Yesterday was among the most interesting, for good and for bad. Or maybe bad for the purpose of a more, mindful, appreciated-good.
Jordan had more work to do on his laptop, so he needed to go to a cafe. A few of the guys were headed to go pick up bamboo, so I rode along to get footage.
In the beginning, I rode alone quietly. Djuka and James were engaged in conversation concerning gardening and permaculture, so I was completely lost. As we drove by the fields of rice paddies and through the noise if the motorbikes, I kept to myself, staring off into the distance.
Once we got there, I began filming with all Jordan taught me in mind (well, as much as I could remember): Check the mic levels, ISO levels, focus…make sure it’s f***ing focused! That’s actually quite hard for me especially when I don’t have my glasses.
I prompted the necessary dialogue, got the boys talking to the camera about exactly where we were and what we were doing. They talked about the uses of bamboo and the benefits of building with it.
I guess this must have sparked questions in my mind, because on the way back, I decided not to be disengaged and in my own world. I rose up the courage to ask them. And I’m glad I did.
This led to a full blown discussion on the basic principles and objectives of permaculture. How it started, by whom, who has helped continue the movement and where, why it’s important, how to contribute, etc. etc.
The most fundamental concept is closing the gap that begins with humans using and consuming. By putting energy back into the earth, by giving something back for anything we kill or use, we fill in the piece that allows the cycle to come full circle.
For example, a farmer tills the land, which kills the essential organisms living at the top soil. But because of the duck he has roaming the land that eats the bugs and keeps the pests off his crops, the duck then fertilizes the soil with its waste, restoring essential organisms. For whatever he destroys, he is replacing with new energy to keep the cycle of life healthily flowing.
After being enlightened for over an hour, James gave me a list of documentary titles and books to check out when I get the chance. I will post them later in case you’re interested.
Later that day, Jordan returned and he, our Austrian friend Corrina and I decided to go to the beach. I grabbed my paints, brushes, and notebook and we were off.
Jordan wanted to stop and grab food, so he dropped me and Corrina at the beach first. I had not really talked to her much before, and now looking back, I’m so glad I got the chance to get to know her.
Her story, like that of many of young travelers’ I’ve encountered, was similar: Life, as society had dictated it should be, was becoming mundane, repetitive. One day she realized the life she was living was no longer fulfilling. One day she realized she had a choice to not live that way anymore, that she had a choice to quit it and leave. So she quit her job as a dermatology assistant in Vienna and left.
She has been traveling now for months, and I love her outlook on life. Even when she deals with certain negative challenges, her outlook is refreshing. The bad happens for a reason. Everything is a lesson in disguise. And nothing should be taken personally.
We wondered what was taking Jordan so long, and soon enough, we saw him yelling for us from the road, motioning for us to come back.
“But I don’t want to leave yet,” Corrina said to me. I didn’t either. So I walked over by myself to see what it was he wanted.
As I got closer, I called out, “What’s going on? Why can’t you come sit with us?” He was obviously frustrated but I had no idea why and he wasn’t answering.
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t have an attitude with me, I just got into an accident,” he said finally. I looked at his arms and legs, which were freshly scraped and bleeding. Shit.
I felt terrible and didn’t know what to say other than “Oh my God, I’m sorry.” He gave me my food and said he needed to go clean up and that he or Djuka would come back for us later.
So I walked back to Corrina and told her what had happened. Then we realized that we were stranded and didn’t know how to get back.
After sitting for a bit longer, we decided to start walking back and maybe hitch a ride back when we got sick of walking.
And we got seriously lost.
We would walk in one direction based on our best collective guess, ask around, and be told we were walking the wrong way. But I was glad for it. As we both agreed, our best times traveling have always come as a result of being lost.
First of all, what better way to really understand the correct way than to attempt all the wrong ways yourself? Then there’s the feeling of accomplishment when you actually figure it out. And in this case, it allowed me more time to converse with Corrina, who was quickly becoming my favorite person I’ve met.
She loves yoga. She is extremely creative. She taught herself to play the guitar at around 16, and said she should have practiced more since because she’s rusty and can’t remember how to play that one Tracy Chapman song like she used to.
She draws beautifully, as evidenced by her sketch book she carries with her. But like me, she grows impatient after starting a piece, and often has to consciously remind herself to take breaks and not rush through.
She has a horrible sense of direction, and she laughs as she tells me her friends say they are shocked she travels and even manages to find her way around. I said, same with me, and my sisters feel the same. And here we are, two seriously lost, geographically challenged souls, attempting to navigate our way from beach to hostel.
Eventually we got sick of walking, and the heat of the sun and humidity were not making things any easier. So we stopped at a cafe: To use their wifi to contact someone to pick us up, and to enjoy a piece of apple pie.
We continued walking and soon enough, Jordan came driving by and picked us up. We had already figured out where we were and how to get back by then, but were grateful for a ride.
I had realized arriving back to the hostel that my paintbrushes were gone. They must have fallen out of my bag. I asked Jordan the next day if he could take me back so I could retrace my steps to look for them. He was shook up from his accident, but was forced to face the same intersection as he brought me back.
Wasn’t at the cafe where we got our pie. Went to the beach, and it wasn’t to be found dispersed among the trash. Then, on the road leading away from the beach, eureka!:
There was the case, with paintbrushes gone. They likely fell out of my bag and someone probably saw them and picked them up.
I’m bummed that they’re gone, but like Corrina said, maybe someone who could never have afforded brushes before, is highly enjoying this little bit of luxury left on the side of the road. Maybe the new Picasso got his first start. I feel like this year has taught a lot me about my dependence on material things, and just letting go in general.
I hope that the paintbrushes are enjoying their new life.