Introducing the Croc Hunter to Peru

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Looking at my facial hair…what was I thinking? This has to go as soon as I get back home.

I’m starting to figure out that Australia has an unfounded reputation for dangerous animals that want to kill everybody. Whether I’m talking to a Peruvian or a South African I learn that people are afraid of our snakes and spiders.

Personally I think someone in our defence ministry realised that we could avoid being invaded if we exaggerate our dangers, but it makes us sound bad-ass when we downplay the dangers too, right? Whoever first exaggerated our animals was a crafty bugger, and undoubtedly one that used it to try and get laid. Because it’s so full of tripe. I’ve never once been bitten by a snake and the spiders are actually rather pleasant (how’s my downplay game? 😉 .

Today I had to do a presentation on Australia as a demonstration to students at a school I want to teach at. I was lucky compared to my friends. I had Year 9 students and they had an advanced ability in English. All I really needed to do was keep them interested and engage them in conversation.

But here’s what I learned about my own country from my students, judging from the questions they asked.

They wanted to know about our music, but they especially wanted to know about our dancing.

Well I don’t understand what national dances we actually have, but the students didn’t understand that. So I showed them the heel and toe. I panicked, okay! It’s the bush dance I remember in Primary School. “heel and toe, heel and toe, slide slide slide slide…..left hand clap, right hand clap, both hand clap, on your knees” and then you link arms with your partner and twirl around. (In Year 4 the girls had cooties so it was a horrible exercise, and in Year 6 I asked a girl out to graduation, and she said no (she ran away actually), but we danced during the heel and toe and as we clapped our knees she said ‘see, we got to dance anyway,’ Then I never thought I’d actually be dancing this miserable bush dance at Year 12 graduation, but I did, so there you go. There’s many memories).

I showed the students’ Tash Sultana’s Jungle and they loved that. They wanted to know if we had a traditional dress and the best I could do was show them Indigenous traditional dress, and by then I felt a little sad. I wasn’t sure what culture a whitie like me had that was actually special. Does that make sense?

I showed them a video of the Crocodile Hunter (Mr Steve Irwin himself) and the teacher knew he died in an accident so I had to tell them how (sting ray barb). And I felt a little sad when I told them the story and they could see that.

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An Australian legend. Photo: Australia Zoo. 

I taught them that Canberra was our capital city (they thought it was Sydney) and I even taught them how to pronounce it (they thought it was Can – Berra). Then as an extra favour to my nation I taught them to pronounce Melbourne (Mel-ben, not Mel – born).

We spoke about unusual animals they might not have heard about, including the bilby and the Quokka. I showed them the Quokka selfies online and they loved that.

“What about your snakes and spiders?” they asked.

“What about them? They aren’t dangerous. Everywhere has snakes and spiders.”

“But you have giant ones.”

That’s a bit rich, coming from students that live in the same country as the Amazon.

I feel they learned a bit but then they wanted to show me Peruvian music, and I almost fell for it but the teacher said my time was up (I was supposed to only have half an hour tops and I went double that time).

I’m not sure if I really taught that much, but they remembered basic geography. And I feel there was a connection with the students. They liked me but they were beginning to test my discipline by the end.

I’m writing this from a Starbucks. I had to order a flat white (I am an Aussie after all) and they spelled my name ‘Criss’ and that’s kind of cool because I was bored of my spelling anyway.

 

 

Let’s go to the mall….today!

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Yesterday Amy and I went out for lunch and decided to skip the lunch and drink alcohol instead. At some point we decided it was time we went to the movies, even if it was in Spanish. We took a taxi to a mall – which for the first time made me feel like I was at home.

And then we chose to watch the movie ‘Bad Mum’s Christmas’. It had Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell. It was a good choice watching a comedy given that we were lucky to have understand one in 15 words. We could laugh at the physical comedy like at the bad mums dirty dancing with Santa. At least I now know Feliz Navidad means Happy Christmas.

