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essays | places
an easy love
Tayrona National Park / Colombia · 2012 dreamlandish
The window down, the backseat run down, life’s breeze in my face, and it all comes back to me. Latin America, freedom, no seatbelt, hearts, loves. It all re-starts here. It’s been too long, but everything is back in an instant. I see the brick flying by as the cab flies and bumps from the airport towards La Candelaria. A cab, a single room. I’m playing it safe for the first day of my second life. It’s been two years since I’ve lived in Mexico, but it might as well be two eternities or two seconds. All that matters is that I am back in the real world and that I can feel it coming into me through every pore of my skin. I’ve been a zombie for too long, slave to my pain. This is the sweet cut. The second I touched ground in Bogotá, my life was new and every second since has been new, 1837, 1838, 1839, still sinking deeper into that backseat, the breeze picking up. Everyday-less, routine-less from here on out. It’s day one of six years, but I don’t even remotely know that yet. I still think this is going to be a one-year trip or less if I call it off for whatever bad reason. The first conversation, the cabby. Then a German, then two Brits. My feet are welded to the backpacker rail for now, but in a month I will fall off the map, somewhere in the Ecuadorian Andes. I know nothing about it yet, and neither do I know that I know very little in general. I’ve experienced a bit of world and plenty of obsessive love and I think that’s all there is. Ha.
lines EVER GREATER | They chased the heights, recognition and records, tallest, most, best, but their success just thinned them out into awkwardness.
Bogotá / Colombia · 2012 goldfish
And with that freedom fuel on that raw road with that silly speedometer, stopless, breathless, restless...
Playa Blanca / Colombia · 2012 silly speedometer
places / stories
Bogotá / Golden Curse
Bogotá / Colombia · 2012 happy gold
The world’s fattest collection of gold artifacts, all fifty-some thousand pieces at the Museo del Oro told the same story – pre-Columbian times were rich in culture and sophistication. Stepping out of the museum into modern-day Bogotá, you can tell that the place has been looted and ravaged by the Spanish. Golden curse. Like all across Latin America, the descendants of the slayed empires live in poverty while the mixed mestizos land anywhere from lower to middle and upper class.
Bogotá / Colombia · 2012 collaborative art
It’s day two of six years. Somebody asks me for money, and I don’t have any to give. I do, but I don’t. He keeps asking, then insisting, then he tells me that I’m lucky there is so many police around. I am lucky. Two weeks later, in Taganga, I am not so lucky. Knifepoint. Two months after that, in Ecuador, I am even less lucky. Gunpoint. But overall, I was still lucky and always as lucky as compliant. No one has poked or shot a hole into me yet.
Cartagena / Police Negotiations
haggling over fines for non-existent crimes & how to break the corruption cycle
But one needed to keep in mind that these were still cops, no matter how corrupt. It felt like our bargaining power matched theirs, but at the end of the day they were in charge and would decide over our fate that night: jail or no jail.
Taganga / No Tenemos Plata
Taganga / Colombia · 2012 green bay
A fishing village, once, Taganga was ripped wide open for tourism to fester. Cocaine so cheap, LSD almost free. One morning, my Canadian bunk neighbor, a sweet little soul, came in with pupils like saucers and a white nose. I asked him if he was OK because he didn’t look it underneath his boyish blonde hair. Without any recollection of the night he had had, all he was left with was the bunch of incoherent nonsense he stammered. Looked like he was mid-comedown, like a falling angel.
Taganga / Colombia · 2012 the fishing village underneath
Taganga is a bay and next to it another and another and so on. The first time we ventured bay-wards, dusk was already settling and all the locals were on their way back. They told us it was too dangerous to go there now, and we listened. The next day we went earlier but got caught in dusk again on the way back. Crossing the last bay before Taganga, someone offered up a boat ride, but we were too cheap. Now we were the last two people remaining on the little path. Until we weren’t. My German companion started running with some sort of instinct in his legs, while I stood still like a dummy. A moment later, two knives were pointed at me. Both guys looked young and as skinny as their knives but determined enough to give me a little stab or two. From a safe distance my companion offered moral support by shouting “NO TENEMOS PLATA, NO TENEMOS PLATA” (we don’t have money), while I fumbled in my pocket, stalling, pushing aside the phone and sunglasses I preferred to keep, walking my hand down to some change. By the time my hand resurfaced with a few worthless coins in it, the German baritone had swollen to such a volume that the knife-boys got more scared than they were scary and a moment later they ran off none the richer.
Taganga / Colombia · 2012 another bay and then another
Tayrona / Robinson Cruwhoooosoe on LSD
Tayrona National Park / Colombia · 2012 boulder beauty
Tayrona was a trip. Literally, figuratively, then again literally, and then a few more times figuratively. The first trip was into the park, as deep as you could, shedding one layer of people like you with every beach. Then there were the LSD trips for those who wanted to trip on nature's beauty to the power of two. Smaller Robinson Crusoe trips to the nearest coconut palm or mango tree for food provisions. At night, a trip or two to the milky way and back.
Tayrona National Park / Colombia · 2012 childhood Eden
Tayrona National Park / Colombia · 2012 crabbedy crab
One night we were horizontal, eyes in the skies, when a park ranger trapped us in his flashlight's beam. He'd come out of nowhere or so it appeared to the drowsy dreamer. The first one of us to snap awake hid the bag with the funky substances underneath the towel underneath us, but to no avail. We produced it after very little forth and back with the guard. He was nice, said something about police or maybe it was no police, and I know he had a weapon or no weapon, and some power or almost none. We tried to bribe him because he showed all the signs of bribe-willingness, but he declined as often as we offered. He left a warning with us, but also the drugs. Before he melted back into the night, he told us not to cross that little estuary because of crocodiles. Of course, it was the only way back to our tents, unless those drugs would grow us some wings.
Medellin / Ageless Wisdom
Medellin / Colombia · 2012 metal and earth
"Are the people who live there unhappy with their situation,” I asked upon looking down from the futuristic gondola onto a mishmash of sheet metal and dirt roads. "Why? They have a roof and something to eat. It suffices them,” were the kid's exact words.
Medellin / Colombia · 2012 waves of brick
Valle de Cocora / The First Angel
Valle de Cocora / Colombia · 2012 to shoot a tall tree
I met two angels during my years in Latin America. I shouldn't say it like that; it's confusing. I met two guys named Angel, who were angels. Of sorts at the very least. One I spent a few days with and lost touch with just as quickly. The other I spent one year and a lifelong friendship with. The first one descended into my life from the world's tallest palm tree at Valle de Cocora. He was a young cancer survivor and cancer apprentice. He had learned death's big lesson, which is the same as life's big lesson. His father's career expectations nullified, society's lease crumpled, all modern trajectories tied in a knot. A movie tale, his. He was everything everyone always knows – without ever touching it – in the flesh. So I touched him and hugged him and learned what I knew anew. My breaking with everyoneness was still ahead of me, but like him I would never go back to who I had come from. There was another guy tagging along who spoke a great deal about business and economy, but he wasn't as bad as I make him sound with these two slimy words. He, too, was just looking for a way out, the riches road to young retirement and worry-free philanthropy. I wonder what became of them, but I don't wonder enough yet to ask. Maybe in another 9 years.
Valle de Cocora / Colombia · 2012 sweeping clouds
Valle de Cocora / Colombia · 2012 upside down Angel
Valle de Cocora / Colombia · 2012 2860 m
Himalayas / Hiking Alone, Astray & Everestless
when you set out to see Everest, but Everest doesn’t care
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