Chasing tail? Chase adventure

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ON weekend nights I was getting dressed up, pre-loading on wine and leaving the house late to try getting laid. I would swipe on Tinder but I am extremely fussy, and so, it seems, are the women around me because the matches were few.

And then I just didn’t know what to write besides a ‘hi, how are you?’ so I didn’t even try talking to the matches. I’ve never been successful on Tinder and any dates that have resulted from it don’t really count given that I have already known the women.

This only happened a few nights and it happened because, well, I was trying to escape being myself. I didn’t want to feel anxious about life. I never came to Peru to look for love or romance, but now after three months I started seeing the beauty of Peruvian women properly.

But something was getting in the way. I would always hold back at the important times, as if I didn’t want sex, or a relationship, or a connection, or whatever it was I was chasing. This had been the case my entire life. What was getting in the way? It wasn’t my looks but something to do with my personality, or my behaviour, or my reactions, or my tendency to overshare depressing crap like this, despite it being tempting to blame it on morality.

But using morality for a reason was just a shield, I realised, to hide from the truth, which is that in my heart I’m a scared, insecure man, trying to figure out what I really want as opposed to what I should have, while also being ashamed or too prideful to express it properly.

What was it I wanted? An unobtainable pedestal to preoccupy me? A challenge? A partner? A friend? Stability? Fun?  An ego boost? Connection? Social acceptance?

I wanted magic. A specific moment with someone that matched to me in every way. Our spark would connect us both to a sense of belonging, a feeling that we are perfect just the way we are.  In other words, that perfect person. It’s not exactly something I have confidence finding on Tinder or in a bar anymore. Once, yes. Not after a few years living in outback Qld.

But it took a friend’s blog about Tinder to help me see myself a little clearer. It helped remind me that gentlemen in this world are appreciated and desired, and that the intentions I was chasing, once I did gain enough confidence to properly pursue it, were going to lead me away from becoming that man. And there is no sacrifice in trying to be this man. The reward is great.

The world admires a Superman. They see the glow in the face and trust it, admire it, respect it, react to it.

Last night I went out to try meeting new friends and conversations in Trujillo. There was no agenda but the pursuit for adventure and opportunity. I went with a housemate and a guy she liked to a few bars. By midnight I was restless, listening to the band as the third wheel, but in a bubble from everyone around me.

A few colleagues were at a bar according to Facebook and it looked like they were having such a fun time, that I tried finding out where they were. One thing led to another and I ditched being a third wheel (a bit of a dick move on reflection but I don’t feel too guilty doing what I wanted) and caught up with a friend, from California, who was about to go to sleep.

We went to a cheap bar and stayed there for a while. The main highlight was some guy on the road throwing rocks or ice, or something, at the door. It nearly hit me and we retreated to another door with the rest of the crowd. Police came and arrested him and we stayed on drinking a little while until we moved onto another bar where we met another friend.

The band was incredible, the lead singer was beautiful, and it rocked out to a mix of Peruvian songs and mainstream classics such as AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. We stood at the best table drinking Budweiser on the second floor directly overlooking the stage, and I even danced Salsa as best I could. I watched the crowd beginning to pair up, the laughter, the companionship, the dance moves, the interactions, and I felt empowered, wondering how the same things I was witnessing from home seemed so inspirational to observe here.

I walked my friend back to her place and went inside to wait for my taxi, where her mother was waiting. I was sensitive to the fact that many mothers might disapprove of daughters bringing home a drunk Australian at four in the morning (even if it was in the spirit of safety and friendship, not other agendas) and so I tried to be as polite and charming as I could. But it was a drunk and clumsy charm and could not be credited for the incredible hospitality of this kind woman, who made me a cheese and ham sandwich, and poured me a few glasses of Inca Cola before the taxi arrived.

I arrived at my apartment door at 5.30am shortly after arguing with the taxi driver over the fare, because I clearly am comfortable being an arsehole. I passed out for a while, made a coffee or two, continued reading a historical book about the Spanish Conquest of Peru, before eventually leaving to buy Maccas and washing powder. I’m at the mall now, listening to Avenged Sevenfold outside a Starbucks where the coffee machine doesn’t even work.

