Wanderlust Remedy

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VANishing: My summer of slacking on the road

It’s 7AM in San Luis Obispo.  I have parked my 1989 Toyota VanWagon next to a Starbucks to mooch their wifi.  A few minutes earlier I barely avoided pissing myself, but found sweet relief at a Jack In the Box.  It was close.  I was tempted to piss outside seeing no one was up yet, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it because I passed out in an affluent neighborhood.  I got paranoid.  My back hurts.  Because the nicest neighborhoods are almost always built on the land with the least geologic/seismic stability I slept at an extreme slope.  My body kept slipping forward off my newly constructed bed.  At least it was better than the way I was doing it which was sleeping on the floor with my head jammed between the passenger seats.  Regardless I always sleep like a baby in the van.  Could it be because it mimics a womb?  These minor complications are the little bits and pieces of reality I didn’t anticipate when I embarked on my latest stupid experiment.

For the past couple months, with intermittent stops at my parent’s house, I’ve been cruising around Southern California and the Central Coast in my van with an incredibly limited amount of money.  My madness is fueled by a fascination with the writings of Jack Kerouac, the songs of Woody Guthrie, and the aesthetics of “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski.  Take note these are all narratives of the masculine persuasion.  How few women have ever dared?  Or are there many who’ve also boldly taken on this lonesome experiment, but go unsung.  I’m no gypsy.  I have no caravan to roll with.  It is a solo pursuit.

Other versions of this post delved into the emotions felt throughout this stupidity.  The executive decision was to keep the emotional claptrap to a minimum.  Let’s just say I’ve felt lots of lust, some degree of infatuation, even less love and loss, betrayal, belittlement, misogyny, empowerment, camaraderie, and a whole lot of loneliness.  Every fucking day could be a blog post.  I’ve partied a lot, woken up in stranger’s houses, been kicked out of places, and spent a whole lot of time in the ocean.  There’s a lot of stories that could be told, but instead I want to focus on the inside of my van.

This is my refrigerator.  Along with my backpacking stove I call this my kitchen.  It’s all a pain in the ass.  I’ve probably spent over $30 on block ice.  Food still goes bad.  It’s too fucking hot.  Because this set up is a pain in the ass, I usually end up eating hastily thrown together lavash wraps.  Friends have thankfully let me make use of their kitchens.  In a tight pinch I also have resorted to eating dumpstered donuts.  A bag of dumpstered donuts is a blessing and a curse.

This is my bed.  My friend and I built it out of some plywood and 2×4’s.  We measured no times and cut twice.  Think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.  Upon installation one of the legs snapped off.  I also forgot to put legs on the far end of the bed so it has to be propped up by my wardrobe.  It’s definitely a work in progress and will take on multiple permutations until it is in it’s final state.  Hopefully before then I don’t impale myself on a jagged piece of wood while I sleep.  The van’s shaggin’ wagon status has been revoked.  Nothing wild can be done on this precarious construction.  Underneath my towel and sleeping bag I’ve got a hand-me-down thermarest.  Thankful for the donation because sleeping on the bare floor of the van was not the most comfortable experience.

This is my wardrobe.  Better than a walk-in closet.  I’ve got a nice selection of outfits in here… except my friend did just tell me I need to dress better.  Perhaps I stopped caring in my pursuit of simplification.  Yoga pants and sweatshirts forever.

This is what lunchtime looks like.  I loiter at a public park, set up my backpacking stove, and make culinary magic happen.  I blast some jams from my epic van stereo system.  Today’s selection was Killer Mike.  Parks and beaches become my living room.  I can only chill in the van if the back door is open.

Despite all the emotional, physical, and financial burdens I really am seeing and experiencing a lot of shit.  Here’s a sampling of the past few days.

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New Hawk City

The appropriate cliche:  You can find beauty in anything if you look hard enough.  Beauty had to be found.  With a bank account in the negative, the escape had to be hot and incredibly local.  I looked into the thick 100+ degree air and found it in the Fee.  I found it in New Hawk City.  Aeries, boulders, buckwheat, white sage, physical exertion, and bullets of sweat.

