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How to keep the journey alive

25 May

There’s a problem when any journey ends. Namely ‘when does the next one begin?’ It seems that generally it doesn’t. Reality has to be faced after any long journey. After all, maybe they’re only ‘gap year’s’ or ‘once in a lifetime’ experience anyway. Shiny shoes need to be applied to feet, as does a shiny new hairless face as the gripping urge to quell debts or just to get back to a ‘normal’ existence becomes too much to bear.

The urge has yet to reach my door. The idea of being able to maintain the travelling lifestyle seems to much of an option. But what is this travelling lifestyle? I think all I really mean is to be able to lead a life that is not stuck in any one place. This means working via the laptop (meaning not-being restricted to any one location) while also pursuing opportunities that involve the possibility of working abroad.

This is why I currently find myself in Barcelona. The first 7-8 weeks since I returned have been a mixture of catching up with friends and of working out new possibilities. Any idea of being able to make money from writing means that you need to be an expert in an area. Seeing as I completely fell in love with Brazilian music this seems to be the way I’m heading – maybe I should mention more how that is unfolding in another post.

My trip to Barcelona is happening because PopMatters have asked me to write about the Primavera Sound festival (I say asked when perhaps relented to my constant badgering would be a better way of putting it!) This means writing for a well-read music magazine as well as the opportunity to make contacts, enjoy Barca, and above all else, take a dip in the ocean.

In news of writing going online I did just notice that A Different League have put up my article on the World Cup in 1930. It can be found here:
World Cup Retrospect – Uruguay 30 (A Different League)

Caffeine – good or bad?

10 May

I believe I mentioned hypersensitive head in a previous post. I believe it’s something that the doctor just made up as I did have a very sensitive head and I think he was looking forward to having some lunch. Anyway, it’s something that I’ve suffered for over a year, which sometimes disappears but tends to re-emerge when I’m working a lot. Which means that it could be caused by stress, but seeing as I never feel stressed at all this is doubtful. The reason explanation I believe is that it is exacerbated when I drink a lot of caffeine, which is what I normally do when I’m working. For the past week, I have been working on plenty of little projects, and the hypersensitivity came back, being pretty horrible on Saturday. So yesterday (Sunday) I decided to completely give up caffeine for the day. It was one of the worst decisions of my life. I felt foggy for the whole day, my head still hurt and I couldn’t even begin to do anything that could be deemed creative. Instead, I read a book and watched a couple of DVDs, as well as some football, which goes without saying.

Today, after being completely disheartened by the whole experience of being without caffeine, I have decided to get back on the wagon, and have subsequently felt pretty damn good.

It makes me it impossible to decided whether to ever seriously consider giving up caffeine or sticking with it and just putting up with the fact that every now and again I will touch my scalp and have to put up with a jolt of pain. It is quite clear that caffeine affects me in strange ways. I had to give up mate in Argentina because I had started to feel really harsh pains behind my right eyes, and finally realised that the pains coincided with the days when I was sucking up mate like a newly born does milk. A family who have serious issues with migraines also makes me think that my genetics just ain’t good for these things.

The debate will go on, no doubt in my mind as much as anywhere else. I know for sure the idea of sitting in a cafe without a coffee in my hand or sitting outside on the garden furniture without a pot of tea in close proximity seem pretty impossible, so for now I will continue to swill my way through that caffeine goodness.

Shooting envious glances across the Atlantic

6 May

I can’t help but find myself completely underwhelmed by election fever gripping Britain right now. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t believe that my vote makes a difference, it’s just that I can’t stop concentrating all my attention on foreign shores. Short-term plans to head to Europe are materialising but the real long-term goal is to return to Brazil. Although there are already signs that Brazil may be starting to change. The clean-up has started, as mentioned in the article ‘Brazil’s ‘Big Prostitute’ Banning Grilled Shrimp on Rio Beaches‘. No more grilled shrimp on the beach – too much risk. No more football either before 5pm (although they have already got around this by making up a new game called Foot Volley which is essentially kicky-uppy’s around a volleyball net). But no more caipirinhas on Copacabana beach, now that is a bit much! It’s a clean-up campaign to rival Giuliani’s. One of the main policy’s: to tell people that it is not alright to just piss wherever they want. Considering the various places where I’ve seen people unleash their hosepipe’s in Brazil this could be particularly tricky. The thing is I just can’t help but be jealous of all these going on’s.