 

 

Getting drunk and talking crap

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Welcome to the place I live. This is Huanchaco. Photo: Adriaan Bornman.

I ASKED a friend from Indiana, America, if she could interview me while I was affected by a bottle of red wine. Michaela was happy to oblige so last night we talked about the differences between America and Australia, life in Peru, the housemates, and what it’s like being a journalist.

I’m quite ashamed about some parts. Warning: bullshit overload.

M: Okay. This would be a lot easier if the interviewer was drunk too.

I tell myself that every day when I’m at work.

M: Let’s talk about your job then. Why did you want to become a journalist?

There was a girl I liked in high school and we were English rivals trying to compete with each other. She became a journalist but that’s not really why I ended up becoming a journalist. It was a coincidence.

I don’t know.

In Year 6 my English teacher was a very irate Irishman where his manner of teaching was yelling at everyone. He was a substitute teacher. Our actual Year 6 teacher got cancer so she had to take the rest of the year off, so this Irishman took us.

And during his many rants he said ‘you guys should be a journalist because my son or cousin or whatever, he does journalism and he makes $100,000 Aus a year’, which is a lot of money, and very high up in the food chain, but it planted a seed.

With that girl ending up being a journalist, when I was floating and drifting in a Bachelor of Arts, journalism just seemed to fit me. And it took a couple of years of being a journalist before I went ‘yeah, this is me’.

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Interviewing famous Australian philanthropist Dick Smith, and radio presenter ‘Macca’, while they visit the remote Carpentaria Gulf island of Mornington Island. Photo: Brad Thompson. 

M: What do you like most about being a journalist, and what do you like least?

When I was living in a small town it stokes your ego a lot. It does. Because you’re living in a small town, a lot of people know your face and they need you to a point. You are a necessity in a way because you carry their message on to a lot of people. It does make a difference in people’s lives sometimes. When people in the community read stuff in the newspaper it becomes real to them. So ….it makes a difference in people’s lives. I don’t know if that makes sense.

But that’s the worst part as well because you’re that intermediate aspect, you’re the translator. Sometimes it’s good things but sometimes it’s bad things as well. You’re translating the emotions as well. And if you absorb emotion it can be a hellish thing.

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Photographing a former Minister of Industry, Ian Macfarlane. He became the Queensland Resources Council’s CEO. Photo: QRC. 

If it’s a good emotion, which it rarely is, that’s nice, but if the person you’re translating from to the whole community is feeling pain, misery, loss, especially loss from death, you’re absorbing that entire emotion and carrying it onto the rest of the community. If the community doesn’t understand that emotion, you didn’t absorb that either.

I love my job. Well, I loved the job  I used to have. It made me feel important. It made me feel good about what I did. But that’s another bad thing about the job, it didn’t leave much room for anything else.

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Taking pics at a street parade in Cloncurry. Photo: Julie Guteridge. 

M: Stereotypes now, if we wanted to switch to a lighter topic. I feel the majority of  Americans think Australians are arseholes.

Really?

M: Yeah.

Ha! Well, we kind of are.

M: We make fun of your accents.

Australians have this weird perception everyone in the world loves them. When you travel the world a bit you realise that’s bullshit. It’s funny though, because we think Americans are arseholes too, but lazy minded arseholes. I know that sounds disrespectful….

M: No, be honest. Go for it.

Well, this is me talking, not any other Australian. Donald Trump becoming President for instance. Donald Trump isn’t the problem. Donald Trump is the symptom of it, he is the specific typical American every Australian sees.

M: I literally never thought about it like that, but it makes sense.

It’s horrible to hear. But he’s the stereotype of Americans.

M: Like racist? Sort of full of themselves? Okay.

I shouldn’t nod, it doesn’t match the recording, but yes.

M: I can see that.

It’s not a nice thing though.

