Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sucre (5): March of Mayo Malo

I have a severe case of exotophilia, i.e. a love of the exotic, and it goes so far as a love for that fancy French food such as mayonnaise on a cheese bun. Every illicit love has a price. In my case, like other loves, fluttery stomach, inability to concentrate on other things, remorse, and so on. I've been sick due to this love of the exotic. On the other hand, it should have had the benefit of losing me a bit of weight, which would have been welcome. But I don't seem to be dropping any pounds at all, strange as that is. I'm the same waddling porker today I was last week. I'm just a sick porker today. No loss, no gain. And no wiser, either, in that I am certain that I will continue my diet of exotic foods soon enough. I'm tied to the men's room, a short leash, and an unrequited love holding me in thrall. I can't let go. I sit in the courtyard of my hotel and wait for the pains to send me off, like a young man waiting for his lady-love to appear at the balcony. Oh, mayo; oh love.

[My office in Sucre, Bolivia.]

This sitting has given me a chance to meet others I might not have encountered had my waist been more in line with my mind, lean and hungry, I like to think. But now I have had the chance to look at and think about a young American lad here, a recluse, who at our first meeting told me he doesn't like to talk to people, who turned his back on me in the communal kitchen, and stared at the cupboard till I left the room. I got the point after he began clenching his fists as I told him I know exactly how he feels, I too needing some solitude and ....

[Motorcycle blues next to police station.]

I'm liking Sucre, Bolivia quite a lot, at least from my brief encounter with it so far. It is what some call a “conservative” city, one at odds with the ruling clique of politicians today, the latter being allied with Castro and the dictator in Venezuela, Chavez. The local petty dictator, Morales, holds power in La Paz, a huge city and his power base. Here in the smaller city, the people are on the political outs for the time being.

[Not all are political: Some like to drink.]

It is a dialectic of the highschool sort, the significance being only more important in that it involves money rather than getting laid. Business, and the quality of life, depends on political favour, which without, one is doomed to sit on the sidelines while the popular get to dance. Them that's got shall get, and the getting is got from the political leaders of the day. One must suck up to the incrowd or sit it out. To me on the road it's not particularly important who rules and who sulks. I have my pack and a bit of money to make my own life as I can. For me it is freedom. Those next to me, richer or no, have less, though we share the same place. Their situation can change in an instant, but mine will remain the same. I am outside it all. For others, this is the serious stuff of life that will not change much ever. Tomorrow I will be gone, leaving all this far behind me. It ain't my life.

[Sucre Lovers]

I was mulling it over when, a few hours later, the American came into the courtyard to apologise for his abrupt behaviour toward me. Saying that if he had only known that I am Don Pedro, owner of the establishment, famous throughout the city, powerful and rich, he would have been more polite. He was sorry. That had me stumped. I told him I am not the owner at all, merely a regular guy traveling and moving on soon. He stared at me, smoking a couple of cigarettes that burnt like a forest fire. He turned away in silent disgust and left the courtyard.

[Even cops have friends in Sucre.]

I saw the American a day later, he telling me he's been on the road for a year, much of it back home, and that he was homeless, living in his car, unemployed, rootless. I said that we travelers are all homeless unless we have some permanent address to return to. He abruptly told me not to talk to him again. Though we had been speaking English, the locals were listening in and at the sound of his abrupt dismissal of me, they turned and wondered what I had said that was so offensive. I went to the bathroom.

[Caution: Retards Crossing.]

My stomach problem will run its course in a day or so, and from there I will move on to other ailments and delights, maybe to some other exotic experience such as, like the last memorable, eating gerbils baked in mud. The gut ache will pass and I too will move on. I'll leave the Bolivianos to their political bickering. The American, though, is a different story. I will leave him too, but not without concern. He is, for me, home. He is mine. We are one. I want to tell him to go back home, to find some help for what is, to my mind, his bi-polar disorder, known to me as manic depression, a serious mental illness. For him it's a permanent state that he cannot escape from by being in South America. He'll be sick for life regardless of where. I leave my mayo miseries behind me, and do so with hope. I seek out the exotic, and sometimes, knowing in advance, it makes me sick. I seem to be incapable of letting it go. Tomorrow, some other strange illness and slight regret that I indulged.


truepeers said...

Sounds like the kid met his match, and you were too cheerful.

If you want to lose weight, take the mayo and cheese and lose the bread; lose all the baked goods/high carb wheat products and eat fruits, veg, nuts, seeds, meat, cheese, eggs. The sugar rush from the carbs quickly turns into stored fat, while fatty foods actually shut down the body's own production of fats. The conventional widsom of the "healthy" low fat/high carb diet is being turned on its head by the new understandings that support the "hunter/gatherer" diet. If the pain in your body is also partly caused by inflammation/arthritis, losing the wheat may also help that because the inflammation can be caused by the insulin that is pumped out in response to the sugar rush in your blood. Our bodies turn wheat into sugar more efficiently than any other carb. That's why it's addictive, but easier to quit than cigarettes.

Dag said...

I have3 the look and feel of a new man these days: in the past three and a half months of living in South America, changing my diet and getting some exercise, I am now, having just stepped off a blind man´s sidewalk scale, down from my previous disgusting high of about 230 pounds to a still outrageous 180. It´s the final 20 pounds that hurts. At 230 I was beyond caring. Now, with a hard goal in sight I am obsessing.

