Saturday, March 29, 2014

Preludes and Finales; All Wild Things Come to an End

This morning was the first gray morning in what felt like an eternity. 

To be truthful, it's only been about 3 months, but compared to what I'm used to back home, that mine as well be an eternity. There was this one drab point, some time last month, where the skies turned terminally gray for a consecutive string of days; however, these particular gray clouds were lacking. Gray skies are gray skies to most people, but I've always tended to view them in a more romanticized fashion, as if each time they appeared, they seemed filled with intrigue, begging us to wonder what they stood for. Despite this, the aforementioned "drab point" was a bit simpler—why I hesitated to mention it in my second sentence, which has taken us till here to get to. The way their color danced on the shaky precipice that stands fearfully between white and grey, always knowing that one slip could either lump them into the common absence of color that most accept with open arms or make them one step closer to gloom, revealed their disingenuous nature, and therefore I thought nothing of them. Yet today's wispy billows hover proudly over the bustling city streets, knowing full well why they’re here.
I woke up, greeted the gray, and moved on. I'm writing now, and it feels right for the first time in a long time. It's a cathartic feeling, and its main catalyst this morning is the sullen atmosphere. As a born and bred New Englander, relentless sunshine can actually become tiresome, as strange as that may sound. And, needless to say, this morning is an easy morning; nothing unwanted looms, and for once that doesn't freak me out. However, this calm is poised to give birth to a wild, and uniquely bittersweet, evening whose moments will sporadically shift about like a big bag of mixed emotions on a public bus.

Tonight is my flat mates going away party, so I guess I should shave a bit.

As all of us will be doing before we even realize it, my "true brahj", who I've lived with for the last 8 months or so, will be making the awkwardly anticipated return home, and tonight we plan to send him off the best way we know how—with a massive rager, brimming with garish characters, close friends, and a handful of emotional moments and empty promises; always good fun. In spite of this exciting prospect, there is a slight stroke of gray painted down the spine of the entire evening, for this finale not only serves as a sad send- off for one of my closest friends, it also stands as an impatient doorman, ushering in my own penultimate moment here, and that certainly adds a dash of melancholy to the bag. My short chapter here was an amazing journey into the depths of my own savage mind, with revelry and self-loathing subtly pushing me to the brink of self-realization—what the fuck does that even mean? Basically, I know who I am now. Instead of posting aimless Facebook rants that meander on about absolute shit—anything that includes the word bitches, harps about "needed" personal changes, or masturbates incessantly about self—I accepted who I am; all my badass faults and fleeting convictions included.
Another interesting aspect of my flat mate's departure that is exciting, unnerving, and a bit-stressful all at once is the intimidating reality of living completely alone in a foreign country, tucked away in some notorious neighborhood without the faintest clue as to how to get in touch with the police; other than stumbling over to the actual municipality and barking incoherently in my piss-poor Spanish at some apathetic police officer. Despite the brave effort of trudging over there to speak with someone personally, nothing would actually ever happen. Most likely, they would do a quick lap around the neighborhood, grab a beer, and then never follow up or resolve anything—and honestly, for what the police get paid around here, I wouldn't do shit either. Besides that small misfortune, an actual facet of the roommate paradigm that I will truly miss, and one that is even better when you're best friends from childhood, is coming home from a long day of monotony to a night that is essentially the closest thing we, as adults, have to a sleepover, which we all know was the greatest part of our adolescent weekends. Depending on the night, the itinerary will undergo a few minor alterations, but it typically looks like this:
Burst through the door— wait a millisecond for the applause. Toss my backpack onto the adjacent chair and grab my Macbook from its alcove, all while heading toward the couch. Proceed to do some light work—both personal and professional—for about an hour. Eventually, my roommate will emerge from his chamber, and we’ll begin the excessive postulation about what to watch, heavily weighing out the options provided by Netflix, Hulu, or from "the Bay". This process can take a while, so we usually sprinkle a couple funny tales from the road into the mix to pass the time. Once we reach a definite decision—I specifically say “definite” because as we all know, picking something doesn't always mean you'll actually continue watching it after the first five minutes—we argue about which one of us will order the pizza; it's a rough chore, and down in this country it often causes immediate mental collapse. While we wait for the pizza, we desolate each other with an array of physical assaults and nagging, often over the top, insults. It's fun, and you all know it. DING DONG—and they're off! We scurry about the house trying to find our money while insisting that the other get the door immediately. With the pizza secured safely on the table, and some movie or show agreed upon, the healing begins; smiles, satisfaction, and an overall sense that we accomplished an incredible feat.
These nights made up for any of the day's bullshit; two brothers acting like kids again, with nothing being that important, and everything just on the horizon. We could bounce ideas off each other, and whether they were absolutely mad or seemingly brilliant, we picked them apart and analyzed them like two scientists trapped in an underground laboratory with no way out. However, and as it always goes with all things fun and good, these nights were destined to come to an end, our bounce back to reality always in the distance; faint, yet ominously there.

