Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where I acknowledge paradise

I'm sat on a bus heading for Lima. It's 90 minutes of noise, random potholes and insufferable heat. I'm going through this one more time before I go home. I am literally leaving paradise to face my destiny in England. 

I left the UK a long time ago in search of...well, in all honesty I was running away. From life and responsibility; justice and my past. I didn't acknowledge it at the time but apparently I was looking for somewhere to call home. Somewhere I could imagine living for ever, where I could be ethical and free, where I wouldn't be judged or condemned for the sometimes bafflingly bizarre decisions I make; where I'd be accepted.

InanItah came close. So close. But ultimately there was too much partying for me. So I left. And eventually found the Hari Krishnas. I initially stayed at a farm in Ecuador, deep in a cloud valley, surrounded by hills and trees. And cloud. Much cloud. And rain and cold. It was beautiful. Hey had a farm and i spent days shaving trees. The people were lovely but I didn't learn a lot because nobody spoke English. Damn them. They were patient though and I struggled through. Until I got Ill from being cold so I ran away like I had something deadly. I went to the nearest town and bought copious clothes and antibiotics.

Upon entering Peru a few weeks later I looked up similar places and found Eco Truly Park. Go look it up.

The Hari Krishnas live on the beach in strange egg shaped buildings, eating (at worst) vegetarian and pretty much living to the motto "do what makes you happy". Again, i farmed. I also carried a lot of bricks, had campfires on the beach, helped build (paint) a park for children and killed (weeded) a lot of weeds (probably perfectly viable food). I was home. I even learned  to love and appreciate physical exercise. I taught Tae Bo and went for two hour beach walks without a thought. I'm fitter than I've ever been! I've stayed for three months because I found it hard to leave but unlike InanItah it's not because I was scared to leave - its because I liked it so much. I'm waaaay over my Peruvian visa but I've been assured that won't be a problem at the airport; I may just need to pay $1 for everyday I'm over. I can imagine living at Eco Truly quite happily for the rest of my life. No drugs, no drink, no caffeine, no stress, good work, healthy food, a steady of influx of likeminded very cool travellers, a lot of yoga...what's not to love? It's a pity they want you to pay to stay or I may never have left. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Because I now get to have a warm shower.

I'm closing down this blog as of now. I'm changing the password to something I'll never remember and leaving it behind. This is for two reasons: 1) it represents the past and I don't dwell there any longer; I've moved on and 2) the name 'misanthropiste' no longer fits with who I am. I'm still cynical AKA realistic but I can see the positives now in who we are as a species. There is good out there - I know; I've met them.

Thanks to everyone who ever read my often insane ramblings. Thanks to everyone who commented. I love you all. Even you. It's one of the Krishna teachings - love your enemy (subtext: cuz he's just as fucked up as you are). 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In which I refer to the last blog

So a few days ago I blogged some questions that I'd like to know the answers to. Some people took exception to that. Go read it and the comments. I'll wait....and you're back in the room. Shit ensued on Facebook. Hurrah! Well, not so much.

Despite everyone seeming to not read what I wrote but assume what it said based on my tamblings over the years and all the letters I wrote over the years(which I acknowledged in the post)...I can't remember where I was going with this sentence. It got too long. So, off on a tangent we go-

An interesting point was made, or at least a question came up for me: is it bitter to have questions that you want answered about past events? Obviously given the post and others I've made I don't think it is. Is it possible others see the questions as bitterness because of judgement? Absolutely yes. Is it possible I am actually bitter? Tougher answer.

I feel authentic to say it feels it's hard to imagine how I couldn't have been bitter at one point. Isn't it only natural? Go through what we see as shit, we resent it - natural, right? Especially at those we see as helping to perpetrate it. This raises a further question: am I still bitter? 

The argument on Facebook made me realise I still have negative feelings toward certain people. I saw comments and assumed they were directed at me; whether they were or not the feeling was there. I thought I'd lost the judgement and gained lack of judgement - perhaps I was wrong. Maybe there's room to work on there. Maybe it's anger. Maybe it isn't. But it's mine to hold. It's my right to have it. I don't tell people how to live their lives; I don't tell them not to dwell on their past. Freedom of choice is sacrosanct. Maybe people don't like hearing what I see as the truth - I challenged two of them to present to me examples of where I did what they said and I still welcome them to do so. 

I was told I've not changed. Really?? Have they actually spoken to me? Of course they haven't. I just had to look up the definition of 'bitter' as I heard myself being it. I was right up above: resentful; intense antagonism; hostility. The latter two I heard all day today from Facebook and the comments here. Do I feel it? I feel defensive. I feel judged.  The reasons for my actions are assumed and, as ever, not asked for. They're told to me. That's what I resent. I can live with knowing my letters caused harm. I knew they would when I sent them; it's half the reason I did. I'm not stupid. But I don't like being told why I did it and I don't like being condescended to by being told of their repercussions.or told my motivations especially when they're guessed at and got so catastrophically tragically wrong.

Anonymous said:

"do you seriously expect people to just forget the evil and vile things you have written to them in the past just because YOU decided you wanted them back in your life."

Not at all. But I don't know who this refers to. Or why it would refer to anyone to be honest. I wrote to my sister expressing feeling. She replied in a way that pleased me to my core. Has she expressed resentment for me doing so? Because that's not the impression I get. Someone is being disingenuous. Or not clear.

"Even so, they did let you back into their lives and their home didn't they but to everyone around it just seemed like you wanted to cause as much trouble as possible between the family."

Nope. I'm not following. Who has let me back into their lives? Ae we talking about Pete? What evil and vile things did I write to him? I wrote him some letters before I got married which culminated with me inviting him. We then had an 8 year relationship. Surely if it was based on "evil and vile" letters the issue might have been raised at some point. By someone. What trouble did I cause? I be t over backwards to be accommodating. Or so I thought. Be as vague as you want but without specifics it's kind of hard to answer charges.

