There are few people who can change the world through a seemingly simple act. Their talents go beyond the isolated existence the rest of us live in. They create a new world for us. They transport us into a demention of our own emotional body we can only temporarily visit. And forever we will continually be inspired by their work.
This is the type of person my brother is and after nearly five months of traveling around the world he is returning home to finish working on the project world citizen.
I knew from day one I had the ability to make this project work…I also knew without my brother, this project would end up another boring travel film. It has been his personality that defines the movie and it will be his artistic genius that makes it.
Every time we filmed I was in awe of his ability to capture a moment on camera. He is truly a film maker and everything he touches turns beautiful.
Stay tuned as the editing process moves forward.
I invite all of you to click on the ‘trailer’ link in the navigation bar to view a short teaser created by a close friend Mitchell Rossit-Lavigne.
It was still dark out, and 8 other people around me slept soundly. I laid awake on the bottom bunk, staring blankly into the nothingness.
My alarm was set to wake me in 3 minutes…I had been up for hours.
It was the last 3 minutes before I took a cab away forever, and it felt like the last 3 minutes of my life.
The building was an old victorian mansion adjecent to Presidents home in old town, Panama City, also know as Casco Viejo. As I stepped out of bed the floor boards creaked. I wondered if everyone knew I was leaving. I wondered if they knew why I was leaving and what my brother and I had been through.
My bag was already packed.
There was only one thing left to do, and it made my throat swell up like in the moment before we cry.
I woke brother sleeping in bed above mine. He knew what I was doing.
In a week he would go to live in England to work, not ready to leave his greatest adventure. He was what I was only two year ago…on his own now, in the world.
I stuck out my hand and his hand grasped mine. He looked me in the eyes, through the early morning gray and said, ” This is not over…we will go on”
I felt the creak of every step down the stairs like a shooting pain through my heart. My backpack weighed heavier on my shoulders than it ever had. It was worse than a break up.
My thoughts were of everything my brother and I had been through. No one would know…but for the rest of our lives we would have these memories to share with each other. And every experience was better because I shared it with him.
For many many days, it was ignorant, but it was complete wonderment that I found the inspiration to write about experience.
The business like process of making a movie isn’t that of wandering through a timeless and ageless desert. But it is a honest process…and really, what else do we have?
Everyday, the ambitiously inspired and cautiously reserved engage in this, honest process we call life. They send me emails or share with me over coffee the dreams they dare to dream about the experiences they want to have. They are me, and I am them…and together we are the world.
All that we can do now, is figure out just how, to make this honest process something of a life experience.
Something we will tell our children about, and write about, and sing about, and know forever that we chose to live that process.
Today I am not in the Jungle…and as I stare up at the virgin marry there is no AK-47 pressed against the side of my head…but today I am alive. Today I have friends. Today I have everything that I could have. And if I never make it to tomorrow…all I can hope is that I lived my today. Here, there, anywhere, and everywhere.
My biggest struggle was not learning to be some sort of eclectic citizen of the world, it was learning to live here. It was learning to actually find peace in my day to day existence, and not to be living in the fantasy of my next adventure. My adventure was now, no matter how mundane or insane it was. I am here.
And this project will continue on.
My heart felt weaker than it ever had. It weighed so heavy in my chest, holding my head up to look anyone in the eye took motivation. Thinking about the project felt like trying to breath when the wind has been knocked out of you.
That feeling resided deep in me for weeks and I avoided anyone and everyone I could. It was not that I ever thought I was invisible…I just thought I had to be for everybody to believe in what I was doing…that or, “I told you he wouldn’t last”.
Maybe all of it and none of it is true.
I didn’t need to dwell on it, I just needed to experience it. I needed to feel the pain so I could always remember what this felt like. And I always needed to remember, because if I forgot…then I’d forgot where I’d come from.
And this was so much more to me than the geographical distance between Mexico and Singapore.
Three months ago I walked along a beach road in Mahahual, Mexico. A Hurricane had passed through just months before, leaving the paradise a near waste land of destroyed dreams. I knew I would have to survive my own Hurricane before this was done.
For whatever reason I ended up at home,I don’t know and maybe never will, BUT, I will make the most of it. I was working within 72 hours of been home, and as I put the pieces of the project back together I will be trying to raise the funds to get back down Santiago…and begin exactly where I left off.
And as the forever believer George, of Mahahual, with his bare and weathered hands, puts his Beach Hotel back together, stick by stick: So I will begin putting the (over) 600mins of footage we have already shot together and planning my journey back into ‘The World’.
There is a long road ahead and I have no idea what to expect…and that, well, that makes it all the better.
When we try to hard to understand why something happens, we can loose sight on making it right. Sometimes the world moves us to places we never expected to be. And sometimes the place you never expected to be was home.
It is when we are faced with a challenge that we find out whether we truly believe in what we say – or we just preach it in blind ignorance.
Such was my fate as my plane landed at YVR some 8 months too early – some 20 countries shy – and to top it all off…alone.
I sat cross legged, flipping through my journal, while eating a Spanish Omllette in the Panama City Airport, trying to remember what had just happened. I wasn’t even sure if it had…and as the last remains of the Spanish Culture faded away around me I wasn’t even sure what was happening this moment.
I used to lay in bed late at night, listening to music and imagining what this journey would be like…I never imagined a moment like this.