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The interesting thing about watching another movie in another language is the ad libbing was surprisingly well done. The voices were different but not obviously so, and the soundtrack music was still in English. It felt that no matter what English is still an influence.

It’s something I noticed this morning when I returned to the mall alone to go food shopping. The others had gone drinking the night before and I stayed back by myself. So while they were recovering, I searched for oats. Finally I found a giant super market. I felt normal for the first time. Nobody was staring at an ignorant gringo as I pushed the trolley around, and I knew exactly what I was buying and how much for. The cash register would tell me in the end anyway.

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I found everything. I found my oats and honey and even Greek Yoghurt. I went a bit overboard though and ended up spending 140 soles. But there’s no excuse for me eating out for a few days.

It’s silly, isn’t it? How much these creature comforts, the normalcy of a mall, can mean so much? Even going to the movies, when I couldn’t understand the words, was great, and so was the McDonalds run afterwards.

 

Ferris Burnzy’s Day Off

 

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“Let my Burnzy go…..”

I know I’m in Peru and it’s sort of expected that I have exciting adventures every day. But there reaches a point where you need alone time and a completely uneventful day to just gravitate back to who you are.

We moved into a hostel about two days ago and so yesterday was the first time in almost a week where I had my own space and my own room to relax. I found Cadbury chocolate in a small supermarket (holy crap you have no idea how amazing that is!) and I just locked myself away, listened to music and blogged. And Facebook messaged friends from home, as friends knocked on my door to see if I’m alive and to see if I wanted to go to Trujillo.

“Burnzy.”

“Burnzy.”

“Burnzy.”

“Burnzy.”

It was Ferris Burnzy’s Day Off, and sometimes there’s nothing special and exciting about doing that. Some days you just have to be anti-social and recharge, because the world out there gets a little overwhelming at times. Almost every word is in Spanish, it’s crowded, and doing things with your friends sometimes takes a lot longer than it needs to be. The bill at restaurants gets irritating as you each try to break your 50 or 100 soles note.

You don’t have to seize the day all the time.

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Punch buggies everywhere! Now I have bruises on my shoulders.

Gosh I feel like such a typical introvert, but that’s okay. I’m not afraid of being on my own (with the voices of Tash Sultana, San Cisco and Iron Maiden in my headphones). I just wish I hadn’t cancelled my Netflix.

On another note I’ve been burnzying my way through cash, and I’m lucky that my company unexpectedly paid me the leave they owed me or I would have been screwed. Most of that is because we’ve been planning for our future living arrangements, but it is a humbling reminder that I need to start eating meals at home instead of eating out.

I wanted to go see ruins today but I think maybe it’s a good idea to avoid doing much sightseeing and spending until I start earning an income.

I’m trying to normalise my diet before I start going to the gym, so I’m trying to find oats for porridge. None of the stores here seem to have it. Avocado is easy to track down, and so are bananas, but I can forget about Greek yoghurt. I can’t seem to find honey either.

The food here is good, but my metabolism has suddenly increased, and therefore my energy levels crash rapidly. I have been getting hangry, and quickly. I ate spaghetti last night and then needed to order a Hawaiian hamburger because I was still starving. I’m too old to be having a growth spurt.

 

Life was gonna be this way / da da da da

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The top of the apartment that we’re going to be getting. 

Five of us have found an apartment house to live in in Huanchaco, a beach town near where we work. Halfway between Trujillo and Huanchaco is the Chan Chan (world heritage listed ruins!).

The place we are getting is a lovely four bedroom place relatively close to the beach. Amy, Nicola, Adriaan, Lutti and I have the makings of a sit-com. Three South Africans, a Canadian, and an Australian share a house together for six months. What can go wrong? How many seasons will we get before God cancels on us?

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We inspected the place and discussed at the bar whether we would take it. Adriaan decided he will sleep in the lounge room but it turns out he’s not allowed to do that.