 

Have you ever felt like you were internally cooking?  Where there may be few rivers flowing in Riverside County, there are pockets of open space everywhere full of life.  You may think these cities are built on false promises, but the promise is in the hills.  Remember how bitchin’ the Ramona Pageant was? Don’t look down, you may see a subdivision.  Instead look up for blinding sunshine and a sky full of life.  Look straight down at the ground and pretend you are Clint Eastwood in a Spaghetti Western runnin’ from everyone.

By the end of my time in Hawk City, my water bottle was left with only a drop of piss warm water and the desire to return over and over again.

 

Two Hours in Sun City

David Lynch could’ve not done it better himself. Two hours in Sun City and the weather has gone from blinding skin burning sunshine to a sky full of thunder clouds and sporadic outbursts of rain. Thunder rumbles to the south. Indeed the world’s a little darker, and a little stranger. Sun City has many identities. It is a place frozen in time. It’s a place for the elderly. It’s a place for the poor. I am accidentally here waiting for a bus.

Physically, Sun City looks like a wasteland. Especially in the summertime the hills look dead. Brownish yellow hills envelop the valley of inexpensive stucco tract homes and doublewides which make up the Sun City. Most of the town hasn’t been updated since I assume the 1970’s. Many of the homes have rock lawns. It’s far too hot and far too much work to maintain anything living. The bike lane also has symbols indicating this is too a golf cart lane.

I arrive in time for bus 1. There’s only a dollar in my wallet and the bus driver does not sympathize with my sweat drenched self. It’s over 100. I go to get cash back and enjoy a scoop of thrifty ice cream. An old lady likes my hat. It smells like old people in there. I sit outside and lap up my scoop. It’s my second flavor selection. They were out of vanilla. I think this is a lie.

When I show up to a bus stop there’s a man with a cruiser. Everyone waiting for the bus looks upset. There’s a wad of bloodied gauze on the grass. Bus 2 has a bike on the rack.

I go to wait in the library. A little elderly lady with a bandage on her face asks me if it’s raining. I told her it wasn’t when I was outside. She then tells me everything she must do in the day. I stop listening but keep intently staring at her bandage and nodding until she’s done. Is this what life comes to? Those around us are obviously not content with the conversation and passively aggressively clear their throat. The couple sitting across from me are wearing matching American flag t-shirts. A man comes over and said the library is closing in two minutes. I start sketching the feet of the female in the couple. She is wearing sandals with socks. Now that I think about it the other lady was wearing sandals with socks too. A conspiracy? I pack away my sketch pad.

“You look like you’re going camping.” The male in the American flag was commenting on all the bags I had. I always have a lot of bags. I tell him I’m taking the bus to Orange County for the weekend. He’s wearing an I <;3 Jesus lanyard. The library worker comes over to say the library is closed. It’s 3 PM. I try to leave, but he continues to talk about Pio Pico. I don’t mind. I don’t think they get out much. The woman’s question catches me off guard.

“Are you a Christian?”

How could I answer without getting a lecture or be rude? I have a flashback to my childhood when I dealt with this question whether it be at school or at a friend’s house. I would often pretend i was Christian and sometimes even go to church with friends. It always felt odd. I am older now.

“I am spiritual. I believe there is something greater, but try to enjoy my life now.”

I guess it was a good answer because there wasn’t any uncomfortable conversation about salvation that followed. Instead they told me about a show called supernatural encounters that they enjoyed (“it’s stuff you wouldn’t believe unless you are a Christian”), about the pending end times (“nothing bad is going to happen in America. It’s all in the Middle East”), and capped it off with a Bible passage I should read in the King James version. I told him to be safe. The sky was black and thunder claps were sounding off in the distance. I head over to subway to fill my water bottle and take a moment.

Grizzly adams, two women and I are at the bus stop. I wonder which bus Grizzly is waiting for. He starts throwing some kind of liquid into the trash. The air is hot and thick. The smell of wet asphalt is strong. Grizzly disappears. The two woman board another bus. I am alone in the storm for a second.

