Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 2, Lima

Sometime over the last week I lost my diary. No biggie.

Today I discovered I lost my second credit card (my Cashpassport card - previously I complained that it is an expensive alternative to travellers checks, but since they Western Unioned all my money to me without charge, I think they are great).

Tonight I got my purse stolen in a Barranco salsa club. I'm having trouble keeping my spirits up now. I lost 50 solars, not that much money, but I lost my notebook with all my writing in it (for the second time, but this one for good). I also lost the book I am reading (Disgrace, finally) and pages of the quantum physics book I printed out and have been reading on this trip as well.

I lost the email address of someone I promised to write to and who will be upset that I dont write. (Though I did give him my email, joking that I might just lose my notebook.)

Now I am bummed. And I really want this trip to be over and to recuperate from my stupidity.

And I have lots of cash, American dollars, on me now to not lose or get stolen in the next few days until I return home.

What is wrong with me that I keep losing things?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31, Iquitos

So I am out of the jungle. I am covered in mosquito bites and have a huge scratch on my leg but otherwise no worse for wear.

The cutest thing in the world is a baby sloth. A much better pet than a cat. In fact, I met the sloth just after being rejected by a loner cat. It is the size of a teddy bear with a shapeless torso, a long neck topped by the placid smiley face of a turtle and four long flexible limbs with three sharp claws that wrap themselves around you and cling until you prise it off of you. It has a tiny arrow-shaped tail and all its sexual bits are hidden (at least on the female). It is covered in brown course fur that is surprisingly human like and when upset admits little squeaks. I haven´t wanted a pet in a long, long time, but I want a sloth so badly! Like all animals the baby is cuter than the adult, but I want a pet that does nothing but clings to me and lets me pet it. I bought a disposable camera so hopefully I will have photos of me and the baby sloth.

In the jungle I swam in an Amazon tributary, camped in the forest, walked, canoed, had my whole body and face licked by monkees, played with puppies, and ate huge meals of delicious vegetarian food cooked by the natives who hosted me and my guide. I didn´t, however, walk for hours and hours a day, which is what I had wanted. Though whether I could actually have handled it, I´m not sure. It wasn´t that hot but very, very humid and I was pouring sweat and itching from mosquitoes the whole time.

I think my romance with the Amazon is now over. It is the Amazon but it isn´t as beautiful as Australia´s rainforest or even the cloud forest in Colombia. It isn´t that palmy or ferny, isn´t that dense, has no waterfalls (there are streams but they were all dried up as it is a very dry dry season). Maybe it is because the Amazon is a basin and not in the mountains. Also the river itself is enormous, so not that beautiful. The Orinoco and the rivers in Canaima in Venezuela were much narrower and therefore more beautiful because you felt the forest about you on both sides. I admit the Amazon is great for bird and animal spotting, though. A, my very knowledgable guide, showed me monkees and eagles and kingfishers and bats (cute little furry things) and ants and spiders.

The question, of course, is did I have sex with my guide? Guess!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26, Iquitos

Tomorrow I go to the jungle, on a four-day Amazon trek, just me and a 29-year-old guide.

Yes, I am already worried. The guy who sold me the trip asked to be let off another trek he was supposed to do so he could go with me instead. When I came back into the agency to let him know which hostel I was staying at he was leaving and asked me if I had had lunch. I didn´t have lunch with him, but I did meet him later. He said he didn´t need to be at work anymore and had nothing to do and offered to show me around Iquitos on the back of his vespa. He took me to a floating bar on the Amazon and we shared a beer (a big bottle). I almost went dancing with him tonight at a live gig, but decided it was better to get a good night´s sleep.

Why do I put myself in these situations you ask? Well, the group tours are all about relaxing in lodges, pirranah fishing, and visiting villages to stare at the natives. Not what I want. (And they are way more expensive - this trip costs me $AU178!). I want to walk in the forest for hours at a time, going deeper in. And to be in a boat along the rivers of the Amazon forest.