However, I am not in Brazil, I am in Uttoxeter, and as some sort of tribute to this little place where I’ve spent a pretty huge portion of my life here is a little photo tribute.

The real picture I should be taking of course is the public toilet next to the bus station. Single-handedly the greatest public toilet I have ever been to. I just need to find a quiet moment. Coming soon…

Surprisingly sunny and not that cold – getting used to life back in England

20 Apr

I’ve been back in England for over two weeks now and the change of scenery hasn’t had as debilitating effect as may have been predicted. This is perhaps due to the fact that I’ve been doing very little, and therefore, not too much of a change from my last couple of months in Brazil, where a strenuous day involved a yoga session and a swim in the ocean.

I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this going (I am looking for web design work at the moment mind, it’s just nothing’s biting just yet!). It’s a curious situation trying to do so little in a country like England, a country that prides itself on suffering. The worker who only does 20 hours per week is seen as being on perennial holiday while the 50 hour a week labourer is able to sit on his perch dictating the ills of the nation without reproach, he is after all a shining example of what this country needs. It doesn’t matter that he’s always in tired and in a full mood, he’s done an honest week’s work and that’s alright.

It’s something I’ve never understood but which still has embedded itself somewhere in my psyche. I talk of doing nothing for two weeks but I have been doing plenty of writing, reading, playing guitar, furious plan-making and have designed two web sites. It’s far more than when I was a student. I suppose then I would have said I was studying then at least I would have an excuse.

I made a commitment a couple of years ago that I would never return to 9-5 mediocrity. It’s something which I’m damned on continuing even if it does mean the current precariousness of trying to earn money through web design. It’s something which I will hopefully continue somewhere else though, somewhere a bit more continental than here, somewhere where I don’t seem like such an unworthy citizen.

Before I wrote this article I read a review of a new movie Cemetery Junction which helped awaken in me this annoyance at glowering suffering. It’s a review by David Cox in The Guardian where he criticises the movie based on the fact that it isn’t glum enough. It’s one of the most ridiculous reviews I’ve ever read, as if the fact his own experiences in the 70s (when this film is set) were so bad he can’t imagine anyone having a nice time. It’s also possible that this review is aimed at Ricky Gervais, someone that people used to like or were not bothered about, but now that he’s a big fish in Hollywood seems to get a lot of hate from English people, disgusted at the success he’s managed to achieve. Hollywood changes people, you should be suffering like the rest of us!

Back to England

2 Apr

English soil is once again under my footsteps. Concepts such as having a mobile phone, finding work and bitterly cold, moist afternoons are concepts I once again have to embrace. The first two of these I will be doing whatever I can to avoid, the third is unavoidable. I can’t pretend it’s all doom and gloom. God how I missed jacket potatoes, and god how I enjoyed having one for dinner on my first day back. Can there be a baked bean breakfast on the horizon? I sincerely hope so.

One thing I have been wondering since I got back has been whether to continue this blog. How does the relevance of what I write change when I am no longer travelling? Ultimately, I have decided to try and keep it going. I actually have quite a few stories which are yet to be told on these pages and so I will be adding these, especially since I will now be trying my damned hardest to avoid any real work, and these could be the perfect foil to make me believe that I am being productive while also not actually really doing anything that productive at all.

