Keep it small, keep it all

I’m back to enjoying Netflix and living my small quiet life again.  All it took was a few days at work massaging people to make me want to crawl back into my den away from reality.  I’m always tired here.  I just want to sleep.

I want to see the sunset again the way it’s supposed to be seen.  I don’t want to lose anymore time.  I’ve lost enough time as it is.

It feels like I’ve spent most of my life in repair mode.  Recovery mode.

I’m not shaping my life, my life is already there submerged in a cement block and I’m merely chiseling away at the surrounding debris.  I chisel a little bit here and there and than recover from the exertion.  Chisel, recover, chisel, recover.  Sometimes I recover so much that I end up repairing the parts I already chiseled off.  Like, wait a minute….I still need this part here or everything will fall apart.  I need my support pieces.

Working is my number one support piece.  I need to make one last valiant effort before I can let it all go.  For real this time, not just for two months.

I’m going to pay off the $3,000 of debt I made for myself by January 5th.  After that, I’ll be ready to start my next business phase – to open another massage clinic.

I have all the details already worked out in my head.  Just one room in a quiet location that focuses on sound therapy.  Each massage will be 75 minutes long and I’ll hire independent contractors only.  “Keep it small, keep it all” as my brother once told me (yesterday….he told me this yesterday).

And that might do the trick.  My little island off the main land.  My missing support piece.  I’m uncovering my support piece, chiseling the surrounding debris.  It’s already there.  You can’t float without water and money is my water.

Shit I’m tired.

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What I came home to

I walked across Spain for the second time in my life for one reason and one reason only:  To lose weight.  Even more specifically than that, I walked across Spain with the intension of fitting into my pants again when I got back home.

FAIL

After everything I’ve been through….walking 500 miles, fasting and puking on ayahuasca for 7 days, my Bolivian belly beast that lasted for 5 days – and still, all I lost was a little over 10 pounds.

Hana is to blame.  She kept feeding me.  She would stick her fucking fork in my mouth even if I’d say “no thank you.”  And the girl was always hungry.  She’d order an exorbitant amount of food each time we stopped somewhere, I’m not embellishing.  She was an animal.  The most wasteful person I ever met.  And I’m the complete opposite!  I hate wasting food!

I just got a text message from one of my employee’s.  Apparently a small rodent died in the electric fireplace at work and it smells like fish.

Anyway, so yeah.  Goddamned Hana.

My Hana blues are starting to wane a bit.  It’s been 10 days without Hana up my butt every second.  It takes me 14 days to adapt to most things so another 4 and I’ll be back to my normal self like the trip never happened.

Another thing I came home to was my financial situation being in shambles.  I’m taking the proper steps to get myself out of it by actually working again.  But it’s going to take some time.  Months, not years.  As long as I work hard I should have the situation under control in a timely manner and pay off the $3,000 of debt I spent abroad.

And lastly, I came home to my room being trashed.  Even while I was thousands of miles away from the mess, I could still feel it.  The clutter and confusion being attached to me somehow.

The thing with me is, I’m not a messy person.  I love being organized and tidy.  It makes me feel light and skinny.  I can’t explain it, it’s an emotion.  But feeling organized and all caught up on everything makes me feel skinny.  When I procrastinate, it weighs me down and I swear pounds accumulate.

When I look around at my room after a good gutting-out, my eyes feel like they lost weight.

I shouldn’t say I like cleaning.  I hate dusting and vacuuming.  I don’t even like organizing my clutter all that much but what I DO like is throwing shit away.

I’m tackling my closet right now.  That’s the real beast.  I haven’t cleaned out my closet in at least 10 years and having that kind of meaty mess attached to me, it doesn’t matter how well I clean my actual bedroom, my closet always attracted more garbage into my life.

I started with my pants.  I tried on all my pants and the ones that no longer fit, but I still love, I stored them away for when I can wear them again.  I now have a handful of pants to wear, half of which are pajama pants.

I wear the shit out of my clothes.  All my pants have kinetic karma attached to them from that period of my life when they were first in the rotation.

I also came home to winter depression weather.  It gets dark at 4-fucking-30!  Before I left for my trip, the weather was still nice.  October crispy orange weather.  But not now.  Not anymore.  It’s snowy and it’s cold and dark.  Normally I’d like that, but coming home after 2 months of adventure every freaking day only makes me bored in real life humdrum.  Netflix doesn’t have the same effect on me.  I haven’t even played my video game yet.  Everything feels so lame and vanilla.  What kept me entertained in the past, is not working for me anymore.

I’m going to join a gym after my friend Stephanie visits us.  It’s a 30 minute class that acts like a miniature version of cross-fit.  I can get unlimited classes for only $69 a month.  I don’t want to do it, but shits gotta change.  And it’s not too far from my house.  I need to deal with this now while I’m still young.

Anyway, I better take a shower.  I have a client and a dead thing to deal with.

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The Bolivian Belly Beast

It started on the 9th.  On the plane ride home from La Paz.  And now it’s the 13th.  Five days!  I’ve had this thing inside me for five mother fucking freaking days!  And it’s not getting worse, but it’s not getting any better either.  All I know is that I’m freaking starving right now.