So wish me luck. I see this as (potentially) a final opportunity to get some spine and say ´no´. I hope I´m only projecting, obviously, but if it does come to this, let me practice, ´No´. ´No, thanks.´

At least I will have made some self-improvement.

Wish me luck!

Write at you again in several days.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25, Lima

Tomorrow I am off to Iquitos to find myself a jungle tour. I didn´t get to Laeticia, the Amazon outpost in Colombia, so I will go to the jungle here in Peru.

G was not able to pick me up from the airport after all, though I did not get the email before I left Bogota. I waited in the airport for 2 hours for him before I went to check the internet, but this was okay because I met a lovely Australian, my age, who has been living in Lima with her local boyfriend for 3 years. She is an ex-competitive skier from Jindabyne. It has been great to meet her, talk English, meet Peruvians, go to bars for live music and pisco sours.

I´m so far behind in my story. I believe I left off in Palomino, after getting my phone stolen. I went to find N after leaving the two Riohachans. I found him playing pool at an outdoor bar. I greeted him but he was uninterested in talking to me. I decided to leave Palomino as I only really came back for N and D. As I walked past with my backpack, though, N asked if I was leaving and if I wanted a beer. So I stayed and drank while this sleazy man talked to me in Spanish and gave me weird looks. N insisted he was a nice man and I was misinterpreting things. He said I should stay and took my backpack back to the hut.

That night N, D and I went to the beach. We went to C's camping hostel. C is the one who was supposed to meet me in Palomino originally. I asked C if he had been contacted by S and C from Tayrona and he said no, that he was very sorry he didn´t meet me but he may not have been in Palomino when his friends were calling. C was very nice, my age, chatty (in English), open, and kept telling me he was upfront, honest, talked to everybody the same, men and women alike, didn't expect anything from the women he talked to. He kept giving me cocktails (rum, coke, lime).

N and I went down to the beach, got naked, and had sex in the waves. This was beautiful as well as awkward and hilarious and fun. The waves were full of those beautiful phosphorescent beads. N was quite drunk but he´s much more fun when drunk - and seems like he can only make a move when he is drunk. I like N. And I felt bad that he knew about Jason. I just had sex with Jason. N I actually like and wanted to have sex with him.

When we got back up to the group of travellers around a campfire, N kept drinking and got drunker and drunker. I got drunker too, but not that drunk. C then decided to prove himself wrong and come on to me, saying he wanted me to come home with him. He kept asking if I felt comfortable as he sucked my bottom lip and wooed me. I was not comfortable, but I said that I was. What is my problem? So partly lured by the promise of a bed and a shower I went home with C. The bed was an unblown-up mattress on the floor inside mosquito netting and the shower was bowls of water (this isn´t a bad way to shower), but it was decidedly more comfortable than the kitchen tent at D and N's. Sometime in the early morning, I had sex with C, sex I didn´t particularly want to have and that was quick and ordinary.

And of course I felt bad about leaving N passed out near the fire, but I don't have patience for that kind of drinking. I wish he had stayed sober enough to be possessive of me. But I can´t blame him for my bad behaviour. In the morning I went back to N and D's but neither of them were there. I grabbed my stuff and caught a bus Santa Marta so that I could catch another bus to Aracataca the next morning.

I did see Marquez's childhood home in Aracataca. Then I took the bus all the way back to Palomino because I realised that I had N's money, the money he put in my pocket at the beach. I had totally forgot about it. I felt so guilty for leaving without saying goodbye after abandoning him at the beach and then taking his money (he has very little) that I had to go back. I went to the farm but neither N or D was there. I left the money and a note, but I found N on the main street as I stopped to wait for the bus. I apologised and took his contact details. He was obviously surprised that I came back, and grateful, I think. He didn´t seem angry at me, though he did say he was feeling down.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday, 22 August, Bogota

I´ve been writing more in my notebook, but thought I´d just take a few minutes to blog. I leave Bogota in a few hours to go to Peru. G, who I met last year in Lima is picking me up from the airport and I am excited to see him again - and to be met at an airport!