Business people, some families, a few other backpackers, and this lonesome film maker marched solemnly onto the plane. My head was low and I had to watch my feet board the aircraft to really believe it was happening.
I was flying home. Cheated multiple times, robbed, and with a camera that barely lived to tell the tale of its tragic fall some fifteen feet down onto the desert ground. It was a remarkably unfortunate ten-days that led me here…
Where is all the Mess?
As I walked a familiar street, people mowing their lawns, children playing in the yard…I didn’t remember how to look at it. Flying home over Dallas I saw the checkered board of society mapped out below me in perfect form. So much organization.
I couldn’t remember the last time I saw such a systematic structure of society. In Central and South America, everything is a mess. The jungle is a grand entanglement of flora and fauna so dense its passage is nearly impossible – the city scape’s don’t prove any better, with shanty homes and shops put up in every corner.
It is not that I enjoy the structure and of such a world as that…but when it is like that, you can see the mess that is the world, that is society. You can see the struggle.
Here amongst the organization we hide the mess of the modern world…we hide our struggles behind the perfect lawn. And now when I look at it…I don’t know what’s real and what is simply proper.
I am lost here.
¨God does not rest the night on the soft clouds in the heavens above, but on the white sand beaches of San Blas¨
Paradise is a place that has nothing – and makes you feel everything. I had fallen asleep on the white sand as the tide tickled my toes and the sun sizzled my face. I heard nothing except the waves dancing gently with the shore – a perfect sound. When I opended my eyes I was blinded by the sun and the sand.
As I adjusted I sat up – I could see through the palm trees to the other side of the island – one hut – and not another soul except my brother and the family that lived there.
A man worked on his tiny boat, his son cutting coconuts for juice. The mother must be inside the hut avoiding the hot sun.
O´neil paces the shore, wading ever so slightly in the turquoise blue water. He was reading a book.
I began to remember how I got here. Driving toward Columbia, on the last miles of the Pan-American Highway – a sharp left turn up a steep dirt hill. Cross a river, and over a mountain to the shore of the carribean sea. On to a small boat to the first island you see.
Don´t forget…otherwise you could get stuck in Paradise.
We were living in a village on an island the size of a football field. We slept in Hammocks sheltered by palm leaves and bamboo. Geckos scurried the structures side, and other things scurried on the ground. At dark there is only candle light – and the rooster warms us of sunrise by 6:00am.
We ate fish, rice, and oranges. We ate three times a day, only. Beer was fifty cents.
The locals dressed in traditiona attire while sweeping dirt off the dirt streets. During the day they fish for dinner, and I don´t really know what else they do.
Their children play with pure excitement and joy. Always laughing and smiling – always eagar to say hello – without putting their hand out for a dollar.
They govern themselves and though dabble in the business of the Panamanian Society, they exhist in on of themselves – in a place that feels like the only place on earth.
These are the Kuna People of the San Blas Archipelago – 300 perfect island on the south carribean coast of Panama
…quite literally the center of the earth.
We stayed here and relished in their paradise until…we needed some reality. A boy did we get it.
It is hard to discuss the Panama Canal without spitting facts at you like a 9th grade science lecture.
When we talk about the Panama Canal we are talking about one of the wonders of the world, were talking about political history and the independence of a country. But what it really represents is so confusing, I wonder about the wonderment it actually possesses.
We stood four stories above the structure as massive ships cautiously floated through the chamber with only two-feet to spare on either side. All the while a recording spoken in English is played over and over again in a mechanical voice.
This is the Panama Canal this, and that, and this, and that and on and on like that – like listening to the arrival times at grand central station.
I was pretty impressed with the overall engineering feat of such a construction, but all the while I was perplexed by a lack there of…something I couldn’t quite pin-point.
On an on the mechanical voice went “75,000 workers, 10 years, 12,000 ships a year…cargo…number one…fastest…shortest…more cargo………”
I started remembering other places I’d seen over the course of our journey. I remembered sitting atop Macchu Picchu and watching the mist sift through the stone structure like some ghostly spirit possessed the ancient kingdom. I remember the feeling I had when I was there. I remembered the awesome presence of the once mighty empire still lingering in the jungle air…..and then it hit me. Here at the Panama Canal there was no presence.
There were no images of greatness, only greed…as this canal was a symbol of nothing but the progress, and process of the modern world. It was a catalyst to the ridiculous speed at which we lived our modern lives. It was everything backwards about our way of living, and the hoards of tourists, and that mechanical voice were living parts of the problem. I had to leave. I had had enough.
I felt unjustifiably angry when we walked the long flight of stairs back down to the highway. I was a tourist…I was someone who lived and loved the lifestyles that the Panama Canal allowed for…and yet I hated the Canal and myself for it. I was a prisoner to the canal…no matter where I was in the world…
That night I tossed and turned in my bunk…15 other people sleeping soundly all around me. Were they prisoners like me, enjoying the I-90 all the way to California…I don’t know.
We move in inches. All we really have is the step in front to front of us. But for how we see, well, we see a thousand miles ahead.
For me, that was having a glass of Red Wine in Chile. Why such an absurd goal, I don´t know. But as I sat at the street side cafe in Santiago sipping a glass of Camenére I felt a deep feeling of fulfillment. Having wanted to so long to do this, and having covered so many inches…
I doubt Red Wine had ever tasted better.
