[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.
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.