"You weren't the nicest of people Jamie"

This I agree with. There were reasons nobody seems to give a shit about but I agree. Does this mean we actually met? Who are you?

" in fact you were very condescending to them and having read your previous blogs you actually said they were common,"

That's a bad thing? Well done for reading so far back by the way. It took me an effort to find that reference and I wrote the damn thing. Again, I'd appreciate specifics of how I was condescending. In my eyes I was verbally respectful.

"it was your choice let's not forget that, everything has been your choice, seeing your dad or not seeing your dad, your choice, so don't go blaming them for everything that's gone wrong in your life and you do blame them, your previous blogs make that quite clear"

"them" being Linda and Pete? My own dear mother also plays a part lets not forget. Or can we conveniently forget her as you don't know her? Or do you? Not quite everything has been my choice. There's lots that wasn't a d that was forced upon me but I won't bore you. I feel confident the point wouldn't be acknowledged. Seeing or not seeing my Dad? You mean when I was 7? That was technically Clare's choice and I followed; personally I don't give a toss about that anyway. In fact I see it as a positive.

"I hope you have managed to put some issues behind you and you have moved on because all bitterness does is eat you away and life is far to short for that,"

Which is why I've devoted hours to writing these blogs where I explain I'VE DONE JUST THAT.

" just accept that you and Lin are never going to get on that is just a fact of life."

Now, see, I dispute the wording here. I could quite easily get on with Lynda. I thought we had some good chats. It's her that chooses to not get on with me. There's a distinction there.

This blog won't last for much longer. I see it as the end of a era. Leaving it behind represents change. Acceptance. And being bored of talking about all this. There may be at least two more before the end though.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A few questions that I need to know

I've got a lot of closure these past three years. I've learned a lot; about myself, others, relationships, food...but there are some things I'd still like to know. I still feel attached to knowing:

How did I get the scar on my leg?

So there's a scar on my calf. I've had it for years and years. It's about 9 cms in length and 2 wide and points downward. According to my mum, who I've asked this question on numerous times, it "got caught in a door". How? It seems to me entirely infeasible to get a scar in that orientation from a door but she's always refused to elaborate. Despite host feel about her I'm still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because it's hard to quantify that she was physically abusive. If you have a possible answer please let me know.

What did I do to Linda?

My stepmother at one point when I was living with her and my father fell apart crying and screaming and threw me out. I think I've documented this before. Go find it. What did I do? I've asked different family members at different times but they're a) not willing to tell me (weak) b) not willing to ask her (highly likely) or c) she's not willing to communicate what it was because it was so god awful terrible. I'd know wouldn't I if that was the case? I know I've blanked out a lot of stuff from that point in my life but still...

How would my life have been different if I'd said 'yes'?

So I'm 15. Never had a girlfriend. A girl two years below me liked me. She told me. She told me by cornering me in the science block and demanding to be my girlfriend. I said no. What the fuck, Jay?!? She asked me to meet her after school BEHIND THE SCIENCE BLOCK. I said no. What the fuckity fuck, you stupid twunt? Why would you say no?? Well, I was terrified. I had no idea what to do if she...well I didn't know what she'd do to be honest. AND NOW WE'LL NEVER KNOW. I could've had my first kiss. A tug. A BLOWIE! My confidence could've taken a major boost, I could've grown sexually, I'd've learned what to do with this bit of flesh between my legs...

Why do people not reply to the letters I write?

I've written various letters over the past few years to people from my past, either to clear the air, air a grievance, or to rip them to shreds. I'm not sorry about any of them but I do regret one of them. Only two people have ever bothered responding. To be quite honest I wasn't expecting a reply, I was so full of self righteous judgement, and what I got back both times was mature, spoken from the heart, surprising depth. Both times I realized I'd maligned these people for years. One of the other letters was very sensible - I know. A friend approved it. One was deeply personal, heartfelt and heartbreaking to write and a follow up quite caustically mean. What reaction did they cause? Was a reply ever going to come?

What happened when I was 13?

Something happened. I was in my room. Angry. So very, very angry. I had my music turned up just loud enough to deny being able to hear my mum shouting me for dinner. Which she did. And it made me angrier. She just kept shouting and shouting...wouldn't it be more sensible after awhile to either stop shouting or climb up the two flights of stairs? Save your voice, woman. But what made me angry? I wish I knew. That was the year I changed. It was the year the anger started. I went home from school at the start of the holidays a quiet, timid, precocious youngster. I went back defensive, trying to be funny to deflect the crap around me, nervous. And angry. The anger was there. Starting. Building. What. Happened.

What could I have been?

As I said, I was precocious. World at my feet. Options abounded. And then one day I gave up. I decided not to go to university. I accepted a shitty job I hated. I did it for six years. I married a woman out of desperation. We were together eight very long years. I got depression. Things got bad. Shit got real. Where would I be right now if I'd given a shit? If I'd had ambition? Or courage?

There are others but these are top of the tree. Answers on a postcard.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An apology and explanation of how I came to need to make it

To everyone I've met or talked to the past three years - I'm sorry. I lied to you by omission. Some of you gave me hope and helped pull me through the hell I was in; some proved that people aren't as shit as I'd always thought; that neither was I. And some were simply wonderful.

We chatted, we talked, we laughed and cried. We shared secrets and spent much time together. And yet you might not have done if I'd been honest. I removed your choice of deciding who I really was, I impacted negatively upon you by withholding a vital piece of information and for that, I apologise.

Three years ago I was in a bad way to say the least. I thought I was insane, I may actually have been. I was consumed by anger and fear. Anger at past injustices, fear at the future and controlled by a need to be loved. I was suicidally depressed and without a hope. And then I saw a way out and took it: I went traveling. I absolved myself of all responsibility and ran away. I didnt know I was looking for something at the time. I was looking for me, the me I was happy with and to be.