My parents brought home pizza and despite my better judgement, I just wolfed down two slices.

Everyone wants me to see a doctor but I refuse to go.  I’m anti antibiotics.  They do more harm than good.  What I need is eastern medicine.  To eat special herbs and shit.

I don’t get it.  I never get sick like this when I travel.  At least, not for five days straight.  Usually my bugs are flushed out within 24 hours.

If this thing doesn’t kill the people of La Paz, it ain’t going to kill me so I’ll ride it out.

The thing is, I get weaker with each day.  I slept for most of the day today.  My backpack is still fully packed from when I got home, my room is still completely trashed….I have no energy.

I’m fine if I don’t eat.  I can go out and about.  But now I’m at the point where I’m too weak to move if I don’t eat.

I’m grabbing more pizza, screw it.

And my asshole is really starting to burn something fierce.  It’s getting so bad that I’d rather throw up than shit.  And trust me, I’m nauseous too so throwing up ain’t a stretch.

My eyes want to close.  I’m so tired.  I fell asleep at 10 last night and woke up at 10AM today then took a nap.

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I Lost My Phone in Peru

After our 7 day retreat in Peru, Hana and I decided to go to Bolivia because, well, why not?  Honestly it was all Hana’s decision and she made her angry face when I acted hesitant about extending my trip past the 7 day mark.  I made my hesitant face and then she made her angry face and I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah, I’ll go.  Sounds like fun!”

And it was fun.  It was incredible.  It was awesome.  For the first time in almost 2 months, we felt free.  Free of walking the Camino, free of the prison retreat that starved us and locked us inside its grounds.  We were, for the first time, truly free.

But I lost my cell phone at the bus terminal in Cusco.  My guess, it was stolen because I forgot to button my freaking pocket.  The one time I didn’t button my pocket was at a stupid bus terminal….of all places!  Why Melanie?  Why…

That’s why I haven’t posted anything.  I couldn’t.  But oh man I wish I did.  What a trip.  Have you ever seen the sunset in a desert?  It’s the most awe-inspiring image I ever seen in my life.  It’s not an image though, it’s not a scene, or a view…..It’s like Pachamama, or Jeong.  It’s like an emotion became a reality.  Words, just like a photograph, will never capture it.  It’s like looking up at a dome – sunset surrounds you on all sides.  The colors….a perfect mix of contrasts swaying and changing and spiraling.  It’s dizzying like on drugs.  I kept looking all over from one side to the next to take it all in but my eyes weren’t big enough.

Me – “I can’t believe this happens every day and nobody knows about it.”

I decided whenever I’m feeling down, all I have to do is think about that sunset and how it’s there everyday but we just can’t see it.  It happens above my own house everyday but I just can’t see it.

Hana bought us a room for 2 nights at the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever stayed at, Hotel De Sal Luna Salada.  Everything in the place is made entirely out of salt taken from the desert.   The floor is even covered with a carpet of salt.  It crunched under my feet as I walked.

It’s an isolated hotel in the middle of a pure salt desert and seeing that it’s in a 3rd world country, all the games in the game room were broken.  Their one ping-pong ball, the darts, all the pool sticks….etc.  But we played with them anyway and laughed our asses off.  Hana drank 5 large gin and tonics and got the asian flush.  That’s the night we met Alejandro.  A pilot for the Peruvian airline.  The three of us had the best time together.  Like we’ve been friends in a previous life, carried over into today.  It’s still so odd for me to meet someone for the first time and feel like I’ve known them my whole life – that’s how it was with Alejandro, a young man from Lima.

I loved Bolivia.  It’s not an easy place to get into for wayward backpackers like us.  Before we left for Bolivia, I researched what was needed to enter the country.  Evidence that we’ll be leaving, a hotel that we’ll be staying at, and a passport photo.  It’s even more difficult for Americans and journalists because we have to pay to get in.

I thought it wise to get our Bolivian visa’s in Cusco at the embassy so that way our bus wouldn’t take off without us while we fumble with the paperwork.  This has been known to happen when the process takes too long.

We show up at the embassy with nothing but smiles and good intensions.  Then we were directed to go to the nearest internet cafe to print out our paperwork because smiles weren’t enough proof that we’re good, law abiding people.

I was so glad we got that done and out of the way.  We were both proud of ourselves for being prepared.  We actually had to buy our plane tickets home in order to get into Bolivia and you know that can be time consuming.

Bolivia was awesome but the moment Hana left to catch her plane back home, my luck went out the door with her.

My plane was the next day.  Early morning.  So early that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall asleep for fear of missing my flight.  I had no cell phone to set my alarm, no clocks in hotel rooms in Bolivia and I didn’t trust the front desk to call to wake me up.  So I had to stay up.  I had no choice.

I hop in a taxi at 4:30am the next day and drove up to the top of the mountain where the La Paz airport resides.  The views are stunning.  La Paz is dusty, dirty and old, but good lord it’s stunning from the top of that mountain.

I find out that my flight has been cancelled.