During these next months I will also be trying to work out further travels, especially since I currently have no ties at all, and am wanting to make the most of this arrangement, so will be trying to write a little about my travails in finding further overseas exploits (I have current ideas to either return to Brazil or instead live in Berlin – they both sound like great choices!) My hope with all of this is to at least keep it personal and not seem like one of those terrible expanded blogs that has articles about all kinds of places but never actually tells you about the person. I will try my best.

For now,

from the beach to the city

29 Mar

The time had finally arrived, time to leave Trindade. Goodbye to days spent meandering between the beach and a bean bag. There really is no comparison between going to the park in the morning or for a swim in the ocean, which is why I am now sitting in this Sao Paulo hostel feeling a little confused by life. I just wish everything was simpler. Need to buy some cake? Go to the corner shop. Need to buy some cachaca? Go to the corner shop. Ice? Corner shop. How about a drink? The beach. A swim? Beach. You get the idea, for the last four weeks I’ve only ever had about four options for all my day-to-day goings-ons (although this is slightly a lie seeing as beach in Trindade means about seven different beaches and going for a swim could be the sea or the river). Now I have a multitude of options, Sao Paolo is the third biggest city in the world, and truth is I think it’s swallowing me up!

It’s a good job then that I had some kind of clear objective for when I arrived here. Last time I came I just wanted to discover a little of Sao Paulo. Without any particular aim this is kind of tricky. I meandered between museums and fruit markets, which dazzled my eyes for short interludes, but then when I got back on the street, took my map out and got metro’d away to another stop, I was none the wiser for where I had been or even if I knew what the hell this place is. I am still struggling to find out its identity, and am increasingly thinking it has none. Whereas Rio seems to act as the first point as Brazil starts to become more Northern (despite being geographically in the South), where the african influence begins to have a greater say over colonial memories, Sao Paulo is outweighed by the feeling of being very Southern. With my newly-Trindade-assisted-tan I look more Brazilian than many of these chalky-white Brazilians walking the streets (although strangely I’ve been asked if I am Italian three times in the last two days).

Truth is that maybe everyone living in this city are here to party and/or work, neither of which are things that I feel inclined to do. Work is definitely out of favour at the moment, and money is too low to think about spending it on club entrance fees or over-priced caipirinhas. My job here is to find vinyl records and go to a football game. Both of which have been achieved quite successfully. I now have a rucksack weighed down by old MPB (Brazilian pop music), thanks to record fayres, various flea markets and a gallery (Galeria Nova Barao) that is filled with vinyl record shops – Sao Paulo is definitely a great place to buy records! Out of three records that I dreamed of owning I managed to get two. Tropicalia – Ou Panis et Circensis and Os Novos Baianos’ Acabou Chorare are now officially mine, Jorge Ben’s Africa Brasil unfortunately the one that got away.

On the football side I got lucky that the Sao Paulo classic was taking place, Corinthians v Sao Paulo, which meant the chance to see Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos playing live for the first time in my life. There seemed to be something else on Ronaldo’s mind but Roberto Carlos didn’t look too far off his former glories, speeding down the left at every opportunity and setting up one goal with a free kick that was too hot for the keeper to handle. Corinthians took a 2-1 lead into half-time, along with a one-man advantage as one of the Sao Paulo managed to get sent off for some ridiculous foul which I never got the chance to see because I was still celebrating Corinthians last goal. Corinthians then made it 3-1 before inexplicably Sao Paulo lofted over two free kicks in 5 minutes to bring it level. As the atmosphere in the Corinthians end started to turn sour and I was starting to feel like I really didn’t want to be there they got the winner in the last minute. An absolute classic!

And that’s about it. Today I head off to Rio for a final few days before the big plane heads into the sky and takes me away from this place.

Time and all that nonsense

22 Mar

Well I’m certainly not gonna make it sound like I’ve done much over the past week, seeing as I can’t even get my act together to write an entry on this blog. There’s just something about Trindade that makes the idea of sitting down at a computer for any length of time the worst idea in the world. The social cost is too great, not to mention the fact that I could be better spending time surfing, sitting on the beach, finding trails, following the river, listening to music, watching football, drinking beer, etc., etc. The distractions are too great!