I found myself in Indonesia and met a German woman called Elena. I offloaded a lot of shit and she gave me a book: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön. Just the act of someone giving me a book wowed me! Who is this stranger to do something so touching? I thought it looked like so much self-help bollocks and kind of dismissed it but I started reading it and something clicked inside. It resonated. Finally someone was telling me things can be alright, that it's OK to just be ourselves and most importantly to "Abandon Hope". That's it. It's that simple. Give up expecting things to change and just accept what is. I walked out of there changed in a fundamental way. I started looking at things afresh, with a new perspective. I found myself accepting other people for who they were - becoming tolerant for God's sake! I promised to read it everyday it shook me up that much. I broke that promise because at a later point I met somebody who also seemed to be in need of it. I like to think its slowly working its way around the world...

After a whole series of adventures I got to InanItah (go read my previous blogs on the subject but let's just say I changed massively). When I say 'a whole series of adventures' a lot of things had to happen in a certain way, at a certain time, for me to arrive at this random place I'd never heard of on a specific date. It was almost enough to make me believe in a higher power. But not quite.

While I was there I read Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication and it put me in touch with me. I was suddenly able to ask myself what it was I wanted and to actually have a conversation without being bored to fucking tears. I was able to listen! The conversations I had were qualitatively so much better. I learned not to judge and accept other peoples judgments of me were theirs to hold, not mine. How had nobody explained this to me before?

And I recently read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, most of which actually is bollocks IMO. Lots of people have recommended it to me in the past but I resisted until I met a lovely woman called Leticia. She was so in touch with herself and the basic lesson is just to exist, here, and now. Don't worry about tomorrow, the next five minutes or even ten seconds time. What is happening NOW?

These three books are what I needed three years ago. I didn't need lots of people telling me to pick myself up, or sighs of exasperation, or being put under more and more pressure. There were many times I just needed someone to talk to without judging me. There was a time when I was still on crutches I stormed out of the house when it was snowing and i was wearing not a lot. I needed someone to come after me and tell me it was alright; I didn't need to find my own way home, spend two hours in bed uncontrollably shivering, and get divorce papers a few days later.

I was suicidal until approximately three weeks ago. I'd had a plan for a long time involving pills, a plastic bag and booze. I stole my ex-wife's Tramadol. I collected bits and bobs of pills. I frequented various chemists along the way and researched how much it was going to hurt. I'm nothing if not methodical. See, I lied about that, too. I told everyone I met there were three reasons I'd stop traveling: running out of money; being bored or running out of places to go. That was a lie. My plan was always to kill myself at the end. I had a list of must see things before I did it. Angkor Wat, Maccu Piccu, the Nazca Lines....these were the only things keeping me going. It was my sole purpose in life. What scorn I felt for the suckers stuck in offices - what is your life worth if you've never seen the Ellora Caves? You will die culturally poor while I'll die having concentrated so much worthwhile experience into a few glorious years. And I was wrong.

I was holding judgement. I was attached to the idea of one life being better than another. Who am I to say? I find myself now challenging my attachments and judgements. I've lost my need for sugar and caffeine. I'm (mostly) vegan. I do yoga. Why? Because I found out who I was and who I wanted to be.

During a period of time on the beach in Colombia I actually did it. I tried to commit suicide. I thought it unlikely I'd be able to cross the border into Ecuador and so, logically, my travel was at an end. I didn't want to go home - there was nothing there for me. So I got drunk, took the pills, bag over head and passed out. I woke up, obviously. And I started questioning who I was and what I wanted. What did I need? Well, I'd promised myself I'd get to Maccu Piccu so fuck the border guards I was going to go. I'd already been doing yoga a lot for awhile but it took on a whole new meaning to me. I found myself suddenly being calm, non-judgemental, and accepting. I liked me and I was so fucking zen. I could see the future I wanted (while accepting there was very little chance of it ever actually happening). I wanted to be a yoga teacher; I wanted to be a therapist and I wanted to be ethical. I started living these things and it was wonderful. At 36 years of age and finally to be who I wanted to be and be happy with it - it's the stuff of dreams. My heart could literally burst asunder.

But to do it I had to use you all. I had to lie and not tell you something. If in the future you find out what this something is remember the me I became and not the me that was for they're two very different people. It's difficult to imagine being that person.

I'm ready to come home now. I'll be there in about five weeks give or take because I'm finally ready to face up to life.

A special thanks to:

Chuck - the bravest man I ever knew who shared a secret with me. I only wish I was as strong.

Gaia - for showing me how I'd been emasculated and just for being Gaia.

Leticia - wow

Betty - who didn't deserve the shit I gave, who tried to be a friend to me when all I did was cause harm

Carolina - who was, unknowingly to her, possibly right all along


The woman who gave me a watch, Lislott, Sarah, Melissa (who I loved a little bit), Steve, Bernd and Sierra.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Honey and salt

For a given deginition of 'steal' I steal toothpaste. If I see it lying unused and forgotten in a hostel shower it finds its way into my natty little washing bag, which, by chance, I also happened upon on a bathroom surf. It was in the bin and woul'dve gone to landfill. This is bad. Do some research on plastics, read The World Without Us, and tell me you don't hate the idea of every bit of petrochemical product you see lying around and still being there in 100,000 years.

Where you and I might differ though is that I like to do something with those feelings. I feel disdain and contempt for humanity as a whole at we what we do to the world, this rock we live on, and am glad I won't be around in a hundred years. Perversely I wish I were around in a thousand years to see what science fiction world Earth is populated by. I'm trying to limit my impact on the world; everyday is a battle with my ethics. It's not easy and I sometimes fail but I try and that, to me, is what matters. What drives me most is the stupidity of the arguments put forward in favour of things I abhor. I try not to live in judgement and allow others the freedom of choice I demand in return but dear god some people and their actions are vile.