Emotionally I entered a time machine today. Every summer there’d be at least one day a windy thunderstorm would kick in. There was the day I didn’t go to Rachel’s house because I was scared of dying in the storm and the day my mom had to pick a friend and I up from her house when the power went out after watching ‘The Exorcist.’. Although I have overcome most of my fear of death, Sun City reminds me I’m afraid of getting old along with all the social trappings of getting old in America. Even when I try to shun the conventions and typical views of aging, Sun City is there to throw me back into the loop.

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****UPDATE****

Yesterday I returned to where I started, the bus shelter off of Cherry Hills and Bradley.  Grizzly Adams was sitting there in the grass.  I had a bag of snacks I did not want to eat anymore, a spontaneous purchase of sea salt popcorn and zesty salsa pita crisps.  They served me well as my bus home broke down and the trip home took longer than I had ever imagined.  Having not spoken in hours my voice cracked when I started to say “excuse me.”  The snacks may be of use to me.  Plus I was curious to see what his story was, why is he in Sun City?  Grizzly continued to read his book and gave me no attention.

I assumed he was crazy.

As I push my bike away, I hear Grizzly say hello to another dude on a bicycle.  He isn’t crazy.  He just didn’t want me or my charity in his world.  My ego is bruised.  It was a weekend of ego bruising.

Do no harm.

 

Finding Fun in Tha Fee (mostly surrounding regions)

Southwest Riverside County conjures images of Travis Barker motocross bros tatted out, big box shopping centers, lifted trucks, and dusty hot winds.  For most of my life I shit talked about my hometown, Menifee, CA.  Honestly, Menifee did very little for me.  My education sucked and I witnessed a lot of racism.  After-school activities included walking over to target or driving to the mall 20 minutes away.  The transit infrastructure is non existant. If you don’t have a car you’re screwed.  In fact, I attribute normalizing myself by moving out of Menifee and Southern California.  After thrusting myself into the grips of non-stop adventure, I am forcing myself to be at home as an exercise in self-control.

I am having a difficult time adjusting to life not being on the road, but every now and again you have to stop.  Stopping gives perspective.  Stopping let’s you fully appreciate life on the road.  Stopping reminds you about the excesses in one’s life and the need to simplify.  So betwixt adventures I cannot let fun stop.  Menifee and the surrounding region can be fun.  Adventure can be found anywhere.  Even in the land of tweakers and tanned bro hoes there lies hidden treasures.

The Big Skies of Menifee.

NATURE

Santa Rosa Plateu

http://www.rivcoparks.org/education/santa-rosa-plateau/santa-rosa-plateau/

Approximately 15 miles from my house is the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.  Driving westward on Clinton Keith Rd. the monotony of stucco houses and golf courses suddenly stop and oak woodlands begin.  The 9000 acre Reserve is home to 200 species of bird and 49 endangered, threatened, or rare animal and plant species.  The Reserve boasts miles of hiking trails which take you through vernal pools and even to the two oldest standing structures in Riverside County, the Moreno Adobes, which once served as bunkhouses for cowboys.  I have made trips out to the Plateau part of my weekly routine.  The trails have been perfect for getting into trail running.  They are not too steep, and there are a number of different trails so you can diversify your routine.

The van admires an Engelmann Oak at the Santa Rosa Plateau.

Unnamed trails behind Oasis Housing Tract and Adergate Park

A series of buckwheat covered hills separate Menifee from Sun City.  A network of informal trails can take you to the top of many of these hills.  I’m not sure who is in charge of taking care of the trails or who made them in the first place.  Almost everytime I’ve hiked up the hills I have gotten to see red-tailed hawks.  There are great views of the Menifee Valley, although I can’t say this is very interesting other than to take in the pattern of the man-made landscape.

Cleveland National Forest

http://www.fs.usda.gov/cleveland/

Not quite within walking or biking distance to Menifee is the Cleveland National Forest.  Just outside of Lake Elsinore, on the Ortega Highway,  is the closest camping and hiking area, the Blue Jay Campground.  I have yet to explore much of this area because I just got the van smogged and it’s been too hot to drive my vessel up steep grades.

