Archive for the Travel diary Category

Why Travel?

Posted in English, Photo, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , on 2012-03-31 by candycactus

“So, seems that you like to travel a lot? It did not look like this back then.”

I realized that it is difficult to convince someone that you actually hate traveling when what you are doing is constantly changing your geographical coordinates. How can you explain to anybody, that actually you think that tourism is a crime while you are in a different country every few months?

I suppose my home is this constantly evolving trajectory. I wish all this would be possible without leaving the few square meters – seeing the horizon, enjoying the red of the tomato on your bread in the sunshine, going to pee or washing your clothes as if every time doing this would be celebrating the mundane, being nobody, a nobody with the eyes of the new born calf? Then I would tell you the same as Fernando Pessoa:

“You want to travel? To travel you simply need to exist. In the train of my body or of my destiny I travel from day to day, as from station to station, leaning out to look at the streets and the squares, at gestures and faces, always the same and always different as, ultimately, is the way with all landscapes.

If I imagine something, I see it. What more would I do if I traveled? Only extreme feebleness of imagination can justify anyone needing to travel in order to feel.

Any road, this simple road to Entepfuhl, will take you to the end of the world.’ But the end of the world, once you’ve exhausted the world by going round it, is the same Entepfuhl from which you set out. In fact the end of the world, and its begin, is merely our concept of the world. It is only within us that landscapes become landscapes. That’s why if I imagine them, I create them; if I create them, they exist; if they exist, I see them just as I do other landscapes. So why travel? In Madrid, in Berlin, in Persia, in China, at the North and South Poles, where I would be other than inside myself, feeling my particular kind of feelings?

Life is whatever we make it. The traveler is the journey. What we see is not what we see but what we are.”

Fernando Pessoa: ” The Book of Disquiet”

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Not Finding Jodorowsky in Tocopilla

Posted in English, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , , , on 2012-03-27 by candycactus

We arrived there at night. Too dark to figure out the lay of things. “Any idea where we could pitch up a tent?”

The guy who brought us there was a professional in layouts – he was measuring geological factors for mines. On the way he showed us one beautiful tiny bay on the ocean, he was working there for a while measuring. All is fine and suitable, so soon there will be another port for the mine stuff. He lit a cigarette, Liviana went to pee and I looked up at the moon and if not the social situation requiring to be polite and respectful, I would have hauled at it like a wild dog, that I certainly was in one of my past lives. As if covering up my sadness, I arrange my scarf around myself. And then let myself being hypnotized by the red light of the cigarette in almost complete darkness accompanied by the sound of quite waves of the ocean – now I just observe silently my sadness from the far distance. “Look at this naive never grown up, why is she suffering for all this shit? This will not change anything anyway. And in the end, in its smallest particles, what is the difference between a tree and an asphalt road, milk and cyanide, whale and not whale, pristine bay and exploited bay?”. My observer has a point.

“There is a small artificial beach, you might want to camp there for the night”, he tells us. We approach a dark landscape of concrete illuminated by cold energy saving lights. Few youngsters drinking beer. We thank politely for the ride, look at each other and without words we know what we think – it is one of the most unsuitable places to spend the night. So, we depart and walk into the night.

We are both experienced travelers and we both don’t do things like that – to look for a place to camp in the outskirts of the city that we have no idea about and this in the middle of the night. But here we are. Chile is almost surreal in its size and form, it is incredibly long, so risks like these seem to be a price to cross it in certain time – Liviana is in a hurry to reach Rio before carnaval.

From the spots of the landscape illuminated by street lights I try to figure out what is this place like. I can feel the frustration coming up, like a dog trying to figure out things with a nose sprayed with detergent. It’s simply impossible to understand this place. Like so many parts in Chile if feels somewhat claustrophobic – locked in between mountains of some sort on one side and the ocean on the other, plus a highway between of the two. We agree to go on the safer side of things and walk up to the highway police cabin on the side of the road. “Sure,” – in Chile people seem to be always ‘buena onda’ and we can camp next to their cabin on the slope.

Liviana arranges her tent in the few flat square meters of the slope. Since recently I just use a piece of tent cloth to cover myself and sleep under the bare sky. But here it feels strange. I lie down and realize that there is no way for me to sleep here. Like a dog I walk with my headlamp around the what one should probably call beach, since it is next to the ocean, trying to figure out where else I could sleep. The earth has a strange texture everywhere, I cannot figure out what is wrong with it, what is it with this landscape, so strange. Finally I find two square meters that seem to be alright. I lay down and realize the huge electric lines above myself. No way, I cannot sleep here neither. It is not difficult to develop an obsessive compulsive disorder in this over civilized world, were you can hardly find an ‘untouched’ place by the progress, I think to myself. In the end I come back to the cabin. There is an awful smell of the canalization, but I cover my eyes, plug my ears and mobilize all my mental resources to reestablish equanimity and fall asleep.

Once in a while I can hear carabineros talking about us, cars passing by and stopping at the post. Until the point that I definitely wake up. It is still dark, I am still very tired but all at a sudden I feel the irresistable urge to leave this place. So I pack almost like mad, mumble something to Liviana that I am going, and set off.