I was recently in Bogotá. It's a nice place, I enjoyed it. About an hour away is a monument to sculpture. Some people decided it'd be a good idea to carve out religious iconography and make a huge salt mine into a cathedral. It's beautiful. Good work, team. At the end you watch a video and this video explains there's a huge salt mining operation going on all the time. They're basically carving out the mountain in long sections just so you you can have salt on your chips. Now I don't add salt to my food; I think it's disgusting stuff, it adds nothing nutritious (Yes, you need salt in your diet but hey! It's already in bloody food - have an orange) and the effort isn't worth the result (carbon footprints, cost etc) but each to their own. We all kill the planet and ourselves in our own special way. I've taken a large number of flights; the shortest flight used more fuel than you ever will in your car. Maybe. But it's all fine.

Except the mine people have come up with a new way to remove the salt. How they used to do it hundreds of years ago, in a way that made sense, was cheap and was ethical, is they let sea water form a lake, waited a bit, the water evaporated, and hey presto, lots of salt was left behind. Now, they've realised they can fire water at the mountain (oversimplified for the over simple) and it'll dissolve the salt. And to do this they're using fresh water. Fresh water? Are they insane?There's only so much to go around. People are dying of thirst right now and you're using a precious commodity just so someone can dull their taste buds? I think it's fucking immoral and if you can read that and not be affected by it then you're....not being judged by me.

However, if you exist in certain corners of the internet however and eat honey that's a different story.

See, I've become a vegan. I was vegetarian for awhile and felt I should be vegan. I felt bad every time I ate an egg. I felt I was a hypocrite. All the chemicals that go into the meat, all the bad practices still affect the eggs and milk. But I liked ice cream too much. I felt I'd be punishing myself too much. But last week I decided to give it a go. I'm doing quite well. Helped by the fact I rarely bought cheese, milk and eggs anyway (expensive and unnecessary). It's hard when you're offered free eggs for breakfast and walking past all the fucking cake shops in Colombia is hell but I'm coping. Also, while I'm waking down far fewer aisles in the supermarket, the amount of time I'm there has increased - never have so many packets been scrutinised in such detail by so few for the sake of a few chickens. But I feel healthier and I'm happy with the decision.

So I'm in the shop looking at bread. It shouldn't be hard, right? Oh, but it is...eggs, powdered milk...but I find one without. Hurrah! It's only walking out I realise I made an error: miel aka honey. And thus starts a moral quandary. Is honey acceptable? It's an animal product but it's kind of hard to exploit a bee, isn't it? Hello, Google! There are two sides to the argument. There's the reasoned vegan argument that explains certain farming practices (queen bees get their wings ripped off, colonies starve when you remove the honey they live on for the winter and other pleasantries) and then there's the non-vegan inernet moron argument (vegans are fucktards, honey is yum so fuck the bees). I'm offended by that. Big time. Ignoring the obnoxiousness, the moronic tendencies of the average Internet troll (average age = foetus) and the overall, not ignoring that. That's why I'm offended. When the argument is out across by such people I'm going to not eat the things they extoll. So, thank you twunts; I'm not eating honey.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Answers on a postcard

I'm sat on a very cold eighteen hour bus on my way to Bogota. We've been sat stationery for two hours, there are random films playing (an over abundance of one of the Wahlbergs is evident) in very loud Spanish and I'm talking to a five year old girl. I'm heading to a free rock concert (there was a two hour delay at this point so the young girl could dominate my ipad and play mahjong. Sticky fingers! I manfully liberated it. Eventually.) for a few days in all betrayal of my travelling principles and heading completely off track just to do it. I could've flown for fifty pounds more and been there by now - the bus is moving! Hurrah! 8pm....dear god. I started at two. Anyway...

As I may have mentioned I'm in Colombia. Allow me to be verbose on the ways of Colombia. The women are stunning (I should leave ASAP as at some point I'm going to make a mistake and/or be drunk enough to talk to one of the ones who are possibly....underage - save me, someone! I've not heard stories of Colombian prisons but I can imagine. Suffice to say they start looking stunning at 'a' tender age and I don't know what that age is. It's scary). The food is pretty shit; most of it is fried and being vegetarian is difficult - everyday is pretty much rice, beans, eggs and's like they don't have fruit and vegetables fucking everywhere. If I shop and cook for myself I can get nutritionalised to the max but you just can't buy it in a bloody restaurant. Unless you want juice cuz then you're on to a winner. I had Zapote juice the other day. Not had Zapote since early days at InanItah. It was bloody lovely. The weather is a touch too hot and the Sun burns its way through my skull like a fucking lance every day but I'm having much fun. I just spent a few days at the far northern point of South America and it was stunning. It's basically desert and very few people live there. Awesomeness.

To get to the actual northernmost point according to the Lonely Planet is 'almost impossible to get to independently'. Yes, it is but not for the reasons they give. Settle down, kids. It's story time.

Before I got to where we got I wanted to go to Puntz Gallinas directly but met some other travellers who advised us to go to Cabo de la Vela via Cuatrovias (effectively a crossroads, a fact I should've picked up on from the name...). So we get to Cabo and while it's nice it's not quite the lonely place I wanted to get to. I wanted and expected a lonely house on a peninsula, me, a family and their house on a beach on the edge of the desert. It was nice but the town was still all hospedajes and restaurants. So we walked to the edge of town and convinced a house owner to let us sleep in his house in hammocks. It was awesome. Look through any hole in the bamboo and all you could see was orange sand or the mountains. Beautifulness. Everybody, us and the family, slept in the same bamboo room, forty metres from the beach. Simple, rustic, and lovely.

Day 1

Not a lot happened. It wasn't that kind off place. But I did find a that would take me to PG for 150,000 pesos or about £50. Now in the grand scheme of things that's not a lot of money; I've paid more for far less. You get a car for an hour, a boat for two and a half, there and back. You can stay as long as you want. Accommodation and food is extra but there are sixty metre high sand dunes to look at. And, randomly, flamingos. I said I'd think about it. See, when you're used to paying £4 for accommodation £50 goes a long way. Yo pienso....