We are staying in a Victorian era house, with large winding oak staircases. After the desert trek and travel through Chile, I welcome the comfort.
I remember the first time I saw the Atlantic Ocean. It was in Willmington, North Carolina. As any great mountain range would, the Atlantic Ocean speaks a different language than the Pacific. Nothing overtly different about its appearance, just its presence.
When we moved out of the desert, and down through the Andes we arrived to the waves of the Pacific crashing on the shores of Coquimbo,Chile. To feel the air of the Pacific, with hints of aqua blue in the water, and rugged-rock formations just off the coast line…hearing its mighty voice again made me smile at our reunion – just as I did the first time I saw the Atlantic ocean.
This was as far south as this journey would take us.
When we reached our next hostel – Zuly´s Backpackers Hostel – It was a pleasantly unpleasant surprise.
We had had numerous strike outs before we found Zuly´s, but as the namesake herded us to our room we walked hard into a whiff of air that wreaked of too many humans.
It was suffocating.
In a tiny room, painted a disgustingly bright yellow, were two bunk-beds, six people, 12 bags, 1 guitar, an adjoin hostel laundry room with hanging wet clothes…and the best yet….NO WINDOW.
We are supposed to be here for five days….
I wasn´t sure, but I was pretty sure that we were traveling around one world. But that was not the case. In fact, we were traveling around two worlds. The first one and the third one. And it was not until we were back in the former, that I remembered the difference.
That is a bit of an untrue statement, Chile isn´t a First World Country, but it is damn near close (in political actuality) and Chileans won´t let you forget it.
Entering the city of Santiago provided feelings of awkwardly familiar, unfamiliarity. I wasn´t sure where we were. As Buenos Aires is the European City that ended up on the wrong side of the Atlantic, Santiago is the American city that ended up on the wrong continent.
This is a very disappointing reality to face…the influence for which I am not sure. Does Santiago wreak of American Gringo-ism because it desires to be such…or does it do so naturally. Either way, Chile does not embrace it´s cultural ancestory as it´s neighbors to the North do (Peru, Bolivia)….so much so, that it nearly rejects it.
Beautiful as it is geographically, in its determined quest for first world status (currently ranked 38th in world for developing nations) the country exploits the very natural resources that gives it, its identity…sound familiar?
I feel as far away from home as I ever could in a country that appears to be the most like home. That is strange statement to make.
I was standing at a point that appeared to be the most beautiful site i´d ever seen.
They sky was a deep orange and threatening black clouds floated heavy in the last remnants of the days pale blue sky.
Nothing at this moment could have been more perfect – more breath taking.
Except a thought…
The thought pulled at me and almost toyed with me – ruining any hope I had of really enjoying such a view.
As a child, as teenager, as helpless romantic and young adult - sunsets provided assurances for dreams, and sunrises inspired them.
Until one day, I realized something, something I had never paid attention to before…the sun never rises or sets. It is constant, and only the worlds spin give us such an illusion as a surise or sunset.
Does an illusion negate the moment as such – I don´t know…that´s the struggle.
When we open our eyes, how will we view the world…or better yet…how should we view the world.
Do we believe in the illusion?
In actuality, the harsh reality of traveling through the desert was not all I made it out to be. In fact, at times, it was grueling. Both O´neil and I were severly sunburnt, our lips so blistered, breathing hurt. The nights were freezing cold, and the mornings were as early as 4.00am. In both places we stayed, the electricity didn´t work after a certain time in the evening, and the washrooms were so foul we both chose to abstane.It was a perfect trip, and it was perfectly exhausting. We didn´t realize how beat up we were until we reached San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Unfortunately we were met with some bad luck, and furthermore, a 24 hour bus ride to Santiago.Stay Tuned.
A Three Day Journey Across the Desert
Day1…It was a world that could only be imagined – it was better and more surreal than a fairy tale and we stood right in the middle of it.It may well have been the center of the universe – we didn´t much care where it was, as it was perfect all the same. The vast and endless Salt Lake went on until it became part of the sky. Each spot you stood was timeless, limitless, and space-less. It felt like standing in the clouds.Our 4×4 cruised across the Salt Lake until it finally turned to sand. We pulled up at a series of Mud Huts dotted against a cactus speckled hill side. The roofs made of straw, and supported by a tin sheet – our floors and bed made of salt. This was our shelter for the night.The sun set behind the hill side casting a shadow across the once dazzling salt lake. Now it just looked like a black sea. Soon there were more stars dancing in the sky than i´d ever seen before.The temperature dropped well below zero.
Day 2…The next morning we ate breakfast as the sunrise set fire to the sky. The Salt Lake exploding back to life.We made our way along the arid hill side…llamas fleeing the roadside to join their herd grazing in the planes above.Glittering lakes filled with flamingos, like a true desert oasis, were nestled amongst the mountain peaks. We ate lunch on the shore of one.We moved along the border of Chile. The desolate landscape – stark beauty – and absolute nothingness. The farther we went the more nothingness prevailed. As the hot desert sun beat down, mirages appeared on every horizon forcing the snow cover peaks to appear as if they were floating in the sky.Out here in the perfect nothingness – all the problems of the real world melt away in the distant mirage.Nothing is ever the same
Day 3…In the dim light of dawn steam bouts erupted from the moonscape 15,000ft above sea level. As the sun rose on the barren hillside, it rays penetrated the steam creating a nearly blinding glow. We sat in the warm spring water watching the sun rise as icicles formed on our hair.Before we knew it we were in Chile – breathing in the air of the worlds driest desert. Its landscape made me think of Mars…something I never imagined seeing. And for all I was concerned…I had.
