Aruba to Peru

(This is a re-post from ye olde travel tumblr.)

Long day of flying, but some final thoughts on Aruba…

When I started thinking about spending the year as a hobo I got some recommendations on travel books and finally started reading one of them tonight.

One of the Kindle’s quirks is that random touches to the screen can land you in the middle of the book and so magically I ended up seeing the word “Aruba” in Chuck Thompson’s Smile When You’re Lying. I went through some of his clearly legitimate complaints about the Caribbean (and funnily enough, his chapter about Dallas immediately followed. He’s not a fan, either), but then there was a passage where fellow writer David Swanson told him he should give Aruba a chance as it really is, “One Happy Island.”

And it’s true, the Arubans seemed happier than the people visiting. I was fairly myopic in my time there, not understanding why Americans would go to an island paradise to eat Wendy’s and look miserable. So many sniping couples (the ones that weren’t waking me up at 7.30 am screwing, anyway). I told my friend J. Yuenger, who recommended the Thompson book, about this and he gave me some insight I hadn’t considered:

“The unhappiness you see in the people is largely the result of America’s psychotic work ethic. We work ourselves to death 51 weeks out of the year, and then we pin our hopes entirely on a one-week vacation, and then it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be, big surprise. We work so much that spending 24 hours a day with our significant other is strange and irritating.”

I am lacking in both psychotic work ethic and significant other. I feel blessed. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over these last months – why we bother pairing up – but that’s a story for my appearance on Oprah. Oh wait…

But on to Peru where the hotel rep who picked me up at the airport was Chilean and utterly charming. He gave me some sound advice like, “Don’t eat the guinea pig with the tail because it’s probably a rat.” He also told me about eating monkey and cat. Apparently monkey tastes strong and cat tastes like rabbit, as does guinea pig. I can safely say I WILL NOT BE EATING CATS OR ANY OTHER PETS. There is a Peruvian fish that’s good, but you can’t find it anywhere because they’re all being exported to Japan.

When I told him I’m from Texas he said, “Ahh, Mr. Bush.” When I asked him if he likes Bush, he said, “No.”

This is the only conversation I’ve had with anyone, save the Donkey lady, in a week.

I remember seeing a documentary about Peruvian children in the slums going through garbage and what a gd tragedy. When we arrived at the hotel, which is in one of the safest parts of town, the first thing I saw was a guy going through the piles of trash bags at the curb. To be born into and stuck in that kind of desperation really kills me.

Apologies for the lengthy post but sometimes there are random things to say.

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2 Responses to Aruba to Peru

  1. regina says:

    None of what you’re writing strikes me as random: on the contrary, it’s thoughtful and insightful, and full of genuine emotion. I think your friend is on to something: I have always found that Americans have this weird competitive thing about how much we work. Does it stem from our puritan roots? or is it rooted in the immigrant culture of our parents? Other cultures understand the need for balance, and how important it is to enjoy life. And yes, on the other subject you tough on, it is difficult to witness the misery of others. Very frustrating and disheartening. On a purely selfish note, I hope you’ll keep writing long posts. It’s good to get a sense of what you’re doing and seeing, and what’s on your mind. Stay safe. xo

  2. Aruba says:

    Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant article.

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