Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

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This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, November 18, 2003 was originally posted on November 19, 2003.

DAY 31: When Andre moved out of our hotel room with a view of Pelican Bay, I was switched to a single which cost me $15/night.  However, this newer, more expensive room wasn’t worth its view of a brick wall, so I switched to the hostel Chris had lived in for only $6/night with windows that looked out to some palm trees.

Navid left to go on a three-day tour of Isla Isabela — I didn’t feel like spending the extra money and just wanted to rest — so I just chilled out in Puerto Ayora for the day to observe island life and run errands.  I had lunch at a grilled cheese stand near the grammar school where little kids in uniform came in and out for a quick juice or snack.


“[YOU ARE JAPANESE and you speak Spanish?]” a store owner asked me after I spoke some of his native tongue. 

“[I look Japanese?]”

“Sí.”

“[Where are you from?]”

“Nueva York.”

“[And you speak Spanish?]”

“[A little.]”

“[It’s good that you know enough.]”

I’ve now evolved from Latino to Chinese to Japanese.  If only Darwin was around to observe this.


I WAS IN DESPERATE NEED OF A HAIRCUT, so I went to the local barber.  It was an old-fashioned barber shop, complete with random old guys who just hang out and sleep in the store.  The old sleeping guy at this particular place just sat in a chair with his head leaned back, mouth wide open, but woke up every 45 seconds or so to see what was going on.  It was always the same old thing — someone getting a haircut — so he’d go take another 45 second nap. 

I thought explaining what kind of cut I wanted would be difficult, but it was fairly easy when the barber just asked me what number attachment to use on his electric clippers for the sides and top.  Anyone who grew up on Sesame Street could at least do that (and understand the reference in the title of this entry).  He gave me a decent haircut, complete with a shave around the edges with an old-fashioned razor for four bucks. 

After my haircut, the sleepy old man was sitting on the stoop with his cap on his head and eight teeth in his mouth, just looking out to the street.  I stopped for a bit to hear his philosophies on life.  I didn’t understand all of it, but most of the time he just said the word “tranquilo” (peaceful) over and over, almost as if it was his answer for any question — similar to the way I just say “sí” all the time.  I could have probably asked him for the time and he would have just said, “Tranquilo.”

“Adios,” I bid him goodbye.

“Tranquilo, tranquilo.”


THE STREETS OF TOWN WERE EMPTY and I wondered where everyone had gone.  Then a dog with a Ecuador soccer jersey walked by and I realized where everyone was.  I went to Limon & Cafe, Gustavo’s bar to watch the big soccer game against Peru. 

“[Who do you root for, Ecuador or Peru?]” one of the other bartenders asked me.

“Ecuador,” I said, like it was even silly to ask such a question in Ecuador.  “[And you?]”

“Ecuador!”

He pulled out a flag and set it up near the bar.  When the game started, lots of people came into watch on two different televisions.  There were two crazy guys in the bar that ran around like madmen — regardless of Ecuador never scoring — waving the flag in the streets while blowing a whistle.  But in the end, it was a draw 0-0, and I still didn’t get to see a big victory street party.


THE REST OF THE DAY I JUST WALKED AROUND.  I bought some postcards and seasickness pills and looked for the cheapest price for a disposable underwater camera — the cheapest being at a store where the storekeeper was playing Grand Theft Auto III on a computer in the back. 

Back at my hostel, I met Joanna and Urban from Sweden, and Steve and Gwen from Scotland, who were just sitting around the common area.  Both couples were in their later months of year-long travels.  They invited me to a barbecue they were going to have downstairs, where I helped them grill the fish they caught in the day.  I chipped in for some sugar cane rum. 

We were joined by a Dutch couple who sprung for wine and bread and soon enough we were having an impromptu barbecue party under the night sky, only two hours after my introduction.  A cat walked in with the smell of fish in the air and we gave him a bowl of scraps.  Steve played tunes on a guitar he bought in Bolivia.

“My friends back home who cling onto their lives there always say that they’ll have time to travel later in life, when the kids are all grown up,” Steve said.  “But I say that right here, right now, it is our time.”

“I’ll toast to that,” I said.  We all raised our glasses.