We're here.

My friend's next adventure is going to be an exciting ride, and I wish him the very best. He is a boundless train, stopping only for opportunities to save the world, and I hope he continues to run for a very, very long time. Often-times naive, yet ambitious, he deserves whatever he is looking for, and I know that among all the capable people, he stands proud, albeit too proud sometimes—he knows I love him. The prelude to my finale begins while the curtain closes on his Peruvian stage.

Stay tuned for the final days under the wild new sun.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sparse Collection Of Details From A Vapid Month Down South

Rants and raves from the outskirts of society... 

Inspiration to write in this odd blog has been hard to come by lately; I just haven't felt it in a while. And, in addition to my crippling lack of motivation, I, myself, had been a reclusive hermit for a good portion of February. The past month was lackluster to say the least—full of deadlines and self-loathing, which usually equates to a fat fucking zero in regards to the amount of creative, personal writing I manage to churn out.

It's obviously all in my head...

Or, maybe I caught a small sentiment of that languid New England winter attitude after perusing through the old Facebook feed—uninspired rants about cold-weather accompanied by crooked pictures of freshly laid snow and a litany of desperate attempts at self-affirmation; the New England chapter of Facebook during the freezing months in a blurb. But shit, at least it's consistent.

Don't get me wrong, there were a handful of crazy moments and adventures this month, each born from my insatiable appetite for all things wild and mad. But for the most part, I holed myself up in my flat, incessantly watching films and playing guitar, halting infrequently to venture out into the streets on the hunt for booze.

Despite the seemingly-dull theme of February, I found the loneliness refreshing; the isolation, combined with a dab of self-examination, actually acted like an emotional catalyst. My indifference towards life's more-passionate aspects has been growing slowly down beneath the depths of my character like a starved tapeworm, and although I'm still a jaded lunatic, certain things have begun to get their color back.

The social elements of my neighborhood still elude me from time to time. There are days filled with friendly smiles and wide-eyed, enthusiastic greetings—the kind that breeds a sense of belonging—
and yet, there are numerous times when I feel as if I'm being forced to tip-toe through a dilapidated den of bloodthirsty thieves. Stories move about through the air, inflicting their fearful messages of crime and misfortune upon all those with functioning ears—disconcerting tales about robberies at gunpoint, unlucky travelers being stabbed over a burner phone, and random victims of bizarre kidnappings spread from carrier to carrier like a flu in heat.

However, these horrific tales are part of the endeavor to live, no matter where you go. Despite what we believe, even the cushy bubble we call home has a myriad of these disturbing parables, including our thinly-veiled political tales of capitalist-socialism gone savage, which tend to multiply on a daily basis at this point. But it's our fundamental duty, as citizens of one world, to continue forward, regardless of destination or tribulation.

