Well how about that pretty little picture in the lobby of the last Bolivian restaurant I will eat in on this trip, and I promised myself I wouldn't dwell on this shit. Read back to my blog in week 4 people, if you have the patience. It's all there, black and white in size 12 Times New Roman; “don't waste that time being sad guys, we're leaving, but that's just what happens.” So where did it all change?
Well fuqking derr... it changed when it was me that was leaving Bolivia. My trip coming to an end, of course it's sadder for me now... maybe? Fhuq this I honestly have no idea how to think or feel right now, and am trying to take a step back to view this.
Normally, in a piece of writing, a convenient and persuasive way to make a point is to throw all the other obvious alternatives out on the floor before shovelling out the idea that I, the writer, had been holding on to all along. “Well of course, these other alternatives may seem fine at first glance, but lo! Consider my final, most valid point of all... HERE!” I normally fall back on that shit like a cripple's hobbledy walking stick, and it often serves pretty well as a tool for evading meaningful discourse as well... for example. “Maybe what has changed here is the people around me, or maybe my first assumptions about human feeling were flawed.. or maybe, just maybe I have learned a little on this trip, and have grown spiritually as a person and with all the knowledge”.... jesus I think I just threw up on my shoes.
can we do something about that?
No... I can't fall back on that kind of rhetorical 'coming of age' banter now because it's all so obvious and it all makes so much sense and for fuqc's sake... the whole point right now is I honestly have no idea what's going on. I have no idea how to feel about this. How am I supposed to feel about the fact that my trip, my stay, my holiday, my four months on strange, foreign shores, will come to an end in less than an already meagre-sounding 36 hours? How am I supposed to say goodbye to yet another group of people who I've shared the last few hours, or the last few months with? And in the same sentence. How am I going to work out the time in between now and when I get off that plane in Adelaide and the real world finally seems real again?
As I sit here in the purple shirt that Melanie bought me for Christmas this year, just having taken another brutally unkind trip to the toilet and listening to the spitting of Bolivian rain on the tiles outside my door, there are more questions now than there were four months ago. In my first blog all I had to write about was taking my camera out on the bike I had just bought and taking photos around the city... well what now? What have I learned?
Ohhhhh who knows... ! The last few weeks have felt like a time lapse, with nothing moving forward and the days, hours and minutes standing still. The hour of my departure doesn't seem to be getting any closer, but I know from the clock in the corner of my eye that it looms ready, just around the corner. I don't have anything left to do.
This is not my last entry. I'll let you guys know when I have the stones to make that admission on here. Also, as a sidenote; swear words are mispelled to flaunt moderators' filters... I assume that's what their objection was to my last entry... cheers guys.
What constitutes selfishness? The desire for every scenario to turn out completely in one's favour? Surely not, call me selfish but I'm pretty steadfast in my hope that everything in my life is going to be chill, from now, until forever without exception... no no, selfishness must be a much more fiendish attribute to deserve it's terrible reputation. Maybe selfishness is the willingness to act upon that desire, which I'm sure we all possess? To be willing and ready to act upon it to the detriment of others around you... that seems to be a pretty fair definition of selfishness right? The guy at the supermarket who stands in the express line with 13 items, the piece of shit who pushes past you to get out of the train first, the fat fuck standing with his armpits in your face on the commute to work... all pretty straightforward examples of selfish behaviours, exhibited by the stupid pieces of shit that we, as humans, are forced into contact with every day. How about another?
On Monday I painfully ripped myself away from my velcro bed at probably something like 9am and headed off to the inter-city bus station to do some price matching on tickets for my upcoming trip to Chile. Nice day, sun, 9am traffic, plenty of buses going my way and things were cruisy. My trip was cut short about fifteen minutes in when I realised with a jolt that fifteen minutes had gone by and I was still stuck in gridlock; “this trip normally takes five or ten at most.” Thoughts of a doomed morning. Turns out there was a road block a few streets up and no one was looking like moving today.
