Sitting in the airport, waiting for a flight and watching the traveler’s has got me thinking about some of the personal differences that have come about for me while I’ve been away. Like usual I’ve not fully processed these thoughts, but only pondering on paper.
The beard and the clothes.
I feel that there is a certain sense of freedom on the road, created by a lack of self consciousness (or absence of) that has risen while on the road. First of all, I’ve got this awesome messy beard. I don’t feel the need to groom it, I get stared at and people randomly ask about it. At home none of this would be true. This created some “what the hell” thoughts early on, but had created a sense of pride, as if late.I try to not miss out on other grooming and hygiene; but to be honest it’s not abnormal to go a few days without a shower here (sometimes more days). It passes the mind as gross in certain moments, but after a few jokes with fellow travelers, you’ll find it’s a common theme.
Trust and getting burned.
There was more than one occasion early in my travels when I had not a second thought about lending money to a fellow traveller who was having money flow issues. All of which I had only met a few days earlier.
In these situations, I have never been burned. Likewise, I have been assisted by fellow travels in similar situations myself. This saving my hide and allowing less stress. Only to have these experiences juxtaposed by other less fortunate mishaps. On one occasion, I man came to our table, asked for our order, took payment and never came back… Not a waiter then eh? I’ve heard of traveler’s giving their bags to a “bus guy” only to find they’ll never get that bag back (this doesn’t happen often don’t fear) or having an expensive camera taken right from their private room, straight up robbed, or simple charged twice as much for a cab “because it’s night time now”.
The strange dichotomy this has created for me, is an internal battle between eternal hope that humans are good and never ending suspicion and precautionary measures. Is it dangerous in Latin America? Answer: Do humans live here?
However, to put it in perspective, there have been a number of shootings in my neighborhood back home since I’ve left.
I often wonder how I’ll process this back in North America. Just chill, keep it real, have love in your heart.
Bowel movements and being sick.
This one will not be for everyone, be warned. Shit, diarrhea, farts, puke, queezy feelings and more, it’s all part of the traveler’s experience. It’s gotten more intense for me personally as I’ve moved south, however I’ve witnessed travelers in all regions challenged with, conquer and then do it all over again..The entire time I’ve been on the road.
My approach (after having a horrible bout a few years back in Guatemala) is in every new country, go straight to the street carts and eat the food. There are some rules about this approach, that perhaps one days I’ll cover in another article (be daring but sensible) which introduces you to the bugs of that region, might get you sick, but at least you shouldn’t have to be concerned until the next region.
What has this changed? Talking about your gut and ass. In a necessary aspect of continuing a somewhat normal life, conversation about what’s happening inside you becomes a great bonding agent for many travelers. You may want to skip an event, trip or something due to your state, but if others know what’s going on, they can help, relate and consider you in their planning.
Girl you hanging with running around the street frantically? They aren’t crazy, they might just be explosive. You are a second set of eyes, looking for that nearest washroom. Are you running around frantic? Don’t look crazy, mention that you’ve got issues and you have to run… You might here this on the way “hey, you got toilet paper?” ..oh my god no… “I got some, here” when you get to that bathroom with no paper, you’ll want to hug that travel buddy (but wash your hands first please).
Look, Graphic details aren’t for everyone, but sharing is caring and might just relieve stress, confusion or pain for a friend who’s looking for some “relief” themselves.
So those are a few of my personality characteristics I think have relaxed side I’ve been here.
What do you think? Are we too up tight sometimes in north America?
Keep loose and relax all, till next time!
I’ve been extremely fortunate in my journeys, especially in the sense of who I’ve met. The people have been my objective and I haven’t let anything stop me from being sociable. This probably doesn’t surprise you, yah I’m an extrovert; that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us. Hurdles include insecurity, language barriers, sickness and different views of life. Opening your heart can bring lots of good things, but sometimes the neat stuff just drops in your lap.
Let’s start with my plane ride.
1. score two different flights with middle seat empty, including my flight into Guatemala (which was “full”) #bigguywins
not only that, but the lady on the second flight had the same sickness and we took care of each other and shared medicine.
2. Get off the plane sick as a dog, give money to first van I see, sit down, nearly asleep. A kind man named Eric comes to me in the van “hey man, this bus won’t leave for 3 hours (they told me 25 minutes), come grab a cab with me for 4 Q more (next to nothing) for a direct drive to Antigua” me: “huh, what, ok.”
