Wanderlust Remedy

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Alex Favacho fucked up my back

It’s been a drag out fuck shout ball slap of a night.  I look like shit.  I’m doing work I should be proud about.  I look like some fucked up version of myself.  If I’m burning myself out I may as well be a tweaker.

About a week ago, Alex Favacho dragged me around by my legs in the house I got fucked up in all the time.  I was a bum.  I was a hostess at a Mexican restaurant.  I got drunk all the time.  I slept with random strangers.  I’d wake up and be just fine.  I got a legitimate job and got fired.

About a week ago, Alex Favacho dragged me around by my legs as he had done a billion other times.  He’d always trip me or judo maneuver me onto the ground.  This time instead of laughing it off my back hurt.  A dull ache has persisted in my tailbone.  Here I am.  Glued. Glued to a computer screen.  Writing this is a little break from little sleep.  I’m in graduate school.  I work 20 hrs a week in a coveted position, but I can’t help but feel this is all sorts of wrong.

Alex Favacho could never hurt my back.  The good times could never end.  I want to push edges and expand limits of what’s possible.  There’s no writhing on the floor in a drunken sweat.  No dancing.  No mornings full of lavish breakfasts and laughter.  The body is a cruel bitch.

 

Planting Seeds

Maybe I didn’t fight hard enough.  I gave up too easily.  I could’ve been like Francisco Bongo Bong whom I met on the pedestrian walk in Granada, and made art pieces and bracelets to sell to tourists.  Tourists love bracelets, knit hats, scarves, textiles, and purses.  I sort of know how to knit and weave.  I opted out, so here I am back in America.

I regret I left my room a mess.  There are long days of clean up work ahead of me.  As Stevie Nicks asks in Gold Dust Woman, “do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home?”

I don’t know the answer.  As I expected before I left I am now hooked on the idea of traveling.  This weekend I went up to Santa Barbara.  Reintegrating into America ain’t EZ.  When I got off the train I expected the taxi drivers to bombard me with taxi solicitations.  I kept holding my backpack really close to me.  My guard is still up.  Everyone looked so affluent and clean and white.  My brain cannot process how I feel about this.  There are trash cans, recycling cans, and compost piles.  Everyone is eco-friendly.  Conscious.  Taking health supplements.  It doesn’t feel real though.

Right now I am at my parent’s house in Menifee, CA.  This too is a mind fuck.

From the Press Enterprise, the Inland Empire’s regional newspaper, “The Inland Empire is fourth in the nation for food insecurity, according to the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.”  This is far from Nicaragua and far from Santa Barbara.  This is the byproduct of having lost touch with what people in Nicaragua still understand, and what people in Santa Barbara are fighting to get back to.  The simple act of growing one’s food.  Currently in a landscape which resembles much of what the rest of America looks like, a nonstop parade of Wal-Mart’s, Chic-fil-a’s, and ampm big gulps, I am reminded of why I am making myself live at home for the next few months.

My parent’s backyard is a small weed filled parcel in the middle of a tract-housing neighborhood.  Right now it is full of cinder blocks, forgotten gym equipment, and weeds.  Although it seems simple enough, I know what I want to accomplish will be monumental.  I want to transform my parents backyard into a little garden.  A little garden which will hopefully provide my parents with a reason to keep their blinds open instead of closed, maybe make them spend a little more time outside, and mostly maybe make them eat some more vegetables.  At the next level, I’d like them to understand why I want them to shop at the farmer’s market instead of the stores they go to get their groceries or get them to compost.  I can’t have any expectations for the garden though.

At the least I will have fun.  Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than watching a plant I put into the ground grow.  I’ll even start a few plants from seed.  As the roots of what I sow take hold I’ll be obligated to stick around and grow out of what makes me uncomfortable.  I know everything is OK, but sometimes I manage to get caught up in my mental constructs.

As for this blog… the journey is far from over.  I enjoyed the process of transferring what I experienced into the written word to share with friends.  I’d like to keep writing, but I feel that maybe I need to start new blogs for new pursuits and keep this blog open strictly for travel abroad.  I look forward to leaving again very soon.  In the meantime, I want to continue doing what I was doing in Santa Barbara here in the IE.  It’ll be more of a challenge, but it’s how I want to be living.  Later this week there is a meeting about starting a food cooperative in Riverside.  There’s also a couple small bicycle advocacy outfits.  It’s all about planting seeds.  You’re born, you eat, you poop, you grow.  you used to eat and poop out seeds and make things grow, but now we poop into clean water.  anyways our poop got messed up somewhere in there and got nastier than dog poop.  Enough about poop.

Time to plant seeds.  Eventually something will come out of it, even in Menifee, CA.