After discussing prices and house rules we had to determine which Friends characters we were.

Adriaan is Chandler, apparently, but I’m not sure why. Probably because he’s the smart arse. Amy wants to be Rachel but the boys and I think she should be Monica. She is the leader of the group. Nicola is without a doubt, Phoebe (she gets the best lines). Lutti is Joey apparently (dammit), and they all made me Ross. Ross! (outraged and gobsmacked expression).

“Why are you Joey?” I asked Lutti this morning over panqueques.

“I say stupid shit and I shag,” he said. “Facts of life. You cannot deny that.”

“How come I’m Ross?”

“You’re deep and in six seasons you’ll probably have six divorces.”

….

Personally I prefer to think that we’re in a How I Met Your Mother arrangement. Except they reckon I’m Ted. Ted! Preferable to Ross, but I’m not Ted, thank you. Sure I like museums and mock outrage, and I was the one that bought the guide books and the fanny pack, and the architecture of the churches in Trujillo is fascinating considering the clearly defined Middle Eastern influences and sure I take forever to get to the point of a story…okay, point conceded. And maybe I’m a little chuffed come to think of it.

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Lutti, me, and Amy. 

Lutti gets to be Barney, sonovabitch. As if. When is the last time Lutti has worn a suit. I love suits. I wear suits. My Instagram proves it. The only thing he’s been doing lately is enforcing the bro code. Adriaan is Marshall, which is cool but I suspect it’s because he’s a giant. There’s some debate as to who the girls are, because Amy is Canadian, like Robin, and Nicola may well be teaching kindergarteners (like Lilly), but I can imagine Nicola smoking cigars with Lutti, and brawling in Canadian bars.

Okay, I’ve spent way too much time analysing this, but mainly because I’m so excited to live with the others and be part of some group adventure. I’m keen to step back, watch, wait, and witness what happens next in our life.

And if nobody will write a TV series about us, I will write about it. Da da da da….

 

Trujillo

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Photo: Adriaan Bornman.

My friends and I arrived in Trujillo by bus early this morning. The principal of the school we aim to work at greeted us at the bus station and took us to our hotel.

I’m feeling good after the 12 hour trip (or however long it was). I brought sleeping pills. I popped in one of those babies when the TV was loud (in Spanish) and went to la la land. And when I woke up I was….let’s just say, relaxed.

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Connected to the internet and already blogging! Photo: Lutie Van Den Berg. 

We are in the central business district, and as we arrived I saw the sign directing to the Chan Chan – an ancient city that is world heritage listed. There’s old churches and fountains, and probably museums.

 

I was excited when I passed a book store, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to leave the others when we gravitated by a McDonalds (in two hours time the lunch menu will be available) because I needed books! Books! They called to me.

All the books called to me in Spanish, it seems. My heart broke a little, just a little, as I stood in that dusty book store with the covers all illegible to me. I shouldn’t have been surprised, and I wasn’t really, but I stood there, and among these books, in this store with that slight book smell, I could close my eyes, breathe in, and smile.

….

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Don’t judge us! But then we gorged on McDonalds. And it tasted like home, mostly. I had a double quarter pounder and the buns tasted different, and the meat had a slightly different aftertaste, but it was the little things that were perfect. The pickles and the sauce and the flavour were good.

I even was able to replace the coke with Inca Kola. I wish we had Inca Kola at home. It’s even better than Mountain Dew and since that’s my favourite drink I don’t make the claim lightly.

I know it seems wrong in a way to come here and eat McDonalds. Yet McDonalds is much a part of this culture as it might be in ours. Sometimes you miss the details of home and need that crutch.

Burnzy’s quest for fulfillment in Peru

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A few people have told me recently that they hope I find happiness. This strikes a cord for me because in reality, I should be happy. I’m in Peru and I am a single man with no financial issues, and one who is healthy.

