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travelingkat


July 10th, 2008

oof! @ 11:32 pm

okay, I m terrible at writing. it is hard when you are so calm and happy just living. At the moment I am not feeling too many impulses to press pause and scribble it down. But life is good. I am in new york city, putting the sweat back in sweat shop. Life is filled with friends and fuzz and costumes and parades (my bus just won first prize in the coney island mermaid parade ! woo hoo)....I am sure that since i last bothered writing i have been around the world once or twice, but...i just cant seem to focus on it. life is good, i am in love no news is good news. *mmmwuh!*
 

January 12th, 2008

Desfile del sábado! @ 05:37 pm

I have been so bad about updating this, SO, now i am just cheezing out and posting a bit of an email i wrote....

I am slowly easing into my relaxing (volcano jitters aside).....but it is hard in a way (particularly since i just drank two big cups of coffee, which is a silliness that should be confined to new york city) ayyyyy!

I am finding this combination of laziness and restlessness to be a little hard to handle. I sorta want to melt into my hammock and let my thoughts flatline, but i sorta wanto climb the highest mountain and ride a rocketship into outerspace.

In the meantime I am settleing for drinking coffee and people watching. Calle Ambato is such a splendid parade of characters. It is like watching a film. I will narrate for you.....

Across the street there is an indigenous couple from Otavalo. He has bright white pants and slippers on. She is wearing a ruffly embroidered top, like those that were all the rage in Madrid circa 1600. She has a tight black braid and piles of luxurious gold beads which I suspect are plastic, made in China.

On the next bench is a man with a yellow shirt stretched tight across his wide belly. He is checking lotto tickets. I think he did not win today.

Next to the market there is a panting chow chow dog. He is big and dirty and looks like a nasty blond dreadlock with legs and a pink tongue. He is laying in the ash next to one of those ubiquitous clown garbage cans. On the side of the can is painted an advertisement for grilled guinea pig with potatos. Several feet up a woman has four guinea pigs on prongs and is roastimg them slowly. Tastes like chicken, they say.


From out of the market walk a group of teen girls. They are all fat, but still clinging to the notion that tight jeans look awesome. Yes, it is camel toe country. A metropolis of muffin top.


Now a municipal truck drove by slowly. The driver was wearing a hard hat and he slowed down to give me "i know you want me" eyes.


Across the street now is a campesina woman, with lots of shawls and petticoats. I think she might be a dwarf, or maybe just really tiny. I think the top of her fedora hat would reach my belly button. I sorta wish I could take my picture with her, and forever after show people and try to play it off that Ecuarorians are really just that tiny. She has a bndle of sticks tied to her back.


Oh, and there goes Linda! I shouted, but she didn´t hear me (so I look like a dork, oh well). She has a big backpack and rubber boots on. Must be headed back to her jungle house. I cant believe she can carry all that! there are steep hills and rivers to forge! She is in her sixties for chrissake! I love her. I would tell you stories about her, but they require certain inflection of speech that i dont think I could get across on a keyboard.


And now Kapi is across the street....walking this way. I am gonna pretend not to see him, because I dont feel like having polite conversation right now. He is nice though. He´s trying to build a cable car from the center of Baños to a mountain top. When he talks about it his eyes sparkle and he never neglects to mention that it would include a patio where European tourists could sunbathe topless.

There go two nuns with surgical masks on.


Oh, god - this is the coolest delvelopment in child mobility since crawling !- A little kid being pushed/ peddaling in this sort of stroller which is made out of plastic, and is a combination between a 1960's cartoon duck and a big wheels. With a pink frilly umbrella on top. Now THAT makes me wanna have kids!


Oh, that lady has the coolest pants....I would waste too many adjectives trying and failing to capture their paisly extravaganza. But let me say that they go nicely with her mustard color 1980's Working Girl business skirt, turquoise sweatshirt, and baseball cap.


And then there are three boys dressed like superman, and a forth in regular clothes, but carrying an inflatable superman.


I could go on like this forever. It is a parade. Oh, and now the creepy danish lady just sat beside me. But I shouldn´t gossip.
 

(no subject) @ 05:37 pm

Hi from the belly button of the world! i am back in my beloved ecuador, freshly sunburned and dizzy with my love of this place. I cant believe that the last time i wrote was way back in India. that was a million years ago!!! i am ashamed with my inability to fill in the blanks between then and now. Let me see if I can do it all in one long run-on sentence......