We go to sleep...

[915 and the bus is finally moving. That £50 for the flight might have been worth it.]

Day 2

....Until some point in the morning while it's still dark and the gallo (rooster) kicks off. For I don't know how long. Sometimes it's outside, sometimes it's inside and sometimes it's right next to my bastard hammock. Still, rustic, right?

The house owner offers to take us to PG for 50,000 pesos AKA £17. Bargain. We'd go there and back in one day on his motorbike, three hours each way. I was t thrilled about the prospect of bum numbing fun and I was conflicted in that having spending all that time to get there I wanted to stay there at least one night. That's alright, he says in Spanish, you stay in PG, I'll charge you double and come fetch you whenever you want. Awesome. That's still cheaper than the official tour. Let's do it.

We're due to leave at four AM....

Day 3

7am and Pedro wakes us up. 'Wakes us up' is a bit of a stretch to be honest as we've been awake for hours because of the fucking chicken so we've been expecting him.

Pedro: we can't go. The road is too muddy.

Us: but it's a desert. How did it get muddy?

P: umm....from the last time it rained.

U: and when was that?

P: umm....about twenty days ago

U: how the chuff is it going to dry more in one day than its had twenty days to do already? Have you put your head outside lately? It's just a tad scorchio.

P: we go tomorrow. It'll be fine. Oh, [points] there's my bike. [boy rides past. Remember this. It's Important].

U: tomorrow for definite? It'll happen?.

P: guaranteed.

Later he tells us his bike is being used to herd cows. So we're already suspecting he's telling us bollocks. Still, we're staying anyway....

Day 4

There's a dog screaming somewhere nearby. For hours. The kids wake up and decide its good fun to play with the gringos who want to sleep. Torches get waved and thrown around, books get fought over and ripped and I get hit with a stick. The chicken won't shut the fuck up. I was a bit grumpy. It's like the increasing tension from a horror film.

7am comes around and theres no sign of Pedro.

Us to his brother who also sleeps where we do: Donde es Pedro? Ello....hablas....cuatro hora....

Brother: [blank]

There follows an epically entertaining conversation between my friend and his brother.

I go and sit on the beach and eat breakfast. At this point apparently the brother stopped a random motorbikes and asked him really sheepishly to take us. His look basically said "are you fucking insane? It's too late"

The young boy on the bike comes past and upon asking where Pedro is and why the boy has his bike the boy says "I don't know Pedro. This is my bike". We get fed up of this and decide to leave. The brother gets his kids to come and ask us for some money. We have a theory that he isn't allowed any money by his scary looking mother. He and Pedro effectively just sit in hammocks all day while the women fetch and carry for them. He was always asking us for money and to get him coffee and on this day his mum had gone to market leaving him helpless. We weren't convinced he actually knew how to make it himself. Yes, this is a conversation we actually had on how pathetic he was.

So we left. The thing is to now get to PG we'd have to spend another day there waiting for the tour to leave the next day. We didn't want to do that so we decided to leave Cabo. The thing is the bus to leave leaves at four AM. So, fuck it, we decided to hitchhike out of this very smal town. We walked to the very edge of town and waited three bastard hours. No luck. My friend decided to stay. Not me. I'm too stubborn. I carried on trying while she went off to find accommodation. A couple of hours later she wanders back to announce she's having lunch. I follow, sheepishly. I'm refusing to check in somewhere until at least six, as I reckon I can still make it to where I need to get to if I leave by that point. (This was a complete fallacy on my part but fortunately isn't really relevant to this story). Every car that comes past I jump up and point my thumb.

Eventually I get a lift with a lovely couple from Medellin. Incidentally, the Medllin accent makes that of the coast sound like incomprehensible Scottish. We drove back through the desert, getting a bit lost on the way, and finding some salt flats. We went to a salt mine, I practised my Spanish and we had a great time. But that's not the purpose of this story. The purpose of this story is to ask a question: what was the point of Pedro lying to us about being able to give us a lift? At least, we feel like he lied. Changing stories, not showing up....What was his motivation? The only thing we can think of is that it meant we'd stay longer but we'd have done that anyway. Answers on a postcard.

Friday, May 04, 2012

No intiendo

I entered Costa Rica yesterday and not in a biblical way.

Getting to and through the border was a piece of piss. My travelling partner decided to haggle on the Nicaraguan side for a bus ticket while I, being of the mental persuasion, thought I'd wait to see what the other side had to offer. Chaos. It had to offer chaos. (But i did save two dollars so: win). Of course, if I spoke more than a few words of Spanish, if I'd learned more than 'que?' in the last seven months in central America it would have helped but hey, I'm English, why would I learn languages?

Me (pointing at a random bus): Monteverde?

Dude: no. (lots of Spanish)

Other dude: (lots of Spanish and pointing)

Me: this bus? Monteverde? Si?

And I got on a random bus. I took what he said to mean "we're going to San Jose and we'll drop you at the junction" because as I'm sure you know Monteverde is just off the Interamericana that everyone and his dad has to drive of they're going anywhere. The bus pulls off within two minutes of me being on it. 'Cool' I think, 'good timing'.

We drive, and drive, and drive....and I start wondering....have we passed it? Maybe the driver has forgotten do I ask...? Aha! We're pulling into services!

"Cuanto tempo...connexion....Monteverde?"

"Spanish Spanish vente minutos Spanish aqui"

Twenty minutes, here....connection is here in twenty minutes? Ok. Off I get expecting him to get my bag off the bus. He doesn't; he goes for something to eat. On we all get, I walk past him and half expect him to tell me to get off again. He doesn't and the bus pulls off.

