Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hesitant Acceptance

I finally decided to wave that white flag and accept who I am. "Yes I am just another tourist. Yes I am looking for a tour. No I don't want to buy any sourvenirs. No I don't have any spare change for you."

It actually felt good, or at least, easier. But I guess that's what bothers me; how we can see someone like a handicapped mother ask for something to eat, and most likely mean it, then turn out heads, walk past, and pretend the whole episode never happened. I always wonder how other tourists interpret interactions like that. I wonder if those things creep into their mind well after they return home or if they just pack it as slight inconvenience in what overall was "another lovely trip".

So where does tourism stand? This past week I kept trying to be tolerant of it, to just accept it. "Most people are on vacation," I kept thinking. "Most people deserve a vacation, and people come to experience and learn of a culture they didn't know much of before. Isn't that already enough?" Maybe changing what we see isn't our responsibility.

But somewhere between one tourist complaining about how Machu Picchu "fucking sucked" and "wasn't impressive" (as if the world was built to impress him), and the fashion show of traditional Inca garments to ABBA's "Dancing Queen" on the train from Aguas Calientes, did I feel my critical juices bubbling again.

Something just didn't feel right about the whole thing, having two Peruvians parade down the isle of a train to an 80's hit and the passengers viciously snapping away photos. I could see the distaste in the "models'" faces. Hell, I dread doing Quiz Night at the hostel due to the verbal harassment and physical projectiles, I can't even imagine what it's like to dance around for people's entertainment.

But perhaps it should be viewed as an opportunity for cultural exchange, only the problem is that it isn't reciprocated. If Peruvians were allowed to travel to places like the US, in the same volumes as the amount of foreign tourists that come to their country, have us dance around in our traditional garments, and let them ignore our poor and hungry, then perhaps it would be okay. Maybe they too would make the same insensitive comments and assumptions we do. In fact, if we believe in the equality of the human design, they would. The thing is, that opportunity to be ignorant isn't there, and that's the problem.

Contrary to what others have told me, there is some value in being critical. You can't always be agreeable. Because if we are, we all march to the same cadence that the crowd dictates and not our own. Soon enough, traveling through the same motions becomes monotonous. Soon enough, snapping photo after photo becomes redundant. Soon enough, you start telling yourself that there's gotta be something more than this.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Blind Push Forward

I am confused on how to live, upon which path to take. I've been bombarded with so many different mantras as to how find fulfillment in my life that I end up static, staring into the distance, while fruitlessly trying to see the destination. I try to adopt multiple ways of life, but I soon realize that the demands of each lifestyle conflict and cannot coexist. At some point, you have to make a choice.

I suppose my biggest fear is to choose one path and later look behind me only to regret all that I sacrificed to be there, thinking about the other ways my life could have been and ultimately wishing my life had turned out differently than it has. I end up aimlessly contemplating over the lost time that I will never reclaim and questioning if I had made the right choice in the first place.

But I'm starting to understand that you have to go sometime, otherwise you become stagnant idling in the same place, and that perhaps the conclusion will only reveal itself to you when you're standing at the end of your own journey. Hopefully by then, the initial choice and preoccupations will be irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


"It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational - a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.

On the other hand, when too much time is occupied in travelling, we become strangers to our native country; and the over curious in the customs of the past are generally ignorant of those of the present."

- René Descartes (1637)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Machu Picchu

Say all you want about how it just wouldn't work. Convince yourself over and over that she's not the one. Ask yourself why you've done, all you've done, until the question becomes rhetorical if you'd like. At the end of the day, watching her sleep, is still the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Square One

Sometimes you reconnect with something for a moment and it feels real again. It feels genuine. But usually these moments come at times of intense ecstasy, of drunkenness or being under the influence of some other fabricated interaction that once that artificial stimulant wears off, you're right back to where you started.

They say dancing is the embodiment of the human spirit. If I could have one thing for my birthday, it would be a infinite dancefloor and endless rhythms to subdue my demons until the dawn resurrects them.

That and a phone call, would be nice.

Story about a Boy

For so long he believes he is immune to life’s emotional squabbles. For so long he thinks he cares not for trivialities like status, judgment and approval. But he’s realized the entire time he’s confused “indifference” with “denial”.

He wants to live a story worth telling. He wants to script a tragic tale of romance so he fabricates an infatuation and mistakes it for love. In the end, only he is hurt by his stubborn hopes.

He thinks the search for truth is a worthwhile campaign. He wants to believe in honesty and ideals. He wants to maintain faith in the goodness of humanity despite all that proves the contrary, but with time, “integrity” soon turns into “naivety”.

He wants to be a hero so he shoulders the badge of saviorism. He wants to change things, but never really understands why. He journeys so deep that it becomes an identity, a scapegoat to blame his failures in life.

He thinks he has learned more than he knows. More than once, he thinks he has life’s never-ending complexity figured out. He thinks he has an accurate conception of world and its intricacies. But what he has still failed to learn is “acceptance”.

Sometimes, he gets lost in his own thoughts. Sometimes, he wishes that he too could forget. Sometimes, he too indulges in life’s pleasures. Sometimes, he too is selfish.