Maybe assuming that happiness would come with a move overseas was a little naive. Maybe I’ve got to pursue that happiness properly. Maybe I need a bucket list of what I want to do here, because in reality I don’t really have one. And that means I’m just going to float without goals, waiting, wondering, stuck in my head…

So I give you my list of what I want to do in order to chase happiness in Peru….

BURNZY’S LIST TO CHASE HAPPINESS AND FULFILLMENT IN PERU:

  1. Learn how to surf.
  2. Learn how to sand board.
  3. See snow.
  4. See the source of the Amazon.
  5. Ride a llama. If that’s not possible then I want to touch one. If that’s not possible I want to spit on one. Or eat one. I don’t really know. Let’s just stick with riding one.
  6. Eat a guinea pig. Cooked would be preferable.
  7. Travel to Machu Picchu. (Oh my gosh, you know what would be better? I want someone to take a photo of me up at Machu Picchu, and I’m wearing a suit and bow tie and totally posing! I know this seems wrong, but I have to make an experience my own.)
  8. Visit Lake Titicaca
  9. See some long lost ruins.
  10. I want to visit the Temple of the Sun.
  11. I want a Peruvian sweater. I think I can get a good one in Cuzco.
  12. There is a city in the Amazon jungle called Iquitos, and apparently you can only get there by boat by river (a journey of a few days) or by plane. I would like to go there.
  13. I want to see some crazy Amazon beasts.
  14. I would like to eat some crazy Amazon beasts.
  15. I would like to buy a sombrero.
  16. There’s a modelling competition in Lima in April. Someone I competed against has entered. I would also either like to compete, or at least watch it to cheer him on.
  17. I would like to visit a few museums and learn some history.
  18. I would like to learn more Spanish; to be able to count and understand numbers up to 20, know the days of the week, the basic colors, etc etc.
  19. I would love to be able to change somebody’s life (for the better, of course).
  20. I want to see the Nazca Lines.
  21. I want to see the Colca Canyon. It’s twice as deep as the USA’s Grand Canyon.
  22. I want to take dancing lessons.
  23. I would like, for a time, not to give a care about what anybody else thinks.
  24. I would like to inspire you.

 

Bullshit in Ecuador

One of the biggest weaknesses in navigating South America is not being able to count higher than six.

The best way to practice counting is to play Bullshit while waiting in line at the Ecuador border. I did this yesterday. Bullshit is a game requiring lies and deceit. The aim is to get rid of all your cards and if you don’t have the card you need, you have to claim that you do. If someone thinks you are lying, they must claim “bullshit”. The cards are turned over, the truth is revealed, and whoever is lying (or wrong) must pick up the deck.

Amy, Nicola, Guy and I traveled to the Ecuador border yesterday with the aim of extending our visas before we travel south to take on a promising teaching position in Trujillo.

It was a confusing mess. Our taxi driver Jorge (Hor:Hey?) helped us but he didn’t know what was going on either, and he knew little English to give us much insight. We were worried we might be denied entry back into Peru, or wouldn’t get the six months we needed (through our ignorance or inability to communicate).

As we waited two hours in a line (that we didn’t need to be in at that point in time, it turns out) I pulled out a pack of cards and we played Bullshit, standing around the deck. I invited Jorge to play which meant trying to teach him in a foreign language, and it only worked because Guy is naturally gifted at learning Spanish.

I decided to try to play while speaking the numbers in Spanish.

“Uno-Tres.”

“Dos-Cuatro.”

“Hmmm.”

“Tres-Cuatro.”

“Bullshit! That’s bullshit!”

We started having an audience – spectators that began to understand the rules. By the end of the game though, my brain was about to explode with the numbers I was trying to remember and pronounce (I still can’t get the e in Tres right. It’s embarrassing).

As we were about to be served at the counter we learned we had to go to another line in another building and that we would have to return to this same line later. Fortunately when we returned the line was shorter, but we queued in about four lines by the end.