ARTS and ENTERTAINMENT

Reading Cinemas, Murrieta

http://readingcinemasus.com/caloaks.htm

I hate bad movies.  I really hate bad movies.  I think most movies are bad.  Thankfully there is one theater in town that seems to recognize most movies suck.  The Reading Cinemas off of California Oaks Rd. usually plays one critically acclaimed, lesser known film amongst the sea of big budget shit storms.  Ok, not quite lesser know, but the current pick is Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  Aaaaaand once a month Reading does something called Fourty Foot Films where cinematic classics are screened.  For $7.50 you get admission to the screening, a chance to win prizes during trivia time, and free pizza!  I just went this past Sunday and reconnected with my Jewish heritage while watching Fiddler on the Roof.

Old Town Temecula

In an area lacking in arts and entertainment, the clear winner in this area is Old Town Temecula.  Old Town T-Mac is of particular interest to me because it is the only place in Southwestern Riverside County that is creating successful mixed-use, walkable, urbanized environment.  Because it was built far before the automobile was invented, the streets in OTT are narrow and the storefronts are right on the street.  It’s straight out of New Urbanist handbook.  A number of art galleries, fine restaurants, and theatrical and musical entertainment are located in this less than a mile strip of Front St.

http://www.cityoftemecula.org/Temecula/Visitors/Events/Summerfest/HotSummerNights.htm

During the summer, the city is hosting a free concert series in different locations in Old Town.  Check out the above link to see the line up for each week.

FOOD

Dumpstering

Since returning from the bike tour and acquiring the van, I have undertaken locating dumpstering spots in the area.  The prognosis is grim.  Many of the dumpsters in the area are militarized.  Often dumpsters are on lockdown or have security cameras pointed right at them.  I have yet to check out the Trader Joe’s in Temecula since I am seldom there at a decent dumpstering time, but I’ve checked places in Menifee and Murrieta out with no luck.  If someone has a hot tip, please let me know.  My dirty inner hippy is weeping.

Williams-Sonoma Free Classes (Look at Complementary Technique Classes)

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/customer-service/store-events.html?cm_type=fnav

Fun at the mall!  So I’ve talked some mad shit on Williams-Sonoma over the years.  Mostly because it’s the kind of place my mom loves.  Now that I’m getting older and enjoy cooking I realize the fun in nice cutlery and cookware. Besides what they sell, they offer free classes in a number of cool topics.  I just went to a class on canning jams and preserves.  Next week they will offer classes on canning tomatoes.  A full list of the complimentary classes can be found on the website.  They also give out samples with their classes.  Woohoo!  Beware they try to sell you shit and offer 10% off, but if you’re poor you shouldn’t have any trouble not buying anything when you look at the price tags.

Saturday Temecula Certified Farmer’s Market

One of the saving graces in completely not dreading my time back at home is getting to wake up Saturday Morning and riding my bike out to the Saturday morning Temecula Farmer’s Market in Old Town Temecula.  It’s a nice cross section of people.  Because we are fortunate to live in a Mediterranean climate the market boasts a robust selection of produce.  Most of the producers are from North County SD, Temecula, and Murrieta.  The Sunday Menifee market is a sad affair.  I’m hoping over time the number of growers and vendors will increase.  Sometimes I wonder if I should invest time in making this happen, but alas I will not be here long enough to make an impact.

Wolfee Donuts, Canyon Lake

Last night I discovered a hidden gem among gems.  Quite possibly one of the most creative donut shops I have gone to in some time, Wolfee’s is open 24 hours 7 days a week.  The owner really loves donuts.  Besides the usual maple bar or old fashioned, the proprietor offers gummy bear donuts, almond joy donuts, and a really damn good chocolate croissant that is glazed with chocolate, sprinkled with chocolate chips, and filled with chocolate.

GENERAL GALAVANTING BY WALKING, RUNNING, JOGGING

Menifee Lake

Remember when you were a kid and you really enjoyed walking around the fake lake?  Remember when you grew up and you realized how the lake is really fake and you got really grossed out by it.  Remember when they required you to carry an ID card to run around the lake because you also realized most of Menifee is under the totalitarian rule of Homeowner Associations of Master-planned communities?  Well I don’t know if all Menifee kids feel the same way, but I fall in and out of love with the lake all the time.  Like most aesthetic features of suburbia, it’s a bastardization of features of large European estates (i.e. lawns).  I could say Lake Menifee or Menifee Lake is a representation of the lakefront villas of Italy.  Anyways,  the lake can be fun to run around if you don’t get grossed out by the artificial nature of the lake.