So, after standing on my head a whole bunch in India I finally get my ass on a plane and went to france where i ate nice bread and cheese with brigid before going to morrocco, which made me miss kinga a lot, but i loved it anyway, if only for a moment before heading back to New york where i made a crazy decision to buy a schoolbus that i painted up a million colors (see my website - www.katwise.com) and though the bus was awesome it sucked up most of my savings, so i had to squeeze every bit of fun out of it by joining a bunch of parades and wearing costumes all the time and generally really milking new york city for all it was worth, oh and my friend dougie got out of prison after 15 years and that was nuts . Phew. Okay, i had to breathe - this is actually gonna take TWO run on sentences - inhale: So, i spent most of the summer in feathers and paint and tutus and platform boots, and enjoyed many awesome concerts, particularly with manu chao, who is now somewhat of a freind and even came and partied on my bus (woo hoo) but it son became apparent that i had to start working, so I started making my clothes and selling them out on the street in astor place which was real fun, if a little cold at times, but i met a zillion new friends and felt very warmly embraced by new york, and in the middle of it all mason brown asked me on a date and now i am completely smitten with him, though unfortuneatly the falling-in-love stuff happened after i had bought a big fat plane ticket to south america, so here i am in the sunnshine, having just celebrated a crazy new years, looking forward to doing yoga and standing on my head a lot again, just like i was at the beginning of this paragraph. oh, and my friend marty just got let out of prison after 17 years after being wrongly ocnvicted of killing his parents, and now he is free free free and that just brings tears to my eyes.
alright!
now im gonna go drink juice and let the slowness comence.
happy 2008!
kat
 

January 5th, 2008

Ok, so I slacked a bit.... @ 12:57 pm

Hi from the belly button of the world! i am back in my beloved ecuador, freshly sunburned and dizzy with my love of this place. I cant believe that the last time i wrote was way back in India. that was a million years ago!!! i am ashamed with my inability to fill in the blanks between then and now. Let me see if I can do it all in one long run-on sentence......

So, after standing on my head a whole bunch in India I finally get my ass on a plane and went to france where i ate nice bread and cheese with brigid before going to morrocco, which made me miss kinga a lot, but i loved it anyway, if only for a moment before heading back to New york where i made a crazy decision to buy a schoolbus that i painted up a million colors (see my website - www.katwise.com) and though the bus was awesome it sucked up most of my savings, so i had to squeeze every bit of fun out of it by joining a bunch of parades and wearing costumes all the time and generally really milking new york city for all it was worth, oh and my friend dougie got out of prison after 15 years and that was nuts . Phew. Okay, i had to breathe - this is actually gonna take TWO run on sentences - inhale: So, i spent most of the summer in feathers and paint and tutus and platform boots, and enjoyed many awesome concerts, particularly with manu chao, who is now somewhat of a freind and even came and partied on my bus (woo hoo) but it son became apparent that i had to start working, so I started making my clothes and selling them out on the street in astor place which was real fun, if a little cold at times, but i met a zillion new friends and felt very warmly embraced by new york, and in the middle of it all mason brown asked me on a date and now i am completely smitten with him, though unfortuneatly the falling-in-love stuff happened after i had bought a big fat plane ticket to south america, so here i am in the sunnshine, having just celebrated a crazy new years, looking forward to doing yoga and standing on my head a lot again, just like i was at the beginning of this paragraph. oh, and my friend marty just got let out of prison after 17 years after being wrongly ocnvicted of killing his parents, and now he is free free free and that just brings tears to my eyes.
alright!
now im gonna go drink juice and let the slowness comence.
happy 2008!
kat
 

March 15th, 2007

rishikesh @ 08:42 pm

Ah, India! a shame that in this place which inspires so many adjectives, i find myuself before a computer with the most discouraging keyboard. I cannot really write here now, because after just checking my email i already feel like i have carpel tunnel syndrome...
so, more later...
just want to exclaim that life is good amongst the cows and the monkeys and the beggars and the rickshaws.....like living in a postcard for India. I am in a holy city (made famous when the Beatles came here with their guru way back when)....so now the tradition continues with many spun out foreigners in flowing supplicant robes, searching for gurus and giving incredibly annoying answers to simple questons like, "where are you from?"
"I am a citizen of the planet"..."I am fromt he great diving One"..."the solar system"..."where is anyone really from" etc etc...for the love of God!!stop thinking you are enlightened and just tell me what frikkin country you were born in...i mean for chrissake, i ws just making polite conversation...arg!
ok. nuff.
mmwuh!
namaste!
 