 

Be Here Now

I remember first learning about the book ¨Be Here Now¨by Ram Dass shortly after I moved into the Bath House.  One evening some of the roommates sat around the table while my roommate Erik read aloud in his booming oratory voice.  I’d seen the book on the coffee table, but never gave it much credence.  Maybe at that time I’d just assumed it was some meaningless hippie dribble, but after listening to Erik, I grew interested in the topics covered in the book.

Simple notion to free oneself from notions, be here now.

As the big reddish orange sun sets on my first of hopefully many foreign journeys I more now then ever don’t want to leave.  I think about all the little bits of places I could see and experience.  Places, places, places, spaces, transformations.  The world is sitting here and I luckily get to move through it.  This is where I have to embrace the power of the now.  I need to just enjoy this very moment of life.  The pangs of longing will only detract from the greatness of life.

It took a swift kick in the ass about two years ago to make me appreciate a lot of what I do have.  I fully value everything this journey has taught me.  Big heaping mouthfuls of humble pie have been shoved in my mouth.  I love this experience.  It’s not all about happiness, but about peace of mind.  Here I am now.

I probably will write a lot the next few days if I have access to a computer because I need to release the words in my mind.  A great man I know once said it is easier to think than to not think.  I thought this sounded really silly at first, but with time it’s really some of the most profound shit related to me in the English language.

Expanding on my time in Popoyo…  As I began to walk down the long road from Las Salinas towards the coast of Popoyo, a local on a dirt bike asked me if I wanted a ride.  Considering it was as hot as Satan’s rectum I said yes.  I hopped on the back, and he asked me if I wanted a beer.  Since he was the first cute brown boy I talked to I said yes.  OK i’m racist and biased.  I usually only like white guys, but he was surf broed out and had a neff hat on.  It was charming.  He took me to his friend’s comedor and shared some toñas.  He then took me to a cheap place to stay and invited me to a party later that night at a pizza hostel named vaca loca that was shutting down.

Popoyo is really tiny, but it attracts and hypnotizes many outsiders.  Business owners included Americans, italians, uruguayans, french, etc.  I estimate this place will be fucked over and costa ricanized in about ten years if not less.  this is why i want to spend some quality time in this zone sooner than later.

the party at the hostel pizza parlor was a mellow load of fun.  there was a dash of dancing.  the cute local bought me a beer, but then i intentionally ignored him the rest of the night because to be frank i’ve been avoiding penis on my trip.  as easy and tempting it is to be a travel ho i just don’t want to.  i cant have the hos in different area codes.

i spent the rest of the night talking to a cool batch of guys from bend, oregon and kentucky.

another reality check.  i started to walk over to the tidepool swimming hole in just my bikini.  suddenly a man in uniform popped out with a semi-automatic weapon on the point.  he asked me if i was alone.  i said yes.  he told me to go.  this area wasn’t safe.  i’d get raped.  ahhhhh yes i’m a woman.  everyone is out to rape women.  check.  fuck that shit.

once again.  fuck that shit.  i just want to chill the fuck out.

sorry i’m a little buzzed right now.

anyways i start walking back and i was super paranoid.  there was this shady looking guy right near me.  i waited and let him build some good distance before i continued back to my hostel.  the friendly americans gave me a ride out of popoyo because i couldnt afford to stay there anymore.  I went to Granada to catch an easy bus back to San Juan del Sur.  I’m reminded of rape again.  I’m walking down a street and this young girl walking a puppy is in front of me.  an older man starts following her closely so i speed up to stay right behind him.  she veers to the right and he follows her.  she stops and asks me if i speak spanish.  she asks me to stay with her for a second.  she then tells me to not take this this and that street.

drunk rapists.

fucking aaaaaa.  i hate men.  what is wrong with penis.  why do woman have to live through this?

FUCK SEXUAL PREDATORS.  I DONT CARE WHAT COUNTRY OR PLANET OR REALITY IM IN

Now that I have that off my chest, i’m back in san juan del sur in what is my last day in nicaragua.  thanks nicaragua.  you are wild, beautiful, and have given me so much.  tomorrow i go to Costa Rica to find some secluded beaches i can chill on before i have to go back to the united states and be a poor child again.

central america, i love you.  don’t fucking change for the white man.  only change to benefit todo la gente.  ok i shouldnt say white man. dont change for the oligarchy.

be here now.

ok that is all.  see you soon.

Semana Santa

Predator or prey… which one am I? Naive and traveling alone I’ve felt at risk from mosquitos, gargantuan spiders, gnats, disease, rapists, liars, and thieves. Everystep of the way is paved with something I should be worried about. Just when you start to feel comfortable something happens to remind you to be paranoid. IT {it being any of the predators I just listed} is out to get you.

