01 June 2006

The Final Chapter: Re-entry Burn

This is long overdue, I realize. Please forgive. Even longer overdue are
all the people that I am supposed to have already e-mailed back, but
haven’t and to you I say: moving is hard. When moving, you generally
have neither anything good to say nor a computer with which to say it.
But all that is a changin’ my friends. There are jobs a plenty, meager
paychecks, no healthcare and a wicked new apartment here in the capital
of the great Satan. I mean the USA, home of the free*.

(*Freedom may not apply to all citizens, including but not limited to
citizens who do not agree with the present government, citizens and
non-citizens who are not white Christians, and citizens who want to
marry the wrong people. Can’t let that happen. Could ruin the noocualur
family. Don’t worry now, noooooooo body’s recording anything, now could
you speak up a bit? These mics aren’t quite as sensitive as we might like.)

But again, digression. My favorite –ion. I can’t remember exactly where
we left off before, but here’s the speed recap: Bolivia. High. Cold. I didn't write because I couldn't breathe. A chapter from my journal:

“Went to a Manu Chao concert here and I
loved it- great atmosphere, drinks a-go-go, listening to awesome music
under the stars. I will say, after Argentina and 11 months of
travelling.... Bolivia is turning out to be like an ugly boyfriend:
you want to love them, but something isn't quite right and so you
can't. I want to love this high, beautiful place, but they have no
food, so I can't. Maybe I am shallow... so I'm shallow. What ever.
I loved India, and that took a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance.
I can't be expected to love everything. We went to the salt flats in
a jeep, and then continued south to the geysers, thermal baths and all
the crazy flamencos. If I was a flamenco I would stay where I
belonged: in a bar sipping gin and tonics in Florida. It was cool,
but again: wow, there is a shit load of high-altitude nothing up here.
I will be happy to return to a lower level where there are such
things as oxygen and food.

We are spending a couple days in La Paz. Tomorrow it's bookstore
crazy time: I have been without reading material for at least a week,
and this much stop. I mean the Bolivian newspaper is interesting and
all, but come on people: strike, protest, advertisement for bmws.
That's all that's in there. It was cool to be here yesterday to watch
Michele Bachilet assume the presidency of Chile on TV: the first woman
president elected in South America. Her accendancy speech was
awesome! I wish she was my president.” End Bolivia, Full Stop.

Went from Bolivia to
Peru, went to see Macchu Picchu which looks exactly like you think it
will but is still worth going to see because seriously: what were the
Incas thinking? Let’s build a holiday camp at the top of the world? Then
to Lima, where we ate a lot of ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice
and spices- delicious) and went to visit catacombs of dead monks (the
catholic church is really morbid. Shall we bury monks for their eternal
rest? No, let’s make designs out of their bones in the basement of the
church.). From there, we flew to Mexico City, where Josh and I
immediately grabbed a night bus to Acapulco. Mexico was expensive, but
Mexico was worth it. I am probably the only person to ever utter that
phrase “Mexico was expensive.” But after Bolivia, I suppose everything
seems expensive. It was completely awesome though- we spend four days at
the beach in Acapulco, then spent 10 days with Josh’s dad and step-mom,
basically eating our way across Mexico. Argentina has good food, but the
rest of the countries sort of lost the plot when it came to
deliciousness. But in Mexico, it was tacos and enchiladas as far as the
eye could see. Josh’s family was a delight to travel with, fully seeming
to enjoy when a rat crawled into their luggage and ants attacked the
bathroom. But it was time for the trip to end. For one, we had been
traveling for a year straight. And two, we ran out of money. It’s
surprising how easy the decision to quit traveling is when you are no
longer the idle rich.

We crossed the border into the US on Good Friday with a frightening
minimum of official oversight. I realize that Brownsville TX is one of
the largest border crossings in the world, but I do expect that some one
at least LOOK at my passport. Everyone seemed much more interested by
how many bottles of liquor I was carrying than if I had any explosives,
nuclear fuel rods or missile guidance systems wrapped up in my dirty
underwear. And just for good measure, I asked Josh to marry me standing there on that dirty bridge above a dirty river. Cause if someone says yes there, then they mean it.

We navigated Brownsville’s downtown, looking for the bus stop
that would take us to the Red Roof Inn, our abode for the afternoon as
we awaited the arrival of my brother and sister-in-law. Everything
seemed eerily clean and organized- and it was. The bus was not a broken
down travesty of transport, but rather an air conditioned chariot with
clean glass windows and automatic doors. The hotel, which Les and Kendra
kept apologizing for, was a miracle of comforts: real beds, fresh sheets
with extra pillows, so many cable channels on the color tv, air con and
a bathroom that I am sure we could have eaten in if we had desired. We
were back, this was normal, and it was all too much. So, we got some
beers and drank them. Victory.

Josh and I spent two weeks with Les and Kendra in College Station, and
it was awesome. I played with their dog, Abbey, mowed their lawn,
entertained myself using both the washing machine AND drier (and all my
clothes immediately shrank, not having been touched by a hot dryer since
Christmas), drank a lot of my brother’s homebrew, read the newspaper IN
ENGLISH, EVERYDAY, realized I know almost none of the music now on the
radio, marveled at the Texan-invention-that-could-change-the-world: the
drive through BAR (that’s right… the mixed drinks are sealed with a
piece of tape so you legally don’t have an open container of alcohol),
and went to the supermarket at least twice a day. It was a great time.
Then we drove home to visit my parents and pick up both our boxes of
stuff and the General Sherman, our truck. Remember how the General Lee
was a kick-ass car named after a famous southern civil-war general?
Well, Sherman was a northern general who burned Georgia to the ground,
and that’s what our truck is trying to do still: burn our stuff to the
ground. It needed some repairs, which we did ourselves (possibly the
reason it is so prone to breaking), and then on the way across the
country it broke itself four times. That’s right. Since we have arrived
here, zero break downs.

Leaving Kansas in the General Sherman, we drove through Iowa, a state
devoid of things to see to such a degree that we stopped to see the
famed “Bridges of Madison County”. According to the book, the bridges
seem to be a get-out-of-jail card for adultery, as long as you are doing
it to “make room in your heart to dance again”. Yes, that’s an actual
quote. Not finding room in my heart to dance again, we drove on across
Iowa. Basically this day repeated itself as we drove first to Chicago,
then London, Ontario, then to Picton, then to Ottawa. Yes, Virginia, I
realize that is not a straight line. But we had people to see. And
really, who can skip CANADA?? We ate Poutine (that’s fries covered with
gravy and cheese curds, and I will cut the man that says it is not
delicious), shopped at the Beer Store for many delicious Canadian brews,
ate Beaver Tails (we’ll leave that one alone), laughed at people
speaking French on purpose, and by the time we left, were thoroughly
convinced that Canadians are nicer and kinder and better than us in
everyway. And they have a flag that is way easier to draw. We left with
good times in the heart, duty free bounty in the truck, and a can of
Timmy Hortons coffee. If you haven’t been to Canada, you should go, just
for the shock of their crazy colored money.

The lessons of this trip can be summarized as follows:

1. America is very big. The middle part, while kind of boring, is funny.
2. Gas is now expenisve.

  1. Americans talk too much. Some people call it friendly. But friendly would be to not explain your erectile disfunction as I pump gasoline.

And now I live here. And sometimes it scares the crap out of me. But now we have an apartment, so everyone come stay. Seriously, what are you doing friday?

Much love,