February 28th, 2007

Hitching South @ 10:11 am

Leaving Bangkok, it was quickly obvious that we were going nowhere fast. I switched my travelling transmission into lowest gear and wound my metabolism down to scarcely blipping flat line. No point to struggle against the tide.

El Cometa Aknes, as we have come to call her, got her spiral galaxy of dreadlocks tangled in all sorts of last minute minutia, making it clear that our departure would no longer involve the word "morning." I just layed back on my bed with my red boots on, splayed my legs out and said "OK". And there I lay for several hours, contemplating the endlessly fascinating ceiling.

When we finally gathered together and mounted a bus to the edge of town, it quickly dawned on us that this was no bullet train. The bus groaned along in first gear, dragging its entrails across the concrete The driver pumped the squealing brakes every half block to honk at each short-skirted schoolgirl, of which there were many. We were racing glaciers and coming in last. But I said, "OK". I was checked out.

El Cometa Aknes buzzed in orbits around the bus, leaving trails of sparkle dust in her laughing wake. She was unsuccesful in her petition to turn off the violent movie (which must come from some alterna-Bollywood that specialized in wretched-explosion-fight-cinema specificly crafted to highlight the discomfort of third-world bus rides).She also could find no colleagues in her campaign to turn off the air conditioner (thank god!). She adapted by unearthing magnifiscently colored swaths of fabric from her luggage and festooning herself like some funkadelic George-Clinton bus-riding Swami guest starring on the Muppet Show. She snapped photos of anything that moved (including my impercepibly jiggling cleavage). Her nose was often pressed up against the window, like a child entranced by the irridescent fish in an aquarium. Her face was a catwalk of emotions and gleeful uterances: "Yes!..Oh no!...Cool!.....Woooowwww!.....oh!...Hello!...Weeeeee!"

Her energy is contagious. One of the things I admire most about Aknes is her utter lack of discrimination when it comes to choosing new friends. She will embrace anyone within arms distance and adore them with a very democratic sincerity. Soon the bus was populated by folks who turned around in their seats to watch her like a pageant. They were eager students, ready to be called on with a sprinkel of Aknes stardust. Eventually she petered out though, and joined Juan and I in our blank contemplation of the seatbacks.

By late afternoon we had liberated ourselves from the slow bus and caught a few decent rides south. We were slothfully ingesting some greasy tofu cubes outside a shopping mall when a lady in a bright yellow shirt picked us up. She stacked us like Leggos in her tiny back seat and took of speeding down the road. Her name was Nit, and she was generous with her laughter. She worked her minimal English vocabulary to maximum comic effect. We loved her and her airconditioner, and the way she gunned her transmission as she sped through the narrowest part of Thailand. Nit did wonders to compensate for our day's slow beginnings. Soon we were invited into her home for the night. We consulted with the low sun, who nodded approval of the plan.

Nit and her husband took us to the seaside for a fishy dinner, complete with giggling pantomimes to translate the menu options. We luxuriated in a beachy shack with open walls and a straw roof, stolen from a magazine ad for paradise.

"I have not seen the sea for one year." proclaimed Juan. Indeed, the last time salty waters tickeled his feet was in Egypt, one hulking landmass of hitchhiking ago. The Gulf of Thailand was an exclamation point at the end of a long dry highway. What a monumental moment! For an instant, I imagined this triumph was mine, and wound it about me like a sari. I let myself feel the excitement of at last arriving at the ocean after traversing Iraq and Iran and Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan and India and Tibet and Laos and Jordan and..Aaaaah! My movie soundtrack blasted as I took off running into the moonlit sea. My reverie crescendoed until I realized that red cowboy boots and ocean water were not a wise combination. So I switched to amused spectator and vicariously savored Juan's joy and he splashed pst me and spun around, exclaiming, "The water is so warm!" I was proud of him.

We filled our bellies with fried aquatic life under the moonlight. From a small TV in the fish shack we were mesmerized by the innane antics of Mr. Bean, folowed by a riveting presentaion of "The BeeGees Reunion Live From Las Vegas One Night Only!" Yup, life was just about perfect. Exhausted, we piled into the back of the pickup, ready to behave like cardboard boxes.