Temecula Wine Country

http://www.temeculawines.org/

http://www.greatharvesttemecula.com/

Lately I’ve gotten into the habit of going on long runs.  In trying to be a conscientious driver, I try to chain my trips so I’m not just driving all over the place.  Because I frequently have to go to Temecula to take care of bidness, I’ve enjoyed doing longer runs in Temecula wine country.  Head east on Rancho California Rd. and park in the Baron’s shopping center parking lot.  From here you can run eastward for miles, turning on one of the many roads that turn out taking you towards one of the many wineries in T-Mac.  You can even stop and drink and keep running if you please.  You’ll get drunk faster this way.  Opportunavores Tip:  Once you get back to the Baron’s parking lot (except Sunday) this place called Great Harvest Bread Company, hands out free samples of bread.  This isn’t just a run of the mill sample.  They’ll give you a fat slice of bread.  Good amount of carbs to give you some post run fun.  The bread is pretty damn good, but it’s a little pricey.  I’ve ended up buying a lot of bread there because I cannot resist.

Menifee Summer Nights

It was really fucking hot today.  There’s a lot of ungodly hot days out in these here parts.  Just serves as a little reminder that human beings are not meant to live in these areas.  I can’t wait for one of the typical summer days where the grid is overloaded and the power goes out.  Gonna sweat it out.  I’m a really sweaty person.  I hate being indoors.  These times are tough because it is really so hot you can’t do anything outside.  You’ll have a heatstroke like Martin Lawrence in the Fat Momma outfit.  In attempting to find the positive in the unbearable heat, the summer nights are quite pleasant.  I’ve found myself walking the quiet neighborhoods at midnight.  The clear skies are full of constellations.  You might run into other weirdos who wander Menifee at night.  I just met a fellow who is trying to start a company decking out beach cruisers and rims in LED lights.

Typical bro litter found on the streets of Menifee at night.

Life in tha Fee ain’t so bad.  I will continue to search for new funportunities

I like spandex now.

With each stroke of my pedal the endorphins surge from my stinky feet up through my frizzy hair.  Riding my bicycle is better than popping a milligram of Xanax.

Tomorrow I take off for my next little jaunt, cruising down the coast of California.  Although this isn’t nearly as adventurous as embarking to an exotic locale solo or as physically rigorous as the cross country rides some of my friends have taken, I am damn tickled pink to experience the next month of my life.  I plan on meeting many other folks who are playing the same game.

I fucking love riding my bicycle.  This isn’t a secret.  This isn’t anything new.

My friends are fucking awesome.

Chamois padding ballz shaft

Beals Point, Folsom Lake

County Road 32A leaving Davis for Sacramento.

Travel Purgatory

It’s 4am. I can’t sleep. Too much is on my mind and weighing on my heart.

Changes can be painful. I’m not necessarily saying this Is bad. Currently I am in a transition point. I didn’t recognize how much my little time abroad changed me. Coming back hasn’t been easy. Many lofty goals had been assembled in my head. Many of these dreams will have to be deferred.

My heart tells me to move. Part of me has stayed with my travels. What doesn’t translate well is living daily life like I’m traveling. I’m caught in a transitory period of my life. I know where I will be settling in a few months (SLO), but for now I am poor and stuck at home waiting for the next bit of money to come into my pocket. There are many projects I’ve undertaken at home namely gardening and junk removal but both have been slow moving because of opposition from my parents. Emotionally taxed I have decided to move forward and take care of my heart.

In high school I read Jack Kerouac’s seminal mescaline (edit: was it amphetamines?) driven piece of work “On the Road” for a book report. This changed me forever. It took me 26 years to finally really travel. I can’t stop. Until I can buy my next plane ticket, hopefully after I start school and work in the fall, I need to heed the call within. I need to just fucking go.