Four hours after the game of Bullshit, we were struggling to fill out our paperwork without tables. “Write on my back,” Nicola offered to Amy.  And Amy started trying to draw on Nicola’s back! Ha ha ha. We were tired.

Finally I was at the counter, confident that with blue eyes and my Aussie charm I might be able to persuade the lady with the stamp that I should be allowed six months more to stay in the glorious Peru.

What I wasn’t so confident about was my ignorance of the Spanish language and my ability to  fuck up burnzy everything up with good intentions. But not today! I carried a slip of paper which said “Seis meses de Peru, Por Favor” (should have had para instead of de, and it would have meant ‘six months in Peru, please”.) and I even had an excuse up my sleeve if they asked “why do you want to stay?”

“La Chica,” I would say. Which is bullshit but it sounds cute.

But I never got the chance to sound like a brainless sap, because the lady at the counter tried to talk to me, and I didn’t understand, and I gave her the paper, and passport and I said “Lo Siento, no hablo Espanol”, and she spoke again, and I looked confused, and she laughed (it’s the, ‘wow, he really is dumb’ laugh and I’ve been hearing a lot of it lately, but it’s actually not a bad laugh).

“Cinco,” she said, (five) and I was glad that Bullshit had helped me with the numbers a little. And I said, “No, Seis, por favor!” and she smiled and somehow I was able to understand that because I had already just been in Peru a month, this year, I couldn’t have the full visa refreshed.

I pouted….I actually pouted! Bloody hell. It was a thinking pout, and then I grinned, and I tried again.

“Seis muy bien!” I said, (six very good!*) and in a tone where I was pleading, but she shook her head, with a genuine wide grin, and said ‘cinco’.

I didn’t dare push it, I was already winning, and I hope I thanked her, I hoped I showed the gratefulness on my face, and I think I did. I left with the final stamp and waited for my friends, and they had gained what they needed to, more or less.

Then we went back to the hotel for a pool party where we could drink as much as we wanted in three hours. I got changed in a red flannie and I sang Mambo No 5 and Black Betty on karaoke, and scared the nearby school children at the party by doing it in a heavy raspy voice, and I drank so much that I threw up by a palm tree (making Australia proud) and nearly passed out in a hammock, and made a real arse of myself. The end.

*With my ignorance of the local language I’ve wondered how on earth I’m still alive. But I am alive and there will be plenty of embarrassing stories to come, I’m sure. Keep safe out there, and I’ll make sure to do the same.

We were born to run in Peru

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I’ve been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen lately. It’s a bit blasphemous to soak in his voice while living in a small Peruvian town. But right now he speaks to me. Maybe without him I would have quit this teaching course that nears its end – stressed with the pressures of perfectionism I can’t quite achieve.

I’ve been jogging on a Peruvian beach a lot lately. Maybe without the run and the power of La Playa I would have quit this teaching course that nears its end – or stopped giving a shit about whether I pass the classes I’m to teach.

We have days until this TEFL course finishes and while I may be the moody blogger of the group – the cynical and over-analytical Jughead who wears a Brixton instead of a super cool beanie –reflecting his stresses on his sleeve, I am not the only one being challenged.

Some of us wonder about the job we were promised by companies who charged us a lot to come to Peru with assurances that if we passed the course there would be a guaranteed job. This has changed to ‘you will be given a job offer but if you don’t take it then there’s not much else we can do’. We’re weighed by the burden that we might not get a job anywhere, let alone the job in the places we wanted to go. Some of us wanted Lima; some of us wanted Cuzco.

We wonder what to do next, who to follow, what the back-up plan is. There is comfort in being with friends, and there’s a promising job opportunity that might allow me to have that in the coastal town of Trujillo. All I know about the place is that you can hire a hitman for US $50 and I can blame Amy for knowing that fun fact.

Thanks Amy.