A little way up the road we were impeded by a commotion. We halted, and soon he motor was turned off. Other drivers queued behind us. Folks layed down their motorcycles and ran ahead to invesigate. Forsaking my stupor, I stood up in the back of the cab to have a look.
Precious little was revealed, so I appointed myself scout and jumped down to investigate.

It was a familiar scene, glimpsed so often in the movies that it is recognizable instantly. All the elements are present: Broken glass, scattered bits of motorcycles, red swirling lights, torn cloth, a mother crying inconsolably, propped up on each side by someone who was choking on their own staggering grief. Pools of blood reflecting headlights. Everything in slow motion, with a patina of dreaminess and silence over it.

First I saw the woman, moaning in the ditch Her legs were bent at all sorts of uncommon angles. Spiderwebs of sticky blood crept up her calves. A crowd was gathering to pull her out of the thicket, so I stepped out of the way.

Then I saw the man. He was so still, with his legs crossed as though he had just dozed off in front of the television. It seemed like there should be a remote control on his chest, slowly rising and falling with his breath. A polite circle of blood and gravel waited patiently under his knee, not wishing to offend anyone. Nobody went near the man.

Nit found me there. She presed her hands together by her ear and cocked her head, the universal sign for sleeping. "Sleep now forever." she said, and emitted a nervous giggle that instantly disintigrated in the sombernes of the moment.

I saw a single flip-flop on the road Cockeyed. Orphaned. It reminded me of a fish gasping on the deck of a boat, gills uelessly flapping, unblinking eye beseeching anyone at all for a merciful answer to the question: What now?

What now?

Why was it that lonely flip-flop that choked me up the most? Maybe because it was so banal. Probably an hour ago the "sleep now forever" man has slipped it on automatically, as he had countless thousands of times over the course of his life. Ony this had been the last time, without ceremony.
What now?

A man in an orange vest walked by and spray painted an white circle around the flip-flop. Evidence of the obvious. He shuffled on and circle blood and fiberglass shards.
What now?
People milled around, stretching for glimpes of tragedy. Someone wasn't paying attention and kicked the flip-flop out of its white circle.
What now?
It lay on the edge of the grass.
What now?
A man walked by, absently picked up the flip-flop and tossed it into the dark woods like an empty coke can, like skimming stones. And so it goes.

We were all pensive on the ride back to Nit's house. Perhaps we were privately viewing slideshows of our personal losses. Maybe we were imagining the unspeakable pain that would occur if those bodies belonged to our brothers, our moms, our boyfriends. Maybe we even ventured to contemplate the unimaginable - What if that was us? Why shouldn't it be us? In the back of that pick up, Death played Nice Eyes with us. He rested his icy fingers gently on our shoulders and whispered the reminder, "You won't always be a tourist, you know."

These were the thoughts we wrapped tightly around us as we fell asleep in the bunkbeds at Nit's that night. Well, these were the poetic comforters anyway. The literal bedding was a little more irreverant: Nit's home was a veritable warehouse of colorful childrens sheets. Juan slept on picnicking pandas and rainbows. I had a Garfield pillow, a red Manchester United blanket, and a bottom sheet that was run amok with catroon rabbits yeilding slingshots and repeatedly exclaiming, "I HATE DINGLEBERRIES!!"


The next morning I found myslef on a longtail boat, having my skin cured by a salty seaspray and dried into leather by the sun. Up ahead the islands of Burma undulated like a reclining dragon. I know a Burma that lived in my mother's stories. It was a place where she played with paper dolls and ate cucumber sandwiches by the swimmingpools that the British Empire had bequeathed. Her Burma ended with Japanese bomber planes and daring escapes across the oceans of a world at war. And here is her daughter, 65 years later, returning to Burma for the incredibly mundane task of renewing a tourist visa.

Burma. Myanmar. Still a land of miliary regimes. Pretty golden pagodas dotted the hills like scant sprinkles on a sundae. "Hey!" they insisted, "There is more to Burma than just Human Rights Violations!" There is a beautiful Burma that bites its lip and endures a militant present, in hopes of a future that offers little promise. I would like to know this Burma. Not today though. Today I am just here for a stamp in my passport that will allow me to carry on for another 30 days in the tourist play pen of Thailand. In a final attempt to invite you to its lighter side, Burma offers you a curiously named hotel, which juts up gloriously from the shacks around it and proclaims itslef: The Honey Bear Hotel. I almost want to stay...just because.