There are bonafide moments of fear down here—a hulking group of ragged street-vermin eyeing my cell-phone and wristwatch with savage desire—but, I always remind myself that it's part of the journey; a piece of that gorgeous struggle to exist. I'm taking the ride because I bought the ticket, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Random Little Night in the Heart of Lima

It has been a decent while since I logged onto this blog, and at this current moment, I have no clue what  the hell to write about since, to be dead honest, things haven't really seemed exciting to me lately. Maybe it's due to my desensitized disposition towards every situation; I'm a jaded prick who now stalks each moment in hopes of finding something controversial and arousing. Self-depricating meandering; let's get on to something man!

Every weekend here usually yields at least one random story or situation, and the last two have been no exception. However, what follows all took place on a Thursday, which down here is the beginning of the weekend, in a way. People treat Thursday like it's Friday, Friday like it's Saturday, and Saturday like it's the last day in Rome. Sunday is a somber day for sleeping and dragging your drunk ass to the beach front to catch rays and pass out, only to wake up to a khaki-clad woman prodding you with a stick, extending her hand, and offering you a beer. It's not free, but it's also not expensive, so you say fuck it while you grab that frosty brew and down it like Popeye with a can of Spinach. I'm spiraling into an unpredictable tangent; let's steer out of here. So, Thursday we decided to travel into the decadent area that is downtown Lima to get a few drinks and have our penultimate moment—which, in reality, was our final "intimate friendship" moment as a group—with our friend Maria before she departed to Argentina for the next two years. Maria is a fantastic person who may be the most genuinely generous individual I have met in the last decade or so; a congenial spirit that acts without hesitation, whether it's to help a friend or to party like it's 1999. There's this old regal hotel that stands proudly above the San Martin Plaza in all its antique-white splendor, whose bar serves a special type of Pisco Sour named The Pisco Sour Catedral. For those who are wondering what the hell Pisco is, it is a transparent brandy derived from grapes in a manner similar to wine, but with a completely different distillation process, which, in turn, produces a strong and sweet-tasting liquor. A Pisco Sour Catedral has more than double the amount of liquor that you would typically find in a 15 sole Pisco sour, making this swanky hotel bar one of our favorite watering holes. After a slew of miscommunications—or complete lack of any communication—the six of us finally met up and ordered a round of Pisco Sour Catedrals. The hotel staff treated us like a group of lepers, especially after we began to steal chairs from the other tables with the goal of having enough seating for all of us. It still perplexes me as to why this seemingly insignificant act turned our waiter into a brooding asshole, but I'm sure we didn't help things when we asked to be moved to a different table, which, fortunately for us, included a different waiter. 

After our first round of drinks began to shallow and we could see through to the glass bottom, I motioned the waiter to bring us another round. He swiftly dragged his hand across his neck, inferring that the place was about to close. I looked down at my watch telling me it was only midnight, to which I responded with an angry "are you fucking kidding me?". We had a close friend leaving us and we were not prepared to stop our send-off anytime soon, so we made our way to a strange karaoke bar on the other side of the plaza. After being unnecessarily frisked by a long-haired caveman in a security shirt, I stepped into the dark interior and was suddenly taken aback by all the American and European media memorabilia that hung upon the four walls of the place. My eyes darted to each poster and canvas, recognizing the various scenes; Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Mulholland Drive—which brought a personal elation—The Dark Knight, Psycho, The Maltese Falcon, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Hendrix, Zeppelin; there was more, but my mind can't reproduce them all right now—too damn early. A frosty round of beers arrived at the table, which promptly started a contest between us as to who was going to sing first. It was during this time that we noticed a younger man, probably around 21, who looked like he belonged in a science lab—square-rimmed glasses, plaid button down, and this absent, yet shy, look on his face that seemed to scream "I've never been with a woman"—stumbling his way through some American tune that seems to slip my mind. It was a spectacle in and of itself, with all of his off-key yelps and sweaty jolting about the stage. When the guy finished, the three girls in our party sprung up from the table in pure excitement as they hustled to the stage with elated grins painted on their faces. The music started to play and suddenly a wave of recognition came over everyone in the bar; Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way". We stood up proudly and cheered them on as if we were at a real concert while they struggled to hold it all together; they butchered the entire thing, but that's the strange goal of Karaoke—to see who can mangle a tune the most while laughing proudly along with the audience. After several more rounds of drinks, we mustered up the courage to drag ourselves to the stage and completely wreck one of the greatest songs ever written—Queen's operatic epic, "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm sure it was like watching a car-accident in progress; the shock and awe of something once so complete and alive coming to an untimely demise in a fiery blaze. Despite the obviously predictable pissing we did to such a classic, it was great fun, and the audience had a blast singing along. 