THE REST OF THE NIGHT was spent playing a Bolivian drinking game, which involved rules from both rolling dice and playing Jenga, if you can imagine that.  Needless to say I got pretty trashed.  Steve was drunk enough to catch a gecko on the wall and put it in his mouth for a couple of seconds before it scurried away for its life.  For a short while we went to Gustavo’s bar where it was just all local guys hitting on all the gringo women.  I was pretty out of it and just went back to the hostel. 

Hungover, I struggled the next morning writing this blog entry in my room thinking that at least I have a view of palm trees instead of bricks.






Next entry: A Day at the Beach

Previous entry: Alone in the Dark without Jesus




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Comments for “Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?”

  • So you’ve been there a few days ... any theories yet?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  04:13 PM


  • ROBIN:  I did have a theory last night…but I got drunk and forgot!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  04:17 PM


  • i didn’t know WHEAT was in the galapagos too?  hahaha…pescado…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  04:22 PM


  • Nice haircut!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  04:31 PM


  • I agree with Steve.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  05:14 PM


  • I almost forgot… It’s been a month since Day 1.

    Thanks for a month of great writing Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  05:20 PM


  • it IS one month….so in celebration, everyone who reads this blog, put your glasses (or bottles of 40s) and toast…

    Salud!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  05:43 PM


  • I’ll drink to that (or anything else really).  Happy 1 month Global Trip anniversary, Erik!  SALUD!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  06:04 PM


  • Salud - enjoy!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  06:31 PM


  • I was a slacker and missed out on almost a week and half. I’m caught up now, and I’m very jealous of the beautiful water. You’ve gotten me all excited about my trip to Nicaragua over Christmas. Thanks a bunch! I want to see pictures of a party in the street - with the Ecuadorian football team ever pull a win off!
    Congrats on a month of awesome writing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  07:39 PM


  • yeh and pescados miss their stops on the 167 ...erik tell ur bro to stop inviting me to that new site, uhm. “bakla-ster”. 

    tranquilo, tranquilo

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  07:47 PM


  • yvette,

      tell uday to report to the bakla office

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  07:48 PM


  • who are the pescados in your neighborhood?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  07:49 PM


  • wheat is the biggest bakla of them all…

    caparinhias and girls playing soccer….

    ay!!! tranquilo, tranquilo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  07:58 PM


  • I agree with robin!
    hope all is well, and palm trees ARE better than brick walls!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  08:20 PM


  • Turning Japanese???  hmmm…1980-what?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  01:12 AM


  • you seem to get to know the people in your neighborhood pretty good!

    1 month down, 15 to go! that went quick. you’ll be back before we know it.

    wow:) does it feel like you’ve been gone forever??? what do you miss?? how much $$ have you spent so far??? is the budget more or less than you expected ?? 20 questions for the 1 month mark…

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  01:39 AM


  • Awww. Cute kitty-kitten.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  03:03 AM


  • Thanks guys!  Glad you enjoy my writing…some days I’m not in the mood to write at all, but I force myself to do it anyway—don’t want to lose steam.  (However, I really welcome next week, when I’ll be on a boat in a No Internet Zone [N.I.Z.] for six days, so I can get a break for a bit…trying to come up with stuff to write can sometimes be tiring on the brain—especially when you’re hungover!)

    Anyway, I raise my glass to you… SALUD and TRANQUILO!


    ELAINE:  No, it doesn’t feel like forever yet…  It’s funny, “whereever I go, there I am” so I don’t really feel out of place or away from home… I think part of it is maintaining the blog to prevent homesickness. 

    As of now, I should rename the subtitle of this blog from “Sixteen Months Around the World” to “Sixteen Months Around the World (or Until the Money Runs Out, whichever comes first.)”  Everyone in the budgeting guides neglects to factor in that you actually want to DO stuff on the road, not just have money for food and housing.  However, as “cheap” as it sounds where I am with the prices I mention, I hear that Ecuador is relatively expensive compared to the countries south of here, so perhaps my budget will get back on track once I leave Ecuador.  And perhaps I’ll get to see another country win a soccer game!