Somewhere down the road we go past a sign saying 'Monteverde 35km' to the left. And the bus continues. Hold on, I think.....maybe he's forgotten. Again. Awhile later....the bus stops and he tells me to get off. Where the fuck am I?

'Spanish Spanish aqui'

'Cuanto tiempo?'



I wait.....and five minutes later the Monteverde bus pulls in.

From this I have learned:

1) I wish I knew more Spanish

2) I'm worried for going forward

3) People understand me more than I understand them

Incidentally Monteverse is much warmer than I was told to expect. Not hot mind you. I still get to wear one of my new one cordoba/four US cent second hand cold weather clothes and I look rather snazzy in my red turtle neck sweater. But it's too hilly to run, the floor is concrete and it's too cold for yoga. I'll hike later to make up for it. I'm waiting for breakfast to start; such is the curse of getting up early.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Au revoir, InanItah

Tomorrow, I leave my home. I've been on the farm known as InanItah for five months, almost to the day, and the time has come to leave. It's been a hell of a journey.

I arrived not knowing the place existed. I met a woman as I was leaving Managua's only hostel one random morning and we were both walking to the bus station together. I was headed to Granada and she started talking about this place. I thought it sounded massively hippy. Go see my blogpost on the subject. I arrived and was welcomed in the warmest possible way. I felt embraced, spiritually and physically, in ways I never had before, and as I came to realise with InanItah's help it was what I'd been searching for all this time.

Staying here there are various never uttered and never expressed unwritten rules: this is a place of support; a place of non-judgement, growth and learning; freedom of expression is paramount and inspiration respected. We do yoga and meditation most days, camp on a hill, in the midst of two volcanos, on an island in a lake and live the most environmentally friendly lifestyle we choose to live. How individuals interpret that is down to personal karma. We do fulfilling work in the shape of gardening, chopping firewood, cooking and cleaning. And it feels amazing. To live so simply, away from the stress of the western world, where there's never any blame, when you can put your hand up and say 'I don't want to do that today. I want to go sit in a field and think for a bit": it's so fucking emancipating.

I'm not the same person as when I arrived. I was harsh, yearning for affection and someone to cuddle, I wanted to be the funny guy, in fact I was desperate for it, I needed someone to give me a cuddle and just hold me forever and tell me I'm loved, I was mean and uncharitable, I spoke fast and sought control. I still am some of those things but I now see where those things come from: thanks, Mum. When I was younger I needed a hug. Just one and the world would have been alright. I carried resentment forward. I needed support and instead got compared to my sister. I needed a parent and got a disciplinarian. I needed comfort and got criticised. And then I married my mother, in the shape of my ex-wife. And the cycle was repeated. I got so angry. I needed a release. I needed to express the pain I was feeling before I could start getting over it. I was ashamed to need to express my needs; I was scared to say "I need help". InanItah has helped me get over that.

Firstly, it was the people. I've met so many wonderful people here. Formerly I couldn't imagine admitting there were wonderful people in the world but it's hard to deny their existence now. There is very little admittance policy here. It is minimal, they let me in after all, so it falls down to other factors of how people make their way here. Either way, the people are amazing. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people here. This is just a few in no particular order:

Richie showed me what it means to actually be free in expression and dream
Tahnee made me feel so welcomed on arrival. Her spirit shines on.
Jess gave me the tools to be accepted. Big love.
Chuck will always be my brother. We have the same issues from different sources and I learned so much from him. He's the little engine that could, did and went on to win all the races.
Duncan challenged me: my patience and anger; my understanding of action, thought and deed. I recognise he's my father figure and that's why I'm challenged. Because of him I accept my Dad for who he is.
Rachel talked to me of pain and I heard my own. I love you, Rach.
Georgia who talked me down from a bad place and showed how I could only hope to have been at 23. As did Iris, Arianna, Sierra and so many others: so much wisdom at such a young age.
Danielle who I shared a fearful deep secret with and she took it, held it, and gave me back the potential source of so much. I'll be forever grateful.
Anand who brought me back down to earth at a time when I was high as a fucking kite by telling me he loved me.

There are others: Greg, Bernd, Melissa, Inga, Luke, Iris, Sara, Gabe and many others. All touched me in different ways and became tentpoles to create a this new, better, me.

Then there was the Tantra courses. I've never accessed all this crap that lives inside me. I'd never known it was there. Out came pouring all this stuff: my anger, my hatred, my judgement, contempt. I nearly punched a young woman to the floor as she was embodying my ex-wife. I was cuddled by another as she played my mum. Every day I was destroyed and rebuilt anew. The jealousy is now not as strong as it was, my depression and therefore my mental state has been made clear to me what it actually was and is, my issues have been given a fresh perspective and I now get a chance to make a new me, a good me, the me I want to be and not the one I was told I should be by so many people, told by my issues that I'm not worthy of being.

There are things I've learned that seem so second nature now. Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg is a book I've taken to heart; possibly a little too much to be honest. I'm now having the most amazing conversations using the four points of observation, feeling, need and request. I used to say I was always honest and now I can be honest with myself. I feel authentic for the first time in a long time. Or at least I do here. As I sit here and type I'm actually quite scared to leave. I don't know how I'll cope or act in the real world. Can I sustain this new me? Will I crumble? What if I need support? I fear I'll come running back in a few days; I'm certainly going to find it hard to physically leave. I've been picturing myself for days standing at the top of the driveway and just bawling my eyes out. I can cry now! In public!

I do have issues with InanItah, and for me they stop me wanting to call it home. It took me a long time to see them and I suspect they exist more because I need a security blanket I can trust: I can't exert control over things that don't conform to my perfection. That's one reason I need to leave - so I can gain perspective on what it means for me. Whatever that answer turns out to be I owe InanItah, it's people, facilities, founders, and spirituality, a debt of gratitude I can never repay and certainly never accurately express. My time is not infinite. Perhaps if I'd come here 15 years ago I wouldn't have turned into the angry mess that I did but I didn't need it then and I certainly wouldn't have accepted it.