The last few days in Colombia have been nice. I stayed for two nights in the city of Tunja, which has a city centre dating to the 1500s. It also has European things like cafes and trendy bars, though I still had trouble finding anything other than Colombian food and pizza laden with meat. I spent a lot of time walking around because, though the streets, like everywhere in Colombia, are numbered sequentially, I kept getting lost. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, starting out on one street and magically ending up on another.

I spent yesterday in Villa de Leyva, a very popular spot with Colombians and foreigners alike, though it was (nicely) not crowded as I expected. This is a bigger, wealthier Barichara, a whole white-washed town. But the houses and hotels are much grander and the arts and crafts are of a much higher standard than elsewhere in Colombia. I ate pasta, drank red wine and spent 250,000 pesos on an artwork that I fell in love with and now have to carry around with me.

In Tunja, I took myself to a cafe-karaoke bar, and after a song in English came on and I could join in the singing, my neighbours began to talk to me (in English and Spanish) and I even sang a few songs (Sound of Silence, Hey, Jude, No Baby Don't Cry). This was a lovely night. Yesterday, I felt like my old Australian self. Happy to be alone, reading and enjoying good food, wandering beautiful streets.

But more later. I want to get to the airport nice and early.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17, Barranquilla

So, I left myself on the bus to Palomino. I had called N to let him know I was coming back and he said he´d meet me at the bus station. I seem to do a lot of waiting in Palomino, but at least N did come and get me.

I stayed that night with N and D. We sat around in N and D´s gazebo and I chatted, mostly with D, who spoke slow Spanish to me that I could mostly understand. I slept in a tent in their wood and palm-roofed kitchen, with only a blanket between me and the dirt. I was hoping to go for a mountain walk that N told me about in the morning but at around 8.30 in the morning I heard my phone ringing. N said it had been ringing since 6.30 and when I answered it was my Riohacha lover saying he has been in Palomino since 5.30am. Did he tell me he was coming? I wanted to stay with N, who I really like, who is educated and works to save the world, and speaks English.
I was flustered and embarrassed. I asked N if I should tell Jason that I would meet him later after our walk, but N said to go meet him now and we could walk in the afternoon. He wanted to read.

So I went to meet Jason, who was waiting for me with a friend, an older man. We walked to the beach, which turned out to be quite beautiful, with colder water than further up the coast and a little bit of surf too. Jason kept climbing up coconut trees and the men smashed them on rocks so we could all dribble coconut water into our mouths. Jason was all over me and the three of us swam. After a swim we continued walking along the beach towards the river, where it meets the sea. This was really lovely, cold, unsalty water. Jason walked me over to a deserted part of the river and we had sex in the water, generous, lingering sex.

But when we got back to our stuff I opened my bag to take a photo and my phone was gone. It was taken out of its rubber case, off my keyring, spirited away. So was 50 mil pesos. My wallet was neatly in my purse pocket where I leave it. Jason asked some kids who were playing around the area something I couldn´t understand, acting indignent. I said something to him about how I had been in Colombia for more than a month and had nothing bad happen to me when I was alone, and now with him I get something stolen. He and his friend were mostly silent on the walk back. I was morose. Sad mostly about losing all my photographs. At this point I blamed Jason and his friend for not taking care of me, but now I think the friend probably took my phone. They knew I had it, and they knew I had a 50 mil note as well. And N and D say that Palomino is a safe place.

When we got back to the main road of town, I had trouble leaving. I told Jason I was upset and wanted to go, but he kept grabbing me to his lap and kissing me, meanly. I think he´s a con artist. Who fucks a girl really well and then comes to another town to steal her phone? I can only figure it is about his power over me and as he was losing it he got a little mean, made a little fun of me for not understanding him. Finally, I said I was sorry that the morning had ended badly, but that I was very upset and needed to be alone, and I said goodbye and walked away from them.