One thing about Bolivia folks, is that it's not a place where predictions should be thrown around willy nilly. In the immortal words of Cypress Hill, “when the shit goes down, you better be ready” - wiser words are seldom spoken. When the shit goes down in Bolivia, and go down it frequently does, I've learnt that the best response is to just tread around the edges and go about my dailies in the least intrusive way possible; stay away from the shit, and it generally goes away. So I got out of my bus and walked the last kilometre or so to the terminal where I jotted some prices and, of course, couldn't buy them because I'd left my passport and money at home like the prepared, forward thinking individual that I am. Tomorrow would, I assumed, be another day though, and tomorrow, discounting an especially devious planetary alignment, there would be no road blocks.
Just to explain, people in Bolivia think of civil disobedience in their sleepy Castellano minds they don't think of organised strikes, unionism and peaceful protest; they think of dragging stones from the sidewalk and dropping them in the middle of the streets. They think of fireworks and small, colourful explosives and blocking traffic and disrupting city life and maybe hurting a few people in a small scale riot. I guess it's not their fault, that's just what the score is over here so who am I to judge?
The protesters, whatever they were protesting, (I think heard TIPNIS so most probably environmental issues, for those of you playing at home) were exercising their rights to free speech and association in their country to voice their opinions against government action... cool. Do what you want guys but maybe don't block the fucking roads downtown in the middle of the day... right? The selfish pigs! Well maybe not, when it comes to options for legitimate political action in this and other patchwork states, these guys have about sweet F.A. at their disposal. Giving up one or two days' convenient transport to the centres of activity and resigning oneself to a disgustingly healthy walk doesn't seem such a bad option when your country is staring down the barrel of an environmental face-fucking. They don't want the rainforest to be bulldozed to make way for cocoa plantations, I can settle with that.
Well I could on the first day, but day two opened up much the same as day one did, only I was approaching the terminal by private taxi this time in a feeble attempt to dodge traffic on the main routes. The journey actually took longer this time, although my hope was that the blockade had been thinned out a little on the second day. (every other time this has happened since I've been here there hasn't even been a day two) No such luck Tugzy, the protesters were sat in the same spots as they had been the day before, protesting the same things, and making my brain short the same fuses in exasperated rage. “Hijo de puta! Can't they just like picket from the sidewalks or like petition their local member of government or something, this would never happen in my country.” Well that's just the point I guess, this isn't my country. This is Bolivia, where the free run wild. Sadly, in countries like this the only options for protest open to the population are disruptive and near-violent. The government has chosen to openly disregard the voice of the stifled masses on issue after issue for so long that it has become the norm. These people know that the only way to get anything done around here is to fuck with someone's shit, maybe they weren't aiming for me specifically, but the people like me, the people who are liable to get really pissed off by stuff like this, they are the people who make the decisions around here. The privileged.
I, for one, am just happy that I live in a developed, western democratic nation. A nation where we have the full right to vote for a wide range of political candidates and parties who hold legitimately differing views with varying degrees of centrality or extremity and the population is not only enabled, but willing to engage itself in the political... wait a... uuuuh?
Ok... I got to the station and bought my tickets for Chile, as was mission on the second day, after having price checked the first day and gone home for a day's rest before retrieving my passport and... well something makes me think that the ordeal was a little unnecessary but HEY! it got me out of the house. How about those damn protesters though, am I right? Couldn't they be content with a nice, non-disruptive, peaceful protest like in the civilised nations of the west? Why be so welfish as to fuck with my shit just because you're pissed off about something? It's not my fault.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of the complacent and apathetic attitude that has infected our once proud western democracies. Standardised cigarette packaging? A national internet filter? A 'man' who openly denies two decades of scientific consensus about climate change could very possibly be our next Prime Minister and the majority of us, we, the young, energised generation don't give a FUCK. Across the sea SOPA, PIPA and all manner of other deliberately indecipherable acronyms threaten to destroy our personal liberties on a global scale and it takes Wikipedia thrusting a banner of warning in the English-speaking world's face for anyone to fucking notice... Maybe we could learn something valuable from these Bolivians?