That’s not to say there have been some glimpses of productivity though. I have cooked a number of meals, the last of which in exchange for a massage from two lovely swedish girls (an exchange which I believe will be fulfilled very soon) and discovered that we’re allowed to use the table football, pool table and table tennis in the guesthouse over the road (a realisation that has pretty much ruined any chance of me ever doing anything else).

The lesson here really is that Trindade is no place to come to stimulate the brain or achieve anything of note. It is the gateway onto a slippery slope of sweet bliss, which I have absolutely no qualms to be swinging my way down. Until I finally leave Trindade, which is a time getting closer and closer, this may well be my last update for a while!

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads

2 Mar

Not everything has gone to plan since arriving in Trindade. Two days of intense heat have been followed by five days of rain, power cuts and periods without water. This place really doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with any kind of storm. As soon as one comes it’s lights out for the rest of the day. One of the reasons I have been very quiet on this blog since I arrived. Sun has been forecast for Sunday. It really needs to show its face because at the moment people are getting to the hostel, staying for a day, getting really depressed by the incessant rain and then getting the hell out of here. Despite this though I can’t see myself leaving for a while. There’s something about this place, I can never get bored. I don’t think people realise that even when it’s raining you can still go for a swim in the sea or maraud up the river to the waterfall. They seem to prefer to head off to Rio or Sao Paulo, thinking that maybe that will bring better weather, not realising that the weather’s going to be the same but they are instead going to be stuck in a hostel for the duration of their stay.

Rio Post-Carnival

23 Feb

Unless you’re so wasted from carnival that everything now appears as lights and shapes and there’s no longer any point differentiating between what is good and bad then Rio post-carnival really is not the place to be. On my final day I saw two naked men on the street, one with his pants round his ankles taking a piss in the middle of the road, and another having a shit before cleaning his arse with a broken water pipe. I also saw a man hobbling along with a huge hole in his stomach, from which was seeping some kind of translucent liquid. It’s an image I can’t seem to get out of my head and so probably shouldn’t be writing (damn! which has just made me think of ‘the game.’)

Which all meant that it was actually kind of a relief to leave Rio, which is the first time that’s ever been the case. Oh, and the temperature was 38 degrees the final day, which with no wind and ridiculous humidity is a little bit warm.

Now I’m back in my old hunting ground of Trindade, home of rainforest, many beaches and gabriela (the sweetest drink ever to be supped on these shores!) George, the owner of Kaissara Hostel where I previously worked has said there’s a free bed for as long as I want it. Looks like I’ll be here for a while!

Leaving Montevideo

14 Feb

I can’t believe it, Montevideo finally went nuts! It’s been the picture of tranquility for six weeks; all empty streets and minimal traffic, parties that go on late but never ever really seem to get messy, kind of like if you put a city in one of those paperweights where you shake it up and the snow flies about for a bit before settling and restoring the calm.

It’s Friday (or at least it was when I actually wrote this in my notebook!) and every single person is at the bus station. The crowd is mightier than at the carnival and people are pushing each other all over the place, normal politeness has gone out of the window. I join the queue to buy a ticket for Punta del Este. It took me about an hour to find the end of the queue, it was somewhere over by the guy selling sweets in the corner, a good 100m away from the actual ticket booth. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this in my whole trip. I can’t think of joining one queue that has had over five people, this one is easily over 100. There are six buses leaving at 19:00 hours and I believe everyone is trying to get onto them. The reason: well it’s quite sunny and everyone wants to get to the beach, that’s why they’re no longer so polite, they need to get to the beach goddammit! Trying to jump the queues, pushing past you without so much as an excuse me, stepping on your toes without an apology, this is all allowed when you need to get to the beach, that’s how it seems anyway. Everyone is off to the beach, as am I, and I hate crowds, and tourists, and packed buses. What a bunch of shits!