Delays are one thing, but cancelled completely?  What do I do?  I don’t even have a phone!

By gods good graces, the La Paz airport has a computer room that also let’s you make long distance calls.  I had to find the Bolivian phone number for American Airlines on the computer and call them.  The next flight was two days later.

So I drove back down the mountain, found a hotel, and slept until noon.  Thankfully, Bolivia is cheap as hell.

La Paz is the capital of Bolivia.  As I lay bored in my hotel room, I can hear a celebration happening a few blocks away.  The same celebration being televised on TV.  It funny how many TV stations in Bolivia cover everything that goes on in La Paz whereas America is just too big for that.  It’s not tightly knit.  I’ll never get on TV but in Bolivia, everyone’s a star.

I just wanted to go home so badly at that point.  I was worried about my business, worried about not having any money left in my account, worried about my parents….I was freaking out.

I’m laying in my own bed now.  I got home at 3am this morning.  I don’t know what the hell I ate or what, but I contracted a nasty stomach bug.  My stomach started gurgling during my first flight (Santa Cruz) and as soon as we landed I went straight to the bathroom and was shocked at what came out of me.  Then it happened again on my second flight of which I couldn’t hold it in and had to shit 30,000 ft above ground in the tiny shaky airplane toilet.  And then it happened again minutes before my third flight.  My flight was boarding at 7:05PM and that’s the time it hit.  I ran to the bathroom and I couldn’t stop going this time.  It didn’t have that “okay I’m done now” feeling and my asshole kept wanting to dry-heave (sorry for the imagery).

I was vaping during all of this, while sitting on the toilet and murmuring, “oh god….shit.  Oh no oh no please stop.”

I had no cell phone to tell me the time.  I was afraid of missing my flight due to being stuck in the bathroom.  I thought about the two girls who weren’t allowed to board their flight because the doors closed moments before they arrived.  They, for some unknown reason, boarded the plane and decided to leave it a few minutes later.  When they returned, the attendants wouldn’t let them back in.  Once the doors were closed they stay closed.

Me thinking – “Why the hell did they leave the plane once they were on it?  Did they not see the time?”

One of the girls made a scene, swearing up a storm as Americans do and then broke down in tears saying, “I don’t know what to do, what do we do?  Our luggage was on that plane.”

They were in Miami going to Boston.  For me, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  But sitting on that toilet right when my plane was boarding for takeoff, I felt sorry for judging her.

I still have the stomach bug.  Every time I eat, it all comes back out.  At least this happened after my trip and not during.

Man, I’m home.  I miss Hana.

Hana – “We’re perfect to travel with.  I complain and you don’t.  You’re a very positive person.”

Me – “I bottle everything up inside good and tight.”

Hana – “It’s destiny that we met.  We can grow old together, not have children and just change each others diapers.”

Me – “I never wanted kids so I can totally do that.”

Hana – “Are you sure?”

Me – “I’m sure, pinky promise.”

She does her weird asian pinky promise thing and walks me through the process.

It’s just like having a best friend in junior high.  Girls our age don’t talk like that anymore.  I forgot how much I like hearing sentiments like that.  It makes me feel loved.

Hana makes me feel loved and cared for and the only thing she wants in return is for me to travel the world with her.

I don’t know….call me crazy but if my life from now on consists of world travel with a person who sincerely cares about me, I’ll be pretty damn happy with that life.  I’m okay with that.

 

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Cusco And Ayahuasca

I haven’t eaten anything all day. It’s 6pm and I taken a short 2 hour nap.

Today we hopped in a van and embarked to the retreat center where we had an introduction ceremony involving chewing cocoa leaves. Then we got psychological profiles done by a shrink and a different doctor gave us a check up. There’s also a nurse here who preformed some sort of stress test involving the heart and she is constantly checking our oxygen levels with a little device that attaches to our fingertips.

Everything came out normal, I am good to go.

***********

It’s now the next day. I ended up doing ayahuasca again. It’s incredibly hard to swallow. So so hard to swallow. I had to sit with my hand over my mouth so I didn’t spit it out. Our coordinator knelt down next to me saying “you can do it. You can do it.” And I did it with one fast and furious swallow.

Ugh ayahuasca, why do I keep drinking it? I don’t need to anymore. But it’s incredible. Really incredible. But it also sucks.

Our group consists of Corine, an Australian woman, Daniel, a very cute guy from South Carolina, Sipon, a white young man from LA, Deleon, Daniels friend also from South Carolina, and Hana and me.

We’re all completely normal, no weirdness or anything. I had meaningful conversations with all of them.

Corine hasn’t slept in 3 days so out of courtesy, I’m sitting outside our room while she tries to sleep. I’m not tired but I’d be able to fall asleep easily with my audiobook and then I’d commence with the snoring.

Corine woke me up last night because of my snores and I didn’t recognize her or know where I was, I still had my audiobook playing in my headphones.

Anyway, it’s a problem. I’m not terribly loud but loud enough.

Even when sharing dorm rooms on the Camino, I was the first to sleep and the first to snore. Not once did anyone else keep me awake.