Walking back to the hostel my final night out in Leon with a new friend, we hear some screams. We look down the street. A security guard and a man are yelling at each other. I asked the security guard at the hostel what was going on. Apparently the man was trying to rob someone at the hostel across the street. The melee escalates. The security guard whips out a baton and procedes to beat the shit out of this wannabe thief. I turn away. I had no interest in watching even if the dude was a robber. I just hear the loud thumps of the baton and the man’s screams. The police eventually show up on motorcycles and take the guy away. The incident made my stomach turn. I’m reminded I’m in fucking Nicaragua. Rules are a little different from home.

Before this incident I had gotten quite comfortable walking around Leon alone at night. I got used to all the cat calls. Pssts, kisses, and hey babies are something you hear every few feet when walking around. At first disgusted, I just blocked it out. After the robbery smack down I started getting paranoid again. Although I wanted to stay in Leon up until I had to go farm, the robbery and a couple other incidents my last night out in Leon led me to take off for the mountains. I stay in a treehouse hostel.

There’s only one other couple backpacking there. The rest were a bunch of kids from Managua celebrating their friend’s birthday. I am first stand offish. I see a huge spider eating a cicada right next to my hammock. I’m actually somewhat happy. Cicadas are annoying little fuckers. I head back up to the treehouse bar. The Managuan kids are drunk. They start handing me shots. I get drunk with them and the hostel worker. I really don’t even remember what I was talking about, but I got some email addresses. I also bought two tins of pringles and a bag of goldfish. I smoke a joint with the hostel worker and see a crazy looking jungle possum. It was a fun night.

The next day I felt super weird. Maybe it was because I smoked, and I actually hadn’t smoked in a while. Not sure. I take my sunscreen out and leave it sitting near my hammock not thinking anything would happen to it. I start the steep hike up to the showers. I take my cold shower and hike back down to the hammock. My sunscreen was gone. My sunhat was gone. This was the first theft I experienced on the trip. What was unsettling is that I’m pretty sure the only people up in this area are the people staying at the hostel and the hostel workers. Prey. Don’t trust anyone. I slowly pack my shit and go to Granada.for a night. Nothing too exciting happened. I then head to the farm.

I don’t want to write too much about the farm other than I just felt uncomfortable there. A 57 year old wanting to start an intentional community lives alongside a 23 year old Ukranian man who knew near perfect Spanish. Both embrace the power of now. They are kind souls, but I definitely did not feel comfortable or that I wanted to stay. I got massively bit up by mosquitos; the weather was too hot for farm work; the landowner had strong opinions, some of which I disagreed with.

My third day in I borrowed a bike to ride from the farm to Granada.

Everything is slow in Nicaragua. It’s almost as if everything is played out in a plane of molasses or syrup. Actions are long and drawn out because of the heat. Buses don’t run on a reliable schedule. On my bike ride I realized it’s too hot for drivers or pedestrians to even be mad at you. I saw the most disgusting roadkill I’ve ever seen on the carretera. It was a decomposing dog that had been sitting in the tropical heat. It’s corpse was glistening and bloated. I didn’t look for too long.

Everything moves through molasses.

Nica time.

Cars have the right of way. The roads are chaos. It oddly doesn’t feel that dangerous. It doesn’t take me long to get to Granada. I realize I don’t want to go back to the farm. I hadn’t been able to sleep well there. I check into a hostel. I decide I want to drink.

I go and buy a bottle of rum for 75 cordoba. This is about 3 or 4 US dollars.

I get back to the hostel and start drinking with an Argentinian and 3 Frenchmen. We manage to piss off the whole hostel with our drunken loudness. We go to an afterhours club with an empty room with an incredible lazer light show. I think the place was called hypnotik. don’t worry i know how to spell. they spelled it that way.

Today I took the bicyle back to the farm and told the owner I felt too sick to stay there. I feel better. On my way back to the carretera a taxi stops and offers to give me a ride to the main road. I tell him I have no money. He said it’s OK. Once in the car he tells me that it’s dangerous for me to be walking on that road at night. I would get raped and robbed. Reminder: I am prey. I am not a predator.

I’m back at the hostel having a mellow evening. Tomorrow I might work the front desk in exchange for board. This weekend is the culminating point for Semana Santa or Holy Week. There’s a lot of scary saint and Christ statues erected. I would’ve taken a picture except they really scare me. Holy predators batman!

Oh yes, I may have a travel buddy soon. A guy my friend hosted through couchsurfer is in the area and is looking for a travel companion. I agreed. It’ll be a nice change in pace.