The Burmese immigration man was pot bellied and donned a small moustache of sweat pearls. He wore a stained tanktop that read "Cherry Pie." This bastion of high society refused to accept my US dollars because, if you look at them unde high power microscope you may possibly detect the whisper of the beginning of what could possibly one day grow into a 1/2 milimeter tear. I thought he was kidding.
"Oh come on!" I said. "These dollars are form New York!" I said, my ccent conveying cosmopolitan New York coolness that was utterly wasted on his Burmese ears. He was unmoved, flicking my Dollars like soiled toilet paper. "They are from NEW YORK!" I wanted to scream. "The Yankees! Times Square! Rudy Fucking Giulliani!!!" How dare he......The my inner hippy tackled my inner New Yorker to the ground with a bear hug and whispered "Let it go!" Reluctantly we negotiated a settlement that I could pay in Thai Baht, much to my financial detriment.

On the boatride back to Thailand I noticed a shape bobbing in the light brown water up ahead. As we approached I realized that it was a tragi-comic lavendar teddy bear with just its little felt snout peeking over the waterline. Having spent the first nine years of my life firmly conviced that stuffed animals have feelings, my heart went out to this poor guy. As we sped by I caught a glimps of its terrified plastic eye, which tore at my heart as it gurgled the final, terrible question: What now?
Oh teddybear! I wish I could tell you that you were headed to the wonderfu Honey Bear Hotel in the sky! Or maybe You will sink to the bottom of the sea, where you will be adored by generations of mermaid school girls in short skirts who get honked at by pervy mermaid busdrivers. This I hope. "Good Luck" was all i found to whisper to the sinking bear, convulsing in our wake.


We swept right through Thai Immigration like the breeze of a rotating fan. The jovial immigration guy sang "Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi" after seeing Aknes' French passport. He insisted that in the "Mode of Transportion" slot of my visa appliction, I write the word "SWIM". This amused him to no end.

Walking out with our fresh visa stamps glistening, we encounter rows and rows of what we can only guess were Burmese refugees. They were crouched together tightly, held in line with invisibe chains. They were waiting to be crammed into a cage on the back of a truck and transported who-knows where. The room was 10 degrees hotter ad I felt 10 kilos heavier. Guiltily my palm sweated around my blue passport, which allowed me to move forward in such effortless strides, when these folks were only allowed a downcast shuffle. Their expressions didnt chnge when they looked up at us, but the few eyes I dared to meet all asked the Question of the Day: What now?

A tinkling bell outside announced the arrival of the bicycling Ice Cream man. For an instant I busied myself calculating how much it would cost to buy each of these crouching refugees an Ice Cream cone. Damn. I didnt have enough, unless he would accept wrinkled New York Dollars. But I would have talked myself out of it anyway. It is just too obnoxious a gesture, however well intentioned. I felt like a silly American, thinking I could medicate their pain with fatty sugar snacks. It would be a melty mess.

Confronted with my shameful privelege and uselessness, I spiraled into uncomfortable self loathing. My skin felt like a North Face puffy jacked soaked in warm bacon grease. The cuffs of my pants smelled like aged seafood. I trudged forward with cinderblocks for shoes. It took me a while to hoist myself back up into my bubble snow globe spaceship, where I fiddled about with the controls until I found the one that propelled me forward with the naive denial that bad things could ever happen to me.
What next?
 

February 27th, 2007

sand and stars... @ 05:39 pm

Back form the beach...we went there with lofty ambitions which were all lazily half-attained...
I was going to get a golden tan like a buttermilk panckee....And for about a day and a half i was! But then the pernicious sun played a trick on me and my tan, if it can said to resemble any breakfast food, is rather more reminiscent of frosted flakes. I peck at the curling vestiges of my former tan like a famished hen. My tan flutters to the gound like a newly emerged moths...oh well.

But i did do yoga everyday! :( then i pulled a muscle. Whatever. I think That i am jsut not cut out for the hot beach weather...makes me feel like i am wearing a puffy North Face jacket saturated in bacon grease. My limbs atrophy and the rocking motion of the hammock is the closest I can simulate aerobic exercise.

It just isnt me. I dont like sand. salt water makes me itch. I never meant to go on vacation now. I want to TRAVEL!!! So, now i have freed myself from the islands fat mama embrace, and I am enduring my final moment of being a snob in Bangkok ....soon i shall big adieu to my loyal Juan and Aknes, and get on that plane to India.....