Poor and without a car my options to travel are limited. This is where my bicycle comes in. I’ve had my bicycle for almost 7 years. I’ve been commuting by bike for 8. Before I left for CostaNicaRicagua, I did a 45 mile loop with friends in the Santa Ynez Valley which involved climbing. With a little guidance and help from my friends I learned I am capable of riding up hills, something I had feared and not been able to do successfully.

I’m not sure where or when the idea was birthed but I am riding my bicycle from Sacramento to SF and back down the coast. Simple enough. I just said it and now I’m just going to do it. Time to be fucking proactive.

Live the life you love. Love the life you live. If your life is bringing you down, do something to change it!

Training rides fill my days at my parents house. Since I decided to take this trip many of my friends in the bicycle community have donated time, parts, and support to help me get on my way. I can’t even begin to say how much a rack and panniers have revolutionized my life and back. I am an idiot for not putting that shit on sooner!

So I’ve been logging miles and fixing bike problems (or having awesome friends fix problems) along the way. Just like getting ready for Central America, I don’t know what to bring with me. What is necessary?

Bringing the hammock again. Cross my fingers for no rain.

This bike touring idea is also rad because it’ll give me an opportunity to visit friends all over Cali. Im starting to see this trip as my love letter to California. I am a proud Californian. We have the sexiest people and the most beautiful landscapes. It’s time to take in both.

So I’ll be taking off on June 3 or 4th depending on how hungover I am from my friends wedding. I hope to get some good mileage in my first day and get to SF or the bay area from Sac. After that the only timeline restrictions are Monterey Beer Fest and catching my friend in Santa Barbara before he leaves for Indonesia.

Next week I’m going to do a couple test rides before I head out. I’m thinking my parents house to Oceanside. I miss the ocean. The developed inland empire is an armpit. Going to get my festie on in Joshua Tree this weekend.

Love you friends. Can’t wait to give everyone big sweaty hugs.

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.

 

Why you won’t be receiving a souvenir from me

I am naive.

Maybe even dumb.

Why, you ask?  Because today I spent 6 hours at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua because I failed to get a stamp for entry into Nicaragua when I crossed over.  Rewind…  I waited in a long ass line at the border and got a stamp.  I was confused as a motherfucker when I got into Nicaraugua.  No one directed me to a detached building where I shouldve gotten the stamp.  I just walked down a dirt road by semis.  No one stopped me.  I’m the least seasoned traveler ever ever ever.  fucking a.  departure and entry stamps.  ok.  lesson learned.

So the Nicaraguan migration officials pulled me aside and told me I had to pay a multa of $100.  I only had $80.  I pleaded with them.  They fucked around with me.  Eventually they cut me a deal of $50.  I somehow managed to maintain a positive attitude through the ordeal.  I recognized there wasnt anything I could do so I had to make the most of it.  I pulled out my harmonica and played.  I did some yoga.  I read the book I have right now.  It was kind of fun.  I got to connect with all the others having migration issues.  There was a trucker who got his passport stolen out of his rig while he showered.  there was a lady with two kids trying to get a stamp so they could go see their father who was coming in on a boat in costa rica.  it reminded me of my times in holding tanks.  we share our offenses  while we have to wait for undetermined amounts of time.  comradical dude.

after the deal was cut, one of the migration officials walked me across the border.  nothing official.  he just shook the hand of the guy at the border.  he told me he has 9 kids from different women.  he’s busy.  while waiting a lot of men kept coming up and asking me if i had a boyfriend and why i wasnt married yet.  i then asked them when they got married.  most said 16.

after i got into costa rica i got a bus to the airport.  my sly plan was to live in the airport until my flight.  i get to juan santamaria and its a ghost town.  i take a bus to san jose and regretfully got a room in a hostel.  not to mention i have to pay $28 fucking dollars to depart costa rica.  bullshite i tell you.  tomorrow i may chill out at the airport or even better i saw theres a dennys between san jose and the airport.  grrrannnnd slammmm.

anyways kale chips instead of souvenirs when i get back.  sorry friends.  i know you wanted some cool multicolored textiles or something like that.  i did write some of you some nice postcards.

heres the song that’s been annoying me through central america.

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.