Everyone is napping and I’m awake. In 2 hours we’re going to volunteer at an impoverished orphanage.

I’m listening to the soundtrack to Baby Driver.

There’s a little black crippled dog here. He yelps terrible cries whenever somebody moves quick. He was hit by a car and his front leg is clearly still broken but he wobbles on it. He follows me around. I never seen a dog with PTSD before.

**********

My experience with ayahuasca last night was all about telling me how awesome I am.

Aya told me that scared people like to attach themselves to me because I make them feel safe. And I enjoy it because I love them back and want to feel needed. And I actually DO keep people safe.

She said I’m a healer but not in the medical sense. More like I heal hearts and give people strength and I do it by simply caring about them.

I’m supposed to do ayahuasca again today, but a larger dose of it.

I don’t want to. I really don’t need to. Oh god the taste….

I don’t know what else to say. Corine just came out of our room looking for a pillow. “Take mine, it’s clean.” She can’t get comfortable.

I asked the shaman what it means to see eyeballs. Apparently it’s an envious person who attached themselves to me and is trying to bring me down. It’s their eye watching over me. But I only seen the eye that one time, the first time I did aya.

Anyway, there’s absolutely nothing to do. I suppose I’ll just lay here on this couch with the cripple dog and listen to Baby Driver while everyone sleeps.

*********

It’s now 8:30pm. I was able to say no to ayahuasca tonight. I’m proud of myself for that.

Earlier, me and the boys went to volunteer at the orphanage. Hana and Corine were too tired to move so they stayed put.

And holy crap. Holy freaking crap.

It’s a poor orphanage alright. Most of the kids have some sort of disability.

Upon entering the facility, there’s a sign on the door that tells you no photos allowed. I didn’t bring my phone so no problems there.

When you first walk in, it smells like shit. I mean real human feces.

There were two kids trapped in cages. One of them reached his hand out to me and said “Ma, Ma, Ma.” Over and over. Another child was in a straight jacket being led back to bed by a volunteer or paid worker, I don’t know. He was wearing yellow rubber overalls.

I didn’t see many helpers there. The ones I did see seemed like they also were suffering some kind of disorder, both mental or physical. And the facility isn’t that big. Everyone is jammed packed in there, using up every crevice.

Our first job was to pluck the dry clothes from the line and fold laundry in a small room with several clogged toilets nearby. I didn’t see a washer or dryer. Everything is probably washed by hand and outside they hang to dry.

It stunk but you get used to it. The laundry was a never ending pile and you hope whatever you’re handling was first washed thoroughly.

We didn’t get to finish. After about 30 minutes it was lunch time.

My second job was to spoon feed a severely mentally retarded boy, Angel. Lumpy cream of wheat. Quite possibly the only meal he’ll have all day.

I made sure he ate every bite. It was a large bowl too. He couldn’t wrap his lips around the spoon so I had to sort of dump it into his mouth like a shovel.

He couldn’t speak, couldn’t understand anything. He had virtually no quality of life whatsoever. At least, none that I could see.

One of the boys on the retreat was all for euthanasia after his visit to the orphanage. He was traumatized by what he seen.

I on the other hand, watched a documentary about exactly this. I was primed for it and didn’t phase me in the least other than the smell. I even knew about the kids in cages before seeing them with my own eyes.

But these people are doing the best they can with the little they have and they’re doing it without euthanasia as an answer.

Shit got real in there. At least 15 kids in diapers, all needing to get changed, bathed, fed, put to bed. Done by people who can barely walk and talk themselves. Not to mention the kids who didn’t need help.

I think the older mentally retarded patients, the ones that aren’t severely disabled, get recruited to help with the children.

I can still smell the shit. It’s stuck in my nose hairs.

Anyway, so that happened. It was perhaps the most lovely van ride of my life though. Other than the poverty, Peru is beautiful.

Okay, about the ayahuasca tonight…

I literally can’t swallow it anymore. The smell, the look of it, the way it feels in my mouth…I have trouble watching other people drink it. I had to close my eyes.

I’ve done it 5 times now. That’s enough. And I don’t like the set up here. There’s no fire and we can’t go outside to move around. I didn’t even try to drink it tonight. And they give you a lot. Not just a sip of it like the other places.

They have the traditional maloca (I think that’s the name) – a big wooden teepee with a straw roof. But it has a door they like to keep shut during the ceremony. It’s super dark in there.

Stray dogs bark all through the night and you can hear sounds from the village that echo off the mountains making it sound like a scary Halloween sounds CD. Basically it’s the most frightening scene to be in after ingesting the strongest hallucinogen known to man.

“Here, drink this cosmic porridge and enter into the most frightening scene imaginable. Don’t mind the accompanying puking sounds you’ll hear all throughout the night.”

But that’s exactly what I did last night. That’s just what I did.

I gave Hana my amethyst necklace to hold onto. I told her we can stay connected that way.

Last night she was laying next to me during the ceremony and crawled over to hand me a piece of wadded up toilet paper.

“Is this toilet paper used?”

Her- “Haha no, you hold onto it and it makes you feel better. It’s like inception.”

I look at her.

Her- “You know, inception.”