Eric is sociable too. Score one for MarkDee (his spanish is excellent also). I snooze and listen partially as Eric explores the life of a Taxi driver and the economics - there seems to be none - to the business. We never did figure out how his gas can cost more than he makes a day and he’s still doing it. We tipped well, but not more because of the talk. I’m already picking up the conversation, but too sick to appreciate it.
My good friend Dave has explained there is a great Hostel near a McDonald’s in Antigua, Eric and I are on the same page. I get a room that’s cheap, really cheap, in which I can wallow. Eric takes care of the front desk, my first set of questions and checks in on me after a long nap, too see if I’m ok.
Is this traveller’s solidarity, or is Eric just awesome…? Both?!
We’re staying at Pasado Refugio - at the time I can only imagine what it means, but it feels appropriate.
I sleep and then I sleep. I sleep some more and it’s now dark (it’s the next day) man I’m sick, Eric’s not around, I don’t know the language, it’s dark out and holy mac(donald’s?)aroni I’m hungry. I go to McDonald’s it’s directly across the road and hey, what’s that, someone speaks English (but you don’t need it to order a big mac). They also have wifi so I can feel less like I’m in a foreign place.. Do internet stuff, take this picture, eat.. and sleep more
New day, not recovered, but good enough to explore. I’m slightly familiar with the city and I just go for a walk. It’s not till later that I meet up with Eric and we explore options for eating. He takes me to a pharmacy, where I’m asked to cough (something comes up) and BAM! I have antibiotics. We sit in the city square and scope out other folks walking around.
We meet these two. Similar to the first 8 people I met, their names have evaded me. But I’ve added them to the list of lovers and other strangers for a few different reasons. One, they were really kind hearted and sweet. They talked with us for an hour in Spanish, English and Hebrew (with Eric, silly, not me).
Two: They are just finishing the exact same trip that I am embarking on, had lots of good advice and completely changed my outlook. They are just ending in Gautemala instead of starting in it.
Three: They just finished living in Vancouver! Temporarily had jobs in Vancouver while travelling and were there just before they left.
You could tell these two were madly in love. They had both served in the military and were now embracing life to the fullest. moving.
The last stranger in this post, is a man I met in a bar in Antigua. This was after the meds; but I still only had one drink. No Caesars so a Michelada was substituted.
At La Taverna all the X-pats who were just coming to Guatemala for a visit and ended up staying (this seems to be a common story) gathered daily to talk old politics, the troubles with North America and the mild struggles of living in Guat. I met some good chums at this bar, including the owner who was a great guy and his loverly lady who made the best damn bloody mary in town.
But this is about my new favourite person, Mark. I overheard him talking to the bartender and coaching her on the drink she had made. It was a Bloody Mary. “Just a bit too much horseradish, this time”
what’s this? a high maintenance Bloody Mary.. I’m intrigued.
This Mark was from the U.S of A and didn’t know the joys of Caesars. BUT he loved bloody mary’s so much he carried around his own spice in his bag. Sound familiar? I had to take a snap shot and I showed him my Caesar blog. He thought it was awesome and then I shared a michelada with him. Pretty cool little coincidence.
There’s my first Guatemal story, I’ll visit this city one more time before writing about my next destination. Here are some cool shots of the city. Enjoy.
There was a radio program I listened to when I was in my teens. It was a bit of a ritual for me and a few friends, as we´d head off to a regular Wednesday night event. It was about human connection, usually with an undertone of romanticism or sexuality, but also in a general context of connectivity between two people. Don Jackson was the host of this program named “Lovers and Other Stranger”. I’ve decided to subname this blog the same for now. I do not mean lovers in the sexual context, but those that can be related to, who show kindness or are of in need of love - who may give love. There is definitely a romanticism to travelling and exotic locations, but that´s not to say every connection or interaction is this way. This trip is about connecting with people in different places, different situations and with different frames of mind. It’s about connecting with myself, exploring my paradigms and perhaps your own, dear reader. If there is something I hope to achieve with what I write here; it will be to explore the connections we make, how we make them and the reasons we limit ourselves in these connections.
This will be, of course, through my own filter, projections and ideals. I will often use the phrase “just remember” and for those that are not familiar with my ‘system’ to keep calm and in the moment; you can read this article from a few years ago
But I will introduce you to the Lovers and other strangers that I meet and perhaps you will find that you know a few yourself.
…what no updates on what’s happened? no pictures?
Ok Ok I hear you. Here’s some pics to keep you happy :)
^The first day in Antigua, I hit the market. I was really busy all day (Wednesday) but it was way worse on Saturday…
^The view from my front door (of the $6 dollar a night room)
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