I should add though, that i had a very postcardy birthday....Juan led me across a beach of white powdered sugar sand and sat me on a tapestry cushion to gaze at the twilight aquamarine sea. Aknes came up from behind with a miraculously manifested chocolate cake, adorned with fresh pineapple and boganvilla flowers. Strangers sang happy birthday. I made some thoughtfu wishes. Nicole and Dao flopped down in the sand and we passed around some bottles and laughs. From the straw cabana, the soundtrack of paradise came on (which incidently, is the same soundtrac of many a frat party - Bob Marley Legend).....It was calm and pretty and very sigh inducing. I stetched out into starfish pose in the sand, and - wouldnt you know it - there were shooting stars...little happy birthday presents from the cosmos.
 

February 16th, 2007

Up the RIver! @ 05:57 pm

AY dios! QUe hago aqui?

Though I seem to have nothing flattering to say about Thailand (other than the food...mmmmm!) I find myself here STILL. arg!
For the second time in a week i went to the airport at 3AM with my bags packed and tickets to India in hand. I waited on line at air India, saying my farewells to Thailand and thinking of the one saving grave this place has offered - good friends. And then when i get to the front of the line my nostalgia for these friends has a shag with my fondness for being impulsive and gives birth to the defenselss little notion that I ought to stay a little longer.

So, here I am. I would prefer to be in almost any other country....but for the moment I am still enraptured by the poetry of Aknes' fun English, and then there is Juan....I call him my Giant Squid...this exotic traveller of the likes that you may never meet again. I don't want to say goodbye to him and have to leave it to fate to make our paths cross again on this huge planet. Better to embrace those in front of you rather than rushing off on planes to places where no one is there to greet you.

So tomorrow the three of us shall set off hitchhiking south towards Koh Pang nan. Once I get there i predict I will remember the fact that i dont actually like beaches that much (i know, that is weird. what sort of jackass would ever complain about having to spend time on a tropical island with crystal blue seas....).....Who knows.

Today I celebrated my return to Bangkok by going to visit the central prison. There are a lot of foreigners there serving harsh sentences for dopey crimes (usually drugs)....I went to just say hi and bring them chocolate and stuff. When i lived in Chiang mai years ago I made friends with an Australian serving a life sentence ( i liked him because he had a mohawk that seemed to scream in the face of his captors). I wanted to visit him again, but then I found out that (*Hooray!*) after like 15 years the King just gave him a pardon!! So he is back in Oz. (No wonder he hasnt answered letters as of lately!) I am thrilled for him, but nervous that life will never be easy after all he has gone through. I wish him the best. I will have to go back to the prison another day with someone else's name to visit, because today they wouldnt let me in....
 

February 14th, 2007

argentinidad - al palo! @ 03:49 pm

"La calle más larga,
el río más ancho,
las minas más lindas del mundo...
El dulce de leche,
el gran colectivo,
alpargatas, soda y alfajores..."

I love travelling with an Argentine. When drivers turn around and their seats and ask "Where you come from?" I let him answer. I only smile, allowing myself the guilty little pleasure of neglecting to state my nationality, thus savoring the teeniest drop of the sweet nectar it must be to be Agrentine. I am borrowing his accent too, y ahora SHO hablo casteSHano asi. Que voludo.

It must be so nice to be from a country that nobody hates. To have one foot in the first world so that you can hold your own in cosmopolitan discussions, but with the other foot firmly buried in the soil of struggle and hardship, so that you retain the noble dignity of the poor. Such a pleasing mix of pride and humility.

Everytime he says he is from Argentina, eyebrows raise and the "Oooh!" is followed by some pleasant sentiment or sideways jab about soccer. He is familiar and extic and fascinating and non offensive. It highlights my pasty americanness and embarrassing president. Y me da ganas de mudarme a Buenos aires y tomar SHerba mate....

I love walking down the road with him and singing la Bersuit songs to the point that i realize I have no frikkin idea what the hell they are about. Juan explains the lyrics and then i am THERE and i ache for dulce de leche...ay! I want to put on a powder blue camisa and go to a futbol match and sing ole ole ole!

While shooting the breeze on the streetcorner with an Italian, a sacred truth was uttered..."Argentina, Italia...no importa. Todos tenemos el mismo Dios.......Maradona."
 