I’ll be happy when Semana Santa is over.

I need to learn how to appear like a predator. Maybe I should start pssting at every guy that walks by. I should smush giant spiders with my flip flops. As for mosquitos, I don’t think there is anything I can do to prey upon them.

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Hoy estoy goma

Yesterday I chose to come out of seclusion. The day prior was completely spent on buses traveling from the tourist beach town of San Juan del Sur to an island next to the fishing town of Poneloya. I went to look into a work exchange opportunity at a Canadian owned surf lodge. I had emailed the owner who posted an ad for help in exchange for food and accommodations. The situation didn’t workout so I turned around and headed back towards Leon. I never thought I’d say this, but I got somewhat tired of spending time alone on secluded beaches.  I’ve missed out on the whole community aspect of traveling.

Something that happened the day before reminded me I can be capable of liking people. While waiting for one of the morning chicken buses to Rivas I look over and see a scruffy haired man whom appears familiar. I stare for a couple minutes when I realize it’s none other than one half of the wheelhouse dynamic duo, Evan Minogue! After the all the what the fucks and the holy shits we realize that we are both going towards Leon. It really goes to show how infinitely tiny the world is. scary.  The next few hours are agonizingly spent on chicken buses and taxis. I was so grateful to have ran into Evan. Honestly my introverted side has been dominant. I was beginning to forget how to talk to people. We ate mystery street pastries, talked bikes, how awesome Santa Barbara is, how shitty Managua is, and what we’ve gleaned from our respective journeys. When we got to Leon we walked about 2 miles to the center of town with our giant backpacks. We were beat. Poor Evan had a particularly grueling journey. The Nicaraguan public transportation system is not constructed for 6+ foot frames. I made the choice to move forward since I really need to find work exchanges. When it didn’t work I decided to go back and look for Evan.

Apparently I had just missed Evan, but decided to be social. I end up hanging out with a fellow traveler who was one the coolest girls/people I’ve met on my trip and possessed an impressive knowledge of Leon’s streets. We go over to a hostel called Bigfoot and start drinking. Since my new friend is a pretty girl, a lot of dudes wanted to hang out with us. We go to some bar named La Olla Quemada and talk to a group of obviously wealthy older men. One grabs my hand and makes me rub his balding head.

Fucking gross!!!!!!! Anyways a bunch of Europeans usher my friend and I into the back of a truck. Some drunkard drives a mob of us to an afterhours club near the university. At first the bar was playing shitty top 40 hits. i was having a hard time getting into it so i kept ordering dollar flor de cana extra lite shots. Fucking gross!!!!!!! I guess I can’t be picky considering I am poor. My feet are dirty. The club then switched to a selection of salsa music. I just couldn’t handle it. We end the night hanging out at the apartment of a university student and a hostel worker. about 15 of us sat in a circle drinking rum plata and ice occasionally getting up and dancing. we were playing the music really loud. no cops ever told us to turn it down.

the alcohol unites us.

the food unites us.

i’ve actually enjoyed leon thus far and may stay a couple more days. sleeping inside does suck though.

the city’s architecture is impressive. It’s refreshing to be somewhere with such a strong sense of place. Leon is the city of the sandinista revolution. there are murals and graffiti everywhere. the parks are well used and are prime spots for public life to occur. good public life makes me as happy as a school girl.

i’ve written a bunch of farms, hostels, and businesses if they need help. i’ll work for faaaahhhrrreeee! just give me a place to hang my hammock and

side notes: even though i’ve been trying to cook more i still occasionally succumb to street food. i can’t lie, i think mexican food is way better than nicaraguan food. i’ve tried a lot of quesillos and tostones. it just doesn’t do it for me. i’m tired of pinto gallo. i don’t like eggs.

being of mixed ethnic heritage, i have always been confused about where i fit in. it is even more confusing while i travel. people are surprised when they see me traveling. some think i’m nicaragua. some think i’m mexican. there are virutually no travelers of color. one dude straight up told me “you are different from the rest.” they want to know how i know spanish so well. most americans don’t know spanish. it’s true. kudos to my gringo friends who have taken the effort to learn!

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The Birth of a Tourist: The introduction

 

There is something magical about Hollister Ranch.  Right now my eyes are getting fucked by ocean waters.  I’m on the train zipping through Hollister Ranch.

Although all connected in time and space, I felt that each of the next three posts had a different theme.  For this reason, I broke up an originally long post into three parts.  The first covers my last days in Santa Barbara.  The second covers my attempt at telling my father about my travel plans and the initial half of my day in Monterey.  The final post digs into my thoughts on tourism and my fears of being a tourist.