but i would also say that if you believe this, then you must also believe that religion is just this too, that is, humans' attempt based on fact that we think is fact but which may not be to interpret god. so to close and clarify, this is not meant to be insensitive to the miners and their families. this is also not meant to criticize anyone, including myself, who believes in a particular religion or denomination of a particular religion. this is simply meant to say that, no matter how sure anyone thinks she might be, the fact is that nothing is for sure until we know it is for sure and that this time lag, between a fact and its ultimate relevation or denial as such, is a good time to admit that though we all believe and adhere to what we think is right, it could be wrong, and following, a criticism or abjuration of what we currently perceive to be false, is unjustified.
this is me on a ferry. do you believe in fairies? i no longer have my pink t-shirt.
and so, i sit here on a porch in a group of islands called bocas del torro off the northern coast of panama. the sun is coming up and people are doing what they do every morning regardless of my presence here. bikinis go by with girls inside them, and so it's not a bad gig at all. my body is awakening from its holiday hiatus and my legs are ready, as well as my mind, to go back to work and ride. the big hurdle from here is how to get from panama to colombia. the pan-american highway, which i have more or less been following, does not exist for 100 miles on either side of the borders of these two countries. this roadless area is known as the darien gap. there are three main options for crossing this jungle-swamp zone. 1) to cross on trails, though i have heard stories of waist deep mud and that colombian rebels have recently increased their numbers in this area having been driven there by recent military build-ups by the government in colombia. 2) to hop on a ship or a yacht and get to cartegena, colombia, but i have heard that this would probably take weeks to arrange and would also probably cost about $200 and take a minimum of a week in probably miserable travel time. 3) fly from panama city to cartegena, which will cost $250 which is not good at all, and i hate the thought of putting gIrgIb and wAylAy on a plane because invariably something will break. so who knows, but a decision must be made and will.
and then it's south south south until my fingers freeze to my handlebars, my toes fall off, or my beard is permanently encapsulated in ice. there are no shoulds about it, the remainder of this trip will definitely be interesting. and i am so ready for south america.
leave a comment, won't you? but remember, be nice and play fair.