You are blinded by the intense sun, relentlessly beating down on the town. The streets are wide, and a slow breeze moves the dust along them creating a nearly oceanic sound. Everything is white-wash, or appears to be such due to the brightness of the sun. The few people there are, move slowly through the streets…as there is really nowhere to go. The town, in its quirkiness, is an island amongst a sea of sand leaving the people stranded to the four corners of its tiny boundaries. In a day you would see all this town has to offer.So then what. What is it about the desert that keeps us locked into its question of why…why does it make me feel something, when all around me is nothing. It must be the stubbornness that keeps us awake at night with our thoughts about a world beyond this one. We see nothing, yet deep down we can not believe such to be true…we want to look closer and closer…something is there.Maybe that is the only way I can describe my lust for the desert landscape…either way, my brother and I have hired a guide and will be taking our film equipment into the dreamy desert oasis of Salar de Uyuni and beyond into the driest place on earth…The Atacama Desert.
At 7:00pm everyday, without fail, the Omar bus leaves La Paz headed for Uyuni. It is a simple procedure, like we have done a dozen times before.At first the bus appears normal. As every other bus ascends the cliff side that encloses the Capital City, so does Omar. We were settling in to our seats, Ipods on full, trying to relax for what is usually a long night…no night was as long as this night.It started with an abrupt stop in a near by community that filled the bus beyond capacity with locals carrying fruit and vegetable’s, and accompanying flies. From there we pressed on as the time ticked by closer to midnight – the bus still blasting horrific Spanish music like it was somebodies birthday party.Then we blew a tire and were stranded at some cross roads rest stop with wild dogs and edgy Bolivians swarming the bus to watch the repair. An hour or so later we were on the move again, only to stop once more at a far worse cross roads town with wild dogs and tired edgy Bolivians.Now finally, peace. I curled up in my seat, as close to my brother as he would allow, and began to doze off. At first it felt like the constant, nearly rhythmic rattle and hum on any typical Bus…but it became worse, and soon I realized not only were we not on a paved road…we were 4×4 in a bus while entering the Bolivian Desert at 3:00am in the morning.The Bus erupted with Yelps and cries like a Mexican fiesta as our 2-tonne bus bunny hopped over some rocky ground below…All four wheels in the air. As the constant shaking continued, luggage and water bottles began to rain down on me…if there was any chance I was going to fall asleep, it was quickly, and painfully interupted.When we finally arrived at the port town of our desert oasis, 14 hours later…we had nothing bud frowns on our faces, holding back the fatigue and gut wrench of the single worst bus ride we´ve been on yet.But what awaits is what we´ve been dreaming about since before we left – Salar de UyuniSo stay tuned.Note: I refer to the desert town of Uyuni as a Port, not because there is water near by, but because the desert town is so isolated that at each of its for corners, nothing can be seen but sand and dust…thus giving it an island feel.
In Bolivia, nothing comes all that easy. In fact, just deciding to go to the candy store probably means a 100meter walk up a 90 degree hill at nearly 4kms above sea level.No easy feat.And it would appear, that such circumstances have molded a country and culture into something that resembles rough, hard, and determined…but with a taste for the extravagant. La Paz has a strip with flashy lights and interesting eateries that only means a good time…even if the short walk to the restaurants left you slightly out of breath.More to come …
In world that is no world like any world we know back home, such is hard to believe when it is the similarities, not the differences we are continually discovering.There might be reason to this.As the shell of our Western wisdom whithers away, we can finally become something of a citizen of this world.Traveling is a process of awakening - that differentiates that of a vacation and an awareness of who we really are - that we are not back home.It is that baggage of filthy pop culture that keeps the beautiful western sunset shining in our eyes no matter where we are in the world. And when it finally sets, you can see all the light that keeps of the rest of the world working no matter the harsh reality of their circumstances…which I can assure you are far worse than any person bringing in forty dollars a month could ever imagine.Today, as my brother and I walked through the bustling market places of the worlds highest capital city, two things came to my realization - In South America: In the streets people pull down their pants and [Do Business] where ever they see fit (a North American action practiced only by weary road trippers and Vancouver club goers).But subsequently, in South America, the streets are also filled with couples, young and old, kissing, as if in the privacy of their own homes. Nothing distasteful, and nothing to be ashamed of. Just an honest display of Public Affection, as real and perfect as anything that was ever shown on the silver screen.