My diet is way better here than in Canada. I go for fruit-milk mix like it´s the last mango in Paris. Costs me about 50 cents for a pint. In Spanish the word is, I think, Cielo. Heaven.

On the down side, the general diet here is deep-fried everything, pork, chicken, potatoes, bananas, et c. And there is rice with fries. I go for the fruit, vegetables not being too popular here. But mostly it´s a matter of sunlight and activity that´s allowed me to drop a lot of pounds. I walk, now that the bronchitis has lessened and the air is fuller, like a young man. I no longer have to stop and forcibly draw in breath. I was living in a condition not too different from Lhasa, Tibet. Now much is far better, and the final 20 pounds will drop as I continue living a better life here.

Bread is common enough in Latin America, though not so much as America proper. Most of my weight problem is solving itself daily, though that final 20 pounds, because I know better than to have it, is preying on me. Almost there. It´s very good to walk around now feeling human rather than like a slave under the whip of obesity.

truepeers said...

Good on ya. I will race you to the finish; i want to lose another ten to fifteen! I'd be happy with a muscular 165 and I think I'm a little shorter than you.

Dag said...

I sometimes let myself go when I get involved in a project, such as writing a long book, and I find myself eating junk food to keep up my spirits. But the weight depresses me. I then have to go to great extremes to lose it. When I do, I feel again, even at my age, like Superman. Everything is far better in my life.

I´ve been thinking of the loss so many young men today suffer, which is, to me, the unfamiliarity with athlectics coaches. The very idea of some old guy yelling at a young man, pushing him, scolding, berating and demanding, the obvious off-putting things a football coach does, are all that´s likely obvious to a young man today, and not something most would willingly endure for the sake of excellence later. Pushing oneself, achieving, earning through struggle and competion, learning through hardship and failure, all the things a good coach can lead a young man through, it´s pretty much lost to the generation of guys today who would rather drift through life and turn out metro-sexual and goofy.

I have to be my own coach-- with great help from my friends, thank the gods. I miss the society that was that also coached, in a sense, a masculine and a feminine society that had guidelines for all. For me, I have to find these things on the road, as it were. Coaching though is essential, no matter how I find it. And I have to seek it out. That alone is enough to make me dropp a few pounds.

truepeers said...

It is very difficult for young people today. Male competition and excellence has, historically, required an all-male or mostly male environment, a world divorced from the domestic. Once society develops to the point where women's resentments at their exclusion from the various professions where public achievement is pursued reaches such a level that that resentment must be acknowledged and mediated (and that's a historical reality that emerged as a genuine revelation into the nature or potential of women and modernity, and one can't just wish it away), the male world based on the exclusion or the sacralization of woman doesn't know where to go.

How does today's common young man, who is not a natural alpha dog, deal with a woman who is now both a public cometitor/authority and perhaps a potential sexual partner/attention grabber (say a boss who wears sexually-provocative clothing) or, more likely, a professionally-dynamic woman who is a model (of the "successful woman") for his actual sexual partner or potential partner?

To the extent that traditional male homosocial environments in the Judeo-Christian West are "homophobic" it has been a recognition that the Greek model of combining pederasty and public striving can't really work in a society with a free economic market and not just a market for political alliances and leadership. The sexual competition and the workplace competitions have to be kept separate in order to maximize economic freedom and productivity (most guys, and maybe most gals, can't hope to succeed at both simultaneously and need an economic space that defers or marginalizes sexuality, where they are not endlessly distracted by it); but that is what is increasingly denied to today's confused "metrosexuals", the mass of "beta" males who generally lose out to the alpha males and females who get the top jobs, and often a kind of informally-polygamous lifestyle that suits women who pursue careers and status and defer family formation, leaving the mass of people alone with their Facebook "friends".

truepeers said...

Not to sound too much like a Marxist, but I think our Western society currently faces a lot of contradictions that are going to somehow have to be evacuated. History is a procss of running away from the impossible impasse. Of course, I don't know how that is going to play out. But societies with below replacement-level fertility must eventually disappear or change. Immigration only half-succeeds in filling the gap (which is both demographic and cultural/vocational - a question of human social capital) and it is a "solution" that will become less readily available in future as the whole world becomes a common and mostly urbanized economic sphere. Historically, cities have always been parasitic on the countryside, but what's left of the peasant masses are quickly disappearing.

I would tend to think that public competition will have to become less focussed on the individual Western male or female (who always tends to forget his/her dependency on the family that was organized in such a way as to make the creation of more or less coherent and free-thinking and moving individuals possible in the first place) but rather on the ability of certain successful (as history reveals them) family forms to mediate, as self-conscious family units, both the modern "sexually liberated" symmetry of the intimate male-female couple and their professional need to compete and to reproduce themselves in an economy that, in the short term, seems likely to bankrupt the aging, child-poor welfare state and thus renew the importance of having economically-sucessful children (which doesn't necessarily mean child labour, but rather the creation of non-state-defined spaces for supporting the slow maturation of the kind of human capital necessary to succeed in an advanced society) if society is not to collapse.

In short, I wonder if we will see some kind of return to family economic specialization in which the intimate partnership expands to a greater self-consciousness of itself as a productive unit that requires not mindless "equality" and "freedom" but rather both a kind of equality and free differentiation among its members to succeed as a self-reproducing economic unit. If so, traditional male notions of competition will have to evolve in ways that make women a full part of the scenes of competition without making that competition into a socially-destructive metrosexualism that denies fundamental sexual differences, if that is indeed what today's metrosexualism is.