While I walk, the dawn slowly reveals the truth around me. It looks as if some higher power would take all ingredients of the natural landscape with a tiny old colonialist town, shake them all together, put in a blender and pour back on this spot of the planet. It is difficult the only way I can describe the reason of the ugliness – all natural connections between things seem to have gone lost. I walk in this early morning and feels almost like a strange dream – I am still the only living being in this landscape. An accumulation of small shacks, garages or people live there? Small child pants. I walk along the road squeezed in between some rocks. At some point it becomes impassable and obvious that pedestrian has been forgotten in the planning of this bit. Old church, the trash around it witnesses that it has been very long time it was used for the last time. A wall with a painting saying “stop contamination”. Curve and all at a sudden there are people. It is all busy. Factory? Early morning, tired faces, no smiles, scarce joy. I probably have not seen any less human urban landscape. Enter the town. Coca-cola advertisement on every door. I ask for a coffee. Get one in a Nescafe cup. People seem to be very serious here. The old building witness of some already incomprehensible joy and ease in the past- there must have been children eating ice cream on Sundays, there must have been smell of fish coming from the kitchen windows in some days of glory of this town.

I hitchhike away from this strange place that invokes just sadness and endless melancholy in me. The driver – as so often in Chile – a kindest person. Tells me that the factory is a plant producing energy for all the mines around here in the desert. There is so much money that comes around from this business of mines, but none of that is being invested or comes back to the place where it all comes from. This city could be one of the wealthiest, but the logic of exploitation makes it to one of poorest, ugliest and the most lead contaminated towns in Chile.

We pass by a dead city in the middle of the desert, Maria Elena. The mountains of sand remaining from the mining seem like arms of the monster embracing the empty dead settlement. Miners cities are more impermanent as any other ones.

After crossing several hundreds of kilometers of this most inhospitable and most exploited desert I landed in an oasis – a farm surrounded by green, new age-ish folks, fireplace, music, as if all around would be just a bad dream. In the bathroom an excellent collection of books. I pick up one of Alejandro Jodorowsky “The Way of Tarot”. I am not into tarot, but his “Psychomagic” was accompanying and inspiring me for quite a while last years, so as the personality of Alejandro himself. I was curious to read the introduction, in which he speaks about his childhood. And there I read – Alejandro Jodorowsky was born 17th of February, 1929 in Tocopilla. Somehow blown away by the synchronicity of things I almost could not believe my eyes, how strange. But well, as they say – most beautiful lotus flowers grow in a worst mud, don’t they?

Tocopilla certainly was not like this as it is now. They are all pretty much gone now from Tocopilla –  firemen, ice cream, Sundays, poetry, a Lithuanian Jewish neighbor and Jodorowsky himself. All ingredients have passed through the blender of the mining industry and dictatorship. Some have been chopped into pieces, some thrown out completely.

I guess that is alright. Just contemplating permanent impermanence. And after all, if you chop the reality in its smallest particles – what is the difference between the lead in the air and ice cream in your mouth?




(p.s. Found out that maestro Jodorowsky is about to make a film about this town. More: Here are some pictures of Tocopilla back then:

Ghosts of Atacama

Posted in English, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2012-03-26 by candycactus

“I can’t get no satisfaction” – Mick Jagger and we pass by the ocean. “Used to be a whale meat factory. But there are no whales left anymore, so the factory is closed.” The road winds up, the ocean stays behind and we are surrounded again with nothing but the sand. The colors are vivid in the setting sun, the shadows of the desert lines and crosses on sides of the road makes it almost to a place with life.

“But I try, but I try, but I try, but I try..!” We hum along. Desert is beautiful when you are inside of the truck with Mick Jagger and the sun is setting and playing with a vast nothingness like a canvas for colors.

Potatoes on the side of road. Will make a nice meal. If we find some wood in this ocean of sand. Another 15 km and rests of some wooden boxes. Fire in the desert, rice, potatoes, fierce sun and wind. It is easy to become friends in the desert.

Out of nowhere a car stops. A couple comes out and seems as if they would be playing a scene of sightseeing from some movie. The only absurd thing is that there is nothing to sight see. “Hello!’ They pretend not to hear. There is nobody else in this desert, except us, fire, cooking potatoes and these middle upper class newcomers. “This happens. Company sends spies to see if we are not robbing anything from the load. It would be alright, if they would at least pay us decently.”

Dusk changes it all. Time comes back. It is the end of the second day of our truck ride through Atacama desert. The signs of numbers of kilometers on the highway become almost invisible. Everything merges in one – sand, sky, highway, crosses of the dead along the road. Our bellies are full. The CD is over. Lullaby of the rotating machinery of the motor. Sleepiness. Grey. Crosses disappear in the dark. Beauty of desert is beauty of death.

“Are you afraid?”
“No,” – he responds. My question seems to have woken him up from a state between daydreaming and death. I can see his hands wrapping around the huge steering wheel of the truck a bit more firmly. “Sure, many truck drivers die here. Probably more than anywhere else. The monotony of the desert. But the worst thing though are the ghosts”.