The thick amazon rain drops pelted down on me, as I stood exposed on the cliff side, with no hope of attaining shelter. The dark clouds behind showed no reprieve. A video camera was shoved in my face, ¨Say it again¨Oniel said to me, watering dripping from the mop of hair on his head.We had climbed from the valley bottom, over a thousand stone steps hidden amongst thick rain Forest. The elevation made our or lungs burn, the jungle heat had us soaked straight through, and each stone step had our legs begging us to stop.The hike up to the famous ruins was the only peace we found from the hoards of Wondrous Tourists, until the rain scared them all away hours later. There are places in this world that are not of this world at all. And when you reach the first view point of the Inca empire there is no wonder, that this place is one of the seven wonders of the world….and that sense of wonderment that Machu Picchu, and these wonders of the world instill in us, is not something that can be described in a book or in a blog or in a picture…it is felt, as if the place itself still possessed the same spiritual empowerment that called for its construction in the first place. Machu Picchu, is a place we need to visit in order to ´feel´its amazing presence, not see its amazing architecture…though that aspect is still unbelievable. As the mist of the mountains danced it way through the stone structures of this once mighty empire, the rain came in frequent bursts , in typical monsoon force, driving away the tourists as fast they´d come.I had no complaints.As it quieted down, we walked among the ancient ruins, while occasional glimpses of sheer 1000 foot drops appeared suddenly around the corner. Llamas grazed in and amongst the fields hidden in the middle of a maze of castle like rooms.After hiking a large, steep stair cases, we both stopped. It was place that no doubt was once used for spiritual practice, or a kings dwelling….Our toes danced as we stood where the stone ended – a rushing river 1000 ft below – and our heads became dizzy with the mountain peak 1000ft above…we stood because we could not move. We stood because sometimes there is nothing more or less you can do then stop and look in front of you and say…¨I´ve never seen anything like that before¨ -and indeed as the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the lush mountain range before us – hints of a rainbow beginning through the remaining mist – I said ¨This is one of the greatest places I´ve ever stood¨
South America is very geographically beautiful, but it has continually been throwing punches at us since we arrived. It started with Border issues concerning our camera equipment, and then of course the stolen visa card. From there, we were sold bus tickets to a place where no buses were going…(due to a violent protest in the town).So we headed for another town where O´neil became very sick from the Altitude there (3,800m) and was in bed for two days. When he began to feel a little better, we finally made it the only town in Peru we have been trying to get to all along (Cuzco) where we were met with monsoon rains, and street floods…and to top that all off, the day after we got there, I got sick…Oh the joys of travel!!!
I once read somewhere that I should become aware of the space around me – and in that I will find peace. In city, or even in a forest that can be hard to do – but on the Peruvian Sierra Plateau – space exists all around you in an empowering feeling of pure spectacular!The green grass hills roll on for miles, decorated by mazes of ancient stone fences … scattered with Llama´s, sheep, and cattle. The locals, cloaked in full traditional wear, herd sheep on the hill sides, as their children chase after them and play games. And the sky hangs so low, when you stand atop a grassy knoll, you become part of it. Never have a I seen a sky so perfect as here.O´neil and I are in a town called Puno, the elevation of which is a breathtaking 3860 meters above sea level. The town is a port for the Highest Navigable Lake in the world, Lake Titicaca.
I was hoping to discover some peace from it all. My seat – laid back – books, journal, water bottles, chip bags, and Ipod scattered all around me.It is not often in our lives, other than a rare vacation or Sunday afternoon, where we find ourselves sitting with nothing to do with all the time in the world. Unfortunately, having nothing to do weighs heavy on the mind, and it can be frustrating to no end…and after all is said and done, whether your sitting on a first class bus with infinite leg room, standing on a local bus that decided it was going to brave a mountain pass, or spending the whole journey riding in the restroom – a 20 hour bus ride feels like a 20 hour bus ride. As of yet I have found no Zen in it all.The Peruvian Coastal Highway South of Lima is a myriad of shanty buildings scattered in no particular fashion upon the sand-dunes of the desert landscape. For the most part, no interior infrastructure appears to exist in this country off the main way.We were supposed to be headed for Cuzco to see the Newest Wonder of the World (Machu Piccu), but a violent 2-day protest halted all transportation in and out of the city. Destiny was trying desperately to keep us in Lima – and I was determined to defy it…so I asked the receptionist what was the next bus out of Lima…and 20 hours later we were lakeside at the worlds highest Navigable body of water – Lake Titicaca.
Once again it would appear that the unpredictable has spun our course astray…but I would have to believe we actually had a course for that be true…and through all the struggles so far in South America, having a set course would just be…well…asking for trouble.
When it happens, I think we don’t immediately notice it. We can get stuck, and it feels like the world has stopped turning. We had entered Lima, well more specifically, Barranco, when we realized we were not in our normal mode of being. It started with arguments, and ended with giving space to space to one another … but we both realized that there was nothing we could do about being stuck in Peru, except make the best of it … and try to get along. My visa card was misplaced or stolen … the actuality of which I´m not sure, and doubt I will ever find out … thus I can choose to tell whichever story i´d like. After dealing with the formalities, visa called and said my re-placement card was not to arrive for another 5 days…which meant we would be spending 5 more days in Barranco and Lima than expected….So we got out, and we did, and we saw, and we realized, one night while looking out over the Pacific Ocean (all the way to Asia) … the city lights of Lima glittering to the north, that maybe the world hadn´t really stopped moving … and maybe getting a bit stuck in any place isn´t actually all that bad … because before you know it, the world will be turning faster than ever … and you´ll only be trying to keep up … and not really seeing any of it.