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Another stress is the last classes we have to teach, and pass, and the last two classes I’ve been showing the strain beforehand. I don’t get why I’m so anxious about the lead-up and organising of a lesson. I’ve done prominent things in the past, but maybe I always set excuses. I’ve walked on stage in a modelling comp, but if I didn’t do well, I would have blamed it on the fact I didn’t have rock hard abs. There’s a safety net.

There’s no real safety net here. No excuses here in the town of Zorritos. You are prepared for class, or you are not prepared for class.

On Monday evening I was unprepared for a class I was to teach, and I decided to trade half an hour of preparation for a run on the beach. I put on my music and Badlands and Born to Run play after each other, and I jog, and the locals laugh or giggle as I pass them with the hair pushing over my eyes. I jog furiously past the boats and spook the crabs into their holes.

 

sea seal.jpgThe stress floods through my legs as my toes splash through the higher reaching waves. I jog and I speed up and then I run and I breathe and I run and boys call out to me as I pass their football game but I ignore them and I don’t stop until I’m out of breath. I breathe in the words of the smooth bastard Springsteen. I feel good. I feel sweaty.

Baby, we were born to teach in the badlands.

I walk past the football game and somehow get suckered into the game with the teenagers. I join one of the sides and kick two goals but smash my foot into one of the other kid’s. We both scream in pain and laugh about it. Soon I stop the game because I’m unfit, and one of the boys calls out to me. “Inglish!” he said, pointing towards the school, and I realise he’s one of my more troublesome and cooler students, the one I previously nicknamed ‘the Bart Simpson boy’ but judging how he was in class later, I have earned his respect. As he leaves my class we high-five/do the cool handshake, and his mates are saying something like, “see you on the beach”.

I can’t meet them though. I’m their teacher. Dammit. But it’s cool to be cool.

P.S. I failed the class, but I enjoyed the teaching and so did the students. They learned from it.

 

The Tortuga Bubbler

I remember swimming with the turtles, and I will remember that for a long time.

I remember standing on a pier out on the coast south of Mancoura. There were tourists but none that stood out like myself and my friends.

I remember the squeals from these tourists as I looked down at the water as they swam with these turtles.

I remember putting the red floating vest on and getting in the cool water and waiting on my own. Amy was chasing turtles with the Go Pro, Nicola couldn’t stop grinning, and Lutie and Adriaan sat balancing on the buoys.

Suddenly something scrapped at my feet. The turtle pressed up into my feet and took my weight as if it was a Pokémon using the HM move Surf for me. But just for a moment.

We could see their shadows in the water, popping out again and again, and I thought maybe I could attract them by bubbling in the water.

I could be the Tortuga bubbler. And suddenly, unexpectedly, one swam in front of me, and then around in a sharp u-turn. Its head popped out the water.

I could lean forward to kiss it, almost, and it stared at me with a large eye. In my memory the eye was the size of a tennis ball, but I exaggerate. It opened its mouth and grinned showing small and pointed teeth, and then it ducked back underneath, and I was speechless.

And I stared, in love for the first time truly for tortugas, and I wanted it to come back, so we could swim together and share journeys under the sea, and ride into the sunset, and become the world’s greatest Pokémon trainers together.

The feeling of love died a little when the next turtle whacked its flipper into my nuts, as if to say, “shut the duck up with that bubbling.”

” I wish I took a picture,” I groaned to Adriaan, who was still sitting on the buoy. And with his South African accent, he pointed to his eye, or the side of his head, and he said “you have a mind picture in here, bro.”

On trying to be that foreign gentleman

 

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Saying goodbye to Mount Isa, my home in North West Qld. Photo: Jemloco Images.

When we visit a place far  from home, we absorb a new role.  Something different to who we normally are. A facade without us even realising it. Sometimes it’s a facade encouraged by others around us.