Dollarization

Because I’m quickly running out of it, and because this has been on my mind the whole time I’ve been in Central America, I want to briefly discuss the impacts of dollarization before delving into my going ons.  I want to note that I am not an economist.  This is not my area of expertise, but rather an area that has interested me in my travels.

What is dollarization?

From the holy halls of wikipedia, ¨Dollarization occurs when the inhabitants of a country use foreign currency in parallel to or instead of the domestic currency as a store of value, unit of account, and/or medium of exchange within the domestic economy.¨  As an ignorant traveler I was surprised to discover my american dollar was readily accepted everywhere I went.  Sometimes prices were exclusively written in dollars rather than cordobas in the case of Nicaragua.  If the price were written in cordoba I could get more for my dollar if the exchange rate is high.

What is the impact of dollarization?

On one side using foreign currency is often a technique to stabilize economies.  Usually it is used to prevent an extreme devaluation of a country’s exchange rate, provide lower interest rates, and attract money from foreign investors.  This at face value may seem beneficial for economically unstable countries, but after talking to many locals I have developed a different perspective of dollarization.  I spent one hungover morning having a good conversation with the security guard at my hostel in San Juan Del Sur.

I was talking to him about the revolution, and what has happened since.  This lead to a discussion on the history of currency in the country.  I asked him how he felt about the dollar’s widespread acceptance in Central America.  He starts off by saying that it has made the price of everything go up.  He tells me about the amount of food he could buy in the pre US dollar acceptance days to now.  Without going into too much political discussion he starts talking about the relationship between current president Daniel Ortega, the IMF, and the World Bank.  He didn’t paint a kind picture.  Overall people I’ve talked to are far over American involvement in the country.  If you want to know about recent American involvement in Latin America, I suggest just googling Central American and US involvement or Latin America and US involvement, or something similar.  It really is modern day imperialism.  This may sound extreme until you objectively look at history.  It’s still going on today.

In my trip one of the biggest shockers was how NOT cheap shit is down here.  I mean it is definitely less, but not proportionately less considering the individual income.

If you know more about these subjects, please message me.  I’m quickly gaining deep interest in these areas.  I could go on and on and on and on.

Enough about that.  It’s really just all part of my traveler’s guilt.  Well more like hating my country’s foreign policy.  But that’s not anything new…

Since my Granadan debacle, I headed back to San Juan Del Sur, and partied for one night.  I met crazy fucking Israelis and ended up in a heavily mysoginistic conversation with an Israeli and a Canadian.  The Canadian said, ¨I know it’s time for me to leave a town when I’ve fucked all the hot chics there.¨ Mind you he was not at all cute.  I’ve met a lot of self-professed man hoes.  Proud man hos.

Feeling disgusted with humanity I hop a long hot bus ride the next morning to Popoyo.  Everyone I’ve met said I’d love it.  They weren’t wrong.  I’ve spent the day in waves, chilling in tidepools, and living the simple life.  Since I’ve been here the powers gone out, the waters gone out, and I made flip flops out of cardboard.  They didn’t last long.  Popoyo is just about being with the ocean, people, and food.  Basic shit that I needed to get back to.  Despite being content to be here now, I wish I wouldve found this spot at the beginning of my trip.  I couldve stayed here for a month.  It’s super fucking mellow.

I’m still here and I want to come back.  Lesson learned.  Never stray from the ocean.  You are it’s bitch.

Good and bad news:  I’m out of money and I don’t have the stamina to continue working.  I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot.  I changed my flight to come home sooner.  My head hangs low, but what can I do?  I’m ready to cut my losses and plan my next trip.  I’m hooked. The world is big.  I am small.  Yesterday I found out I got into the Cal Poly SLO program for City and Regional Planning.  So my future is still in the beautiful Central Coast of my beloved California.  Not a bad prospect.  I hope to get an opportunity to do some work abroad. I am hypnotized by latin america and i havent even seen most of it.  I want to get to know all of it.  it is in my blood.  i feel the ties.

i really want to go to veracruz.

for now, i’ll enjoy my last broke days in nicaragua.  i may have to do a quick crossover into costa rica and live in the airport for a couple days.  at least it’s safe.