So, fair punishment for sex that I should never have had? Punishment for not listening to my inner voice that said walk away from Jason? Punishment for my inability to say NO! I choose to see it this way. I´m not particularly upset, other than with myself. I figure if nothing else I have a good story (I tell it better than I have written it).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, Barranquilla

I arrived back in Barranquilla last night and had bug larvae squeezed out of my legs and ass. I hadn´t finished telling G and M the story of my stolen phone when M sent me off to the shower after a gaze at my bitten up legs so she could heal them. I get out of the shower and she tells me that what I thought were infected mosquito bites were actually the swellings where an insect had injected larvae into my leg that hatches tiny worms that feed on blood. Ugh! She squeezed blood and pus out of my three bites until the little larvae balls - looks like what comes out of a white-head - appeared on the toilet paper she was squeezing my red skin with. She then broke open an antibiotic pill and rubbed the powder into my bites.

This is what couchsurfing is for! Imagine if I just kept waiting for the bites to heal! M says I was lucky I didn´t get a fever.

I seem to leave a little piece of myself everywhere I go, as if I am trying to divest myself of something that I haven´t yet found. So far I´ve lost my toiletries bag, a few pairs of earrings, the butterfly tank top that I love and use for swimming, my swimming bottoms, and latest, my notebook, with the writing I do when I can´t get to the internet. It is as if my journey doesn´t want to be recorded, not in photos (which I lost with my phone), not in pen.

I´m not quite sure what is wrong with me but maybe I am moving from place to place too fast. I was in a rush, hoping to get to Venezuela to visit S, but it´s not really a reasonable thing to do. She can´t leave Caracas and Caracas is far away from Colombia, either very expensive plane rided or very long bus trips. So I will stay in Colombia.

I will try again to summarise my adventures last week. After visiting the school children, N and I walked to the river for a swim. He further chopped up the pants I chopped up in Tayrona because they were so ripped and used those to swim in. The river had quite a strong current, so we attempted to entwine, kiss, and stay in one place by gripping onto rocks with our hands and feet. It was fun. And very refreshing: it was so nice to finally be in cold water! After our swim, N and I had almuerzo in town and that evening I took off for Riohacha, saying I would come back to Palomino on my way back to Barranquilla.

Riohacha is the city where Marquez´s telegraph operator went to work after rejected by Fermina Diaz. Whether Riohacha of now bears any resemblence to Riohacha of then, I don´t know, but it is a low, spread-out city of typical Colombian cement boxes with barred windows and doors and a nice, fat beach with painted palm trees. In Riohacha I was picked up by a charming 22-year-old, who I wasn´t totally comfortable with. I felt like he paraded me around, showing to his friends and neighbours that he had a white girl on his arm. He didn´t listen to me even when I managed to communicate with this boy with no English, and he talked incessently.

I don´t know why I agreed to meet him again that evening. I was upset that he hadn´t taken me right back to my hostel like I asked after our swim in the ocean, but he was so ingratiating I just let his will overpower me. We agreed to go dancing. Instead we made out at the beach and I took him home with me.

I left the next day for Cabo de la Vela, a tourist village on the La Guajira peninsula where the desert meets the sea and the land is occupied by the nomadic Wayuu people. Here I felt like I had travelled to the ends of the earth. It was all desert, barely-there salt-water ponds, scrub and scrappy trees, abandoned Wayuu stick houses. I went on a tour, saw a salt mine, travelling with 5 others, lovely people. I slept in a hammock in a hut on the beach and we went to two different beaches for a swim in the warm and surfless Caribe sea.

I returned to Riohacha after two days in Cabo and hopped right on a bus back to Palomino. As the four-wheel drive was driving through the central market on our return I saw my 22-year-old lover and hid. I didn´t want to see him again, though I admit to a nice night. On the bus I got a phone call from him. I couldn´t understand a word, told him I was on my way to Palomino, wondered when I could hang up and finally did when it seemed he was done talking.

More tomorrow.