I still have no idea what she meant by that but I couldn’t help laughing.

Me – “Yes, inception. Okay, I’ll hold onto your precious gift of toilet paper. Thank you Hana.”

I stayed with her tonight for approximately 5 minutes. The time it took for the first person to vomit. I felt bad leaving Hana in there but honestly, having that necklace will help her more than I can. And we’re not allowed to talk to each other anyway. I hope she’s not pissed at me.

Damn, it’s thundering and lightening. Add that to the already terrifying atmosphere.

It’s now only 8:55pm but to the group stuck in the hut, it feels like 3 hours went by.

Poor Hana, I hope she’s okay. She still doesn’t like letting me out of her sight….but I’m not going to sit there with her for 5 hours. I’m a good person but a girls gotta have limits.

I need to go back down there at around 11:30. That’s the time we came out last night.

Oh no… I’m starting to get sleepy. I’ll set my alarm, no problem.

I can’t publish anything. There’s no freaking WiFi and they discourage all cell phone use. I can’t even listen to music. But I am though. Right now.

I guess I’ll switch on my audiobook and zone out a bit.

This will end up being a long post, I know it. I’ll add more tomorrow since I can’t publish.

I just need to say that above all else, writing is the only thing that keeps me feeling like myself.

**************

I fell asleep last night listening to my audiobook. Then I hear a knock on my door around 10:30pm. It’s the coordinator telling me that Hana wants me and she’s in the nursery.

“I’m coming.”

The nursery is the infirmary. She had a bad trip. I walk in and see her laying there with oxygen plugs up her nose and her vitals being monitored on the machine by the doctor.

She points at the oxygen and says, “this is good stuff man.”

She was all laughs and smiles when I walked in. She knew just by the look on my face that I’d make fun of her.

Ayahuasca is strong, people have no idea. And it really does connect you with the other realm. But you have to die first and dying ain’t easy. Your life and all your regrets, all your mistakes and demons flash before your eyes. And the happy parts too. You have to toss it all, let it go. People can’t do that.

I don’t know what’s going on. The boys went home because they signed up for the two day retreat and Hana and Corine are napping. We’re supposed to be hiking. I was really looking forward to it but it’s raining. So I’m just sitting here listening to my iPod.

If I nap too, I’ll snore and disturb everyone.

Screw it, I’m going in. There’s nothing to do here but sleep.

*********

It’s the next day. Hana, Corine and I went to volunteer at an elderly home. It was actually a really nice place. Completely opposite the orphanage. We tossed a ball around to the elderly, all of whom were lovely.

Hana and I are bored as fuck. All we do is sleep. Especially today being that it’s cold and rainy out. The only way to get warm is to hide under blankets.

We’re getting massages today so that’s nice.

Seeing that I’m so bored, I’m considering doing ayahuasca again later. Hana said we’ll just do one sip, stay an hour and go back to our room.

I’m ready for Manchu picchu. We leave tomorrow.

I just had my massage and she totally massaged my boobs. Full frontal massage was what it was. Hard and vigorous the whole way through. Damn yo. It’s a good thing I got over my fear of being naked. My Nana instilled that fear in me when I was a kid and it evaporated over time.

I’m so glad it was a woman therapist and not some gross dude.

I need a shower. I’m glad I didn’t take one earlier. My hair is full of oil.

***********

I did ayahuasca not once, not twice, but 6 freaking mother fucking times! 6!

I wish I can drink a bunch of it but I can’t. It’s now impossible for me to swallow. I’m happy I took the plunge during my first ceremony by taking two doses and I managed to reach the other side. It hasn’t happened since then.

No more aya, no more walk. Why do I keep doing these horrible things to myself? I just don’t get it. I don’t get me.

***********

I’m now at a hotel at the bottom of Manchu picchu. Hana is in the shower. She freaked out earlier today at our coordinator because she thought she was getting ripped off.

I’m a bit weary of her mood swings but whatever. Most of the time she’s completely fine. I talked to the coordinator and straightened it all out.

She kind of reminds me of my friend from when I was 14, Margaret.

She has me following her around like a little puppy and won’t let me out of her sight. Even at night when I’m enjoying alone time outside, she comes out to tell me it’s time to come in. And I do. Just like Margaret did with me.

I’m a huge pushover that loves attention. A bad combo really.

It’s so pretty here in Peru. We took the train to Aquas Calientes and ate outside. It was perfect. We had mojitos and ceviche. I felt absolutely wonderful and light. Everything so perfect like it was written in a novel about somebody else’s life, not mine.

Tomorrow we hike up Manchu picchu and then hitch a ride back to Cusco where we’ll plan our last and final excursion before heading back home.

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Cusco Day One

My head hurts.

Where should I start? I want to write but I’m so tired and suffering from slight altitude sickness. I’m about to eat some Korean porridge from an authentic Korean restaurant.

Hana is next to me getting her nails done.

I just bought a poncho, we both did. You know those large hippie ponchos I’m talking about? The handmade ones depicting alpaca’s? Yep, we got them.