Some of us might like to pretend to be the super-fun drunk foreigner, others maybe might like to pretend they are some brooding philosopher, and even still others may want to be the drug experimenter or the womaniser.

I put on a role for Peru. I wanted to be the foreign gentleman. Someone acting out of honour not because of fear, or not because I don’t have the capacity to be bad, but because I know I can be this guy. I wanted to be a man who didn’t use people, and who made them feel so much better about themselves. And there is a power to being who you want to be. There is also a danger to thinking you’re the innocent, the good guy, because in all likelihood that’s not true, and you judge yourself too much when you fail.

 

I just want to be proud of myself.

And I am. I am bloody proud of myself, not because I’m in Peru but because of who I was before that and because I know there is a community in Mount Isa that supports me, no matter how distant it is. This community is used to distance anyway, that doesn’t stop it from being there for me.

But being proud of yourself is a daily battle, and when you take away everything that is part of you (your job, your friends, your car) and you move overseas and don’t even know where you’re going to be in a week’s time, it puts on certain pressures.

I guess in a way having the role of good guy gets in the way of the other role I should be having. I am the storyteller. I was running away for stories, and I have them, I suppose.

 

 

The stores stock beer and shampoos and tampons and chips. No paper. One store sells board games. At that time of the night and in my sickness haze, I consider buying scrabble as a gift for a friend, but no, that’s stupid. There’s a fine line between being considerate, and an awkward friend.

My sickness seems to disappear along the road at night, although at that point I’m not sure if it’s night or the early morning. Spanish words call out along the store fronts of the promenade as the lighthouse shines down at us. Groups sit outside stores eating food, dancers outside the bar beaches sniff cocaine, and motocab drivers yell at me asking if I need a taxi. A bouncer promises me ‘chicas, fucky fucky’ and somewhere then, after ages of being unable to find paper and pen to write with, I realise this world around me is superficial bullshit. Right then I hate it and this isn’t why I came here.

Earlier that day the party city of Mancoura seemed a much nicer place. Not quite as harsh, or not quite as extreme. I sat sunburnt under an umbrella with my lunch and yet another beer with mates when one of the many hawkers walked up. This one was different from the ones carrying cakes or sombreros. She was a small elderly woman clutching a plastic bag. She had few teeth but it actually exaggerated the loveliness of her smile, and even the kindness that glowed in her eyes. She spoke to me in Spanish and I said the few words I knew like “no comprende”, “no hablo espanol”, “lo siento”, “idiota” and when she knew this was true she said one word, again and again, but I didn’t know it.

I saw her later and I waved ‘hola!” but this time I had a translator, and he exclaimed, “she said you’re beautiful.” It’s in the same street I was in 12 hours later but the feeling I had then was the anti-thesis to the zombie haze of the night.

This better feeling was similiar to that of a week earlier in this same hostel when I was on the dance floor trying to dance to spite the superficiality of it. This Peruvian girl turned to me, and she said “you’re Australian?”

“Yes.”

“You are fucking beautiful.”

And I thanked her, and it meant a lot, and I focused back on my white-guy, strictly non-latino dancing. It took me a week to figure out how she knew I was Australian. She would have seen it on my Tinder profile, and I forgot that could happen considering I hadn’t even thought about using it in a week.

I’m not sure why beauty is so important, and I hope they meant that it shone from the inside, and I think it did when it came from the old hawker, because I trust her eyes. I trust the eyes full-stop.

I’m not sure why I made the tangent to beauty, or more strictly to a self-endorsement of praise of myself (isn’t that so wanky?) but sometimes the praise from others helps the facade so much better. If I’m the beautiful foreigner then what an honour that is. It’s better than being the bad guy, the fool, the arsehole.

The point of this blog post really was that I was searching for meaning, to be a better person than I found myself to be, this cold and distant figure in control of his words and his world. I was sick of easiness and compromise, and I just wanted those fairytales I used to believe in (we all know the ones), and that’s why I chose Peru.