Live long and prosper, InanItah. I love you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Problem of the day

I've come to believe that, assuming they existed which they blatantly didn't, Adam and Eve probably deserved to be thrown out of Eden. Given their human nature, humans 1 and 2, respectively, they probably defecated on the tree before going scrumping and then chopped it up to make a life size model of an ant army. Because that's what everyone would do if left to their own devices. God was an idiot to expect anything else quite frankly.

I wonder every day how people get through their lives with the crushing guilt from the shitty way they act to themselves, others, the environment, community, the partners and life in general. I feel guilt for forgetting which bin I should food waste in. How can other people not for throwing cigarette butts willy and nilly? For invading personal space? For wasting food? For invading personal space? It's a concept I struggle with. Always.

But I remain happy. Mostly. I'm happy with me. I'm happy with how I act and that's what matters. My actions are positive. My karma is what I do; your karma is how you act and that's your fucking problem mate. I'm gonna be God in the next life and if I have my way you'll be a new species of dung beetle that can only survive by begging to be allowed to eat human shit. As Batman says, and in these cases Batman should always be referred to for wisdom, crazy violent warmongering vigilante that he is: it's what we do that defines us. Or in my case what we do that makes up for that thing we did but can never actually eclipse it. So, quite literally people are children. People are selfish. People are worthy of being immolated. Is that really how you want to be remembered? Does it make you feel good? It makes me feel like shite so god knows what it does to you.

I realised this morning I'd still be happy to die tomorrow. Three months of enlightened living and I still get sad when I look at the world and try to work out my place in it. Even here where there's little more to worry about than whether today's the day I fall in the compost toilet the overall shitty attitudes of people beggar my belief and makes me wonder why I bother hanging around. Oh, I know: it's so I can see Maccu Piccu. And northern India. And Patra and the pyramids (gonna be shit). In the meantime I look around me and see things that make me sad and despair. Should I distance myself? Should I live the lonely life or should I lower my standards? Maybe I need to stop being so dramatic and accept people aren't perfect. Which is a fallacy because, I am. Obviously.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

In which I become a big girl's blouse

So, again, I met this woman. An american this time. And again she's dragged me off to somewhere on the spur of the moment. Where am I? Here:

Quite why I decided to come here I don't know. I hate hippys. They're so smug in their vegan ways; with dreadlocks that....well i domt understand dreadlocks on any level. I think they lookmstupid and dirty. That website just screams tofu and lectures on sustainability. But within 3 minutes I'd decided to tag along. It was in vaguely the right direction so I thought 'fuck it'. It might be good for a laugh.

Except when I arrived it all clicked into place. I've recently been moving toward a greater awareness of meat and where it comes from. I've always thought everybody is an arsehole. I've always got bored really easily and want to move on really quickly. And I take the piss. A lot. But I walked in, not having filled out an application form like you're supposed to, and was greeted with warmth and friendliness. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable if I'm honest but the problem was all mine. It's taking some getting used to: everybody being so bloody nice. And I don't think they're faking it. I'm naturally very suspicious of nice people, it's what comes of being treated like shit for years on end, and all these people do is smile. It's all very Stepford but in a very good way.

We had dinner not long after we arrived last night and everybody joined hands. I was on the verge of objecting to saying prayers but we all went around the table saying what we were thankful for. God wasnt mentioned. It was awesome (I appreciate I sound very wet right now). Nobody smokes. I don't have to sit upwind for a change.

Today, as part of living here for not a lot, I spent two hours watering plants. Later is yoga. Tomorrow, I might help out in the kitchen making food from random stuff found in the garden. I've never just wandered in a garden and picked random leaves to eat. I got very emotional yesterday at all this. I like to think I'm very open minded but having rejected this entire concept for years I don't feel I can say that anymore. Maybe it's just my age. Maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis. But for the first time in a long time I feel like I belong. How long till I fuck it up, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Songs of my life

I have various songs that reflect my mind perfectly. The Closest Thing to Crazy by Katie Melua is one.  It says everything you need to know about my ex-wife and I. Everything here is literal.

How can I think I'm standing strong, 
Yet feel the air beneath my feet? 
How can happiness feel so wrong? 
How can misery feel so sweet? 
How can you let me watch you sleep, 
Then break my dreams the way you do? 
How can I have got in so deep? 
Why did I fall in love with you? 

This is the closest thing to crazy I have ever been 
Feeling twenty-two, acting seventeen, 
This is the nearest thing to crazy I have ever known, 
I was never crazy on my own... 
And now I know that there's a link between the two, 
Being close to craziness and being close to you. 

How can you make me fall apart 
Then break my fall with loving lies? 
It's so easy to break a heart; 
It's so easy to close your eyes. 
How can you treat me like a child 
Yet like a child I yearn for you? 
How can anyone feel so wild? 
How can anyone feel so blue? 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

CA on the down low

There's a common factor with my depression: generally it's other people that make me feel shit. It's a feeling of inadequacy, or social ineptitude. A need to stand apart and watch the fun from afar while at the same time a desperate need to take part. It sets up a conflict in my head and I go spiralling around and around and around until something clicks. Today, that something was this:

See, I'd begun to think it was me. All these people in Central America are having fun. If it's me that's miserable then it stands to reason I'm a freak, right? Party capital of the world and all I want to do is sit in a corner and watch TV. It hadn't occurred to me that maybe everyone else was just gobshitingly awful. A version of the worst kind of Essexland (for I know some lovely people from there and wouldn't denigrate all of it): drunken, drugged up, vomit stained, loud and noisy Essex where the aim is to do all of the above 'large'. I hate it.

Sometimes I just want to sit and have a cup of tea. Maybe even a chat. I'm 35. I don't do drinking games anymore. I don't want to talk about the ways I've opened beer bottles. Is it too much to ask to talk about politics? Or the environment? Or the American election?