February 9th, 2007

Microwave Directions @ 02:58 am

I am soaking up the pleasure of having met another hard core hitchhiker. We speak a common language of knowing glances and filled in blanks. I have all these marvelous, half forgetten crystals of journeys which break my heart because they are turning into dust in my pockets. And I know he has the same treasure chest of implausible sounds and staggaring colors of his journeys that blow away before he can hold onto them too. So, though I may never clearly envison his Afghanastan, and he can only vaguely imagine my Burkina Faso, there is just such a comfort that comes from knowing that you are with a person who understands that these lost moments exist and penetrate you heart and leave you changes, even if you will never find the right words to mold them into.

...if that makes sense....

Or, in other words...Juan from Argentina likes to hichhike too, so we decided to take a trip together.

Thailand seems to us, the arrogant road warriors, to be a play-pen for dreadlocked, full moon party tribal wander people. I quicky became itchy about the interface between foreigners and locals, and I hate looking in the mirror that it holds up to my face. We decided just to leave. To go somewhere without tourists. It seemed easy enough.

We jumped on the first red sangtaw (public transport) and let it take us anywhere. We were happy to put our fate in random happenstance. But the driver was confused and thought we were lost. He smiled a lot and we could tell he sort of wanted us to leave.

Not to worry! We jumped on the next sangtam. Off we go! After a few blocks the driver parked and walked back to us, sure we were lost. The idea that we didnt care where we went only served to convince him that we were lost. Again, we were given lots of smiles and ushers off the vehicle. No one would grasp the concept of *we will go anywhere*....Of course, or combined four words of Thai did little to help.

So we wlked to the edge of town, where the road promised to lead us out into more open pastures. After a bit of waiting a nice business man picked us up. he seemed to understand English, so we chatted over the formalities. He said he was going to a little village. Hooray! Perfect. We dont care what village, jsut take us away from the tourist ghetto.

Juan and a settled down and the back seat and weresoon yammering away in spanish, talking about things thousands of miles away. The scenery opened up and we congratulated ourselves for escaping Chiang Mai. SOmewhere during a story about hitchhiking in the argentine North, we looked out the window and it seemed strangely...urban. Hmm.

After about twenty minutes I realized - hey, i know that stone wall! Wait a minute! I thought we were leaving Chiang mai!

Apparently, our gracious driver became concerned with our lack of diretion, and took it upon hiself to drive embarrassingly far out of his way to ensure that we don't get lost. He dropped us off smack dab in the middle of the tourist street. We were back in the playpen. Help ! We want to get out!!!

***

The next day we had a map. Ipointed North, Juan pointed West, we both agreed that wedidnt care, as long as we got out of Chiang Mai. It was like escaping from an island shipwreck....After some walking we were picked up by a succession of friendly folks in pick up trucks. This is where the magic began. Ah! the joy of laying on my back on a dirty truck bed, squinting my eyes at the sun and the dust, watching fragments of Thai billboards whip by. Yes! I am coming back to life! A glance at Juan confirmed that he was right there with me. I knowhe has that same addiction to movement - the high that comes when you finally make it out of the city and the road oppens up and the car goes faster. Yay!

We wound up off the highway and into the hills. A cute nun picked us up and gave us oranges. She was from the Karen tribe, "Tabloo!" I said, and she and the driver perked up in smiles to hear a foreigner speak theri dialect. "You speak Karen?" the nun asked. Oh, how bably I wanted to impress her with some linguitic gymnastics. I had spent some tiem living in a little Karen village twelve years ago. I knew I had some shards of Karen lodged in my memory, taking up the place where somethingmore useful ought to be.....I thought really hard, and all I could remember to say in karen was "Yu gulay su tahala"...."i go to the bathroom"....Really frikkin useful!

The nun dropped us off at nightfall in some forgettable midsized town with a carnaval. We strolled around and ate cold noodles while watching cute schoolgirls spin around a little too fast in a neon ferriswheel (which was both a pleasingly innocent and lascivious sight)....We were pleased with ourselves that we managed to escape tourists...but wait, what was that up ahead? Oh no, dreadlocks!
SO, we werent the only foreigners in town, but at least our new companion was so suprememly beautiful that we were able to forget that we were trying to get away. Her name was Dagmar, from Holland. She is tall and stunning with supermodel beauty, though she doesnt give any indication of knowing how gorgeous she is. I liked her right away. She wasriding her bike thru the hills. The night before she had gotten lost in a national park and been taken in by a grumpy german elefant rider guy. She told us that there was a german girl at the elephant camp who had travelled last year in Africa. She had apparently bought herself a camel and ridden it to Niger. Juan and I perked up.....Did she have some connection to Kinga? We wondered, but it still remains a mystery.
We sat at a place with sticky tables and drank warm beer while listening to a local musician perform Eagles covers. On the TV was a riveting program about a precocious chimpanzee and his pet bulldog,and all the mischief they got into on their way to buy eggs. Man, chimpanzees in human clothes are never not cute! It was awful and I was enraptured.