I got here at 9am today and Hana was outside the airport waving me down. We touched base at the hostel and went to the meeting place to meet our tour group and prep for tomorrow.

The prep involved drinking 6 large glasses of volcano water. Yes, volcano water. Not only is it from a volcano, but it also gives you explosive, volcanic diarrhea.

Hana and I could only stomach a glass and a half each. We are pussy’s.

But it made me shit 3 or 4 times and worsened my headache and fatigue and I’m fucking starving right now.

It’s supposed to clean out your system so ayahuasca can be absorbed better.

All I want is Korean porridge. That’s all I want. I’m hungry but sick at the same time. We taken a nap earlier. From 2-5 was nap time. I felt a million times better but exhaustion hit me once again. It’s 8:05pm.

I guess that’s all I got to say. I can’t wait until bed. Good lord sleep. I’ve been up since 8am yesterday. I’m not doing ayahuasca tomorrow. Screw that.

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Sitting at the airport…again

There was absolutely no traffic what-so-ever. None, zero. I arrived 3 hours early for my flight like a dork.

But you want to hear the funny part? This plane, Jet Blue, is taking me to JFK! JFK is closer to my house than Boston Logan Airport, where I am now. Only by 15 minutes, but still…

I tried to figure out how to fly out of JFK directly but there was no way to do it and I’m scared to skip the flight there because what if they don’t let me board?

I’d rather fly out of Boston anyway. Less traffic and this place is like a palace compared to JFK. They play classical music at the Jet blue check-in and it smells good there. White, clean, and modern.

I should eat something. I’m not going to be able to eat at JFK due to having to rush to my next flight. It’s going to be tight. I’m switching airlines which means I need to check in at LATAM. Jet Blue couldn’t do it. I hope it won’t take forever. I only have an hour to make the switch and I can’t check in online either. It’s a cluster fuck. At least I didn’t check my bag, that would’ve been worse.

International travel sucks!! Travel agents exist for a reason, it’s to avoid cluster fucks.

I’m at Johnny Rockets. Black bean burger baby.

People are gross. There’s just so many people, too many.

I listened to a podcast on the Camino that told me coincidences can be mathematically explained and are not special. It’s scary to think they are not special!

Think about it.

What are the chances that a child molester is close by? Like right now, look over your shoulder kind of close. Well, According to probability, pretty high. Chances are high for EVERYTHING and anything you can think of.

Especially when there’s lots of people around you.

So when I look around, it puts me at a whole new perspective.

My close family and friends all did bad things at one point, every one of them. And they are family and friends! What about complete strangers?

I need to stop thinking about this. The Johnny rockets cashier just handed me a napkin because I had mayo fingers and a stupid look on my face. That was really nice of him because he did it after I profiled him as a terrorist.

I’m the worlds messiest eater oh my gawd. I’m typing with one hand and shoving shovelfuls of onion rings into my pie hole. They’re all crumbly and falling apart.

I’m not looking forward to what’s about to happen at JFK.

Bean burger is not a tasty replacement for the real thing by the way.

I seriously shouldn’t be eating fried food before a 14 hour flight.

I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I have will power damn it.

Don’t order Diet Coke on a plane. The stewards don’t like it because it foams too much at 30,000 feet and takes forever to pour.

Oh god JFK….and I haven’t a clue on what I should do. Fracking sucks man.

I’m going to check Facebook and vape in the shitter.

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I’m Home I’m Home I’m Home At Last

But not for long.

I’m still so freaking tired.  Still!  I slept my ass off last night and the night before, but my eyes invariably want to close.

I fell asleep at 9PM last night and woke up at 3AM.  I didn’t know where I was.

Me thinking – “This is a nice hotel.  I don’t remember this hotel.  It’s so warm and comfortable.  Oh, and my audiobook is playing.  So nice….”

Then I realized I was home in my room and I was like, “Praise the lord thank you I’m home!!”

For the last 40 days, I’d wake up in a different location every morning only to hike 15 miles to god know’s where.  Everyday.  Waking up sucked.

And when you wake up at 3AM thinking you’re someplace you never been and realize you’re safe and sound in your own bed, it’s like a snow day from school times 20.

I love home.  I am a homebody big time.

But I’m going to Peru on Thanksgiving to check Machu Picchu off my bucket list.  I got home late on the 19th, and off again I go on the 23rd.  Today is the 21st.  I just booked my flight.  A one-way because, well, you never know.

Hana wants to do Ayahuasca.  I personally don’t want to do it for two reasons:  The taste and the barfing.  But Hana is dead set on it so we’re doing a package deal of ayahuasca and Machu Picchu.  There’s a really nice retreat that offers both.  They even have a doctor present 24/7.

Oh god aya-freaking-huasca again.  Shit.  No thank you.  No no no.  I’m so done puking.  I don’t have to do it, I’ll probably skip it anyway.

I better leave.  I’m meeting some friends out for drinks.  I ate beforehand so I don’t have to spend money on dinner.

*******************

It’s now the 22nd.  I leave tomorrow, Thanksgiving.  I can’t believe I’m doing this.  But I know I’d regret it if I don’t.  That’s what I base all my decisions on, regret.