It was shock even to us, leaving with 2 days notice. As Eckhart Tolle says, ¨The Past Dies with Every Moment¨, and for us, no statement was ever so true.We stepped cautiously into the world of Central America, and everything that was home was now foreign and every problem that was then, had no relevance in our effort to move through this part of the world.And Now, we are here, coming out of the infancy of our filming project around the world, strengthened by the lessons learned hard and fast in the life of a backpacker.Those lessons are simple: 1. No matter how ready you are, in backpacking and in life, there are no ordinary moments…and as soon as you become comfortable with uncertainty, you become able to live as the world leads you here, there, and anywhere 2. There is an expression in Asia, ¨Same Same, But Different¨, profound far beyond the simplistic expression it is. We are all the same…we are one, and when we can understand in this world there are far more similarities than differences, we can then begin to understand that our lives parallel those of all our brothers and sister’s around the globe…we simply live them under different circumstances. 3. When we live our lives in the moment of here and now (something that seems easier in the adventure of travel) we can see just how amazing everyday, and every place can be…no matter where you are in the world. 4. The world is in flux, and we must constantly progress and change with the world when are trying to accomplish goals. The flow of the water seems to take us where we need to go, even if that was not the where we intended on going.We are continuing to learn and become better at what we are doing here: We are becoming better as travelers; we are becoming better as film makers and storyteller’s; and, we are becoming better as brothers.
Destination: Pure Life ( Part 3 of 3 )
The final leg into San Jose proved to be the least exciting…it was simply a matter of surviving border lineups and procedure…Costa Rica on the other hand, is clean and beautiful. Actually it´s stunningly beautiful. We floated into San Jose, gazing in a sleep deprived trance at the landscape, thinking only about a hot shower and long sleep. It has been three days, two nights, two borders and 36 hours of buses to go a distance I imagine could be done in one 16 hour day back home. San Jose contrasts the beautiful country it is the capital of – it is not pretty, if fact most of it resembles that of East Hasting in Vancouver. Petty crime is quite common and there are no real ´good ´areas in the city, so we agreed on a B&B in a near by town to catch our breath for two or three nights.This is the end and the beginning for us. Stay tuned…
The Wild West ( Part 2 of 3 )
As I should have expected, the second leg of our journey to San Jose was a whole new flavour.I stood for 3 hours thinking of this one thought…what are we doing….and I probably thought that for 3 hours because I was standing, while riding a bus, flying down the mountain roads at speeds unknown to its broken odometer…O´neil didn´t have it much better, with 35 pounds of luggage on his lap and hardly an inch to move.Think school bus filled with twice its limit – people, siting, standing and even holding onto the back of the bus….from Vancouver to Kelowna In a sense this was all very amusing. Just the reality of our current situation. A bus filled with locals (and two skinny white guys), a beautifully wild west landscaped…littered beyond belief with illegal ( I think) dumping, and poverty stricken village, like i’ve never seen before. Managua ( the Capital city of Nicaragua ) was no better. It´s cinder block like streets, lined with leafy trees only vaguely hid the reality of a city completely destroyed by an earthquake some 30 years ago. In fact, it has left no city, just malls and homes that are structured like subsidized housing…that was burned in a fire and never repaired. Managua was a capital city, unlike any capital city.We stayed in its equivalent of Long Beach California…and after a quick dinner and stop at the mall, didn´t leave our room (as advised by the cab driver we took our for dinner) until 5:00am when we had to catch our next bus.The last one we would have to take before San Jose.
The Window Shopper ( Part 1 of 3 )We melted away in our bus seats, as the route to Tegucigalpa goes through the central highlands of Honduras – an area deprived of an ocean breeze – leaving the locals, and at this time us, without any relief from the sweltering heat.It was the beginning of an uncomfortably long journey between here and there – there being San Jose, Costa Rica, where our professional video camera will be waiting for us. Utila (the bay island we were staying on) to Tegucigalpa (the nations capital) was only the first leg – the next was Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, and then San Jose – with no desire to backtrack – and a desperate need for a second video camera – we were forced to seeing Nicaragua only by bus, and skipping El Salvador all together.The only enjoyable perk to this first leg of the journey…….. We had stopped, and for a brief moment it only murmurs, background noise, but when it became clearer it as obviously people shouting, ¨MANGOS¨, ¨ ICE CREAM¨, and when we peaked out of our window there the children were, selling all kinds of food. So, we opened the window and purchased some ice cream without even leaving the comforts of our uncomfortable seats…thus from here on out we have a knew definition for a window shopper.
When you roll down the final hill leading into Honduras´s capital (Tegucigalpa) – the dusty hill side dotted with hundreds of shanty´s resembles something out of a Star Wars movie – when you stop and pull over the characters prove nothing less…Our bus stopped in a district call Comayaguela – as this is the opposite side of the Rio Cholutea from the capital, is the equivalent of being on the wrong side of the tracks…so to speak.Communication was lacking – the bus we wanted to catch out of the city was full, so we felt relieved to find refuge in a safe hotel….this time on the right sides of the tracks…so to speak.Thus day 1 of our journey was complete.
To be in Honduras, is the worlds way of telling you, keep your eyes open and I’ll let you in on my most profound secret….We entered the country through its easy-come-easy-go border, after 6 hours of rattling our way through the arid mountains of Quatemalas South-Eastern landscape, our bus left at 3:45am, it was full, and I had food poisoning from the night before…all this made that trip, and the additional 8 hours we spent on a bus getting to Le Ceiba, some of the most enjoyable of my life…O’Neil was not much better considering he had to stay up all night in order to make sure we made the bus on time (in other words our alarm clock – that being my watch – doesn’t work).We were both bitter, and I could barely stomach anything (such has been the case for two days now) but we were not let down…Honduras is poetry, its a place that exits as perfect – and reminds you that in the world there can always be surprises, but don’t be surprised at what you see – for in Honduras, the landscape waits patiently for you to gaze upon it as if you were seeing the world for the very first time….but it speaks to you as if to say, ” I’ve been here all along…stop riding the bus with the curtain closed!”We are staying on the Island of Utila, it’s small and nice, but it will only hold us until we have recovered from our exhaustion and sickness.…..an interesting turn of events will eventually spiral into a frenzy of movement on our behalf…so stay tuned as we work our way around the globe.