Soon after, the bar began to close and we made our way back to the outside world where throngs of people hurried themselves to and from each bar, hoping that one would be open all night—a common occurrence down here that completely shocked me the first time I witnessed it. As we stumbled about on the sidewalk shrieking and shouting nonsense, the nerdy looking guy from earlier pulled up in a small dark VW Jetta to the edge where we were standing and beckoned at us to get in. He claimed to know of a bar closer to our house called Bacteria that was open till six in the morning. So, let me put this into perspective for you: a strange man is urging four wasted tourists and one inebriated native to cram into his tiny car so that he may pilot us to an all-night bar called Bacteria, which I'm guessing will turn out to be quite a fitting name, especially for a place that caters to drunkards at all times of the night. Wisdom wasn't a strong suit that night, and we decided to take the risk and go with this complete stranger to Bacteria. Luckily, the guy turned out to be a really "cool dude" who just wanted to have a good time getting to know new people. We eventually arrived safely at the bar, excited to continue our night. But, typical underwhelming moment—the bar was closed, so we decided to call it a night and hail down a cab. We each made it home safely by about four in the morning. When I got back to my flat, I sat down on the couch, thought for a couple minutes about having to teach that same morning, then turned on Step Brothers and tried to fade out to the hijinks of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Strange Tales From The Desert

"Give me food! Give me a blanket now! You're my friends," he screamed in slurred Spanish, his body hanging over the entry gate with both hands outstretched in rage. Up on the pink stucco hostel deck with our backs against the hulking entry door which stood between us and safety, I began to rummage through my pockets for any item that could be transformed into a spur-of-the-moment weapon.
Cell phone? No.
Wallet? No.
Lighter! Maybe. Who am I kidding? I'm not a fire-breather, by trade at least.
     Slamming on our wooden hostel door and furiously ringing the ivory bell to the right began to seem like a futile effort, as we nervously waited for any sign of life to crack open the dark paneled entrance. It was 3 in the morning; no one was awake.