They have spent here more than hundred years. Desert is a difficult terrain also for the dead. There are neither objects nor subjects to put your soul to rest. No trees, no shacks, no dogs, no snakes, no lizards, no stones. Constant wind. Sand. The smell of blood is long gone. Bolivians were fighting for their port. Their only water door. Peru – for their legacy of the Incas? Chile – for the new gold, the saltpeter.

They come when truck drivers are asleep. Bang on the window. You look out and see a ragged man, silent, just raising the remaining part of the arm. The blood is still streaming. You lay down again and drift into the sleep after many hours of driving. And then you hear the weeping. It is close to your ear. You roll on the other side and put the pillow on top. But it comes from underneath again. The weeping gets stronger and stronger, the despair and misery is all over your truck bed and creeps through heels into every part of your every cell.

“Therefore we never sleep alone and gather in some places in the desert. Before we go to sleep we talk to them: please, I am very tired, could you let me sleep tonight? And they are reasonable. Then they leave you alone”.

Psychodelic Tango

Posted in English, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , , , , on 2012-03-20 by candycactus

Can you recall an experience, when you dream and something becomes really strange? A line, a form, a smell distorts itself and slowly changes its nature and transforms into something so different that it scares and amazes you? The stuff the mythological creatures are made of?

Watching tango milongas can be better than any psychodelic drug experience. You see a couple dancing. The lady is so skinny that she disappears and only her huge black tango shoes follow a big belly and immense arms embrassing pure air.

A big bubble of a chewing gum from red lips seems to ignore the rhythm of a fast milonga and grows as if it would be an illustration for evolution, and bursts all at a sudden in slow motion as a an evidence of permanent impermanence.

There is a couple dancing in sophisticated steps. The guy is so concentrated that he sticks his tongue like a six year old learning to write. His tongue becomes bigger and bigger until you see a piece of light silk swinging from a big mouth with a huge tongue stuck out.

A tattoo of the the skull on the arm of a lady observes quietely the dance, until it slips from the arm onto the face. “Mi corazon!”- sings a red flower in the hair of the skull along with the desperate bandoneon. Your view looks for breasts. One couple, another couple, they look transparent. Then you spot a young moon and a star in blood instead of heart, it reminds you of something.

“Quieres bailar?” (Want to dance?) You wake up and realize that the moon and a star are on a red T-Shirt representing Turkish flag on a body of a skinny lady in her sixties.

Magic of Coming Back

Posted in English, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , , , , , on 2012-03-08 by candycactus

After 2 months of vagabonding through places still visited by ghosts from the Pacific War, I am back to Buenos Aires. And here I am facing a strange riddle. How come a city that I have so little emotions toward to, like appreciation, fascination and just simply love (read: I dont like Buenos Aires. Malos Aires. For almost an indefinite list of reasons), can be all at a sudden so incredibly nice to me? There is no other city in the world were I would be granted compliments for nearly everything and from nearly everybody in the frequency that makes me think hard – what is it all about? Is it because my short hair got longer? Or is it because the terrible heat of the summer is fading and the muscles of portenos faces relax resulting in smiles? Or is it again that exterior just reflects ones interior?

But what about just a sheer coming back? I guess this must be the trick. Places that have unfortune to be popular for something or being declared to some heritage of the humanity, suffer from masses of comers-and-soon-goers, who come like a plague with their appearent usefulness of bringing money into the game. But have you ever experienced yourself rushing to a bus back home from work and being asked by, lets say, an Asian tourist something in a slow motion as if would be played to you backwards? Or you would want to pass on the sidewalk and there would be a crowd of “these” taking pictures of some facade you have never took notice even if you grew up in the same street? Well, thinking this way it is not difficult to see that being nasty to foreigners who come and never come back is just a survival strategy saving your soul for encounters that might result in any other exchange of energies apart from the monetary.

What happens when one comes back? All at a sudden pavements, walls of the city and everybody in and around them perceives this pure fact as a declaration of love. And they must see it right, even if I did not realize it myself. All at a sudden there is no problem if I ask for a cup of coffee with some milk apart (what the hell happened to this city that it does not refuse it anymore as before??). All at a sudden I find a verduleria, a vegetable store I wished to find where I would know the name of the vendor. And panaderia – they remember me from two months ago and give me a welcome back sweet. It goes on and on like this. Me – speechless.

But the last place where I would expect to be showered with compliments for more or less random stuff would be in an Indian clothing store with an Indian Muslim lady who does not let me see around because she just wants to hug me. What is happening?!

I must be radiating in a flashing manner – I came back, Buenos Aires!

Interviu iš Bolivijos

Posted in Downloads, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , on 2012-02-25 by candycactus

Pakalbėjom su Audra Čepkauskaite per skype ir va koks interviu gavosi:

LRT laida “Žmonės ir Idėjos”

BOLIVIA in pics

Posted in Photo, Travel diary with tags , on 2012-02-21 by candycactus

more pics and