Am not sure what the opposite of vanity is, but I am terrible at many things . . . along with remembering words, clearly. For example, my taste in music leaves most people at best bewildered and at worst thoroughly angry, and same could be applied to my dress sense – jeans and t-shirt are very comfortable, but apparently are not appropriate groom attire. I am also an abysmal cook and have no confidence in the kitchen. If you want to eat a nutritious meal and consume it at a reasonable hour close to when I said it would be ready, then I suggest we head on out and buy-it. Although this will sound odd, and for any regular readers please hide your shock and awe, I simply don’t get food. I mean, I just I don’t understand it.
Food Glorious Food!
My friends love food. Food, coffee, wine and beer are the talk of several towns. The world goes mad for it. Television, radio, magazines, Instagram, bookface, videos, everyone is obsessed with eating and drinking. It is life, Mr Reed!! Well, yes it is, but it’s not everything of life. I imbibe to thrive, everyone else thrives to imbibe and does so a magnificent amount. Part of me admires others in their detection of complex flavours, smells and textures, ingesting the food with their mind and eyes before it even touches their drooling lips. And yet to me, I see food as an essential thing I need to remember. When writing lists down (which I do constantly) often there will be a line in there that says ‘breakfast’ or ‘eat lunch’. My body won’t let me forget entirely as it’ll give me a headache, but other than that I could happily go without it.
Resting For Your Life
I have spoken at length previously about having compassion for yourself and admit that I am utterly useless at this. I remain my own worst critic and will beat myself up gradually over the first 24 hours of an incident. Get some sleep and some perspective and I’ll be ok, but I am merciless initially. Others can make mistakes and it’s easy to move on. When I make them however and I am ruthless. I am trying to get better, though!
Another fault is my inability to rest. For the last 10 weeks I’ have been charging around South America, thoroughly enjoying myself I might add. However, as with any overland travel, sometimes you hit a few hurdles and it requires some patience and simply waiting. I’m not good at this. Neither is my body, as it decided that if I was resting, then it should probably unleash all the toxins and Ills pent up and held at bay for the last few weeks. Damn you body! But when my body tells me to rest, I know I must abide, and much to my chagrin, imbibe a lot of food and drink.
“Well as long as you’re not going to Mexico . . . that’s just suicide!” Am not sure if that’s exactly what he said, but when the person that got kidnapped for a year in Somalia advises against visiting the country that causes Trump so much angst, the warning is very much heard right in the underpants.
The saying goes that you fear what you don’t know, which is generally true. But you can also fear lots of stuff you do know, like flying and getting shot in the face in Mexico. In my recent jaunts to Peru I reacquainted myself with absolute fear, or at least fear for me. As part of the Nazca Lines, a must is seeing these staggering 2000-year-old geoglyphs from the air. Unfortunately it involves a tiny plane, 45 degree angles and multiple points where I thought I’d cry, throw-up or cry whilst throwing-up. I managed to avoid both, and take some pictures, but remain a little air-sick. Still, it’s only been two days since the flight. Mother humper. It did help immensely that a friend of mine, someone that is learning to fly in a similar Cessna that we were in that day, said that it was one of the roughest flights he’s ever taken, so at least I was scared for a manly reason! As a top tip, the plus’ of a very small plane and being about 5 feet from a loud engine, is that you can scream ‘cu** mother fu**er!” very loudly and no one can hear a word. Excellent for Tourette’s sufferers I’d have thunk.
Murders in Mexico
As for Mexico, the recent story of two cyclists meeting a grizzly end right where I am about to travel hasn’t filled me with confidence. The two chaps, individual travellers from Germany and Poland that clearly have plenty of experience given they’ve respectively been travelling for two and three years, were going through an area called San Cristobel in Mexico’s south. Despite initial reports from the police confirming that they had met a simple cycling accident, it has become apparent in the last few days that one of the cyclists may have been shot in the head and the other decapitated, and his foot taken clean off. This is worrying. It’s also very much a shame as I have heard wonderful things from other travellers that have insisted that Mexico was their favourite country.
Years ago whilst on my first Antipodean Adventure I made my first ever will before entering Iran. This time however I’m travelling on my own, so there’s an added shit-your-pants-scary feel to it. I haven’t made a will yet, but I’ll probably write another. The fear over the next few weeks will probably keep me on my toes though. The warning (which I can’t really do much about as I can’t exactly go around Mexico on my way north) came from a photojournalist, Nigel Brennan, that was hired by my company for an hour to do a talk in Melbourne. It was a confronting recounting of his and his female friend’s ordeal, and took many in the room a good while to digest. Many afterwards felt it was too much to recount to an office audience. You can read more about him here. As for me, there’s nothing more sobering than writing a will.
I am extremely grateful for everything I have and for the people I have around me. Some things I have earned, some provided from nurture and some that life has deemed fit to pass my way. I do believe you make your own luck somewhat, and that if you’re an optimistic, outward looking person that tries to take their chances when they come to them, it can only help on your journey. What cannot be underestimated though is the large amount of fortune in who passes your way and when, sometimes presenting you with your opportunity to shine. Timing is everything.
In my current trip we arrived at the national park in Paraguay a week after immensely heavy rains had finally subsided, enabling us to see the Cayman and indigenous flamingo. Twenty minutes after we arrived to see the flamingo, they all turned tail and left. Although there is a small amount of planning there in the timing of year to come to Paraguay, the rest is pure luck.
Locking myself out of my car recently, I was extremely fortunate to run into a Brazilian couple that not only stopped to help me (the first car I flagged down didn’t!) and just happened to know how to break into a car. Chances? Slim. Again, just immensely lucky. But would others have broken a small window or tried to wrench the door off its hinges? Or maybe choose to walk the distance to find help and therefore miss the passing vehicle?
Angels and Insects
If there is a guardian angel somewhere, they’ve treated me very well so far. One of the many things that my travel affords me is perspective, and none so much when wandering the streets and seeing how people live compare to my own country of residence, Australia. The health of the people, their age, the pollution in the air, the safety, even the food in the supermarket. In most of the places we’ve been, the best-looking fruit and vegetables was actually in a Mennonite Colony in the middle of Paraguay. That’s in travelling over 15,000kms of South America. Australia by comparison has some of the best climactic conditions, food, health and safety imaginable.
Then there’s the gratitude of my own health, which is a mixture of how you treat your own body, mindset and pure genetics. My uncle for example when clearly in considerable discomfort will say something like ‘I’m fine, it’s only pain’. What an attitude to have! Friends of my own age or younger are going through hell every day to simply do things that I sometimes take for granted, and others could never afford the travel I have enjoyed: that’s not just monetary, but in terms of time or family commitments that pull them in different directions. Then there’s the support network of family, friends and a girlfriend to pick me up when I struggle, and equally to bring me down to earth when the ego decides to ramp up. As I sit in a hotel starring out at the cable cars zooming over La Paz, Bolivia, there’s an incredible amount to be grateful for. I think I’ve just about managed to go through that entire piece without sounding like a pretentious twat, yet if I didn’t please let me know.
Image References: http://gbengaadebayo.com/grateful/
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