     The previous afternoon, a few friends and I left the bustling city of Lima to spend some time in Ica—a Peruvian city located in the desert region, along the southern coast of Peru. We traveled there by way of bus, and the accompanying sights while on the five hour trek to Ica proved to be nothing short of spectacular. Massive waves crashed along sandy coastal shores, and as the sun began to set, the water became a palette of purples and oranges. Palm trees extended their branches with direction from the wind while lining themselves along the intersecting edge of the coast and the road on which we were traveling.
     We arrived in Ica at around seven-thirty that night and proceeded to flag down a taxi to take us to the village of Huacachina, where we were staying. Marvel met my eyes when we stepped foot into the tiny village, realizing that the entire place was situated in the middle of the desert with a giant oasis in the middle. Massive dunes enclosed the area like gargantuan sand mountains; the oasis was alive with green vegetation growing around it, and palm trees rising out like a mass of people putting their hands into the air. Rising up about five feet, and winding around the entirety of the water mass, was a massive stone walkway decorated with restaurants, bars, hostels, and small stores. Our hostel was situated among this stone ring, its tall pink exterior looking down on us, with a deck, littered with wooden tables and chairs, protruding from the front. After checking into the hostel, we went to our room, which, needless to say, was the epitome of simple—plain white walls, a high ceiling, no windows, and several wooden bunk beds. Up until this point, I had never been in a hostel; the thought of being surrounded by strangers while I slept sent a shiver up my spine. But, figuring I had to do it sometime, and with the price being unbeatable, I accepted the quarters for what they were.
     We immediately threw our bags on our beds and descended back onto the walkway to hunt for food and alcohol. While walking down the stone boulevard, glancing around for the appropriate mix of fun, food, and drink, we came upon a white building bearing a giant sign with "Huacafuckingchina" illuminated in massive blue neon letters and a man, dancing in utter exuberance and wearing a bright red soccer jersey—from England, strangely enough—out front. He greeted us in an excited fashion and convinced us to go up on the deck-bar to eat and drink. As the hours passed, it slowly began to erupt into a dance party, complete with a DJ and an open dance floor. Thinking back, I don't even remember how it all happened, but I guess it doesn't matter much; lunacy has a way of acting like a memory eraser. At one point in the evening, I decided to step down into the street and clear my head. While I sat against the stone railing across from the wild display going down at the bar, a man—who immediately gave off the notion of being a local, don't ask my why—walked up to where I was standing and began to chat. He had two tan dreadlocks hanging down from atop his head, and in one hand he held a skinny section of PVC pipe, and with the other, he put his pointer finger against his thumb and held it against his mouth—the universal marijuana sign. He spoke slang Spanish and already seemed to be inebriated, or high, or a combination of both, which just made our interaction all the more annoying and I quickly found myself wanting to shake this loon. Gradually, I backed away and lost the manic street dweller, slouching myself onto one of the white couches surrounding the party bar.
     Things at the bar began to wind down, and after exploring the village streets and checking out a few clubs, we decided to head back to our hostel. When we returned to the stone walkway, it was a completely different world than earlier in the evening. Only random pockets of people remained, half-heartedly trudging back to their lodgings; some stumbling, some holding onto another person as if they were an anchor—the typical scene that results from a night of pure, unadulterated hedonism. My room mate and I decided to stay out a bit longer and take in the lunar-illuminated night along the oasis. We sat there, talking about life and its many intricacies while taking in the immense beauty around us. The water was perfectly still, with the exception of random ripples formed from bouncing water bugs, and the occasional fish. The stars looked deeply into the oasis at their own reflection, and the moon watched over the entire scene, much like a happy father hunched in the doorway of his children's room. After some moments had passed, and we both found ourselves satisfied with the night, we began our short stroll back to our hostel. As we proceeded, much to my dismay, the same half-lucid street dweller from earlier spotted us, and began to approach. Quickly, we rose up the steps to our hostel and rang the bell, hoping to completely avoid the oncoming event. Things are never simple, nor easy, and of course, there wasn't the faintest sign of someone opening the door. Dammit, I thought to myself, as the wild derelict finally arrived.
"Give me food. Give me a blanket."
At that point—and in my influenced state, ignoring him seemed like the appropriate option, figuring he might have enough brain capacity to take a hint and leave. However, as it always is with people like this—that is, the annoyingly-exuberant transient type—a simple acceptance of defeat, accompanied by an early exit, rarely happens.
     Then, right as we were gearing ourselves up for what would have been a hilariously depressing skirmish—imagine two young, well built men wailing on a drug addled vagabond, as he screamed hollow threats—another man, who seemingly appeared from out of nowhere, went up to the drifter and demanded he leave us a lone. He was a younger guy, probably around the same age as us, and wore a white wife-beater, camo-shorts, and a black baseball cap with DC in bright orange stitching on the front. Over the course of the next several minutes, he continued trying to persuade the crazed wacko to leave, and, when it seemed that nothing could convince him, he began to scream at the guy.
Turning my back to the erupting scene and pounding my fist against the door before me, a very loud— and an English might I add, "Shut the FUCK UP!" rang out behind us, followed by some meaningless shoving. This continued for several minutes, when finally, someone came to the door. We burst through the door like half-starved orphans finding shelter for the first time in days, completely ignoring the person who answered the door, and darting straight for bed. 
     Being completely inebriated, while witnessing what could possibly have evolved into a massive fight involving all parties concerned, tends to leave one in a state of—I wouldn't say shock, because that isn't what I was feeling; it was straight-up, fucking awe. I proceeded into the room, with every bunk now inhabited by a sleeping traveler, and fell right onto the lone remaining bottom bunk, fully clothed and not even for the slightest second nurturing the notion of undressing. As I lay my head against the soft pillow and stared into the deep darkness of the windowless expanse, an unbearable desire to laugh came over me. Realizing that we had already caused enough ruckus, I held in my desire to exuberantly howl, and instead opted to just lay there, grinning to myself. Shit man, I thought to myself, I can scratch "being almost accosted by a substance-fueled maniac in the middle of the desert" off my bucket list