M: Not really, but I see it.

But bearing in mind I’ve never been to America in my life.

M: And I’ve never been to Australia, so.

We’re arseholes, why would you come to Australia?

M: Australia is beautiful.

So I’ve been told. And America is beautiful. So I’ve been told.

M: You were talking about Gossip Girl. I feel like Hollywood kind of makes a little bit of a fake image of America. Everything you see on TV, it’s not really that dramatic. I don’t know how to explain it.

Can I try to?

M: Yeah.

With something like Gossip Girl you have an hour segment to create as much drama as you can. The problem is the real world doesn’t work like that. You’re trying to condense everything into as much as you can, and the problem is with something like Gossip Girl you’re talking about the one per cent privileged, the children of the wealthy-wealthy which is everything I’d like to think Australians are dead set against. I’d like to think so. We like to pretty much give the finger to anyone in that one per cent. I’d like to think that.

M: Why do you think it’s like that.

We’ve got something called the tall poppy syndrome where anyone that is above everybody else is quickly pulled down back into line. It’s a bad thing, it’s a good thing to a degree, but it’s a bad thing. Anyone with ambition or aspires to anything is quickly pulled back down into line.

M: You all see people as equals?

I don’t know what it’s like in America, but if you’re the only one that takes a taxi , your instinct is to take the passenger seat in the front. Is that anything like in America? You wouldn’t take the back if you can help it if you’re on your own. And you try to have a conversation with them, ‘how is your day going?’ because that driver is as equal as you are.

M: Okay, I think that’s a bit different in the US. I feel people take the back seat because they don’t want the conversation.

Where in Australia I feel obligated to take the front seat so we can have a conversation.

M: Is it the thing again where Australians are more friendly, more outgoing maybe?

I don’t know if we’re outgoing as such. It’s just nobody is better than anybody else. I’d like to think that. This might be a journalist speaking, but I’d like to think I can step into a room with the Prime Minister (Malcolm Turnbull. And sober-Chris while editing this has to admit I’m full of shit.) and have a genuine, down to earth conversation with him. Could you say the same thing about President Trump?

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M: Absolutely not…So tell me about this legendary Australian animal, the Wazzaberry.

The Wazzabarry? I told a couple of South Africans about that ….I told them about the Wazzabarry because, I don’t know, I just wanted to brag about Australian bullshit.

 

M: If you told me a story about an animal like that I probably would believe you.

The Wazzabarry is essentially a creature of the desert that comes out when it rains. It’s kind of like the bilby. And it’s a very carnivorous beast. It’s one of nature’s miracles. Imagine it’s all foggy, misty, nighttime in the desert and there’s nobody around. It’s very beautiful. It’s like the great northern lights in its way, because the Wazzabarry has silk worms up its butt and it shines this bright light, it’s a mating call, and there’s a bunch of them that comes out every couple of years, and it’s beautiful, you know. I’ve seen it once.

It just makes you cry because of the lights that just shines out of its arsehole. It’s silkworms, or something. It’s like a mating call, like ‘take me,  I’m yours.’ You know? Very unknown creature.

M: Okay.

You Americans have to come to Australia some time to see something like that. It changes your life once you see it. Like, no going back.

M: Are there any other animals like that?

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Photo credit: Volker Janssen. 

We have the drop bear and that’s a well known creature.

Many Americans have died. It’s a travesty. We don’t really need to remind ourselves of that. It’s terrible.

M: Do they only attack Americans?

Yeah, they are pretty racist.

M: What do you think of Peru so far?

It’s brought out my demons.

M: Which demons?

Well, there’s Jasper. And Jeremy –

M: Oh no.

Ha ha ha. No. Fuck that.

There’s aspects of it that really tires and exhausts me, and I think I’m at the point where I’m trying to acclimatise and cling to the things that are Australian. I cling to Australian food and Australian experiences like certain shows on Netflix. And it exhausts me in a way. A week ago I really wanted to go back, and it’s the wrong feeling really.  I’m a writer so it makes sense to stick to the experiences here.