Why should I be the one to feel excluded? How dare you make me feel the outcast? You're the one exhibiting moronic principals. You're shallow and vacuous. Your greatest achievement in your young life is to have dropped the two most important balls of your life. I forgot this for awhile. It's OK for me not to take part because to take part, and enjoy it, I'd have to drop my IQ by 40 points and not only am I unwilling to do that I actually can't. I've tried. My conversation doesn't dumb down enough for you. I can't get my head around some of the things I'd need to say. It's like I'm talking to my biological sibling. It's good to have standards, don't you think? And my standards tower above yours. I look down upon your standards from my ivory tower and all I see are ants: we're both unknowable to each other but one of us has got the bigger cock.

I don't like your parties. I can never hear what's being said and I suspect it'd bore me to rigor mortis if I did. But just once I'd like to be given the opportunity to know for a fact. It's just that I can't be bothered to find out. I'm already disappointed in you. I'd hate to find out the reality is even worse.

Now it has to be said I've disliked other groups of travellers for other reasons: in India they were smug, in Europe too young. For the best travellers go to Africa. Everywhere I go in Central America, and the places where divers congregate are the worst for they think they're so fucking cool, people treat it like its the last night of legal alcohol and they're mission is to be as loud and obnoxious as possible. Like its Freshers Week ad nauseum. Maybe that's what it is: they remind me of students. I hate them, too.

No doubt you'll make me feel like shit again in the future but for now, by which I mean the next few minutes, I'm happy in my supercilious reverie. So, please fuck off.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tales from the river

There's a boat. I'm....on it. Lonely Planet, as Lonely Planet tends to do, and which I hadn't at this point realised tends to make everything sound fabulous. I've been to some very crappy places because of them. I literally travelled for an hour in India (distance 3 km) to see a water pool mechanism. It looked like someone's Lego set.

The boat is going between Koblenz and Mainz two very non-descript towns but the boat journey was supposedly epically beautiful. It isn't. It's alright at best. But on this boat were two dudes. One of them looked like Cameron from Modern Family and the other looked like Mitchell. From Modern Family. It was unfuckingcanny.

So we're talking. They're nice guy English types, as opposed to the crappy drunken ones, on holiday for a few weeks touring picturesque parts of Germany. I begin wondering - are they gay? But surpringly for one afflicted with foot in mouth disease I don't ask. I delve deeper instead. It turns out one of them lives in Scotland, the other in London.

Sorry if you were expecting a funny ending, or even an interesting one.

Incidentally, I got stuck in a lift in Germany. I was with a few other people and we were there for 15 minutes. It turned out nobody had pushed the button.*

*stolen from Flight of the Conchords

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Songs of My Life

I have various songs that reflect my mind perfectly. Because of You by Kelly Clarkson is one. It describes my childhood and my upbringing perfectly. Thanks, mum.

I will not make the same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break the way you did,
You fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh everyday of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry in the middle of the night
For the same damn thing

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I try my hardest just to forget everything
Because of you
I don't know how to let anyone else in
Because of you
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty
Because of you
I am afraid

Because of you
Because of you

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I did in Dangriga

So we're in Dangriga after not making it to Copan. It's party time with the Garifuna. Subsequently, the next day was...slow. But there are buses running all day; we can get a late one because where we're going is just a transit point ie it's shit.

10am we look for breakfast. Sarah wants frijoles and beans. Must have frijoles and beans. We had Chinese. This was eaten during a discussion about Lost (greatest program ever made, fact fans). There were questions raised: what was the horse? Why was Charles ejected from the island? Was Ben really a Capricorn? Let's go back to the hostel and find out!

This we do for the next 3 hours. The bus is at 3:15. It's 2:35. We should probably leave....

Yes. But first we need to find the, I say 'the', ATM because we can't actually pay for the bus with our current funds. The bus station is left. The ATM is to the right. Off we go. Long way this, isn't it? Got cash, walked in the opposite direction, and arrive at the bus station. To see our bus coming out of the gate. Actiongirl Sarah leaps to the fore ie in front of the bus and demands it stop. He won't let us on. Sarah pleads. The bus is full. We don't mind standing. Already people standing. Other travelers already on the bus are laughing at us. Fail.

So we wait 75 minutes for the next one.

There are 3 doors in the terminal in a wall 3 metres long and about 100 Belizeans. Which door....wheres the bus going to come in....could be any of them apparently. Sarah and I had 2 plans, the first of which we played rock, paper, scissors for. I should've warned her how awesome I am at it. I'm, like, the champ. I won! Hurrah! It was to be my duty to clamber my way onto the bus and secure us a seat while she made sure our very heavy bags somehow went underneath the bus. This plan wasn't put into effect because we then decided to stand at different doors and therefore it'd be the first person to get there. Sarah won. I got caught up in a scrum. Ever seen a ruck in Rugby? Brian Moore's got nothing on an old woman from Belize.

I can just about see Sarah being crushed inside the bus and in front of me there are four rows of people still waiting to get on. I begin to wonder if and how I'm going to get on. I glance behind me, where there's nobody, somehow I'm at the back of the scrum despite carrying a huge backpack, and there's a bus 2 lanes away. The sign says its going to the same place but there are only three people getting on it. Umm.....

So off I goes to that bus. Now, some people might've thought 'let's tell Sarah'. Not me. I'm far too practical for that. I'll meet her in Punta Gorda bus station. Its quite clear what my uncommunicated plan is. I gets on the bus and it's almost empty. There's still a scrum for the other bus. Result. I look across and Sarah has a look of wide-eyed panic on her face. It's at this point I the bus I get. Her bus' backdoor is open and as I get there she's on the verge of leaping out.

Remember that bit in Labyrinth? With all the hands? It looked like that.

So I helped a traumatised Sarah onto 'my' bus and all was well. Except for my ears that got a sound thrashing.

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