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thoughts About a Woman In a Restaurant

     A woman sits in a tan-stained wicker chair, her eyes fixated in a zombie-esque manner on the television set nestled up in a corner between two pale white walls. The Spanish TV soap on display has her full, undivided, attention, and no matter what happens to the world around her, only the small universe inside of the suspended box counts for something. As I sit patiently waiting for my food to be ready, I notice this strange spectacle in the corner of my eye. She is sitting alone. I begin to ponder her story; where did she come from; where has she been?
     Grassy green fields of daffodils and sunflowers atop hulking hills, like something out of The Sound of Music, manifest themselves in my mind, and, lying undisturbed in the middle, is a twenty-something year old woman with olive skin and long black hair caressing her face and ascending down to the ground parallel with her body. She is perched up on her side, with her long legs gently protruding outward from her luminously white dress as her elbow digs its way into the earth beneath, so as not to disrupt its continuing support of the hand that is holding her head. Between her thumb and index finger is a yellow sunflower that seems to be missing two or three petals, which upon further examination can be seen upon the ground directly beneath the hovering flower. Her somber gaze and wanting eyes make me wonder, has something made this woman sad? As I begin to approach her, the scene begins to melt away and I suddenly find myself standing in a decrepit doorway, its white exterior chipping off onto the weathered hardwood floor. Beyond the doorway is what seems to be an apartment, yet it would do better to classify it as a large closet containing a stovetop and a wash-sink. Only one lone yellow-lighted lamp is supplying the light for the room, but instead of a beaming light, it only achieves pools of ambient yellow that have become victims to the seemingly opaque shadows inhabiting the space. Within the confines of the brown adobe-style walls is a drab green love seat made of wool, complete with a shredded exterior that appears more to be a derivative of a night with a speed-crazy wilder beast than a lifetime of depressed environmental factors, and adorned with two pale pink pillows. On the couch sits a sobbing woman, wearing faded blue jeans and a dark black shirt, her head deep down into the palms of her hands, which are held up on top of her two legs. She looks to be in her mid thirties; her hair having lost its shimmer years before, and lines from a hard life displaying themselves gloomily upon her visible forehead. As her tears crash and explode against the bronze picture frame in her lap, her incessant sobbing pauses for a second and she asks herself in exasperation, "Why? Why? Why? I don't understand." I begin to walk forward, moving deeper into the dimly lit room. My eyes adjust to the lighting, or lack thereof, and the picture comes into focus. A family—son, daughter, husband, and a mother—their smiles radiating as they stand in front of a stone wall, which I assume to be from a vacation of some sort. I want to ask her what happened; I want to comfort her. Autonomously my arm extends, reaching for her shoulder, but the moment before I make contact, she freezes. In the same moment, as my hand lands upon her shoulder, she shatters like a porcelain statue. Pieces of her sullen face drop onto the couch and floor as a cloud of dust permeates the air. In complete horror, I begin to slowly back away, still facing the petrifying scene before me. The room seems darker, angrier, and the swirling air has become cold, despite the lack of windows within the apartment. I feel something rise against my heel as I back away, causing me to stumble. Like a rug pulled from under me, I begin to fall. Thoughts run back and forth through my head—what happened to this woman? What does it all mean?—then, as my skull cracks itself on the floor, darkness. 
"Señor? Señor? Aquí es su comida."
In an instant, I jolt back to life and apologize to the woman holding my food. She looks at me quizzically, then walks away muttering something to herself as she proceeds to pick up plates covered in half-eaten portions of rice and various vegetables. As I leave the restaurant, I notice that the same old woman is still sitting there, her eyes fixated on the television screen without compromise. I don't understand why she is there; why she saturates herself with a fake reality. Her longing stare imbues me with a sense of wonder, but I realize that for all the wondering I could ever do, I will not find my answer. I exit and continue down the cracked sidewalk, the air embracing me with mystique, watching as people interact and forge moments with one another, each more fleeting than the last. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Withdrawals of You are Starting to Settle In