In a country that has 23 Volcano’s, Pacaya is the most active. It has frequent eruptions, and molten lava flows through channels of molten rock, hardened by the night time air…much colder than the rest of the country due to its elevation of 10,000ft.We stood staring out into the sunset, as the ground melted our shoes, and steam vented through the cracks in the rock. Below us the city of lights of the [what used to be] gem of Central America, Guatemala City, began to twinkle, and our guide urged us to start making our way down the mountain. It would soon be pitch black, and we had 4 miles of jungle to walk through.It was hard to leave, as things often are……When talking with locals in our home base of Antigua, you learn the secret to the town, and to life in general…it is what is inside, that counts. Nothing worth seeing is easily seen, and when you take the time to explore what is inside, a whole knew world opens up. Guatemala is no country like any-other I could have imagined. And we entered with a certain ignorance that a pyramid was all there was to see. Quickly, it worked it ancient Mayan charm, that opened us up to a world, that would take a life time to see, and a thousand years to understand.There is no more journey, there is no more route, there is a plan but there is no plan.As the world takes us, we will follow, and we will listen, and we will film.Honduras was never on our trip itinerary, but now it is where we are heading to film next. We will stay as it is needed, and from there discover our next home…somewhere in the world.
We all sat quietly, 230 feet above the jungle floor. We stared out in the blackness, waiting. As the dark began to fade – glimpses of the jungle canopy appeared and disappeared in the mist…and we all watched and waited. We waited as the Mayan People must have waited 2500 years before us.Eyes staring, as the pre dawn played tricks on us. We waited.Then, as if we were floating in the sky, a temple appeared in the distance. Silhouetted against the morning mist it appeared as though it was the highest temple in the world…then it disappeared. And we all sat quietly and waited.…It was 4:00 am when we began to walk through the jungle. Guided by only one flash light, every step was carefully placed on the ground in front of us. Droplets of water fell on us, and spider webs clung to our faces. “Be careful of jaguars, be even more careful for snakes” our guide said.The girl beside me suddenly yelped and grabbed my hand. “There’s something on me” she shrieked. There was nothing there…but I could hardly see my hand in front of my face so what did I know.We trekked on like this for 40minutes through the blackness – scorpions scurried away as we marched on – on and up to the highest temple in Tikal.Nervous in anticipation of anything. Only the jungle spoke, as if to say I know your here, “welcome to the lost world”
Like ghost emerging from the grave, laughing and screaming, the jungle comes to life every night. Haunting and eerie and inside your head the noises play tricks on you.We sat and listened, then the lights in our room flickered out – blackness. Instantly it seemed as though the entire jungle was trying to get through our small window…so loud. Yells ignited in the streets as people tried to figure out what was going on. The screams in the streets matched that of the jungle and we sat in the blackness…all we could do was sit and listen….Guatemala is amazing, its stark and raw beauty I have seen nowhere else. It demands you look…and so you look at it with intrigue…as you cannot understand it…but you want to and so you try. Maybe this lost world can only be understood by 2500+ years of ancestry…maybe.
If you have ever complained about having to sit beside a person on a bus that…maybe was a loud breather, or emitted certain unpleasant odors – consider this:From Chetumal, Mexico to Belize City, Belize, I sat next to a man holding a giant Swan.The journey was only 169km, but it took an agonizing yet culturally rewarding 5 hours – passing through rural towns and communities. When we left the border there were 5 foreigners on board, and when we reached Belize City, the bus was filled to capacity with school children, locals, military personal and one other person holding a duck.I have to admit, when we reached Belize City, I was scared. If you’ve seen City of God, then you have an idea of why I may have felt nervous in Belize City. I suspect though, it’s all a simple matter of weathering yourself to the harsh realities of the places that we will visit. And after catching a boat to Caye Caulker, O’neil and I just sat on a long dock under the stars, deep in thought of the realization of everything to come…Note: City of God was a film about the Harsh life of the gangs and people in Rio, Brazil.Caye Caulker is a snorkeling and diving paradise on the Belize Barrier Reef (on of the Natural wonders of the world!)” Believe in Belize” is a propaganda for the current elections being held. There are two major parties PUP and UDP. In Canada this is Democrat and Conservative…here it’s bloods and Crips….so much so that in the last political rally two people were killed.