It really messed with me to have some of the most important roads in the city rendered useless by blockades for two days; I have never seen anything like that be allowed to occur in my life. The flash of rage that I felt when I walked past their primitive road block was just that; a flash. A quick, selfish reaction to the situation at hand – “I don't want to walk to the bus stop! Why should I have to there is a perfectly good road there, SCREW THESE PEOPLE!” Just temporary, but a sign of the sense of entitlement that our self-centred society has instilled in my brain. Those road blocks were obviously necessary and got my attention for sure, as well as the attention of basically any of the one million inhabitants of Cochabamba who left their houses on the 17th or 18th of January 2012. For our system of government at home to continue to function in anything close to the way that we believe it should be – the population's interests being fairly represented by our elected politicians – maybe we need to mobilise like the native Bolivians did a few days ago. Things may get worse before they get better, but at least we can be sure that if voices are being heard, then things are going to get better – right now, no one is listening. No one gives a fuck about your 'peace march' or 'freedom rally' or three guys with megaphones standing in front of a statue shouting slogans; people only care about shit that affects THEM, personally. That's the situation we have created for ourselves, now we have to deal with it.
Either that or we will continue down this apathetic slide into default totalitarianism while our heads hum with anti-depressants and we all stare at eachother mildly, droning, “well at least we still have our... the... all the stuff that we have in... over here and stuff.”
Take the drugs, drink the stuff, eat the magic powder. Get back to work.
Look forward to it guys.
So there are six days left in this year and what promises to be the hardest year in memory is fast approaching, there are a few things that I'm kind of scared/excited about next year and so rather than just list them out like a faggy little diary entry here, I'm going to keep with the running theme of this blog, and talk shit.
I started deciding (read: began to admit to myself) around a month ago that if I was going to make the progress and produce the output that I want to I'm going to have to cut back on the drinking. Drinking turns watching lawn bowls into an extreme sport, it makes an awkward conversation with a half-introduced stranger seem like the most hilarious night out you've ever had and it is better value and less effort than 6 months of dancing lessons with Michael Jackson, but it kills drive and saps energy like a beautiful, succulent, thrice distilled and ten years aged... ok I think I've made my point. I decided that in 2012 I'm going to be drinking only 52 days. For those fucks amongst you that decided to get pedantic and ask what counts as drinking and when a day is defined as and how long I'm allowed to go before I can give up and sink back into a gutter in a happy, giggling stupor; here it is.
A 'day' for the purposes of this endeavour will be defined as the period between the middays of two consecutive days. This is to allow for ample opportunity to go out drinking while equally disallowing the prospect of prolonged Friday, Saturday or Sunday seshes that kill the first half of the next week.
A day of drinking will be defined as any day where an alcoholic beverage is consumed, be it one cruiser, or two goon sacks. This will most probably give rise to situations where I won't want to drink any amount of alcohol (the intention really)but then when I do drink, I'll see it as a waste of a day (and money) if I don't get drunk... I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
The bet (I guess I'll call it a bet now) will last all year and will be binding for the whole year because of... ok, here's the kicker (sorry mum)... the tattoo
I intend on getting a tattoo on my right thigh just above where average length shorts would sit so that it will be hidden in most situations, this tattoo will state, clearly and in bold, plain lettering, the main parameter of this bet. Namely, it will say '52 DAYS'. This is so that I can't wail out on the deal I've made with myself without incurring a serious damage to myself – if I bail I'll have a permanent reminder of it and people – only people who see me in really short shorts I guess – will forever be asking me what the tattoo means. I'm not really prepared at this point to be explaining to a lifetime of strangers that the tattoo represents a bet I made with myself when I was 20 that, incidentally, I failed, because I'm a pussy ass piece of shit that can't even limit his alcohol intake for 52 lousy weeks; here, take this dignity 'New Friend A', I think I'm finished with it.
By the way, for those of you playing at home, I will gladly be taking any bets on this if anyone wants to play. That would actually make this so much more interesting so please, if you have a little extra coin lying around and feel like putting it up against your old boy Tugzy, now is the time retards.
So that's it, that's my big plan for the new year. I know there will probably be some that will protest and scream and cry and throw glass due to the fact that this post, being as it is on the Projects Abroad Blog, should have something to do with Bolivia and Projects Abroad and volunteering and shit like that, so here you go:
Last week was fun. I finished my placement last week. It was fun. Today is Christmas. Yesterday we ate food. Tomorrow I am going to the Salar. I hope it will be fun. Sometimes in Bolivia there are too many dogs. Thanks for reading my things.
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