It’s the unexpected things that are great.  It’s the things you don’t anticipate. You walk down the street and see something like a traditional dance going on, and you walk down the street and it blows your mind, it’s amazing, you say ‘I’m in Peru’.

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Sometimes you go to a restaurant and get a really delicious meal for a cheap price, and you think ‘I’m in Peru.’ You walk down the street and for one moment you gaze at a girl on the street. She has the most beautiful eyes, she wears the most beautiful dress, and for one single moment you lock eyes with her and you both smile. You don’t know each other’s languages but you walk past each other. You’re in Peru.

The gender can translate there.

M: Are you happy with your housemates?

In terms of what do I think of Amy and Nicola and Adriaan and guest appearance Michaela? Um…they teach me a lot without having to do too much to do so. They have their own perspective having lived in their own countries, each own challenges me in their own way, while I still feel comfortable in my own place.

I hope I didn’t sound too much like an arsehole, but if I did it’s still me anyway.

 

 

A drunken interview with a bro

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For a while now I have wanted to interview my South African mate Lutie while he was drunk for this blog, just to give you an idea of some of the conversations my friends and I have. Since he’s leaving for Spain (or China) soon instead of sticking with Peru, I figured Thursday night was the best time to ask him a few questions.

So here you go:

 

Lutie: This is an interview with myself. It is like the best interview ever because I’m awesome, so it’s quite fun.

So what are your plans for tonight? I will hopefully go out and hopefully get a girl or some love or anything or probably just get a headache tomorrow, and you? Sounds like my life every day. Oh well, we should go hang out some time. I do that quite often.

Burnzy: I can’t believe I got paid in 8100 rand (South African currency) a week for this shit.

Nicola: Why are you talking about Rand? (Given that Burnzy is Australian).

(Note: Burnzy wanted to sound impressive bragging about his salary if he was paid in Rand).

Lutie: Because I told him about the exchange rate. Do you know what’s the rand? I know what’s the rand. Burnzy knows what’s the rand. This is like a monologue, ay.

Burnzy: Why would you go to China?

Lutie: I’m going to make some money and there are Spanish institutes. Spanish institutes…by train. Have you heard how quick Chinese trains are? It’s bvvvd, and I’m there learning Spanish and I’m like ‘Hola! Gracias!’ and then I’m back and then I’m like ‘hey guys, how is life? It’s awesome.’

Nicola: How does a train go?

 

Lutie: Bvvvd, and you’re there and it’s like a bullet train. And then I have learned Hola and Gracias and Ciao and Hasta La Vista, Baby.

Nicola: You learned three whole words.

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Lutie: Yeah, and I did it in a second and I just traveled 130 kilometres. Like, why wouldn’t you? Life is good.

Nicola: Life is good if we’re all together.

Lutie: That is not right.

Burnzy: How have you found the Peru adventures so far?

 

 

Lutie: Peru is awesome. I really liked it. How did you find it?

Nicola: 10 seconds and he’s already leaving.

Lutie: No, Peru was awesome. I took a swim in this amazing ocean and 10 condoms hit my head and they were knotted so you know they were used so kudos to those lucky guys. They don’t want those juices to make the ocean saltier.

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Burnzy: I don’t know how I’m going to use that.

Lutie: Oh yeah, no, use that, please. Okay Burnzy, stop.

Burnzy: Oh no we continue with this train of thought. Why did you want to come to Peru?

Lutie: The culture and soccer and Spanish.

Nicola: well you can have two out of three so stay. So you can have culture and Spanish. Soccer is not as intense.

Lutie: It’s not as intense but I packed up my whole life in South Africa for soccer and I could not find anything.

This got deep real quickly, from ‘baaah’ to me crying. blaaah.

Burnzy: How is Tinder?

Lutie: Tinder is great.  Tinder, tinder. Tinder (whispers). Tinder (whispers, then laughs).

Burnzy: Yeah, this is the end of this. You fucked this up.