We are not immortal. Often we are anxious and alone. We are trapped and no mind game or change is going to alleviate the situation.
I wrote that in sunny Guayquil of Ecuador.
And while I feel better now, I did not think I could ever be, at the start of a 20 hour bus trip from Trujillo to Guayquil.
It was two weeks into the flu, with stress over a lot of things t, with the fear that I had a reoccurring stomach bug from eating hamster on New Years Eve.
So I decided to flush it out. I took heavy antibiotics and since then was in a haze. It wasn’t until two days later on the bus, when I took a tablet, that I knew straight away something was wrong. I was nauseous and dizzy. I passed out over the bus toilet. I could not sit up, the only thing that helped was laying down. But understandably the bus porter wasn’t going to let me do that. He made me sit on the bus stairs (double story) and made me drink cacao tea. It was nasty stuff but he assured me it would help.
I was sick, probably flushing out the bulk of the tablet, where I felt good enough to lay down another 12 hours until we crossed the border.
We crossed familiar territory including Mancoura, Zorritos, and the border, where my journey here all begun. Except now I felt a bit weary. Older.
It is an illusion of course. How much different could I be in six months?
My problem is I am much the same, facing the same problems I had when I left Australia six months ago.
There is an Australian from western Sydney, with short thick and tangled light brown or blonde hair, and she has travelled in Peru four months.
Next she goes to the dominican. I do not know much about her. She is a mystery, and I am happy to keep her as one of those mysterious characters.
She cracked up at the breakfast table when the Venezualan next to me held a knife in a scary pose and I drawled, “you call that a knife?” The Australian laughed harder after the Venezualan laughed before realising she did not get the reference. (Croc Dundee mate).
The Venezualan is a movie maker, and she writes her first movie. She wants it to be about World War 2 and to be filmed in France, but there is a unique twist or point of view to it that I find interesting. I won’t spoil it for her, for it is her story to tell, not mine.
With English words that challenge her we talk of life and teaching. She taught film to students and loved it. They miss her. She said we make a difference to our students’ lives.
“It is lonely sometimes, here,” I said. “I not speak Spanish well so it is great to talk to people with great English. It means a lot.
“So when I teach English to students I think that one day they will make a difference in the lives of the next strangers to visit Peru. They might save that person’s life. I am paying it forward.”
She frowned at the loneliness part and wanted me to clarify, and then acknowledged this…”you are here to find youself, she said.
“You are here to….oh, what is the word?” She turned to the man at the end of the table and asked him a question in Spanish.
“Recognise,” he said.
“Yes,” she faced me again and grinned. “You are here to recognise yourself.”
She asks how old I am and like everyone else seems so surprised I am 28. Everyone thinks i am younger. “How old do you think I am?” She asks.
A dangerous game to play with a woman who held a knife minutes before, but I guess 27. Then she asks the French Canadian next to us. He looks like he could be a professor, with his quiet mannerism and accent and round rim glasses, except for the tattoos on his arm.
“You paid the ticket, enjoy the ride,” his right arm tells me in grim cursive. His beard is surprisingly thick while being so short, and he guesses she is 24. But she is 30.
The French canadian is my age. We reflect on how everyone we travel with seems to be a lot younger than us. We met the night before when he came up excitedly to say, ‘I hear there is an Aussie here!”
He is planning to visit the country next year to do the harvest trails and picking cherries. He is going to Tasmania.
Then there is the couple who shared my room. He was born in South Africa and has brighter blue eyes than I do, but has spent his time in Holland, and was ranked as a captain in the military. She made her money from modelling but wanted to do something different, and to keep her money lasting ventured into pet sitting. She is beautiful and I can see someone that in the 20s might have owned a few catwalks or the cameras attention, but has over time gained softer features without losing her beauty.
There is an elegance to her in the hostel without it being over the top glamour. She wears a sun dress while the rest of us lounge about in jeans and v-necks.
They have travelled across South America for six months together on their motorbikes, but one of them was confiscated at the Bolivian border. They made a trailer for their second bike in Argentina to carry everything.
Life, they say, is a challenge together in the extreme conditions, having previously only seen each other on their weekends, but if they can make it together then they know they can last.
“We have seen everything,” she says, talking about their closeness. They leave for Los Angeles that night to hike more trails further in the north. “The trail we are walking was in a movie called Wild,” she explained.
Military helps him with the outdoors and sensing what does not feel right, but while life is at its most extreme for her right now, is efficient at organising and planning ahead.
“She is my Lietenant,” the captain said proudly, and they seem pleased when I call them the Guerillas.
“Goodbye,” I said to them, once dreaming to do what they could do but now knowing I just did not have the interest or the courage or the willingness to cut ties from certain comforts. “I am jealous of what you have been doing and what you are about to do.”
And there was a glow in their blue eyes, as if I had reminded them of something.
I made a rush decision to visit Lima for the weekend. Some say I am loco considering it is a 10 hour bus ride one way.
A chica might have been a reason for my decision. I don’t write that to embarrass her, she reads my blog posts occasionally, but to record my experiences in the hope of inspiration for myself and for you to live life a little crazy. She is moving to Cusco, the other side of the country, and I wanted to meet her. I wanted her to meet me.
And I had a fantastic time in Lima. I had only visited four months ago when I arrived in the country and I did not like it. The airport and its surroundings were intimidating to me, but yesterday I saw some amazing stuff.
I saw the ocean from a shopping mall on a clifftop, but it was so foggy I could only hear the waves from what appeared the edge of the world.
And then a local girl showed me the book market but there were hidden gems too; band T Shirts (including one from an old fav of mine, Stryper), rare toys from the early 90s, an old Playstation 1, Pokemon cards, figurines of the Terminator and Brandon Lee as the Crow.
I bought some books in English (the first ones to hold in print form in months), including a book from the discoverer of Machu Pichu, a grade 1 spanish comprehension book, and a book about how to be a gentleman.
But it is a book in Spanish about Peruvian myths and legends that will be my pride of my depleted collection. I say depleted because my books have scattered since I have moved across the world. I will translate this book into English slowly in the hopes I learn Spanish faster.
We went to the movies and I was able to watch Pantera Negra (Black Panther) in English! I did not think I would be able to do this. The sister of the Black Panther made a joke which required English comprehension of double meanings, as jokes often do, and it was hilarious. But we were the only ones who laughed because nobody else got it.
Then we drank Chic Morada (purple corn) and I loved how sweet it tasted. And now I sit on a bus inspired, a lot more relaxed than I was on Friday but knowing I have a lot of prep work to do for school tomorrow.
*The title is a play on the Supertramp song Nothing But A Dreamer.