It was perfect, we sat on the roof top while the full moon watched us closely and the waves gently broke against the shore. It was hard to imagine that we were not even supposed to be in Mahahual.There are no ordinary moments – and no insignificant days. When all security is gone and the assurances and conveniences of day to day life are no longer at your finger tips: you begin to think about the roof over your head, the next meal you may not have and the people around you whose lives yours depends upon….such is the life of a backpacker and such is the existence that allows one to open their eyes to world around them and thus let it guide you as it should…If there and back and back again was a hobbit’s tale – there and somewhere else was ours. We left on just two days notice and that ideal of planned and somewhat organized spontaneity has set the tone for our travels thus far.While trying to reach Belize from the coastal town of Tullum a sudden switch in bus tickets to a places I’d never even heard of saw us hours later standing in the middle of a packed earth cross roads surrounded by Mexican Military vehicles and personal.Mahahual is a very still place – so still and slow moving it’s hard to imagine that the very same hurricane that forced me out of Mexico just six months prior, devastated and turned this town into the ruins that resembled the Mayan temples of their peoples ancestors.But, as George said, as he slowly put the pieces of his retirement paradise back together,” 6 months ago this was an Authentic Paradise…now it’s nothing.” George, however, among others in the area are determined to rebuild this place into the haven for escape from fast-paced civilization that it once was. As the sun rose slowly on the on the ocean beside us, the local bus plodded over the bumpy dirt road, honking its horn repeatedly as if to say, ” it’s 6:00am, and it’s time to get up.”In the dim light of the early dawn, Mahahual’s seaside bungalows seem pleasant, and at peace – but as the day breaks on the what used to be a lush jungle, nothing remains but a desolate swamp as far as the eye can see – filled with garbage and rubble and somewhere amongst it all…Georges sail boat.* The Maya Luna Hotel is an eco hotel power by wind and solar panels with collected rain water for showering. After 8 hours of night nothing remains of those power stores, and thus O’neil and I were forced to ready our selves for our early morning bus ride in the pitch black.
Understanding the nature of motivation is quite a complicated thing. In fact, it is next to impossible to predict unless you know every single defining moment leading up to the action itself. On most occasions the only person who has that information is yourself – that’s why people may think your ‘crazy’ but to yourself the actions are completely justified.Such was the motivation of Project World Citizen’s departure date.We sat there amongst our own ambitions trying to understand the purpose of our motivation. A motivation that was becoming twisted by people who had no idea how to understand the nature of our journey.We sat there until we realized what needed to be done.In doing, we must believe that we are doing something the exemplifies the desire to become something of it. When you try and become something of something before that something has even been done you are setting yourself up for failure.Without the journey – your goal is meaningless.I was forgetting the journey and becoming consumed with the outcome of the project. Project World Citizen was about raw, unique experience. If I didn’t stop stroking the corporate machine I was about to begin a project that had already lost its soul.So on two short days notice we left.
There must always be balance. We all understand the natural characteristics of such a phenomenon and respect it in quiet ignorance – most of the time. It’s when we are tipped that we become louder in our questioning of that which defines the rules of life.For most, balance becomes the saving and humbling force of reality we come to appreciate and expect. When we are down, generally there is an experience that brings us back up, or inversely, when we are too high, one that brings us back to Earth. I am no longer interested in such an expectation of experience. How do we balance the good with more good?I don’t want to be ironical or hypocritical or anything absurd; but, my struggle becomes not an expression of doing what I do not know how to do, but actually, acting on the instincts that have been taught to me over and over.When we can choose to listen and live within ourselves we begin kill off the very choices and emotions we engage in – that hold us back.With Project World Citizen, myself, my brother, and my best friend believe in an ideal. That ideal is our dream and that dream is our reality. Over the course of 45,000kms we will see that dream tried and tested until it becomes not something to defend or protect – but such that it lives on through our very actions no matter what happens.I have been afraid of failure my whole life – and it is not through my accomplishments that I have learned what it is going to take to walk out my front door and end up in Singapore without using any planes. It is through my failure.- – Give me a penny, I’ll be fine, because with the amount of pennies that have been taken from me, I learned just how to take one as far as it can go – -
On Thursday December 6th, O’niel , Dustin, and I set up a booth at the Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Next year, ‘Best of Banff’ will see the official Project World Citizen teaser and in 2010 Banff will be featuring our movie. So be ready.
A special thanks to Rodger Friesen for making this possible.
” I thought you, your friend, and your brother’s forthcoming adventure would be a fascinating combination…I will pray for god to grant you health and safety.”Certain people possess a quality of presence. A silent worrier whose wisdom and worth is shared with those only – who accidentally stumble into the worrier’s path. Often little is said – but that is enough.I will refer to this person only as R.W. E – and we thank-you for your kinds words and well wishes.Condolences to your tragic loss – you are in our thoughts.
” Do not go where the path may lead; Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Holding an assault rifle, a 12 year old child becomes the voice a of a law most of us know nothing about – in a world I cannot imagine.Today, I met a man named Kjll Jacobson whose contribution to Project World Citizen may be more generous than any to date. The price of life is expensive – in any country – and Kjll promises to front the cash to keep ours alive.” Don’t get me wrong” Says Kjll, ” I love what your doing, but going to countries like that you will find yourself rotting away and hungry in some cell waiting for your parents to gather $50,000.00 and bail you out.”I don’t want to carry-on in a winded rant about such a philosophy; yet, my mind is left wondering such – late into this night.Is there a reality to this world I refuse to face. Most well-versed – well-aged people will probably agree with a certain Hobbes:”No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” But I am far too young, pretty, and naive to understand such a world as that. It is only in my ignorance that I can really see the world I am about to see – if I entered any country, seemingly, and knowingly, I fear my perspective would be turned into an hour that has 60 minutes – and I would know far to much about something I knew nothing about. It is only when my eyes have seen nothing that I can open them to see everything. My belief in people is only good – so Mr. Jacobson you can keep your money.