Last night I hung out with the 3 girls that ditched me after I came back from Nepal.  2 of them are completely fine with me, but the other one….I don’t think she likes me much and I didn’t have the mental energy to override it this time.  Or maybe she does like me, but she doesn’t make me feel relaxed, you know?  Not something you’d want to deal with after walking across Spain, that’s for sure.  It’s like she can’t decide if she likes me or not, she can’t pin me down and me being stupid empathetic, can feel all this and so I get confused myself.

People I met along the road on the Camino, never made me feel that way.  And they didn’t even know me.

My brother and I have this weird “gift”.  I don’t think it’s much of a gift actually.  But me and my bro are affected by other people’s energies too much.  It’s their micro-expressions that trip us up – we pick up on it.  And the tone they use.  We can spot bullshit a mile away.  We see the inauthentic, the egomaniacs and narcissists.  My brother wants to slap it out of them, turning to violence and anger while I curl up in a ball and question my sanity.

Why do some people make me feel uncomfortable?  Like I’m being probed?  I wish I wasn’t affected by it but when you’re freaking tired, all defenses are down.  This girl I’m talking about is starting to date and once she finds her match, her confidence will rise and her hard edges should smooth out.  Hopefully.

Anyway, it’s tiring is what it is.  Not fun.

Today I’m seeing my friend Mo to return her dress finally, and I have to stop in work to visit my office manager.  And the 3 girls I mentioned above are going out again later – I’d like to join them if number 3 isn’t there – too much work.  I mean come on now, can’t we cohabit in peace?

I should pack.

I woke up at 8:30AM.  It’s raining.  My room is trashed – the most trashed it’s ever been in my life.  But I like it because it means I get to clean when I get back from Peru – a new person is waiting to be uncovered.  I will reemerge anew.

My feet are still sore.  I need to brush my teeth.

I need to dump my brain out of my head, you know?  I can’t remember shit that happens.  It’s a lazy brain to a fault.  My brain acts how a homeless person looks.  I’m not retaining anything.  I guess if I do ayahuasca again, this will be my one focal point – to clear my head.  Sleep doesn’t help.  Perhaps it’s lack of a certain mineral?  Or I’m dehydrated?  Or it could be my messy bedroom, I don’t know.

Or maybe because my life has been crazy for the last few months.  No me time.  No grip on reality.  Completely out of my comfort zone.

What do people do when they wake up early?  I don’t know what to do with myself.  I really should pack…..

My plane leaves at 19:42 from Boston.  That’s 7:42PM.  It takes around 2.5 hours to get there, arrive 2 hours early, factor in 90 minutes of traffic to be safe and minus 40 minutes of boarding from 7:42 so I should be at the gate at 7 sharp….let’s calculate.  Beep boop beep….

7Pm – 2.5 = 4:30

4:30 – 2 = 2:30

2:30 – 90 minutes = 1PM

1:00 seems awfully early but I refuse to panic like I did last time on my way to the airport.  I will do anything to avoid fear like that.  If I was 3 minutes later than I was, my plane would’ve left without me – 3 minutes!  You know how nerve wracking that is?  And I hate cutting people in line.  I feel like such an asshole.

So, 1:00 tomorrow it is.  I have to be ready.  It’s a long 14 hours flight with 2 layovers.  I’ll get to my hotel in Peru by 11PM on the 24th and at 10AM the next day, we’re off to the retreat.  Fuck me.  Seriously.

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Sitting at the airport 

I’m so freaking tired and hungover.  I’m in a daze.  A dazzled lame state of exhaustion.

Yesterday I was right.  Janett wanted to go out.  As soon as I arrived at her hotel, she was waiting.  Before noon.

We met up with Egon and Stefan, two fellow pilgrims.  We ate lunch and stopped for souvenirs, meandering around.  

By the end of the night we were all shitfaced and dancing to Spanish dance music.  Before I knew it, it was 2am, then it was 3am.  I told Janett I was going back to the hotel but she didn’t want me to go and just kept on dancing.

Finally, we left the bar.  As we exited, there was a long line of finely dressed Spaniards waiting to get in.  The place was hopping.  It was jam packed in there.

I was wearing my usual pilgrims attire of super baggy camo pants held up with a belt, and my wrinkled flannel shirt.  My hair was a mess.  I danced like I was alone in my room in front of my bedroom mirror.  I danced until I couldn’t stand up straight and knew it was time for me to leave.

It was a wonderful last day.  We walked back to the hotel, talked a bit before bed and passed out.

Janet wants to move to the US but it’s a hard place to get into.  You either have to marry someone or win the green card lottery.

I met an older Canadian woman who told me her friends drive down to Florida for the winter every year but this year they were stopped by border patrol and asked what they thought about Trump.

They were refused admittance because they voiced their concerns about him and when they tried again at a different check point, they were already flagged in the system and turned away.  They are banned for a year because they said they didn’t like Trump.

I’m so tired.  We went to sleep at like, 5.  My flight is boarding soon.  I can’t wait for home.  There’s no place like home.