Since I came here about a month or so ago, I have been exposing myself to a myriad of different artists, songs, and films. There has been no break in the overcast sky pattern that tends to plague Lima during its dim winter. The sun shows itself rarely, if ever, and when it does you begin to see a taste of what the summer is expected to bring—people become more social; they blast their car stereos with all four doors open and begin dancing on the sidewalks. It's a glorious depiction, and one I love to witness when the rare moment occurs. But, unfortunately, this occurrence is quite seldom during this time of year, bringing instead a more subdued version—people shuffling down the cracked sidewalks, keeping to themselves with their eyes focused on the ground. It's not that they are inhospitable, they're just in that old winter mode which tends to produce a rather somber time of reflection. No one really enjoys winter, whether it brings thunderous blizzards and power outages, or simple overcast skies and a sense of despondence. It can be a struggle not to let the clouds beat your motivation to a bloody pulp, so I have been remedying my situation with some Peruvian beers and a little dash of Santana I-III. That's right, good ole' "Santana", "Abraxas", and "III". It's extremely refreshing to say the least, and does its best to make up for the sun's rude malfeasance, albeit the lack of physical light. Searing guitar leads, furious bongos, ambient minor sevenths, and a healthy dose of swirling and whirling organs do enough to produce their own, immortal brightness, despite delivering the usually-optical sensation through a completely different sense. But, no matter how brilliant a luminescence the music achieves, it creates a longing in my heart for my own electric guitars and strange array of effects and amps left at home. My acoustic did join me for my trip down here, and for that I am beyond appreciative, but I do sorely miss the electricity running through each note, delivering a reverberated sense of sustain and feeling. The buzzing hums of the seemingly liquid tones being bathed in oceans of delay and phase, giving way to a crescendo of crisp, clean, and thick chords—I miss it; I want it; I crave it. There is no replacement for that feeling of being in a dark, dank, smoke-festering little room with other musicians, jamming out to a universal feeling that is as harmonious within ourselves as it is in the notes and beats we play. The syncopated effort, among a lingering stench of cigarettes and big dreams, is a beautiful euphony that delivers an unparalleled sense of unity and accord. Music is an art imbued with a beautiful sense of symmetry, allowing you to disrupt its ambiguous congruity with sonic prodding and aural assault until you achieve a balance of your own desire. Bottom line: I'm having electric guitar withdrawals!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blast Off... It's Party Time