    DUNLAVEY:  Hope you enjoyed the additional “local” flavor…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  03:12 AM


  • Erik, in the mood or not, your blog is great!!  Everyone is enjoying your writing, so keep up the good work!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  03:57 AM


  • So these people are mistaking your nationality, but with that new haircut is anyone mistaking you for a butch lesbian?  Or didn’t you bring the pink bra?

    Posted by Matt  on  11/20  at  04:17 AM


  • Salud y tranquilo!

    Drunk or not, you have a daily captive audience who simply can’t wait for the next entry. Reading your blog has (and I’m sure I’m not speaking only of myself) become part of my daily to-do list and will continue so as long as you’re abroad. Definitely hope to catch up with you sometime in the future and actually become part of the blog.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  04:39 AM


  • Yvette,
    Tell “wheat” I reported to the
    bakla office, and he was there
    already, giving out spankings for
    a nickel.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  01:21 PM


  • SIX DAYS of N.I.Z!?!  Withdrawal anyone?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  02:17 PM


  • Td0t: withdrawal, yes….. what are we to do on thanksgiving with no new blog to read?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  02:31 PM


  • ...udz offered me a $1

    ...elaine, with all those questions, you sound like your auntie astrid and auntie marlene. 

    tranquilo, tranquilo

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  02:47 PM


  • wheat since erik ain’t around, WE can’t go bowling on thanksgiving with the mcD’s breakfast…it wouldn’t be the same…

    tranquilo, tranquilo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  04:10 PM


  • Oh heavens! I’m already jones-ing! 6 days without the BLOG?!?! Whatever will I do?  You realize of course that when it does go back online we will all expect 6-days-worth of entries… and I also expect I’ll get nothing accomplished at work that day.

    A month on the road… I can’t imagine that. I’ve never been gone longer than 16 days! Then again I never ate deep-fried guinea pig or photographed by poo.

    So hats off to you Erik! Good Blogging and great pics have earned you a devoted audience… keep up the good work, and keep writer’s block at bay!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  04:34 PM


  • ...if bowler city was wi-fi..maybe

    oh uhm, lyn-lyn and kiko werk in TR on fri. nights…...stupid stupid den dammit

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  07:02 PM


  • no wi-fi at bowler city….

    tranquilo, tranquilo my friend….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  07:43 PM


  • Homesick already? You write so much about how hung over you are it’s like you never left?
    Thanks for the “local report” - “Tranquilo”  sounds like most of the dudes in my own predominantly puerto rican neighborhood.
    Hey - finally saw the Triumph DVD and?WE’RE BOTH ON IT - just for a few seconds near the end when he goes into the crowd. yes, I will get a screen capture somehow.
    The Royal Flush party is in a few hours, I’m off to rawk out at CBGB’s

    Posted by dunlavey  on  11/20  at  08:19 PM


  • DUNLAVEY:  NO WAY…we’re in the Triumph the Comic Insult Dog DVD?!  That’s awesome news…  for me to poop on.. and photograph!

    Good luck with the flush!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  09:02 PM


  • Erik,

    In the category “cheap countries down south” you can count out Peru. It’s not much - if at all - cheaper than Ecuador. Buses cost about the same, so do hotels. Museums are way more expensive, especialy in Lima. By the way, I stayed in downtown Lima and just like you said I didn’t have any problems. Not even when I went to the airport, to pick up my friend, in a couple of colectivo vans (to save a few soles) via some of the more financialy challenged suburbs of Lima, while it was getting dark. I would recommend that though (and wouldn’t like to repeat the experience myself either).
    We’re in Nazca now and tomorrow we’ll take a flight over the Nazca lines in the desert. After that, hanging out by the pool until the time the nightbus leaves for Arequipa.
    Take care,
    Pepe

    Posted by Pepe  on  11/20  at  11:40 PM


  • ERik-o Suaave…
    Have you noticed any tall ppl there?..
    i mean like over 5 foot?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  11:55 PM


  • UDZ:  Tall people, yes.  And they all speak either Dutch or German.  Some of them dance funny too.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  02:51 PM


  • hey kuya erik!see you next year!advance merry christmas and a happy new year!we miss you here in the philippines!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  11:32 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
A Day at the Beach

Previous entry:
Alone in the Dark without Jesus




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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