Saturday, July 29, 2017

9 Days in a Peruvian Fishing Village

Me: Running on the beach, around sunset.
I'm sporting the sweatshirt my friends got me
for my birthday.
At sunset, I was running on a beach in Northern Peru, where the sand had so much gold fleck in it, it shone and glistened and glinted and gleaned the colors of the sunset sky, and when the dying light sparkled against it, it was as if I was running on the surface of an amethyst gem. And although I told myself that I would only stay three nights in this fishing village, I ended up staying 9 nights there.

Every time I ran on that beach, I decided to stay an extra few nights. There was something supernatural about running on wet sand bear footed, while ocean waves crashed against your legs and feet. It was as if I became one with the force and nature of the sand, sea, sun, sky, and wind.

Just a few days ago, I was in the Amazon Jungle. This was such a different scene. From Iquitos, I took a flight back into Lima and then from Lima I changed planes to Piura, the Northern Capital of Peru. It's important to note that a direct flight would've gone straight eastward and would have only taken 2 hours at most. You can only get out of Iquitos by land or river boat; it's literally riverlocked. It would've taken me four days to reach the mainland by boat, and then another 20 or so hours to get to Northern Peru. So, I had to bear a seven hour journey, including waiting time, by taking two flights out of the Amazonian Capital and into the Northern Coastal Capital.

From there, I had to take varying modes of land transport to a remote seaside village - which I actually read about in the plane. In other words, I changed my entire plans, just to come here, by reading a blurb from a random book about a remote seaside village. And I made that decision on the spot.

Why plan? I have nowhere to go, no one to see. (Incidentally, it was in this area that Hemingway spent time and caught a huge marlin, which became his inspiration for Old Man and the Sea.)

Sunset at my remote village, clam diggers in the background
I didn't do much in this village - except read, surf the internet, eat fresh fish (raw and cooked), drink coconut water, dig for clams, and sleep. It's also important to note what I didn't have to do: check in with clients; check in with the courts; work at a job, in which I was getting blocked; and justify myself constantly against other people's expectations. I was living in a warm and soothing and a sailing dream - as rich, peaceful, deep, and blue as a sapphire sea.

Not everything was perfect, though. I got bit horribly by mosquitoes called zancudos, and these had to be the worst kind. Unlike other mosquito bites, I reacted horribly to it, and they liked to bite my face when I slept, even when I put mosquito repellant on.

Dropped 15 pounds of fat from December 2016.
Not a pleasant endeavor.
They left my skin blistering and looking unpleasant. These have to be the worst kind of mosquitoes in the world - and I've traveled the world. Even after the bites on my legs healed, it still looked like someone jabbed me with a syringe. Nonetheless, the bad didn't outweigh the good.

I've been rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I don't love it (probably because I don't like the plot much), but I can't deny his genius as a writer - which no movie could capture, because his genius is in his words and narrative.

I've also concluded this is a horrible book for high schoolers, and a great book for adults around my age or older. This is because how can teenagers living in Baldwin Park (or any other ghetto or middle class city) relate to the bootlegging era and a culture of extravagant wealth and a group of people who have nothing else better to do than to wash their hair in champagne. It's not relatable to the average American teenager, and hence it can't be appreciated.

It has given me an idea of a story. Imagine a book, in which one of the main character (it's questionable where the main character is Nick or Gatsby in the novel - who are really alter-egos of each other), grew up in some poor village in Mexico - where his family made $3 a day by picking peppercorns in the hills - which was later shipped to America.

One day, a rich American gets lost in that village, and the boy sees how easy life is with tons of money. He decides then that he's no longer going to work as a peasant, and is desperately in search of becoming rick and rich quick. He falls into a group of drug lords, performs certain illegal tasks, makes his way up, and gets rick quick, like he wants. And then he moves to America.

There, however, he finds a white girl he falls in love with, and he does everything he can with his wealth to win her over. She uses him. And no matter how hard he tries, he can't win her over with his wealth or his fake story that he made his wealth as a doctor in Mexico. In the end, he gets tracked down by a rival gang member, who shoots him execution style. Nobody comes to his funeral. Nobody cares.

Now that's a story that our youth could relate to. And that's generally the Gatsby story retold for the modern audience. Nonetheless, I can't hep but be in awe of some of the quotes in the book.

At the party, it's said: "In [Gatsby's] blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

Another good quote is when Nick thinks to himself: "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."

And finally, the book is a classic, because it speaks to us still in prophecy. The singer at the party sings: "“The rich get richer and the poor get - children.” Keep in mind, the novel was published 92 years ago.

Anyways, I'm more than halfway through the book. I'm taking my time with it, because the language is so absorbing and it's not a fast read.

On one of the 9 days, there was a small carnival for over two days, which was held in front of the church. It looked like all the people from the village came.

It was enjoyable for me to see the children holding paper mache lanterns of dragons and stars. They looked like red and burning and hot glowing fireflies, floating aimlessly through the air, which appeared to be at the speed a slow creek would carry floating flowers.

On the second day of carnival, there was a reenactment of Saint Santiago's play on the streets. People dance and sang, and Santiago spanked local townspeople with his wooden sword. In the end, he danced with this grandmother, who seemed to have standing with everyone in the village. Then everyone clapped and cheered and the fireworks exploded in the distance.

Finally, the big news is that I cancelled my one way flight back to LA. It was a scary thing to do. It was like cutting off the life line to home. And I did it.

I'm officially a Korean-American gypsy, homeless and nomadic. I even cancelled my auto insurance and my data plan for my phone. I have nowhere to go and no one to see.

Like Martin Buber said: "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

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