Updates for my mates

Hello everyone, I apologize for my prolonged absence after that last, rather negative post. I have had some high points and low points over the past few days that have kept me away from internet access, but I will get to those in a moment.

First, while it is still fresh in my mind, I will offer an update on the peculiar state of internal politics in this nation which I have come to understand more over the past 15 minutes than in the past month is truly a foreign nation. I believe I commented in my first post on the proliferation of socialist graffiti in the urban centers, and upon further reflection I have realized that many of these mural-type statements must have been at least put up with, if not allowed, by the local authorities as many of them were done on public through-ways with wet acrylic rather than aerosol paint, and had a vibrancy of color that indicated the possibility of multiple coats. This reflection comes, however, on the revelation of an unexpected and unwelcome truth. There was, in light of the recent referendum on liberalizing the constitution, a large, often violent, conservative protest movement based primarily in large urban universities. The “painted hands” or “white hands” came as such a surprise to me in their television expose that I had to check more than once which side the protestors were on, assuming I had misunderstood. It seems the movement is an international one, crossing the boarders of Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador with impunity in light of their recent efforts to recognize the legitimacy of civil unions for gay couples, the rights of indigenous groups to political power, and other efforts supported in mass by the vehemently liberal student groups of the most recognized American universities. Clips of youth wielding chains, fists, and traffic cones against the “man” represented by, *gasp*, cops positioned to defend the stance of the liberal majority evoked all the stereotypical images of 70’s anti-Vietnam protests and more obscure ones of contemporary anarchist marches (yes, Anarchism is alive and well in the world, read bombsandshields.blogspot.com if you don’t believe me). Suddenly I have become a bit disillusioned with the promise of passionate causes ahead of me, for perhaps the reality is that young people will always find some reason to protest, no matter which direction the political tide is turning. Then, however, I take some solace in the knowledge that my nation is not, nor has it ever been, controlled by a Catholic majority.


In other news, first the bad: I have encountered the inevitable stomach malcontent that almost all tales of Stateside tourists venturing south contain, but luckily it was a rather mild form that gave me a bit of fever but spared me the double-ended spouting of the horror-stories. The illness came on the tails of one of my most relaxed and enjoyable periods thus-far. I stayed in Macas over the weekend with the sister of my host, that elusory English-fluent aunt promised me by my initial contact Juan Carlos who I have still yet to hear utter a single anglo-saxon syllable. The family and house, however, were a breath of fresh air. Living a far more urban lifestyle than their cousins, Pati and Stephan (the Ecuadorian aunt her German husband), Marcel (the eldest daughter of the family, 23 and, from what I can tell, a single mother who reminds me slightly of Mr. Gordon my first high school advisor) Amaru (the eldest son, a senior in highschool with slightly bro-esque skater tendencies), Yankuan (the youngest son, a friendly but moody pre-pubescant with a pension for the game I recognize as those failed trading-discs once known as Pogs stateside), and the two babies, Sua (an adorable rolly-polly type who makes a great model and you have already seen pictures of) and the two month older daughter of Marcel who’s name I can never seem to get a grasp on (what I do know is she learned to dance before she learned to walk). We spent the first day at a family birthday party, playing basketball at a local court, and playing a family game of Monopoly until 2 in the morning (7 hours of fun, who knew?).


The next day we ventured out to one of the many day resorts in the area to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Foundation that Stephan works for (that sentence hurt my brain). Pools, more basketball, ping pong, and lounging abounded. I played my first improvised game of three-ball billiards there, I have no idea if we were playing correctly but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The celebratory cake was delicious, and the meal was one of the best I have had while in the country. I suspect, however, that the source of my intestinal disruption was either the french-fry and chicken-foot soup or a later snack of fried chicken and french-fries accompanies by lettuce that I attempted to avoid but am not sure how successful I was. The different environment, more jovial nature of the siblings, and beautiful house (white walls with rounded dark wood trim and plenty of porch space) was a much-needed breath of fresh air for me.


When I returned to Asuncion I slept poorly, sweaty and hot, and awoke to troubled insides. It was not until almost half a day of work had passed that I ventured down to the Health Center where Esther works to be diagnosed with an intestinal infection by a very amiable young doctor. I sequestered myself to my room in an effort to avoid infecting the house elders and infant if my ailment turned out to be contagious. My fever continued but my overall peace of mind was not much disturbed. In my isolation I rediscovered my childhood indulgence in prolonged literary investment. I first finished 100 Years of Solitude, I can see why Marquez was awarded the Nobel. The book is both profound and moving in its surrealism. I was especially affected by the big-idea pursuits of Jose Arcadio Buendia, and the dogged persistence of the Aurelianos. Part of my year is an attempt to find within myself the capacity for self-motivated devotion so eloquently expressed in these characters. Marquez’s warning on that hand was not lost on me, balance is called for above all else. The image of the turn of the century aviator (who’s name has sadly abandoned my mind) in white tights and a dashing mustache atop his velocipede evoked an age old yearning to hold a turn of the century aristocrat party, or perhaps a picnic luncheon, complete with jovial mannerisms and bawdy striped and plaid attire.


My literary gluttony has continued on into The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which I found amid the audiobooks on the iPod my father so graciously lent me for the trip. Even in my rejuvenated state I find the temptation to wander off to some uninhabited corner and lose myself in listening, even though I find it interferes for a time with my Spanish comprehension afterwards. My original intent to find a job in a bookstore and read the classics has reemerged as a serious possibility upon my return to Asheville, though possibly a video store might be a better option. I don’t know if TVEye is hiring, but it seemed perfect in it’s slow pace and easily reorganized shelving system for a combined literary and cinematic glutton.


Another side-effect of my two-day absence from the outside world directly following a venture out into the wider world was the emergence of something akin to homesickness, but far less about the aspect of a location and much more about a broad spectrum of characters that makeup my far-flung friend spectrum. Jonathan, good lad though he is, can only do so much to satiate my need for companionship. I have found myself lazing about lost in fantasized adventures with various cantankerous groups of amigos far more often than is probably healthy for me. A side-effect of these sessions is the continued growth of my concept for a broadly expansive video and musical experiment. I will elaborate more on that later, however.


For now here are some shots I took in Macas near the river. Incidentally I actually crossed the collapsed bridge there on my buss-ride from Quito. I understand it was overloaded by a truck containing an unreasonable number of cement sewer-pipe sections, or something along those lines. It was impressive, to say the least.


P.S. I got my ballot and am voting today! Huzzah!


P.P.S. I will hopefully be headed to a small town in the jungle without road access some time next week, apparently it is all very traditional so I should have some great photos for you then.

P.P.P.S. Happy Holloween, dress up twice for me, mmkay?


~ by twist9 on October 30, 2008.

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