Since coming to Lima, I have only been involved in a handful of social outings, with most of them not even being genuine Peruvian adventures, but rather just fun times with my roommate and friends from the States. The first weekend I was here however, I had the unique opportunity to watch Peru compete in their final qualifying match for the World Cup at a local bar. It was quite exciting—patrons drank themselves into boisterous oblivion, roaring angrily during game lows, then bursting into celebratory song at each anticipated high. When I arrived at the bar, I was introduced to a young, well-dressed woman sporting mute, yet chic, colors and her equally stylish boyfriend in a red track jacket, both of whom welcomed us to sit with them. The experience itself was something I won’t soon forget and concluded with my friends and I being invited to a birthday party, weeks away, for the girl we had sat with. My friends had known her for the last six months or so, and seemed to be sincerely close with her. The aforementioned party took place this past weekend and was truly one of my first authentic Peruvian experiences—being that, over the last couple of weeks, the party transitioned from being a supposed “banger” at a rowdy nightclub to a more subdued intimate celebration at her aunt’s apartment for family and close friends. Whichever way it was to go down, I was slightly nervous in regards to the event, thanks to my lack of fluency in the Spanish language, as well as the fact that I knew none of the people that were to attend. But, with my nerves flying at high altitude and a little apprehension, I nonetheless decided to venture into the social wild and attend the celebration.
            Back home in the States, I would usually have a bunch of different outfit options, of which I did my best to bring here, however, my timing was unusually unfortunate and the party had found me at the cusp of a new laundry cycle. The only available articles of clean clothing in my closet were a gray flannel, a pair of maroon-ish jeans, and my black pullover. With my Frankensteined outfit assembled and a quick foray with the mirror—in an attempt at some sort of hairstyle; we sadly have no brush, I joined up with my two friends and begun the night. The party was taking place at an apartment only ten minutes or so from our own, so we took the opportunity to walk the streets of the Surquillo district and the beautiful Miraflores district. When we arrived at the apartment door belonging to the birthday girl’s aunt, we were welcomed in by her grandmother, who greeted us with a warm smile and a kiss on the cheek—the customary greeting for women down here. She was a hospitable woman, who exemplified the exact image and definition of “grandmother”, with her friendly conversation and charitable offerings of anything we might need. After entering the apartment, we walked down a short slender hallway, past an arched alcove on the left in which the kitchen was housed, and arrived at a wonderfully, and appropriately for the occasion, decorated room with two tan-skinned, raven-haired girls sitting on a beige loveseat. They greeted us with big grins and welcoming embraces as we sat down on the couch parallel to theirs. Both of my friends knew them, and after talking for a bit, I learned that they were the birthday girl’s two best friends. As one proceeded to apply eyeliner and foundation to the other, they broke down the itinerary of the night for us into karaoke, dancing, and other stuff, as well as supplying us with the notion that they wanted the party to be a surprise. We continued to talk about various things until the birthday girl arrived, in which time another friend, as well as the parents and the aunt joined us.
Upon notification of her arrival, my friends and I, in addition to the two girls and the newly arrived friend, hid in different spots around the living room, with me placing myself behind a table. Laughing to myself, I found joyous amusement in the fact that I hadn’t been part of a surprise party in many, many years, yet I reveled in the youthful sentiment that seeped from the idea itself. As we sprung up, yelling surprise in two different languages, the birthday girl’s mouth gaped open with shock and appreciation like I haven’t seen in a long time. Down here, family events such as birthday parties, reunions, and even simple dinners are treated with a sense of respect and gratitude—something that we, including myself, have trampled all over. As we all sat down, her parents produced a silver tray lined with glasses of fresh peach puree and rum, sending my taste buds into their own ecstasy that was to be followed by karaoke. Karaoke and I were never friends, but I was so swept up by the contagious excitement flying around the room, that I decided to attempt “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado. After the karaoke had subsided, and about 4 more rounds of peach rum drinks had gone around, they presented the birthday girl with her cake. Adorned with what I assume to be twenty-four—since this was her newly achieved age, sparkling trick candles and an edible picture of the birthday girl holding her dog, she hurriedly tried to blow out each sparkler after the birthday song concluded. After successfully extinguishing each stubborn sparkler, a cylindrical tube was placed at the top of the cake, which, when lit, burst into a stream of sparks like a Fourth of July firework and served as the precursor to a piñata, which literally looked like a pink papier-mâché ball covered in glossy birthday hats. With quite a bit of superfluous effort, the piñata was eventually ripped open, spilling its insides of candy and knick-knacks all over the hardwood floor beneath it. After the mad-dash to retrieve the candy and disperse colored ribbons about the room, EDM and dancing ensued. I did my best non-dancing dance moves—stand around, bop my head like “Night at the Roxbury”, and make a mockery of dance culture while mingling awkwardly to the groove. The night soon concluded itself around one in the morning, and after a few good-byes and closing beers, we initiated our journey back home. I can honestly say that I fully enjoyed every moment of the party and wouldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Saturday night. Meeting new friends, forging fresh connections, and feeling the warmth of family that so permeates the culture down here was an extraordinary experience and I’m incredibly thankful I was able to be a part of it.