Whenever I fly into JFK after visiting a non-English speaking country, JFK feels like home.  The whole airport feels like my backyard.  Quaint and home-like.  Which is nuts because it’s freaking JFK.  A dirty busy hub of noise and shoves.  

From JFK, I still have another 90 minutes of driving to my house.  I hired a personal driver to pick me up.  It’s really not that expensive.

Home home home home home home home

What’s going on?  Why aren’t we boarding?  And what’s stuck on the bottom of my shoe?

**********

I’m now home.  It’s the next day.  I slept for a very long time, maybe 10 or 12 hours, I don’t know.  I’m laying in bed and it feels soooo good.  I have to buy my plane ticket to Peru and stop by Work and unpack my stinky backpack.  My parents got me a $20 gift certificate to the new hibachi place that just opened up across the street and I want to try it.  There’s much to do.  

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Day 35,36,and 37

Day 35 we woke up late per usual on Hana’s schedule.  I stopped caring how late we wake up due to Santiago being in arms reach.  We started our walk at 1pm.  1PM!  That’s unheard of in pilgrim speak.

And we walked, and walked, and walked.  And we didn’t stop walking until 40 kilometers later when it was midnight and we were both freezing and damp.

It was mostly woods.  Pitch black, with nobody in sight.  We sang and played music on our phones.  We laughed nearly the whole way.  Until the beer metabolized in my system and I ran out of water, all bars and hotels were closed….that’s when I started a slow decline into panic mode.  I would see movement in my peripherals and freak out.  Exhaustion and dehydration started to kick in.

We had to venture off the Camino path and stay at an airport hotel.  The bartender kept giving us shots of baileys on the house.  I was so drunk I nearly puked and I fell asleep dead tired and sick at the foot of my bed where Hana laid with me and brushed the hair off of my face.

The next day I got my period and walked the last of the Camino into Santiago.  Crashing waves of nausea crippling me with every painful step.  It was supposed to be only 10 remaining kilometers but I’m sure it was more.  It HAD to be more.

Hana wants me to come live with her and she’ll act as my housewife.  She actually used the term “housewife.”

“I’ll cook for you, clean for you….just stay.  You don’t have to do anything.  I’ll take care of you.”

Me- “I’ll lay around all day and play video games.  By the end of day 3 you’ll be cursing at me in Korean telling me to get the fuck out.”

Her – “okay, I understand.  I’ll change the subject.”

This whole trip feels like a dream.  A horrible wonderful dream.  Even the landscapes and the people are characters and scenery taken from a storybook.  

When I catch a moment of me time, I start to wonder if this is really happening.  Are these experiences really mine?  Or am I glimpsing into somebody else’s life?  And why me?  What makes me so lucky?

I feel like Forest Gump.  I’m doing my own thing, but life manifests into a whole other monster.  A monster not everyone gets the chance to pet and tame.

It’s crazy how two people, insanely different from one another living on opposite sides of the globe can fit so well together.  Spending each moment together, complete strangers in a strange land of jamon, tortillas and bocadillo’s with little else to choose from.  Staying in cheap hostels where we meet intersting people, also strangers in a strange land whom we run into time and time again.

It’s just all so supernatural and surreal.  It’s lovely and weird.

Hana just left.  She’s on her way to Morocco for a desert tour.  She was upset when I refused to go.  There’s just no way.  I have to make a pit stop home for a brush of thanksgiving feast and family time before meeting again.

I have to leave this hotel in 3 hours.  It’s fully booked for today and they need the room.  I’m spending my last night in Santiago staying with Janett, a Swiss girl I met a few days ago.  She’s letting me crash at her hotel.  

This has been by far the most magical, magnificent year of my life.  I don’t get it.  Why now?  This is exactly what I worked so hard for and it’s actually happening, but now that it’s here it’s like, shit man.  You know?  Holy fucking shit, I arrived.  And not just in Santiago but some place else.  I can’t explain.

Yune, another Korean pilgrim we met along the way, cried all day yesterday because he didn’t want it to end.  He used the word “jeong” which doesn’t translate well into English.

Me – “Is that like being sentimental?”

Him – “Yes, it’s like that.”

But I could tell it meant more so when me and Hana got back to our room, the quiet hours before bedtime, I asked her again what exactly jeong meant.  And she described in-depth.

It’s like thankfulness, when strangers help you.  It’s like love, but not love.  It’s compassion, the guilt you feel if you do or don’t do/say something…it’s community.

There’s no simple definition of it, it’s a feeling that can’t be translated into words.  It’s an emotion.

Me – “I think I feel jeong all the time but there was never a word for it.”

It’s not just love I feel, not just sentimentality or attachment.  It’s jeong.  Jeong describes the Camino and basically describes me.  After all these years, I can finally put a word to it and pin it down.

I guess I should shower and pack my belongings.  Janett’s hotel is literally right next to mine and all I want to do is sleep and dream and be alone and bask in the weirdness of this trip but I have a feeling she’ll want to head out as soon as I get there and drink some cervesa and have some lunch.

I love my life.  I love (jeong) these new friends.  I’m so freaking lucky man.

I hate the Camino but goddamned I’ll probably do it all again.

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