Monday, November 16, 2009

Too Much Stuff

Sorry for the recent lack of blog: it's been a mobile time. I am now back in Mexico - it took five days to get here. Day 1: Antigua-Lanquín = 8.5hrs. I was supposed to leave Lanquín the following morning but I accidentally spent Day 2 in a hammock. Then (Day 3) Lanquín-Flores = 10hrs. Thanks to two Israeli's who decided the whole bus should wait for them while they (a) arrived late (b) strolled off for lunch (c) changed their travellers cheques and (d) organised their Day Trip for the following day. I would like to say that this is unusual behaviour, but I can't. Day 4 saw me cross the border into Belize (and ripped off by Guatemalan Border Guards. I would have complained, but unfortunately I had a dodgy, under-the-table stamp - long story - so I said nothing). Then out of Belize (not ripped off at this border this time - hurrah) into Mexico (ripped off at the border) and to Chetumal. Followed by a "pleasant" wait at Chetumal Bus Station and a night bus all the way to Cancun. Arrived 5am, shattered but with great plans... slept all day.

I've been here for a few days now and all is sorted. Big News! I will be flying back to the UK on Tuesday to try out "real life" for a while. I don't think I'm going to like it - but I am trying to stay positive. Ha! In the last week I have met two people who recently moved back to Europe... and yes, they're both here again now.

Not that I have necessarily given up travelling forever (I don't know yet) - but I know I would like to have a home and also, I am completely broke. I couldn't find work anywhere and my savings have slowly trickled away. Also, if I'm honest, after the tribulations I've had recently, I am feeling tired and defeated. I don't want to sound melodramatic - but I just can't take it anymore! And, of course, I don't have a choice.

From what I'm hearing I am not sure if anything's going to be better in the UK. Sounds like the job market there is pretty awful - so it could be that after a creepy-crawly Summer, followed by the most monumentally crap Autumn ever (by far), I may be heading back to a cold, dark, unemployed Winter. Please, no. If that happens I shall endeavour to assimilate by embracing day-time television and hallucinogenics, equally. I will also eat a lot of cheese and become obese - well darling, that's all the rage in the First World, don't you know.

Right now I am packing. That's not strictly true: right now I am writing a blog, whilst surrounded by numerous looming piles of dive gear, yoga mats, clothes, tea (leaving), sudoku (definitely taking), books... books! O dear, could it be any more harsh? Books or clothes? I can't take them all! I currently own 6 books. I would like to take 5 of them with me, but they won't all fit. I can take 2-3.

They are:
  1. Rough Guide to Mexico (I might need it again... ok, probably not)
  2. Midnights Children (definitely taking - I will sacrifice whatever clothes necessary for this one)
  3. On Chesil Beach
  4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  5. The Iliad
I am not sure if I can make this decision (or handle the truth) - please advise?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cleaning and other considerations

This week I have been mostly sulking. I am still in Antigua – waiting for the swelling (from the ousted wisdom tooth) to subside sufficiently for the dentist to oust the other wisdom tooth. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to.

I have spent a lot of time in-putting books into Library Thing. That “Words” blog opened up a whole can of worms! But it’s kept me occupied – so for that, I am grateful. Digging out my Book Lists also inspired me to do a little spring clean of my ‘Personal Organiser’. (Remember them? The thing you used to have before your Blackberry – they do much the same job, don’t need batteries, but do require a biro.)

So I emptied out all of the various pockets and spaces.

I threw away:
  • Several business cards belonging to people I am sure I’ve never met.
  • Several email addresses from people I am certain I will never contact.
  • Some passport photos, which should never have seen the light of day.
  • Numerous scraps of paper with “To Do” Lists on them – nearly all of which were undone.
I kept:
  • A membership card for “Perama Travel – All Over Indonesia!” Which expired in 1998.
  • A bus ticket from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (Laos) dated my birthday, 1999.
  • A Donor Card.
  • An “I do something amazing, I give blood” Card (although I haven’t, for a long time – but perhaps this will inspire me.)
  • A London Underground map
  • Business Cards for a Photographer in Sussex, an Italian Hair Stylist in Mexico and a handsome man in the Philippines (you never know).
  • A photograph of my parents
  • A newspaper clipping from November 2000 – which made me very happy and looks like this:

  • The Proust Questionnaire

I cut this out from a magazine several years ago, with the intention is doing something with it... filling it in I suppose. These days there are so many imitators knocking around on Facebook and the like, that I have got truly sick and tired of Questionnaires. Most of them are so banal – “what time did you get up this morning? Who is most likely to reply to this questionnaire?” Yawn! But this one is actually quite interesting. It supposedly gets to the very heart of an individual. Maybe it does. Kate Winslet apparently uses it when developing a new role.

Here are the questions:
  • Your favourite virtue;
  • Your favourite qualities in a man;
  • Your favourite qualities in a woman;
  • Your biggest flaw;
  • Your favourite occupation;
  • Your chief characteristic;
  • Your idea of happiness;
  • Your idea of misery;
  • Your favourite colour and flower;
  • If not yourself, who would you be?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • Your favourite prose authors;
  • Your favourite poets;
  • Your favourite painters and composers;
  • Your favourite heroes in real life;
  • Your favourite heroines in real life;
  • Your favourite heroes in fiction;
  • Your favourite heroines in fiction;
  • Your favourite food and drink;
  • Your favourite names;
  • Your Pet Aversion;
  • What characters in history do you most dislike?
  • What is your present state of mind?
  • For what fault do you have the most toleration?
  • Your favourite motto;
  • How would you like to die?
So I did finally complete it. It concerned me how many flaws I could think of and how few characteristics – none in fact. I don’t know what my characteristics are – I don’t think I have any. Maybe glibness. Is that a characteristic? Facetiousness? My flaws, on the other hand, had to be both long and short-listed.

It saddened me that my favourite novelists, poets, composers and painters were all men. Especially having recently read ‘Unless’ in which she blames her daughters descent into depression on the marginalisation of women in the Media. Has this been truly ingrained in me? Or are there (dare I say it) simply less creative women than men? Mind you, all my most hated characters from history were also men (book burners, all).

Even sadder, I realised that I have absolutely no heroes or heroines in real life – but many from fiction. Naming my fictional hero/ines was easy! (Frodo Baggins, Ford Prefect, Levin, Eowyn, Beatrice and Lessa – in case you were wondering). But people in real life are so tainted – how can anyone be so above reproach that is possible to feel nothing but admiration for them? Even after much consideration, I can think of no one. I did, in the end, come up with three names, but I am not completely happy to pronounce them ‘heroes’. (Alexander the Great, Elizabeth I and Emmiline Pankhurst). Does this reflect on me? Am I being realistic or too cynical?

And how would I like to die? Healthy, of course.

I’ve posted my full answers as a comment. Feel free to leave your own – yes, I am interested! Mr Botogol recently mused that every blog gets the readers it deserves... so I have no doubt that you are a sensitive, noble and discerning bunch!