Shelve your inner bastard


Whilst I enjoy ripping to shreds the ridiculous spectacle of the white man/woman out of their element, it does tend to take the edge off my own personal enrichment process. It’s hard to truly savour the miracle of a butterfly the colour of God herself fluttering innocently around your head when you’re simultaneously pointing and laughing at it, and everyone else, with your mind. Simply put, it’s easy to be a cock. Harder perhaps, is to actually open up to the flood of new images, characters and smells that batter your senses from dusk till dawn and, for a moment at least, try to shelve the inner bastard. So, in an attempt to get this rainbow-shaped ball rolling, and more as a form of personal therapy than an entertaining piece for anyone else (see, still a bastard), I’m going to pour out whatever comes to mind from my travels thus far, stripped of cynicism, comment or critique. Well, maybe. Let’s see how it goes.

Seeing an electrocuted holwer monkey being unceremoniously squashed into a top-loading freezer in Nicaragua.

In Guatemala, having a mayan sauna with a woman and being unsure of dress code. I went for naked. She didn’t. That was slightly awkward.

A tall, slippery, smiling, serpentine hostel-owner offering me a massage while kneading my arm without permission, in the kitchen of his hostel. Utterly unsold, I declined (he was gay and was looking at me funny). A few days later he told me there was no more room at the inn, which I subsequently discovered to be false.

Arriving to a surf hostel after a disgusting 9 hour solo trip through dust and crotchal humidity to be told that there were stingrays in the water and did I want some complimentary iced tea.

Laughing like a madman in a Costa-Rican shower when the water turned from cold, to warm, to hot. Staying in the shower making strange noises for quite a long time.

Psychologically unstable macaws screeching louder than a space shuttle take-off a few feet from my face every time I entered the ‘relaxing’ last third of my yoga routine. Wanting to break open their cage and wring their necks and maybe bite their beaks off too. Understanding that this wasn’t very ‘yoga’ of me.

Spending midnight at New Year alone, on a small platform on a tree overlooking the magical Lake Atitlan, whilst fireworks bloomed above every village on the lakeside. Trying to capture it with my iphone and failing epically.

Watching a tiny cut on my foot become infected and bore downwards with unstoppable fury, as I popped antibiotic after antibiotic, and continually bathed it in hot, stinging salt water. Thinking that the ants and geckos were nibbling into it as I slept.

The soft-as-putty rolls of Guatemelan chocolate that I couldn’t stop buying from giggling little salesgirls who scurried through the jungle paths of San Marcos.

Finding the precious first few hexagons of a bee hive in the watch-tower of what used to be a Nicaraguan torture prison. Thinking that human evil always yields to the forces of nature in time.

Retreating below deck on the rocky ferry crossing to Omotepe, to discover a soothing movie about a dog-turned zombie dog terrorising a mother and child stuck in their car. Every time she opened the car door to get to safety, there he was, all slobber and bloody, matted coat. Even when she was mauling her, I couldn’t be scared because it was a St.Bernard and they’re just cuddly oafs of dogs.

A mid-fifties American woman who limpeted onto me for too many days. Every few seconds, she would clear her throat like a Chinese man, but didn’t spit. Absolutely vile, that was.

Getting stuck in a pattern of eating cold snickers cut into small chunks every day at the Spanish School. Devising a plan for a ‘yoga and snickers’ school in the vicinity. The snickers would be placed in a clear refrigerator in clear sight of the practicing yogis, in a modern-day carrot-and-stick tactic to spur them onto yoga greatness. Deciding to come back to that idea another time.

Getting over my aversion to ‘poor-people’ food. In a little village outside of Antigua, I dove into a bargain-basement ceviche of snail, crab stick and tiny prawn and didn’t get Cholera, just a smile and an un-gurgly tummy.

Another American, this time a 60-something man who had spent half of his life walking alone in the Canadian Rockies, telling me that one time, he had a clear choice to pass through a portal in the roof of his treehouse to another dimension. After I sampled the delights of his ‘volcano’ vaporiser, I understood better his convictions.

Sitting very still in Leon, Nicaragua, and focussing every ounce of my non-existent reiki power over a convulsing, wretched, antibiotic-tortured tummy. After 6 days of it, giving serious thought to flying home to soft sheets, warm showers and sympathy. And doctors.

Trying to browse expensive North Face gear whilst a boy with a shotgun eyed me suspiciously. Knowing that he was the ‘security guard’ not making me feel secure, and scurrying out thinking that Central America was mental.

Watching a stout young chap with lightning quick hands creating a hammock while his boss told us that these hammocks were the best in the world, but the employees suffered from arthritis at a very young age.

Weaving through a dusty ‘pavement’ carpeted with fallen mangoes on an extremely rickety mountain bike in the shadows of 2 volcanoes on Ometepe.

Eating a life-changing crepe filled with molten, sweet banana on Omotepe, then stealing a book from their bookswap to use as a cushion on the following day’s hot and sticky bus-rides to the Costa Rican border. It’s all about creating a gap between your bum and the seat; some room for the air to circulate. Fail to do this at your peril.

Not wanting to leave Panama City after consuming perfect steak in an ice-cold, city-sized mall, a cup of prawn ceviche in the sweltering, stinking fish port and a thor-strength Cuba libre in the old town. But knowing that’s exactly when to leave.

Gazing out at wide-winged, gliding seabirds skimming the Guatemalan waves and thinking that they were from another dimension. Realising that this realisation was probably due to heat exhaustion from my disgusting 9 hour trip.