***
So, Where to go next? We were up in the hills, with a spiderweb of roads reaching out from us. We glanced at the map. It all sounded the same. Ban Hae SOn, San ban Mae, Mae hong Son, Ban wat Chan.....these scattered speks across the map seemed insistinguishable from one another. But wait! What was that? Huh? Could it be? There was one town that stood out. Was it a mistake on the map? Right by the Burmese border was a little town called......Meo Microwave! ??Microwave?? Juan and I looked at each other, and in an instant of silent sommunication, it was understood that we had found our destination.
To Microwave!
What mysteries might it hold? I just LOVE that i am travelling with someone who will so automaticly pursue something so absurd. We never even had to discuss it.
We twisted thru the mountain roads and ate dusty rice cakes as we ticked off the kilometers to our destination. Hitching in the back of pick ups is one of my life's greatest pleasures. As the sun hung low in the sky, we made it back to the paved road which hugged the burmese border. As we walked down the highway, a pickup slowed down. A giant Blue eyed monk contorted himself to get a better look at us. At first I though he was german, and that he was going to tell us that we were stupid. Instead he was disarmingly pleasant and said, "The joy of travelling without plans is that you get so many great surprises! Every one happens for a reason. Come, you will stay with me!"

So this was Udi. He took us to a meditation center. Turns out he was Israeli, and had been living as a monk in thailand for 6 years. He was oversized and loveable, shrouded in layers of monky sapphron. He reminded me of the Lion from the Wizard of Oz. He had a tremendous spirit. But We couldnt shake the feeling that, well, he was an odd choice for a monk. The guy Loved to talk. And talk and talk. In big gestures and polished sentiments. Udi didnt seem to care about the penetrating quality of his voice and how it might affect the wispy meditators seekeing inner peace all around us. He jsut chattered away. He really was a marvelous host, that it shames me to think anything even vaguely disparaging about him. Im jsut saying that, if it werent for the outsit, you would never think this guy was a monk I think that is what i like about him. He was super gung ho about meditating though. I got the sense that he took us home because he really wanted to change our lives and help us discover the joys of meditation. He is salivating for converts.
I Looked at the perfect postured swiss meditator, shrouded in a poetic swath of fabric, silently inhaling and exhaling with his eyes closed. He never said hello to us the whole time we were at the meditation center. I came to think of him as Siddharta. I am impressed by his poise and dedication, But it isnt inviting to me. God, i dont want to sit still! I a so overwhelmed with life that each limb wants to dance salsa, samba, mosh and ballet separately. How could I possibly sit still like that?
Siddharta meditated all night, until a tiny alarmclock went off. "oop! Enlgihtenment has been achieved!" Juan whispered wickedly at me. I am glad that J and I have the same take on this. We respect it, but dont relate. The next morning, after we ate some more of their food but failed to actually sit on a mat and meditate....we set off again. Udi seems disappointed in us. He stopped paying attention to us, so we just walked away as he and Siddharta had a riviting conversation:
"See this table This table contains the whole cosmos."
"Is the table air? Or is Air the Table".....
A sideways smirked confirmed that Juan and I would have a good chuckle at their expense once we were out of earshot. We love them for who they are, and we are glad not to be them. We were not seeking oneness afterall, we were seeking MICROWAVE....and it was only 72km away!

A really cute woman in a little hatchback picked us up. We listened to bubblegum pop music and sped so recklessly thru the curves that we got tummy aches. I enjoyed the soundtrack. I was really feeling it when "Eternal Flame" came on ....."i dont want to lose the feeeeeeeeeeeeling, ooooooooooooh!" and then, BAM! We saw the turn off for Microwave.
After taking some celebratory pixs under the sign, we resigned ourselved to walking the final 10 up a winding hill. Luckily, a pick up truck full of Hong stopped and let us climb in back. They didnt return our smiles or say hi or anything. ....
e gads!
just saw the time...gotta go...
the mysteries of what we found in mircowave will have to wait for another time!
k
 

travelingkat